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Tales of Xillia 2 Review: Take me back to Rieze Maxia

The new antagonists, Ludger and Elle

The new antagonists, Ludger and Elle

Welcome back everyone to my esteemed blog.  The crickets have been chirping quite a bit on the blogging front, but there are a couple of reasons for this.  First, my company recently had their annual meeting, which really took it out of me.  So, after the conclusion of that successful meeting, I took a few days off and just relaxed.  I also had to attend a wedding or two, which involved quite a bit of traveling.  Now fans can rejoice, for I have returned.  Let us begin.

Bandai Namco is best known for the Tales series.  Now they have brought us the direct sequel to Tales of Xillia.  Tales of Xillia 2 takes place one year after the events of the first game.  With the huge success of the first installment, does this sequel measure up to it’s predecessor?  Let’s review.

Graphics:  There isn’t much to be said about the graphics of Tales of Xillia 2, reason being, it looks exactly the same in and out.  The characters both new and returning still retain the same design and art direction, minus a few wardrobe and hair changes (it has been a year since the first game ).  Score:  8/10

A little of the new mixed with the old.

A little of the new mixed with the old.

Sound:  Tales of Xillia 2 brings back some familiar tunes along with some new tracks to spice up the roster.  Motoi Sakuraba brings his delicate touch back to what is already a great franchise.  The voice acting is done fairly well, with the original cast returning to compliment the new characters.  On a sad note to some, Teepo is back.  Ayumi Hamasaki brings her vocal talents back with the intro theme “Song 4 U.”  Fans of the first Xillia title soundtrack won’t be disappointed with this second dose of gaming music excellence.  Score:  8.5/10

Gameplay:  As with most Tales games, this is where it all comes together.  Tales of Xillia’s core gameplay is in the fighting system.  When you’re fighting monsters, it feels more like a fighting game and less of a “select your attack and wait” kind of game, which is pretty cliche in most JRPGs.

Outta my way!

Outta my way!

The story, which is excellent, picks up one year after the events of the first game.  There is a twist, you don’t get to play as two separate protagonists, instead you only have one hero, Ludger Kresnik.  I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed with Ludger as a protagonist.  Although his story involving his brother Julius is well plotted, his portrayal as the more often than not silent protagonist is very off-putting, and while you make selections on Ludger’s responses and choices-it feels bland all together.  Elle is the other protagonist, a non-playable character who is also a huge element of the story, although not being able to use her caused me to disassociate myself from her almost entirely.  I much preferred Jude and Milla.

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The story progresses smoothly, except for times when you are forced to pay off your ridiculously exorbitant debt.  This results in you having to sidetrack your mission to accomplish fetch and monster slaying quests.  Except for the “elite” monsters, I found the remaining quests to be very tedious.

Battle of the brothers!

Battle of the brothers!

The orb system has had an overhaul as well.  I was a huge fan of the “Illium Orb” system in the first Xillia game.  The new orb system called “Allium Orb” is something that I am not too fond of.  You equip each character with an orb that slowly levels up and earns you new and upgraded skills and artes.  Think of it as a Final Fantasy 6 esper system, but much more detailed.  The only downside to this system is that with everything going on in this game, you are forced to do some severe micromanaging.  To some this is ok, but for others, it can be somewhat of a burden.

Meet the new Allium Orb system.

Meet the new Allium Orb system.  I’m a fan of the japanese version, sorry folks.

One addition that I thought was an excellent touch is the character story lines.  This allows Ludger and Elle to go on separate quests with each of the original characters from the first game, thus learning more about that individual character and increasing the bond you have between them, and you can earn a costume accessory here and there.  Score: 9.0/10

Tales of Xillia 2 is an incredible story that brings this tale to a wonderful close.  Any Tales fan should definitely add this to their library.  One thing, if you never played the first Tales of Xillia, I would recommend playing that one first.  It helps bring events of the sequel to better light.  Thanks again for following my blog.  I am reviewing a niche title called Fairy Fencer F.  Stay tuned for my review coming soon.  Thanks everyone!

