Fighting Final Fantasy IX Part 50-61: Help! I Think I'm Playing The "Wrong" Final Fantasy Game in 2016!

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Part 50: Honoring Tragedy With NOTHING!

At the conclusion of our last meeting, we witnessed the destruction of both the Burmecian and Cleyran civilizations. The horror was both visually striking and emotionally resonant. To depict the efforts of our party as being mostly in vain is a daring and respectable exercise on the part of Final Fantasy IX’s writing staff. What is less than commendable is how the succeeding scenes in the game play out. Just as the characters begin to grapple this senseless act of genocide the characters are on the deck of the Queen’s ship, and things play out like a Saturday morning cartoon. There they conveniently hide under a flight of stairs which allows them to overhear Beatrix openly question the decision making of the queen. Following this lead, our party ferrets their way to Queen Brahne who announces her intention to execute Garnet upon her return to Alexandria.

All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

If you have not already noticed, I am a stickler for tonal consistency in the narratives that I end up experiencing. I’m the old school wrestling mark, or hard science fiction elitist, who demands a certain structure or format to whatever I watch or play. Now admittedly I am a hypocrite from time to time, but for the most part, I am relatively consistent about maintaining that perspective. If a narrative must subject me to an action set piece, I am not above judging it by the merits of its spectacle. After the destruction of Cleyra much of Final Fantasy IX comes across as a spectacle like a Christopher Nolan film. The set pieces and scenarios are beyond superficial, but once you “accept” the spectacle you are in for a visually stunning affair that will not cease to amaze you.

This is the case here. The story has provided its characters with a focus point, save the princess from the evil queen, and what ensues latter is a raucous time. That said, I cannot help but feel like there’s this unshakable sense of artificiality. The economy of action is poorly spaced out, and the characterization feels uneven. Worse yet, once we exit Alexandria the characterization for two of our party members ceases to exist entirely. This leaves us in the dark as to how or why their perspectives morph over the course of the story, and this would have been a welcomed addition to the game. The characters that we do have the honor of watching change suddenly, and oftentimes only do so for the sake of the plot. Take for example Beatrix, whose sworn duty is to protect Alexandria at all cost. Her secondary duty, to protect Princess Garnet, only becomes a factor when the game wants it to. After the queen announces her intent to execute the princess Beatrix stands idly by as if nothing happened. Flash forward to Alexandria, and it appears she has awakened from her stupor, and realizes that murdering Garnet is a bad thing to do. Doesn’t anyone notice this, because I feel like I’m taking crazy pills?

This certainly is the best time to act like a child, Beatrix. Here's your medal for murdering thousands.
This certainly is the best time to act like a child, Beatrix. Here's your medal for murdering thousands.

The action also plays out in the most generic and prototypical manner possible. The characters, which are among the most wanted in the kingdom of Alexandria, are somehow able to get within a hair's breadth of the evil queen, and somehow DON’T decide to storm the deck and try to kill her. SHE HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR ORDERING THE MASSACRE OF TWO CIVILIZATIONS! WHY ARE WE NOT KILLING HER TO PREVENT FURTHER WAR CRIMES?!?! And how the FUCK did they not get caught sneaking up behind the queen in the first place? What is this, a Looney Tunes cartoon? Oh, and it turns out that the airship we are in uses a teleportation system that can send us immediately back to Alexandria! Why do we NEVER see this technology in any part of this world ever again?

No really, WHY ISN'T EVERYONE USING THIS TELEPORTATION SYSTEM?!
No really, WHY ISN'T EVERYONE USING THIS TELEPORTATION SYSTEM?!

However, this is all nitpicking for entertainment purposes. My real issue regarding Final Fantasy IX at this point is its narrative and mechanical structure. This is going to be a point I hammer home for the rest of this blog, but the game’s structure is unequivocally soul crushing. For the most part, I am entirely open minded to everything Final Fantasy IX attempts regarding its narrative. It is how the game transitions to its various story set pieces which will be the death of me.

Part 51: Oh Great! It’s A Timed Mission!

Eventually, we find ourselves in Alexandria but this time in control of Steiner and Marcus. Because you cannot spell “WASTED MY GODDAMNED TIME” without “pointless minigame,” we have to break them from their prison by swinging the cage they are in too and fro. Does anyone want to challenge my notion that the tone of the second disc is totally inconsistent? In one minute we are witnessing thousands of people being massacred, and in the next, we are playing a minigame with Steiner and Marcus.

