179: The Battleship Final Fantasy

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Sylocat:

The_Deleted:
Why the hell was Onmi banned for a perfectly respectable post?
There was no spite, aggresion or bullying and yet hes be been banned for three days.
What the fuck is that all about?
Onmi was perfectly polite With this reply...

We see the Gambit System Differently, to me assigning it to everyone was pretty much the same as when Earthbound made weak enemies run away....yadda yadda

Hear here! What was wrong with his post?

He didn't conform to the absurd post-FFXII pseudo-modernist groupthink which dictates that every game in the FF series since FFIV has been an unmitigated disaster. Genre is unacceptable! Seriously though, Cliffy B is the Tolstoy of the 21st century.

(And if the writing in FFVII is genuinely "pubescent" then the entire games industry is a waste of time.)

harhol:
He didn't conform to the absurd post-FFXII pseudo-modernist groupthink which dictates that every game in the FF series since FFIV has been an unmitigated disaster. Genre is unacceptable! Seriously though, Cliffy B is the Tolstoy of the 21st century.

(And if the writing in FFVII is genuinely "pubescent" then the entire games industry is a waste of time.)

1) Entertainment can be both peurile and not a waste of time.

2) FFVII does not mark the height of writing in games.

3) Gears of War is written for twelve year-olds, while Final Fantasy is written for ten year-olds. This doesn't mean that I would extol the virtues of Cliffy B. I'd just call the whole thing a wash.

4) Nobody said anything about disaster.

5) Nobody said anything about genre.

6) Fans and critics have lambasted Final Fantasy since...Final Fantasy. None of this started with XII.

As a longtime customer of the Final Fantasy franchise, I've gotta say that Ray's pretty on the money. Especially story-wise. Replaying the games after experiencing other media geared at other audiences, a lot of what I used to find moving winds up looking quaint at best, trite at worst. Thankfully, I found X and XII to be mostly on the quaint side. (Having played a lot of Western RPGs, I can at least say FFXII's story, while lacking a bit in player immersion thanks to a POV character who literally has nothing to do with the story, is at least better than Neverwinter Nights 2's and Oblivion's.)

The exception being FFT, which had a good run even through the horrible translation of the PSX original. A Final Fantasy story about historical deception, corruption, politics, ambition, loyalty, and an honorable man in an unjust world. Even quirky lines like "Surrender or die in obscurity!" couldn't take away from that. And this wasn't even a marquee title for the series. It was relegated to the sidelines as a curiosity, followed up by an Ivalice game that wasn't even a FF--Vagrant Story, which had a better and more well-told story than most Final Fantasies.

(Personally? My perfect RPG would be something like the Baldur's Gate reskinned to look less-generic fantasy and a bit more like Akihiko Yoshida's work. Because Ivalice was the only reason I kept going back to Square, and I'm a bit sad that it's become the purview of kids' games on handhelds.)

To compare the Final Fantasy series to other games in other genres, Half-Life 2's story is simpler but more stirring, especially including the Episodes released afterwards. It's the difference between "Plot" and "Narrative." Plot is the "what" of the story, Narrative is how the story is told, and in Narrative HL2 and HL2:Ep2 succeeded in ways that the Final Fantasy franchise doesn't.

I'm no professional, so it's hard for me to describe, but if RPGs are meant to be "experienced," then a good chunk of one RPG franchise was outdone by an engrossing and cinematic FPS.

As an old fan, I've something of an idea as to why Square-Enix doesn't have the same grip over my wallet as it used to. Consider the original director of FFXII, Yasumi Matsuno. He intended FFXII to be a darker story about redemption centered around an older protagonist fighting to protect a princess who didn't trust him. (And judging by that blurb, one presumes the creator of XII actually meant to cast Basch as the protagonist, and the revelation that he was NOT the murderer of the Dalmascan king was supposed to have been in doubt for more than a few hours or so--which would've made a more interesting story, too, as it's treated as a throwaway plot element in XII.) The Squeenix execs told him, no, they wanted to pander to a particular audience--young ladies who like pretty boys--and so designed Vaan by committee and had him shoehorned into a plot that was meant for other characters.

To highlight why this was a mistake, most female fans ignored the effeminate Vaan in favor of the much more charming Balthier. Who was even *more* charming dubbed in English.

And this left FFXII with a story that was slowly neutered from the director's original design to something less involving, less ambiguous, less ambitious, and less interesting than what it could have been.

From the looks of it, Yasumi Matsuno, who left on account of "health concerns" (I still wonder if Square's trying to cover up an internal conflicts there, Japanese companies are loath to admit internal problems especially when leading up to a product's release), was well aware that the Final Fantasy series seemed trying too hard to pander to as many of its fans as possible and tried to do something a bit more mature, a bit less cartoony to bring the franchise up to speed with an older target audience who grew up with Final Fantasy (one that, hey, happens to have jobs and earns its own money). And was subsequently rebuffed by corporate, who hate to take a risk when the formula's working so well.

From what I can tell, FFXIII doesn't sound like its story or design is going to break from that any time soon. It revels in being a mostly adolescent fantasy, and old fans like me have to find greener pastures elsewhere. The best young-demographic media is media that can also be appreciated by adults on their own level, but Final Fantasy doesn't seem willing to treat its audience as anything other than teens.

That's fine for Square, since it's working for them thus far, but I'm still a bit disappointed. And I find that I kind of agree with the article.

And that's why I'm no longer a Square fanboy. I'm more than willing to buy Atlus games, though--they know how to shake things up and keep things interesting.

tl;dr: Basch should've been the main character. Vaan is the scrappy sidekick at best and should've been wearing his new FFTA2 shirt from the beginning. (He just can't pull off shirtless, I'm sorry.)

