I haven't decided how to orgonize these. At the moment, I have these ordered by "family" rather than release order.

PlayStation Portable (2007)

Solid game. Sprite work in the PSP version is rad as heck. Lots of missable content. This sometimes means the game isn't all that clear where to go next in the main plot. Or there's missable items/spells that are invaluable to beating the final boss.

Play this game with a guide handy.

I didnt know the Labyrinth of Time was an optional dungeon added to the PSP version. The cutscenes that introduce the dungeon made it seem like its supposed to be the final dungeon if you dont know better... and I didnt know better. I spent a good hour beating my head against this absurdly difficult dungeon before looking up a guide and realizing i was in the wrong place.

Disappointing that a complete remake of an old game has next to no modern QOL features.

The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the game or the publisher of the video game or the developers of the video game, Fair use, Link

PlayStation Portable (2008)

Good game. Straightforward, easy gameplay. As per usual, i way over-grind towards the endgame and the final boss was easier than i expected. There’s a neat conversation mechanic used to progress the game’s plot. Good story, charming party members. Wished Leon joined the party sooner, and his character arc was kinda wack. Overall, a safe and cute JRPG.

May be found at the following website: lostlevels.org, Fair use, Link

PlayStation 2 (1999)

This is a strange experience for me. I have been playing the ff series very out of order. By this point, I played none of the entries between ffii and ffvii. There's a pretty sizable jump between the 2-D incredibly standard jrpg style in ffii, and the 3-D ffvii with all the iconic quirks the ff series is known for.

Ffv bridges that gap with all the usual visuals and gameplay you'd expect in a 2-D jrpg, but also tells a more character focused story like a more modern ff game. All the reoccurring elements in ff (summons, moggles, classes, etc.) are all here too. It was odd and also refreshing to find Shiva, Ifrit and other summons in sprite form.

The job system is really fun. Jobs are what the game calls the character classes. This game allows the player to change and customize the class and abilities of all four party members. There are the usual difficulty hikes you'd expect in an ff game, but job bonuses and equipment bonuses all stack on top of base stats. A good job and weapon combo can synergize so well that enemies and bosses get blown right out of the water. Character levelling improves stats too. Best part is that characters still gain exp even when theyre knocked out or separated from the party. Buuuut you lose out on the exp points for levelling jobs so its still in the players' best interest to keep characters from getting KO'd as much as possible.

As you'd expect, grinding is still a very necessary component of the game. I found it easy to keep it fresh by changing the jobs and abilities of characters as I'm levelling. The party composition changed a lot as the game progressed which made for an engaging experience.

I sort of wish the player was allowed to assign 2 bonus abilities rather than just 1. Later ff entries play out with characters having incredibly diverse skill ranges in battle. Here, characters are limited to duel-classing at most. You can max out at having 8 active class types when there are about two dosen to choose from, and sometimes it was better to avoid duel-classing. Its a real shame when there are a bunch of neat abilities that I had to pass up on.

HOWEVER, it seems there are several viable party compositions the player can beat the game with. The game is balanced in a way that changing jobs in the late game remains a viable strategy. So even after commiting a lot of resources to levelling one job, there was no serious punish for switching to a new job that has not been levelled. Limiting the customization but keeping that flexibility added a challenge that I generally enjoyed.

I LOVE FARIS. Faris is the best.

Story is pretty good. Music slaps. But honestly i think i only have that opinion bc ive been playing theatrhythm cocurently.

Overworld navigation slaps. The devs were pretty creative giving and taking modes of transportation. There are three overworld maps and the third one especially is pretty fun to explore. I appreciate the third map gives players the option to jump straight into the final dungeon, but the optional stuff was so fun i basically did all of it anyways. There are some pretty sick rewards for completing the optional sidequests too.

Overall, solid entry.

PlayStation (1999)

Posted: 2024-02-29

Fantastic game. Highly recommend. Great characters. Music is pretty good. If you do end up picking up ffvi, I have a few tips right off the bat: learn how to use every character (even if you don’t like them) and if you do want to focus exp on specific characters, give yourself at least six characters that you can rely on. Don’t be like me and only use four characters exclusively.

Like ffxii, I ended up putting down and picking the game back up several months later. This is not a fault of the game, but a lot of what I’ll end up talking about will be about the latter portion of the game. Luckily, the World of Ruin portion is where most of the game takes place.

Gameplay wise, ffvi is solid. This is another ATB title, which is always a welcome mechanic. Summons are equipable, and are how characters learn spells. What i did find strange is that accessories are on a menu separate from regular equipment. It’s an odd quirk that is otherwise inoffensive, but it did mean i forgot to check/change out my accessories more often than not ('=A=)

The plot of ffvi is very character focused. The first 15 hours or so is pretty standard JRPG fair. You will meet main characters one at a time, play through a mini arc focused on each character, and then you can reasonably expect them to be available to you as a party member. It’s not unusual for the game to split the characters up and force the player to use specific characters/limit your choice of characters (hence my first piece of advice). The game is generally well balanced enough that even sections that only give you a single party character are not too daunting. Still, it’s generally in the player’s best interest to take some time to collect extra exp now and again.

The gameplay radically changed at around that 15 hr mark. Right before I reached this point in the game is when I took a break from ffvi, so my experience with this shift felt a lot sharper than it would have otherwise lmao Don’t worry, the game changed for the better.

Several months had gone by when I picked ffvi up again. I’m very happy i picked up a CiB copy of the game. Rereading the manual helped refresh my memory, but what better way to really remember how to play then tackle the next dungeon? So thats what i did. I thought eh, I’ll reassess which characters I like and what summons I need after i beat this dungeon.

Oh, what a naive fool I was.

The next dungeon was the Floating Continent. If you know, You Know.

The Floating Continent was a really challenging dungeon. That was great bc it got me back into the swing of things really fast. A couple of game overs and i had a feel for the game again.

Byyyyy the way, I played the ps1 port of the game, which preserved some mistranslated lines regarding Shadow on the Floating Continent. This version does not properly inform the player that you can chose to wait for Shadow during the countdown segment. If you do not wait for Shadow, he FUCKING DIES There was no way for me to know in this version.

I was really looking forward to beating this dungeon and jumping back into building a strong party. So I beat the dungeon and then-

Everything Everywhere Changed Forever

How, you ask? The game does a one year time skip. The plot only gives you enough directions to put you on one of the main continents and nothing more. Not that it does you much good because the world map is completely different now. Oh, and you only have Celes in your party. Hooray! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

Final Fantasy VI is an open world game past this point. The linear stuff from before was just the warm-up. This is the opposite of ffxv lmao, which starts as an open world and later railroads you into a linear game.

So, I hope you appreciate how jarring this change was for me. I hadn’t played the game in months. I tackle the next dungeon as a way to relearn the game quickly. Then this game throws me for a loop and does something totally unexpected. I was ready to play another mostly linear JRPG with some optional side quests and dungeons along the way. This game was sandwiched between two fairly liner ff games, so pardon me for expecting that lollll So there I was standing like a dope on the world map wondering why the plot wasnt explicitly telling me what to do lmao (=u=’)7

I genuinely think ffvi was ahead of its time. Ffvi has a lot of design choices that would be considered pedestrian roughly two decades later. Yet at the same time, this larger open world concept is a logical iteration of the freedom given to players at the end of ffv. It’s genuinely a well designed aspect of the game.

It ties in well with the more character focused plot. Certain areas are significant to certain characters, so visiting areas with specific characters in your party might trigger special events. You’ll also see several character arcs come to their conclusion is this section of the game.

This game also encourages general exploration. You’ll end up talking to a lot of NPCs to get good tips on what to do next. Sometimes things won’t be available to you right away, so it might be worth revisiting areas. The more you explore and beat dungeons, the more the game rewards you with finding party characters and useful equipment. Its the kind of exploration -> reward system you would expect in a modern open world title. It's pretty nifty

Even with all the aforementioned details helping players along, I still recommend having a guide handy. Reading a guide or walkthrough for ffvi will come with its own challenges. It’s possible to tackle the open world section of the game in a radically different order from any guide. I ended up bouncing between two guides. One by Djibriel and another by Mynock to try and find more dungeons and to collect magicite (this game’s name for summons). I did my best to skim read to prevent accidentally stumbling on spoilers. You can imagine ctrl + f my beloved helping out a lot here.

If I understand correctly (i didn’t bother to research this bit lmao) once the player recovers the second airship, there is nothing stopping the player from tackling Kefka’s tower early. I suspect it’s possible to enter with only three characters. (I looked into it, it’s TOTALLY possible to enter Kefka’s tower with only three characters. I DO NOT RECOMEND THIS.)

Before you enter Kefka’s tower, I STRONGLY recommend that you have at least twelve party characters. Yes, the final dungeon will have you use up to twelve characters simultaneously. (You will likely need a guide to find the last of them.)

Speaking of characters, there are so many of them.

I think FFVI might have the highest number of playable characters?

There are a lot of bangers in this cast of characters, its likely you’ll be charmed to at least some of them. I certainly had my favourites.

I really liked Celes but for the first half of the game i tended to set her aside because I did not have the patience to utilize her unique ability. Oh, I guess i didn’t talk about that mechanic yet, have i? Oops lol When Celes was the only character I had at the start of the World of Ruin, i decided to take advantage of her high magic stats and really leaned into turning her into a mage. Eventually she came in absolutely CLUTCH with her Runic ability oh my gawd shes so good A lot of the bosses in the late game tended to use more magic so Runic became more useful. there were entire boss fights that were rendered completely trivial because Celes made sure i never got hit lmaooo shes so great ෆ(✧u✧ෆ) Her Runic ability absorbs all magic. This is also means I couldn’t heal with magic while she had this activated this annoyed me more than once. I figured it out eventually. It was extremely satisfying using Runic to buy time while the rest of my party got their shit together. (ෆ˙ᵕ˙ෆ)

As a character, I loved Celes. She has a pretty straightforward redemption arc overall, but it’s punctuated by some pretty heartbreaking moments. What really sold me to her character is that Celes learns the best way she can take responsibility for her part in the destruction of the world is to fight to make it better again and to live for herself instead of for an empire. Y'know. the opposite of Dion's arc lmao (TTuTT)

I also loved the Figaro brothers. Edgar... I just really liked Edgar. Even though he was introduced as a king, he had this roguish element that somehow worked and made him really easy to like imo. Sabin was just a fun character overall. Sabin’s ability was easily the most fun party character in battle. Memorizing fighting game combos was an interesting choice and executing them correctly was extremely satisfying.

I liked Terra okay. She’s an interesting character but i dunno. I don’t think I was in the right headspace to fully appreciate her story. ¯\_(σ ‸ σ)_/¯ It’s normally the kind of thing I like. I suspect I’ll end up liking her more in hindsight.

Locke has similar energy as Balthier. He’s a outlaw with a heart of gold and a lot of love to share. Finding him in Phoenix Cave was satisfying and funny. Nearly every chest you come across is empty. Turns out Locke beat you to it and hands over all the loot after you beat the dungeon lmao

Everyone else was either fine or forgettable.

