Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Apr 302021

Square Enix has announced a live stream about Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier for May 7 at 7 AM Eastern Time.

The live stream will be in Japanese, but the Twitch stream will include English commentary.

I have no interest personally in First Soldier, since it’s a mobile-only battle royale. Nothing about that really appeals to me. However, the live stream announcement says there will also be new information about Final Fantasy VII Intergrade at the end.

Intergrade is the upgraded version of Final Fantasy VII Remake for the PS5, which includes a new DLC episode starring Yuffie called Episode INTERmission.

I’m very interested in INTERmission, but the DLC is PS5-exclusive. My list of reasons to want a PS5 is gradually increasing, but not enough yet to push me into actually getting one. That could change soon, depending what is announced in the months ahead (especially with E3 approaching).

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to May 7 much more for what will happen a few hours later at 10 AM Eastern Time – the end of the Judgment Day countdown. The new footage has become increasingly obvious, so it’s almost certainly a sequel announcement.

Are you interested in Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier? Will you be watching the live stream?

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Apr 282021

Following my first venture into pulp fiction with “The Domino Lady Takes the Case,” my second pulp story is available now in a new collection from Airship 27!

Pulp Mythology Volume Two contains three pulp stories all based around myths and legends. Mine is “The Lost Quest of Heracles,” a Greek mythology story that follows Heracles on a new journey as he seeks a way to reunite with his family in the underworld.

(Yeah, I started work on this story sometime after my marathon through the God of War series, which left me wanting more Greek mythology.)

The other two stories in this collection are a Baba Yaga story written by Michael Panush and a novella about Pecos Bill written by Mel Odom.

Currently, the print copy of Pulp Mythology Volume Two is available from Amazon, as well as the ebook!

It should also be available directly from Airship 27 soon, as well.

And if you’re a pulp fiction fan, don’t forget to check out Domino Lady Volume 3, which includes my short story “The Domino Lady Takes the Case.”

I’ve enjoyed getting into the world of new pulp fiction, and there will be more to come!

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Apr 262021

Yesterday, I reached the end of my journey through Grandia, which I started back in September.

…September 2019, that is.

I didn’t play the remaster, but the original PS1 version available through PSN. I played it solidly for about a month, then took a break and didn’t get back to it until earlier this year. That long break is probably due to the game’s pacing.

Grandia follows a boy named Justin who wants to be an adventurer and who sets out to find the mythical city of Alent with the help of a mysterious artifact called the Spirit Stone. The main story deals with the search for Alent and Justin’s clashes with the Garlyle military leaders, who are also interested in Alent.

But that aspect of the plot often takes a backseat to adventure, with it largely being a story of Justin’s journey with his friends and smaller incidents they need to resolve along the way before they can continue.

So on one hand, Grandia has a slower, more relaxed pace for a good portion of the story… but on the other hand, there are almost no side quests (only a few optional dungeons late in the game) and you frequently reach points where you can’t backtrack to earlier areas, which somehow gives it this sense of a driving pace at the same time. It felt like the sort of story where I should be doing side quests, but instead I was always pushing forward into another section with minor plot progression.

That’s how it felt to me, at least, and that odd pacing is one of the reasons why I took a break for over a year.

The other reason is the dungeons, because Grandia is another game that used the philosophy of “just make everything a maze!” for its dungeon design. Trying to fully explore dungeons frustrated me, and when I came back after my break, I focused more on just getting through each dungeon and finding whatever side paths I’d happen to find.

Anyway, pacing and maze-like dungeons are my complaints, but now let’s move on to the positives.

Combat in Grandia is a pretty unique system. It’s turn-based, but the turn order is represented on a bar as characters and enemies slowly move toward their next action. Attacks slow down the target, and attacking right as they’re about to act can even cancel it. This gives it an additional layer of strategy where you’re trying to figure out how to delay your enemies’ moves.

I also really enjoyed the towns. Even though there aren’t side quests, there’s a ton of NPC dialogue that changes frequently as you progress through the plot and includes some pretty entertaining conversations, as well as worldbuilding.

From time to time, you also get special inn scenes where your party eats dinner. This gives you a chance to get optional dialogue from each character before continuing. I like those sorts of party interaction scenes, so it was a nice touch. The main cast is pretty likeable, too.

Overall, I enjoyed playing Grandia even though I had some issues with it, and I’m glad I finally came back to it. Grandia II is in my backlog, so I look forward to getting there to see how it compares!

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