All posts by Ahmed Mosly

A medical undergraduate and a hardcore gamer? How does that even work? Is it even possible? Evidently, yes it is. Hope your brain doesn't explode from the awesomeness. I'm indeed both of these things despite my lack of proper time management skills. The scale isn't balanced either...at times it will shift to one side more than the other. I'm happy though. So...what's my story, you ask? You won't find it the most original tale ever...but then again, all gamers start out the same. Perhaps the biggest twist in my story is that I'm from Saudi Arabia. Yes...you read that right. We do have hardcore gamers here...it's not just desert, camels, and tents as some of you may assume. Remember, assuming too much makes an ass out of you and me (ass-u-me). I've been gaming for 20 years now...ever since the NES was given to me as a birthday present when I was 5 (thanks, Mom and Dad!). Upon discovering the internet in the late 90s, the inner workings of the gaming community and industry made much more sense to me. At first, it was limited to being a fan of what I love most and reading facts from afar (a.k.a. writing Zelda fanfiction). Then in 2003, I stumbled upon Nintendo of America's official forums (Hyrule Town Square) and things started evolving from there. The community promoted me and thought that my passionate ramblings were unique. As that community grew (becoming known as Nsider eventually), I grew with it...until I met the duo of Jarrod Nichol and William Cook, two other fans who ran a column called "Iris Network" that covered rumors. They actually talked about one particular rumor I discovered back in the day. I started conversing with Jarrod more, discovering that we were both passionate about the same games (Zelda, anything from Square-Enix). Turns out that Jarrod was deeply involved in the gaming industry, and that's where I learned the basics. His passion of making his own independent site became a reality in 2004. Luckily he invited me to join the ride...and what a ride it has been! I've jumped around here in Project COE, taking part in many positions and not limiting myself to a specific task. Is there even an official title for someone like me? Either way, I'll keep on doing what I'm doing and hope for the best. Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/NowOnAFM Gaming Bytes Galore: www.gamingbg.com, tumbytes.gamingbg.com

Interview with Next Level Games’ Audio Director, Chad York

I’ve always been a huge admirer of Next Level Games and the minds behind their games, particularly from the music point of view. Mario Strikers: Charged hit the scene a few years ago, and its music went by unrecognized. I honestly think it has one of the most underrated soundtracks of all time. Thankfully, I managed to get in contact with the man behind the music of that game and a few other Nintendo flagships, Chad York. I’m thankful that he lent his time for me to interview him through Skype. It was more of a conversation really, an insightful one at that. For my first interview ever, it turned out rather well. Hope you enjoy!

Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Has a Shadow Triforce and…an Item Shop?

The most recent Nintendo direct talked about a lot of tidbits regarding A Link Between Worlds, including some gameplay and lore.

As a fanatic of the timeline, I appreciated the little details in plot that Iwata touched upon for both A Link to the Past and The Wind Waker in this video, finally not treating us fans like idiots. This game will take place centuries after A Link to the Past, and it’s confirmed that Ganon has been sealed but not killed in ALttP. One out-of-the-box element in this spiritual sequel is the existence of a Shadow version of the Triforce as hinted at in the logo and by Iwata, which has never been seen in the Zelda lore before. I’m really curious on how will they expand on that bit and what the pieces of the Dark Triforce will represent. Perhaps this is why Ganon hasn’t been killed off in ALttP has most of us have expected.

In terms of gameplay, the trailer above finally reveals the Dark World in all its glory, with one key difference; you will rely on Link’s new wall-hugging power to travel back and forth between the worlds instead of certain tile sets and the magic mirror, which mixes things up a lot. It will take me awhile to re-orient myself to this awesome world due to this little change. Also, the Dark World Theme remix in the background sounds absolutely awesome.

Finally, there’s a little tidbit left out of the Nintendo Direct, shared by Mr. Aonuma in a Miiverse post instead. Take a look at this screenshot from the post:

zelda item shop
Do you see what’s being sold in this item shop? We know that quantities of items won’t matter anymore due to the universal stamina meter…yet the item shop unexpectedly sells essential items like the hookshot, bow, ice rod, and boomerang. Mr. Aonuma also says that there’s a backstory behind the shop keeper that we should keep an eye out for later. This shot is still very puzzling and confusing to me. So if the item shops sells weapons that originally and traditionally are found in dungeons, what will the dungeons contain instead? Also, if I can get these weapons early on in the game, does that mean I can sequence-break and play dungeons out of order? If this is true on both accounts, then we’re going to see a very groundbreaking installment here. It feels like I’m seeing an expanded version of the original NES Zelda in terms of gameplay.