You would think with a game with so many characters with unique, unchanging abilities that I would have to choose bettween characters I liked and characters that were more practical. Suprisingly, that rarely happened in ffvi. It really helped that most of the characters I liked had abilities that were easy for me to understand and utilize. (Celes' Runic ability was the only one that took me a while to warm up to.)

Speaking of which, I suppose i should go into what i mean.

Battle Mages with Side Hustles

Since spells are learned though equipable magicite, any character that gets substantial use will eventually learn enough spells to qualify as battle mages. A good chunk of ff games seem to use this strategy. I like it fine. It’s pretty useful to have healing spells on every character.

So whats this about side hustles?

Ffvi has done away with the typical class system, so instead of jobs that characters took on in ffv, each character has one unique ability (so they’re... more like side hustles... as opposed to full jobs... im starting to think this joke isn’t that clever (-u-')7)

For example, Locke’s ability is Steal. It does exactly what you think it does. It’s always an option on Locke’s character. He’s also the only character that can use Steal. There are some extremely specific situations when Steal is used to acquire otherwise unobtainable equipment (you would need to consult a guide on what those items might be) but you would have to decided if it’s worth it to swap out out an entire party character just so you can use Steal.

As you progress through the game, the magic becomes more and more useful. Ignoring a character’s unique ability and using them exclusively for magic is a viable strategy for most characters. This is what I did with Celes for a long time until I learned how to use Runic properly.

Some abilities were more useful than others. Some abilities had really great payoffs in terms of damage potential, but were well beyond what i had the patience to invest in this game.

Gau is a character who learned abilities from monsters. In ff terms, this makes Gau a blue mage. I usually don’t like blue mages and Gau was no exception. Blue mages tend to need a lot time and work before they become useful. So like most blue mages, I set Gau aside and focused my efforts on different characters.

Despite this restriction of abilities tied to specific characters, ffvi offers several degrees of freedom when it comes to building a good party. It’s a satisfying game to play with a charming cast of characters and a classic “kill the fucking god with friendship” plot.

Overall, ffvi is a fantastic game. I can see why this one has a cult following around it.

PlayStation

I loooove it~ the characters are compelling, the plot is intriguing. Sephiroth takes himself waaay too seriously. There are two optional party members that seem to be well hidden and that has made me irrationally upset. It lacks some QoL aspects that more modern games have. The overworld is a bit clunky. Forgivable since this game marks the leap from 2D to 3D in the FF series.

This game utilizes an ATB, and I’m quite happy with how it is implemented here. The materia battle system is fantastic with some potential for frustration. It has a levelling system separate from the party characters (who themselves have a skills levelling system separate from their overall level). Managing materia scratches a similar itch to building and managing a pokemon team so I’m way into it. (✯◡✯)

It is. SO GOOD. Im v satisfied w the game overall. Tifa and Barret are my favourites. Cloud remains interesting and fun throughout the game.

The box/cover art can or could be obtained from Square, Fair use, Link

PlayStation 2

I did not understand Vincent's appeal before now but holy hell they made him so pretty. The high collar, the infinite belt buckles, the broody attitude, THE CAPE FLOURISH- Vincent is the most character of all time. Hes like a deviantart OC i would have made when i was 13.

Shoehorned into this game is a 3d platforming stealth segment with a cartoon cat. Which is immediately followed up by a scene where a crate full of screaming people is dropped into a vat of sentient goo. amazin

Counteroffensive is the best song its so jazzy

The lady villain is fuckin great. Shes got a Russian accent for no other reason than "make hot lady even hotter" is my guess.

Also Yuffie is here. :/

That aside, this game sucks. Dont play it.

Okay, I have to come back and talk more about this game. I'm particularly fascinated by the enemy AI. The behaviour of the enemies have little to no sophistication.

“Zach, what the fuck does that mean?”

Listen, Halo: CE had some incredible AI behaviour, and it came out five years prior to Dirge of Cerberus. Enemies in Halo are able to duck and cover, roll, sidestep, taunt players, charge, run away, and a variety of other actions. These also vary between species, and a major component of changing the difficulty level also changes what behaviours the enemies are allowed or not allowed to do. Even their aim and ammunition management changes with difficulty. I think it’s fair to say Halo: CE was ahead of its time.

DoC enemies... are worse than some early 90s shooters.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret; Most shooters have enemies deliberately miss their first couple shots. This gives players a chance to identify their targets and shoot back before they take damage. In a good game, this behaviour resets if the enemy loses their line of sight on the player or is no longer agro.

All enemies if DoC regardless of class have the exact same behaviour. Enemies will agro, miss their first few shots, then have laser guided aim that does not reset. Most enemy classes will pursue the player until they are back in their line of sight and continue shooting with perfect aim. Enemies on catwalks or towers will be stationary and will alternate between standing and crouching. THATS IT. Thats ALL their behaviour.

Enemies do not de-agro and return to an idle state, they always know where the player is. I’ve been caught in hate loops because a fukin rocket launcher dude hits me with insane precision and knocks me down from rounding a corner.

I’m not really all that mad because I’m genuinely impressed with this level of incompetency. I had a lot of fun marvelling at how shit of a shooter this is.

PlayStation Portable

Square Enix back at it again with the fuggin insane game design.

Crisis Core seems to be a beat-em-up w JRPG elements melded together. Which, okay, i can work with that.

But what took me tf out. Is that dodging, a staple of beat-em-ups, cost AP? So does blocking? Like, why would anyone design a game where dodging and blocking cost a finite resource? In a beat-em-up??? And only dodging interrupts the queue. Which, why is there a queue? A one-move queue??

Not even 30 minutes of playing and i had to stop playing to go lie down.

The DMW is FUCKING stupid. Its fine when its running in the BG and power-ups change on the fly. This makes the action dynamic and keeps me on my toes. Genuinely think that’s a fine use of the HUD. But occasionally it interrupts the gameplay. Im trying to play an action game and it stops me in the middle of that action to make me watch slots?? Insane gameplay design.

That being said. Masterful use and change to the HUD in the final scenes of gameplay. Devs made something dogshite and still managed to make it interesting once.

The game felt like playing an MMO with a crap internet connection. Your brain just kind of adjusts to the really bad lag and gets used to the crazy delay on all inputs. Unreal.

This... was a better movie than game. The gameplay is either mindless or frustrating and then the cutscenes are actually fun to watch by contrast.

I LOVE Zack. He’s the best. (ෆ˙ᵕ˙ෆ)

Everyone else was super likeable except Lazard. He’s not bad or unlikable just utterly fuckin confusing. Lazard made some of the most bizarre character choices ive ever seen in a character and honestly WHAT is his motivation. Zack even points this out in-game and Lazard just says “I made bad friends”. Girl WHAT. Does that mean?? (Future Zach here. I realized they needed to kill anyone who doesn’t appear in the OG ffvii. But then. It would have made more sense to his character is he had defected from Shinra and then was assassinated? Also Cissnei is still alive so it’s not like it matters???)

Cessnei also confuses me. How is she not like a Shinra loyalist through and through?? Genuinely think she would be guzzling that kool-aid non-stop. Also, the disconnect that decent people work for Shinra without even batting an eye or questioning whether Shinra is good when the company doesn’t even bother with propaganda or hiding the fact that they’re just evil for fun most of the time? I mean, i don’t expect the ideology of these games to be well thought out but the writing is very clearly on the wall here. Like. In big flashing neon letters. And no one questions it.

This is honestly why i genuinely dislike the turks on principle. They see the inner machinations of Shinra first hand and not once do any of the turks consider the company regularly committing some of the most grotesque crimes against humanity is maybe kinda sorta suspect. Anytime compilation ffvii tries to convince me the turks are cool actually i just bounce right off. I liked them better in ffvii when most of their appearances amounted to gags and absurd displays of incompetency. Y'know, Team Rocket style.

The following section was written two weeks prior to the completed review and I've decided to keep it for posterity.

Normally I'd wait till I'm finished with a game before I review it but I've already decided this game deserves nothing but scorn.

There's a place in town called "Goblins Bar".

The player cannot enter Goblins Bar.

You cannot tantalize me with promises of golbins, only to deny me the sweet, unabashed, hedonistic pleasure of acquiring goblins. Madness! Tragedy! What is the point of games? To be art? If so, Crisis Core has failed in artistic pursuits by not including the most critical of gaming features. And that would be goblins. -1000000/10

The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the game or the publisher of the video game or the developers of the video game, Fair use, Link

PlayStation

I LOVE this game.

I like every character. The battle system is unique. Junctioning is interesting. The parallel storytelling of Squall and Laguna is chef kiss.

I got a little A LOT frustrated with the final boss gauntlet. This seems to be the start of SquareEnix's habit of having a string of bosses as the final challenge. Unlike ffvii, these fights happen sequentially and any statuses and damage your party has gets carried over. Theres also a few esoteric quirks in the game's combat that are counterintuitive. Levelling characters does not benefit the player the way you'd normally assume it would in an RPG. Bosses and enemies scale to the player's level, but boss stats will outpace the player at higher levels. The majority of stats come from the junctioning system, so the game is actually easier if you deliberately supress your party's level.

Once again, this game is best played with a guide handy. Don't be like me and discover way too late how best to optimize your party for bosses. I'm not gonna lie, I had an unusually strong negative reaction when I lost to Ultimecia after trying to grind her out for three hours. Only to find out my over-grinding habit is what was making her more difficult than she needed to be.

Other than that, the game is great. I really like ATB. Took me a little bit to understand how to properly junction, but really as long as you know which spells to draw, the auto-junction feature is pretty reliable.

A lot of these characters are archetypes that I normally dislike, but every single character has been an absolute banger. I very much relate to Squall to an embarrassing degree. Irvine is the best. I love him. Also love Zell. Selphie really surprised me bc normally someone like her would irritate me but she's just excellent. I love her. Rinoa is similar. Quistis deserves better, I think. Even Seifer I ended up really liking to the point where I was seriously hoping he would join my party. He's such an asshole and having him in the main party would have been so fun.

I genuinely, fully bought into the romance scenes of the game. All of them. The extended cutscene with just Squall and Rinoa was touching. Love a good romance story. Laguna's past relationships were bittersweet to watch as well. At first, Laguna's arc felt like it was interrupting my gameplay, but that feeling quickly stopped because it was easy to become invested in his story. ♡

I also love all the sorceresses. All of them were overdesigned, evil-for-evil's-sake messes which is exactly what they should be. Sephiroth could NEVER.

All that being said, I think this ffviii resonated with me in a way that was a little more personal than usual. I can totally get why anyone would not like this game. I can only imagine some things in this game can be quite divisive. (id hazard a guess that the extended love scene or the devastating final boss would bounce some people right off.) Still, I think its a little underrated as far as ff games go. There arent any spinoffs or sequels which is a shame.

The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the game or the publisher of the video game or the developers of the video game, Fair use, Link

PlayStation

Ffix is the platonic ideal final fantasy game.

The gameplay is mechanically sound. It achieves this by using only the tried and true elements of jrpgs. As a result, the gameplay feels like it's been streamlined compared to some earlier ff titles. I'm still a fan of the ATB. The battles in this game just feel good. (b*u*)b

The unique game mechanic is that skills/spells are learned via equipping armour. A little strange from an in-universe perspective, but servicable as a game element.