Final Score: 8.5/10

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 Demo Review

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Welcome back friends to another edition of the gaming angel.  Things have been quite frigid in my neck of the woods, so frigid that my internet was blown out.  I also celebrated my birthday so that took up a large majority of my weekend.  Now that my internet capabilities are restored, I can get back to the gaming goodness, and give to you all my unbiased feedback.  Without further adieu, let the blogging begin.

Square-Enix or Squeenix, as they have been referred to in recent years has suffered a lot of financial setbacks.  They are not only suffering financial setbacks, but they suffer from a deficiency of bringing quality games to fans.  Early this week, Square-Enix released the very small downloadable demo of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 for the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360 gaming consoles.  As many of you know, this particular installment of the once amazing franchise has been called the worst of the entire series.  Most complained about the extreme linearity of the first, whilst complaining about the very defragmented and confusing story of the second.  Now, we have the third installment of the Final Fantasy 13 saga.  The question is does this installment look like a worthy follow-up?  Read on to find out.

Graphics:  LRFF13 is beautiful in terms of presentation.  The few areas of the demo were very vibrant and impressive.  The characters are similar in design, and of course the CG movie sequences are as amazing as before.  This is definitely a sugar overdose in the eye candy department.  Score: 10/10

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Sound:  Masashi Hamazu does a very admirable job with the musical score but, it will never be as beautiful as the work of Nobuo Uematsu.  Score: 8.5/10

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Gameplay:  The battle system of the game has had a very shocking makeover.  It has been remade into a more real-time battle system consisting of using only Lightning.  You can actually move her around the battlefield in a defensive pace.  Lightning possesses an ability called schema (job class).  To those who are familiar with the garb system from Final Fantasy 10-2, you will be more than acquainted with the schema system.  You can equip up to three schemas for battle purposes, each with 100 ATB.  You have set skills assigned to a particular button.  You can use these skills until the ATB for that schema is depleted.  Once it is, you must quickly switch to another schema while the depleted one replenishes.  It allows for fluid gameplay, while adding a strategic element when fighting an opponent with a particular weakness.  This is a vast improvement over the battle system of the previous installments.  The storyline is still difficult to grasp this early in the game.  We can only hope that Square-Enix will give us an impressive story to make up for the previous two games.  Score: 8.5/10

Demo Final Score: 9/10

Since Final Fantasy 13 has not been doing well, I say give the demo a shot.  By all means let me know what you think.  Stay tuned when I review Bravely Default.  Until next time dear gamers.

Ys Memories Of Celceta Review

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Happy Holidays dear readers, and welcome back to my esteemed blog.  I must apologize for the hiatus but, I recently acquired a new position, and that combined with a somewhat lengthy commute makes my time for blogging scarce, but I am back and the blogging will go on.  

25 years ago, an action role playing franchise graced us with it’s presence.  Unfortunately, it debuted on the Turbo Duo CD, a great console that was too expensive at the time to own.  It was also competing with the already popular Zelda series, which is why this franchise never got the recognition it deserved.  Now the Vita get a taste of the Ys franchise with Ys: Memories of Celceta for the Playstation Vita console.  This is a reimagining of Ys IV: Dawn of Ys for the Turbo Duo CD, which never saw a North American release.  So, does this reimagining succeed in giving gamers what they want?  Let’s find out.

Graphics:  For being a Vita exclusive title, Ys Memories of Celceta delivers graphics that are good but still remain true to nostalgia.  The character sprites, animations and creatures are fairly robust, but still manage to keep a nostalgic look to it.  The world is vast however, there is little to interact with in this massive re-imagined world, which is somewhat of a disappointment.  Score: 7.5/10

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Sound:  The Ys series has always been faithful to delivering a fantastic musical score, and Memories of Celceta does not disappoint.  Fans of Ys music will be having multiple eargasms listening to the amazing musical score.  Plus, for those of you who can shell out the extra bucks, the collector’s edition comes with a three disc soundtrack featuring three to four tracks from each of the Ys titles.  Score: 9/10

