Final Fantasy IX – The Cute Effect

I was dubious about starting this game. After having fairly recently played Final Fantasy X and (shudder) X-II, did I really want to start another 300 hour adventure where I don’t know what’s going on? As I watched my other half play it though I slowly realised that yes, I did want to play it! I actually wanted to play a Final Fantasy game! My reasons for this are a little unexpected; My main reason is that I really like the graphics. Yes, they’re not realistic looking or cinematically breathtaking like recent Final Fantasy games but… I kind of like that, in fact I prefer it. I’ll delve more into why a bit later. The tipping point was the introduction of an unexpectedly adorable character:

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Picture credit to Maye1a from Deviantart.com

He is the most adorable little mage I have ever seen and I love him. He also has one of the best Final Fantasy name so far… I think so anyway: Vivi. It’s not over the top and it’s not too boring. I may name a future pet after him. Not only is he adorable and named well but he also has a heart wrenching back-story which I am absolutely hooked on, more so than the main plot. *Brief spoilers for the rest of the paragraph * He finds all these mages that look like him and he’s all excited but then they’re basically robots and don’t acknowledge him, when he gets attacked though they all go in front of him to protect him and then they get thrown over the side of the ship and it’s so sad… I felt tears welling up, how can things that only have eyes be so expressive??? Then everyone is so mean to him because they think he’s the enemy! Now all his mage friends have joined the dark side… If anything bad happens to little Vivi I don’t know what I’ll do.

On to what I was saying about the graphics: I think one of my big issues with modern Final Fantasy is that it’s these super epic looking games with incredible graphics, huge weapons and battles of epic proportions etc… Then you actually play and the battling is… Well it’s just so boring. They stand there looking so badass and cool and you have to wait for what seems like forever while their ATBs charge then finally they move… Then go back to standing…  Wait… Then move again… It’s an unrealistic element in a graphically realistic looking game and it always bothers me. As the graphics are so different in IX though I don’t mind it, it feels more normal. It reminds me a bit of Pokémon which is the only other turn-based game that I play regularly.

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Look at Lightning slacking off in the corner “You’ve obviously got this Vanille, I’m just gonna stand here and chill for a while”

Something else that I am pleasantly surprised by, and which I did not expect to happen at all, is that I actually know what is going on. A time may come where it gets overly complicated but for now it’s perfect.

My only critique is that Garnet and Zidane’s relationship and places in the story are very similar to Tidus and Yuna from FF X where we have a male character who the game is trying to convince me is the protagonist while there is a female character painted as the love interest/damsel, but the plot is actually revolving around her. It’s a little frustrating, I would like to play as Garnet/Yuna, I feel like sometimes it would make more sense… Maybe that wouldn’t have gelled so well with their target audience though. I also feel a bit weird reading about Zidane’s womanising ways… He’s 16?! Like hell he’s done half the things he’s talking about, and even if he had are we supposed to be charmed by that? “Oh, he’s such a bad boy!” I don’t think so.

Speaking of inappropriate things, it’s butt appreciation time starting with Garnet: She was obviously the most liked character from the developer side what with her butt being the most lovingly rendered thing in this entire game:

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Backing this up there’s this creepy moment where the text flashes by so quickly you’re not quite sure it happened…

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I had to Image search this because I couldn’t get a screenshot in time. Ah, non-consensual groping, the way to every girl’s heart.

There’s the all-female army, the higher their rank, the more clothes they wear (and they become brunettes too, obviously).

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Then there’s this dude who is literally a walking butt… To be honest I thought he was a girl until I was told otherwise. I found the slender waist, thong thing, and long hair a bit misleading, plus I’m envious of his eye shadow. Anyway he must be pretty cold.

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Finally, best butt of the game (so far): Quina (or Quinoa as I’ve named him/her). I mean it’s not as obvious as the rest but look at him/her. There is something keeping that dress in that shape is all I’m saying.

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To finish this post I had a little fun naming some of my team so I thought I’d share a few with you: I was immediately disappointed that I couldn’t rename Saiyan reject Zidane as – what I thought was hilarious – Zig-a-zig-aah (come on, it would have been funny), 8 characters max! I re-named Steiner as Potato so that he’s referred to as ‘Captain Potato’ throughout the game, I know how to have fun. Finally, I gave Princess Garnet this perfect fake name for her ‘common’ alias: Garnot. No one will ever know…

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Have you played FF IX? What do you think about the difference in graphics between the older games and newer games? Which do you prefer?