There are some aesthetic similarities to crytal chronicles which I find pretty neat.

It seems that ffix was made to be a reconstruction of the standard rpg formula as a followup on the edgier and darker ff titles that Square had been putting out at the time. But it's not that great as a reconstruction imo. Ffix keeps all of the themes and plot tendancies of the recent ff games of the time while adopting the aesthetic of older ff games. Dont ge me wrong, ffix is good, but it exist in the awkward space of following in the shadow of ffvii, while earlier entires of ff were and are still popular among jrpg fans.

Ffix is structured to be a rather safe entry into the series. This means it does nothing erroneous, but also doesnt do anything particularly special. As a result, ffix might actually be a good entry point into the series, buuuut this also means for any single aspect that ff ix does good, I think there's another ff game that does that thing better.

I dunno. Maybe im missing the mark on this take, but ff ix is just not as interesting as other ff games. ¯\_(σ ‸ σ)_/¯

I think I prefer it when ff games suck at least a little bit. I seem to have more fun when they're bad.

The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the game or the publisher of the video game or the developers of the video game, Fair use, Link

This review has been moved to The Bin.

PlayStation 2

Posted: 2024-01-18 (Maybe I should start dating these lmao)

The music has some real John Williams energy.

I liked this one. This is the one with the hot bunny lady i keep seeing fanart of. Fran is great. Shes pretty to look at and has excellent voice work.Although I did find it super weird that her character arc is how she's exiled for leaving her home land. There are plenty of viera all over the place. Is it culturally acceptable for viera to travel or not????

I ended up liking most of the other part members too.

I really liked Ashe. i dont even know how to explain why. Shes stupid tanky AND has the second highest magic stat, and shes got a sensible character arc. I dunno i just vibed well with her.

I didnt expect to like Penelo and Vaan. Theyre the type of idealist, naive ff characters that usually irritate me. Instead, i was charmed to both of them pretty early.

Balthier is hot and he knows it. He's flirty but not in a gross way. Anytime he makes a self-aggrandizing remark, it comes off as more satirical and not arrogant. I think he synergizes well with Fran which helps a lot.

I did not use Basch. Lmao i left the poor dude untouched at lvl 10 while everyone got to lvl 50. I remember getting irritated at Basch early on but after putting down the game for a couple months i cannot remember for the life of me why. I think he tried to give up and die early on...? In any case, Basch was another tank i didnt feel like i needed. Ashe was doing the job fine while also having excellent magic.

I’m gonna be honest, during the more political intrigue cutscenes, my eyes tended to glaze over. I dunno if I just wasn’t in the right headspace to enjoy the plot, or if something about this game is bouncing me right off. We had rebels fighting an empire lead by a princess trying to retake her rightful place on the throne. Easy to get behind. Sign me up, chief.

I do have one question though. What does a Sky Pirate do? So far, we saw Balthier steal one thing in his introductory scene and he also has an air ship. Soooo... (σ ‸ σ’)??? The thing that confuses me is that Balthier dubs Vann as his protege but we don’t do any piracy other than standard adventuring? What the heck does a Sky Pirate do? I'm convinced the term "pirate" was used as a synonym for "adventurer" lmao We can't let the cast do things that might be too controversial.

The world of ffxii felt properly huge. The way ffxii achieves this is by having a lot of areas with diverse environments and unique vibes. I liked that many of the maps and dungeons were interconnected. Once dungeon could connect to three or four different environments. It made the world feel more organic.

I don’t wanna confuse a large world with large maps. A lot of the overworld maps are large and/or there are extra maps that do nothing other than take up space. (>.>)

In some cases, areas are large because theyre sort of treated like pseudo-dungeons. I don;t mind this as much bc the first run through lets me explore and grind appropriately. There’s that tension of managing resources as you try to make it to the next safe area. If the player decided to revisit the area for quests or whatever, the traversal is mitigated by the fast-travel system. Most areas feel deliberate and purposeful.

On the other hand, there are some areas that are large... just because? There’s a whole overworld section that was skipped bc of plot reasons and there’s really no reason to explore it. The tension of travelling through a new area to find the next safe town is completely eliminated. It’s disappointing when most other areas are more satisfying. Huge map =/= fun world.

Thankfully, maps that felt pointlessly large were rare. Most of the time, maps were large to increase encounters and get the party to battle more often.

Oh, I guess i should talk about the battling system (“=A=). Here we go. Y’see the thing is... its the gameplay. It's not gonna be for everyone. This is the game when Squeenix did away with anything turn-based altogether. The ATB gauge barely clings on as a hold-over from previous titles.

The gameplay is. Something else. When talking about this game, ive been calling it an auto-battler, but really i think its more of a battle-sim.

The game calls its auto system "gambits". The gambits are a series of standing orders the player gives to each character. Each gambit has a condition, and when that condition is met, the character does a specified action. If youre familiar with boolean logic, its a series of IF THEN ELSE statements.

Its possible to turn the gambit system off, but honestly why would you? Its far more efficient to tweak your orders to better suit new situations. If you really have to intervene with a manual input, its much faster (and safer) to keep gambits on. A manual input will override the current action and then resume the gambits afterwards. Its pretty nice. (>u>)b You can command your party leader to use a specific buff or change targets while your healer keeps working uninterrupted. In this way, the auto system helps more than hurts.

I think the big reason this system is less grating than a true auto-battler is bc the player is in full control of the gambit system. Party members are only allowed to do actions the player has set for them. Theres no janky ai making bad decisions. If a party member is not doing what theyre supposed to, its because the player needs to fix the gambits.

Obviously, as you play through the game, youll have access to more gambit options. If you ever think "aw, i wish i could set it up this way" chances are the game will eventually let you buy an option that will do just that. Toward the endgame, the options for gambits become quite detailed.

Most of what *i* did for combat was stare at the gambit menu and sorting out the logic and... i mean...

Basically, its a spreadsheet. Youre playing with a spreadsheet.

Thats final fantasy twelve in a nutshell.

Its a spreadsheet.

I. LOVED that idea.

This turned boss fights into strategy puzzles. I needed to observe the boss for its behaviour, and then find the best combination of “IF this THEN that” in to kill the boss. This scratched that same itch I’m usually after when i play RPGs. A kind of system that lets me build a strategy in anticipation of a difficult boss fight.

I love this combat system conceptually, but it has one serious drawback.

Any player who knows jack shit about what theyre doing is gonna spend more time watching hp bars disappear than actually playing the game.

Once I figured out how to set up my gambits efficiently, i didn't need to actually play much more of the game. The game turned into a battle sim. The enemy continually executes its logic, and my party would execute my logic. If all goes well, all i had to do was watch. That’s not very satisfying though, is it? I’m spending the majority of my boss fights watching rather than actually playing.

There have been more than one boss fight when i adjusted the gambit spreadsheet, watched the battle play out for a minute or two to make sure nothing was going wrong, and then when its doing okay, thats when i would stand up to go do something else.

Ive scrolled through social media during boss fights. Ive taken bathroom breaks. Ive even cooked a whole ass dinner while letting the game beat itself for me.

I LOVE the concept of a combat system that is basically a logic puzzle. Thats neat. The problem is that it turns most of the gameplay into waiting. Watching and waiting.

Heres another thing,

do you like battle mages?

If you said no, well too bad! By the time the endgame rolls around, every party character is basically a battle mage.

Sure, you might start by using different builds for each party member to cover your bases, but eventually you accumulate enough skill points that you might as well put heal and support spells on every character.

There are techniques which are unique to ff12 as far as I can tell, but for the most part, the standard magic system that comes with most ff games will see more use.

I want to enjoy this game more bc i like the ideas it presents. Unfourtunately, its grindy by nature with kinda mindless gameplay. youre best off finding a podcast or a stream to enjoy while you wait for your party to finish battling. Then you get to push forward on the joystick to progress.

I liked the mechanics enough to find the game engaging and satisfying, but i keep ping ponging between using my full concentration on a game menu, and then switching my brain off as i watch Ashe whack monsters with her sword.

I ended up putting off this game twice before beating it. I want to like this game more but it really says something when the most fun i had while dungeon crawling was when i started listening to Cabin Pressure, a BBC comedy radio show.

Ffxii failed to hold my attention because i was good at the game. Thats not how these things should go!

ajshbdod Vayne's second phase is so ugly. He hulked out and i couldnt stop giggling at his stupid looking face. I know its supposed to be a visual representation of the dude going mad with power but did he really need to look like that??? XDDDDD

By Square Enix (Promotional artwork), Fair use, Link

Xbox 360

This game is. Not Good. I had a blast. I ended up yelling so much while playing through this.

The first thing that confused me is that this game is on 3 discs. THREE discs on a 6th gen console? The goddamn audacity. It asked me to change discs after 8 hrs. Then again after another 13 hrs. The bulk of the gameplay was on disc 3, where the only open world portion of the game is on. I did almost none of the sidequests and clocked over 20 hrs just on disc 3 and there’s more content on that disc. I don’t fully understand why it’s on 3 discs? Disc 1 and disc 2 are all linear gameplay, and they don’t have that much more cutscenes compared to disc 3. and the cinematic cutscenes aren’t even in high quality? They’re like in 720p. There’s crust. There’s crust! Why is there crust? (●__● )

Most of the characters are unhinged but not in the fun ways. Lightning can’t seem to decide if she’s callous or caring. Vanille annoys me. I change my mind, Vanille is fine. Snow... he’s like tailor made for me aesthetically, a tank w ice powers and a stupid necklace that be bought from Claire’s. He had so much good himbo potential. He’s only got two personality traits, “Me Hero” and, “Sad Abt Girlfirend. :(“. When hes not whingeing abt his dead girlfrind, hes got grandeur illusion of being a hero in serious need of a reality check. Not even the purge sequence at the beginning of the game is has him second guess his actions, and that’s like a sensible direction for his arc?? (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

Sazh is almost excellent. They gave him this racism character arc that is never resolved. Alright. Thats fine. It’s fine. Its fine ʘ‿ʘ””

Fang is perfect. *chef kiss*

And then there’s Hope. He wants to kill Snow for getting his mom killed. I hate Hope so much. Hes a deranged asshole. I hate him so much. Other characters literally told him to his face that a) Snow isn’t actually responsible for killing his mom and b) the revenge fixation is Weird(tm).

So, there’s this like, 30 minute sequence on disc 2 that seems to want to resolve everyone’s character arcs in a hurry. The end result is a standard JRPG party fuelled by the power of friendship or whatever. Immediately, everyone is less insufferable. Just like that. This happened at around the 20 hr mark. Before that, most of the game is teams of 2 and some of the most batshit interactions I’ve ever seen.

Theres also some fucking incredible ludonarrative dissonance. I keep waiting for the game to give me all the cool powers and items that show up in cutscenes and it doesnt give them to me. Lightning uses a cool power in like her second cutscene and my reaction to that was "oh, cool, I’m gonna get a tutorial on how to use that :)" It never happens. There’s also this knife that’s introduced in Hope’s character arc and it’s not a huge leap from his actual weapon class that I assumed the knife would show up as a usable weapon in the inventory. It doesn’t. The knife is supposed to be a metaphor/ symbol for his arc, and it’s just. Dropped? Halfway through the plot? It never comes up towards the end. AND ALSO it’s a shitty knife. I gotta say.