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Gameplay:  The meat of the package in Ys Memories of Celceta comes from the combat.  From the moment you begin the game, you are instantly thrown into battle.  In this title, our protagonist Adol is suffering from amnesia, and begins a journey through Celceta to regain the memories he has lost.  The combat is pretty fast paced, and boss battles are epic.  The side-quest options consist of fetch quests or hunting a creature (some of which can be difficult if unprepared) and killing it.  You spend most of your time traversing through the world of Celceta while completing a quest that sadly tends to drag sometimes.  Voice acting is present but, they are so rare that the story suffers as a result.  Fortunately, the combat manages to keep the blood pumping enough to keep you from boredom.  Score: 9/10 

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Ys Memories of Celceta is a great addition to the already minimal selection of Vita exclusive RPGs.  Longtime fans, or if you’re seeking a new adventure, look no further than Ys. 

Final Score: 8.5/10

Beyond Two Souls Review: Is it more than just fancy polish?

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Welcome back and happy Friday dear readers.  I wanted to get this review up and running because Pokemon X and Y will be launching tomorrow morning, and that review is going to take me some time.  Quantic Dream has been known for their unique approach to video games, making it more of an interactive movie experience.  They are best known for previous titles like Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain.  Now they have released their newest title, Beyond Two Souls.  This title has been highly anticipated since Heavy Rain was a huge hit.  Does this newest title live up to the reputation of previous games?

 

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Graphics
:  To say that Beyond Two Souls’ graphics are amazing is an understatement.  Quantic Dream achieves graphical perfection in this interactive cinematic game.  The character models and animations are beautifully executed, and the locations that are explored through Jodie’s eyes are lush and quite beautiful to see.  When you take control of Jodie’s spiritual companion Aiden, you see a different perspective that is again beautifully executed.  Quantic Dreams even went as far as to model the characters after the actors who played them.  This is something that is rarely seen in video games, and Quantic Dream should be highly commended for it.  Score: 10/10

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Sound:  Lorne Balfe along with Hans Zimmer bring a fantastic soundtrack that draws you into the game.  From intense action sequences, to even a simple dating scenario, Balfe and Zimmer bring forth a fitting musical score that fits every situation perfectly.  Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe give fantastic performances.  Score: 10/10

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Gameplay:  The gameplay of Beyond Two Souls can be described as a “love it or hate it” situation.  You are more or less a companion that watches Jodie’s life unfold from childhood to adulthood.  During action sequences you make decisions throughout the scenarios that dictate what Jodie will do, or whether or not an action she performs will be successful.  For example, in a fight scenario Jodie picks up a pipe and swings at a foe.  You must press the right analog stick based on Jodie’s body movement and where she is going to swing from.  Therefore, if she is swinging to the right, you press the analog stick to the right.  This applies to even mundane activities such as cooking dinner and eating.  It is a mechanic that is unique and may not appeal to gamers that are well adjusted to intense action and nonstop button mashing.  You will also assume the role of Aiden, Jodie’s spiritual companion and assist Jodie in both mundane and intense situations.  You utilize Aiden to make objects move or break to impress or scare other people depending on your situation.  In intense situations Aiden uses his abilities to choke enemies, or possess them in order to kill others.  This is a unique approach to gaming which can be fun, but at times it can be tedious.  

The areas in Beyond Two Souls are so gorgeous, and it is a huge shame that the game is linear, and exploring locations is scripted and severely limited.  It’s a downer, but still a joy to look at.  Unfortunately, the story in Beyond Two Souls tends to jump around far too much, which results in a person asking questions of how Jodie landed in the situations that you find yourself in.  There are also points in the action sequences that can be very cumbersome.  Jodie’s body movement is fairly easy to understand at first, but as the game advances her body movement becomes a bit too difficult to read, which results in making a wrong choice.  This wasn’t a big deal, but other gamers out there may find this very frustrating.    Score: 7.5/10

Beyond Two Souls is as I said earlier a “love it or hate it” title.  Fans of Heavy Rain may not be as impressed by Beyond Two Souls and it’s shortcomings.  However, the characters are deep, the story although fragmented is very well told, and it is an experience that every gamer should have just once.  