Dorian Cornelius Jasper:
As an old fan, I've something of an idea as to why Square-Enix doesn't have the same grip over my wallet as it used to. Consider the original director of FFXII, Yasumi Matsuno. He intended FFXII to be a darker story about redemption centered around an older protagonist fighting to protect a princess who didn't trust him. (And judging by that blurb, one presumes the creator of XII actually meant to cast Basch as the protagonist, and the revelation that he was NOT the murderer of the Dalmascan king was supposed to have been in doubt for more than a few hours or so--which would've made a more interesting story, too, as it's treated as a throwaway plot element in XII.) The Squeenix execs told him, no, they wanted to pander to a particular audience--young ladies who like pretty boys--and so designed Vaan by committee and had him shoehorned into a plot that was meant for other characters.

(snip)

tl;dr: Basch should've been the main character. Vaan is the scrappy sidekick at best and should've been wearing his new FFTA2 shirt from the beginning. (He just can't pull off shirtless, I'm sorry.)

Basch WAS the main character. Vaan was The Ishmael.

I don't agree with most of your reasoning behind the demise of Final Fantasy, but I do agree with the general principle that Final Fantasy has become way too big for it's own good and lost track of what's important. Actually, exchange "Final Fantasy" with "Square". The thing that puzzles me about Square is their negligence of intellectual properties like the "Chrono", "Mana" and "Tactics" games that were hugely successful but never received adequate follow up in my opinion.

World/Environment
Plot/Writing
Gameplay
Characters

All of these elements are important to a good JRPG. Optional grinding is an expected element to JRPG play, and it should remain that way (I, for one, like a good grind as long as it's optional such as to obtain an uber-item or defeat an uber-badguy outside of the main storyline), but each of the above elements needs to receive some attention for a JRPG to work.

Ray Huling:

harhol:
He didn't conform to the absurd post-FFXII pseudo-modernist groupthink which dictates that every game in the FF series since FFIV has been an unmitigated disaster. Genre is unacceptable! Seriously though, Cliffy B is the Tolstoy of the 21st century.

(And if the writing in FFVII is genuinely "pubescent" then the entire games industry is a waste of time.)

1) Entertainment can be both peurile and not a waste of time.

2) FFVII does not mark the height of writing in games.

3) Gears of War is written for twelve year-olds, while Final Fantasy is written for ten year-olds. This doesn't mean that I would extol the virtues of Cliffy B. I'd just call the whole thing a wash.

4) Nobody said anything about disaster.

5) Nobody said anything about genre.

6) Fans and critics have lambasted Final Fantasy since...Final Fantasy. None of this started with XII.

Once again you insult the intelligence of every member of a fanbase you happen to disagree with. Yet by your own arguments you find the plots of final fantasy games "incoherent." If they are for kids and you are too smart to bother with them, why can't you figure them out?

Even if your basic premise holds water, i.e. the idea that an old, stagnant franchise needs to be put out to pasture on handhelds, why did you choose Final Fantasy as your main example when their are plenty of other games which fit the bill? The Dragon Quest games have a battle system and core mechanics which have remained virtually unchanged after eight installments, and their next game is being released on handhelds. By comparison each Final Fantasy game attempts to reinvent itself in some way, often featuring wildly different and experimental play mechanics.

So why all the elitist gamer-snob condescending pooh-poohing of Final Fantasy and not something else? Because Final Fantasy is popular and bashing something popular makes you "clever" and "smart" and not at all a talentless, unimaginative hack. (For Ray's benefit, in case you find this too 'incoherent,' I'm being sarcastic here.)

Remember kiddies, if you attack something just for being mainstream, you are still letting The Crowd dictate your behavior.

Grampy_bone:
by your own arguments you find the plots of final fantasy games "incoherent." If they are for kids and you are too smart to bother with them, why can't you figure them out?

You're confusing 'incoherent' with 'incomprehensible'. This is a common mistake, but not excusable.

'Incoherent' means "Without logical connexion or natural sequence of ideas; inconsistent, rambling, disjointed"--which is different from "not understandable".

I both understand why FF plots are incoherent and explained why they are that way in the piece.

Grampy_bone:
why did you choose Final Fantasy

Timeliness. The FFIV remake on DS is a relatively recent release.

It's true that many series share the troubles of FF. I'm not sure what you want me to do about that.

I suppose I'll try providing you with another definition:

exemplar, n.

[ME. exemplaire, a. OF. exemplaire: see EXAMPLAR. The mod. form is partly a descendant of this, partly an adoption of L. exemplar, -{amac}re, n., orig. neut. of exempl{amac}ris adj.: see next.]

1. A person or thing which serves as a model for imitation; an example. Formerly also, {dag}a pattern for work: cf. SAMPLER.

1432-50 tr. Higden (Rolls) I. 5 In this tyme..thexemplares of acciones spectable scholde not be patent. 1490 CAXTON Eneydos xi. (1890) 41 [Nature] hathe produced hym [Aeneas] for to make one fayer chief werke to thexemplayre of alle other. 1530 PALSGR. 157 Vne exemple, an exemplar for a woman to worke by. 1549 LATIMER Serm. bef. Edw. VI (Arb.) 109 Christ is the..patrone and the exemplar, that all preachers oughte to folowe. 1694 POMFRET Poems, Death Q. Mary 128 Him for her high exemplar she design'd. 1744 Epitaph in Brand Hist. Newcastle (1789) I. 676 His Master's presence will reward..his virtues by a more intimate converse with the great Exemplar. 1793 T. MAURICE Ind. Antiq. (1806) I. 105 It is impossible for the artist to deviate from the exemplar before him. 1875 JOWETT Plato (ed. 2) V. 25 The Republic is..the pattern of all other states and the exemplar of human life.