All while I’m auto-battling everything. I can’t believe it took me this long to mention the auto-battling. All the cool shit happens in cutscenes and I’m auto-battling like an asshole!!

This game is SO pretty. The music is good too. I spent a lot of time standing around and admiring the skybox and environment. The animation during the cinematic cutscenes is really impressive. The voice work is excellent. I can see why people like this game. The auto-battling actually comes back around in making this game more accessible to people who might not be into more traditional RPG style games. Levelling is much more streamlined, and there’s enough opportunity for players to be overlevelled by the time they reach the late-game.

I can understand why people love and defend this game. I genuinely had a good time. I would never play this ever agian.

May be found at the following website: TheHut.com, Fair use, Link

Xbox 360

Lightning spent the entire first game plotting her future brother-in-law's murder because she didnt trust him with her sister. Then some asshole falls out of the sky and she trusts him immediately. Lol seems legit

Hope shows up in this game a lot. Hes a lot more levelheaded this time around. Honestly i only like him because it was funny to remember how unhinged he was in the first game.

Everyone is overanimated lol

I will give this game credit, the low barrier to entry makes this game easy to pick up and play for a few hours. Although most of that I'd attribute to the auto-battler. There's no strategy beyond picking what stats to boost when leveling.

There are some combat improvements from ffxiii. They removed the long animation for the first padigram change. It was pointless fanfare that didnt pause the battle, so in ffxiii, every single battle had a few seconds of while enemies got free damage off your party. And it happened for every single battle. (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻ It makes a huge difference now that its gone thank jeebus.

There are a bunch of other smaller changes that have been either simplified or streamlined. Leveling is simpler. Weapons leveling was also removed.

I also knocked the difficultly down to easy because most combat actions are outside the player's control. It feels beyond unnecessary to make the game any harder. "Difficult" boss fights feel a lot like just hoping the RNG plays out in your favour. Besides, i already beat all of ffxiii on normal so. shrug

I extremely dislike that the party is made up of Noel, Serah, and a monster. Id much rather have three humans. I can just barely forgive being forced to use monsters because I happened to stumble upon a chocobo. I have a chocobo as a party member. Its huge and stupid and goes "kweh". I put a flower on its head. I love it

Visually, this game is alright. It does not have the same level of polish as ffxiii. I suspect it has something to do w going from 3 discs to 1 disc.

Every now and then, the game gas a really harsh filer overlay. Or the camera will do something uncomfortable. Visually unpleasant moments. >:/

I hate Caius' sword so much. It hardly has a cutting edge and it's got fuksgdhding PIERCINGS. Why does it have piercings?? Its an overdesigned mess. How does he stab or cut anything with it? He might as well wield a slab of concrete to the same effect.

It ends LIKE THAT??? ooooof

The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the game or the publisher of the video game or the developers of the video game, Fair use, Link

PlayStation 4

This review is so huge I've divided this into subsections. They are sorted in a way I think is logical, but can be read freely in any order.

This game is peak modern ff

The reason I'm fascinated by ffxv is because its almost good.

Like it just barely misses the mark and its so compelling how it keeps fumbling in really weird ways?? Like. The combat is shite. Its not at all intuitive. And there's so many strange oddities throughout. Like, on the surface, ffxv plays like any regular open world game but you dig down just a little and the oddest design choices are there

I'm utterly captivated.

No combat. Just vibes.

This doesnt feel like an ff game but that's not really news.

The core gameplay in any rpg is combat. It might not be the main draw, but players are expected to interact with this aspect most frequently with regular skill checks.

The combat in ffxv is... not great. But more importantly, combat in ffxv feels kinda incidental.

What I mean is the frequency in which I engage with the combat mechanics seems far lower than not only other rpgs, but other action adventure games. Since the combat mechanics aren't great, I end up approaching combat w the attitude of "i just need to get through this to go back to playing the game".

"But wait, isnt the combat the point of the game?" Yeah, you would think but. Ffxv gameplay seems to want to pull away from that. The driving plot is to aquire magic weapons to overthrow an imperialist invasion, but the gameplay? Its all about enjoying a fun roadtrip vacation with your three closest buddies man.

So, as I play through ffxv, I frequently forget im playing an ff game. Because most of my time is spent driving a car. Fishing. Camping. Exploring the wilderness. Buying ingredients and ordering food. Most party interactions have prompts for the player to respond. Its all very slice-of-life and mundane. I dont mean that as a bad thing. The roadtrip simulator stuff is the part I like the best.

~.*・✧Ludonarrative dissonance✧・*.~

There's a serious contrast with the big, sweeping cinematics and high fantasy moments that feel out of place compared to the ~Vibes Only~ gameplay. The game tells me im a prince with a magic bloodline that must collect mystical weapons but that doesnt seem to matter as much as handing over a can of car wax to my mechanic in exchange for a fat exp reward.

The combat mechanics seem to exist at the centre of this contradiction. Theres a serious tension between the plot telling a standard jrpg story to the player, and the gameplay rewarding the player for just vibing. Like, the best rewards come from side quests about food, cars, and taking pictures. Anytime im ambushed with a random encounter, its like the combat inturrupts the momentum of the "real" gameplay. Oddly, i dont feel this way about hunting sidequests or even monsters i see in the overworld. I think its because i get to choose to engage with them or not, unlike the random encounters.

This tonal/gameplay dissonance seems to only get worse when the game (very literally) railroads you into the endgame. All the exploration and casual style is thrown right out the window in exchange for a linear and combat heavy game.

ffxv is two different games glued together. A roadtrip simulator in the first half, and a action-adventure beat-em-up in the later half. And the roadtrip simulator is soo funn

Strangely, the game is aware that the front end of the game is very much about vibing with friends. The last dungeon highlights this and I'll get more into that in a minute.

Speaking of final dungeon, you can skip it! Although the game is not exactly clear that you can, or that once you do, its not possible to go back to play it unless you reload a save or exit to the title screen to play the section. I elected to play through the dungeon for two reasons, to experience the plot as the devs intend, and to actually improve my combat.

And you know what? I did get better at the combat. And. I still think its bad. Its almost good but just falls short in nearly every metric. The camera work and lock-on system is great! But there is no compensation for bushes or pillars getting in the way. The link-strike is super fun! If you can figure out how to trigger it consistently. Spells are fun to make and fun to cast! Except everyone's a melee user and friendly fire means you will always hit your entire team. Cover and recovery are a little clunkly, but servicable. Did you know there are almost no cover spots in the final dungeon? The wait timer is so useful! Except its exclusively controlled automatically, misfires frequently, and its not possible to activate super sayian mode, fuggen i forget what its called the armiger while in wait time.

Its just... does not feel good to play.

The old map was better

There are two versions of the final map to the end boss (not to be confused with the final dungeon, which occurs before the final map). There's the day one edition and the royal edition. I liked the day one version better.

The vast majority of the additional content in the royal edition are fantastic. But the new version of the Insomnia map is a serious miss for me. I wish i was able to freely switch back to the day one version.

Like, i get why it was changed. The day one version had no quests, no points of interests, and no incentives to explore the map. In fact, when i got to Insomnia the first time around, i was slightly over leveled (the rec level is 45) but the map disincentivises exploration by spawning crazy lvl 80+ mini-bosses. Im sure im not the only one who found the shortest route to the Citadel and skipped basically the entire map to get there.

But day one edition has this... vibe. It's all about vibes man. Everything is in greyscale. The fights feel like youre either fighting off hoards of things or a monster too big to even approach. The music is a soft rendition of the main theme. Its somber. And lonely. And oddly quiet. Whatever monsters you come across have already lived in the ruins of this city for a very long time. The subdued tone of the day one Insomnia matches and elevates the final scenes of the game. The player is given a chance to look through the pictures one last time and is asked to pick one picture. Just one. To take with you. Its a reminder that despite everything, despite the loneliness and desolation, you, the player and main character, have always had one thing between hope and total annihilation. Three companions, three friends who followed you from the beginning of a roadtrip to a doomed wedding to the literal end of the world where everything is quiet and smothered in darkness. Even without the game telling me to, there were moments when id stop to listen to the music and take in the mood. This was the Insomnia for reflection and quiet contemplation.

The royal edition looked at all that, said, "thats nice", and obliterated the shit out of it.

The final map was completely overhauled for the royal edition.

Sure, the royal edition has a more balanced map w mob spawns that are actually within the rec level. Theres some good rewards for completing the new quests. Theres a cool base with npcs, some of them from the overworld. You can. Drive. A monster truck. Fuckin sick.

the royal edition Insomnia has this All Game All The Time approach to its design. Everythings red on fire. The music is super intense. The battles are fast-paced and exciting. So many npcs and quests and stealth missions. Lots of things to do and look at.

And that like. Kinda clashes in a really gaudy way, y'know? As a game map, its great. But it comes at the cost of losing this special moment.

Gone is the somber atmosphere. Gone is the beautiful rendition of the main theme. Gone is the quiet contemplation before oblivion.

After the credits, theres a cutscene of the characters in the last camp. Its a quiet moment where Noctis gets to express his appreciation for his companions on this journey. The day one Insomnia matches that tone, giving the player a chance to also appreciate one last adventure with the party through the quiet and dark. This is a game about vibes, and day one Insomnia was the Better Vibe

Music slaps

Full stop.

Why would I ever switch characters?

So the combat mechanics are already pretty upsetting as it is. It's possible to unlock an ability that allows the player to switch to any party member mid-battle. Is it fun? Not at all! :)

Every playable character has a unique mechanic AS WELL AS SEPERATE CONTROL SCHEMES. WHY. Switching characters means fumbling controls while muscle memory struggles to catch up to what's happening. This would be less of an issue if it was possible to commit to controlling anyone besides Noct outside of battle. But, nope. ¯\_(σ ‸ σ)_/¯

The biggest sin is the shooter mechanics like B R U H if a dev make fuckin shooter mechanics, all i ask is they fuckin COMMIT to making a shokter. Why do you have two guns with different control schemes?? Playing as Prompto breaks my brain.

Prompto's friendship with Noct is meaningless

The fact that Prompto is Noctis' friend because of divine intervention 100% undercuts any previous implication that Prompto was the only person who became Noctis' friend by choice. It basically means every single person in Noctis' life - his advisor, his body guard, his fiance - has been either assigned to him or arranged.

When you look at just the base game, Prompto is the only relationship Noctis chooses to pursue and chooses to keep. Noctis doesnt have to keep Prompto around but he does anyway. And Prompto chooses Noctis not because of his title and status, but because he genuinely likes Noctis as a person. Prompto also does this despite all of his personal hangups with anxiety and self-doubt. He pushes through all of that because he wants to be Noct's friend.

Now with new extra material, we know Prompto was basically predestined and explicitly told to become Noctis' friend. This cheapens any previous implication that these two want to be friends outside of any higher power or meaning. No longer is friendship valuable for its own sake.

