She… uh… she Returns? Yeah. That’s what she does.
Unfortunately, things are shit. The world is going to end in 13 days, interdimensional monsters are stealing folks, and I guess Snow is evil now? Lame. Lightning better fix this all. Somehow. And maybe get Sahz to help, because he’s the only other person in this world that I don’t hate.
Also, Lightning is rocking boob armor. Why does she have boob armor? She was so cool in the first game, and none of it had to do with her gender. She wasn’t cool despite being a lady, she wasn’t cool because she was a lady. She was just cool, while happening to be a lady. It was a big deal, especially got the Final Fantasy series. Now she’s boob armor lady. Not cool.
Like, hardcore fans? Folks who have completed both of the previous games? Does any of this make any sort of sense? Or is it still confusing anime tropes just vaguely arranged into a plot shape? Cause that’s what it looked like to an outsider.
But it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s mostly just a platform to sell costumes. First Cloud, then Aerith, now whatsherface from FFX. That’s what it’s really about. Selling nostalgia for games that most folks don’t hate. Unfortunate.
Listen, I actually quite enjoyed Theatrhythm. Even as a person with so little rhythm that releasing a game with rhythm in the title is pretty much a threat, the adorable design and Final Fantasy music won me over in a way that the almost identical Elite Beat Agents did not. But we’ve pretty much heard all the songs we cared about in the first game. There’s a couple more we might be interested in, but a bunch of those were sold as DLC. How much more is there to sell? We’ve got songs from Crisis Core and Advent Children in here, clearly they’re having trouble filling space. And while I guess they always could grab the songs from the two fifths of the original game that was just watching the screen while music played and add actual gameplay, but that’d probably piss some folks off. “You like ‘Eyes on Me’? You want to actually play the game while that song is playing? Better buy another game.” Yeah, that sounds bad.
Another Final Fantasy XV trailer! This one from the Toyko game show. And while it may bear a shocking resemblance to the trailers we’ve been seeing for Final Fantasy XII: Versus for close to a decade, it’s totally not that. It’s Final Fantasy XV, and it’s it’s own thing. And it’s totally worth the Kingdom Hearts team being tied up for so long that we’re easily going to go an entire decade between proper Kingdom Hearts titles.
Cause, look! There’s graphics. Those CG videos are incredibly detailed, and probably only take, like, a million man hours for every minute of video, which is totally a justifiable cost, and certainly not going to be pointed out as one of the biggest causes of the collapse of the industry after that inevitably happens. And the actual gameplay is… nice? It’s not terrible. It looks confusing and unpleasant, but since it’s an action RPG, I’m sure it makes more sense for the person playing than the viewer, who has to sit there wondering “Why did that guy suddenly teleport across the room?! Where did that giant sword come from?! What’s with all the flying ghost swords?!” Let’s just all hope that the awkward cut during the Iron Giant fight isn’t precisely where they jammed a Quick Time Event they didn’t want to show us. Because that seems entirely likely.
As far as the story? Who knows. Assassin’s Creed there has a giant robot that he’s going to do bad stuff with, there’s a kid who will inevitably be the worst part of the entire thing, there’s a giant beautiful city that’s guaranteed to be demolished at some point, and lots of floaty ghost swords.
Best bit, though, is when all those pieces fall off the ship to reveal the giant gun underneath. “Why’d you make them all drop off like that? Now we have to go pick them all up again! Dummy!”
Let’s try for just a moment to figure out what precisely is going on in this video. We’re comparing the Standard Definition version of Final Fantasy X to the High Definition version. What do you think would be the best way to do that? If you said “Play a solid minute and a half of SD, then play that same minute and a half of HD” congratulations, you are the person who made this video. Because no one else would do it this way. The most obvious choice would be to put the videos side by side. Seems the easiest, right? If I’m looking at Standard Definition and High Definition at the same time, clearly the HD is going to win. But that leaves you with the choice of having two tiny screens happening at once, which isn’t really going to showcase that HD, or cutting the screens in half, which isn’t going to showcase the game. So, fine. Don’t do that. But would it really have been that hard to play five seconds of SD, followed by five seconds of HD? Just really emphasize the improvements? Would that have been so hard?
As it is… I dunno. Certainly the HD side looks better. But since I’m too lazy to click back and forth a dozen times to compare specifics, the only real thing that pops out is “Wow, those menus look much nicer.” Super nice. Just clean, well defined menus. All sharp edges and solid colors and no pixelation in sight. Those are some fine ass menus.
And I guess the Malboro looks pretty impressive too. But those menus. Mmm.
