Saturday, 22 January 2011

Mint's Waffliest of Waffles

Hi everyone, Warcraft has eaten my life. Here is a blog post.

Okay, so last time, before my long waffle about why it's okay that I write fanfiction stop judging me! I mentioned that I was also going to write a post on video games. However, since most of my video game preferences lean heavily on the JRPG side of things, this post is pretty much just going to be about the various Final Fantasy games I've played. I'm sure I'll get around to doing one on Persona 3 and 4 at some point too.

This isn't going to be about gameplay, because I'm one of those people who'll pretty much play whatever Square Enix throws out, and I'll find something to like about it.

And so, without further ado (mostly because I have no idea what other general rubbish I can ramble on about right now) here is the post about the stuff.

Note: These aren't in order of me playing them, just in series order.

I'm gonna start off by saying I'm not a hardcore Final Fantasy fan. I enjoy the games, but I'm a relative newcomer to the series, and as such, didn't play the original games back on the SNES. And so, it was the new DS copy of FFIII that I picked up a few years back. Of course, being one of the earlier games, III followed the basic premise of 'there is evil, you are heroes, go get on that' and not much else, and all the DS version really did was to give the main characters actual names. That said, it was still very enjoyable, although naturally there was much level-grinding involved in between major storyline events.

Despite the plot being as basic as it was, the updated graphics, interesting bits of storyline and the challenges of some of the dungeons (ye gods I hated that damned volcano) got me through this pretty quickly. The world had enough interesting stuff going on in it to keep me occupied, and despite being rather bland overall, the characters had been given enough personality to at least let me connect with them a little. Although apprently they were also given enough to spawn a surprising amount of yaoi fanfiction in the fandom.

Lookin' at you there Arc...
Overall, I enjoyed playing the game, even though my paranoid levelling up before the endgame proceeded to make it far too easy (not that this is a bad thing, I usually like that, it was just too easy in places. Poor Xande...).

Again, this was the DS Version, and was one of the more recent ones that I played. The first FF game with plot, IV was really entertaining, until I hit a snag and stopped playing and still haven't got back to it...

In any case, I enjoyed what I did play of it. Along with the shiny graphics of the opening cinematic and the pretty good in-game graphics, the characters were entertaining and featured voice acting! Now, although I usually love Yuri Lowenthal as a voice actor, his little performance here was a bit... eh. On the other hand, I could marry Kain's voice actor (the other guy in that video, with the lovely deep voice. Yum). Anyway, aside from that, what I played of the storyline was enjoyable; political intrigue, betrayal, loyalties, little bit of  romance thrown in. Also an apparent vendetta against children.

Screw you kids.
The only bad point I ever came across (and this is really just me being biased here anyway) was the one that stopped me playing. One of the mid-game bosses is ridiculously difficult, so much so that I got stuck and so frustrated with it that I quit playing. Unfortunately, that's what I get for buying the DS release instead of the earlier GBA one; the original battle was much easier, and they kept that for the GBA version. Damn me and my need for pretty graphics!

Yup, here we are, the famous one. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm one of the fans that got pulled into the series by FFVII, although I was fantastically late to the party given that I didn't play this until... ooh, ten years after it had been released, and only after I'd watched Advent Children. Still, it's great, and I've played through it enough times to know it pretty well. Sure, I'm not one of those crazies who know everything about it (or think they do), but I can hold my own in a discussion on it, and there's plenty of material there.

Let's see, good characters, good storyline, a couple of plotholes but nothing too major, and enough background material and characters to choke even the best fanfiction writer, and you get a very good game. I mean, yeah, by today's standards the graphics are pretty bad, but the little lego figures with the cube hands did their darnedest to be heroic. And be terrorists, but they got over that.

Of course, VII is also the game with the largest number of fanbase divides. There's the general divide of old FF fans vs 'new' ones who only showed up because of VII, the various factions of the 'Cloud really loves X' debate and also the Jenova vs Sephiroth as the true villain debate. And that's not even going into all the other various quibbles this game has going on around it. But I still like it.

IX is another great game, largely because of the characters. After the rather depressing heroes of VII and VIII, we were suddenly presented with Zidane, in all his flirtatious, humourous glory. That, coupled with the adorableness that was Vivi was enough for me to like the game. I mean, yeah, it wasn't perfect; there was a lot more potential for character development with Freya and Amarant that was neglected, but overall, it was a good game.

As well as the solid protagonist cast, I enjoyed Kuja as the villain. He was just so flamboyant, but he carried it off very well. Plus, his motive was nice and simple. None of this 'I'm destroying the Planet because I'm a GOD' or 'I must  compress time so that I can live forever' nonsense. No, Kuja just got pissed off that he wasn't going to live forever and decided that he was taking the world with him. Plus, he gets extra points since he did destroy one world.