And AND this also adds the the heaping implication that Noctis' entire life was completely outside of his control or will. His title as prince means all the mundane aspects are organized for him and his status as Chosen One means his life purpose is bound to this inescapable destiny.

We got this inplication that Prompto was literally the only person that Noctis got to pick for himself, and thats not even trUE IM SO MAD IM SO MAD IMSONAMDJIDSOBSNDLSDYLQLSHSJI (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

Episode Ignis: Fantastic Idea, Shite Ending

I hate the verse 2 ending of Episode Ignis so much. I hate it. Its bad. And, as are most things in ffxv, its made worse by being almost good. It was almost great!

Okay, so this dlc story does something very compelling near the end. During one of the cutscenes, a dialogue prompt appears but theres only one choice available. Playing through the rest of tbe dlc gives you the canon timeline, but going back to replay that scene gives you a second, previously inaccessible option. This launches into a non-canon timeline.

Now, the Ring of Lucii punishes anyone dumb enough to wear the ring who isnt of royal blood. Ignis, in a desperate bid to save Noct, wears it for like half an hour and is punished by getting his eyes burned out of his skull. Cool.

In the alt timeline, Ignis ends up wearing the ring for waaay longer during the next fight. I'll tell ya about the consequences in a sec.

The new timeline jumps straight to the ending of the game, except now it's Ignis fighting the final boss instead of Noct. This fight is on a timer, and at regular intervals, the game gives the player three choices. Give up, risk your life, or sacrifice your life. Then, after a few rounds of that, the game changes your choices to just give up or sacrifice your life. You wanted to play it safe? Too bad. It's raw as fuck. I love it.

Now, MY assumption to how this unfolds is that Ignis does manage to defeat Ardyn, but in doing so, the Lucii punish Ignis by either killing him outright or crippling him even more horrifically than canon. Seems like the way to go, yeah?

Nah. Fuck thematic throughlines and satisfying narratives. In this timeline everything turns out... fine. Ignis isnt even blind in this timeline. Hes fine. Noct is fine. Ardyn's dead. The ten years of darkness never happen. Insomnia is rebuilt and the guys are fine.

Ardyn's dialogue when he dies to Ignis in the alt timeline suggests he might still be alive, and that the prophecy isnt broken, just delayed. I think thats genuinely interesting. Ignis disobeyed the gods and breaking the prophecy, which means he mearly delays the inevitable rather than solving the problem. He kicks the can further down the road so that their decendants have to deal with it instead. But that doesnt seem to be what happens.

The characters make worse choices, are more harshly punished, and circumvent the prophecy of the gods and youre telling me things work out better???? Wheres the narrative satisfaction in that? I want characters punished for their hubris! Not this garbage! You were almost good! I- aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh

Gladio is already perfect

This is a criticism both highlights the failings of the writing in the game and is a disservice to an otherwise excellent character.

Gladio's DLC episode is the weakest story out of the three party members. It doesn't really introduce anything new or interesting storywise. The highlight of the DLC is the Gilgamesh boss fight. Which. The focus is SUPPOSED to be on Galdio! The DLC titled "Episode: Gladiolus" and the main draw is a boss character?

So, the whole motive behind Gladio going on this soul-searching quest is because he got shoved aside once and got all broody about it. His whole job is to be a bodyguard to the prince, and he decides the best way to do that is to abandon his charge - who is in more danger than he has ever been in his life - and pursue an optional side quest that basically only one other person has ever survived. fuckn SURE.

Gladio doesn't really learn anything because of the trial. He wants to get stronger, and that's what happens. He's not challenged or examined as a character. He's not chastised for acting reckless or punished for his arrogance. He's got a fat ego and the story rewarded him for it.

This extends to the base game too. Chapter 10 is the closest the narrative comes to portraying Gladio as fallible. Except the narrative frames Gladio as being fundementally righteous, if a little brash. Even if you think Gladio is an asshole here (AND I CERTAINLY DID) the narrative assumes we side with him.

Gladio is static. He doesn't change or grow. He's already perfect which makes him uncompelling and boring. What a waste of potential for such a great character.

"Are we the baddies?"

So, ffxv has what I consider the most evilest ring (or, any magic artifact, really) of all time.

The visual motif of the main characters are all black, with skull, crossbones, and Louboutins ~.*・✧for menTM✧・*.~ for their literal uniforms. This is p standard edgy ff nonsense. But the ring of Lucii can only be worn by the One True King. The King of Kings. (Weirdly heavy on the jesus metaphor, this game.) And when you do eventually get the ring, it has three spells. The first spell steals HP and absorbs it. The second steals MP. The third sets off a magic bomb and explodes everyone. Apparently putting on the ring is also super painful and anyone who isnt the chosen king who wears it, well...

Two characters other than Noctis try to wear the ring. The first dude had his whole arm burn off. The second dude has his eyes burned out of his skull. By the way, the OTHER name for this ring is Ring of Radiant Light : )))) Its also all black!

And like... dude??? This is the evilest thing ive ever seen??????? THIS is the macguffin thats supposed to save the world? Literally, the world is covered in darkness w no sun for 10 yrs and the protag has to wear the ring to banish the darkness and fuggin dies in the process like????????

First if all, hello anime Jesus that looks like Keanu Reeves. Secondly, the???? EVIL RING??? And its supposed to be the ring thats associated w the ultimate good? Legit i was halfway thru the final dungeon like "...are we the baddies?"

But ff is not that sophisticated a narrative. So. No, we're not the baddies

Ardyn sucks

This dude- THIS DUDE is such a shite villain. Who is ALSO made worse by extra material.

One of the early interpretations of Ardyn's actions - and certainly my takeaway of the character - is that he is attempting to commit suicide at the end of the game. He's a death seeker. He's conditionally immortal and the only thing that can kill him is a fully powered King of Lucii.

Most of the content in the dlc also suggests this to be true kinda. Which i have not played and no real desire to.

Ardyn, apparently, had s healing power to cure people of starscourge. Except its not a cure, because he just absorbed it into himself, which is how he became immortal. He was supposed to ascend the throne of Lucii but then his younger brother usurped him, killed his lover and then banished him to a solitary confinement cell for two thousand years.

I dunno man, i can totally see someone just wanting it to end after all that.

Except thats not Ardyn's motivation. He wants revenge? On the Lucius bloodline and the gods who set this whole thing in motion. That second one is super fair actually. The only reason he helped Noct is because he wanted the satisfaction of killing a fully powered King of Lucii. siiigh

Bahamut is a dick

The whole reason Ardyn got fucked w such a raw deal is because Bahamut needed a vessel to contain the starscourge so it was all in one place for the Chosen One to erase. Except theres starscourge everywhere?

Like, Ardyn only seems to contain a fraction of it, because starscourge is used to make monsters or whatever. If Ardyn contained all of it, then there would be no monsters because nothing else can be infected with starscourge.

And then, the only reason Noct has to die is because the prophecy - the one Bahamut MADE UP - said so. The prophecy says something like "a life must be forfeit" except. That's Ardyn! Thats Ardyn whose life is forfeit! These two died to clear out the starscourge and it happened in the way that caused the most death and destruction.

Like, why the ten years of darkness? Can starscourge just do that? If so, why wasnt there eternal darkness in any other point in time? Did Ardyn unleash it? Why? I'm just not convinced it was necessary. Especially since you don't really get to experience it much as a player.

I feel like none of this needed to be this way (which is kinda confirmed in Ep. Ignis) so why did Bahamut - god of gods - do it this way?? Like, hes supposed to like humans, and youre telling me he pick the method that most certainly killed the most amount of humans. Im flabbergasted.

I bet this game is very popular with women

This is sort of one of those things where I have no idea how to descibe what something must be like to become more appealing to women, I just know it when I see it. I sort of had this impression women liked this game before starting ffxv, but i had no idea the extent of it.

And if the AO3 stats are anything to go by, it's very popular with women. As of my writing this, ffvii has 14k listed works (the remake has 5k) compared to ffxv which has a whooping 34k listed works. Thats an astonishing amount.

I hope its not news to anyone reading this that fanfic spaces are largely female dominated, and tend to be a soft indicator for whats popular among girls and women. I suspect ffxv owes a lot of its success to women who are new to the series, rather than long-time fans of the series.

I was basically halfway through chapter 10 (or about halfway through the late game) when it dawned on me oh, this game is super popular with women. And like, i kinda get it?

Even just look at how the main party is designed and characterized. Youve got four georgeous dudes that are tailor made to appeal to the broadest possible female audience. These four guys cover a lot of the traits women find appealing in men, utilizing a diversity of appearances and archetypes that women and girls tend to be into. Even if a girl doesn't like all of them shes probably gonna end up really liking at least one of them. And for sure this applies to any player to some extent but thats beside my point. bear with me here.

I dont think its a huge stretch to guess that women were involved in designing these guys. (From what i understand, Square has had women involved in their character design from day one.) my point being, this game has female gaze. Like a lot of female gaze. i dont think ffxv would have been nearly as popular with women if the main party had been designed by men. What women find attractive and what men think women find attractive are more often seperate than overlapping. If men designed the main party, we would have gotten Cloud 2.0 flanked by three variations of Gladio. Fr

People like Final Fantasy now??

So, i know i just made a point about this game being popular with women. But like, that doesnt account for the disproportionate popularity of ff now as compared to ffxiii. Like, for the longest time, ffvii was the crown jewel of the series. Nobody liked anything Square put out after ffvii. Nobody gave a shit about ff outside of ffvii. People are just now finally coming back around to the series and now the series sucks!! Ff games have sucked since like 2001 imo and now final fantasy is cool again??

People are sleeping on ffviii and that one is such a banger. Ffviii slaps. Even with the port to switch and ps4, no one is paying ANY attention to it. That game doesnt have any spinoffs or sequels or any new content but ffxv gets a movie and an anime.

Y'know, i used to think people who liked Twilight Princess the best were missing out on better Zelda titles, but at least in that series, how popular i think those games should be is like proportioal to how popular they actually are, y'know?

Whereas the better ff games seem to be forgotten to history while the popular ff titles arent necessarily the best ones or even good in the first place.

We've got three amazing characters trapped in a shite game

So. Here's my problem. I genuinely Love this game. Even tho its mediocre as far as open world AAA title, and bad as far as action games go. I still really like ffxv because theres one thing this game does good.

I think ffxv has some of The Best companion character mechanics of any adventure game i have ever played. And there are three of them. Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis are The Heart and Soul of ffxv.

Even though ffxv suffers from all the usual trappings of repeated context dialogue, AI jank, and model/rigging mishaps, none of those detract from the effort and focus put into just these three characters.

The voice work is divine. The dialogue is delightful. The mocap and animation is expressive. All three characters display a broad range of depth and emotion as the plot develops. Most of the game is just "vibing with your three best frens :)" and i genuinely fully bought into this premise. Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis are my three best friends.

The impact of the entire back half of the plot hinges on the player being totally invested in these three characters. It explains a good chunk of the insane game design. It would certainly explain why the game is open world for the first half and linear for the latter half. The devs needed players become attached to their companion characters. That way, the story has a better impact when the stakes are raised. The problem is the best way to get players to like companions is in an openworld adventure, and the only sensible way to tell a high stakes story is a strickly linear game.