At least this isn't snowboarding.
At least this isn't snowboarding.

The game’s exercise in mediocrity continues after Steiner manages to re-connect with Zidane. Upon doing so Zidane explains the situation to a skeptical Steiner and announces Queen Brahne’s arrival in thirty minutes. Honestly, if there’s one thing that gets my blood pumping it’s a timed mission.

How do you know that? Did you read the script?
How do you know that? Did you read the script?

Narratively the conceit behind this timed mission is understandable… but I still don’t like it. The player is ultimately thrust into a relatively new location and is expected to piece together what to do next. Throw in a few battles here and there and this gripping moment quickly becomes an exercise of one’s patience. To further compound my frustrations the queen’s palace has a multitude of rooms with multiple levels. It is possible that you, the player, decide to explore all the levels of an entire ward of the palace only to discover you are no closer to furthering the story than when you first started. This exact scenario happened to me TWICE.

So what exactly does the game want you to do? Well, I’m glad you asked because the answer is a bunch of random bullshit! First off, the game wants you to go to Garnet’s personal quarters, which might I add you have never been to nor know how to get to. There you have to locate the fireplace which was hiding a secret passageway to a torture dungeon near Garnet’s bed. I’m not lying about that last line:

It bears mentioning that this torture dungeon is BIGGER THAN GARNET’S ACTUAL ROOM!
It bears mentioning that this torture dungeon is BIGGER THAN GARNET’S ACTUAL ROOM!
Well apparently I’m trying to find a secret torture dungeon hidden next to a princess’s room.
Well apparently I’m trying to find a secret torture dungeon hidden next to a princess’s room.

You know what? Let me get back to you on that one. I’m going to go back to my parents’ house, and check out my old room. While there I’m going to knock on all the walls and closets to see if they have been hiding any torture dungeons behind my back. This shouldn’t take too long….

.

.

.

.

.

NOPE! THERE WAS NO SECRET TORTURE DUNGEON! SO I’M CALLING BULLSHIT ON THIS ENTIRE SCENARIO!

Part 52: Being By The Numbers, But With Charisma

After you reach the bowels of the torture dungeon the party immediately crosses paths with the doyennes of mediocrity, Zorn and Thorn. After the party dispatches Final Fantasy IX’s favorite B-tier villains the cast has a touching aside with Steiner. While there Steiner expresses total culpability for failing to properly protect Garnet, and the remaining cast members assure him that this is not the case. Zidane of all people refuses to chastise Steiner, and it is one of the better moments the two have. It is worth acknowledging that Steiner has treated Zidane with nothing but contempt for the entire game, and for Zidane to take the “high road” he is showing a great deal of maturity and character. You could even argue Steiner’s over emotional pleas and bellyaching are finally justified given the circumstances. It took the game twenty hours, but it has finally found a way to tie the character traits of the cast into the story without coming across as heavy-handed or pandering.

Huh... Steiner and Zidane suddenly became
Huh... Steiner and Zidane suddenly became "interesting" characters. Who would have guessed it?

Now there is one issue I want to bring up before moving on. Beatrix’s “face turn” does not work for me even at a superficial level. First, Beatrix’s characterization is seriously lacking, but the game still adds her to the party anyways. Lacking any form of substantive context Beatrix’s turn comes across as an event for the convenience of the plot. Time and time again Beatrix firmly established her unabashed loyalty to the country of Alexandria. So why is she only now ceasing to abide by such two-dimensional moralities? The queen declared her intent to execute Garnet on the airship, so why is Beatrix only now piecing together that the queen might be a wee bit insane? On a more fundamental level, I find Beatrix’s inclusion to the main cast to be beyond problematic. I say this on account of Beatrix being guilty of multiple counts of war crimes. Lacking any proper redress it appears as if the game wants the player to completely forget the destruction of Cleyra for the sake of Beatrix and Steiner “hooking up.”

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU FUCKING TALKING ABOUT?! YOU WERE RIGHT THERE WHEN SHE SAID THAT!
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU FUCKING TALKING ABOUT?! YOU WERE RIGHT THERE WHEN SHE SAID THAT!