Forgive me for not reading the entire thread, but I did read the article. And I'd like to add that FF is not only a battleship, it's a sinking one at that.

I'm probably gonna raise a lot of ire by stating this, but I firmly believe that Final Fantasy VII was the pinnacle of not only the Final Fantasy Series, it was the pinnacle of the entire JRPG genre. The graphics were not the most advanced, but they seriously blew away anything we had seen from a JRPG before that point. The story was incredibly well done, despite a couple of translation errors. And while I personally don't touch any of the spinoff crap, I think there's little that detracts from the experience of it. (I also say the same of FFT, and I think that game is slightly better, but that's technically a different sub-genre.)

The problem with Final Fantasy is that everything before FFVII was cult and a niche-market, at least in the states. And every thing after FFVII could just not measure up. I loved FFVIII but hindsight has dictated to me that it was the beginning of the downard slip for Square as the game play started taking a back seat to disinteresting stories.

But another problem with FF if that until FFXI the game play never really evolved. And when it did evolve in FFXI and FFXII it was for the worse as Squeenix decided they were going to rip off Everquest and all the other Muhmorpuguhs out there. I would assume anyone who has played FFXI realizes it's a terrible MMO. About as grindtastic as one can get as it literally takes over a year to max out your character and get to the endgame. I think only Eve is more grindrific then FFXI. And FFXII took the lousy MMO play and ran with it all the way to crappyton harbor.

I also hear a lot of the indie gamer set state that SNES era FFs were the best games, and I have to disagree. The story lines were goofy and clueless. The graphics, while better then most; never really stood out as your character goofily swung it sword back and forth to strike and then the enemy simply flashed and I guess we were just supposed to imagine what it was doing to defend itself. There really isn't much more to say about old school FFs. I wouldn't call them bad games for their time, I certainly enjoyed them. But I wouldn't call them the best. Although I've noticed people who put these games on their supposed pedastals also tell me FFIX was better then FFVII, which is patently untrue IMO. But I could write an entire article on that.

The point that I'm trying to get to is that the JRPG is going the way of the Dodo which is why there doesn't seem to be that much excitement over FFXIII. The series is showing it's age and it may just be time to put the old girl down... With a shotgun.

johnx61:
Forgive me for not reading the entire thread, but I did read the article. And I'd like to add that FF is not only a battleship, it's a sinking one at that.

I'm probably gonna raise a lot of ire by stating this, but I firmly believe that Final Fantasy VII was the pinnacle of not only the Final Fantasy Series, it was the pinnacle of the entire JRPG genre. The graphics were not the most advanced, but they seriously blew away anything we had seen from a JRPG before that point. The story was incredibly well done, despite a couple of translation errors. And while I personally don't touch any of the spinoff crap, I think there's little that detracts from the experience of it. (I also say the same of FFT, and I think that game is slightly better, but that's technically a different sub-genre.)

The problem with Final Fantasy is that everything before FFVII was cult and a niche-market, at least in the states. And every thing after FFVII could just not measure up. I loved FFVIII but hindsight has dictated to me that it was the beginning of the downard slip for Square as the game play started taking a back seat to disinteresting stories.

But another problem with FF if that until FFXI the game play never really evolved. And when it did evolve in FFXI and FFXII it was for the worse as Squeenix decided they were going to rip off Everquest and all the other Muhmorpuguhs out there. I would assume anyone who has played FFXI realizes it's a terrible MMO. About as grindtastic as one can get as it literally takes over a year to max out your character and get to the endgame. I think only Eve is more grindrific then FFXI. And FFXII took the lousy MMO play and ran with it all the way to crappyton harbor.

I also hear a lot of the indie gamer set state that SNES era FFs were the best games, and I have to disagree. The story lines were goofy and clueless. The graphics, while better then most; never really stood out as your character goofily swung it sword back and forth to strike and then the enemy simply flashed and I guess we were just supposed to imagine what it was doing to defend itself. There really isn't much more to say about old school FFs. I wouldn't call them bad games for their time, I certainly enjoyed them. But I wouldn't call them the best. Although I've noticed people who put these games on their supposed pedastals also tell me FFIX was better then FFVII, which is patently untrue IMO. But I could write an entire article on that.

The point that I'm trying to get to is that the JRPG is going the way of the Dodo which is why there doesn't seem to be that much excitement over FFXIII. The series is showing it's age and it may just be time to put the old girl down... With a shotgun.

Actually, for those of us who were around prior to FFVII, FFVI and Chrono Trigger were the best JRPG's ever made. FFVII was OK in comparison, but never quite reached that level. I think most people have such a high opinion of FFVII because it was their first Final Fantasy, the PSX having a new generational user base than the old 16-bit platforms.

I would also like to point out that there have been more JRPG's released for consoles in the last two years than there have been in a long time. I think part of the reason that good JRPG's have been missing for so many years is the rise of internet gaming. Everyone has been playing around with online technologies for the last eight years or so and just now are things beginning to settle down and equilibrium is returning with a shift back to traditional JRPG's.

That's my theory anyways.

I'm confused why when trying to show that the dialogue doesn't match up to the art style of the series these days, you quoted the very title you were trying to point out as the pinnacle of the series. Why not pick a quote from FFXII? I'm sure you'd be able to find one, even though I personally think the dialogue in FFXII was one of it's redeeming factors.