Final Score: 8/10

Thanks for reading everyone!  Be sure to follow my blog and tell your friends.  Tune in next week when I give my full review of Pokemon X.

 

Dragon’s Crown Review

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Welcome back friends to my outstanding blog.  I apologize for this delayed review but, as many of you are well aware I am in the process of reviewing two very anticipated RPGs for the Playstation 3 console-both of which are extensive and very engaging-Dragon’s Crown and Tales of Xillia.  Rather than delaying the flow of blogs, I decided to just review one title at a time.  First up is Dragon’s Crown.

Dragon’s Crown is the newest title developed by VanillaWare, a small niche company that is responsible for titles such as Princess Crown, Odin Sphere, GrimGrimoire, and Muramasa The Demon Blade.  Originally this title was going to be published by XSeed however, they scrapped the project due to what I believe was financial reasons.  So, Atlus heard the calls from their fans and brought Dragon’s Crown to the United States.  With all the near misses in porting this title stateside, was the effort worth it?

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Graphics:  To say that Dragon’s Crown is a visual masterpiece would be the biggest understatement of 2013.  The most unique attribute about Dragon’s Crown’s graphics all the in-game backgrounds, characters, creatures and effects are painted by hand.  This approach adds a very unique touch that differentiates from other titles, and Vanillaware definitely deserves praises for this beautiful achievement.  Some gamers out there will also notice the extreme detail that is in every character, especially in the females, the sorceress being the biggest example.  Score: 10/10

Sound:  The musical score is very fitting for the world of Dragon’s Crown.  There are several tracks that stand out above the rest,  like the over world theme.  Besides a few sounds the characters make in battle, and of course their quotes when highlighting them during the selection screen, the only voice work is that of the narrator, which is well done.  The narrator however becomes consistently annoying repeating your objective every time you leave a tavern or shop.     Score: 9/10

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Gameplay:  This is where the meat of the package is at.  Fans of Golden Axe will feel right at home with this title.  Dragon’s Crown may seem short with only nine dungeons to explore but, there are two paths per dungeon to explore with two bosses at the end of each path.  The game can be either a short ride or a long excruciating challenge depending on the character you select.  You can recruit other fighters to join in your quest by finding their bones in dungeons and resurrecting them.

There are numerous quests that will keep you more than occupied throughout the adventure,  but the biggest and most unique feature is the loot system.  Throughout each dungeon you will find a plethora of items and equipment that will remain un-appraised until completion.  Once you complete a dungeon, you can spend your gold to appraise the item, or simply cash in your chips and sell it straight out.  Keep in mind, there are LOTS OF ITEMS to find in Dragon’s Crown.  Also in Dragon’s Crown are hidden jewels and trinkets that you discover hidden in the backgrounds of the dungeons which will increase your score.  The campaign mode per character class takes about 20 hours to beat but, fans who are looking for an action RPG with tremendous depth will end their search with Dragon’s Crown with it’s 100 plus hours of gameplay for those looking to earn that platinum.   Score: 10/10  

Issues:  Dragon’s Crown is available for PS3 and PSVita.  Unfortunately the Vita version does not support cross-buy or cross-play.  This is a huge letdown, especially for those Vita owners that want to play with friends.

This is a title that should be in everyone’s possession.  The style of the game is nostalgic, but unique with it’s art style and design.  Definitely recommend this title to everybody.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Be sure to follow my blog everyone.  Thanks again, and see you next time with my Tales of Xillia review.

Upcoming Titles, which ones are you waiting for?

