Old vs. New: Final Fantasies vs. Final Fantasy XIII (Part Two)

Posted by Mento (2419 posts) -

Welcome to the second part of this sort-of introspective of the Final Fantasy series (the first part being around here somewhere). Like all good self-respecting article-writing guys, I'm going to direct you towards a far superior, more in-depth look at the series written by SMPS (and occasional HG101) contributor Pat/Pitchfork. It's right here and a great read and I've tried not to mimic it too much. Probably.
 
Onwards!
 

On t3h Cyberpunkz (In MY Fantasy RPG? It's More Likely Than You Think) (FF7)

A worrying trend in FF games, starting with FF7 (though one could make a similar case for the steampunkish FF6) is having all these futuristic trappings alongside the mages and moogles. Something about getting all your "you must go to cave for item to defeat the darkness" fetch quests via Mog Twitter or CactuarBook just seems malapropos, and characters with swords are completely ridiculous in a world full of automatic weapons and flying attack drones, even if those swords are also guns somehow.

Because FF13 is a Final Fantasy game made after FF7, it too has an all-too-modern setting for its Logan Run-esque hapless mortals to amuse themselves in as their caretakers plot their demise. They even start with a similar "rebels on a train" sequence for Jenova's sake! And then a scorpion robot! I guess this counts as throwing a bone to all those FF7 fanboys crying out for a HD remake.
 
Maybe I shouldn't be too hard on FF13 for this. It's not like there aren't many modern games where your characters can hit solid metal robots with sticks to brutal effect (sup Enslaved). But I am a little annoyed they turned all the bombs into gamer dice because "the future".
 

On Dramatis Personae (FF8)

So here's where the similarities really start to stack up. Almost every character in FF13 has an analogous member in FF8's lineup of whiny schoolchildren. Maybe they all came from the same orphanage but forgot, huh? So in no particular order:

Lightning = Squall

Voted in unanimously as party leader, despite being a misanthropic loner with very little affection for anyone under their care. Sure, why wouldn't that make sense. Maybe it's because they both have swords that fire bullets? Like that's Final Fantasy's version of holding the conch shell? Both go through the sort of cutesy-poo "daww they're human, really" development where they'll go from grimacing and never saying a full sentence to anyone to except to call them a dumbass, to smiling occasionally.

Snow = Seifer

This could go either way between a Seifer or Zell match. Like Zell, he's a good-natured dumbass who punches things instead of picking up a gun like a smart person. Like Seifer, he's a romance-obsessed douche with a dumb white trenchcoat. Considering Snow starts mildly antagonistic, with a couple of cohorts in the form of an androgynous "one of the guys" gal and a butch surfer type, he strikes me as a Seifer-esque "I'm not a bad guy but my opinions are different" dipshit. Sorry Snow. No, wait, I'm not.

Sazh = Zell
So that makes Mr Comic Relief guy (when he isn't trying to suicide himself) Sazh our Zell ersatz. Ersazh. Heheheh. Sazh is actually a pretty cool dude, whose early prowess as a Synergist made him kind of useful, before he spent the rest of his early chapters as a Commando guarding little Miss Glass Cannon. Zell isn't useful at all, unless the enemy is made out of hot dogs. Durger-murder aside, Zell has a horribly exploitable limit break attack (oh, so like all the other horribly broken limit breaks in that game) and not much else going for him. OH MAN indeed.

Vanille = Selphie

Cut out the sugar, ladies, you'll give yourselves diabetes. See how endlessly perky you are after losing a foot.

Jihl Nabaat = Quistis

The calm, collected chick with the glasses. A riding crop you use to hit people with isn't a million miles away from a whip, either. Aw hell, they're the exact same character, only they made FF13's Quistis pure evil for some reason. Maybe Franziska von Karma and the Baroness convinced them that haughty types wielding dominatrix weapons are traditionally villains? When a good guy comes around, they must whip it. Whip it good.

Fang = Edea

Another character that begins as an antagonist, swooping in with the enemy's militia to beat some sense into your characters. Of course, the truth is far more complicated, and at one point they both become playable and are hilariously broken to boot. But then you get to keep Fang and it's like "oh, sweet".

Hope = ?