For goodness' sake, the first direct interaction Zidane has with Beatrix involves her boasting having killed thousands of soldiers with her own hands. Whether you believe Beatrix is “interesting” in how she will relate to Steiner is one thing, but you cannot look back on what we witnessed at Burmecia and tell me her hands are clean. I understand during times of war everyone loses a bit of their humanity, but that’s an excuse and nothing more. At no point do we witness Beatrix in turmoil over her conduct at Burmecia and Cleyra, and what little turmoil we do see is far from sufficient. It is as if the scope of those scenes is being applied selectively, and in turn weakens the message and impact of those scenes. Lacking any ethos, Beatrix’s inclusion is simply irresponsible on the part of the writing.

This quibble aside the breezy storytelling is what manages to motivate me to continue playing Final Fantasy IX. All my points prevent the storytelling from being entirely successful, but it is far from being crippled beyond repair. The race to transport Garnet out of Alexandria is another example of the game providing an interesting “spectacle” that works once you turn off the logic centers of your brain. There’s also a true sense of stakes as you attempt to accomplish your mission swiftly, and it bears mentioning how this is done so without the inclusion of a timer. Steiner's decision to remain at Alexandria and the succeeding scenes feel far more impactful than their actual mechanical execution. When you stop and think about it, the return to Treno is mechanically ho-hum, but it is the pacing and storytelling that elevates the scene beyond its superficial patchwork.

A patchwork that also includes fighting poodles with Beatrix.
A patchwork that also includes fighting poodles with Beatrix.

Part 53: Who Thought It Was A Good Idea To Put A “Tutorial Level” On Disc Two?

Now let’s talk about that superficial patchwork because the next two set pieces are a BUNCH OF BULLCRAP! Admittedly, the narrative starts off on a good note. Zidane appears to finally engage in a screed with Garnet without being the sexist ass that he normally is. Indeed, I would argue a vast majority of Zidane’s dialogue, before the party reaches Pinnacle Rock that is, depicts the level of humanity and maturity that I have been begging the game to provide his character.

One of the most impressive
One of the most impressive "spells" in Final Fantasy IX is Zidane magically losing the ability to talk to Garnet respectfully

Then Final Fantasy IX realizes it is a video game. The problem here is the “video game” portions for the next four to five hours are unbelievably contrived. The most notable example of this is Pinnacle Rock, which happens to be Final Fantasy IX’s tutorial level for its summoning system. Here we are cursed with mountains of expositional text which does NOTHING to progress the story. At Pinnacle Rock our party is graced by the mystical Ramuh who wishes for the party to prove their mettle before he joins them. What the game subjects you to next is a glorified version of hide-and-seek. That is honestly what happened… this is what my life has come to. Hide-and-MOTHERFUCKING-SEEK!

This drivel even starts with
This drivel even starts with"Once upon a time..." This is a true Sisyphean torment.

You mean to honestly tell me there was no alternative way to convey this information to the audience? Running around in circles, trying to find this random bozo, is the best way to introduce the summoning system? Am I to assume the developers were ignorant of better alternatives to this inane bullshit? Otherwise, we can only assume that the developers got lazy and threw in this slapdash bullshit mission because they did not give a fuck. I do not know which is worse. That the developers suddenly became incompetent, or they gave zero fucks about entertaining their audience. You tell me!

Every encounter you have with Ramuh results in the game subjecting you to pages of expositional text that convey an Aesopian parable. This is when I became especially cross with Final Fantasy IX. Here we have a game that utilizes a novel system that subjects the audience to fully animated cut scenes where we can discover whatever the Hell the secondary cast had for dinner. Be that as it may, the moment the game wishes to afflict me with a legend or parable it decides to have me read pages from a book. Where is the fucking justice in that?

The shit in Twinkies is better filler than this!
The shit in Twinkies is better filler than this!

It bears mentioning how nostalgic Final Fantasy fans get more out of Pinnacle Rock than a naive bum like myself. The parable happens to be a recollection of the events of Final Fantasy II. Either that makes this whole scene pleasurable “fan service,” or it continues being excruciating filler, and I think you all know where I stand. What if instead of shamelessly referencing events from a previous game in the Final Fantasy franchise Ramuh asked us to recall a famous tale or parable from the world of Final Fantasy IX? This tale would be a story practically unavoidable in the game, and our ability to recall it surely guaranteed. This would reward the player having paid attention to the story, and incentives them to continue doing so.