Welcome back friends to another edition of The Gaming Angel.  I must admit that there have been a huge announcement of new game titles since E3 2013’s conclusion.  Here are a few titles that I am looking forward to on both current and next generation consoles:

Dragon’s Crown (PS3, PS Vita)–August 8, 2013
Tales of Xillia (PS3, PS Vita)–August 8, 2013
Ys Memories of Celceta (PS Vita)–September 24, 2013
Mario and Luigi Dream Team (Nintendo 3DS) August 11, 2013
Pokemon X and Y (Nintendo 3DS) October 2013

So, my question to you is, which titles are you most excited for?  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and giving your feedback.  Be sure to click the follow button to follow my blog, and tune in this weekend when I review Shin Megami Tensei IV for the Nintendo 3DS.  

Lucas

Tomb Raider Review: Exploration, adventure, and a sexy heroine resurrected!

ImageHappy St. Patrick’s Holiday to all of my dear readers.  Welcome back to my esteemed blog.  We have seen several video game franchises make several attempts at returning to the spotlight of their glory days (Duke Nukem, Splatterhouse).  Unfortunately, these attempts have failed miserably, and have only succeeded in damaging the franchise’s reputation.

Now another franchise has made an attempt at a divine resurrection.  Lara Croft became the sexiest video game character ever with the release of Tomb Raider for the Playstation 1 in 1996.  Since 2003 Tomb Raider seemed to fade out and most people considered the franchise to be extinct.  Crystal Dynamics had other plans for the series however.  They have completely redesigned Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider franchise in it’s entirety.  So, does Tomb Raider have what it takes to make it’s way back into the spotlight?  Let’s find out.

Graphics:  Anyone who is familiar with the Tomb Raider series will instantly notice how beautiful the game is, not to mention Lara Croft’s makeover.  The environments are very lush and detailed, and whenever Lara suffers an injury you will instantly notice the effort that was put into the beautiful details of the character and environments.  Score: 9.5/10

Sound:  The musical score is very well done, and fits the scenario of each location and situation within the Tomb Raider world.  Jason Graves, who is best known for his work in the Dead Space series does a fantastic job of creating the right music for the right situation.  The voice acting is also very well done with Camilla Luddington leading the way as the voice of Lara Croft.  Score: 9.5/10

Gameplay:  Fans of Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted will feel right at home with Tomb Raider.  The gameplay mechanics have the same stealthy tactical mechanics and action packed gun, and arrow shooting as both game franchises.  Real-time situations and environmental dangers will have you thinking quick on your feet.  The storyline is also intriguing and told through cut-scenes, and in game voice dialogue throughout the adventure.  Score: 9.5/10 

Issues:  The only issue that I have with this title is the multiplayer.  While it was a cute attempt to add a little more variety to the game, it fails miserably.  The multiplayer is very dull and pointless to say the least.  While gamers might be entertained with this for the first hour or so, the interest will die very quickly.

Tomb Raider has made a huge return to the gaming spotlight in a big way.  Lara Croft is back, sexier, stronger, and with more attitude than ever before.

Final Score:  9.5/10

Thank you very much for reading everyone, and be sure to subscribe and tell your friends about my blog.  Tune in next time when I give my review of BioShock Infinite!  Til then friends, take care!

Lucas

Sly Cooper Thieves in Time Review: The old gang is back…in time!

sly-cooper-thieves-in-time-charactersWelcome back dear friends to my amazing blog.  With the sugary, sweet, diabetic inducing holiday of Valentine’s Day less than a week away, I figured a sweet review is more than deserved.

It has been nearly eight years since Sly Cooper 3 made it’s debut on the Playstation 2 console.  It left fans wondering if there would be another installment to this amazing franchise on the Playstation 3 console.  Well fear not because Sony is putting our worries at ease with the newest edition to the Sly Cooper franchise Sly Cooper Thieves in Time for the Playstation 3.

People have been very skeptical about this recent release since it was developed by Sanzaru and not Sucker Punch (developers of Sly 1-3).  So the question on everyone’s mind is, can Sanzaru pull off a beautiful game as well as Sucker Punch?  Let’s review shall we?