Also, that paragraph you used to describe why the plot of Final Fantasy IV is "considered the best" lists all the reasons why I think the plot is one of the worst in the series. It's like I learned in a layout course I took this semester: If you do one thing enough times, it starts to become corny. In this case, it's so true. The whole plot seemed to be focused on a brainwashed chain of command, and the constant "Aha! You're the true villain!" moments got extremely boring by the end of the game. As did the "noble suicides."

I grow weary of the series myself, but I felt like the argument you have presented is weak and full of disconnected ramblings about why Final Fantasy IV is so much better than every other title. In the end, I didn't really understand any link to your opening statement about battleships being at the peak of their kind while being obsolete.

Sylocat:
Basch WAS the main character. Vaan was The Ishmael.

Well if you put it like that, then writing an Ishmael in was probably not the best move on Square's part. From my playthrough, it kind of dampened the emotional impact of the story by keeping it relatively impersonal.

And John, I'll at least agree with you on FFT being better than the main FF series.

Dorian Cornelius Jasper:

Sylocat:
Basch WAS the main character. Vaan was The Ishmael.

Well if you put it like that, then writing an Ishmael in was probably not the best move on Square's part. From my playthrough, it kind of dampened the emotional impact of the story by keeping it relatively impersonal.

And John, I'll at least agree with you on FFT being better than the main FF series.

I 110% agree with you. I also had no idea there was that sort of conflict over FFXII's story. Thats sad. it always struck me as odd that they just threw away the whole "Basch killed the king" storyline. I had actually been expecting that it WAS Basch who killed the king, but he did it for a very good reason, ex. The King was going to surrender the kingdom, or had infact been working for the Empire all along. At the very least they could've played with Vaan's hatred towards Basch over his brother for longer.

But no.

I got about as far as rescuing the princess from the airship and the judges before all of my interest was used up. It felt too much like an MMO with no people, and the story wasn't gripping me. HELL, remember in Xenogears when you KILLED EVERYONE IN YOUR VILLAGE AND ALL OF YOUR LOVED ONES? And then one of your best freinds COMES for you, to beat the hell out of you, for killing his sister? Did they curtail that? No. They milked that wangst for all it was worth and it was good damnit. It's a little sad when you get beat by a Mecha-Opera on the PS2, Squenix.

On the other hand, FFT... ahh FFT. That was some great stuff there. Admittedly it kind of lost it as soon as the Zodiac Demons entered the picture. That game would've been 100x better had it just been about the human drama of the lion war- spare me the apocolyptic demons, give me the Duke of Silverberry Poisening Balzag to take his place and lead the blahblabhalbah my brain just melted.

That game came with a dictionary of characters for a reason.

Dorian Cornelius Jasper:

Sylocat:
Basch WAS the main character. Vaan was The Ishmael.

Well if you put it like that, then writing an Ishmael in was probably not the best move on Square's part. From my playthrough, it kind of dampened the emotional impact of the story by keeping it relatively impersonal.

And John, I'll at least agree with you on FFT being better than the main FF series.

It's odd that you complain about playing as The Ishmael in Final Fantasy XII, but when you play as the exact same role in Final Fantasy Tactics (No, don't fool yourself, Delita is the main character, Ramza is not), it's alright...

They milked that wangst for all it was worth and it was good damnit.

Xenogears overplayed it's Wangst almost as badly as Evangelion. Also, barring the controlled level progression for Gear battles meaning that grinding couldn't unbalance the combat, it was one of Square's worst games of the Wangst era on the PS1.

Novan Leon:

johnx61:
Forgive me for not reading the entire thread, but I did read the article. And I'd like to add that FF is not only a battleship, it's a sinking one at that.

I'm probably gonna raise a lot of ire by stating this, but I firmly believe that Final Fantasy VII was the pinnacle of not only the Final Fantasy Series, it was the pinnacle of the entire JRPG genre. The graphics were not the most advanced, but they seriously blew away anything we had seen from a JRPG before that point. The story was incredibly well done, despite a couple of translation errors. And while I personally don't touch any of the spinoff crap, I think there's little that detracts from the experience of it. (I also say the same of FFT, and I think that game is slightly better, but that's technically a different sub-genre.)

The problem with Final Fantasy is that everything before FFVII was cult and a niche-market, at least in the states. And every thing after FFVII could just not measure up. I loved FFVIII but hindsight has dictated to me that it was the beginning of the downard slip for Square as the game play started taking a back seat to disinteresting stories.

But another problem with FF if that until FFXI the game play never really evolved. And when it did evolve in FFXI and FFXII it was for the worse as Squeenix decided they were going to rip off Everquest and all the other Muhmorpuguhs out there. I would assume anyone who has played FFXI realizes it's a terrible MMO. About as grindtastic as one can get as it literally takes over a year to max out your character and get to the endgame. I think only Eve is more grindrific then FFXI. And FFXII took the lousy MMO play and ran with it all the way to crappyton harbor.

I also hear a lot of the indie gamer set state that SNES era FFs were the best games, and I have to disagree. The story lines were goofy and clueless. The graphics, while better then most; never really stood out as your character goofily swung it sword back and forth to strike and then the enemy simply flashed and I guess we were just supposed to imagine what it was doing to defend itself. There really isn't much more to say about old school FFs. I wouldn't call them bad games for their time, I certainly enjoyed them. But I wouldn't call them the best. Although I've noticed people who put these games on their supposed pedastals also tell me FFIX was better then FFVII, which is patently untrue IMO. But I could write an entire article on that.

The point that I'm trying to get to is that the JRPG is going the way of the Dodo which is why there doesn't seem to be that much excitement over FFXIII. The series is showing it's age and it may just be time to put the old girl down... With a shotgun.

