Tag Archive: Final Fantasy


This week, two and a half years after it was released, I finally completed the final entry in the Final Fantasy XIII saga. Lightning Returned into my heart and gave me  more than a satisfying conclusion to the giant cliffhanger we were left on in XIII-2. Outside of the ending, though, I can’t really say I  really loved this game experience.

(What a tease this commercial is. She doesn’t have her OG XIII outfit in this game)

 

Lightning Returns picks up 500 years after XIII-2 where Lightning went into an eternal crystal slumber. Lightning is woken up by the God of Light previously mentioned but never seen, Bhunivelze.He charges Lightning with collecting the souls of everyone left alive on Pulse within 13 days before the world ends – and that’s where my problems with LR begin. The plot and writing are pretty bare-bones and so is the world you inhabit. In order to collect souls you need to “make people happy” which equates to doing fetch quests. Tons, and tons and tons of fetch quests. If forced to add all of them up I’d guessimate there were Infinite Fetch Quests. You talk to bland NPCs, in one  of the game’s FOUR locations, or you talk to a woman in a sexy chocobo costume and read quests off a literal quest board, and you fulfill the requirements to collect a soul and gain stats.  Outside of four or five major quests that involve characters from previous games and give large portions of plot that move events forward to Lightning figuring out her true powers and who the real enemy is, all the other quests give a few sentences of lore about the world. The bit of data the NPC gives that details the apocalypse or the people left is usually repeated somewhere in the datalog or by Hope, making it even more worthless. Most of what they had to say was so interesting I spammed X to move on to next quest.

That may seem harsh but the game itself conditioned me to rush through certain parts. The 13 day time limit Bhunivelze gave Light? It’s a real-time limit! Each ‘day’ in the game lasts one hour in real time. You are given a skill, Chronostasis, that stops time for a few minutes but that skill has limited uses. When not stopped, time will progress during dialog, when you run around so painfully slowly on the map and when you travel via train between the 4 locations in the game. I always felt rushed and pressured to be as  precise with my time as possible. It’s not like the world was so beautiful I wanted to wander around and look at it but I still didn’t like being pressured by an every growing checklist of quests or constant annoying reminders from Hope on how much time I had left.

The pacing problems of the game don’t just stop with the time management and slow running. By the last few days enemies are so powerful that I, having done almost all the fetch quests in the game, had a seriously tough time fighting them. by the Final Day every enemy has all their stats multiplied by up to 300%. Upon my first death I found the root of  the issue. In place of the enemy mob on the map was a floating crystal hourglass which, upon inspection, told me if the enemies of the area were too hard I could give up my quest and start a New Game+ right there. I’d carry over my stats, equipment and abilities but would need to do over every fetch quests I had already completed. The fetch quests would you the stat bonuses AGAIN so the grind was as endless as the quests!

What a terrifying idea! Redoing my 28ish hours of gameplay just to beat the last dungeon? Instead of balancing the enemies in some respectable way or giving Lightning some way to power up her skills that isn’t based on random drops the devs really thought “just do it all over” was a better idea? No thanks. You also get the option to start NG+ if you don’t complete those Big Story Missions in each of the four areas before the end of the world – but the game never tells you to go out and explore those areas first. I was trying to complete ALL the quests in the first town when suddenly I ran into mobs that one hit KO’d me and I was told by an IRL friend to travel to a new town.

Finally for the positive things about the game. By now if you follow video game news even a little bit you’ve seen the trailers, read the articles about her stint as a REAL LIFE model or at the very least you’ve seen THAT DRESS, so you know the major mechanic that drives gameplay in Lightning Returns is Playing Dress Up! Aside from the fact that I avoided most dresspheres that had Light only in a pair of panties and a bra, this was legitimately one of the best parts of the game. I think most fans of modern RPGs really enjoy customization of how their character looks and this game gives it to you. You can change the color of individual pieces of  an outfit, and you can add accessories to make your own look. I wish you could equip more than one accessory, like a hat AND glasses. Alas :(. There are dozens of dresspheres in the game and each has between zero and 2 abilities innately equipped. Defensive ones might have Mediguard or Steelguard, another might have Fira and Thundara and so on, with many combinations and color swaps. Later they start coming with abilities that passively boost something, like adding Quick Stagger or giving her +10% HP.