Vivi

 

 

 

 

A JRPG Nightmare… Final Fantasy X-2

I would put a spoiler warning here but this game has spoiled itself already.

I don’t even know where to start with this… I had heard it was bad but literally nothing could have prepared me for the sheer monstrosity that is this game. I know I slagged off Final Fantasy X a lot (see here, here and here for my little trio of posts about it) but I did like it really, it just had a few things that I found hugely annoying and while I’m not taking what I said about it back by any means I would rather go on a date with Tidus and listen to him talk about his daddy issues all night than play through FFX-2 in its’ entirety. If you know how much I hate Tidus, then you know that that is really saying something.

“But Dragon! Why did you play it if you know it’s meant to be so bad?” Well tiny human readers, this poor life choice came about because the version of FFX that I have also came with FFX-2 so I had it anyway and I quite enjoy playing good-bad games (so bad they’re good, like Deadly Premonition, Duke Nukem Forever, Final Fantasy X…) so I thought “you know what, why not? It might be fun”. I have never been so simultaneously bored, confused and embarrassed playing a game before. That opening scene is one of the cringiest things ever made in gaming history… I’ll get to that in a sec. So I’ll take you through my reactions to this game as they came, I actually wrote notes as I was playing because there was no way I was going to remember the amount of stuff wrong with this game.

First of all, when you start the game you’re greeted with this…

That actually made me hide behind a cushion a little bit because it was so cringy. So Yuna is a pop star, Rikku has AMAZING hair (seriously, Rikku’s hair is literally the only thing I like about this game, it is so cool) and she is trying to break into Yuna’s show with Lulu 2.0… Ok… Now Yuna is here in her original outfit aaaaaand it’s gone replaced with some weird purple salsa thing and this song. Who made this? Why? I hate everything about this. Once the show is over you chase Yuna and get attacked by easy-to-kill ninjas. What is with this battle system???? I don’t like turn based fighting and this is almost not turn based any more but it was so fast that all I could do was panic and mash X to attack. If you’re going to make the fighting fast paced you can’t have a turn-based style menu to peruse and tactfully choose your next attack from because you don’t have the time! It should be one or the other! I ended up changing this in the configurations. Oh and Lulu 2.0 (her real name is Paine by the way… Yeah, that is actually her name, Lulu 2.0 suddenly seems like an upgrade doesn’t it) is so emo that she doesn’t even face the enemy, she is apparently part owl and rotates her head round to look at them while her body faces the opposite direction. At first I thought the game had glitched and that her head was on the wrong way round to her body, but nope, it’s just a phase mom!

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“I think my friend is being attacked by a horny lion but I can’t quite see… If only I was normal and could face the right way…”

Just when I thought I couldn’t get more confused a second Yuna backflips over herself, a second one? Right. Basically, turns out that a sphere hunter has taken a dress sphere or something that allows her to turn into a singing Yuna (and apparently attract a sell out crowd of thousands, pretty impressive really). We then battle and I equipped Yuna with the ‘songstress’ dress sphere and she… she… well… so she danced at them. She literally stood in front of the sphere hunter and attacked her with dance (the opposing sphere hunter did the same to be fair, it was a dance off). Just… I don’t know, see for yourself.

So that just happened. Now let’s board this giant lobster spaceship, oh sweet it’s Brother from the previous game, he was ni- … oh no they’ve made him super creepy and he shouts everything. For some reason his creepiness is portrayed as endearing, he is now the equivalent of that guy from your class that you think might have something a little bit wrong with him so you accept his Facebook request out of pity but then he messages you CONSTANTLY and you end up blocking him but then he gets really upset about it so you pretend it’s a glitch and then you try to avoid him for the rest of your life so that you don’t have to confront him about why the glitch hasn’t been sorted out yet. At one point, for some reason I can’t remember, he is lying on the floor and when I went up to speak to him this happened. Are you OK Final Fantasy?

 

 

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Pretty sure this was a glitch but from what I’ve seen in this game it wouldn’t surprise me if this was meant to happen
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Lobster Airship!

