FFIX Music Video (Made by Yours Truly!)

Hey Y’all, hope your FFIX run-throughs are going well!  Just finished mine recently, and it was just as amazing as I remembered it.  So amazing, in fact, that I was inspired to create a little music video, combining cutscenes from my favorite game with a song from my favorite band, Cloud Cult.  The song is called “Pretty Voice”, and it’s all about Zidane and Dagger’s relationship, so I found it fitting 🙂

Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Final Fantasy Prelude: 6 Version Montage

Hey guys!

Sorry I haven’t been around recently – I’ve come up with a few nice blog posts, but I’ve had a few other projects kinda take over for a while.  That said, I did make this video that I wanted to share with you: a musical montage featuring 6 different versions of Final Fantasy’s “Prelude”!

Enjoy! <3

Gaming Inspirations X: Character Profile: Zidane Tribal

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Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja
Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII
Gaming Inspirations VII: Character Profile: Eiko Carol
Gaming Inspirations VIII: Character Profile: Quina Quen
Gaming Inspirations IX: Character Profile: Freya Crescent

Absolutely incredible. Check out Midorisa’s other art at midorisa.deviantart.com!

Well, here we are.  The final Gaming Inspirations Character Profile. Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far – I’m not known for finishing things I start. I guess that’s what happens when you really care about a project you’re undertaking, though; it’s a lot less work and a lot more fun when you actually give a hoot!

Naturally, I saved the best for last: my favorite character in media, the cheeky rogue, the monkey-tailed thief and protagonist of the greatest game of all time, Zidane Tribal.

The reason Zidane is the absolute goddamn best is simple: he’s the linchpin, without whom everything falls apart. This is common in terms of plot: having an event in the beginning of the story that unifies the main players isn’t exactly an innovation. Zidane unifies much more than that: the story, the party, the entire FFIX universe rides on the existence of this one character. He is the messiah of the game, the only piece of the puzzle that, if removed, utterly dooms the universe and, if included, ensures the triumph of existence over nothingness.

Continue reading “Gaming Inspirations X: Character Profile: Zidane Tribal”

Gaming Inspirations IX: Character Profile: Freya Crescent

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Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja
Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII
Gaming Inspirations VII: Character Profile: Eiko Carol
Gaming Inspirations VIII: Character Profile: Quina Quen

xnaxox-freya
xnaxox KILLED it with this piece.  Love it.  Check ’em out at xnaxox.deviantart.com!

Hello, friends, and welcome to the SEVENTH (and penultimate!) Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series!  “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life.  Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters.  Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.

Today we’re going to talk about the character with the most depressing damn story of them all: Freya Crescent.

CHARACTER SUMMARY

Freya was a powerful Dragon Knight of the proud kingdom of Burmecia.  She and her lover, Sir Irontail Fratley, hefted their mighty javelins to protect their kingdom and its people from all comers.

… That is, until Fratley disappears, leaving Freya to go on years-long quest to find him, not knowing whether he’s alive or dead, whether her journey is completely in vain.

The FFIX crew meet up with her in Lindblum, where she’s drowning her sorrows in a tavern.  Soon after, she gets word that her kingdom has been attacked (which is what happens when your best soldiers disappear for years, who would’ve known), and she rushes back to find Burmecia in ruins and nearly everyone dead.

Fuck.

She and the rest of the party meet a group of Burmecians in the ruins, learning that the King of Burmecia and other refugees are escaping to the nearby kingdom of Cleyra, which is surrounded by a protective sandstorm.  The Burmecians beg Freya to join them.  Freya and the rest of the party say no, continue on, and get their asses kicked by Beatrix, presumably with Queen Brahne and Kuja laughing in the background.

Double fuck.

Okay, Freya’s story hasn’t been great so far.  After their drubbing, the party goes to Cleyra, and Freya participates in a ritual dance that keeps the sandstorm up and running.  Naturally, as soon as Freya joins in on the dance, the strings on the ritual harp snap and the sandstorm subsides, allowing the Black Mage army that decimated Burmecia to roll right on in.

Depressed yet?

