Sunday, October 26, 2014

Amateur Review - Final Fantasy VI for iOS

A few days ago I decided to purchase Final Fantasy VI for iOS. I had played the original US version, Final Fantasy III, on my neighbor's Super Nintendo and I never got a chance to finish this game. So when I had some spare funds available I decided to buy this app for my iPad 2.

Instead of starting with the usual stuff like what's great with the app, I will start with the things that changed, and things I don't really like so far. Here we go.

First off, movement controls weren't translated well to iOS. That's because I don't have an external controller, and I have no plans of getting one. The default 8-axis controls were hard to use because I have a fat thumb. I switched to the 4-axis controller, and things improved somewhat.

What's annoying with the movement controls is anywhere you tap on the iPad that's where the center pops up, so if I place my thumb near the lower left corner, the left and down axis is usually unavailable. If you ask me I would have fixed the control stick in a specific place so that you don't start accidentally moving in another direction if you accidentally reset the position of the controls.
Town Scene with "Control Stick"
See that "control stick" and how clunky it is?

World Map with "Control Stick"
Yep, still annoying.

The battle UI is also an issue for me, as some buttons are spaced all over the screen. The back button changes location depending on the attack or spell selected. The "select all" when casting magic was almost hidden from my view the first time I used magic. And scrolling through the various moves a character can do in combat is sometimes clunky. Targeting is also an issue when I try tapping on the opponent instead of scrolling through their names. I tap on an opponent and another opponent gets targeted. Annoying but I can live with it. Perhaps this game will translate better on iPad Minis, although I can't afford to prove this theory right because iPad minis are goddamned expensive.
FFVI Fight Scene
Buttons are scattered across the screen.

The names of a lot of spells, attacks, and others have changed as well. Instead of the classic "Cure 1" to "Cure 3" names, it's now "Cure" and "Cura." I haven't unlocked level 3 cure yet, but I'm guessing it's something like "Curaga" if it's anything like the newer Final Fantasy games. I guess they were standardizing to the more modern spell names found in, if I remember right, Final Fantasy VII onwards.
Renamed Spells
It used to be "Cure 1," "Cure 2," and "Cure 3."

Another name change was Cyan's Swordtech, now known as "Bushido." The moves now have new names too. Sabin's Blitz attacks also have new names, or at least "Aura Blast" is now known as "Aura Cannon."

The sprite graphics have been updated as well, though if you ask me I would have preferred the original sprites used in the SNES version. I do see some inconsistencies with the art, because some enemies don't look as sharp as the newer sprites.
In-game Cut Scene
Portraits and sprites were redone, the environment looks like the original.

So far those are the only complaints I have. Now let's talk about the things I like about the game. Three things, actually.

Number one, it's a nostalgia trip. Like I said, I first played this game on SNES. We even customized the character names to our names, and I got Setzer and Shadow. Now I'm just keeping the names default. And I can still remember some of the hidden passages in the game.

Number two is the music. It's still the same music, and I'm glad they didn't do any revisions to the original sound. I love the midi style music.

Number three is the art. During my first job an officemate of mine introduced me to the art of Yoshitaka Amano, who did concept art for FFVI. Seeing the characters and their portraits again made me appreciate Amano's art even more.

So in closing, is Final Fantasy VI for iOS worth the USD15.99? Yes, definitely. For someone like me who played the original game and who hasn't finished it yet, I think it's a great purchase. I can play this game anytime on a very portable system, plus the storyline is so well written that you won't really be able to finish this game in a short time, and that's not including grinding levels.

For those in my age group who've played this before, get it for the nostalgia trip. For those who have never played this, get it. You'll be surprised how an excellent story trumps the best graphics anytime. And that's why I love Final Fantasy VI (and Fallout 1 and 2) because the story gets you involved.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Thinking Small (House,Or Tiny House)

I've long been fascinated with small and tiny houses. I don't even know what makes a house a small house and what makes a house a tiny house. What I do know is that I am fascinated by how they are designed and how people live in them. Let me explain.

I recently watched the first episode of Tiny House Nation and I was amazed at how they managed to fit a family of three into the relatively small house. It was inspiring to see how they managed to create a sleeping area for the couple's child and include a loft play area above it. It just showed me what you can do with a small amount of space and a lot of creativity.

I also like how efficient the designs are of small and tiny houses. Everything has a function in the house. One set of cubby holes here could also serve as a stepladder to get to higher cabinets. Or a wall mounted board of wood folds down and transforms into a table. Or the wicker stools you sit on double up as cylindrical storage baskets. There is no wasted space.

And these houses aren't just efficient in design, they are also energy efficient, requiring less amounts of energy for lighting, cooling, and heating purposes. You need less bulbs to fully light up the house, and you won't be taxing the air conditioning unit on a hot summer day since the rooms will cool down faster.

Another reason why I am fascinated with small houses is the lifestyle involved. I've noticed in the house we're living in there are three to four rooms currently being barely used. The living room / main dining room is usually empty. I use our main dining table as my laptop station and my daughter plays in the living room, but that's it. No one really uses the rooms for their purpose, and we rarely entertain guests. My old bedroom has become a temporary storage room until Martina is big enough to move in. So technically there is a huge amount of space we haven't maximized at home.

If you noticed what I wrote in the paragraph above, you'll realize we have tons of unused and unsorted stuff lying around the house, gathering dust. I'll admit I'm a hoarder, and a lot of those things are mine. In comes my theory that the bigger the house you have the more space you have to put junk in. Also, if I could have one week to sort through all my stuff and sell, donate, or throw away things I don't use I'm guessing this house will be a lot more spacious.