Before I go back to the “story” (I use that term very loosely) let’s just look at the most ridiculous idea for a game since Sonic and The Black Knight appeared on our screens: dress up fighting. Instead of having lots of skills that you acquire through focusing on different class paths and having that all under one character (e.g. when I played FFX Yuna was my white/black mage using healing and attack magic) you swap your outfit to correspond to which class you want to be and you can do this in mid-battle, the outfit you want has to be next to the outfit you’re currently wearing though on the dress pyramid thingy, god forbid they make it too easy for us and just allow you to swap to whatever you want, you have to work to get from sexy samurai to festival pyjama party. The classes are a mixture of normal to ridiculous as well, so far I have got :

  • Warrior (normal)
  • Gunner (yep, cool)
  • Songstress (kind of like a bard I guess but why the dancing???)
  • Festival (what the fuck?)
  • Black mage (OK, back to normal again)

Just to clarify a little more about the “festival” outfits, they are all in what looks like pyjamas and Rikku is attacking with candyfloss. This is SO stupid.

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WTF has Paine got on her face? A Five Nights at Freddy’s mask?
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You might think this is some sort of weird fan art but no, actual weapons and outfit used in battle, poor fish
FFX-2 Mascots
This is apparently a garment grid that I can get later, yay?

I’m not going to lie, stupid outfits aside I quite like the idea of an outfit change to go with your class because I’m a bit girly like that, but they don’t keep the outfits on when you’re out of battle, what do they do? “oh crap we’re being attacked, hang on two secs while I just put my mage outfit on…” this means that you can’t really see the outfits because they’re always zipping about in battle mode. From what I can see I like Yuna’s black mage costume but it’s hard to tell. On top of all that I have no idea what the stats are doing when I swap these outfits round, they all change drastically and I can’t tell who is better in which class/outfit.

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While we’re on appearance, hey Yuna, what is that thing down your back? It looks like a pink lion tail. Is this meant to be her hair?! I am genuinely asking, is it really? How did that one part of it get so long in the space of two years? And why has she done that to it? It looks like she escaped from the Matrix and forgot to pull the wire out of her head. How does it not constantly get in the way? Rikku looks like she’s going for a Jecht/Captain Jack Sparrow inspired thing, she’s also a huge fan of assless chaps and thongs in this game, but you know, each to their own I guess, maybe she likes the breeze… Still love her hair though. Finally, Lulu 2.0 it’s-not-a-phase-mom Emochick. She’s the strong and silent type, her name is Paine, just like what she feels in her heart every day as she resents her parents for their lack of understanding of her soul. There’s not a lot to say about her as she is so strong and silent so far that it’s removed any need to attempt crafting a personality for her. I’m not even going to talk about the revealing clothes they’re wearing… I’ve mentioned it before and I can only come to the conclusion that they thought “hey you know who we didn’t objectify in the last game? Yuna and Rikku, if we make it 2 years later they are both legal right? Sweeeeet $$$”.

FF X2

Back to the “story”! Lobster airship drops us off in a super inconvenient spot on a mountain where we race other sphere hunters to the top of a mountain (where the ship could totally have dropped us rather than below it, just saying) to be the first to get to the sphere. Luckily the game also decides to teach you how to jump at this point and it’s so stupid and counter intuitive that they leave you a huge amount of time to get to the top as you also learn to jump, I don’t think it would be possible to lose, I stood at a ledge for about 2 full minutes watching Yuna wobble over and over as she refused to jump up a small ledge. You also fight a few gun snakes (I wish I was joking) and ninjas on your way up but nothing is really a problem because mashing X still works at this point. What is this guarding the sphere though?! My first boss?? IT’S A GIANT CRAB! Hold on to your hats though because if that didn’t freak you out enough then the name of this crab will terrify you. His name is BORIS. ALL FEAR BORIS THE MIGHTY IRON CRAB. I genuinely believe that Square Enix put some animal names in one hat, and then some items/elements (like gun, metal, fire, sword) in another, pulled out the papers and put them together, voila! Snake Gun and Iron Crab! Once we have the sphere we go back to the airship and put up with Brother a little bit, then we go to Besaid, the starting point of FFX and where Wakka and Lulu now live together. Lulu is going to have a baby! How lovely! How far along is she? Due in 2 weeks! Oh goodness, she must be huge! Let’s go say hi. Oh Lulu, my goodness, you literally have not changed one bit. You’re still wearing your corset at 9 months pregnant? Are you giving birth to a noodle?

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Whatever. I wasn’t even surprised any more at this point.