Well, finally, we get some good news: during the attack, when the party is surrounded, a dragon knight comes to save the day!  GASP!  HOLY DICKTITS, IT’S FRATLEY!  Freya’s lover!  The one she’s been searching for all this time!  Hooray!  Freya is so excited!  She embraces her lover, gushing about everything she’s been through!…

… Aaaaaaand Fratley lost his memory.  No idea who Freya is.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh, right, the attack.  That’s still happening.  Yeah, there’s a little minigame where you try to randomly direct people to escape (and if you get it wrong, black mages promptly kill these innocents), and when the party escapes (with Freya in Jim-Carrey-in-Eternal-Sunshine-level despair), they look back and see Queen Brahne, who summons Odin and promptly blows up the entire kingdom.

… And that’s Disc 1, and a bit of Disc 2.  Out of 4.

Jesus.

Incredibly, it does get better – at the end of the game, it shows Freya and Fratley together again (though he still doesn’t remember the past), chillin’ in Burmecia and havin’ a grand old time.

CHARACTER QUALITIES

Perse-Fuckin’-Verance

There’s only one quality that truly defines Freya’s character, and it is her stubborn unwillingness to surrender when she puts her mind to something.  Everyone in the game runs into trouble; everyone has their existential crises and moments of self-doubt (and even despair).  Everyone has a rough go of it at some point, but I don’t think it’s hard to argue that Freya’s path to happiness was the longest and most riddled with opportunities to give up.

She never does.

Even when she’s getting the shit kicked out of her by Beatrix.  Even when she embraces her long-lost love and he responds with “…uhh… who the fuck are you?”.  Oh, and let’s not forget that she’s been looking for this dude for years before the events of the game take place.

Man, Freya is such a beast.

INCORPORATING THESE QUALITIES

As with most things, perseverance can be trained; the key is to start off small.  If you’ve never lifted weights before, you wouldn’t walk into the gym, fill a bar with 5 45-pound plates, and try to lift it – that’d be a bit silly.  There’s no way you’d succeed.  You’d use lighter weights, get the form down, and slowly work your way up to bigger weights as you got stronger.  The same concept applies to perseverance: set the task up in such a way that it’s easy for you to win, and encourages progression.

Take your time, and think to yourself: what is something I want to do that, if I worked at it for ten minutes every day, I could do in six months?  This could be anything: shredding guitar, writing a novel, and literally drinking enough Jim Beam to kill a horse are all valid things that you might be able to do (good luck with that third one).  It doesn’t necessarily have to be productive; just make it something that, six months from now, you would look back and say “yeah, I’m glad I did that”.  For example, my goal is to be able to do a full side split six months from now.  Why?  Cuz fuck it, I wanna be able to do a split, that’s why.  I’ve been spending ten minutes a day stretching, concentrating on the muscles required to do a split in particular (groinulars (very scientific, I know), hips, legs, blabla).  Even if I don’t get there in six months, I’ll be much more flexible than I am now.  That’s the beauty of perseverance: it sounds obvious, but every little bit that you do to get closer to your goal will… well, it’ll get you closer to your goal.  Even if you fail to get the results in the timeframe that you set for yourself, the incremental gains you make are not lost.  The only time you lose is when you give up, and we’re rigging the game so that our chances of giving up are minimal.

There will be forces that try to stop you: impatience, negativity (either from within or from others), uncontrollable events in life.  There will be days that, even when the bar is set this low, you will fail.

This is where perseverance is trained.  It’s not in the doing; it’s in the doing again, after you fuck up.  Don’t let the fear of failure stop you, because you will inevitably fail.  So fail with grace; when you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and keep on goin’.  One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Sharon Salzburg, has a saying: “The healing is in the return”.  Use your inevitable failure as a learning experience, another exercise that will help to hone your focus and lead you to a better life.

I’ll leave ya with one of my favorite Rocky clips, where he’s talking to his kid and… well, you’ll see the Freya-type philosophy in the speech pretty darn quick:

 

Love y’all!  I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHO THE NEXT CHARACTER PROFILE IS ABOUT

Gaming Inspirations VIII: Character Profile: Quina Quen

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Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja
Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII
Gaming Inspirations VII: Character Profile: Eiko Carol

Check out more awesome art by MisterStrum at misterstrum.deviantart.com!

Hello, friends, and welcome to the sixth Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series!  “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life.  Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters.  Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.

Today, I give some love to the character who I believe is the most underrated in the series: Quina Quen.