Those buffs help you in the other good part of the game: Murdering All the Things. LR places Lightning in the spotlight like never before. Your party has been reduced from three main members in the first game, to 2 + a pet to Lightning alone (for the most part). Instead of switching between 6 paradigms with multiple roles set in them (Tri-Disaster with 3 magic using attackers, Combat Clinic with attacking and healing) you switch between only 3 dressheres and each of those only have 4 skills that are mapped to the face buttons.  I felt it really reduced the amount of strategy you could achieve in previous games but the addition of a blended action RPG feel (free movement and evasion skills) felt good. One light nitpick here is you don’t gain skills from leveling up but from new dresspheres and enemy drops. Because of that I didn’t have and debuffing skills for long time. None of the enemies I fought dropped them until I had already fought several major bosses that I really could’ve used them for.

In the end, the original FFXIII is still my favorite out of the series but it was so very satisfying to take it to the conclusion. The MMO-like progression with the ton of trivial fetch quests were not engaging, the limited time rushes you to an under leveled conclusion because the game wants you to do a NG+ as early as possible. The dresspheres are a treat and the battles are fun (until the end of game when they are a chore). The CGI scenes are definitely where the money went and they spent ALOT; They’re gorgeous. Most importantly Hope Estheim, the best character in any Final Fantasy, really lives up to the meaning of his name. If you haven’t played it yet, go play dress up.

How to Create the Best FF7 Again

On Monday night, June the 16th, in the year of our lord KOS-MOS, 2015, the world as we know it came to an end. We previously lived in a world where Final Fantasy 7 was a game a treasure from the far distant past of the mid 90s. It was a game that crashed through the walls of many  American and European children who had never played a JRPG before, like a giant spiky-haired Kool-Aid Man. Then it became a legend that brought us salvation and pain all at once as we pleaded to deaf ears for its return. “It would take too long to remake this game,”  “We are focusing on new projects” and other such excuses were all we were told. And the game was lost forever in the graveyard of smartphone and PSP side stories. And other Nightmares.

Then during Sony’s E3 conference this past Monday the heavens opened up and Ragnarok befell that world, tearing it asunder and ushering in this bright beautiful world where prayers are answered and the Final Fantasy 7 remake is happening.

As a disillusioned fanboi turned believer I will very likely be playing this game in the future whenever it comes out. Until that day I will over analyze all bits of info that come out and more importantly I’ll imagine all the changes I would make to the game if I were in charge. Please follow me on this journey as we create the perfect FF7.

Everything I Want to See in Final Fantasy 7: HD Hardcore Remix

  • Tifa with Long, Insane Anime Hair

Yes, I do love Tifa’s Advent Children/Dissidia black and white leather outfit with amazing butt-cape. But more than that I love seeing long anime hair flowing in the wind or on waves of magic. Few things in this game brought me as much as joy as casting a spell with Tifa and seeing her ridiculous fish fin hair go flying out behind her as she released her energy.

I MADE THIS GIF

I MADE THIS GIF!!!

  • A Battle System Revamp, Introducing Classes

As I grew up and learned there were humans that didn’t like FF7 (weirdos) and one of the complaints they had was that there was no difference between the characters because of the Materia system. While I didn’t feel that way at the time  I can see where they’re coming from. Aside from some characters being able to stay in the back row with long range weapons everyone could kind of do whatever anyone else could do. I would love a change to this system to the point where you might choose your party based on something more than who your faves are.

A simple way to make characters feel different would be to limit who can use which Materia. Maybe Cloud can’t use Cure but he can use All the attack spells; maybe only Vincent and Yuffie and Cid can use debuffs (of course they’d need to fix all the glitches that make a lot of status effects useless);Barret can use support materia like Cover and Wall, Cid is supposed to be a Dragoon…he needs to be able to use Jump innately. Aeris could be the Jill of All Trades and use all the magics..until, well..ya know. She runs out of MP forever.

  • Materia Glowing When You Cast Magic

As a tangent to the last point, I’d love to see individual Materia radiate energy when used in battle. In Advent Children when Materia is used you can see each orb shine when activated. I think we’ve reached a point where the PS4 could do that, even change where the glow comes from when different armor/weapons are equipped.