Man, it's just as well no-one in FF8 is as whiny as Hope. That game had enough problems. Hope's FF8 equivalent can be the Card Queen because I hope they both die in a fire for introducing the "Random" rule wherever I go. Or in Hope's case, for never shutting up. "Ooh, I'm sad my mom died. I'm too scared to jump over obstacles. I'm going to stab pubebeard." Well then do it, you wuss. I'm convinced Operation Nora had something to do with attacking my sanity.
 

Barthandelus = Ultimecia

Stands to reason that both games would have a human-looking antagonist, introduced some 2/3 the way into the game, who later transforms into the same kind of giant angelic monstrosity you'd expect to see Bayonetta pounding down on with her hair beasties. This type of character isn't unique to either FF8 or FF13, sadly.
 

On Eidolons As Plot Devices (FF9)

Eidolons are what FF9 and FF13 call the summoned deity things that have become one of many FF trademarks. Unlike in many other FF games (well, except maybe 6), they're pretty integral to the plot and the development of the characters as well. In FF9 the Eidolons are pretty much the scary "destroy the world" McGuffins for the first half of the story until something shinier comes along for the flamboyant Kuja to wet himself over. In FF13, they're a series of really sadistic puzzle boss fights where you have to discern the correct approach to fighting them before they tear you to shreds for being too chickenshit to carry out your duties as some god machine's plaything. In either case, I never used them much after picking them up, choosing instead to stay focused on attack strategies that don't factor in overlong animations and stupid Transformers bullshit. Your mileage may vary.
 

On Linearity (FF10)

So when FF10 came out, a lot of derision was hurled at how every location on the map was essentially one long road from A to Z(anarkland) with monsters at various points. There was even an enterprising fellow setting up motorway service stations for you to chill out at for a while. Then you hit a big plain and the game seemed to open up a bit more before entering the final few dungeons. 
 
If you've played FF13, this all sounds pretty familiar no doubt. Except the linearity has, somehow, intensified in its one-track mentality. It might as well be a rail shooter. On top of a chocobo. " Chocobo's Safari". Needless to say, after being positively spoiled by FF12's massive and perhaps confusingly oblique playing field (not to mention those of WRPGs such as Fallout and Oblivion), this is what got the most flak in FF13's many negative critiques. It certainly stands out, but I guess it all depends on your predilection for extraneous exploration. A labyrinth, after all, is traditionally a single unerring path made complex by its many twists and turns.
 
I feel like history's greatest monster for trying to defend FF13's linearity. Moving on.

On Monthly Subscription Fees (FF11)

Oh wait, FFXIII doesn't have any, because it's a video game and not the Bacon of the Month Club. Which is a shame, because bacon is awesome.

On Hunting For Sport (FF12)

So FFXIII's singular side-mission is this huge meta-game about hunting monsters to help out dead people for fabulous prizes (either from the monsters or the dead people, it's not clear). This is pretty much identical to FFXII's meta-game; simply an excuse to squeeze in boss fight after boss fight. I'm not too far into it yet, so I don't know if FFXIII will pull another Yiazmat, but it probably will. An optional super-boss battle isn't fun unless it takes one full orbit of Mercury to complete.
 

On The Future of Final Fantasy (FF??)

Short version: There's going to be more of these. Not just more Final Fantasies, more Final Fantasy XIIIs. We need to spin this baby off until people hate it even more, then maybe make a Tower Defense game on the 3DS to seal the deal. It's not a particularly encouraging strategy. It seems these days they can't simply shrug off the less well received ones and try something different again for the next installment. Except they did and it's another frickin' MMO, so maybe we can stick around with this one a bit longer. 13's a lucky number, right?
Moderator
#1 Posted by Mento (2419 posts) -

Welcome to the second part of this sort-of introspective of the Final Fantasy series (the first part being around here somewhere). Like all good self-respecting article-writing guys, I'm going to direct you towards a far superior, more in-depth look at the series written by SMPS (and occasional HG101) contributor Pat/Pitchfork. It's right here and a great read and I've tried not to mimic it too much. Probably.
 
Onwards!
 

On t3h Cyberpunkz (In MY Fantasy RPG? It's More Likely Than You Think) (FF7)

A worrying trend in FF games, starting with FF7 (though one could make a similar case for the steampunkish FF6) is having all these futuristic trappings alongside the mages and moogles. Something about getting all your "you must go to cave for item to defeat the darkness" fetch quests via Mog Twitter or CactuarBook just seems malapropos, and characters with swords are completely ridiculous in a world full of automatic weapons and flying attack drones, even if those swords are also guns somehow.