Actually, for those of us who were around prior to FFVII, FFVI and Chrono Trigger were the best JRPG's ever made. FFVII was OK in comparison, but never quite reached that level. I think most people have such a high opinion of FFVII because it was their first Final Fantasy, the PSX having a new generational user base than the old 16-bit platforms.

I would also like to point out that there have been more JRPG's released for consoles in the last two years than there have been in a long time. I think part of the reason that good JRPG's have been missing for so many years is the rise of internet gaming. Everyone has been playing around with online technologies for the last eight years or so and just now are things beginning to settle down and equilibrium is returning with a shift back to traditional JRPG's.

That's my theory anyways.

I hate the argument that so many people make that if FFVII is the best game in the series, in your opinion, then you must never have played any of the ones prior to it, or you played FFVII first and then the SNES cavalcade afterwards. I'm sorry, but that is just not true.

I started Final Fantasy with the very first installment. I enjoyed it quite a bit cause I was a fan of tabletop gaming back then and many computerized D&D knockoffs before FF were pretty cheesy. I played FFIV and FFVI when they were released with the infamous misnumberings and I did like them, a lot. But I, personally was more drawn in to FFVII. It was better written, had a looser feel in exploration, and dropped the blocky 90 degree angle dungeons that I found to be really lame in just about every JRPG I had played before FFVII. It also didn't throw the story into the shredder at the mid point like FFVI did and it had characters I could relate to and genuinely liked as opposed to CT where I found the characters to be very cliche and poorly developed. And it didn't rely on overused and reused plot points, like FFIV.

I'm getting off track though. I didn't start with FFVII and it's my favorite of the main series, and I know a lot of people who would say the same who also didn't start with it. Saying that anyone who likes FFVII best must have played it first is a blanket assumption and it's just wrong.

I still think FFT is a better game, though. The gameplay is very balanced for most jobs, the tactical aspect incorporates the best elements of the series. And the story is very gritty and challenges the player with it's twists and turns. It's not perfect, no game is. But it's freakin' close.

But that FFTA stuff has gotta go.

johnx61:
I hate the argument that so many people make that if FFVII is the best game in the series, in your opinion, then you must never have played any of the ones prior to it, or you played FFVII first and then the SNES cavalcade afterwards. I'm sorry, but that is just not true.

I started Final Fantasy with the very first installment. I enjoyed it quite a bit cause I was a fan of tabletop gaming back then and many computerized D&D knockoffs before FF were pretty cheesy. I played FFIV and FFVI when they were released with the infamous misnumberings and I did like them, a lot. But I, personally was more drawn in to FFVII. It was better written, had a looser feel in exploration, and dropped the blocky 90 degree angle dungeons that I found to be really lame in just about every JRPG I had played before FFVII. It also didn't throw the story into the shredder at the mid point like FFVI did and it had characters I could relate to and genuinely liked as opposed to CT where I found the characters to be very cliche and poorly developed. And it didn't rely on overused and reused plot points, like FFIV.

I'm getting off track though. I didn't start with FFVII and it's my favorite of the main series, and I know a lot of people who would say the same who also didn't start with it. Saying that anyone who likes FFVII best must have played it first is a blanket assumption and it's just wrong.

It is a generalization, but I wouldn't say it's an incorrect one. For the majority of the people I've spoken to, if FFVII wasn't their first, it was the first that they actually took seriously. Granted, I'm not saying it's that way for everyone though. You're obviously an exception.

I'd be willing to take the article and your opinion seriously if it wasn't so self-consciously sensationalist. The suggestion that "Final Fantasy has never produced a good or even coherent plot, a compelling character, a line of believable dialogue or a scene worthy of anything but a Saturday morning cartoon" is something you might see on the GameFAQs forums, being as it is totally unjustifiable. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it equates to trolling.

Ray Huling:
FFVII does not mark the height of writing in games

No, but neither is it "incoherent", "pubescent" or "written for ten-year-olds". It is totally coherent, has an extensive & varied cast of characters and makes perfect sense. It has a level of complexity and depth that most video games don't even attempt to reach. It established many of the archetypes and clichés that we see in JRPGs today. For 1997 it was completely ground-breaking.

I'd be grateful if you could name, say, five or ten games which you consider to have mature, well-written narratives and which achieve a Huling-worthy standard of believability and characterization.

harhol:
No, but neither is it "incoherent", "pubescent" or "written for ten-year-olds". It is totally coherent, has an extensive & varied cast of characters and makes perfect sense. It has a level of complexity and depth that most video games don't even attempt to reach. It established many of the archetypes and clichés that we see in JRPGs today. For 1997 it was completely ground-breaking.

I completely agree with the rest of your post, but FFVII did have it's flaws when it came to plot presentation. It fell into the common Animesque trap of introducing complex plot twists and abstract concepts without fully explaining them in-game. It wasn't until the release of Advent Children that I finally understood the relationship between Cloud, Zack, Sephiroth and Jenova (and even now it's a little fuzzy).

Novan Leon:
It fell into the common Animesque trap of introducing complex plot twists and abstract concepts without fully explaining them in-game.

I like it when things aren't fully explained.

:D

The most egregious examples of what you refer to occur in the original Silent Hill but you never hear anyone criticise that particular plot. Oh wait, it's not an unfashionable RPG franchise...

Novan Leon:

harhol:
No, but neither is it "incoherent", "pubescent" or "written for ten-year-olds". It is totally coherent, has an extensive & varied cast of characters and makes perfect sense. It has a level of complexity and depth that most video games don't even attempt to reach. It established many of the archetypes and clichés that we see in JRPGs today. For 1997 it was completely ground-breaking.