Emo Sephie and Elvis Sephie using Materia

Emo Sephie and Elvis Sephie using Materia

  • Honey Bee Whorehouse Revisited 
Presented without comment

                       Presented without comment

Let’s be real, The Honey Bee Inn was the best part of the game. Once you get key to Midgar back by searching the Forest of the Ancients I’d love you to be able to take each party member here for some real fun and hilarious scenes. And of course let Cloud relieve some stress.

  •  Full Beastiary & Cutscene Viewer ala FFX 

Do you remember when FFX came out and Square was so proud of its graphical prowess that they put in a way for you to view all the cutscenes in the game at your leisure? I’d love for them to do the same with this remake. That scene when the party steals Shinra’s junkie car and motorcycle as you leave Midgar in Disc One, when the baby Phoenix is born at Ft. Condor and of course the most iconic scene where Palmer is hit by a truck in the middle of the battle in Rocket Town. Maybe Plot Device it so the hologram room in Cosmo Canyon is where you go to view them. Because of Life Stream, somehow.

I’d also like a full beastiary, accessible via the menu, where you can look at the models and stories behind the monsters and machines you kill for all the hours of the game. FFXIII had a great system where you got a bio and could see all the enemies weaknesses too. I think this game has some of the most interesting monster designs in any RPG and I really want to take them in and appreciate them even when I leave that area. Maybe even be able to fight powered up versions of them in the arena

Corvette_FF7

This guy (Coverette) was my favorite thing to kill in Midgar.

The guy on the left (Coverette) was my favorite thing to kill in Midgar.  And WTF is the thing on the right?!

Bunny Angel?

Creepy!

Creepy!

But why are we killing blonde women in bathing suits?

But why are we killing blonde women in bathing suits?

Giant Ostrich with hands!

Giant Ostrich with hands!

  • DRESSPHERES!!!

It’s 2015. If you show me a JRPG with no costume changes I’ll show you an unfinished game. As this entire game is a nostalgia factory I want them to just go all out with dressphere options for everyone. I want the retro outfits, the new looks from Advent Children, maybe hold a fan art contest like they did for XIII-2, cross brand that shit with some Dragon Quest outfits, pay a little extra to get Tifa a Chun-Li dressphere, Yuffie in a Sakura fuku. Imagine your whole crew dressed up like the Turks!  I want to kill Jenova dressed as Lightning and then kill Sephiroth dressed as Miss Cloud. Give me ALL THE DRESSPHERES!

LR_Garbs

I want them to finally acknowledge that Cloud is just a male version of Lightning

  • A More Clear Explanation of…Well, The Whole Damn Plot

I have played Final Fantasy 7 to completion at least 3 times. I’ve played it to the point where I lose interest about midway through another 4 times. Each time going through I learned another fraction of the plot that made me go “Ohhh! that’s why that happens later on.” I’ve never gotten to the point where I feel I understand the full story even now, 11 years later. It wasn’t until last winter talking with PunkRawkBbob that I even understood what Sephiroth himself even was! Just make it clear when we’re dealing with clones vs people who just have Jenova Cancer. Really hit home that all the crap happening in the plot is happening because Jenova is controlling everyone. Maybe focus more on that fact that Jenova is A FUCKING ALIEN and Aeris is HALF ALIEN! She can be all cute and call herself a Cetra but nah girl, you from space.

  • Make Crisis Core available ASAP, for PS3 and PS4

After this E3 I finally understand that EVERYONE including SONY understands that the vita is dead. I get it. I will happily buy my P4D and never need to buy a bigger memory card for the system. So I know that porting FF7:Crisis Core to it isn’t viable. But it’s still a game I want to play and I’m sure many others would love to pay money for it. Don’t redo the graphics the way you “upgraded” Type0, just do the bare minimum amount of work needed to make it a PSN game on the PS3 and PS4. We all know we’re looking at at least 2 years waiting for the HD redo of 7 and so this would be a great way to keep hype up, keep us happy and get some money, Square.