Because FF13 is a Final Fantasy game made after FF7, it too has an all-too-modern setting for its Logan Run-esque hapless mortals to amuse themselves in as their caretakers plot their demise. They even start with a similar "rebels on a train" sequence for Jenova's sake! And then a scorpion robot! I guess this counts as throwing a bone to all those FF7 fanboys crying out for a HD remake.
 
Maybe I shouldn't be too hard on FF13 for this. It's not like there aren't many modern games where your characters can hit solid metal robots with sticks to brutal effect (sup Enslaved). But I am a little annoyed they turned all the bombs into gamer dice because "the future".
 

On Dramatis Personae (FF8)

So here's where the similarities really start to stack up. Almost every character in FF13 has an analogous member in FF8's lineup of whiny schoolchildren. Maybe they all came from the same orphanage but forgot, huh? So in no particular order:

Lightning = Squall

Voted in unanimously as party leader, despite being a misanthropic loner with very little affection for anyone under their care. Sure, why wouldn't that make sense. Maybe it's because they both have swords that fire bullets? Like that's Final Fantasy's version of holding the conch shell? Both go through the sort of cutesy-poo "daww they're human, really" development where they'll go from grimacing and never saying a full sentence to anyone to except to call them a dumbass, to smiling occasionally.

Snow = Seifer

This could go either way between a Seifer or Zell match. Like Zell, he's a good-natured dumbass who punches things instead of picking up a gun like a smart person. Like Seifer, he's a romance-obsessed douche with a dumb white trenchcoat. Considering Snow starts mildly antagonistic, with a couple of cohorts in the form of an androgynous "one of the guys" gal and a butch surfer type, he strikes me as a Seifer-esque "I'm not a bad guy but my opinions are different" dipshit. Sorry Snow. No, wait, I'm not.

Sazh = Zell
So that makes Mr Comic Relief guy (when he isn't trying to suicide himself) Sazh our Zell ersatz. Ersazh. Heheheh. Sazh is actually a pretty cool dude, whose early prowess as a Synergist made him kind of useful, before he spent the rest of his early chapters as a Commando guarding little Miss Glass Cannon. Zell isn't useful at all, unless the enemy is made out of hot dogs. Durger-murder aside, Zell has a horribly exploitable limit break attack (oh, so like all the other horribly broken limit breaks in that game) and not much else going for him. OH MAN indeed.

Vanille = Selphie

Cut out the sugar, ladies, you'll give yourselves diabetes. See how endlessly perky you are after losing a foot.

Jihl Nabaat = Quistis

The calm, collected chick with the glasses. A riding crop you use to hit people with isn't a million miles away from a whip, either. Aw hell, they're the exact same character, only they made FF13's Quistis pure evil for some reason. Maybe Franziska von Karma and the Baroness convinced them that haughty types wielding dominatrix weapons are traditionally villains? When a good guy comes around, they must whip it. Whip it good.

Fang = Edea

Another character that begins as an antagonist, swooping in with the enemy's militia to beat some sense into your characters. Of course, the truth is far more complicated, and at one point they both become playable and are hilariously broken to boot. But then you get to keep Fang and it's like "oh, sweet".

Hope = ?

Man, it's just as well no-one in FF8 is as whiny as Hope. That game had enough problems. Hope's FF8 equivalent can be the Card Queen because I hope they both die in a fire for introducing the "Random" rule wherever I go. Or in Hope's case, for never shutting up. "Ooh, I'm sad my mom died. I'm too scared to jump over obstacles. I'm going to stab pubebeard." Well then do it, you wuss. I'm convinced Operation Nora had something to do with attacking my sanity.
 

Barthandelus = Ultimecia

Stands to reason that both games would have a human-looking antagonist, introduced some 2/3 the way into the game, who later transforms into the same kind of giant angelic monstrosity you'd expect to see Bayonetta pounding down on with her hair beasties. This type of character isn't unique to either FF8 or FF13, sadly.
 