(Quick note: I use the “S/he” pronoun because that’s what they use in the game, and Quina doesn’t seem to mind.  Sorry if it offends anyone, I swear I didn’t mean to hurt ya <3)

Continue reading “Gaming Inspirations VIII: Character Profile: Quina Quen”

Gaming Inspirations VII: Character Profile: Eiko Carol

Bookmark this link to Support FinalFantasyIX.com by shopping on Amazon!

Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja
Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII

Thanks to Kikane (kikane.deviantart.com) for letting me use this in this post! Check out more of their stuff!

Hello, friends, and welcome to the fifth Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series!  “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life.  Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters.  Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.

Today we’re going to talk about the sweetest little kid-summoner in the whole wide world (of Gaia), Eiko Carol!

CHARACTER SUMMARY

Eiko Carol is the lone survivor of a Summoner tribe in the village of Madain Sari (OR IS SHE?!?!?! Spoiler: she’s not).  She lives with a bunch of moogles (the cutest darn things on the planet) and apparently cooks horrendous food.

Her life gets turned on its head when she meets up with Zidane and the rest of the gang, joining them in their adventures and learning what it’s like to interact with others like her for the first time since she was very young.  At the end of the game, after suffering the crippling loneliness of being the last of her kind, she finally feels at home once again.  Yay!

CHARACTER QUALITIES

At first, writing up a Character Profile for Eiko seemed near-impossible: her demographic (6 years old, a lady, plays the flute, horn on her head, magical) seemed so distant from mine (25, dude, utter lack of horns, magic, and musical talent) that I thought there wouldn’t be much to talk about.

Boy, was I wrong.

Throughout Final Fantasy IX, Eiko brings up a major human conflict, one that all of us struggle with: loneliness.

I’m not talking about your average, garden-variety, “All-my-friends-are-gone-for-the-summer-what-am-I-to-do” loneliness, either: I’m talking about isolation.  Sure, she’s got a lot of moogles to talk to, and this is no slight on them, but… she’s different from the moogles.  No matter how nice or comforting they try to be, their core difference from Eiko prevent them from fully filling the void caused by lack of real empathy from someone who knows your struggle.

I’d be willing to bet pretty much everyone has felt this “but they don’t understand what I’m going through!  They haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced!  How could they possibly understand how I’m feeling?” loneliness before.  Hell, I know I have.  A lot.  My experience is different, unique from anyone else’s; it seems natural to assume that, since they haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced, it’d be impossible to understand the depth or intricacies of how I’m feeling.

The “They Don’t Understand” feeling is amplified when the situations or events are completely out of your control, and when is your life more out of your control than when you’re a kid?  Eiko didn’t choose to be born in Madain Sari.  She didn’t choose for her family to be slaughtered.  Hell, she couldn’t even choose who she wanted to hang out with!  When these sorts of things are chosen for you and you’re powerless to change them, it’s easier to slip into a lonely, fatalistic sort of despair.

Let me tell you why this idea is irrelevant and should be discarded.

HOW TO INCORPORATE (or, in this case, dis-incorporate (is that a word?  I don’t think that’s a word.  Whatever)) THESE QUALITIES

This “They Don’t Understand” delusion doesn’t do anyone any good: it’s isolating for the person feeling it, and it makes the people trying to help feel powerless.  But, in the moment when you’re feeling it, it’s very difficult to avoid: how could they possibly understand?  How are you supposed to trick yourself into thinking that they do?

There’s only one thing you can do.  There’s one phrase you have to integrate into your vocabulary, the only thing that will help when you’re feeling lonely and misunderstood:

Control what you can control.

There are going to be events in your life that make you feel like poop and are totally beyond your control.  It happens to everyone, and it sucks no small amount of ass.

Wait.  Did you read that?

“It happens to everyone”.

This is hard to remember when you’re in the throes of despair, but you need to realize that, when your friends are doing what they can to help you, it’s because they have felt pain, too.  No, it’s not the exact same pain.  No, it’s not the exact same situation.  But in the immortal words of Westley from The Princess Bride: “Life is pain, princess.  Anyone who says otherwise is selling something”.  Everyone knows pain, and friends are those who help (or try, at least) to take the pain away.

In these situations, when you’re at your worst, looking at what you can control and taking control of them is a must.  One major thing that you control (when you’re an adult, at least) is who you choose to spend your time with.  Spend time with people who make you happy, and trust that those people will empathize with you and help you in any way they can.  Whether they’ve felt exactly how you feel is irrelevant; what’s important is that they are willing to try and shoulder some of that burden with you.