  • Some Shout -Out/Tribute to Monty Oum

This last one is definitely a personal request that will neither make nor break the experience of the game as a whole but it would certainly warm my heart. Monty Oum, before turning Red vs Blue into the kick-ass action series it became and before getting his own webseries, made a set of unofficial videos, called Dead Fantasy, that pitted the women of Dead of Alive against the ladies of Final Fantasy. Tifa makes quite that entrance in the second episode where she beats down 3 DoA stars mostly by herself.

On Feb 1st of this year, after being a in a coma for a week, Monty died. While he didn’t do any work with SquareEnix themselves he was definitely a fan of their work and I’m sure many younger fans of his learned about the games from his work. It’d be very nice to see some reference in the game to him.

These are things I think would make our return to Midgar the best. What are some changes, omissions or additions you all want to see?

distant_worlds_logo Last week on April the 24th, I embarked on a journey to celebrate the music of Final Fantasy. I traveled from my hometown, battling giant bugs and goblins, boarded a Mystery Train where I gained more party members, my bros Matt and Rachel. Together we took on the slightly cliché but always necessary JRPG Ghost Ship as we took a ferry to the far off continent of Massochiechie.  We battled the usual mobs like Angry Old Men Why Won’t Let Us Get On The Boat and Seasickness.Finally we reached our destination, the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We bolstered our ranks with more party members, Jon and Courtney, and let ourselves feel the Real Emotions of the concert.

I was excited as a Final Fantasy fanboi could be to be able to attend this concert. The concert hall was packed, maxing out the capacity of three mezzanines. The sound of styluses tapping  3DSs filled the air until the conductor, Arnie Roth, took the stage and a hush fell over the crowd. The night took off like a golden Chocobo right out of the gate as the performers played FFVII’s Bombing Mission and bits of the games’ opening sequence were projected into a large screen as accompaniment. A crowd-pleaser for sure. Soon FFVI’s Character Medley shined some light on each of the characters by playing a small piece for their themes.Balab Garden: Ami calmly reminded me of my of my pre-teen crush on the chicken-wuss and just how cool FFVII was before disc three.  Closing out the first half with as big a bang as the opening the orchestra hit us with a one-two combo of J-E-N-O-V-A and one of 200 bird-centered ditties, Swing de Chocobo. The montage of sassy chocobo tail swinging, flapping around the world map and jumping out of afros on Gran Pulse was incredibly adorable and matched the hilarious up beat music.

Let me take a second here to just air something out. I’ve only had one Encounter  with any other video game concerts before, the Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses back in February. I can’t say I have much experience with them. But I have plenty of experience with other concerts and with being a human being so I can say with authority that the conductor, Arnie Roth, is kind of a douche.

He oozed this sleazy air of false platitude and condescension, like he was a used car salesman who thought his car was too good for you. He named dropped working with Uematsu as many times as he could and humblebragged about “working directly with SqaureEnix every day!” But he just seemed like another otaku. He also seemed like someone’s dad who had just looked at all the trending Final Fantasy hashtags and wanted to let us know how hip he was: “I would love to play some FF15 music IF IT WOULD EVER COME OUT, AMIRITE?”  “Final Fantasy IV, aka the game with the MOST characters in ANY GAME EVER IN THE WORLD, LOL”

But most revoltingly, he was a total ass! First off he stops playing FF5’s Main Theme four seconds in, turns to the audience with the biggest shit-eating-grin and says “Let’s start that over. And this time the [guy on the drums] will try to come in on time.” Then when the song starts over he stabs at the drummer with angriest gesture for him to begin. Later he chastises the pianist is if she were a child when she starts to play the notes she knows he’s going to ask for because she knows the goddamn game he is going to play with the audience because they’ve done this show before and rehearsed it. “NO, Listen to me then play”

Yes, messing up is not something the performers should be doing when the show is live but yelling at them like dogs should definitely never ever happen. Sounds like The Extreme but you gotta believe me unless Maybe, I’m a Lion…(I’m not)

After intermission they brought FFIX to the forefront with a very touching and beautifully performed Roses of May, theme of Garnet Queen of Alexandria. I was introduced to FFXIV with an operatic theme and footage of MMO players battling huge Eidolens  I was hit with sucker punch as they played The Theme Love from FFIV. I remember rolling my eyes as I played the game with the spoony bard, the love triangle between Totally Not Gay Cecil, Kain and Rosa, and the annoying twins who got stoned. But when I heard that theme I felt my heart swell. FFIV was one of the few Final Fantasies on the SNES or younger that I played to completion and LIKED! Apparently its deeper in my heart than I remembered.