On Eidolons As Plot Devices (FF9)

Eidolons are what FF9 and FF13 call the summoned deity things that have become one of many FF trademarks. Unlike in many other FF games (well, except maybe 6), they're pretty integral to the plot and the development of the characters as well. In FF9 the Eidolons are pretty much the scary "destroy the world" McGuffins for the first half of the story until something shinier comes along for the flamboyant Kuja to wet himself over. In FF13, they're a series of really sadistic puzzle boss fights where you have to discern the correct approach to fighting them before they tear you to shreds for being too chickenshit to carry out your duties as some god machine's plaything. In either case, I never used them much after picking them up, choosing instead to stay focused on attack strategies that don't factor in overlong animations and stupid Transformers bullshit. Your mileage may vary.
 

On Linearity (FF10)

So when FF10 came out, a lot of derision was hurled at how every location on the map was essentially one long road from A to Z(anarkland) with monsters at various points. There was even an enterprising fellow setting up motorway service stations for you to chill out at for a while. Then you hit a big plain and the game seemed to open up a bit more before entering the final few dungeons. 
 
If you've played FF13, this all sounds pretty familiar no doubt. Except the linearity has, somehow, intensified in its one-track mentality. It might as well be a rail shooter. On top of a chocobo. " Chocobo's Safari". Needless to say, after being positively spoiled by FF12's massive and perhaps confusingly oblique playing field (not to mention those of WRPGs such as Fallout and Oblivion), this is what got the most flak in FF13's many negative critiques. It certainly stands out, but I guess it all depends on your predilection for extraneous exploration. A labyrinth, after all, is traditionally a single unerring path made complex by its many twists and turns.
 
I feel like history's greatest monster for trying to defend FF13's linearity. Moving on.

On Monthly Subscription Fees (FF11)

Oh wait, FFXIII doesn't have any, because it's a video game and not the Bacon of the Month Club. Which is a shame, because bacon is awesome.

On Hunting For Sport (FF12)

So FFXIII's singular side-mission is this huge meta-game about hunting monsters to help out dead people for fabulous prizes (either from the monsters or the dead people, it's not clear). This is pretty much identical to FFXII's meta-game; simply an excuse to squeeze in boss fight after boss fight. I'm not too far into it yet, so I don't know if FFXIII will pull another Yiazmat, but it probably will. An optional super-boss battle isn't fun unless it takes one full orbit of Mercury to complete.
 

On The Future of Final Fantasy (FF??)

Short version: There's going to be more of these. Not just more Final Fantasies, more Final Fantasy XIIIs. We need to spin this baby off until people hate it even more, then maybe make a Tower Defense game on the 3DS to seal the deal. It's not a particularly encouraging strategy. It seems these days they can't simply shrug off the less well received ones and try something different again for the next installment. Except they did and it's another frickin' MMO, so maybe we can stick around with this one a bit longer. 13's a lucky number, right?
Moderator
#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (35842 posts) -

It's nice to see that I'm not the only one who got FF7 flashbacks during FF13. Hell, they both followed the same path of quality: didn't like it, at first, then it became kinda OK, then one mini- game made things awesome. Also, twist deaths that carry no potency whatsoever.

Online
#3 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11423 posts) -

I dunno, I think that the cyberpunkization of Final Fantasy, while technically the starting point of me not really caring, is a much more interesting visual aesthetic than the otherwise generic chocobo/moogle fantasy that encompassed most of the earlier games. Then again, that's kind of all that they do now in terms of visual aesthetic, which along with the way a lot of Nomura designed characters look the same leads to a lot of the criticism of rehash. It's a vicious cycle, isn't it?

#4 Posted by vasylkoB317 (57 posts) -

I used to love this series in my early teens. But now looking back and forward I have no clue what the appeal is. I want to like it but I'm completely off put by it. Maybe its the cultural disconnect, but then again I still love the persona series and for some reason the characters in those games are much more relate-able...and like-able for that matter. 

#5 Edited by Cornman89 (1579 posts) -

Talking about FFXIII never puts me in a good place, emotionally, so I'll just say that I think Pitchfork is a remarkably talented writer. I wish half the people on this board could express their opinions so precisely.
 
Oh, and Hope = Shinji Ikari. Duh.