I completely agree with the rest of your post, but FFVII did have it's flaws when it came to plot presentation. It fell into the common Animesque trap of introducing complex plot twists and abstract concepts without fully explaining them in-game. It wasn't until the release of Advent Children that I finally understood the relationship between Cloud, Zack, Sephiroth and Jenova (and even now it's a little fuzzy).

Huh? I thought the game did it's job in telling you everything you need to know. The relationship your referring to is all explained in the games, it can just be a little tough to find as sometimes it's almost subliminal. Ah well everyone is different and finds the info at their on pace i guess. I caught it first time through but other I know didn't get the hint after playing it twice or just thinking really really hard.

-Seraph-:

Novan Leon:

harhol:
No, but neither is it "incoherent", "pubescent" or "written for ten-year-olds". It is totally coherent, has an extensive & varied cast of characters and makes perfect sense. It has a level of complexity and depth that most video games don't even attempt to reach. It established many of the archetypes and clichés that we see in JRPGs today. For 1997 it was completely ground-breaking.

I completely agree with the rest of your post, but FFVII did have it's flaws when it came to plot presentation. It fell into the common Animesque trap of introducing complex plot twists and abstract concepts without fully explaining them in-game. It wasn't until the release of Advent Children that I finally understood the relationship between Cloud, Zack, Sephiroth and Jenova (and even now it's a little fuzzy).

Huh? I thought the game did it's job in telling you everything you need to know. The relationship your referring to is all explained in the games, it can just be a little tough to find as sometimes it's almost subliminal. Ah well everyone is different and finds the info at their on pace i guess. I caught it first time through but other I know didn't get the hint after playing it twice or just thinking really really hard.

The month the game came out I played through the game twice in an effort to understand it, without much luck. I can play the game and make a guess based on what information they provide but it kinda breaks the immersion for me when I have to fill in the gaps myself. But hey, to each his own.

GloatingSwine:

It's odd that you complain about playing as The Ishmael in Final Fantasy XII, but when you play as the exact same role in Final Fantasy Tactics (No, don't fool yourself, Delita is the main character, Ramza is not), it's alright...

Well I don't agree that Ramza was the Ishmael since Delita didn't get half as much screentime and his ideals and growth only covered half of the story. You might think he's more interesting than Ramza but he's not the heart of it. He's the half of the story that Ivalice's history told, not the half that FFT told. And who says Ramza isn't interesting? He's practically got a sister complex, he's torn between ideals and family, he's lost his best friends and struggles on working as a mercenary, has been shaken by the horrors of war and the terror of the Zodiac demons, and it literally took a miracle for him to believe that the Zodiac stones could be used for good and not just evil--that there was a possibility for ultimate good in the corrupt world in which he lived. To the point that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, even if nobody would ever tell the story of how he saved the world.

But if you insist that Ramza is an Ishmael, then he's one done right. He does not detract from the storyline, his presence allows us to see a story from up close and feel for it--as the original Ishmael did for the tale of that nutty Captain Ahab. He's a far more interesting POV character than Vaan. It might have something to do with his story being darker and him having to live through it all, but that, again, goes to writing. So, yes, it's alright if Ramza's an Ishmael. Just because that writing tool was misused with FFXII doesn't mean it's a bad thing, it's just bad in XII.

FFT's a better Final Fantasy than numbered Final Fantasies.

Novan Leon:

The month the game came out I played through the game twice in an effort to understand it, without much luck. I can play the game and make a guess based on what information they provide but it kinda breaks the immersion for me when I have to fill in the gaps myself. But hey, to each his own.

If there's one thing FFVII isn't trying to be, it's immersive. At least, not in the same way a game like, say, Half Life is immersive. Instead, it has the immersive quality of a really good book (opinions held), and I know plenty of books that force the reader to fill in gaps.

Lvl 64 Klutz:

Novan Leon:

The month the game came out I played through the game twice in an effort to understand it, without much luck. I can play the game and make a guess based on what information they provide but it kinda breaks the immersion for me when I have to fill in the gaps myself. But hey, to each his own.

If there's one thing FFVII isn't trying to be, it's immersive. At least, not in the same way a game like, say, Half Life is immersive. Instead, it has the immersive quality of a really good book (opinions held), and I know plenty of books that force the reader to fill in gaps.

One thing I used to do when I was younger, that I don't anymore is run around yelling that FFVII was the "BEST GAME EVER!" Because, clearly, it isn't. JRPGs generally aren't immersive, I agree with this. And it's the story and characters that hooks you in. Not so much the standard, line up JRPG game play.

But the reason I say that FFVII was the pinnacle of JRPGs was because while FFVII was in it's heyday, JRPGs were cool for once. People got excited about the genre and endless discussion of the game was commonplace in internet circles. There was no real excitement about previous JRPGs and after FFVIII everything died down and the cultish nerd set took back the genre.

I just realized that this is why FFIX is so popular among FF nerds, because it was the game that ushered in the end of the era of mainstream JRPG popularity and the societal outcasts could lay claim to FF once again. Seriously, I had been trying for years to figure out why FFIX was so heavily defended on the internet when it was such a god awful game.

Wow, light bulb.

As far as plot holes in FFVII, I really think most of them are surrounding the ending. And I haven't seen Advent Children, and don't care to. I think AC was a totally unnecessary cash-in. And I'm convinced that if I watch it, the game will be ruined for me forever.

Maybe I'm just mad. Maybe I'm just Asian (I am!), but I do like FF series--all of them. I can relate to them pretty well. A lot of the theme would never fly with Westerners..but then so was the concept of Kamikaze.
One thing that really detracts from jRPG's experience is their extremely linear story line. It's good for people who are there to enjoy the ride--but not for people who are after branching stories, with lots of dialog trees. In a sense, it's not a Western RPG. You don't get to choose the outcome--and if your favorite character is about to bite the dust, you are powerless to help. That factor alone is a real killer for any jRPGs to a lot of Americans I know. You even fail save the "world" in Star Ocean. Everyone you call family always die in Suikoden, and you always find out the bad guy isn't even really a bad guy--he's always just painfully realistic. That's just not the concept of RPGs that some can stand.