We then set out trying to find a cave, to open this cave we needed to find numbers hidden around the island but I may have talked over Lulu recommending that I speak to people on the village and ask about the cave so I ended up wandering around Besaid getting angry about the island’s lack of caves for a really long time.

Finally, we found the sphere and left the island and went to Zanarkand, I remember this place having some nice music… It sounds a little different though this time… Are those bagpipes?! Why would you use bagpipes in any piece of music, let alone this one??? That, my friends, is where I quit. I just couldn’t do it. For the rest of the night I played through the first episode of Life is Strange to remind myself that video games are good (it worked by the way, Life is Strange is brilliant, can’t wait to play the second chapter tonight). I couldn’t totally escape from Final Fantasy in that though, Life is Strange is made by Square Enix too and that prompted this little bit of self-indulgence on their part when I looked at a TV in the game:

It’s been a while since I did a big ranty post like this, so I suppose it’s a good thing that FFX-2 gave me a ton of stuff to write about, I’ve been in a writing slump recently so a long post like this hasn’t happened in a while. Mainly because of this I’m wondering – even though the idea of it is making my stomach churn – if I should try and keep playing FFX-2 a little bit longer… What do you think? Would you like to read about this a bit more or do you think it’s better as a one off? What are your thoughts on FFX-2 in general? Is there anyone out there that actually likes it? I won’t judge you too harshly if so!

I’m just going to leave you with a couple of final random screenshots of the game, just let them speak for themselves (I did play a little bit further than Zanarkand in the end in the name of blog pictures).

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My Final Final Fantasy X Thoughts: Torn Between Critiquing and Praising

As you may or may not know I have been playing, slowly but surely, through Final Fantasy X with some reservations about it due to my aversion to turn-based gaming (if you don’t you can read my previous posts about it here and here to fully understand my journey). Well I am pleased to say that I have finally finished it! It’s been a bit of a struggle occasionally but I suppose when all is said and done it has won me over. That doesn’t mean I haven’t found plenty of faults with it though. When I first started writing this post it was meant to be a straight up appreciation post but then I kept remembering things that really annoyed me about the game and I got carried away. Now this is a half rant, half appreciation post. I’ll get the ranting out the way first as it’s never good to end on a negative! Plus my ranting isn’t to be taken to heart or anything like that, FFX is definitely a good game, I just need to vent my feelings about some of the things that were bothering me, particularly at the end. Spoilers ahead!

FFX

So first off, I did not complete the game “fully” in that I didn’t complete any of the side quests. I really did try with the monster arena but WOW, how boring is that? Yeah, let’s just wack stuff with a sword over and over again mashing the X button until I die of either boredom or old age.  No thank you. I know that it gets harder when you capture more difficult monsters and the monsters in the arena are insanely difficult of course but I think my aversion to turn based gaming came through way too much here, if it was a case of running round an area hitting stuff as I go and picking up XP automatically instead of SMASH! YOU’RE IN A BATTLE! Animation of monsters coming in, oh look it’s my turn, attack animation, animation of me winning, point allocation… Then that would be fine. Basically I don’t have the patience to catch all the monsters and then grind enough to get my team to a level where they can beat the monsters in the arena. Dan is currently trying to complete 100% of the game in his own playthrough and while I can appreciate how some may enjoy it, it’s not for me.

Now let’s talk about the final boss battles starting with Seymour “my-hair-looks-like-chopper-handlebars”. He is persistent I’ll give him that but his last boss battle was bullshit. Maybe I just got lucky with this or something but it seemed like the wheel things he was attached to (furthering the chopper theory) were supposed to move and change the elements he was attacking with every round but he just stuck with Firaga the whole time until I killed him. It was a bit disappointing. Then we have the battle with Jecht and I must say at this point, damn the boss battle music for that bit was so cool, plus he looked incredible. It was a shame that it was quite an easy battle. Same goes for the fight with the aeons and Yu Yevon. Plus they had made it so that you can’t die which took away any sort of risk. I did kind of appreciate it though because I had no intention of running through the time filler room between the last save point and Jecht where you have to collect ice balls and avoid running into ice shards again. That was a weird room. It also seemed like the boss battles were easier than a lot of previous battles. I had spent a lot of the game (under Dan’s almost manic strategic gaming style) getting to know all these different tactics, what to look out for, what should be equipped, etc but at the end it seems like they say “nah, don’t worry about all that, just go for it”.