#6 Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG (4307 posts) -

ive never played an actual final fantasy game.  those kind of games never really appealed to me.  im still at the last boss of kingdom hearts and i gave up after the first time i died.  im really not interested enough to actually try to finish it.  i played crisis core for a 100 hours though.  Zack is a more likable character than Cloud in my eyes

#7 Posted by Skald (4366 posts) -

After six I just kind of stopped caring, so I don't have much to add. I'll just say that going from the combat in twelve to thirteen seemed to be a bit of a step backwards.

#8 Posted by niamahai (1404 posts) -

Great article. 
 
Curious to see how 15 and above goes. 
or maybe 13 sideways. 
 
is the time now to make FF have DMC-esque character action combat? 
the WRPGs seems to be going that route (more "action" gameplay)

Online
#9 Posted by Shadow (4977 posts) -

I absolutely love Final Fantasy 13, and more than any of the ones before it.  I wholeheartedly welcome more of that.

#10 Posted by gla55jAw (2685 posts) -

Another great article Mento. I'm just still trying to figure out you're thoughts on Final Fantasy. From the looks of it you don't like any of them haha. And while I can see some similarities between the FF VIII and XIII characters, I would say other than Snow and Seifer (which I thought too when I played XIII), they're pretty different characters.

#11 Posted by Mento (2419 posts) -
@Video_Game_King:  Yeah, a lot of shades of FF7. Stands to reason, given its still their magnum opus for most people and the introduction to the series for many more. The city parts of Cocoon had an interesting mix of dirty Midgar slums and shiny, opaque floaty platform utopia of FF8's Esthar. I dunno if I had the same epiphany about the two games that you did, but I guess they can both be said to share a kind of "long tutorial" between the starting cutscenes and when you have full control over things (Leaving Midgar/Becoming l'Cie).
 
@ArbitraryWater: This is probably what it is. When FF7 introduced it, it was kind of a "well Midgar (and Junon) got this advanced because they're dicks to the planet whereas everywhere else is simple farming land and old-school buildings". It was a neat dichotomy. But every FF game since has had at least one futuristic setting and now it's just a given that everyone does the email and robots thing and it's kind of flogging a dead centaur robot. It made no sense whatsoever in Crystal Bearers, for example.
 
@vasylkoB317: Persona is way better with the character development. Helps they're all presented as real people instead of archetypes. I think it might also be a demographic/age thing, with Persona shooting for adults (or older teens) and FF for pretty much as many people as possible.
 
@Cornman89: I won't lie, seeing Hope's dad show up and be identical looking to Gendo Ikari definitely doesn't hurt that comparison. But it turns out he's an okay dude and Hope is just whiny about his dad for absolutely no reason. Pfft, teenagers, right? (N.B. Hope is a terrible character)
Moderator
#12 Posted by Mento (2419 posts) -
@the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG: Kingdom Hearts was worth beating so you could see the lead-in to Kingdom Hearts 2. This is what I believed before Kingdom Hearts 2. I got proven wrong. Dead wrong. Also I'm with you on Zack. There's a reason Cloud started imitating the guy (SPOILERS?!).

@extremeradical:  I think the combat in FF12 was too unfavorably compared to an MMO instead of an actual Final Fantasy game. Careful what you wish for, I guess. If anything, I consider FF13's system a suitable amalgam of FF's old and busted "transition screen > turn-based fight" and FF12's "let the game basically play itself".

@niamahai: Surely "13" sideways is kitty Geordi LaForge? The DMC real-time stuff seems to be picked up by their spin-offs more and more often (Crisis Core, Dissidia and Kingdom Hearts). It's not quite all crazy combos and byzantine mechanics yet (besides Dissidia) but they well might abandon the true turn-based stuff after this.

@Shadow: Probably in the minority there, friend. But it's not as terrible a game as I was led to believe.

@gla55jAw:  Well, I've played all of the core ones (besides the MMOs of course) and several of the spin-offs, so I wouldn't do that if I hated them. But I sort of am getting weary of the series' lesser qualities repeating endlessly. Pretty much the only reason I try each new one is because they tend to play around with core gameplay features, instead of just simply adding a new story or setting like so many other sequels in franchises do (Zelda, while a favorite, hasn't exactly changed much since its inception).
Moderator
#13 Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG (4307 posts) -
@Mento: 
i have a copy of 2 at my house....  do u think i should even bother beating the first one?  i feel like i need to level up before i go up against the last boss.  yeah Cloud is such a downer, i didnt really like him much.  he had to be all depressed and put the sword on the cliff and it rusted.  i guess the statement in Crisis Core that was thrown around a lot ("use causes wear and rust" or something like that) was meant to be ironic...
#14 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -

I've always thought that the sci-fi aspect of Final Fantasy, has been far more entrenched in the series that we tend to realize. 
 