As I always say, it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of Final Fantasy IX. There is a brief interjection where we are transported back to Alexandria, and learn the queen has employed a couple of mercenaries to track and defeat our party. This scene further establishes how the queen is becoming more entrenched into her madness. However, once again I have to question to what end. Is it greed, or an insatiable desire for worldly riches? Is the queen afflicted with a dire sense of paranoia? The audience is still unsure, but that notwithstanding praise should be directed to the game for taking the time to foreshadow events in a clear and cohesive manner.

Part 54: Amazingly Poignant But Superficial Destruction

Also, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? It looks like something from a Terry Gilliam animated short.
Also, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? It looks like something from a Terry Gilliam animated short.

I understand this title may incense some of my readers, but hear me out before leveling your inflammatory rebukes. From a purely functionalist perspective, the destruction of Lindblum works. From a literary and holistic perspective, the scene works in the grand scheme of things but is lacking in one major regard. Both estimates are correct, and in my book are “non-overlapping magisteria.

First and foremost, walking through the ruined streets of Lindblum is without a doubt one of the game’s most powerful and poignant moments. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again; the fact that Final Fantasy IX takes the time to depict brazen acts of total war, and what the repercussions of those acts of total war are, is beyond commendable. So often in video games we witness bombs being dropped without any regard as to whom the recipient of that payload may be. Final Fantasy IX takes the time to depict the sheer depravity of war, and most importantly, does so with a gray sense of morals. Your initial interaction with the citizenry of Lindblum results in Zidane trying to discourage the citizens from caving in the skull of a black mage. Are the citizens wrong in wanting to destroy the source of their hardship? Is Zidane wrong in saying that destroying this Black Mage will solve nothing? The game poses moral quandaries such as this for the audience to mull over without subjecting them to an arbitrary dialogue tree.

Shit gets dark in Final Fantasy IX real... REAL quick.
Shit gets dark in Final Fantasy IX real... REAL quick.

Lindblum was the most “alive” location in the entire game, and all its NPCs felt like they were more than your standard pointless dialogue repositories. To see many of these NPCs missing or maimed further highlighted the tragedy that Lindblum had been subjected to. Walking through the ruins was honestly one of the few times when I felt genuinely motivated to interact with every possible NPC in the environment. As a result of doing so, my heart skipped a beat for every interaction I had. It is the small touches here and there that add to the poignancy of the set piece. On one occasion I happened to encounter an elderly woman, and lo and behold, this was the result of the interaction:

Wow, I have no words other than praise for moments like these.
Wow, I have no words other than praise for moments like these.

This shows how the writing behind Final Fantasy IX has an attention to detail. All the game’s worlds and characters morph over the course of time and play some role in furthering the story. Unlike most video games, once Final Fantasy IX’s story is “done” with a location it does not remain in stasis and stuck in an uncanny purgatory. Continents and cities can be revisited and you are all but assured your second visits will reveal changed and warped landscapes alien from the autochthonous one. There’s a clear sense of scale as your adventure in the game unfurls, and it is a journey that draws more than the immediate cast into its tendrils. So when I decided to revisit the synthesis shop only to discover the master of the shop was gone, and the shop’s kiln has dimmed, I was shocked. Moments like these work wonders for the narrative and to be honest are far better than anything attempted with 70% of the cast.

All the same, I cannot help but comment on how “empty” all this death and destruction comes across as. Without a clear sense as to why the queen feels motivated to take over Lindblum the leveling of the city ultimately feels like a moment that exists for the sake of it. Final Fantasy IX certainly takes the time to elevate the brazen razing of Lindblum from complete superficiality, but there is no denying the game’s proverbial “elephant in the room.” Lacking a clear villain with a cohesive purpose means everything we witness the villain doing is done so in service of establishing that they are evil and nothing more. Queen Brahne is no better than the mustache twirling villains that your middle school English teacher implored you to avoid writing in your quarterly unit on creative writing.

So instead Final Fantasy IX elects to toss in new villains hoping to fill that void.
So instead Final Fantasy IX elects to toss in new villains hoping to fill that void.

Given how masterful the rest of the narrative is it is downright baffling how underdeveloped Final Fantasy IX’s initial antagonist is. When you stop and think about it Final Fantasy IX’s narrative is built upon a shoddy and haphazard scaffold. For all intents and purposes, it has yet to collapse, but that doesn’t mean it is spectacularly built in the first place. But you understand what the game is trying to build, and if it pulls it off it would be a video game “World Wonder.” Essentially have to trust the game it will indeed honor your time and patience.