Finally, you know I’m going to end my rant with Tidus. We finally get to Jecht after learning throughout the game, and through the Jecht spheres, about the sacrifice he makes and how he really does love his son, even though he’s a dick to him, Tidus has shown some character development around Jecht after finding his sphere message things… But being the arrogant douche canoe that he is Tidus McTwatwaffle ruins what could have been a nice moment at their reunion by telling his dad he hates him. I thought it had been established that he actually doesn’t and it’s obvious he doesn’t really, he just has a huge flair for the dramatic which Yuna, for some reason, seems to find attractive. You can do so much better than him Yuna, get it together girl. Oh, and also “this is my story” get to fuck Tidus, you self-absorbed prick, it is not your story. It is Yuna’s story. She is the one that had to summon all her aeon friends to be killed at the end, she is the one that lost both you and Auron on the same day, she is the one that was plot central, she did literally everything in that game and even when she got kidnapped she was like “I think not”, leaped off a building and flew to safety. She even outlasted Tidus so many times in battle, he was constantly dying. I honestly do not know why Tidus was dreamt up, was it just so that he could shout at Jecht during the boss battle to stop him from going into overdrive mode? Seems like it. I would much rather have played as Yuna throughout the game I think it would have made more sense.

Yuna
The real hero of this story

On to brighter things now; this game is absolutely beautiful, has some amazing voice acting, music, characters, monsters… It’s great, it really is. The story was also very good, what I could understand of it anyway, I had to keep double checking with Dan that what I thought was happening was actually happening but I often get lost when there’s a complicated plot so I think that’s more my fault than the game’s. I know that my ranting above has made it sound kind of bad but I enjoyed playing it. I will also admit that when Auron was sent a sneaky tear fell down my cheek and I had to take some deep breaths. So yes, I would highly recommend this game, I liked it and I will now consider Final Fantasy games more than I used to. I guess you could say that Final Fantasy X won’t be my final Final Fantasy game.

Once Dan and I have moved in together we’re going to play through FFX-2 which I know is meant to be bad but we’re going to approach it in a light hearted manner and not take it too seriously.

FF X2

To finish off this post I would like to ask my FF fan readers some questions about the FFX plot which I am still unsure about:

  • Is Yu Yevon the god that they have been worshipping all this time? Who or what is it? If it is the god they’ve been worshipping then why do they keep worshipping it afterwards in the epilogue?
  • Why doesn’t Yu Yevon just possess the dark aeons? Those things are crazy hard to kill. Can he not possess something unless it’s inside Sin?
  • Why was Seymour so set on marrying Yuna? Why did it have to be her? He could have chosen any summoner once she refused him, couldn’t he?

Starting to Like Final Fantasy…

Firstly, I’d just like to make my excuses for not posting much at the moment, just in case you were missing me! I have been dedicating a lot of my free time to finishing my Comic Con costume, there seems to be an endless line of things I can do to improve it, it’s very nearly finished though which is just as well as the event is this Saturday! Brace yourselves for some Comic Con related posts next week.

Being super busy I haven’t had a lot of time to game much recently but over the weekend I took a little break and played some more Final Fantasy X. Yes, not given up on it! In fact, it is finally time for me to begrudgingly admit something that I didn’t think I would, mainly because it will give my other half an excuse to throw more of these types of games at me, *deep breath* I like Final Fantasy X. To the point where I am now playing it willingly rather than my boyfriend suggesting it as an activity, and am considering playing some of the side quest bits too (capturing all the monsters for the Monster Arena in particular). You may remember me talking about my bf introducing me to it before and me being a little on the fence about it, particularly because of my general aversion to turn-based games. Well apparently I’m nearly at the end of the game now! There are things that still annoy me about it though and if my bf was not going through it with me then I probably wouldn’t have continued with it, but now I’m too attached to the storyline and the characters to quit.

In my previous post I had said that Lulu and Kimahri were my favourites but I have to rescind half of that statement, particularly after realising just how shit Kimahri is. I still like him as a character but despite my best attempts to level him up he is just dead weight really. There was a point –SPOILERS- (when Seymour first comes back from the dead, or whatever it is that he is now, and Kimhari stays behind to hold him off while everyone runs) where my other half said “it’s a shame that when you run back to help he’ll be dead” and convinced me that he had been killed and that there’s a really sad scene coming up where all the other characters hold a funeral for him. If you have played this you know that this is of course not true, but it made so much sense for that to happen and explains why he’s such a dead weight in battle that I believed it and got prematurely upset – much to my other half’s amusement.