Graphics:  The graphics of Sly are definitely top notch.  The animated cut scene introduction is well done, not to mention funny.  The cell shaded detail of the characters will definitely have Sly fans jumping for joy.  Score: 9/10

Gameplay:  Believe it or not, fans will be praising Sanzaru for the keeping the old style gameplay of Sly and adding a few new tricks to the roster.  The difficulty of Sly is slightly amped, especially when it comes to finding the clue bottles to unlock the safe.  The story of Sly is beautifully done, and Sanzaru should be commended for keeping in the roots of the original story, and not getting lofty visions and coming out with some way out story that doesn’t make sense or damages the franchise.  Score: 9.5/10

Sound:  The original voices of the Sly Cooper gang are back in high gear along with a soundtrack that stays true to the theme of the Sly Cooper world.  A definite accomplishment.  Score: 9/10

Sanzaru did an excellent job at taking the helm where Sucker Punch left off.  Sly Cooper Thieves in Time is a definite must for those who have remained true to the series.

Final Score: 9/10

As always friends, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated.  Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest in gaming news and reviews by following my blog and telling your friends about me.  Thanks everyone and see you next time!

Lucas

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

ImageWelcome back friends to another edition of The Gaming Angel.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and here is to the start of a new year.

Great RPG’s have become a rarity in recent years, and fans have began to wonder whether or not there will ever be another great RPG that will make leaps and bounds above today’s current RPG’s.  Well folks, I am happy to answer that question with a big solid yes.  Namco Bandai has satisfied the hunger of RPG fans with the release of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.

I apologize in advance for the delay with this review, but I wanted to enjoy this game thoroughly, since I have been waiting for over a year for it’s release.  So, is this title worth an RPG fan’s time?  Here’s the verdict.

Graphics:  From the moment you turn on the game…Breathtaking is an understatement when describing the beauty of this game’s graphics.  The beautiful environments, cel-shaded characters, and amazing animated movie cut scenes courtesy of Studio Ghibli all blend together to bring us a timeless tale chock full of eye candy.
Score 10/10

Sound:  The musical score of Ni No Kuni is absolutely flawless.  It was composed by the world famous Joe Hisaishi.  The music was performed by the Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra.  This duo is a sure formula for perfection and it is executed brilliantly.
Score: 10/10

Gameplay: The gameplay of Ni No Kuni is a unique blend of Tales of Destiny meets Pokemon.  The exploration is pretty much like your typical JRPG.  The battle system is a nice refreshing subject.  Battle consists of all characters being in an open map area much like Tales of Destiny, and you have the option of fighting the characters yourself (Oliver) or you can summon these Pokemon like familiars to fight in your place.  It’s a blend of past gameplay elements that work wonderfully together.  RPG fans all over will drool over this.  Score: 10/10

Ni No Kuni is an RPG that fans have been waiting for!  If you have ever played an RPG (past or present) or a hardcore RPG fan that has lost hope in a perfect RPG ever coming around, then you need to pick up Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.  You will not be disappointed.

Final Score: 10/10

Thanks for reading my blogs, and be sure to subscribe and tell your friends!  Also, for those that may not know, I have a YouTube page which consists of me playing games (past and present) and doing commentary at the same time.  Be sure to subscribe folks!  My username on YouTube is CrystalEsper.  Thanks again folks and see you next time.

Video Game Commentary Videos Are Online!!!

Hello, Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to my esteemed blog.  As many of you may already know, I have decided to get into playing video games both current and nostalgic while doing commentary on it.  These are known as either LPAT (Let’s Play A Thing), or IPAT (I Played A Thing)  on YouTube.  I have graciously decided to dive into the IPAT club with video game commentaries of my own.  My name on the YouTube Network is CrystalEsper.  Yes, as many of you can tell by the name, Final Fantasy 6 had a profound impact on me in a very positive way.  Anyhow folks, the project has begun and parts one and two are up for download.  I hope you and enjoy and will also subscribe to my YouTube page.  I will upload these as frequently as I can.  Please leave me your feedback and comments, as I welcome them graciously.  The link to my YouTube page can be found here.

Thanks for following and I’ll see you soon.

Lucas