Personally, I like every FF more and more. The older ones were interesting, but marred by lousy dialog. The newer ones pay more and more attention to detail. Your character matter less and less in the world. You were the big shot in FF4. By the time of FF7, you were a lowly SOLDIER. In FF10, you are reduced to a forgotten athelete. In FF12, your character didn't even leave a mark in the game world. Sure, Ashe won. But so what? Nobody remembers Vaan, except his close friends. Personally, these move toward a more "real" world is more immersive, not more dialog options. The world actually exist, and like the real world, it doesn't care about you.
Talk about the story, I find that it is very jarring to have the silent protagonist up against strong, speaking casts. But character's relationship becomes much more intimate over the years. You can see that they bond more than in older FFs. New character actually seems to interact to each other, not just the quest that you are undertaking. A feature so well praised in games like Mass Effects.

I find the game play more engaging as the game grows as well. I adored FF5's turn-base combat (that was my first). I love FF6's customization even more. Then I got to try Tactics and FF7, and I love every bit of it. (Did people even realized there's a materia in FF7 that allows you to press a button at the right time to always pull critical attack? I bet not.) FF8's gun blade was also extremely awesome. Sure, drawing magic was a drag, but pumping bad guys full of Irvin's Quick Shot is ever so satisfying. Also, did you realized, again, that you can "trigger" everyone's attack to get a critical hit? I only found that out on my 2.5th play through. It became a breeze when everyone always hit for critical damage all the time. And did I mention much more engaging?
FF12 was the true pinnacle in combat system. I totally fell in love with Parasite Eve's pseudo real time combat, as well as Vagrant Story. FF12 is very reminiscent of those games for me, and I love every bit of it. I love pulling combos, and seeing enemies getting diced.

If you are all about the reward versus investment, then jRPGs are not the game for you. Imagine them more as an interactive novel. Some feel they are outdated, but I always find them refreshing. Especially when it says something about the world.
FF7's nature vs artificial theme wasn't there by accident. And so wasn't the memory and nostalgia of FF10. (There was a big debate around that time about renewal of extreme nationalistic movement, and Korea was up in arms wanting apologies for Japan's cruelty during WW2). The very theme of Final Fantasy resonate with us Asian and our current event. I am sure it will continue to be so, and it will provide ever more refined game play, more attention to details, and I will continue to enjoy them.

MannPower:
My quick-and-easy comment on this topic is 'Pull the life support.' Or at least, refocus the demographic.

I think it already has (EDIT - the demographic that is). I see some of the games that companies like square enix and such companies make for platofrms like the PSP and DS and PS3 and I think 'Japan'. Even now I see some of the games that my classmates enjoy during break (currently I'm living in Japan on exchange) and I see how they vastly differ from games a Westerner might enjoy. I tried Monster Hunter and got bored with it because I couldn't pick a pure magic class and go to town with fireballs and that type of magic.

At this point I think 'Maybe it's just the game', but I then look at the storylines of some of the other RPGs, remember the general emotional persuasion fo the people and think 'yeah, most of these games are tailor made for these guys', and I think that's also why most westerners (not I say MOST, suppose I should say nowadays as well, as they did it in the past as well and we bought/played the games) don't really touch those types of games anymore.

Call me a virtual gun-toting pyromaniac, but I play games to have fun, whether that's scoring headshot after headshot, or conjuring a fire/magicball with which I'm gonna eviscerate the guy in front of me. I generally RP because of the aforementioned fireballs or because I wanna make my own story. JRPGs don't really let you do that, it's very much like being in a movie, or acting out a book, which seemed to work for those companies in the past, however after reusing the same basic plot elements a few times, gets a bit stale.

I don't know what it is about the Japanese that keeps drawing them to these games, whether it be the pretty scenery/characters, the availability of playtime [with handhelds] (you have not known boredom till you have to ride an hour on the train with just an Ipod and re-listened tracks), good advertising, the tried-and-true 'happy ending' formula, or that they're the only games really made for them, but it seems more and more that these sort of games are made primarily for the Japanese public, not those that find Gears of War or WoW fun. (because honest to God, I've seen GoW but not WoW here, not for love or money).

[please note I'm only going off those experiences I've had with classmates here in Japan, if anyones got some sales figures of games in Japan (and even sales of games similar to the FF series in western countries), it would be good, whether to help or hinder my above argument.

EDIT - I take back the thing about the 'happy ending' thing being a draw-in, and instead replace it with 'emotionally packed storyline'. (sorry, my JRPG experience is reasonably limited)

I have and always will like final fantasy games(and jrpgs in general), disregarding all of their pretty obvious flaws. I just find the art style appealing, along with the soundtracks. I like the grandeur of the thing as a spectacle. XIII and versus XIII to me look incredible, versus XIII in particular.
With regard to XII, that style of gameplay to me wasn't what I was hoping for to begin with, but it pretty much hooked me after a while and got me playing games with similar styles of combat (elder scrolls - similar, not the same!).
I do think that the article is probably right in some respect in terms of what these games are delivering hasn't really changed, but the same can be said for most genres. For example, FPSs are all based loosely around - shoot til you get to the end of the game. The original doom games give me as much enjoyment as the more recent FPSs like resistance 2. The addition of multiplayer is the only significant difference in FPSs since their incarnation, just an opinion, I know there will be many who disagree.

