Coffee Talk #644: Hajime Tabata Has Me Excited For Final Fantasy XV

Millions of Square Enix fans were dazzled by the Final Fantasy XV trailer shown at Tokyo Game Show (TGS) 2014 (embedded below). Many longtime fans of the series were disappointed in the last few FF games and believe that Final Fantasy XV will return the franchise to glory. Gamers loved the brilliant graphics and modern gameplay shown in the TGS 2014 trailer, so it’s easy to understand why so many people are excited. I’m quite excited for Final Fantasy XV too, but for a different reason — Hajime Tabata.

Mr. Tabata was the director of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. As I mentioned in Coffee Talk #286, Crisis Core was the last game I loved. The storytelling, gameplay, graphics, and music delighted me completely. For the type of videogame experience I adore, Crisis Core was just about perfect. When Mr. Tabata was installed as the new director of Final Fantasy XV roughly two years ago, my interest in the game went from “excited” to “OMG can’t wait!!!” With all due respect to former FFXV director Tetsuya Nomura, who has had a legendary videogame career himself, I’m way more excited about a Final Fantasy game with Mr. Tabata in charge.

There are other incredibly talented people working on Final Fantasy XV too. Kazushige Nojima is the game’s main writer. His scenario credits include Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Composer Yoko Shimomura is writing the game’s music. Her awesome tracks can be heard in Street Fighter II, numerous Kingdom Hearts games, several Mario & Luigi titles, and more. I’m hoping that all these talented people come together to form an unforgettable videogame.

While I enjoyed the Final Fantasy XIII games more than most, they certainly didn’t entertain me as much as FFX, FFVI, FFV, FIV, and FFVII (probably in that order). Loads of gamers have blasted the FFXIII games, going as far as saying that the titles tarnished the series’ reputation. Many of these gamers loved what they saw in the TGS 2014 trailer and are dreaming about Final Fantasy XV reestablishing the franchise as the king of RPGs. As for me, I’m just dreaming about a Tabata-directed Final Fantasy game. Hopefully it won’t turn out like Final Fantasy XII; originally directed by one of my all-time favorite developers — Yasumi Matsuno — the game’s creation was a disaster and the end product…wasn’t the best.

Anyway, check out the Final Fantasy XV trailer below and let me know what you think. Do you like what you see? Do you think the game will be a triumphant return for the series? Leave a comment and let me know (please!).


Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, cherishing Derek Jeter’s last days as a professional baseball player, your favorite Fappening photos, or being threatened with “swatting,” Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Fenix Rage Preview Interview With Ted Lange

If you’re looking for an old-school hardcore platformer then you should definitely check out Fenix Rage. The game is being developed by Green Lava Studios and published by Reverb Triple XP. Fenix Rage is a relentlessly difficult platform game that’s extremely addictive and has lots of replay value. Some gamers that have watched videos of the game believe that it’s the next Super Meat Boy.

In addition to the brutally challenging main game, there are a few things that help Fenix Rage stand out. If you get tired of dying, you can take a break with the game’s arcade mode. This mode contains a number of diversions that use the same game mechanics and controls of the main game, but without the supremely challenging difficulty. If you want an under-the-hood view of Fenix Rage then you’ll definitely want to check out the “Fenix Box” levels. These levels give you a stripped down look of the game, showing off its tight controls and precise hit detection. Lastly, Fenix Rage makes outstanding use of cookies. Confections are collected in the game and play a part in the story. Actual cookie recipes and baking instructions can be unlocked in the game. One of the developer’s sisters is an avid baker and contributed her recipes to the game.

Check out the interview above with Reverb Triple XP executive producer Ted Lange. He provides copious details on Fenix Rage. For additional info on the game, be sure to check out the Fenix Rage coverage on PaulSemel.com.

A nifty side note about the game — some of its character and level designs were influenced by SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron. I totally forgot about that cartoon until Ted mentioned it. Good times.

Fenix Rage will hit Steam and other PC digital distribution platforms on September 24, 2014. The game will hit the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles in early 2015.

Fenix Rage logo

Fenix Rage icon

Coffee Talk #640: Who’s Your Favorite Ninja?

I recently saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot and was incredibly disappointed. The movie is a wretched piece of crap that tarnishes the TMNT franchise and is an embarrassment to ninjas around the world. Thankfully, I watched a superior TMNT movie (more on that later this week) to cleanse my palette. The whole ordeal got me thinking about ninjas and wanting to discuss ninjas with you. There are so many awesome ninjas from comic books, movies, television, and videogames. Who are some of your favorites? Let’s use today’s Coffee Talk column to discuss the wonderful world of ninjas.

Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja): I have a feeling that many of you will choose Dudikoff as your top pick. That’s a completely understandable selection. As a gaggle of British videogame developers once told me, American Ninja is the pinnacle of American cinema. Dudikoff — possibly the most underrated action star in movie history — totally makes this series and shows that a white man can succeed in the Japanese art of ninjutsu.

Lee Van Cleef (Master Ninja): This Western ninja is awesome, simply because he’s so ridiculous. An old Lee Van Cleef is completely unbelievable as a master of ninjutsu. The unbelievability is a fantastic source of unintentional comedy in Master Ninja. In addition to a washed up cowboy playing a ninja, the series also blessed the world with Timothy Van Patton’s gratuitous voiceovers. These two negatives combine for positively awesome entertainment.

Elektra Natchios (Daredevil): On a more serious note, Marvel Comics’ Elektra is one of the most kick-ass women in the history of comics. She’s deadly and ruthless. She made sais cool way before TMNT’s Raphael ever did. She has come back from the dead. She’s been a hero, villain, and anti-hero. Most importantly, she executes all of her ninjutsu bad-assery while wearing clothing that’s completely inappropriate for combat (and way to revealing). On the downside, she was killed by Bullseye and replaced by a Skrull.

Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden): The star of the Ninja Gaiden series and a competitor in the Dead or Alive fighting games, Hayabusa is arguably the most accomplished ninja in the history of videogames. A rare crossover star, he has appeared in some excellent action games and fighting games. He has also made cameos in other games, like Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce and Super Swing Golf: Season 2. Ninjas are generally awesome. A ninja that can play golf is…breathtaking.

Ryu Hayabusa Ninja Gaiden

Your Picks: Now it’s your turn! Kindly share some of your favorite ninjas from comics, TV, movies, and videogames. Please leave your picks in the comments section.


Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the sad death of Robin Williams, the casting choices for the Saved by the Bell behind-the-scenes movie, or the best meat for fried rice, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Check Out the Dino Skater Trailer (Please!)

Following the super-fun Pogo Plumber, Apptly has released a trailer for its upcoming game Dino Skater. Another old-school platform game from Apptly, Dino Skater features traditional platformer elements like side-scrolling action and coin collecting. Instead of playing as a kindhearted plumber or a speedy hedgehog, you play as a skateboarding dinosaur. As you know, skateboarding dinosaurs are all kinds of awesome, because…skateboarding dinosaur! Dino Skater is a free to play game, with in-app purchases available for “cosmetic upgrades.” When you have a chance, check out the trailer below and let me know if you’re interested in Dino Skater.

Saber’s Edge, To-Fu Fury Exclusive to Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon Game Studios has announced a pair of videogames exclusive to the upcoming Amazon Fire Phone — Saber’s Edge and To-Fu FurySaber’s Edge combines puzzle gameplay with strategic combat, while To-Fu Fury is a platform game that appears to star a…menacing ninja marshmallow (yes, I know it’s a tofu cube). Both games take advantage of the Fire Phone’s unique “Dynamic Perspective” feature. You can check out the trailers for both games below. Here’s a clip from the press release:

Saber’s Edge and To-Fu Fury are co-developed with partners, Hibernum and HotGen as part of Amazon Game Studios’ mission to build fun, immersive games from the ground up for Amazon devices. These new games were created exclusively for Fire phone and take advantage of Amazon’s groundbreaking Dynamic Perspective. With Dynamic Perspective, Fire phone enables players to control gameplay with their head movements or by tilting the device to change direction or view.

‘Amazon Game Studios is working with some of the best studios to co-develop games that leverage the amazing capabilities of our new devices,’ said Mike Frazzini, Vice President of Amazon Games. ‘The new games we are releasing today deeply integrate Dynamic Perspective and offer players new ways to engage with games—using head movements to navigate gameplay and tilt gestures to strategize upcoming moves.’

While I was intrigued by the Amazon Fire Phone when it was announced, there are some aspects of it that are unappealing to certain tech nerds. Seeing “exclusive” games like Saber’s Edge and To-Fu Fury is an important step in the right direction. Content is king and exclusive content is…uhm…an intergalactic warlord (yeah, that’s it!). It’s good to see Amazon supporting its unique phone with unique software. These titles should be the first of many that are exclusive to the Amazon Fire Phone.

Amazon appears to understand how important mobile games are and looks like it will support its hardware nicely through Amazon Game Studios. While I’m interested in the games (particularly To-Fu Fury), I’m more interested in seeing how big and bold Amazon Game Studios will be. There’s some fantastic potential there and it’s always good to have another big player in the videogame space.

Anyway, check out the trailers when you have a chance and let me know what you think about the games (please!). Also, what do you think Amazon will accomplish with Amazon Game Studios?

