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Something Beautiful in Something Awful

I’m going to talk Final Fantasy X-2 for a moment. This might contain spoilers for FFX, as X-2 is set almost directly after that story, as the title implies. This most definitely will contain FFX-2 spoilers, though I’ll try to be as coy as possible.

It might be my fault she looks like she’s crying in this picture; I don’t intend to be very nice to this game today.

I didn’t like Final Fantasy X-2. To be honest, I wasn’t dreadfully fond of Final Fantasy X either. The story didn’t bother me so much as the protagonist and his leading lady. Also Wakka.

Maybe it’s just me and maybe I’m just being mean to the overtly upbeat and whiny bleach blonde kid, but pretty much every time Tidus opened his mouth I wanted to slap him. Everything was always “Yuna isn’t paying attention to me” this, and “Lulu is being mean!” that. I kept waiting for him to grow up and man up. I’m not entirely certain whether or not this moment ever came; I couldn’t make myself play through the entire game.

I got far enough to know the dark secret surrounding Jecht, and I know how the story plays out and ends, I just wasn’t willing to donate the fifty hours of my life I needed to see it all through and through for myself.

To me, if I have to invest twenty+ hours for your game to get good, it’s really, really, really not worth my effort to do so. For instance, I’m a fan of the Tales of series, though Symphonia’s ending pretty much subconsciously ruined my capacity to finish any other Tales game (more on this in another article).  I tried playing Abyss, and I think I despised Luke more than any other protagonist I have ever had the privilege of spending time with. I think more than any other RPG character in existence, and we’re counting Keele Zabell here, Luke has taken the cake for over privileged captain whiny pants.

I was told by numerous friends that if I could just stick with it for twenty to twenty five hours, the game got really good. I proceeded to stare blankly for a moment, and then try to recount all the different ways I could say “no”.

Now, with that said, I have in the past and no doubt will in the future be willing to put up with and overlook a lot of things if a game can do one particular thing well enough. If a game can make me feel something, I’ll push myself to ignore quite a lot. I beat Mimana Iyar Chronicles in spite of an absolutely horrid combat engine and an encounter rate so high it made Skies of Arcadia feel slow. This was because the story and characters intrigued me enough to at least warrant playing through one girl’s scenario (I chose the warrior). I’ve always wanted to go back and try things out with the mage, but, yeah…that combat engine…

One of my favorite RPG’s that I cannot possibly recommend to anyone…

Crimson Gem Saga is another interesting but flawed game that I’m playing through. The big flaw that it has, and no it isn’t the difficulty level (which is perfectly fine for anyone who plays JRPG’s on a regular basis) is that the game expects you to navigate its ridiculously samey mazes without the use of any kind of a map. You routinely have to crawl through immense dungeons where everything looks the same on account of it literally is the exact same set piece and asset copy pasted repeatedly, and somehow keep track of what you’re supposed to be doing and where you ought to be going.

I could name games on and on, but the main one I wanted to focus on is Final Fantasy X-2. X2 stars Yuna, so it basically takes the character I liked probably the least and tells me I have to spend fifty or so hours with her, as well as Riku, who I have no beef with, and Payne whom I like a lot. They have to go find “what’s his name”, because apparently Tidus never said his name the entire game and neither did anyone else, of whom Yuna apparently completely forgot despite the whole “I died for you” thing.

I’m not sure that should be counted as a spoiler by the by, as Tidus missing after his sacrifice is pretty much in the opening sequence of the game as well as the instruction manual.

So yeah, Yuna and Riku and Riku’s pervert cousin and Payne all go on a quest to find Tidus who is apparently bad now and mucking things up. The game is a comedy mostly, and by comedy I mean the game tries to be funny but more often than not made me want to bleach my eyes and duct tape my ears shut. Take Charlie’s Angels, cross them with J-Lo, Britney Spears and the Spice Girls, then give them all A LOT of sugar and you’ll have the majority of the game.

Confident intelligent characters are moronic ditzes with occasional spurts of intelligence spiced in between, and they follow a plot that sounds interesting on paper but was executed in a way that made me question why I was playing it until I pretty much gave up and watched someone else do it instead.

“Hey! Remember me?! The guy who saved your life countless times and jumped off of an airship for you? No? Okay…”

Beneath the “Where’s my boyfriend whose name I can’t recall” plot of the story was an even deeper one that brought about a very Shakespearean feel and was far more interesting than what my main purpose was. It told the story of Lenna and Shuyin, two star crossed lovers with their lives tragically cut short by a corrupt military force. I think the subtext to their union is something you’re not supposed to think much about, as Shuyin looks exactly like Tidus and Lenna looks exactly like Yuna, which would imply that Tidus and Yuna are related, but, again, I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to think that hard about the story to a Final Fantasy game.

Going into this subplot turned major plot, we find Shuyin all angry pants and wreckin’ stuff due to his rage across time at being gunned down with his fiance by the military. Honestly, I’d be pretty peeved too if I were him.