Part 55: Fossil Roo Is The Worst

Someone at Square Enix needs to be punched in the face for allowing this entire sequence to be included in Final Fantasy IX. What makes this whole affair especially disappointing is how marvelous the narrative scaffold is leading up to Fossil Roo. The game manages to foreshadow an impending invasion by Alexandria against an unknown force; frame Garnet as emotionally compromised after witnessing the destruction committed by her kingdom; and Zidane as a sensitive but still chivalrous lad. As you can hopefully see, everything related to the narrative works, but it is the gameplay that seriously drops the ball.

Can I just have more moments like these instead of puzzle dungeons?
Can I just have more moments like these instead of puzzle dungeons?

A truly praiseworthy aspect of Final Fantasy IX is its use of relationships in favor of romances. The barbs and dialogue Zidane and Garnet trade as they mosey on out of Lindblum are among the best the game has provided yet. Zidane clearly has a sense of romantic infatuation towards Garnet, but this is not spelled out to the audience in a painfully obvious manner. Instead, the two characters talk as allies with a common goal without an ounce of malice or cynicism. It’s almost as if the writers understood how romances start in the first place.

Clearly, the developers understand how to create believable characters and experiences. What I am less confident about is their ability to design compelling gameplay. This segue leads us to Fossil Roo! Now why the developers felt the need to include a switch puzzle dungeon is beyond my comprehension. Rest assured, the shit storm torment we are about to subject ourselves to is a slow moving disaster. First, we are forced to re-add the BLIGHT known as Quina to our party, and Quina’s tone ruining nature is in full effect.

GOD IS DEAD!
GOD IS DEAD!

At the dungeon, we are immediately thrust into a battle with Apollo’s purple space chariot. I… I have no words.

I'm always happy to include pictures on this blog which will haunt your dreams forever.
I'm always happy to include pictures on this blog which will haunt your dreams forever.

Remember the asshole robot spider from the Dollet invasion scene from Final Fantasy VIII? That’s exactly what we are dealing with here. Your party is meant to run away from Apollo’s evil chariot of death rather than defeating it outright. Littered on your path are a ton of environmental hazards which can quickly impede your progress and force you into a confrontation with the purple space chariot. Okay… that’s less than “great,” but at least the confrontation is quickly alleviated once you reach a certain point. It’s not like the game subjects you to another boss battle immediately after this bullshit. Wait a minute….

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!

So with our BULLSHIT LEVELS at an all-time high, we make our way to the proper Fossil Roo dungeon… and this is where Final Fantasy IX broke my “spirit.” At Fossil Roo you are afflicted with one of the most asinine switch puzzles in video game history. To add insult to injury the random encounters at Fossil Roo pop-off at an all time high, and feature a plethora of groan-inducing baddies. That latter point is one of my least favorite aspects of this entire experience. Normally when the game subjects you to an environmental puzzle the random encounters are disabled or at least minimized. Here the random encounter rate seems to dole out every four or five steps.

Then there’s the actual puzzle! After reaching the bowels of Fossil Roo you discover the Gargan transportation system in disarray. Gargans seem afraid of water and using switches that control streams of water allow you to progress to the next location. My issue here stems from the game’s insufficient direction. Do you have any idea if you are getting closer or further away from your intended direction? NOPE! Do the miners at Fossil Roo provide any form of helpful guidance? NOPE! Is there a clear and explicit map to assist you in your journey?

NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! I MEAN LOOK AT THIS SHIT!
NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! I MEAN LOOK AT THIS SHIT!

Why do puzzles in JRPGs have to be the shits? I MEAN THE ABSOLUTE SHITS! There’s nothing to parse out from the environment, no foreign language to translate, and no logic to draw from previous scenes. Once again a Final Fantasy game is stricken with an environmental puzzle best solved using brute force. ALSO, WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THE MUSIC?

The monotony of this musical track drove me insane. It is almost as if the track is taunting me. As the melody circles and continues its guttural grunts it’s almost as if the game is chanting “you’re stuck, you’re stuck, you’re fucking stuck!” When you finally do manage to slog your way to the end it feels like an honest to goodness accomplishment, but one where you do not feel better having done so.