I’m going to indulge a little bit of ranting about Tidus as well (or Clut, as I have called him – best name ever, it suits him perfectly), he’s lucky he’s quick on his feet and can cast some white magic because there is literally no other reason to keep him around other than that. Over my weekend playthrough he died time and time again, “oh shit, the weird flan thing’s attacking… of course it’s attacking Clut… Oh and he’s dead… Again”. I am not keen on him as a character either, he makes me cringe when he says stuff because he’s trying to be the “cool” character and then there’s the “I hate my father” thing aka Daddy Issues: The Game.

Auron: “When I was on my previous pilgrimage with Lord Braska and Jecht-“

Tidus: *Bursts through the wall* “Did someone say Jecht?!”

Auron: “oh no…”

Tidus: “HE WAS NOT A GOOD FATHER, I HATE HIM, I HOPE HE DIES BUT NOT REALLY BECAUSE I DON’T REALLY HATE HIM, OR DO I? WHAT DO I EVEN KNOW ABOUT ANYTHING? YUNA, DO YOU FANCY ME YET????”

Tidus and Yuna
“Wow Yuna… That bird is far away…”

Anyway that’s my ranty bits out the way, let’s focus on the positive stuff…

  1. Rikku is awesome, even though she doesn’t hit very hard she’s really useful anyway, I’ve actually put her on Auron’s grid at the moment so while she’s still not doing over 1000 points of damage yet she will soon be hitting super hard. I have got her down as a potential future cosplay too. I have a thing for quirky, girly but tough characters.
  2. Auron looks like Jeff Goldblum. Enough said.

    auron-final-fantasy-x-jeff-goldblum
    Obviously I’m not the first person to think this
  3. The Aeon summoning was something I never really understood in other FF games because they don’t really do that much damage. There’s a huge, cinematic build up you have to sit through and then they take off a disappointing amount of HP, you might as well have just killed the thing yourself in the time it takes for the aeons to actually be summoned and do their visually impressive attacks. In X though their presence makes sense to me because you only have one character that can summon them, and that character is basically a white mage so it makes sense that she can summon something to help her out as she isn’t usually used to attack. Also they actually deal some pretty sweet damage in this one! Unfortunately I don’t think they kept this idea in any of the following games though.
  4. Finally, I actually know what’s going on! Before this the only one I properly finished was XIII and while I enjoyed it I would never be able to tell you what the hell was happening. There was a girl called Serah (or SERAAAAAAAAAAH!!! As her boyfriend pronounced it) who was imprisoned in a crystal and we were going to save her then some Australians appeared and… euuuh… Shit went down and they saved the world? No clue but it was super pretty. I have attempted to play some others as well and the plot always loses me pretty quickly. I would say that it’s a sign that I should pay more attention but I don’t really have this issue with other games.

So where am I now? (SPOILERS ahead FYI) Well I’ve just discovered that Clut/Tidus is actually a dream (why they would dream up that dude as their saviour I do not know, maybe that’s why he hates Jecht so much, Jecht actually looks capable of doing some badass shit where as Clut/Tidus forgot half his trouser leg and the front of his shirt) and Seymour is sort of drifting around being a pain in the arse. Apparently this means I’m quite close to the end. I was hoping the game would last a bit longer actually so that I could make Rikku fully badass before the end but I’m not sure that’s going to happen, although I’m sure that I can do it if I finish all the sidequests. I feel like other FF games lasted longer, not that I have a huge amount of experience with them but XIII seemed to go on for ages and I played through a lot of XII but didn’t get to the end. It’s probably because my other half has been telling me how to play and what to do so I got through it quicker rather than running around exploring and putting more time and effort into grinding, which is what I usually do.

Once X is over, my other half and I are going to play FF X-2 together, he’s not looking forward to it, looking just at the outfits alone on the cover (why is Rikku in a bikini thong thing?? And Yuna seems to have abandoned her lovely kimono outfit in favour of some booty shorts and a crop top, which I have no problem with but it seems a little out of character for her…) I’m a little bemused as well but you never know, it might be fun!