Coffee Talk #637: Ford Focus Electric and the Gamification of Driving

Driving a Ford Focus Electric has a lot of similarities to playing videogames on a home console. In the immortal word of Christopher Cross, “It sounds crazy, but it’s true.” The Ford Focus Electric has a system of achievements, scores, and leaderboards that supplement the driving experience, similar to how PlayStation and Xbox consoles have these features to supplement the videogame experience. For certain drivers (i.e. nerdy ones), it makes driving more fun.

On the “My Driving” page on MyFordMobile.com, Ford Focus Electric drivers can keep track of their “Brake Score” and “Driving Score.” The former measures how well or poorly the driver uses the car’s regenerative breaking system. The latter factors in overall acceleration, breaking, and speed. The goal is to encourage Ford Focus Electric drivers to use their cars more efficiently and get the most out of every battery charge. For gamers and people that just like racking up high scores, this feature can be incredibly appealing.

MyFordMobile Trip Log (Ford Focus Electric)

Achievement whores will enjoy driving the Ford Focus Electric, simply because they can unlock achievements. MyFordMobile.com breaks up achievements into three categories: driving, environmental impact, and community. The categories are self-explanatory and appeal to different types of drivers. Those that care most about single-player achievements will focus on driving, tree huggers will want to rack up as many impact achievements as possible, and those with multiplayer leanings will enjoy unlocking community achievements. Again, it’s a fun way to supplement the Ford Focus Electric driving experience for people that know and enjoy these kinds of gaming systems, while those that are unfamiliar or dislike gamification can ignore this aspect of the vehicle.

MyFordMobile Achievements (Ford Focus Electric)

Naturally, the biggest difference between the Ford Focus Electric’s various scores and achievements compared to their videogame counterparts is the way they’re presented. Whether you drive a Ford Focus Electric or see one on the road, you want all drivers to be focused on the road and driving conditions. You do not want someone zipping along, getting giddy from a dashboard achievement notification, taking their eye off of the road, and smashing into you. With that in mind, Ford Focus Electric scores and achievements can only be viewed on MyFordMobile.com, while leaderboards can be viewed on the MyFordMobile website and app. While this takes away the instant gratification of unlocking an achievement in a videogame, it’s safer for everyone on the road.

Speaking of leaderboards, this is probably the most robust gamification feature in the MyFordMobile system. There are currently six leaderboards: Braking Expert, EV Stretcher, EV Tour Guide, Kinetic Ninja, Renaissance Man, and Zen Master. The leaderboards are currently broken up into 14 regions that span America and Canada. You can read the descriptions of each leaderboard and see examples in the image gallery below.

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I know that many of you hate the term gamification and what it usually entails, but in the case of the Ford Focus Electric, it’s pretty cool. Achievements, scores, and leaderboards on MyFordMobile.com provide ancillary features that make driving a Ford Focus Electric more fun. These features certainly aren’t for everyone, but for gamers and competitive people, they enhance the driving experience.

As a lifelong videogame nerd, these gamification features make me hit up MyFordMobile.com at least daily (usually after every trip, if time permits). I enjoy unlocking achievements. It’s fun trying to maximize my “Brake Score” and “Driving Score.” While I don’t care for what muscle cars and rice rockets bring to the table, I’m all about nerding up driving. That’s exactly what Ford has done with the gamification features of the Ford Focus Electric.

What do you guys and gals think of these features? Do you think that’d you enjoy them? Or are you annoyed by the proliferation of gamification? Leave a comment and let me know (please!).


Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the WWE Battleground PPV, Steven Gerrard retiring from English football duty, or the irritating Netflix vs. Verizon feud, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Check Out Pogo Plumber (Please!)

My darling ex-fiancé pointed me out to a fun game called Pogo Plumber. This 2D side-scroller is available now for iOS and is coming soon to Android devices. Pogo Plumber is a real treat for fans of 8-bit platformers and contains several familiar elements — a high-jumping plumber, collecting coins, minions that require head stomping, and more. Pogo Plumber is a free-to-play game, so kindly download it when you have a chance and share your thoughts on it in the comments section.

Right about now a few of you are thinking, “Oh great, Ray, another free-to-play game you want us to try….” Don’t sweat it! The in-app purchases aren’t bad. There are cosmetic items for those of you that like to play with dollies, as well as more practical things like coin doublers and continues. After playing the game for a couple of days, I assure you that it’s good for a quick fix of old-school gameplay. Unlike free-to-play games from some other publishers (I want to name drop…but won’t), Pogo Plumber isn’t obnoxious about in-app purchases. They’re there if you want them, but easy enough to ignore if you just want a small dose of 2D side-scrolling joy.

So please, please, please hit up the link above, download Pogo Plumber, and let me know what you think of the game.

Pogo Plumber