So in the first half, players spend a lot of time just... vibing. And then suddenly the plot kicks in and youre basically stuck on it until the game decides its done telling you the story. And it... almost kinda really works? Like, its weirdly effective. But this can only work if, and i mean IF the player develops a fondness for these three characters. And to me, that just seems like such a risky gambit for the basis of an entire game and plot.

So like, judging ffxv as a game that is a collection of mechanics, this game royally sucks.

But when i am about the face down the final boss, and the game asks the player to pick one picture to take as a memento, i spent a good fifteen minutes or so just looking through the one hundred and thirty odd pictures i had saved. These were pictures of all the times ive shared with the three best video game companions ive ever had. I realized at some point i had never taken the roleplay of a protagonist who cared about his friends as seriously as I have in ffxv.

A common video game story telling device is to take a basic function away from the player. The game does this eary on with the car. Like any other game that does this, it was mildly annoying at best and frustrating at worst. But ffxv does this again. In the final dungeon. assuming you chose not to skip it you have to go through the entire dungeon alone. No companions. This, to me, made ffxv final dungeon the most compelling end game experience so far.

Afterwards, the game sends you back in time to openworld roadtrip simulator half of the game. Ive never been more happy to indulge in a postgame experience. I was genuinely stoked to keep playing more ffxv, so i can continue vibing with my three buddies.

I was so enamoured with these guys I even did the New Game+. I've replayed nearly all the sidequests, bought some DLC, and beat the game again. I would absolutely replay this game down the road just to experience these vibes. The things that suck abt this game will probably be smoothed over in my memory as charming quirks of the title.

I love this game. It sucks. It's got immaculate vibes. I look forward to replaying this ten yrs from now when I've forgotten most of the game.

I just unearthed this section about ffxv. i think I was onto something here and I will add it to the ffxv review proper later.

An Addendum to the FFXV review

Amended: 2024-01 lord knows when i wrote this

Death as a narratively satisfying resolution

I dont thing ffxv has achived this with Noctis.

His death is tied to his reunion with Luna, a relationship that has not been properly developed within the game. His destiny to die is already preordained by an asshole god and this idea is not explored beyond characters reacting to the injustice. Maybe this would have worked better if Noct chose to sacrifice his own life to demonstrate his conviction after all the antagonists push him to that point. Maybe Noct earns his freedom by demonstrating hes more than just the sacraficial lamb the gods intend for him. I dont know.

Noct accepting his fate as an offering to be slaughtered comes dangerously close to feeling like he is giving up. Hes already lost almost everything else. What is there to do but end his misery?

Lets set that all aside.

The gameplay of ffxv places as much (or more) value on the player's relationship with the companion characters than Noct's relationship with the same characters. As ive mentioned before, the emotional core of ffxv hinges on the player getting attached to the companion characters. As a result, sometimes Noct disappears as a character and exists solely as a player avatar.

If we take this to its logical extreme and remove Noct from the narrative, then what we have left is the player's relationship with the game. The characters only exist to respond to the player. The world only exists as an environment for the player to explore. The game only exists when the player is playing.

So, when we reach the end of the narrative, death of the player avatar is perfect as a resolution. Theres no more game left. You dont need the avatar anymore. He dies when you turn the game off.

I dont think its a stretch to say that this is probably not the intended reading of the end of the game's narrative. But im the kind of person who got introduced to to the PC as a player surrogate vs independant character dichotomy years ago and this concept has been living in my brain ever since. The bizarre shift in gameplay in service to the plot halfway through the game is what got me thinking about this meta-narrative in the first place. So naturally i began thinking about what the player's relationship was to the PC and the rest of the game.

Ffxv really cared about curtailing an experience for players to interact with their characters, especially the main three companions. Any characterization Noct has seems entirely incidental because it frequently takes a backseat to the experience the player is meant to have. To me, it felt like the game wanted to speak past Noct and talk directly to the player, but the game was too self-consious to commit to that idea.

This was most apparent to me in the final dungeon. The antagonist is constantly throwing taunts abt how alone the protag is. Since Noct showed very little affection for his companions (at least within this game), the comments didnt really land. In fact, Noct shows very little response to all that. Instead, those taunts were effective to me personally. *I* was the one who was affected by theira absence. *I* was the one who iniciated all those memorable moments. *I* worked hard to make this team work. Noct didnt really do that. He didn't show any interest in any of that. Without really intending to, ffxv talked right past Noct and directly to me.

By The box/cover art can or could be obtained from Square Enix., Fair use, Link

PlayStation 5

This review was a struggle to write. Several false starts and 2 documents later, this is what I have. (*A*”)

I have so many friggen opinions. A lot of them are nit picky. A lot of them are negative.

Lets start by saying I love ffxvi. As much as I would like for the game to be satisfying, as per usual, I like it better that it has some serious flaws. I am a little ashamed that I bought a PS5 just to play this game on launch.

Ffxvi won Best Score and Music for the 2023 game awards and rightly so. The songs ifrit vs phoenix and tri-disaster are some of my personal favourites. (Be aware that the video for tri-disaster contains serious spoilers.)

Dodge Parry Dodge Parry Dodge Parry

I dunno if im getting better at action games of if ffxvi was easy for an action game (more on difficulty that later). The combat in this game feels great. Controls are tight, responsive, and the game has a ton of positive feedback to give players that hit of dopamine we all love. The game heavily rewards players for parrying and countering enemies. The camera doesnt pull any nauseating, goofy stunts (thank goodness). Its well built. Theres no jank! But thats not a compliment for a multi-billion dollar studio making a AAA game for its flagship IP. Ff16 finally has a solid foundation for an action-oriented game. Giving commands to your invincible dog is fun too.

Ffxvi clearly takes a lot of cues from From Software games. Then again, what action games are not copying From Software’s homework these days. The tried and true combat system pairs nicely with the dark medieval fantasy that we were promised for ffxvi.

Unfortunately, this game fails to build upon this foundation of gameplay. The core combat is made up of a set of combos and moves for the protag's broadsword. There are a couple of special moves the player accumulates over the story, but the overly long cooldowns make it clear that the player is not supposed to use them as a crutch. The player also collects different elemental magic, but that mostly changes the flavour of the particle effects than offer an alternate combat style. (-A-') The player gets a broadsword. You dodge. You parry. You stab. And thats it. Thats the whole game.

Dodge Parry Dodge- Hey it’s that guy again

For a 30 hr Action heavy game, theres hardly any variety in combat. I’m mostly talking about the lack of enemy variety with this one.

After a major timeskip in the game, i didn’t find it to be all that challenging anymore. Especially bc the game had introduced all basic enemy types by that point. There were a handful of mobs and mid-level enemy types that were reskinned depending on what faction the player needed to kill. I fought like 5 supposedly different dragons or whatever but they all had the same moveset and logic. It got real stale real quick. The game had this amazing combat system but it didnt really capitalize on that by challenging the player beyond the basics. At least that’s how I felt.

The game throws a lot of mini-bosses at the player. A huge chunk of them are reskins. Big Guy with Axe has the same moveset as Big Guy with Mace has the same moveset as Big Gobin with Club. Different kingdoms do not have any unique combat qualities (with the only exception being the dragoons). Even the major boss fights feel kinda samey. It doesnt help that everything feels needlessly padded by having way too much HP.

I mastered the broadsword moveset and the game didnt really skill-check me after that. ¯\_(σ ‸ σ)_/¯

The bosses are largely what you would expect. Big guys with unique movesets that have a lot of parry oportunities. Some of them were more interesting than others. From what i can tell, the most divisive part of the combat was the-

Kaiju Fightclub

Summons have been reimagined so that instead of a summoner collecting summons to use in battle, each summon is tied to a specific character. Instead of summoning, each character is able to tranform into these gigantic "Eikons" and fight each other that way. (By the way, I genuinely think this is a really fun and cool idea and i totally get why the ad campaign highlighted this aspect of the game.) The opening playable section of the game is a scripted fight between Phoenix and Ifrit. Can I just say? I don’t like the way Ifrit is pronounced. I just think “If-reet” sounds dumb as hell.

My favourite Eikon to fight was Benedikta/Garuda. Great character, excellent escalation and interesting phases made for a genuinely fun boss. The best phase is when she’s a bird-woman so large she had to fight on her hands and knees just to reach you. She’s such a fun character too! Its a shame she is the first major boss and dies early.

Conversely, there were a lot of boss fights with moments that felt less than good. I totally understand scripted sequences, especially in plot heavy games like the ff series, but I think there are better ways to achieve that. My biggest gripe by far is that a lot of boss fights didn’t let me finish. It was ridiculous the number of times the health bar would be down to it’s last sliver, and then the game would wrench control from me to start a scripted sequence. I mean. Just let me finish. I know the boss is going to die after some fancy glory kill. Just give me the satisfaction of killing the last of their health bar. Just let me finish the fight. I just want to beat the guyyy. Let me finish. And then we can do the fancy kill animation. It doesnt feel good when I put that much work to bring the health bar down to 10% and. I was on a roll, and the game just. Interrupts me. I never expect it either. I cant express enough how disappointing that feels to get blue-balled like that. (TTATT)

Like, Bayonetta perfected this type of thing back in 2009. The player deals the damage necessary to eliminate the health bar, then the game rewards you with a fun and unique glory kill. Not in ffxvi. Not to mention ffxvi tends to inflate the damage points score during the cutscene attacks. Feels a bit patronizing all in all. It's just. So. Frustrating! (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

As an aside, it didn’t occur to me at all that kaiju fights in a dark medieval fantasy was weird until my buddy showed me the Zero Punctuation review. I dunno what that says about the absolute video game brainrot i might have lmaoooo

Difficulty is a Problem

Ive spent the leadup to ffxvi clowning on the whole “gamer pride” comments made by one of the lead creators of ffxvi. I don’t want to research exactly what the “gamer pride” takes were because I know my blood will start to boil if I look too much into it. If I remember right, one of the designers didn’t like that ffxiv tutorial suggested he try easy mode after assessing his skill. Said something about insulting his “gamer pride” or whatever. (&_&) Ffxvi offers two difficulty settings off the bat, but generally tries to persuade players from relying on the combat assist accessories available in the early game. The player has to choose between a combat assist and regular equips as these occupy the same slots, and there’s otherwise no way to allow players to customize the combat gameplay.

“Oh, but Zach, some games are meant to be hard. WhAt AbOuT DaRk SoUlS???

Well, my solution is to simply decide not to play games that I don’t think will be fun. I can’t reasonably expect any and every game to cater to my needs. I’m not going to tell developers how to make their own games, but I will not pretend that insinuating anyone isnt a real gamer for asking for basic accessibility accommodations (like modern QoL settings or gameplay assistance) is acceptable behaviour. I’m well aware that my limitations (physical disability or no) will bar me from playing/completing certain video games. That’s perfectly okay. Im just asking not to be insulted for needing a bit of extra help.