FF X2

What’s your favourite Final Fantasy game? Now that I’m open to suggestions on the JRPG front what would you recommend?

Gaming With Style

As you may or may not know I have been playing through Final Fantasy X with my boyfriend (if you don’t know then read about it here!), and in our most recent session, he told me how much it frustrates him to watch me play. This is because, while we have both agreed that we are equally skilled at gaming (when I say “equally skilled” I of course mean that I am way better than he is), we have very different ways of playing: I like to explore, have some fun with it, not take it too seriously, use every character equally, and try things out for myself without always knowing what’ll happen. Once I have finished the game and know what is effective, and if I liked the game enough, I’ll play through it again in a more power-centred, effective manner. He prefers to immediately identify the optimal build for his chosen characters, stick to a solid plan throughout the game, and turn that team into an efficient powerhouse (to the neglect of all other characters).

In the case of FFX, I recently recruited Rikku (who is fast becoming my favourite character by the way) and I was changing the party formation round a lot so that she could get a hit in at the beginning of the battle (to gain some experience before being swapped out for someone stronger). This was apparently frustrating at times because I could make the game go faster by simply focusing on three already-powerful core characters (i.e. Yuna, Auron and Tidus, in his opinion). I get that my way makes the grinding go on for longer, but I think it’s worth it to see what the less powerful ones can do later in the game, although my other half insists it’s not worth it. In FFXIII though, I really stuck with the weaker characters like Vanille and Hope, and they were hugely powerful at the end of my game so I think that my theory stands.

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My other half’s FF X team. This makes me angry.

Similar to our FF playing styles is Pokémon. He will focus on a couple of main Pokémon throughout the main quest, only working on filling his Pokédex once the Elite Four lie broken at his feet. On the other hand, I will try to level up my whole team equally and if I catch a Pokémon that I think sounds interesting I’ll try it out for a while and see what they’re like. This means that in PvP situations, I’m usually at a huge disadvantage over other players, which I do find a little frustrating, but I don’t play PvP that often and I get emotionally attached to my team so I don’t want to put them in the PC prison. It would be like a Pokémon Breeder taking on a Cool Trainer if I were to battle my boyfriend. You can tell that we’re a cool couple by how we’ve assigned ourselves Pokémon trainer types – actually, he wants it known that I designated him Cool Trainer. I may never hear the end of that.

pokemon team
Here’s my Pokémon team (all nicknamed for the Nuzlocke challenge) you can see that they are all just about the same level, except for Binch who is levelling

For a nice visual comparison to really demonstrate my point, we both played Stardew Valley recently. He’s a little ahead of me but not by that much so it’s a pretty accurate comparison. Here is my farm (aka Awesomeness Farm):

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And here is his farm:

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So as you can see I didn’t focus that much on the money making, or optimal farm spacing. I wasn’t too fussed, I was busy cooing over my animals and experimenting with hats (there’s a mouse that sells hats! Why not?!), and I’m never actually left needing money desperately at this point anyway. I do plan on starting a new game soon where I will focus more on optimising my farm (not to the pixel perfect degree of his farm; I am too impatient to do that) because now I know what to do and how to do it, and which parts of the game I enjoy the most, I can jump straight to it. I know that there is a sort of endgame ‘finale’ after three in-game years which varies depending on how well your farm has done, but that doesn’t affect your playthrough in any meaningful way, just your pride if you take it to heart. You can carry on with the game afterwards just like before, so personally I don’t see a reason to get so mad over tactics.

When I first realised what type of gamer he was, I thought that this might be him obsessing over the game for bragging rights – i.e. being able to say things like “I have over a million gold in Stardew Valley!” or “I took out the final boss in FFX in two hits!” etc, and not actually enjoying playing the game. But talking with him about it, he assured me that that’s just the way he has fun, and he was struggling just as hard to understand how I found it fun taking the long way round and being so underpowered (until the end of the game at least).

So at the end of the day I suppose it doesn’t matter how you play a game as long as you enjoy it! Bit of an obvious moral, but sometimes it’s difficult not to be blindsided by your own playstyle.

We are actually thinking about recording a debate on this subject – voicing both sides of the issue for you all to read or listen to! – in what would surely start out as a light-hearted conversation, before almost certainly turning entertainingly heated as we become more and more passionate regarding the topic at hand. Let me know if you’d be interested in our bickering on gaming attitudes and play styles!