For Aonuma’s full post, click here.

Video of the Day: The Mmotional Wii U Kid!

Move over, n64 kid! There’s a new sheriff in town!

The holy month of Ramadan is almost over. As per Muslim tradition, Eid is a upon us. Essentially the equivalent of Christmas, Eid is a time of celebration, prayer and family gatherings, fresh off fasting for a whole month in Ramadan. Kids have the best time since they are the ones who receive gifts from their older relatives, parents, and siblings. So what better than a live reaction of a kid getting his Wii U as an Eid present from his brother?

 

Essentially, the brother and mother are touched and baffled by his reaction, telling him not to cry and he should be happy. What they haven’t realized is that he’s crying from happiness and overwhelmed by the generosity of his brother. The mother then proceeds to tell him to go and hug your brother. It’s the little things in life. I’m touched.

Here’s the live reaction video which started it all, the n64 kid. Which do you prefer? Sound off in the comments below.

Let’s Try: Earthbound for the Wii U

Decided to finally give this cult classic a go on twitch. The play-through will be eventually uploaded on YouTube, too. Though unfortunately there are missing pieces due to Elgato screwing up the recording. Thankfully, the full let’s try is uploaded on twitch. Enjoy!

On Online Professionalism, Transparency, and Critiques – Phil Fish vs. Marcus Beer Debacle

So Fez II got cancelled and Phil Fish quit the industry due to a culmination of a hate parade on him throughout the years, finally pushed over-the-edge by one Marcus Beer of GameTrailers. In this video, I delve into my thoughts in general of what went down and how we should improve ourselves as game journalists and fans alike. Please note that while I’m not taking the favorable way of going completely against Phil, I rationalize why and do fault him for certain things he has done and said. I may not completely know the details of how this beef came to be and neither I do recite the events in full chronological order, but the vital parts are mostly there. Besides, it’s not about the details here; it’s more about how these people acted in public.

The Sky: Art of Final Fantasy – Unboxing & Showcase

It had a very limited print run in the past, but now it’s back. Dark Horse recently republished this beautiful collection of artwork by Yoshitaka Amano, representing the Final Fantasy series from I to X. Allow me to unbox and showcase these art books for you, reminiscing the past as we flip through the pages.

OC ReMix Strikes Again — Final Fantasy VI: Balance & Ruin Finally Released!

If you don’t know what OC ReMix is, get out from under that rock you’re rotting in. An organization set to celebrate videogame music, running strong for 13 years, have finally released their 40th album. Arguably their biggest work yet, what better than to tackle the best of the best? The original composer is Nobuo Uematsu. The game is Final Fantasy VI. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best entries in the series, which conveniently contains some of the best music in the series, too. Each character in its large cast had a diverse theme, each track tried to go for a certain feel and genre. From Shadow’s country/western-like composition to Emperor Gestahl’s sweeping march symphony that always sends chills down my spine — From the infamous Maria & Draco opera to the quirky and appropriately-named Spinach Rag; Mr. Uematsu’s masterpiece constantly surprises you with versatility and memorable melodies. It’s fitting then that OC ReMix tributes this track in the only way they know how; make it more versatile and memorable. While a soundscape update to the original 16-bit tunes is always a treat, that’s not OCR’s primary goal. Just like Uematsu, they’re here to make videogame music sweep through a lot of genres and expand on the composition on the original melodies in unique ways. One could argue that this style of remixing may cause the original sound to get lost in the shuffle and become undetectable, but OCR’s remixers mostly manage to balance nostalgia and newness excellently. Their previous Final Fantasy album, VII’s Voices of a Lifestream, is one such album in my opinion. It contains some of the best material I’ve heard from OCR, and judging by the preview trailer of FFVI, they’re looking to topple whatever they’ve made in the past.

Epic trailer indeed. I like how they highlight the actual remixers of the album because they truly deserve it. I hear hints of Dancing Mad in there, going for a Middle Eastern fusion sort of thing. Jillian Goldin is featured with her beautiful female vocals. Electric guitars, orchestra, a violin version of Spinach rag, a rock version of Maria & Draco, and the list goes on and on. I have not listened to the full album yet at this time of writing, but I’m looking forward to the ride as soon as I click that publish button. As usual, it’s free to download…but for those who have contributed to the Kickstarter will get their physical edition (with a bonus DVD) soon enough. For now, let’s enjoy some free remixed videogame music. I’m sure a lot of old-school FFVI fans will pick their top 10 favorite remixes off this album, including yours truly. Keep it locked for album impressions!

