Final Fantasy X

Square Enix

By the mid-2000s, the classic JRPG formula was giving way to new innovations intended to keep the genre fresh.

The best PlayStation 1-era JRPGs were largely defined by the ways that they built upon the turn-based combat a menu navigation mechanics of their predecessors (with the most famous example being Final Fantasy VII's Active Time Battle system, which put turns on an always-running timer instead of a set order).

PlayStation 2-era JRPGs largely benefitted from the fruits of these labors, keeping the things that worked and playing around with the things that didn't. As such, the PS2 featured a diverse catalogue of JRPGs that ran the gamut from classic throwbacks to entirely new combat systems that seemed to throw the entire playbook out the window. These are the best of the best.

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The "Final Fantasy VII Remake" Demo Is Pure Joy

With fresh gameplay, Final Fantasy VII Remake looks great and plays great.

Final Fantasy VII Remake - Final Trailer | PS4

There's a certain surrealism inherent to playing the demo of a game that you've been doggedly following for five years.

Going into the demo for Final Fantasy VII Remake, I knew exactly what to expect—After all, the demo was first playable at E3 2019, and videos of second-hand playthroughs have been on YouTube ever since. I knew that the demo covered Cloud's first mission alongside Barret and the eco-terrorist group, Avalanche. I knew that I'd get to slash the sh!t out of some Shinra goons. I knew that a giant metal scorpion waited for me at the Mako reactor's core.

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New "Final Fantasy 7 Remake" Trailer Makes It Hard to Decide Whether You Should Cheer or Cry

From Red XIII to Cross-Dressing Cloud to the best Nobuo Uematsu theme song in ages, the newest FF7 Remake trailer has everything.

Square Enix

To say that Final Fantasy fans are hyped for the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake would be the understatement of the century.

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VIDEO GAY-MER | What is homoeroticism?

And does it fit in this genre of entertainment?


It's not really gay, but it's definitely gay adjacent. And I don't know if it has any place in gaming or modern entertainment outlets.

Homoeroticism is something that's existed in art for a long time - it's a way to show homosexual love but also not be super blatant about it. It arouses the feeling of gayness without actually being outright gay. Wikipedia says that it focuses more on the temporary desire and less on the actual identity. In video games, homoerotic is used as a tool to queerbait it's LGBTQ+ fan - serving them queerness in piecemeal and never following through. And while it was a necessary precautionary style in the old days - it definitely has no place in modern art forms - especially gaming.

It's very difficult to separate what the difference between queerbaiting and homoeroticism, and the difference lies in the history. In the old days, it was usually against the law to be openly homosexual, so you had queer poets and writers who would create these different allusions to queerness in their works.

However, nowadays that kind of thing doesn't fly - and for good reason. Homoeroticism, nowadays, is used by straight people to bait queer people into a false queer narrative otherwise known as queerbaiting.

Why does it not have a place in the landscape anymore? What's so terrible about not having characters be explicitly queer but having queer moments? After all, isn't it more interesting? Isn't there a mysterious allure to the constant wondering of, "What if?" No, and using this style to manipulate queer people is a dangerous thing to do - as it often strips our experience away from us in detrimental ways.

In previous articles, I talked about the danger of a game like Life is Strange being touted as a queer video game, when it was clearly queerbait-y at best. It is a prime example of a negative use of homoeroticism to entice it's players and make them believe that they are having an honest-to-God experience. We are given a kiss and a strong friendship and it gives us the idea that these characters are definitely queer - they have to be - but we are never given confirmation.

We are left with an unfulfilled feeling, because a "What if?" is no longer enough. And yet, Life is Strange is still incredibly popular. It's still considered by many to be a positive representation of queer women. Why is that? It's because we're starved, all throughout history we've been given nothing but homoerotic images and subtext and led to believe that that was enough. So, we grew complacent, and we cheered at the slightest nod in our general direction.

It's hard to say if homoeroticism still has a place in modern media like film, television, and especially gaming, because the politics around everything are so tricky. Is it possible to just evoke the emotion without giving an audience the follow through? Can something survive on tension alone? I don't think so, because nowadays, queer people don't want piecemeal. They want the full experience.

The evocative depiction of a sexually ambiguous character or a beautifully sculpted man or woman is no longer enough.

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ROLE PLAYGROUND | What is wrong with Secret of Mana?