What’s your play style? Is there something about the way other gamers play that makes you angry?

 

My Struggle to Enjoy Final Fantasy

Here’s something about my gaming life which will horrify Final Fantasy fans. The only Final Fantasy games I have ever finished are FFIII on Nintendo DS and FFXIII (including part 2) on PS3. I have also played FFXII but never finished it. This post is by no means a dig at the FF series by the way – I think they are wonderful games, just not for me. This is more about my attempts to play them. I think the reason I never got into them was because the early games are turn-based and I find that very disruptive to the gameplay flow that I’m used to. The only turn-based games I ever play usually are Pokémon games. Also, I appreciate that they are heavily story based but I have no idea what is going on half the time and there are so many cinematic breaks it sometimes gets to the point where I feel like I’m watching a movie rather than playing a game.

Ff12cast
Despite being able to play as a sky pirate and an awesome rabbit lady I couldn’t get hooked

I don’t remember exactly how I came to have FFXIII. I played it during my first year of University and to be honest probably wouldn’t have continued with it but my flatmate was very keen on watching me play. We had some long-standing banter going on (to this day we will still yell “SERAAAAAAAH” at each other) and I would usually wait for her to be there to watch me play. It ended up being like watching a TV show together and we both got emotionally invested in it. I’m not really defending the game. I can recognise its faults, for example: I had absolutely no clue what was happening most of the time, the end was super disappointing, and in part 2 there was a really difficult battle with a giant tomato and that was just weird. It was a beautiful game though – the characters (particularly Fang, who was my favourite) were cool and at the end of the day I enjoyed it, and that’s the main thing, right?

When I told my boyfriend, who is a big FF fan, that the only game in the series that I’d ever finished was XIII (and its sequel, too no less), and that – the worst crime of all – I had ENJOYED it (*gasp*), he was horrified and couldn’t understand how I had made it through that but hadn’t played any better ones. Disgusted and appalled at my life choices, he tried to get me to play FFVIII which is his joint favourite of the series (tied with VII). To his dismay I was not a big fan, and got bored pretty quickly. I put this down to several factors. He was telling me what to do rather than let me run around and enjoy myself (I totally get this though in his defence, it is so hard not to tell people what to do when you’re watching them play a game you love so much); I was immediately marched to the beach where I spent about 2 hours killing floating fish at an alarmingly slow pace, then I went to a cave and ploughed my way through it and the boss at the end with a cocky “Is that it?” attitude.

FF8

Another reason is that turn-based battling is so slow and unnatural to me. You stand there waiting for your stamina bar to finally charge so that your character can lunge forward then they have to stand there and just take whatever the enemy throws at them. There were times where it would just be the fish and Squall making uncomfortable eye contact for what seemed like hours before someone’s stamina bar finally filled up.

I was also not a fan of the complicated menu sorting, I’m sure this gets better as you get more used to the game but I found it hard to understand what it was I needed to do and what meant what.

I was dealing with all this by supplying running commentary and taking the piss out of the game. I figured that if I did that then it would help me to enjoy it more, like I had done with XIII, but my other half was not a fan of me laughing at the sometimes awkwardly-translated dialogue and taking the piss out of everything – apparently doing that sort of thing to beloved, nostalgic games is not funny (it totally is). This made stuff a bit awkward when he told me I was rapidly changing his mind about playing FFVIII together and we continued playing in silence. We abandoned the playthrough shortly after completing the Fire Cavern, the silence was getting a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes being a gamer couple is hard.

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All was not lost though! We found a compromise in FFX (the remastered version). The battling system changed to active time battle, so while still not quite what I’m used to I found it to be more realistic, the story was more engaging, and the menu was better explained. Also my commentary and making fun of it did not cause offence, as it wasn’t as dear to my BF as FFVIII was. So far I have got as far as finishing the manic laughter scene, which was a bit bemusing but if that’s what you want to do to relieve some stress that’s fair enough. As with most protagonists Tidus (or Clut, as I called him) is a bit annoying but I like Kimahri and Lulu (he’s a Unicorn Lion and she’s down to earth with an epic cloak – that may seem shallow but I haven’t seen much of their personalities yet.)

FFX

Doubtless I’ll have more to say about FFX when I’ve played some more of it and gotten hooked on the story. To be continued!

Finally, question for FF fans: which fantasy is the final one?