When Eiko meets Zidane and the gang, she sees that she doesn’t need to be alone anymore.

You don’t, either.

All it takes is a little trust, concentrating on what you can control, and getting by with a little help from your friends.

Gaming Inspirations VIII: Quina Quen

Gaming Inspirations Recap: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

GAMING INSPIRATIONS BY THE NUMBERS

DAYS SINCE I STARTED GAMING INSPIRATIONS: 40

TOTAL POSTS IN THAT TIME: 12

WORDS WRITTEN: 11,399

POUNDS LOST: 10.0

Whew!  Just over a month in, and Gaming Inspirations has had some super-positive effects on my life.  Now that we’re at the halfway point, I’m going to do a quick recap of the characters we’ve covered, hey they’ve inspired me, and how successful I’ve been in incorporating their lessons into my day-to-day:

Steiner: Morning gym sessions, increasing my sense of accomplishment early in the day and improving my physical health

So far, this has been a MODERATE SUCCESS.  I haven’t kept up with my four-day-a-week 5:00-AM gym sessions, but I’m going at least 4 times a week still, which is good.  I’ve been floundering a bit; a lot of my friends are moving to my new city, so there’s been a lot of partying/staying out late/not going to the gym in the morning, but after being pretty consistent for about a month, I’m confident I can get back on the horse pretty easily, starting today.

If you want to join me, pick up some running shoes.  Really, that’s all you need to get started, along with some t-shirts and shorts/sweatpants.  Personally, I use Saucony Cohesion 7 running shoes.  They’re super-duper comfy, never had a problem, and relatively inexpensive.  If you think you had to drop three figures on running shoes, you don’t!  Pick up some shoes and get runnin’!

Vivi: Reading books, trying new things

I’m going to say that I’ve had SUCCESS with this, as well.  I still don’t ask as many questions as I’d like, mostly due to my fear of looking stupid.  However, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I think that the fear of asking questions/looking stupid will ease as I continue to try new things and have new experiences.

A few of the books I’ve read this month are As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride and You’re Never Weird on the Internet… Almost by Felicia Day.  If you love the Princess Bride as much as I do, or if you’re interested in reading about Felicia Day’s transformation from deep-south home-schooled geek into internet superstar, then I’d highly recommend those books.

Amarant: Self-confidence, skepticism

Again, my lack of confidence rears its ugly head.  I think I’m good at entertaining views without accepting them, and I’m good at hearing others out who have differing opinions on things, but I am still not confident enough to truly do and say what I feel is right most of the time.  I’ve had some level of success with this, but not much.  As I said in the Steiner recap, the more confident I get with the things I’m good at will have a positive effect on the things that are difficult for me.

Princess Garnet: Taking notes, having patience with myself and others

I’ve been killin’ it with the taking notes recently, which is a cornerstone of any sustained success.  For money-budgeting, I use You Need a Budget 4.  It may not seem to make much sense to spend money on budgeting software, but if you stick with it, I guarantee it’s worth the one-time $60 payment.  There’s also a 34-day demo and free classes to help you get started (it’s also available on steam for you gamers out there!)

For my diet, I use the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone.  I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do; but even simply making an educated guess at my calories consumed each day has helped me to lose 10 pounds in the past month and a half.  It’s a great piece of software that helped me a lot.

I’ve also used a free app that has started to help me with my patience.  It’s called Headspace, and it’s a guided-meditation app.  The first ten 10-minute sessions are free, and the technique I used has helped me to calm down in situations of high stress.  Check it out!

Out of all this, though, one of the most positive effects I’ve seen is the reaction from my readers.  I’ve got some great feedback, and I look forward to what you guys will have to say about my upcoming posts.  I know I haven’t strictly kept to the Thursday/Sunday schedule, but I’m gonna try my darnedest to get back on the horse; if it’s too much of a strain, it might become a Sunday-only thing.  I’ll keep y’all posted.

Thanks for reading!  Take care, and feel free to tell me how I’m doing/share your stories in the comments below!

(Also, side note: I just started playing Kingdom Hearts 2 HD on my PS3, and that shit looks incredible.  It’s only 20 bucks on Amazon right now.  Very worth it, imo.)

Gaming Inspirations VII: Eiko Carol

Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII

Bookmark this link to Support FinalFantasyIX.com by shopping on Amazon!

Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja

A huge thanks to chitobein for letting me post this badass picture! You can check out more of their stuff at chitobein.deviantart.com!

Hello, friends, and welcome to the fourth Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series!  “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life.  Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters.  Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.

Today we’re going to talk about the Princess of Alexandria herself, Garnet til Alexandros XVII.

CHARACTER SUMMARY

Here’s the breakdown: Garnet is a classic “damsel in distress” character… for about the first ten minutes.  She’s beautiful, sad, and there are evil thieves trying to kidnap her.  But, when the thieves come to whisk her away… She asks to be kidnapped?

Wut?

Throughout her adventures and experiences in Final Fantasy IX, she grows from a nerdy member of the royalty who doesn’t know how to interact with common folk to a compassionate, fearless leader of her kingdom.

QUALITIES

Book-Smart

In the game, Garnet has a personal tutor who is known as one of the smartest people in the kingdom (correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s the only person to have the title of “Doctor” in the entire game).

He also has a top hat. And glasses. What a nerd.

Under his tutelage (combined with her love of learning), Garnet becomes… pretty damn smart.  At one point, she mentions how she’s read all of Lord Avon’s plays, which seems like a pretty impressive accomplishment for someone to do before they turn 16.

Street-Stupid

Sure, she was raised in a castle and is a super-smart beautiful princess-lady, but you learn pretty darn quick that her royal mannerisms and demeanor are… kind of hard to hide: for example… well, just watch literally any FFIX Let’s Play when the party is in Dali for the first time.  It’s an express train to Cringeville.

Being sheltered her entire life, she never learned how to interact with the common folk, much less blend in with them.  This is a huge challenge in the first disc, though she gets better with time.

HOW TO INCORPORATE THESE QUALITIES INTO YOUR LIFE

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the smartypants…es(?) in my life, it’s that their smartypants…iness didn’t happen overnight, nor did it happen without a good amount of work.

There are two things in the smartypants toolbox, however, that I’ve found make the process a whole lot easier: notes and patience.

Out of everything I’ve learned throughout these posts, one of the biggest has been the importance of note-taking.  I’ve been budgeting my money (because damn, student loans are expensive and I need to plan for them) using an app, You Need A Budget, for about a year now, so I’ve had some experience with “note taking”, in a sense, but now I’m starting to apply it to another part of my life: my diet.  Before I started counting calories, I’d say to myself, “oh, well, you had that venti Pumpkin Spice Latte, so now you can’t eat breakfast.  Or lunch.  Or dinner.  Or anything for the next week”.

I know what you’re thinking. And guess what? It’s the best.

Eventually, I’d get sick of this whole not-eating thing, eat an entire goddamn pizza to my face, and be right back where I was.  I used to think there was something magical about the 209-pound mark that I simply couldn’t pass; I’d struggle to get there, and as soon as I did, I’d slingshot myself back 10 or 15 pounds with a few “cheat nights”.  Now, I’m taking notes: I know what my “budget” of calories is for the day, and it helps me to better inform my decision-making and pace myself when eating throughout the day.  It’s working: when I started the Gaming Inspirations posts, I weighed 218.8 pounds.  This morning, I weighed myself, and I’m 208.1.  Not bad, man.  Even rudimentary calorie-counting has taken me from floundering in the darkness of “hurr durr I can’t lose weight” to slow, steady progress towards my goal weight.  Garnet didn’t just fall into Doctor Tot’s lap a damn book-learned genius: she had to take notes, study those notes, and adjust future actions based on what she learned.

The second thing that Garnet taught me, patience, is a lot harder.  Anyone can take two seconds to write shit down (not to shit-talk note-taking; it’s an integral part of the self-improvement process), but patience is much more of a practiced skill.  A skill that I’m pretty bad at.  But hey, I’m not gonna get better without practice, so practice I shall.

Garnet, when she had to go incognito as Dagger to avoid recognition, sucked at being a “normal Alexandrian”.  She didn’t speak the way they did.  She didn’t act the way they did.  But when Zidane said “hey, Dagger, you probably oughta stop acting so weird and naive and princess-y for a sec”, she listened.  It’s hard as hell to change behavior, no matter who you are, and she underwent a drastic change to achieve her goal of not getting caught.  Sometimes, changes can make you feel… strange.  Uncomfortable.  Not like yourself.  I feel this way a lot when I’m trying to implement the changes I write about in these posts.  Am I someone who counts calories?  Am I someone who stays positive, who speaks up in a group, who is unafraid to try new things?