Which is stupid because ffxvi ended up being easy? (<.<)? I dont say that lightly. Im not good at action games. I played this on normal mode and like i said, the game got boring after a while. That uninspired lack of combat variety certainly didnt help. Its like this game wants to be a souls-like but pulls its punches. ¯\_(σ ‸ σ)_/¯

Also, ffxvi has some of the most insultingly easy QTEs of any game ive ever played, and I’m bad at QTEs. Although there was that incident when I failed the first QTE leading into the final battle so hard i turned off the whole ass console and went to bed askdjhdslkhas

Drop the RP in JRPG

There’s hardly any Roll-Playing in this supposed RPG. It’s fine that the Final Fantasy IP has changed genres, but its not very productive to keep calling these games RPGs due to legacy nonsense.

Ffxvi does not have any of the usual trappings that you’d expect in any RPG. It lacks the character/party building you would expect in more traditional style JRPGs, and it lacks the opportunities for the player to interact and explore with the world the way more western RPGs tend to do. This game is an action hack-n-slash through and through. But even with that consideration, the game still feels very... slim.

Theres not a lot to do outside the main story combat fest. Theres barely any side quests, and most of them will involve more combat. This is an RPG. I want to be able to roll-play as the character. I want to participate in the more mundane. Yes, firstly as a break from the high-intensity portions of the story/game, but also to humanize the characters and world.

That second bit is EXTRA important because ff16 explicitly wants to be a gritty, dark-fantasy story. Its like, "wow, look at all this crazy bad stuff that happens!" And to me thats like, who cares? I watch the news, I hear about horrible things all the time. haa

There’s a super early bit where the entire side quest is to just run some plates of stew to various former slave NPCs and I genuinely appreciated the simplicity. I was looking forward to more opportunities to interact with the world. Instead, the MC got a reputation for being really good at whacking things with his sword... so. Guess what you do a lot of. Like. Exclusively. The lack of diversity makes me want to replay Mass Effect for like a fifth time lmao. Maybe one day I’ll replay it and write another big review. God I fuggin love Mass Effect uh. Im getting distracted

I mean, the only other side quest i remember the player having any agency is when youre asked to smuggle the not meth through security. You decide whether or not you want to peak at the goods. The most the MC ever seems to do is give someone a stern talking to which, like... oookay...

The overworld is also not very compelling (or rewarding) to explore. The overworld only exists as set dressing to quests. There is no intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to explore the map outside of a quest. Its all super pretty to look at! But theres nothing besides a stray enemy and a potion lying around.

I Don’t Wanna Talk About the Slavery Thing

Better game journalists have correctly hit the nail on the head on what and why the slavery subplot fails in ffxvi. In summary, the game insinuates that slaves cannot and will not be responsible for their own liberation and that keeping the peace is more important than the rights and dignity of living human beings. If you do want to hear more in detail, The Jimquisition has a great video going over this that I highly recommend.

It Ends Like That???

I suspect that in the pursuit to make the story and atmosphere feel *dark and gritty*, some characters get killed off in lieu of having well thought out and satisfying character arcs. Overall, i think several plot elements feel incomplete.

Ffxvi has already been compared to Game of Thrones in terms of tone. Lots of characters die unceremoniously. Lots of blood, sex, and violence. Funnily enough, the gameplay tends to be rather bloodless, and is no more violent than other games in similar genres. Early in the game after Annabella betrays the Rosfields, her two handmaidens are executed. No cause or explanation given as to why. As far as the player knows, the handmaidens were utterly loyal to Annabella. So why did they need to die? ¯\_(σ A σ)7??? It’s like the plot is going through all the gestures of a *dark and gritty fantasy* without actually committing to the reasons the dark fantasy genre is compelling.

The biggest offender imo is Dion’s character arc. Partway through the game, Dion succumbs to an uncontrolled rage, transforms into Bahamut, and destroys the city of Twinside. Dion, raised to believe himself a saviour through his religious upbringing, is devastated. He responds to this by wanting to take responsibility and decided he needs to commit suicide via final boss demigod. Which is super dumb imo bc the game goes out of its way to portray the collateral damage and the citizens struggling to survive in the aftermath. This would lead me to belive there's going to be a connection between Dion's regret, and the people who must live with the consequences of his actions. Turns out, nah.

This whole thing is made extra stupid when you contrast Dion’s arc to the Hideaway. The Hideaway is the main base for the protagonists, and their whole shtick is that they refuse to lay down and die. The people of the Hideaway are willing to escape their slave masters and defy the status quo. They are willing to do the hard and tedious work in the face of overwhelming hopelessness.

Meanwhile, Dion, one of the more capable characters in the whole game LIVES with these people and it does not once occur to anyone that “hmm, maybe letting this guy become a death seeker is antithetical to rebuilding a world where everyone can live in hope and peace.” NOT ONCE does anyone realize that Dion can do more good if he decides to live instead of rolling over and dying LIKE A CHUMP. I’m so fuggin angry thinking about it liijndouiszajsl (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

I personally believe it is super important for a tragedy to contrast itself with hope. Ffxvi (and ff as a whole series) is perfectly set up to take advantage of this narrative theme. Hope and tragedy feed into each other. A really easy and amateurish mistake is to go all in on the edgy dark stuff. If the story doesnt bother with any gentleness, there’s no breathing room for the audience to empathize with the characters and plot. Ultimately, the theme of ffxvi is that any effort to make the world better is worth it, even if the odds are overwhelming against you, and even after the efforts have resulted in failure.

Part of why the slavery subplot fails is because the slaves are all portrayed as entirely hopeless and devoid of any ambition to improve their circumstances. So, anytime the player interact the slaves, it feels less like a tragedy and more... voyeuristic. The liberation of the slaves is less a call to justice than a political power play. In the same vein, Dion’s self-destruction feels indulgent instead of heartbreaking.

By contrast, Cid’s arc worked so much better for me. Cid works so hard to make sure the people under his care understand his cause and are willing to work for a better future. The game gives the player several story arcs for us to get to know and become attached to Cid. We learned that Cid used to be in a position that was comfortable and safe for him so long as he was complicit. Eventually, it’s pretty clear Cid knows he’s probably not going to see any serious positive gains within his lifetime. And yet, even though it’s foreshadowed to hell and back, Cid’s arc is a better tragedy. After Cid dies, his work feels incomplete, and his legacy echoes though all the characters whose lives were touched by Cid’s determined hope. It's a huge turning point for the MC, and this tragedy haunts the rest of the plot in a good way.

Where Are My Friends?? ;n;

Thats two games. Thats TWO games in a row that tout the Power of Friendship and then make you kill the final boss ALONE. The injusticeeeeee!!!!!

Profit Over Fun

There is DLC bait all over the place. There are obvious gaps in the plot, there’s a whole ass magic door thats blatantly inaccessible, and the base game glosses over a lot of backstories for various characters. Jill Warrick stands out the most to me. She’s one of the main party characters, and her origin is only discussed in broad strokes. Her home kingdom is never visited in-game. I suspect ffxvi is following the same business model as ffxv. I just hope that if other characters are playable, their controls arent as clunky as ffxv. I love Jill and I wanted to see her character explored beyond the damsel-in-distress love interest. (She's Shiva for fuckssake! She's a badass!)

One of the other reasons I wanted explore Jill's character is that I also wanted to see the northern kingdom, but it's never visited over the course of the game. This area is completely overrun by blight, which disables all magic upon entering. Blighted areas are a huge missed opportunity imo. It would have been cool to challenge players to fight in these areas. Combat with no magic would have been an excellent skill check for dodging and parrying skills. It would have helped players learn not to rely on magic as a crutch. I was genuinely hoping to see at least an optional side quest do this. It just feels like such an obvious logical next step that im convinced its being saved for a DLC.

I mean, this is all in line with Squeenix’s business model as of late. Anything to wring a few extra bucks out of players. It’s one thing for ffxvi to be a “meh” game, it’s another to know and feel this pressure to drop more cash just to enjoy something I love. It’s one thing for me who currently has a steady income to spend money, it’s another knowing this isnt true for everyone (even possibly future me). I want to pay artists for their work, but Square Enix has signalled again and again that player enjoyment will always be secondary to profit. I know this is largely par for the course these days, but it shapes how art is produced, and colours the lens in which we use to view that art.

Politics will always play a factor in art. It’s not always necessary (or healthy) to address how politics factor into games, especially when most of us play video games as a temporary escape from our own lives. At the same time, I think it would be naive to ignore how Square Enix treats its players when analyzing their games. Sometimes I like to think of games as a conversation between the player and the developer. Imagine if your DM asked you to pay for every session of DnD, you’d probably stop talking to that person! This is what it’s like to be a ff fan now. There’s always this lurking reminder that you’re not really meant to be having fun. You're meant to be spending money.

This profit motive dovetails nicely into this trend toward online services for gaming that make media preservation and archiving more difficult, but I think that’s a topic for another day.

In Summary, Missed Opportunity

There's once scene in Scott Pilgrim where he writes a song for Ramona. He just sings her her name several times over a few guitar cords and it sounds nice and all. Ramona asks, "So when are you gonna finish writing the song?" This confuses Scott. That was the whole song from start to finish.

ffxvi feels like that. Its a good game, but there's this nagging feeling of too many loose ends. The game and plot sets itself up for a lot of potentially satisfying payoff, but then doesnt quite follow through. There's a great combat system, but it doesn't push the boudaries of that. The plot wants to tell a good tragedy, but it shies away from itself. I want this game to be good but it just leaves me hanging.

PlayStation 4 (2015)

Type-0 has a bunch of characters i really like stuck in a game that sucks. The characters also suck. I dunno what that says about me lol

So, the characters are not bad in a "these people are irritating" way, but in a "these characters are so flat theyre one dimensional" sort of way. And i recognize that i probably likes these characters a lot more bc i experienced this game on the heels of ffxiii. I think i found it refreshing to meet a cast of characters so void of personality or motive they came off as inoffensive. The game had 14 playable characters, only 3 of them have any significance. Everyone else gets [one] standardized anime sterotype and thats it. Each character's whole personality is just sounding off on their one trait. Now that i think about it, even the 3 important playable characteds are not much better.

The reason i think this formula works for me is bc you (the player) are free to interpret and project whatever you want onto each character. Theres almost nothing to work with, which also means your basically free to glean whatever you want from them. I like the idea of a character.

That being said, as much as i enjoyed how inoffensive the characters were, there's a lot of lost potential. The whole theme of the game is to highlight the horrors of war, made worse that our cast is made up of child soldiers. There's also the classic RPG found family thing, but it feels a little unearned as the character dynamics feel a touch underdeveloped.

The gameplay suffers from the same problems as Crisis Core, only spread across 14 characters, making the game feel a little more clumsy. I think the game really expects the player to take advantage of the idle levelling system in order to avoid grinding. The levelling is capped after 24 hrs, so bes practice is to check in once a day. This would have been much easier to accomplish on the PSP version. But whatever. You don't really need it to beat the game.

But its absolutely necessary if you want to try and get the true ending. I wouldn't know what that's like. I gave up on the secret ending halfway through my second playthrough.

There is one bit of the plot I'm really hooked on.

