|Welcome to the first of two mailbags this week! I was a
bit under the weather last week, so that's delayed my own Final
Fantasy second chance writeup a bit. That will go up
at the end of this week or in the mailbag next week. Also
just want to remind people about the contest I announced
"Hey gang! Time for one more Mailbag contest, and it's a
simple one. All you have to do is play and beat Crystal
Bearers and then take a picture of yourself giving
the credits a thumbs up (or other gesture). Play it with an
open mind! Everyone who enters will have a chance at a
free game of their choosing (no not super-rare retro games
sorry). Your thoughts on the game will be passed along to
the next Mailbag host. That should be fun!"
Anyway, let's get to it, I've got Demon
Gaze and Shovel Knight to get back to
This Edition's Contents:
Final Fantasy Second Chances
Reading that someone retried XIII motivated me for a
1) I'm glad you gave it another go and passably enjoyed it.
I love XIII and think it gets a bad rap. Most of the
issues have been talked into the ground, but the key one
that sticks me is that it's "too linear," while nobody has a
problem with the Mi'ihen Highroad being a tunnel with
battles every 10 seconds or the general artificial nature of
exploratory choice in the series. I don't buy VII-IX
being less linear just because you could "choose" to go to
the screen above or below, when the game clearly feeds you
into the screen required to advance the plot.
I've been trying
to point that out for ages, no one wants to
listen. I think the upfront nature of the
linearity can be pretty jarring though. While
you can wander around the worlds in the other
games and do random pointless things, that isn't
really the case in XIII making the
straightforward nature of things too apparent.
Even in Final Fantasy X which had
similarly designed areas you could at least
sample the side activity of Blitz Ball (and a
more precisely defined world as well). So I can
certainly understand the complaints from that
perspective. That said, if you are one who
mostly follows the straight and narrow Final
Fantasy path like I think many do, then
the complaint comes off as a bit silly.
2) I always appreciate how well-mannered and open Q&A
has been towards people having their own opinions. Makes for
a much better read than most other spots I've found online
I appreciate that!
I try to be open minded, even towards those that
like games I particularly dislike. Of course
I'll still try and get some fun jabs in. Of
course if your opinion is that Kawazu makes bad
game then we may just have to Karate fight.
3) The FF I've been meaning to give another go
has been XII. I haven't been able to do it, but
maybe not for the expected reason. I've realized I'm so used
to playing games based on Achievements/Trophies, that
thinking about playing one without them is kind of mind
boggling. I want a little list to check off as I beat all
the optional Espers and get the arguably asinine Zodiac
Spear. Without that list, it's been really hard to actually
just start the game again!
Thanks as always for the thoughts and work on the column =)
I can understand
that. That isn't my thing, but I can see the
appeal to going after a bunch of achievements
and and enjoying the challenge of getting all
the hard ones. That said, we are united in a
desire for Final Fantasy XII HD. That
game would benefit greatly from a nice graphical
update, reduced loading times, and presumably
the additions from the Zodiac Job System
version that we never saw in the west. Make it
so Square Enix!
Thank you for writing in!
Even More Final Fantasy
I suppose I'd like to weigh in on the Final Fantasy XIII
discussion. FF 13 had an amazing story. Start to end
the characters were great and I wanted to see what they were
gonna do next, even the more annoying characters like Hope
had a strong enough of a story arc that it made for a
compelling story to watch. The gameplay was awful. Obviously
just my opinion, but it was awful. Auto attack? You can
spend combat in 90% of the game, maybe more, just hitting
auto or whatever...boring. Abysmal AI, doesn't seem to
understand that the only party member that absolutely need
to stay alive is the party leader and healers will
prioritize other characters for heals/buffs over the party
leader. The way the levels were capped, and the game was on
rails until just about the very end. I forget what the item
was called, but that item you could use to skip enemy
encounters...used them almost the entire final dungeon. I
wanted to see the conclusion to the story, but man I didn't
want to have to suffer through combat to get it.
Yeah I can't really agree with
much if any of this. Lots of auto attack? For
starters, you can control the healer, or the one
giving out the buffs, so pretty confused by that
complaint. As far as auto attack goes that's
largely accurate, but only because the battle
system is designed to be controlled from more of
a macro level, switching paradigms and using
items and other abilities when needed. Most Final
Fantasy games are pretty much on rails as
far as the main narrative goes. Level caps will
very much be a preference thing, I loved them. I
want to be challenged, and this battle system
did best when it was difficult. I can see why
you don't like the game, but some of your
complaints have easy in-game remedies.
I always thought I loved RPG's mostly for the stories. RPG's
by their nature tend to have a better narrative than most
other genres. 13 had such a good story to me, that
because it's gameplay was bad enough to make me feel like
the game was overall bad I realized how much value I place
on combat over narrative. I loved FF 12. It had a
terrible story imo, but the gambit system was so fun, the
side quests so exciting and rewarding that even though the
story was pretty weak I'm praying for a HD
announcement...and I don't even believe in jeebus. I guess
all I'm saying is Final Fantasy XIII was so bad it
made me realize how shallow I was.
Final Fantasy XII had the
potential to be a brilliant narrative, but given
the obvious drama of the director quitting and
such we can only assume it got messed up during
all that. The fact that the gameplay turned out
well is really a credit to the development
team, and Kawazu stepping in as the new
director to finish up development certainly
didn't hurt. To your overall point, I think a
game like Final Fantasy XIII that cuts
out so much of that fat is destined to be a love
it or hate it affair. If the gameplay doesn't
grab you, it will be hard for anything to save
the experience because it makes up so much of
the product. There aren't a lot in the way of
optional story conversations or extra world
locations to explore to provide some sort of
alternative. Does that mean a game should never
be designed like this? I don't think so. Not
that Final Fantasy XIII is without flaws
of course. It has many.
I will put this out there:
If you think Final Fantasy XIII is bad,
I have a list of bad games you should play that
will make you realize otherwise.
is a fine game, and another addition to the
quality line of portable Zelda games.
You had it in a top five list though! Mind you I
don't think it's bad in the slightest. Just not
quite as good as some of the many other Zelda
games that could have made the list. I don't
know, I felt like the game was a bit lean on
dungeons, and some of the puzzles and quests
in-between the dungeons could be a bit lacking.
Maybe I just need to give it a replay to refresh
my memories? Perhaps I'm wrong.
Here are some hot topics I've seen around
- JRPGs don't seem to be having much trouble selling
decently in the West, so where has Dragon Quest
- What PS2 RPGs would you like to see on PSN?
- If Child of Light is a success, will we see
more RPGs with the UbiArt engine?
- Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?
See you next week!
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