I’m not yet.  But I’m trying to be.

This is how Dagger, raised in a castle removed from the society she was to rule, learned her compassion for the common folk.  She may have known about the life of the commoner before she ran away, but being forced to live as one, as awkward a transition as it was, gave her a perspective she never would have had as secluded royalty.

I used to let the fear of failure deter me, but now, I know that I’m going to fail, and I’m okay with it.  The only reason Garnet succeeded in escaping from Alexandria Castle is because she was patient and strove to understand those different from herself.  When she failed, she noted it, she learned from it, and it helped her be better in the future.  Change isn’t instant; it’s a slow grind to get from where you are to where you want to be, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you’re not willing to change, to get a little uncomfortable, to fail once in a while.  Princess Garnet helped show me that it’s worth it to work hard, be patient, and strive for what you really want.

Wow, we’re halfway through, guys!  Sunday’s post will be a recap of where we’ve been, and what’s coming down the pike 🙂

FFIX: Worlds Apart Review, Disc 4

Hello, and welcome to my review/listening guide of the fourth and final disc of Final Fantasy IX: Worlds Apart, the remix album from the sonic wizards over at OverClocked ReMix!

I’ll be going through, track-by-track, and rating them on a 1-5 “Dagger Scale”, along with giving a few thoughts on why I rated them so.  You can listen along on SoundCloud or download the album yourself at ff9.ocremix.org!

Inritus Bellum (The War to Nothingness) [Guardians]
Mikeaudio

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Okay, Trent Reznor, when did you sneak into this album?

In a word: epic.

In three words: epic as fuck.

In… more words: A perfect remix of “Guardians”.  Great build, great sense of… urgency, I guess?  I dunno.  It’s just super badass.

Ghosts (Terra)
LuIzA, Level 99

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I really wish I could rate this remix higher – I really like the music, and I think that the lyricism is some of the best on the album (far better than “Memories of Dali”, for example)… but… I didn’t like the singers.  Kind of a dealbreaker.  If I had enjoyed the voices themselves more, then this song would be a four, at the very least.

Ground Zero (Bran Bal, the Soulless Village)
halc

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There was nothing about this remix that really blew me away.  It seemed relatively conservative, relatively uninspired.  There were no risks taken to really get this remix to “the next level”, as it were, but it was good nonetheless.  I quite enjoyed it.

The Fallen Savior (Pandemonium)
Darangen

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First off, badass name for a Pandemonium remix.  Really shows that the artist knew what was going on in the plot of the game at this point.  Definitely enjoyed how the melody was introduced by some super-badass guitar, and punctuated by a nice drumbeat.  Reminds me of how badass Zidane really is.

You and I (We’re Not Alone) [Not Alone]
Poolside feat. Amanda Appiarius

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You know, I really liked this song on its own.  I enjoyed the vocals (they’re probably the best on the album), it had a nice, driving beat, and the lyrics were… acceptable.

All this is rating the song itself, however.  As a remix, it falls flat on its face.

Okay, so: “You’re Not Alone” isn’t a romantic song.  It’s not, like, Dagger going “omg zidane ur zooooo hawt will u date me y/n?”.  It’s an inspirational-as-fuck song during which, at Zidane’s lowest point, his friends refuse to leave him.  He had helped them realize that they all had priceless life experiences, and that they all had something worth living (and, indeed, thriving) for, and now they finally return the favor.  It’s about saving the savior when he can no longer carry the weight of the world on his own.

This remix completely missed that, and that’s unacceptable.  The strength of the song alone brings it up to a 3.  As a remix of one of the marquee songs in FFIX, I’m very disappointed.

Viking Funeral for the Damned (Silver Dragon)
Knight of the Round, Adam Higgins

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“Silver Dragon” gets the metal mix it richly deserves here.  This isn’t something I’d personally listen to (I find double bass fucking obnoxious (because it is)), but for “Silver Dragon”?  I’ll allow it.  Damn good remix.  The opposite of the remix above, basically: the song isn’t close to my favorite, but it’s damn faithful.