FFX’s To Zanarkand brought a hush over the entire building. Everyone felt the burden of the Summoner as the scenes of  Yuna Sending all those who died in Kilika  when Sin attacked. The tone shifted towards a triumphant rise as a Battle Medley and series theme medley rounded out the night….or it did until Roth came back out for his ONE AND ONLY encore, One Winged-Angel (where the aforementioned pianist yelling occurred).I was honestly hoping for Eyes of Me or Liberli Fatali or anything from FFXIII-2 but the rest of the audience went wild for it. Everyone loves Sephiroth…I guess.

The songs hit all the special places in my garment grid. When I hear those songs from my computer I am transported back to that particular game’s most memorable moments. experiencing them from a live orchestra took that nostalgia to another level and even made me think about some of these games I’ve known for years in brand new ways. But from the technical issues (the  percussion in Man with the Machine Gun was almost the only thing audible) and the attitude of Mr Conductor, and the length of the performance! (Symphony of the Goddess cost the same amount and was twice as long, didn’t have any flubs and the conductor was amazing and gave four encoures!!) I probably won’t be going to another of these Distant Worlds any time soon.

Last week a hot tip in the Twitter-verse alerted me to the fact that the Lightning Returns demo had leaked via the 360 Marketplace. However MS swept up that mistake before I could paradigm shit into Combat Clinic. I was pretty crestfallen for the next few days, being so close to My Savior and then having her yanked away from me. My desire only grew stronger.

Cut to yesterday, January 21st and the twit-o-sphere taunts me again of LR news but something it new. This time the tweets are from more than one source and have pics of what look like in game locales in them. “SHE REALLY IS RETURNING” I said to no one in particular. And started the download on my 360.

The first thing I see after booting up the game is the greatest and most annoying enemy any RPG maker has ever designed: The “Click Any Button To Continue” screen. The screen that has haunted me since XIII’s initial release. A useless screen that is followed by another 13 unnecessary button clicks to get from  starting the software to loading your save file. Somehow I overcame this foe.

The demo starts right in the middle of the action, jumping into a scene already in motion between Lightning, who is corresponding with Hope via bluetooth, and Snow, who has become the king of an S&M leather fetish club. The visuals are pretty sharp and impressive. Where XIII-2 improved over XIII but used a lot of  blurring and smokey effects, LR has a lot of sharp dynamic lighting.  During the RPG-level witty banter between Light and Snow I get into my first fight.

Battles allow for free movement but Lightning seems to only *walk*  back and forth, never run, so she doesn’t feel as free as the cutscenes make her out to be. She does charge down at the enemy when you press a physical attacking button. 2 tutorials later and I had learned about Staggering an enemy, a familiar concept to XIII vets, and using items to heal since Light is no longer healed between fights.

I was then allowed to change around the Schema (Dresspheres, equipment and abilities) and man oh man talk about jumping into the deep end. Not only can you change  what attacks Light could perform with each dressphere, you could change the armor and weapons for each, steal skills from one Schema to the next or unequip Schemas entirely. The menu is just as dense and bland as XIII-2 Crystarium and Monster ability pages so I was just overwhelmed with percentages and numbers and scrolling text and gray. So much gray. Eight minutes of fiddling later and I had equipped the Dragoon Schema, give the Red Mage’s Deprotect skill to the Heartstealer and give all my magic The Savior for a boss battle I knew was coming from trailers I’d seen months ago.

Just as I expected a Ruby Dragon-looking monster showed up as the next enemy and promised to be a tough one. The game suggested I take her down with magic so I spammed Thunder and Blizzaga as The Savoir and switched the Red Mage to use Deprotect and Ruin. Once she was close to Staggering I moved to Dragoon, popped an enFrost potion and went to town on her. Took the boss down in under 2 minutes and got my  5 star rating! I felt pretty pumped.