Part 56: Conde Petie Is Beyond Problematic

After subjecting yourself to Fossil Roo it is time to enjoy the moribund mediocrity that is Conde Petie. As a transitional set piece for the excellent story revelations related to Vivi, Conde Petie is passable. The issue with Conde Petie is well… everything else. The tone, characters, and narrative additions that the location provides are just terrible. The dwarves and their comical soliloquies are just a bizarre juxtaposition from the poignancy of Zidane and Garnet’s previous asides. To make matters worse the writers decided to regress every bit of character development regarding Zidane in favor of having him return to his objectionable sexism. Every one of Zidane’s interactions with Garnet at Conde Petie felt like a grotesque flip-flop from what he had conveyed earlier. Now, why is that you may ask? Why that is because the writers decided the game needed a comical set piece out of nowhere.

Way to be culturally dismissive the moment we enter a new city Zidane!
Way to be culturally dismissive the moment we enter a new city Zidane!

There’s also something objectively reprehensible about using an accent to depict a technologically and socially inferior society. The dwarves all speak in a pseudo-Scottish accent, and this accent is used to imply an inherent inferiority between them and the “normal” civilizations we have seen earlier. Why does the game decide to use this accent in the first place? Because whoever translated this game thought that Scottish accents equal humor! Not only that but the translation of the dwarves’ dialogue is simply atrocious. The translation feels as if it was created by someone who watched fifteen minutes of Trainspotting and used that as a reference guide for an entire scene.

If there’s something about Final Fantasy IX that I am becoming tired of it’s the game’s tendency to thrust the player into a new environment, and expecting the player to piece together what they need to do next. Yes, the ATEs are used to foreshadow and hint at what the players’ intended duties are, but these goals are expressed in the most tenuous manner possible. Like so many locations before it, after we enter the gates of Conde Petie the player navigates the byzantine streets of the new location in hopes of tracking down your accompanying party members. All I would like to question is if this is the best course of action for the game.

I would like to once again mention how discomforting the translation is at Conde Petie
I would like to once again mention how discomforting the translation is at Conde Petie

The game has employed this exact structure a dozen times. It’s the game design equivalent of the “path of least resistance,” but it sure does not lend itself to the most exciting introductions of new locals. Placing the burden of discovering the worth of any new location on the player is something I personally view as poor game design. It is very much possible that interesting tidbits about the world I am interacting with can be missed. Final Fantasy IX provides its player with no notification of this possibility, nor does it front load the possibility of revisiting previous locations to its audience. Did any of you know that you could visit the town of Dali in between the game’s story moments to view it undergoing different phases of economic booms and busts? For a game that clearly values worldbuilding, it concealing entire bits of worldbuilding from its audience seems entirely counter-intuitive.

But whatever, at least everything related to Vivi is good. At Conde Petie, Vivi encounters a Black Mage interacting with one of the Dwarves without any hostility from either side. Wishing to explore the situation further, Vivi chases after the black mage only to watch it scamper from the city before he can inquire it further. Because the game has already done a wonderful job in building my sympathy towards Vivi I am willing to assist him in his “side-quest.” It’s almost as if the game recognized that assisting Vivi would come across as only being tangentially related to the main plot, so the writers endeavored to create a compelling story to motivate the player to feel it was worth their time. It’s as if the magic of storytelling is in full force!

Can you use your magic to remove all the
Can you use your magic to remove all the "filler" from the story?

Part 57: Everything That Occurs In The Black Mage Village Is Fantastic

As I hope I have made entirely clear, I see the value of every section in Disc Two. Well, except for Fossil Roo but that level can go fuck itself. My qualms stem from how the game bridges the gap with its mechanics between all these set pieces. All the game’s interesting story moments are patched together either using benign fetch quests, or unmeritorious puzzles. Considering the compelling nature of the main story, and equally interesting character arcs, I have to believe the men and women behind this game were capable of something greater.

You know what Garnet? Your whole
You know what Garnet? Your whole "deal" doesn't make a lick of sense either.

I say this with a great deal of confidence given the rather excellent time you have at the Black Mage Village. Certainly, I could bellyache about the long and convoluted process to reach the village, but as long as the ultimate payoff is worth it then I’m willing to wade through whatever bullcrap the game levies my way. Here, the story manages to weave a compelling tale about the fragility of life and the importance of making the most of your time. Better yet, the game wraps this revelation around the most sympathetic character in the entire game, Vivi, which ends up heightening the emotional impact.