Filtering Through the Memories (Memoria)
sephfire

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Oooooh, here we go.  A fantastic remix for the nostalgically, creepily spacey Memoria theme.  I’m a huge fan of this remix.  When I hear this, though, I know I’m approaching the end, which is an excitingly scary prospect…

Crystalline Tempest (Crystal World)
Archangel

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All right, I’m calling it, it’s official – Archangel is the MVP of this damn album.  He, katethegreat, and umlaut-man all absolutely killed it, but… man.  Archangel knew the tone he wanted to strike in every song, and executed them all to perfection.  Well done, yo.

Arxidopita (The Darkness of Eternity)
SnappleMan, finbeard, norg

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DUDE.  I LOVE how badass people have made Kuja’s themes in this album.  As I’ve said before, I think Kuja is criminally underrated, but this album sonically draws him up to be the badass he really is.  Like, if you’re not intimidated when you listen to this shit, you need to check your amygdala (or whatever the part of the brain that handles intimidation is.  I’m no surgeon, fuck off).  The breakdown in the middle is great – it takes us back to a better time in the game, a less-intense, less-“existence-is-on-the-line” time, as if the artist is trying to escape the reality of the battle themselves.

Zero World (The Final Battle)
Fishy feat. Ludiotic

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FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKTHISSHITWASINCREDIBLE.  I love how the actual FFIX lines were uttered in the beginning and end; so epic.  I’ve always thought of Necron’s voice to be an… “anti-voice”, a sonic nothingness, greater than the deepest silence, cutting through the noise of the world around it… but I don’t blame the mixers for, y’know, not being able to do that.  That’s kinda tough.

FIVE.

EPIC.

DAGGERS.

Prelude to Fantasy (Prelude)
Archangel

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I mean, there’s honestly not much to say – here we are at the end of the album, and who’s here to punctuate it but our man, Archangel.

Do I even need to tell you that he earned a five?

This is another song, like “You’re Not Alone”, like “Melodies of Life”, that if you fuck it up, that’s some bad news.  Luckily, Archangel was on the job and up to the task, putting together the BEST “Prelude” mix I’ve ever heard.

It’s amazing.  It’s transcendent.  I wept in my office at work.  It was worth it.

Worlds Apart, OverClocked ReMix’s incredible FFIX album, five years in the making, doesn’t go out with a whimper.  It doesn’t go out with a bang.

It goes out… with a Prelude.  As it was always destined to.

Thanks for joining me through the greatest remix album ever to be released.

God, I fucking love Final Fantasy IX.

FFIX: Worlds Apart Review, Disc 3

Hello, and welcome to my review/listening guide of the third disc of Final Fantasy IX: Worlds Apart, the remix album from the sonic wizards over at OverClocked ReMix!

I’ll be going through, track-by-track, and rating them on a 1-5 “Steiner Scale”, along with giving a few thoughts on why I rated them so.  You can listen along on SoundCloud or download the album yourself at ff9.ocremix.org!

A Rose in the Storm (Roses of May)
Natalya Zarraga feat. Seth Tallman

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Man.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad “Roses of May” remix (and trust me, I have sought out many).  This mix is no exception – methodical, cathartic, with a nice little breakdown in the middle.  Nice use of harp.  Fuckin’ love harp.

Dig This Fossil (Fossil Roo)
Mazedude

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Y’know, out of the entire OST, Fossil Roo is one of the few I’m relatively “meh” on (it’s still Uematsu, so it is still, by definition, perfect… but you know what I mean).  This remix is definitely an interesting take, but it doesn’t really have the “wow” factor, nor does it make me look at the original song in a new way.  Still good enough for three Steiners, though.

Rally-ho! (Conde Petit)
Moomba feat. Fishy

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Dude.  Fishy rules.  I don’t look at the artists before I write these, but color me unsurprised that he (along with Moomba) took this remix and kicked its ass.  I thought I was going to fall asleep in the beginning, but they came back strong with some grade-A remixing starting about a minute in.

Fixations (Before the Altar)
RiverSound

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LOVED IT.  Made me feel like I was at the (fake?) wedding in Conde Petit.  Great take on a song which, had they fucked it up, I would’ve been quite saddened indeed.  This one tugs at the nostalgic heartstrings.

Blakk Majik (Black Mage Village)
Brandon Strader, Jeff Ball

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Another song that, while well-executed, doesn’t seem to allow the true tone of the original song to shine through.