Apone:
Great article. I've become completely disenfranchised with the series despite how much I adored it in my youth. Though this may be due to growing up and finding different interests and tastes, I do believe it's partly down to Square remaking similar plots, with similar characters all to achieve the same pleasure I've already had.
Average plots, a poor script and an often pointless main character these days don't create the immersion of previous games.

I feel the same way and have gained much insite from this article. In fact, I've outgrown most JRPGs entirely. One series I cannot shake, however, is the Shin Megami Tensei games. They're different enough to be justifiable in their own rite and they often tackle darker subject matter than the average heroic quest.

There hasn't been a top-notch Final Fantasy since VI and Tactics. I agree that FF needs to shake something up. I wonder if it is the story that is the main issue though, and not lack of new, innovative gameplay features. In that sense, I don't know if it is a Final Fantasy problem or an issue with JRPGs in general.

And by the way, I get a big kick out of all the threads on here that say "My first experience with FF was VII." Poor souls...you got stuck with the worst in the series on your first go-around. Well, as long as we forget about FF Mystic Quest that is, hehe.

I like the comparison to Yamato, but I think a lot of the article was misdirected and lacking. Don't get me wrong, I think that Final Fantasy has been going downhill since after FF7. However, the article discussed the game play more than actual character and plot design. I don't know how anyone else feels, but I play RPGs for the story and characters, not the game play. Weapons, battle systems, and magic systems are more or less just glitter. If we were to analyze Final Fantasy games purely on setting and plot, we would find that there are roughly 3 different categories.

The first is the medieval Dungeons and Dragons type, such as Final Fantasies 1-5. These focused more on medieval style knights, dragons, magic, etc. This style ended around FF5, and 6 started to incorporate new themes.

The next category is a sort of industrial/modernistic style, using a lot of machinery (often in conjunction with magic) and darker themes. There were really only three games that focused on this: FF6, 7, and 8. The stories were darker, deeper, and dealt more with the internal struggle of the characters themselves. A perfect example would be 6, which didn't exactly have a defined main character, but focused on all of the characters through out the game. 7 is regarded as the series' crowning achievement, using gritty and dark settings to match the depressive struggle of the characters.

After this comes the weird Techno-Future Magic style. This focuses more on magic, bright and colorful clothing, and a generally happier setting. They span FF 9-12. However, I personally believe that these games are not as good. The stories are often cliched and unoriginal, and the characters have less personality than that of an empty bread bag. FF12 is perhaps the best example of this, which could be described as Star Wars meets D&D. However, FF13 seems to be making a push back towards the industrial styling of FF7 and 8, though how this will work is currently undecided.

I think that the Final Fantasy series is dying and everyone knows it, perhaps even Square-Enix itself. To me, FF13 seems to be accurately described as Yamato; as a sort of last ditch "Hoo-rah!" to give the series its send off. I will be sad to see it go, but it is about time for new tactics and ideas.

It occurs to me that you have no idea why we like these games.

......O.o

What the hell are you talking about?!

No, I get it. But basically all you're saying is, "I don't really get a kick out of it, and I can elaborate profusely based on my own affection for my toy collection and interest in history an analogy that describes from the outside what's "wrong" with a series that really at this point is for people that aren't me. And I get to feel smart putting these words together, while shitting on fans' genuine affection and excitement." So... figure that out. What does it matter if it's "obsolete", whatever the hell that means? It's -not- a warship. It's intention is -not- to kill people, not even to kill the competition metaphorically. It's for people who engage in the kind of love that it creates, and rewards them by evolving the feel that they relate to in themselves from having been moved by the series a long time ago, and sticking with it after all these years. You might be in love with a more advanced model, sure, and that's completely your perogative. But if I was married to the girl cuz I loved her, I wouldn't be leaving her for the 18 year old cheerleader, that's for damn sure, just because she was younger and had newer clothes, nor would I, for that matter, be publishing declarative essays on the futility of older models keeping on. *shrugs* You're talking about a world where competition matters to the industry, not the fans.

Obsolete? Pfft. Paint is obsolete. That doesn't change the fact that it has a vibrancy that can never be replaced. Digital color can be equal to it, but can never excede it. Different universes altogether. I'm going to wait in terse excitement for the best game on the PS3 to come out, and you can enjoy your opinion, and we'll both be pretty happy! Just don't assume you're "right". Assume that's how you feel. Well written, though, good work. But yeah. Thank god/allah/buddah/jebediah springfield that old school heart lives and breaths. The hands that typed your article are obsolete compared to ones that made that game. But hey. Feel secure in your career choice.

Veylon:

Syntax Error:
@Onmi:
Link please? I wanna read that. Well, I guess people hate stuff because it's popular.

When it's original, people love it.
When people love it, it becomes popular.
When it's popular, it becomes mainstream.
When it's mainstream, it's no longer original.
When it's no longer original, people no longer love it.
When people no longer love it, it's no longer popular.

.....can I use that in a song somewhere? That's -very- well put.

Finally, I agree, i never liked any FF story, except 4, and iam no hater of jrpgs, final fantasy tactics, panzer dragoon saga were amazing.

Fantastic article.

Final Fantasy has never produced a good or even coherent plot, a compelling character, a line of believable dialogue or a scene worthy of anything but a Saturday morning cartoon.

I call bullshit. Have you played the PS1 Final Fantasy games?

All these moments had me close to tears if not bawling. Sure the earlier games suffered from bad translations but to call the writing "dreck" is just downright ignorant. All this guy does is bash Final Fantasy. You don't like it, that's fine it's not for everybody but this article is completeley biased against the series and was not interesting or enlightening in any way.

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