Most people point toward Final Fantasy VII as the first prominent entry into the franchise that contained a sci-fi setting. At the same time, you rightfully bring up Final Fantasy VI as an entry that obviously showed sci-fi tendencies.
I think a lot of perception, toward the first view-point is simply because of the technicalities of the presentation. You stare at that one shot in Final Fantasy VI, with the airship crawling toward the city of Vector and you would swear you were looking at something that belonged in Final Fantasy VI.
 
I try and attempt to envision what some of the original Final Fantasy's would stylistically look like, if they too were free from sprites and having to rely on something clumsily called " Mode 7" for 3D. 
I think back to the airship, and some of the sci-fi elements way back in Final Fantasy IV. How would those concepts have been presented only a few years later? 
As for character-types/story arch's: There are far more combination's, or similarities between characters in that franchise that I care to think about. Every game defiantly shares similarity with one-another, even symbolically. There is defiantly a natural progression through-out the series. 
 
Small nit-pick: Sazh is similar to Zell? Defiantly having difficulty trying to picture that, as a similarity. Sazh's back-story and persona is far more fleshed out than Zell's. Placing him as the cookie-cutter comedy relief is difficult, especially later on in that story. 
Perhaps a better comparison could be Jansen? Although he's from Lost Odyssey...Although, let's be fair: Lost Odyssey is a Final Fantasy game :P

#15 Posted by Mento (2419 posts) -
@vidiot:  It's true, a sci-fi element has been present in quite a few JRPGs, usually in the form of some ancient civilization that wiped itself out with its technological hubris or some such. It's the case in Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana and maybe Final Fantasy IV if you consider the Lunarians as technological space-faring people (rather than magical like the Espers of FF6). I'm more referring to it being the standard setting that the characters all live in, rather than buried traces.
 
I'll admit I was stretching with Sazh/Zell though. Everyone else had a pretty close approximation, though the Snow/Seifer thing was mostly visual. I guess the similarity got subconsciously embedded after seeing Sazh hop around in his battle pose for the hundredth time. He's much more a Barret: Besides the obvious racial tie, they're both "old", fight for the sake of a child in their care and use guns in battle. Jansen's definitely a comic relief type, but more like Locke if anything: Easy-going (if a bit gripey) ladies man with a compassionate depth.
Moderator
#16 Posted by OppressiveStink (355 posts) -
@Mento:
 
I think the real common thread between the titles following 7, at least in my opinion, is the same malady that seems to be effecting almost every newly developed Square-Enix title.  Game design via marketers and focus groups.
 
I guess the best example of this would be Final Fantasy 12's main character swap near the end of development:  http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WhatCouldHaveBeen/VideoGames.  Some people contend this is why  Yasumi Matsuno quit work on the project.
 
This also goes on to explain why every game after Final Fantasy 7 has been an attempt at grasping that same momentum and why setting and characters have failed to change over the last decade of original Final Fantasy releases.
 
What final fantasy has failed to do, in my opinion, is have relateable characters in a believable setting.   It's been over ten years of emotionally vacant characters with no depth populating a sparse and barren world that offers little to no exploration. Titles of this genre can't afford to do something like that because they lack the emergent gameplay that makes people ignore these flaws in other games.
#17 Posted by Mento (2419 posts) -
@OppressiveStink:  Matsuno quitting FF12 was indeed a tragedy; both because it meant a much weaker product without his intelligent Machiavellian politics and conflicted protagonists, but also because of the schizophrenic mess that results when you replace the creative director halfway through a game's development. The article series I linked to goes more in depth as well. You aren't wrong about FF losing most of the creative momentum it once had. if it could find another of Matsuno's caliber to lead the next project, they'd have something to compete with all the Dragon Ages and Elder Scrolls, but I don't see it outselling those in our neck of the woods either way.
 
These days I'll admit I kinda play Final Fantasy games in spite of the story and characters, rather than because of them. A major downside, considering how much time is spent in cutscenes.
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