On a side note, the closest thing to a small or tiny house in the Philippines would be to purchase a condominium unit. Most middle class condos today average around 30 square meters for a one bedroom unit. That would be your typical tiny house, except more expensive.

Living in a small house is a big lifestyle change, and it won't work out if the person who will move is not open to change and not open to a simpler lifestyle. I honestly cannot say if I can survive in a small house, but I am willing to try if I could afford it. Perhaps that change in lifestyle and mentality will work wonders with my attitude.

Honestly I think a full kitchen, a work space for both Maica and I, a flatscreen TV with a Playstation 3 (or 4) and cable access, and internet access are the basics my family would need to live in a tiny house. I honestly wish Maica, Martina, and I could try this out. Who knows, it might even make us closer both physically and emotionally.


Saturday, October 11, 2014


This is the nth time this year I've gotten sick. The scary part is it's happening more frequently than before. I've got a couple of theories as to why, but I'd rather not discuss it here.

I am at home now, trying to recover from my annual tonsillitis flare up. I thought I could brave through it yesterday at work, but things took a turn for the worse and I had to take yesterday afternoon and today off.

I guess I have to start eating healthy and maybe start losing all the weight I've gained back, because this is not good for me. Even my dad noticed I keep getting sick lately.

And it's not just tonsillitis. I've had migraines, dizzy spells, fever. Things that never bothered me before.

Maybe it's part stress-related, maybe it's part six-day work week. I need to time for my body to rest. It's not in the best shape, so pushing it hard isn't really helping it either.

I'm just glad my boss is very understanding.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Subaru XV

Yesterday I was able to drive a Subaru XV. The shop was full and we had to move some employee (and boss) cars and I was handed the keys to the XV. Now, I've always been curious about the car, and I was sort of anticipating the opportunity to try it out.

The inside is nice. Very high-tech looking, with plenty cubbyholes and cup holders. The instrument cluster had the usual speedo and tach, and there was a center mounted multi-function display that I never bothered to explore. Hey, it wasn't my car and I wasn't taking it for a test drive.

Oh, and paddle shifters.

As with most cars today though, you really can't see the end of the hood so I just had to be a little extra careful with clearance since I wasn't familiar with the car yet.

Driving it was interesting, it was responsive and well-behaved. I guess because I was usually going around 30kph looking for a vacant parking slot. But it seemed to be a decent ride. Not bumpy, not stiff, just right.

Anyway, I just posted my latest update of top five family cars. Well I think this one bumps the Suzuki SX4 off the list and takes the fifth spot. The Subaru XV 2.0i is priced at Php1,298,000.00 and the 2.0i Premium is at Php1,478,000.00. I have no idea what's different between the two since their local website doesn't say. That or I haven't found it yet.


Thursday, October 02, 2014

Family Car Wishlist Update

It's been a while since I posted an update of the top family cars I'd want. Well, here goes a new set. As for my category for choosing them, it's about practicality, fuel-efficiency, bang-for-buck, and aesthetics. I'm also giving special consideration to ride height, since I've experienced a couple of flash floods driving around the metro again.

So here we go for the nth time...

  1. Kia Soul 1.6L CRDI A/T (SRP Php1,020,000.00)- A new ride takes my top spot, and rightfully so. A bit pricey at over Php1M, but it's a five-seater with decent ride height and boot space. The current version is also a diesel engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission, so this will hopefully be a fuel-efficient car. It looks nice too, but it might look too dated in the future. Or look too much like a car for young folks instead of a mid-30's family man.
  2. Toyota Innova 2.5 E Diesel A/T (SRP Php1,062,000.00) - Still hanging in my top list of family cars. This one stays because of the space inside, including the third row, and because Toyota. I'm not too fond of the latest Innova's look, but aside from that it's still the practical family car you can rely on. Unless I'm wrong and the myth about Toyotas being nigh indestructible is all wrong.
  3. Ford Everest 2.5L 4X2 XLT A/T (SRP Php1,390,000.00)- This comes in at number three because of my boss. I've ridden and even driven on occasion his old Everest and am amazed at how practical, fuel efficient, and decent it is. We've used it to haul almost anything related to work, and it just keeps going and going no matter how heavily loaded it is. Biggest downside is the price. So far it's the priciest of the bunch.
  4. Honda Jazz 1.5 V CVT (SRP Php808,000.00) - The smallest of the bunch, I didn't bother to choose the higher end models despite the lack of fog lamps. Besides, the Php100k you save from choosing V model you can probably use to add foglamps either from the dealer or from an aftermarket source. I am still impressed with the Jazz's folding seats and the variations you can do to maximize the space inside the car. However this would suffer in flash floods, hence the drop to fourth.
  5. Suzuki SX4 Crossover A/T (SRP Php899,000.00) - This rounds out my top five family cars I'd want. Similar to the Jazz, I'd want this because of the price, looks, and space inside. The ride height seems higher than the Jazz so this might be able to wade slightly deeper floods. The Jazz just gets higher consideration because Honda.
And there you go. The latest update to my top five family cars. You'll notice I'm not even going for the highest spec among them, despite the fact that usually only the higher spec cars get the fog lamps.
Why am I so obsessed with fog lamps? Because I need them at night for better visibility. Considering the price difference between vehicles with and without fog lamps, I'd rather go for the ones without and use the savings to buy aftermarket fog lamps and other accessories I'd need for the ride.