I’m sure you’re out there. If the internet was to be believed, literally no human on earth enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII. But somehow they still managed to sell a ton of Final Fantasy XIII-2. So clearly the internet doesn’t know what the eff it’s talking about. I’m sure that there are a bunch of folks that played Final Fantasy XIII, then played Final Fantasy XIII-2, and then thought, “Man, I could go for even more Final Fantasy XIII.” Unfortunately, I gave up on the franchise (sub-franchise?) a couple hours into the second game. Even the draw of a whole game about Lightning, who’s pretty much the best, isn’t enough to drag me back into that. So this is for you, theoretical Final Fantasy XIII triple dipper. Even more of that.
And now they’ve got Moogles. Which…. really? I mean, this is a world that was, until recently, controlled by super powerful demi gods, keeping humanity away from a planet covered in ridiculous and impossible beasts. But Moogles still feel too ridiculous for that world. Maybe it’s just because the characters look too… realistic isn’t the right word. They’re clearly anime-esque character designs. Maybe… detailed? The characters are so detailed that standing next to a little creature that’s essentially just a marshmallow with a pom pom sticking out of it is just uncomfortable. And unnecessary. You could just makes something new. Instead of spending a billion man hours designing characters with eight gajillion polygons to hang out with goofy marshmallow creatures, you could just make a brand new game, with a less complicated, more artistic style. A style that doesn’t cost so much that you have to release three games with pretty much the same assets just to try to make your money back. I would suggest another Crystal Chronicles (more specifically, another Crystal Chronicles that doesn’t suck) but really, just a classic Final Fantasy type game would be fine. Anything but more of this.
JRPGs are the best, aren’t they? But aren’t they also kind of terrible? This is the premise that Project Phoenix starts with. We all love JRPGs so much, but really, we all kind of hate them. So, a number of prominent Eastern developers are teaming up with a number of Western developers to make a JRPG type game without all the ridiculous tropes that JRPGs have found themselves saddled with. They’re going back to a time when JRPGs weren’t all about flashy graphics and new combat systems (A time I like to call “Never”) and they’re going to let some of our fancy western design elements in. And also Nobuo Uematsu will do that soundtrack because of course he will.
So, how are they doing so far? The game is about troubled paladin Marcus Stern, who encounters Ruffles, an angel stricken with amnesia and… I’m out. I’m already out. Angel with amnesia? So we’re not working super hard to get away from the JRPG nonsense, then, are we? How much do you want to be that the reason the angel has amnesia is because he turned against God? Except in this situation God is actually just an incredibly powerful being, and only Ruffles stood up to him when he planned to destroy humanity? I would bet a lot.
Still, annoying JRPG stories are what they are. And as long as they can give me a game that doesn’t feel like it just built a combat system to be as complex as humanly possible just so that they could say they have a “Unique” combat system (looking at you, pretty much every JRPG this generation) and that doesn’t take me ten hours of tutorial to get through, it might be worth checking out. And maybe the “influence of western developers” will allow for a JRPG that allows for a bit of freedom of exploration. Wouldn’t that be nice? Finally we’d be able to look down on Final Fantasy XIII for it’s ridiculously direct path and have another JRPG to point to that didn’t do the exact same thing (although, to be honest, the others are much better at covering it up). That would be a wonderful world to live in
I’d say this trailer is all stuff you’ve seen before, but considering that this is a rerelease of a game that came out over a decade ago, even the stuff you haven’t seen before is probably stuff you’ve seen before. Anyway, here’s another Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix trailer. Sora, Riku and Kairi are running around in glorious HD, doing some Kingdom Hearts stuff, and there’s wildly inappropriate music playing the whole time. Like, what’s the deal with that song? Are they trying to win over new Final Fantasy fans? It sounds kinda Final Fantasy-y. But this isn’t Final Fantasy, it’s Kingdom Hearts, and therefore should be always represented by Utada Hikaru. Preferably “Sanctuary,” but since this is mostly the first game “Simple and Clean” is also acceptable. Or, even better, a new Utada song, made for the ReMIX series? Any of these options are suitable. This goofy song in the trailer, however, is not.
These guys look weird, but I think they are trying to be innovative with their dancing. Something I am not versed in. But they are dancing to Final Fantasy 7 music, so everything is good.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (yes, that’s the actual name of the game) is just a mess of a game. The second spin off of a game that’s widely acknowledged to be the worst in the series (I mean, I enjoyed it, but I’m clearly in the minority) at least this one had the good sense to fix the first spin off’s mistake in dropping the only character that anyone cared about and, in fact, went the complete other direction, making the entire game about her. But it’s still a Final Fantasy XIII game, just mocking us with the fact that over an entire console generation they could only manage to get us one proper game out.
But none of that matters. Because the pre-order bonus for the game is a Cloud costume for Lightning, complete with a Buster Sword. Oh, Squeenix, you know me so well. I’ll ignore all the egregious errors you’ve made over the last decade, because you gave me a Lady Cloud. It’s all forgiven.