As we enter the infantile Black Mage Village, where the buildings are shaped in the form of various faces and living creatures, Vivi can interact with other members of his “race.” We discover the village is populated by black mage drones which broke free of Kuja’s spell. Lacking any exposure to society, beyond the destruction they have inflicted on the outer world, the black mages are of a third or fourth-grade intellect. This character trope dangerously errs towards the fallacious “noble savage” archetype, but lo and behold, the game makes it work. The Black Mage Village ends up being a scaffold towards more mature and adult narrative themes. I say this because the first scene we witness with Vivi involves him interacting with the village leader at the Black Mage cemetery. There the game ends up sinking its narrative fangs into your precious heartstrings.

If only every character was provided as much characterization as Vivi.
If only every character was provided as much characterization as Vivi.

The Black Mage Village even justifies Garnet’s normal “fish out of water” character arc as she attempts to convince the villagers that she comes to their village with no intent of harm or malice. The extreme skepticism of the black mages is entirely understandable, and Garnet’s emotional pleas feel honest. For all intents and purposes, the game provides a location where the characters can shine beyond their intrinsic tropes. I would argue all the characters, besides Quina, shine at the Black Mage Village. When Final Fantasy IX’s moral compass finally calibrates itself and makes itself nakedly transparent to the audience the game’s superficial mechanics become a secondary and forgettable issue. That, if anything else, is beyond commendable.

Part 58: What The Fuck… Zidane Becomes An Interesting Character

No seriously, what the fuck is even happening? Am I still playing Final Fantasy IX?
No seriously, what the fuck is even happening? Am I still playing Final Fantasy IX?

Exhausted, our party decides to retire for the night. After commandeering a bunk bed Zidane and Garnet have what I can only describe to be their best character moment thus far. Once again, Final Fantasy IX’s character moments are best when attempting to build relationships, rather than romances, as this aside comes across as an emotional appeal without a carnal subtext. As such, it successfully builds our sympathy towards both Zidane and Garnet.

Charles Dickens would have LOVED Final Fantasy IX.
Charles Dickens would have LOVED Final Fantasy IX.

As our duo slowly descends into a slumber Zidane imparts a parable of a child attempting to find his home, and it is clear to the audience the child in the story is himself. That notwithstanding, the tale Zidane weaves is the most fascinating his character has been since we first crossed paths with him on the Prima Vista. As Zidane imparts his life experiences he exposes his vulnerabilities to both the audience and Garnet. In doing so we learn of Zidane’s life as an orphan, and failure to learn about who or what he is. The entire scene does a fantastic job of reframing him as a human.

This provides the audience with context as to Zidane’s earlier swashbuckler behavior. Lacking any normal moral compass, Zidane was effectively raised by the abusive and intolerant Baku. Skeptical of my accusation that Baku was an abusive father and Zidane in effect was an abuse victim? Well, I think the game spells things out to the audience in a tasteful and proper manner:

Bravo to the game for attempting to depict this respectfully.
Bravo to the game for attempting to depict this respectfully.

I’m a sucker for a story providing a moral backbone or context to its characters. It’s a damn shame the succeeding scene after this DOES NOTHING TO BUILD UPON THIS! The touching moment here is immediately complimented with Zidane devolving back to his unwanted sexual advances on Garnet. Rather than building upon Zidane having this innate desire to learn more about himself; he instead goes back to teasing and harassing Garnet. What happened to his humanity? Where’s his sympathetic characterization? Was this entire scene developed in isolation from the rest of the story? Will the “REAL” Zidane please stand up?

Part 59: Vivi Is The Greatest Character In The Entire Game

But hey, at least Vivi is here to wash away all my griping!
But hey, at least Vivi is here to wash away all my griping!

I have nothing to directly chastise Vivi with. Vivi is after all Final Fantasy IX’s greatest vicarious vessel into the game’s multifaceted and livable world. Vivi’s troubles are a believable worry that all of us will be forced to confront at some point in our lives, we just end up confronting our mortality at different times. In the schema of Final Fantasy IX Vivi ends up becoming the game’s jumping point to its more mature and heavier themes.