The game’s happy go lucky Charlie’s Sugar High Angels story comes to a beautiful head with a single moment that made the adventure worthwhile for me.

I think that there are times that there can be something, a game, a movie, a TV show, a novel, that you don’t necessarily enjoy, but it has something beautiful about it that makes the trip worthwhile. There are a lot of folks that loved FFX-2. I am clearly not one of them. That’s okay, because we’re all entitled to our own opinions. What I’ve found however, is that there are times where something, such as Tales of Abyss, has zero redeeming qualities for me. It happens quite often really. There are times that something as wonderful as, say, nostalgia can’t make something like the second NiGHTS game enjoyable, even with its remixes of old songs and what not.

Sometimes a game is a hot mess like the NiGHTS sequel, and other times that hot mess is worth overlooking as is the case with, let’s go with Fragile Dreams and its very weak combat engine compared to its beautiful narrative.

I guess what I’d like to say is, for every:

Brother: Rikku! What’s your status?
Rikku: (pulling up Yuna) Disasterific!
Brother: Disasterific is not a word! Say disasterous like the rest of Spira!

(Yuna, Riku and Paine fall down elevator)

Brother: Status Report!? Yuna!
Yuna: Uh.. everythings’… OW! …disasterific.
Brother: Disasterific?! I am on my way!
Rikku:…What about me?

We occasionally get a “1000 Words” and find ourselves crying in front of our screen in spite of not really having been endeared to the characters or the story prior to that moment.

So, thoughts? You might agree, you might disagree. You might have games you thought were awful that had something worth overlooking the rest for, you might want to set me on fire for trashing Final Fantasy so badly. And please do note, I don’t hate Final Fantasy, I just really didn’t like FF8, 10, 10-2, 12 or 13-2.

The blank stare people get when they try to explain FFXIII’s plot to me.

That and XIII didn’t make sense…

Anyways, feel free to leave your comments below. Xeawn, out!

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3 comments on “Something Beautiful in Something Awful

  1. I’m hoping to get through this soon. I’m about 10-12 hours into X. I forgot how linear it was, reminds me of XIII.

    But on a sidebar, how could you not like VIII, that was my favorite of the PS1 era. Maybe, I’ll reundertake that one next.

    (one thing I like about this over Facebook is the pictures, but I still like the Facebook articles for the conviencey of them) 😉

    • Thanks for commenting! I’m glad for the move to the blog as well; the freedom in including pictures and videos is very nice. And of course, there’s always the plus of being able to push the links for the articles to Facebook so it’s easier to navigate to fresh content from both there and the blog.

      I tend to get asked relatively a lot why I didn’t like FF8. Overall, 8 fell into the category of those rare few RPG’s that I play for the combat, and not the story. I absolutely loved the Guardian Force engine, as well as how certain dungeons rewarded you for clearing them a certain way or in a certain amount of time.

      I liked much of the cast, Irvine and Zell are among my favorite FF characters (though Freya and Amarant completely dwarf them). I felt the combat engine was pretty brilliant, and I loved being able to level up as much as I wanted as well as accessing the ultimate weapons at the beginning of the game.

      Overall, I enjoyed everything that FF8 offered…except for the story. I felt the writing to be very directionless, almost as though the writers would be working on the script, then go “Oh! Wouldn’t it be awesome if THIS happened?!” I had also more than reached my saturation point for moody emo protagonists, which is part of why 9 was such a nice breath of fresh air.

      In addition to how so much of the story felt forced in there on a just because basis, I also found myself severely disappointed by the general manner in which no one really had much of a reaction to anything shocking that happened. For instance, discovering what was lurking beneath the school, I think I would’ve been reasonably freaked out rather than “Huh. So, this is the headmaster.” or finding out the connection between the antagonist and one of the good guys in the story I probably would’ve had a far more extreme reaction than “So that’s why…hm…it must be painful…”

      I think if FF8’s script could’ve gotten nice little overhaul before release, I probably would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. As it stands, it is still a lovely combat simulator with a beautiful musical score :D. Of course, that’s just this guy’s opinion.

      • On FFX-2, I look forward to playing it fully. I did maybe like 30 minutes when I got it, but I have this thing where I try not to play sequels without beating previous games. (Also why I haven’t played Kingdom Hearts fully, too many to keep the canon straight). But, I like how this is an all female cast. I wish Lulu was one of them, she and Kimahri were probably my favorites from X.

        I know what you mean about the emo, moody protagonist. That’s why Tidus was over the top giddy. I couldn’t get into IX, yet. (I like having this backwards compatible PS3, I can reconnect with some older games). I don’t remember much of VIII’s story. I just remember coming home from school and playing non-stop. I also really enjoyed the card game a whole lot better than Blitzball. Another plus I liked was receiving a pay check, instead of finding Gil from beasts in the woods.

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