In a world where remakes are getting made left and right, you really need to stand out - Secret of Mana didn’t

The Secret of Mana remake should have been an amazing video game.

After all, it's one of the most beloved JRPGs of its time - it's battle system still holds up as unique and different after all these decades - and it's a fun game that takes you through a fantastical story! It's the quintessential RPG experience, and a remake had such potential.

So what happened? Secret of Mana just tanked. When I played through over this past weekend - i was treated to a broken, garishly designed game that lacked the same kind of fantastic feel that the original captured. While the story still kept me enthralled enough to keep moving forward, the game itself became ever more frustrating and confused.

Still, I can't deny that I played it for hours and at times had at least a little bit of fun. That's something, right? Is it? No, seriously, I'm asking.


Secret of Mana is a remake of the SNES action RPG of the same name, released in 1993. It takes place in a fantasy world that contains a magical essence called Mana - and you control three unnamed heroes as they fight against an evil empire, trying to harness Mana and take over the world.

The remake features new, 3D graphics, a slightly modernized battle system, and a design that almost feels too saccharine for its own good.


The good in this game lies with what wasn't changed - the story. The story is simple, and features many typical tropes that have become iconic in JRPGS. You quest as three unnamed (or player-named) heroes across this unnamed world to retrieve and seal the powers of the Mana Seeds - because if the evil Empire gets them, they will recreate the evil Mana Fortress. Thus, mana will come back to the world and the evil Empire - lead by an evil, undead wizard named Thanatos - will control it all.

It's not groundbreaking. Even for the time, this plot was definitely one gamers had seen before, but that didn't matter! The story is engaging, because it's a typical hero's journey. You are able to gain fun magic powers and fight crazy large beasts and win! It's both an escape and even a form of wish fulfillment for some - and that's why we still continue to love these games.

Sure, a complicated, powerful story is great, but there is something to be said about the power of simplicity.

There are some other fun additions - the small conversations that party members have at the Inns are nice. It adds a level of character to these typical trope-y characters that we're given. Sure, it doesn't add a lot, but it adds enough.

Was this enough to make the game good, though?


No. It wasn't. At all. The game is broken, guys. Like bad. I'll start with the awkward AI and sprite movements. I was on my way to the Dwarf Village, and my party members were constantly getting stuck at turns. Often, I'd find myself asking, "Where the hell did the Sprite go?" It's not the worst thing, but when you're a relatively low level and traveling somewhere new, things get really hairy when your party is about three of four movements away fighting a wall for dominance.

You guys remember how in old games, whenever your sprites were preparing to talk to someone, they would come together and disappear within the protagonists body and then line up. Now, I want you to picture that, but a couple of seconds slower and instead of disappearing, everyone becomes this weird amalgamation of all three characters before making a line. It looked atrocious and made me regret actually getting information from anyone in the game. It's almost as annoying as the battle system.

Listen, the original game was definitely not the perfect system by any stretch of the imagination. But the point of a remake is to fix the game's problems and make them better. That's now what Secret of Mana did - instead, it made the game look pretty(?) and didn't bother to change anything else. This makes battles an absolute slog to get through.

The action bar mechanic is fine, and it definitely works in this action-RPG setting, but it also suffers from feeling a little too dated. Combine that with the delayed reaction from enemies in the game (by about two seconds) when they got hit, and the awkward move from 2D battles to 3D and you've got a mess. Not unplayable, but definitely annoying.

And finally, we have the awkward design elements. I don't know why they decided to go for this sweet and cute chibi-esque design - but it definitely made the game feel less fun and vibrant and more grating and childish. I know that this game is meant for a younger audience, but young kids don't need cheaply designed chibi characters.

I could go on and on, but unfortunately, I don't have a whole month write this article.


Don't waste your time on the remake. It's not worth the $40 that they charge, and that's an incredible disappointment. The game is mired by all of the choices it didn't make. Instead of giving us a remake the changes with the times, we are stick with a 3D-ed, almost carbon copy of the original game with all of the problems and issues that came with plus even more.

A remake is not a carbon copy and needs to change with the times. This game didn't do that - and that's incredibly disappointing.

Here's hoping they'll let someone else try it again further down the road.

Shann Smith is a lover of video games and has played games since he could hold a controller. He is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and also writes the Video Gay-Mer column on Popdust! If you have any games you'd like him to unpack, hit him up!

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