Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rantings from the Yellow Bird - Final Fantasy and What Squeenix Is Doing Wrong

Yeah I kinda been ignoring this blog for a bit, mostly cuz of other things and the fact I forgot I had it. Anyways figured to use it for it's real purpose - to rant. And these are just personal opinions, some influenced by others. I will be posting a usual rant about something I don't like in video games or anything related like movies, music, and general things in every day life. I figured the first rant would be most appropriate to be Final Fantasy related, as I love that series to death, but with love comes much hatred with it sometimes as well, and I got a few bones to pick with Square-Enix (who I call Squeenix).

First and foremost, if you haven't seen the Final Fantasy Retrospective on Gametrailers, I suggest doing so immediately as you will see where I am coming from with this. Second, my top 5 fave games of the series are as follows: IV, VII, XII, IX, and I. I started out in the series with FFVI (known as FFIII on the SNES), and I have played every game within the core series while keeping up with the side games and sequels at a steady pace (thought it is difficult when games are Japanese only, but I do my best).

Final Fantasy has, and always will be Squeenix's testing ground for new things that will eventually stay within the series, or be completely ditched (see FFII's leveling system). However as the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, why fix it?". Let me jump right in with FFXIII, and why it isn't a Final Fantasy. It's not. Yeah there are Chocobos, and subtle FF references, but on top of that, it to me was not FF game. It was straight up sci-fi/modern world that was a huge sidestep from the medieval/fantasy themes that the past games had. Although FFVII and FFVIII did get away with this, but they kept other FF staples which pinned them to the genre. My personal bias on FF games is that they should comprise of what FF is, and it has to be more than just using the name as it's moniker (see Spirit's Within). Final Fantasy is a fantasy game, set in a fantasy world similar to something out of Hyrule or Middle Earth with some Steampunk thrown in to make it more industrialized than it should. The first six games, IX, XI and XII did just that while X took a different spin on it, but nevertheless stuck to the original recipe. Those were the games I grew up with. As I said, VII and VIII took their worlds to be an offshoot of modern day earth, but they did it right and Square (at the time SquareSoft) immediately reminded us what FF was with IX following up. Ever since IX, I been wanting a game that goes back to its roots with that nostalgic feel. X was different XI nailed it, but because it is online, I never was able to get the full advantage of it and I hate online games. XII somewhat got it, but it wasn't what I was looking for (although the game was much a great tribute to FF games as it made the most references like IX). XIII was not my cup of tea. The only thing I did like about the game was the Paradigm system (but that is a gameplay aspect which I may delve into later). XIV was what I was hoping for, but with the knowledge of it being online, I turned my back on it immediately. However my wish was granted by Squeenix when they released The 4 Heroes of Light, which ironically enough is a spinoff and not a core game in the series (and even lacked the traits of what FF is like Chocobos and Moogles).

With each new game cuz new gameplay aspects for the series. II introduced an interesting leveling system (but was dropped), III had summons and job system, IV brought the Active Time Battle system, V played more on the job system while VI played differently with magic and gameplay. VII had Materia, VIII had Junctioning and the Draw System, IX was similar to VI, X had conditional turn based battle system and Sphere Grid, XI was fuckin online, and XII had Gambits, License Board and active dimension battle system. XIII had the Paradigm system, and I that is what I liked about the game. Paradigm system was basically a refined Job system, and not a far cry of what X-2 did. The Job system is what Square did right, but they don't use it as often as they should (only present in III, V, X-2, and Tactics).

But as my friend said, a true FF fan will play through the shitty games to get to the good ones. And I played them. Because the outcome was 4 Heroes of Light and Dissidia. Dissidia is an FF fans wet dream, with their fave protagonists and antagonists duking it out, and it actually develops the plot and background further for the game that started it all: Final Fantasy I.

But I digress. The point I am making is that Squeenix needs to stop testing new shit for newcomers. Because newcomers won't understand why an FF game is medieval (when it' predecessor was futuristic). It confuses the hell out of them (see the transition from VII to IX). And when the newcomers like the new shit, than Squeenix will stick with it and that is what I am afraid of. Hopefully FFXV will not disappoint.