Although, his fashion sense is a bit...
I will say that the game has a minor annoyance in that there is a large section where our Princess becomes mute and selectively useless in battle, but beyond that, it's a pretty solid game on the character front. The only other niggle is that unlike the previous Limit Breaks, the characters' Trance states activated automatically, leading to them inevitably being triggered in the random battle before the big boss when you really wanted it. That was annoying.

X... isn't my favourite. I mean, I still like it, but it just didn't click for me as well some of the others. Characters like Lulu and Auron helped, but didn't make the problems with the main characters any better. Tidus, although he does have some merits, is still a whiny brat with daddy issues, and while he gets better, his voice actor just can't seem to be less annoying, which is a shame because James Arnold Taylor isn't a bad voice actor. Our leading lady, Yuna, also has problems. Sure, she's all sacrificing and noble and that's good in a heroine, but the girl is a doormat, and unfortunately, Hedy Burress, her voice actress, was a little too careful with her lip syncing, and as a result, Yuna's speech is very stilted in places.

Other than that, it's a good story, even if I never actually finished it. My only other gripe with it was the Sphere Grid. Sure, it was innovative and flexible but I wanted my good old-fashioned levelling system. I like knowing where my characters are, not trying to guess if they're around the right stage for the next big fight. Still, Spira is nice, bright and colourful and it has a nice feel to it, even if most of it is controlled by a bigoted, dogmatic religious regime.

Okay, I know this is controversial, but I actually like this game. I mean yeah, the story isn't a patch on the original, the concept is really quite shallow, but the game knows this. It plays up the fanservice aspect as much as it can and it has fun with it. And the story isn't terrible. In a lot of ways, it's really quite believable; a power vacuum being filled by different factions who are unsure of what exactly they want to acheive. And it's nice that Yuna has grown up a bit, got herself a spine and has had it up to here with people being idiots. I can respect that.

Also, the traditional levels reappeared, and the dresspheres are a bit of silly fun. And, in a surprising twist, Tidus and Yuna's respective voice actors (the same as before) don't suck!

Ah XII. I really do love this game. Not particularly for the characters or the storyline, although it's nice to see political intrigue taking the fore over the usual  supernatural evil malarkey. For me, the best thing about XII was the world. Ivalice is a wonderful cluster of nations where everyone hates everyone else and is perfectly happy to bitch and snark about it to anyone who'll listen. Walking around the cities and even just the landscape, it feels real, even if no one is ever going to explain how Golmore jungle connects to Paramina Rift; the climates just seem to meet each other with no temperate zone in the middle.

A lot of people complain about how the game is really about Ashe and why are Vaan and Penelo even there? But I like Vaan and Penelo. Not enough to play the sequel where they're the main characters, but I like them, and they serve their purpose. Every other one of the playable characters knows what the political situation in Ivalice is. Ashe and Basch have to know, and Fran and Balthier travel around enough to have picked it all up. Vaan and Penelo, however, have very little idea of what's going on, and so they serve as the excuse for the game to explain it to the player. All in all, it's quite a refreshing game, and the line between hero and villain is extremely blurry. I just really enjoyed it, if I'm honest.

Oh this game. This game seemed to want me to hate it at points. The characters start out as being either annoying or bland, with Lightning's badassery and Vanille's quirkiness only serving to highlight the annoying and the bland. That, coupled with the annoying mechanics of the Eidolon battles makes it hard to like it, but I persevered. I still can't say a lot for the game, but the character development was solid enough, and it was very pretty. I just felt that there was a lot of potential that they just ignored, such as Hope's supposed daddy issues, which could have been much better fleshed out and put to good plot use since his father worked for the government the party are on the run from. But no, Hope's just 14 and hates his dad... just sort of because he does a bit.

I'll also say that I liked the Crystarium and the Paradigm Shifts. It was like they took the best bits of the Sphere Grid and the Gambit system from X and XII, and then made them work better. And I have and will continue to grind away until I've finished all the missions, but I'm a gaming masochist, so ignore me.

So yeah, I should shut up now. Yes, I'll do that.


  1. But... you seem to have skipped VIII. You mentioned it, which leads one to believe you've played it. Did you just hate it that badly?

  2. It's not that I hate VIII or anything, I just never played it long enough to get a proper feel for it. Most of my knowledge of it comes from watching Spoony's review of it and from reading up on it on the Final Fantasy wikia, so it didn't seem like I could write anything worthwhile about it really.