Let’s Try: New Super Luigi U – First Session – YouTube Archives!

I streamed this playthrough a couple of days ago so here is the YouTube direct capture version for those who missed it. It’s easier to digest as the videos are shorter and divided. Forgive me for the audio echoing. We are pretty new to YouTube and just found out that you can now purchase youtube views. This will help you grow your channel.

Level Up: Dragon Quest X Learns PC Ability! Let’s Discuss the Future of its Release Stateside!

Last year, hardcore DQ veteran Jarrod Nichol and I had a long discussion on Dragon Quest X’s Japanese Wii launch in the replies of my article, which resulted in me talking about an imminent port. Can’t say I told you so, but it’s finally here! Another successful prediction by yours truly! Scroll down the comments of previously-linked article for proof. I can’t believe it’s launching so soon though; September 26th.

Let’s backtrack and analyze the history bit by bit as this series of events make a lot of sense. Console-exclusive MMOs are relatively unheard of, so last year’s Japanese launch of DQX on the Wii was a wild card. For a DQ title, it sales were lacking. As an MMO, however, it has done exceptionally well, looking at the fact that it was released for a single console that dried up in popularity by 2012. In that year alone, DQX sold 660000 copies and has gained over 400000 subscribers. That’s what I a call a money-maker in the long term.

There are a couple of downsides to the whole story, however. It’s late Wii release and complex requirements for it to run on the console (mandatory USB and two discs) spelled immediate doom for an international release. Western Wii owners will most likely not jump through these hoops in order to play a single game. The Wii U port was the only hope for a bigger draw due to hassle-free gaming and a potential international audience. Sadly, however, that port was released in Japan on March with very little fanfare; just over 33000 units sold on launch week. Not even the power of the Dragon Quest could help spike Wii U hardware sales in its native country, and that says a lot. Again, these sales definitely makes a console release internationally out of the question. It would be a hassle for Nintendo of America & Europe to publish the game, localize its text, and maintain its servers…especially if the return isn’t going to be satisfying enough.

Here we are in late 2013…and for the first time in the franchise’s history, a PC port is heading our way fast as the result of aging Wii hardware and a poor Wii U showing. Some would say that hell has frozen over, but looking over the past paragraphs makes this evolution completely logical. First and foremost, MMOs will never hit strides with console exclusivity, as our good old friend Tim always says. Square-Enix is already bleeding money as it is, and desperate times require logical business moves. The structure of this genre fits PC like a glove as it requires the following: constant updates/patches, solid hardware, flexible OS software, and a constant internet connection with special account management and frequent logins. Consoles are relatively close platforms at the end of the day so managing MMOs and accounts through them will always prove difficult, but that looks to change with next-gen. Nonetheless, I think that the PC provides a significant advantage to Dragon Quest X and its rabid fanbase as it is arguably the biggest platform this franchise has ever been in. Additionally, the potential for localization and an international release is huge. Mark my words; it is bound to be released in English — but we’ll have to wait awhile for that to happen because Square-Enix already has an MMO planned for the end of the year: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It’s unfair for the international audience to have both competing franchises under the same company launch simultaneously, especially since Final Fantasy has always been a bigger name in the west.

As for the game’s future on console, it looks bleak to be blunt. I don’t think Square-Enix are stupid enough to suddenly pull the plug on Wii and Wii U owners because the current fanbase is already set and solid, especially on the Wii. Japanese gamers are safe for now, but international fans shouldn’t expect too much. It all depends on Wii U hardware sales. If Nintendo successfully jump-starts the system by 2013 and early 2014, we may see a simultaneous launch of DQX on the Wii U and PC in 2014. If not, then it will remain PC-only. A PS4 release is also possible, though I guess Square-Enix will monitor Final Fantasy XIV’s sales in that platform and act from there.

A penny for your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

Let’s Try: New Super Luigi U – Live Stream

Let’s look at the Wii U for some DLC madness after a long drought. Enjoy the gameplay, commentary, and epic fails. Will be up soon on YouTube. Edit: Stream over. Archive gameplay starts at the 2:40 mark.