Next I kept following the cursor on the map, moved Light down 2 hallways….and the demo ended. Just like that. In front of a door with unseen enemy troops stalking me, the game just stops. I get a nice screen telling me to pre-order the game to get the FF7’s Cloud’s armor (while supplies last!) and then it’s back to the main menu.Image

(Completionists will want to link their facebooks or twitter to the demo and post the pic of their boss kill time to unlock a free Dressphere in the full game. Instructions on how to do this here SquarePortal)

As a mark for seeing how the visuals have advanced this was  great trailer for LR:FFXIII but as a demo..this sucked. Only 2 enemy types to be found in the area, both of which barely attack or put up a challenge. Simply attacking with magic 3x will kill the Fuzzballs and the Cat Demon Things can be Staggered before they attack twice. And before I could blink it was over. I literally spent more time in the menu trying to understand my choices then decide on how to make my Dresspheres do the most for me. This leaves an especially bad taste in my mouth after spending 7 hours in the Bravely Default demo on my 3DS. In that I fought 4 bosses and explored 3 short dungeons.

If I weren’t all ready so goddamned hype for Lightning to Return this demo would not have don’t much for me.

Lightning finally Returns to NA on Feb 11th and EU Feb 14th

 

Presented Without Comment

over the weekend Famitsu updated their data for game sales in Japan with Final Fantasy X|X2 HD’s numbers and they were very strong.

 

The High Definition re-release of Final Fantasy X and its sequel had week one sales of more than 339K units.

A month and some weeks before, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII sold 277K units.

 

OK.

I lied. I will comment.

I don’t think these numbers necessarily represent the quality (or lack thereof) of Lightning Returns. I am certain there is FFXIII Fatigue going around, the JRPG consumer base. As much as I loved the first game in the series I am really ready for a new world and and new nonsense, made up vocabulary (And boy and boy is that Bravely Default demo really satisfying both those itches).

On top of that, FFX is 10 years old! The amount of nostalgia it evokes is very significant.

Basically I’m proactively defending Lightning Returns before I buy it.

LRFFXIII

The epic conclusion of the most recent epic (and then less epic) entries in the Final Fantasy series, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is one of the games I cannot wait to sink my teeth into next year.

Final Fantasy XIII holds a very large and special place in my heart. I hated the game out spite for years without ever had played it, because it took 5 years to come out and diverged so very much from where the series had been, but mainly because during those 5 years all the trailers Squareenix put out were so obviously not actual game play I was insulted. It was like trying to sell a movie ticket by showing a trailer of what you wish the movie was. But after seeing a beloved YouTube personality play it on his channel I saw how amazingly fresh, fast paced and challenging the game was and I got a hold of the game for myself. And I loved it. I felt silly for shunning it for so long and was so happy it was in my life. Cut to me playing the sequel and being very, very let down by the terrible character design, overused anime tropes and HORRIBLE ending that 1) was locked away as paid DLC and 2) felt like it had negated everything the player accomplished in the first two games.

But then previews for this finale started to show up and I was once again ready to let Lightning into my heart. Creators at Square promise it will conclude the XIII storyline and satisfy loyal fans while welcoming new ones. I am, however, slightly more interested in all the fanservice the game will provides. Combining the Paradigm Shifting battle system of the first two games, which allowed party members to, essentially switch Job Classes mid-battle, with the Sailor Moon-tastic Dress Spheres of FFX-2, LR:FFXIII introduces us to the Schema System.

Lightning will have access to over a dozen Garbs or costumes in the game, each with a particular skill set and purpose that she can assign to the face buttons to use during battle. As you complete an skill you use up actions for that Garb and when depleted you can do nothing but walk around. To regain those points you’ll need to spend time in one of the other two Garbs you have equipped – for a total of 3 Garbs at a time. So the tactic becomes constantly moving and switching Garbs so you always have action points when you need them.

More fanservice comes in the form of being able to edit and color each Garb as you see fit as well as Light getting access to some very famous threads from the Final Fantasy series:

Lightning as Locke
Lightning in a Garb based on FFVI’s Locke

Lightning as aeris
Lightning as FFVII’s Aeris

Lightning as Yuna
Lightning in Yuna’s formal wear from FFX

Lightning-returns-cloud-4
Light compensating with Cloud’s Buster Sword and dress from FF7

lightning-returns-tease-costume
And….a catgirl from FFXIV >___>

I look forward to destroy all the fal’cie in February 2014 when Lighning [finally] Returns.