OH WAIT WUBUBUUWBUWUWUWUUBUBBIIES

+1 for dubby-wubbies.  They’re used to great effect, adding a layer of quirkiness that would have been lost had they gone with the more-aggressive guitar sound for the whole song.

+1 for having a Wicker Man reference.  WELP, I started this review at a 3, now it’s a 5.  Whoops.

I Am Gonna Stop Eventually (Unforgettable Sorrow)
Brandon Strader

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Utterly fantastic.  It really packs that “I just realized that I’m going to die one day” emotional punch.  Very sad, as it should be.

Plus, I’m a sucker for solo piano.  Sue me.

I’ll Always Be There (Eiko’s Theme)
Flexstyle

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Aside from the creepy whispers that sound more serial killer-y than like friendly reassurance, I thought this was a great remix.  Relatively light and bouncy, but with a tone of sadness, just like the character.  Flexstyle did a great job.  Highly recommended.

Iifa, the Super Tree of Death (Iifa, the Ancient Tree of Life)
ch4rl33

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You can tell that this one’s by ch4rl33 immediately – sounds just like Knight-wit.  And, if you remember my review of that remix, that’s not a bad thing.

ch4rl33 does a great job of keeping the foreboding of the Iifa Tree, while adding his own dubby-wubby, constantly-morphing flavor to the music.  Another ch4rl33 remix, another 5/5 on my board.

Assassimander (Amarant’s Theme)
ch4rl33

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OH NO, CH4RL33 GOT SOMETHING LESS THAN A FIVE!  GASP!

Don’t get me wrong – Assassimander.  In fact, the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me; hell, it might be a five in my book sometime soon.  I don’t think it carries the same glorious epicene that his previous two offerings provide, however.  It may look like I just give out fives willy-nilly, and sometimes I do, but I can be picky; I expect a lot from ch4rl33 now, and with that comes higher expectations.  Four out of five.

Four Score and Six-Eight (Tetra Master)
djpretzel

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Speaking of high expectations, I have them for djpretzel.  On a lesser album, perhaps I’d give this a four, but surrounded by the other stellar offerings, “Four Score and Six-Eight” musters no more than a three.  It’s definitely good; it’s definitely worth multiple listens; it’s not as good as many of the other songs on this album.

Miles and Miles Away (Esto Gaza)
XPRTNovice

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Man.  After my FFVI reviews, if you had told me that XPRTNovice wouldn’t get a 5/5 on this album, I would’ve said you were crazy.  But, hey, here we are.

This remix was quite close, actually – I looooooove smooth jazz, and this shit is smooth as a baby’s bottom wrapped in silk and dipped into a vat of liquid velvet.  Unfortunately, it didn’t have the “wow” factor; it never blew me away.  It worked great with the tone of Esto Gaza, but it’s squarely in the 4/5 range.

When Love Must Be Saved (Broken Spell, Healed Hearts)
Bluelighter

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It took a few minutes, but this remix came into its own… eventually.  Kinda.  Before the halfway point, this thing was headed straight for Onesville.  Honestly, I was just bored to tears.  It picks up a bit towards the end, however, and earns a bump in my rating.  Nothing special, but okay.

The Final Melody (Melodies of Life)
Jovette Rivera feat. ISAO

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There are a few things you need to know about me: one, I’ve been looking forward to this album for years; two, the FFIX OST is quite possibly my favorite musical piece of all time; three, if you fuck up a remix of Melodies of Life, there will be hell to pay.

Luckily, Jovette Rivera knocks it out of the park, yo.  5/5.  Listen.  Love.  Listen again.  Love more.  Repeat.

Through Sun-drenched Skies (Aboard the Hilda Garde)
Archangel

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Dude, Archangel is really fucking good.  The whimsy and glory of the original song is balanced and mirrored perfectly in this remix, while the artist definitely makes it their own.  That dude with all the umlauts in his name from Disc 1 may just have a competition in the MVP discussion for this album.

Bibliotheca ~ Dreamer in the Library (Daguerreo, the Hermit’s Library)
katethegreat19, Chaeley

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So remember that time (read: those many, many times) I called katethegreat19’s voice gorgeous?  Yeah, well, it is.  And it remains so throughout this song.  The music is perfect for Daguerreo, one of my personal favorite locations in the entire game.  A fuckin’ library city thing built into a mountain?  How fuckin’ cool is that?

Anyway, yeah, five.  A fantastic run of songs to end the third of four discs.