As both a romance lover and a tragedy enjoyer, i think theres something good here. Youve got Rem who is dying of fantasy cancer, given the chance at eternal life in exchange for subservience. And youve got her childhood friend, Machina, who thinks everything he cares about is either gone, dead, or dying. He does not trust the people or institutions that are supposed to be on his side. So naturally, he defects to the enemy bc what better way to get himself killed? By the time Machina realizes Rem has ascdended to demigod status, he's been out of the loop for too long and in way too deep. The cumulation of these two arcs is that Rem unwittingly kills Machina, thinking he's an enemy (and she's not entirely wrong). But because this is final fantasy, they dont quite die. Instead, theyre immortalized in crystal, locked in an eternal embrace, with no fear of losing each other ever again. Love shit like this. This shit resonates with me and i dont know why. I've been thinking about this plot for months

May be found at the following website: Xbox, Fair use, Link

GameCube

Posted: 2024-04-09

I played Crystal Chronicles for nostalgia. I was able to get a lot further in the game than i did as a kid, but unfourtunately i've decided to drop this game for one reason:

This is a co-op game through and through.

Solo play eventually turns into a miserable slog. This is otherwise a great game, but there are almost no compensations for solo players. People willing to min/max their play will be able to get through the game fine, but its tough trying to do a more casual playthrough.

The controls arent an issue. Left bumper scrolls through action/spell selection which is the same as right bumper. According to my co-worker, spell selection is easier w a gba connection. I have no way to test this but im fascinated with how gba controls would differ from gamepad controls. But alas, I have no way to know playing solo.

Crystal Chronicles assumes you have at least one other person who will reliably play with you for every play session. The deliberately slow pace of combat is set so multiple people can co-ordinate their movements and attacks. The most egregious aspect is that casting spells happen at a snails pace. This is to help avoid misfiring spells when multiple people are involved in casting.

That's right! Multiple players can combine spells to make more powerful spells. If two players cast the same spell, they will cast ara level (mid level) spells. Solo players are allowed to link two spells to achieve the same effect. Unfoutunately, solo players will be locked out of casting aga (high level) spells. You need to play co-op to do that.

When I say CC assumes you will play co-op for every play session, that's not an exaggeration. If one person plays ahead, any inactive playable characters will not gain any levels/stats. If a player jumps back in after missing one session, the level gap between the returning player and the next dungeon is a setup for a frustrating time. CC locks cleared dungeons for a couple of in-game years, so its not like you can revisit old dungeons to help a other players catch up. Dungeons change as the game progresses, and levels are only gained after dungeon clears, so there are increasing barriers if players cannot reliably play together.

I remember playing CC with a neighbour as a kid, and this problem made itself known pretty early on. If my neighbour played ahead because i couldnt come over, then my character was too under powered to stay alive or attack effectively. It gets real disheartening real fast.

So, CC is really only suitable for people who already live together to play. So, siblings, roommates, partners and what have you. Don't get me wrong, I love couch play as much as anyone else, but CC is not a great game to return to for someone like me who prefers to live alone and game solo.

Its a real shame this game dissuades solo play, because behind this fundamental design choice, is a great game. The style, storytelling, visuals, music, and gameplay are all fantastic.

The 2.5D style for dungeon layouts with fixed camera positions was such a smart choice. Since there's no camera to worry about, players can focus on the gameplay while adventuring through a gorgeous and expertly laid out settings.

The world building and lore is intriguing and heartbreaking. If you're familiar with LotR, CC has a little bit of that End of the Third Age vibe. If you don't know what that means, CC is very obviously after the fall of a golden age in the world.

Each of the 4 fantasy races tell you their various histories. All 4 races either directly state or imply some sort of severe downfall in the recent past. The narrative has a very storybook feel, being told literally from a book presumably from the perspective of an older player character in the future. The narration varies from lighthearted stories to horrifying cautionary tales, depending on the dungeon. The music ties it all together to give the game a very folksy feel.

I may give the crystal chronicles series another chance, but im gonna need to do a bit or research to figure out which one. Some of the games are on consoles i dont own, and i get the impression other CC games have radically different play styles. Dont hold your breath, i have games i bought literally over 10 yrs ago that i gotta get to first lmao

By The box/cover art can or could be obtained from Square Enix., Fair use, Link

Nintendo 3DS

Cute rhythm game! Touch-only controls aren't anything unusual for rhythm games by this point. Directional inputs are fairly forgiving. Some notes are slightly off-beat on the tracks, and players are expected to replicate that. Occurs rarely and isnt a huge problem otherwise.

Short game. I got the credits to roll in under 6 hrs. Also easy. I suspect this was a practical decision as any increased difficulty would risk the player punching a hole through their screen with the stylus lmao

The only major spoiler i could detect is related to ffvii. And even then, its obfuscated by removing all context. All other potential spoilers for other games are related to romance. Everything else is nonsensical if youre not already familiar with the source material.

Nintendo 3DS

This is VASTLY superior to theatrhythm. Dont bother buying the original if youre considering this series. This version has everything the original has, as well as like, 4x the content.

Edit: I originally wrote this before I knew a sequel for the switch was coming out. I still stand by this sentiment. Playing this on the 3ds is just fun. I might get Final Bar further down the line, but for right now, this is my go-to rhythm game.

Switch

Posted: 2024-02-29

I was literally in the middle of reviewing Curtain Call when this game got announced lmao I like these games enough to decide to get this one. There were a few interesting changes, some better than others

I don't remember if i mentioned this about the previous titles, but they had optional touchscreen controls. You use the stylus to tap, hold, slide or swipe to the music. I genuinely enjoyed these controls!

They're gone now.

I totally understand why they would make this pivot. Some of the dev team claim part of it was bc the Switch touchscreen was not a pressure touchscreen like the 3ds was, but honestly i think it's because the game was also ported to the ps4. Why develop a mechanic that half the players wouldnt ever see anyways? (Devs also mentioned something about how tapping the screen would cover some UI elements which honestly is such a non-issue imo bc a third of the screen is erroneous information anyways ¯\_(σ ‸ σ)_/¯)

I miss the touch controls. I'll probably keep revisiting Curtain Call just for the touch controls.

That aside, just because this version is exclusively button controls, doesn't mean it doesnt introduce something new and inetresting to the formula. Final Bar Line introduces duel inputs for some parts of the game. The use of the 3ds touchscreen in previous versions mean the game could only reasonably ask you to do one action at a time. Final Bar can now ask you to press two buttons at once. Amazin'

anyone who has played literally any other rhythym game will tell you this is a fat nothingburger. just about every other game has asked players for this kind of thing from day one. it's not at all special. in fact, rhythym games that use touch controls and ask players for duel inputs have already existed for literal decades. I've played several games like that.

My point being, as engaging and fun as this game is, button only controls is a serious downgrade.

Not to belabour this point, but i suspect there were plans to include touchscreen control options that later got cut. since the switch uses a capacitance touchscreen, it would be totaly feesible for duel inputs and just have players tap along with two fingers on the screen. such a shame bc a lot of features just dont feel as fun without the touchscreen.

still a fun game to play. it's just a shame they sacrificed such a strong feature of the game.

So far, i have encountered two. TWO songs that required 4 simultanious button presses. I only have six fingeres dude i barely have enough fingers and you want me to press four buttons at once???? do you have any idea what it feels like to get jumpscared by a rhythem game because I DO.

They also removed the pve vs mode and kept it as strickly pvp which is another downgrade imo. the vs mode in Curtain Call introduces a lot of challenging status effects that keep the game interesting. now it's locked behind online play (-A-)

I do appreciate the added QOL features like adjusting timing and adding a simple mode. I wish i had someone to try the coop mode but alas.

Can I just say, I have never liked the stylized look of these games. Final Bar is slightly better by adding more light reflections in the eyes and making the characters more expressive generally. Its extra fucked that some of the villains are better looking bc they have more detailed faces. i don't mind cartoony, but pleeease dont make the characters look like lifeless plastic funko pops (TTATT)

Otherwise, this is a charming, fun game for anyone who likes the music in the ff series. This version has new songs from ffxv, as well as predatory expensive DLC if you want songs from ffxvi or other games like the Mana series or Chrono Trigger.

There are plenty of characters to choose from, and interesting strats to learn to complete the various challenges of the game. It's easy to pick up and i've been absolutely having a blast but maaan it sucks how obviously better this game could have been but then those features got cut bluuuuuuh

Honourable Mentions

Nintendo 3DS

This game is super refreshing. A solid example of a contemporary JRPG done right.

This game is classic final fantasy in all but name. It takes some of the best aspects of the early final fantasy and combines them to make a serious banger of a game. Flexible class types, diverse strategies, and several QOL improvements make for a great combat system. (Fast forward and auto mode to name a couple.)

The characters are amazing!!!! Ringabell is easily my favourite, but the whole cast is fantastic! Like, Ringabell would not be as fun or charming if the rest of the cast wasnt also full of bangers. Most of the enemy side characters were charmed to me by the end of the game. It was hard not to become really invested in this world. You eventually start to see the same characters from new and interesting perspectives especially as the game has a time loop that sends you back to the beginning of the game. This lets the main characters approach repeated events with more foreknowledge of what's about to happen.

The party members spend a lot of time talking to each other. This is an opt-in feature, and the dialogue is frequently off-topic. This peek into the opinions and personal lives of the party members is a fun addition to the game. Its easy to care about characters that feel ordinary and human. The game spends a lot of time showing various characters (friend and foe alike) chatting and goofing off. The last time I felt this charmed by characters in a JRPG is the Lufia series.

The game is not without a few downsides.

Some of the later fights in the game are downright mean without the player cheesing them. The good news is theyre optional. The bad news is that the side plots are some of the most interesting parts of the game. Early on, the sub-scenarios are pretty accessable and are needed if you want to unlock all the jobs. As the game progresses, it will feel like the main plot is not really moving all that much, so all the new and interesting stuff will mostly happen in the sub scenarios. This is especially true when the main story loops from the beginning a total of like, five times? So I ended up playing a lot of the sub-scenarios to keep the game fresh. Eventually, the side characters became interesting and sympathetic in their own right. So imagine my disappointment when I hit a difficulty wall so steep that meant i wasnt going to see how their character arcs conclude. I did look up a guide, but it involved a lot of cheese and i wouldnt have thought of a strat like that in a million yrs. I was feeling pretty bitter at the time to the win wouldnt have felt satisfying.

The whole looping from the start of the game over and over thing is a blessing and a curse. It's really cleaver, and the story takes full advantage of the potential as a narrative device. that payoff is well worth it imo. The problem is that its really easy to feel burnt out. The nice thing is that its possible to end the game early and get a reasonably good ending.

I would personally recommend that anyone willing to try play through to the end. the best move in the game is Mimic (which you get by maxing the Freelancer job) and the best job is Dark Knight (which i believe you have to get as part of the plot). You should be more than fine fighting bosses for the main plot without needing to do anything extra fancy. If you can beat the crystal bosses, you can beat the final boss.

I really loved this game~ (ෆ˙ᵕ˙ෆ) I highly recommend it for anyone who likes JRPGs.