Final Fantasy Rankings (Part 3 – Espers, Eidolons, and Materia)


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

This is the final installment of a three-part series. Those just joining us now should be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

#3: Final Fantasy VIIFfvii_usbox

Final Fantasy VII was a big deal.

Hell, it still is a big deal. How big? Consider this: In late 2015, when Square Enix announced they were developing Final Fantasy VII Remake, the company’s shares rose to their highest value since November 2008 — a seven year high.

I’ll grant Final Fantasy VII this: It is certainly the most iconic Final Fantasy; it’s the game that made Final Fantasy a mainstream property in the West. Even now, two decades after its original release, Cloud and Sephiroth are still the series’ de facto mascots (and their swords are still as big as ever.)

But Final Fantasy VII wasn’t just iconic; it was an immaculately crafted game, loaded with cool characters, amazing cutscenes, fun minigames, and shocking twists. If social media had existed in 1997, this scene would’ve blown up the internet. No scene in gaming had ever carried this kind of weight … and perhaps none has since.

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Final Fantasy Rankings (Part 2 – The Muddled Middle)


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

This is the second part of a three-part series that ranks the Final Fantasy games. In case you missed it, Part One is here.

Today we continue ahead with fantasies old and new. Enjoy the rankings and check back this weekend for the conclusion!

#6: Final Fantasy VIIIFf8_logo

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. It was the late 90s. Sony was pummeling Sega and had Nintendo on the ropes. I was in middle school. (Fortunately I can remember all of this. Unlike the characters in Final Fantasy VIII, I never junctioned any Guardian Forces.)

First there was the Final Fantasy VIII demo disc. My friend and I played that demo disc until his Playstation’s laser seared a hole through it. (Only then did we start in on the free game that had come packaged with the $50 FFVIII Demo Disc.)

Then came release day. I asked my dad to stop at Best Buy on his way home from work to pick up a copy of Final Fantasy VIII; I paid for it with my allowance money. It was the first time I ever played a video game on release day (previously I’d always been a year or two behind the release curve). Needless to say I was excited.

I popped Disc 1 into my Playstation and fired it up. The opening sequence set the mood: An epic soundtrack! A mysterious sorceress! Guys fighting with swords — swords with GUNS!

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Final Fantasy Rankings (Part I – The Warriors Arrive)


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

A significant portion of my childhood was devoted to Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy VI (known at the time as Final Fantasy III) came out in the U.S. when I was 8 years old. It was my first taste of the series; I’ve been a fan ever since hearing the MIDI organ blare the first notes of the game’s gorgeous title sequence.

Actually, that isn’t entirely true. Final Fantasy and I have had our ups and downs. There were years when I didn’t play any Final Fantasy, followed by weeks of binge gaming to catch up with what I’d missed. But it seems no matter how long I stay away from Final Fantasy, sooner or later I always return.

Now, nearly 30 years after the series’ inception, I join the debate: Which Final Fantasy is the greatest of them all?

Admittedly, answering this question is nigh impossible. The considerations one must account for are overwhelming: Story or gameplay? Cecil or Tidus? Terra or Tifa? Espers or job classes? Chocobo racing or Triple Triad? None of these comparisons have definitive answers.

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New Book Covers for The Northland Chronicles 1-3

The Northland Chronicles series is getting new book covers!

I was never completely happy with the old, comic book-esque covers, so when 2016 rolled in I decided to do something about it. The covers below are the result. Suffice to say, I think these are better than the old covers in every way — more stylish, more modern, and more professional.

So far I’ve only updated the Amazon Kindle versions. I’ll follow up with the other digital editions (iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, Nook, etc.) soon. As for paperbacks, they probably won’t see the update until later this year; I’ll redo the paperback covers when it comes time to design the print edition of TNC4.

A Stranger North (New!) (1000w-jpg) tnc2new (1000w-jpg) tnc3new (1000w-jpg)These covers feature the photography of J. Triepke, Edmund Garman, and Raffi Asdourian, used under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 license.

Henry’s Goals for 2016


Unlike many other typing heads on the internet, I’m not sold on the power of goals. Sure, there are a few tireless souls out there who can scribble down notebooks full of goals and manage to accomplish every one. These people are goal-slayers. They’re a rare breed, indeed.

Me? I vaguely remember setting goals last year.

All went well for a week or two. I was reading 20 books a day, jogging 500km a week, and generally kicking ass. Then, one day in mid-January, an EMP-equipped drone flew into my bedroom and erased my brain. After losing all of my cerebral data I promptly kicked back on my sofa and ate a giant bucket of Häagen-Dazs. Creamy goodness hit my tongue and there was no going back.

Still, goals can be fun. Below are my goals for 2016. Some will be painless. Others may prove painful. Expect a full review at the end of the year.

The goals:

  • Publish two novels
    I’d like to wrap up the Northland Chronicles pentalogy this year. I believe I can, but there’s a difference between can and will. Let’s aim high and see how far I get!
  • Read 60 books
    This is doable. In 2014 I read 56 books without too much trouble. The key will be to stick with books I enjoy. Books that bore me take longer to finish.
  • Run a half marathon
    I could probably manage this today but it would not be pretty. I’ll train for a few more months and be ready to run next autumn, once Taiwan cools off again.
  • Sample 50 varieties of beer
    I like to enjoy a beer in the evening. The goal here isn’t to increase my drinking volume; I’d simply like to enjoy a variety of beers instead of always drinking the same old brews.
  • Write and publish 25 blog posts
    This might be the hardest goal here. I’m a very inconsistent blogger, as you’ve surely noticed *wink wink*. Maybe this year I’ll finally let loose and unleash the bloggage. (Note that my Jams of the Week posts don’t count towards this number.)
  • Read a 200+ page novel in one day
    I’m amazed by people who can read a novel in one sitting. Even a book I’m deeply enjoying usually takes me 2 or 3 days to finish. Sometime this year I’d like to block out an entire day and tear through a book. It’s possible — I just need to focus and DO IT!

Those are the goals. Wish me luck!

Photo credit: steve9567