After Garnet and Zidane have their moment together we transition back to Vivi next to the Black Mage leader. There the leader reveals how the average lifespan of their race is approximately a year. Vivi, in turn, connects the dots and can deduce his time is far less than that. What ensues next is Final Fantasy IX’s most poignant moment yet. Dazed by the information he has been presented with Vivi asks the village leader how he feels, and his confusion ends up coming across as the most “human” I have ever seen a video game character act.

Could you teach 80% of the main cast what
Could you teach 80% of the main cast what "humility" means?
Why do you have to be a video game character? Can I bottle you up and carry you with me for the rest of my life?
Why do you have to be a video game character? Can I bottle you up and carry you with me for the rest of my life?

The game manages to take these automatons, which lack many of the characteristics we associate with normal human beings and makes them the most “real” characters in the entire game. Vivi is forced to recognize his limited lifespan but manages to confront his mortality with grace and respectability. This will provide a direct contrast to another character who ends up confronting his mortality but does so incorrectly. The scene has gravitas, but it also ends up underscoring why Vivi needs to be a part of this journey. As the cold abyss of death eventually consumes him, Vivi remains as alive as he could hope to be while on this journey. More importantly, Vivi is a force for the greatest possible good he could ever hope for. If you knew your time was seriously limited, wouldn’t you wish to commit yourself to the greatest amount of good before your passing? I hope we would answer that question with an unequivocal “yes.”

Life is such a fragile thing, and Final Fantasy IX is as respectful about that fragility anyone could hope the game to be. I know being emotionally attached to Vivi will only lead to heartbreak. This anguish is something tangible and real. However, it is from this anguish that I myself feel a greater appreciation for my own humanity, and the social network I have surrounded myself around. It’s baffling to admit this, but Final Fantasy IX is a game that resulted in me stopping and thinking about my own legacy and place in the world. As inane as that may come across, and I know this is meant to be a blog for entertainment purposes, but few games cause me to do this. It is just another highlight of how special Final Fantasy IX can be when it fully commits to its own humanity rather than its sillier aspects.

Okay FINE! You were all right that I would fall in love with Vivi!
Okay FINE! You were all right that I would fall in love with Vivi!

Part 60: Returning To Conde Petie, And Wishing To Set Zidane On Fire

This is the only
This is the only "good" line of dialogue you see in Conde Petie.

So we just subjected ourselves to an emotional plea on the part of the game to make the most out our limited time. What could the game possibly do to complement such narrative poignancy? Why how about some sexist bullshit! I WISH I WAS FUCKING KIDDING YOU!

Okay… so let’s break down the literal aspects of our return to Conde Petie before I blow an emotional gasket. Eventually the party recollects itself and we discover our next location is the mysterious “Sanctuary.” After inquiring the local denizens of Conde Petie we discover the Sanctuary can only be accessed by those wedded to a companion. What ensues next is the most objectively terrible moment in the entire game.

I am willing to accept Garnet and Zidane needing to undergo a ceremony that betrothed each other into a superficial marriage. What I am NOT willing to accept are the snide ass barbs Zidane directs at Garnet throughout the wedding scene. Shit like this, IS NOT OKAY:

Thank you so much for ruining something beautiful.
Thank you so much for ruining something beautiful.

Or how about bullshit like THIS:

YUP! That's it, I am officially going to set Zidane on fire!
YUP! That's it, I am officially going to set Zidane on fire!

Good GOD! I feel like my lungs are collapsing. I feel as if I have aged twenty-five years just from reviewing these screencaps all over again. I’m honestly contemplating setting the world on fire because of stuff like this:

Pbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbp!
Pbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbppbpbpbpbp!

Who fucking allowed this to happen? Who thought this was a good idea? How do we go from confronting our mortality, to having wacky romantic adventures with Garnet and Zidane? Can we also talk about how culturally dismissive the characters are regarding the religious practices of the dwarves? Here they are, having created this marriage ceremony that does not discriminate on race or sexual orientation, and all the characters just dismiss it as an end to justify a mean. There’s no introspection; instead, it is the objectification of a culture for comedic purposes. Did I also mention how for the next hour we have to essentially listen to Zidane talk about Garnet as if she is an object he now controls?

Stop, stop, I confess!
Stop, stop, I confess!

Can I just declare this to be a complete waste of my time and move on? Can I also mention how we are on this quest to stop a maniacal queen, but here we are getting married? Can I highlight that while this wedding scene plays out Final Fantasy IX still has “gaps” in its fossil record? Can I ask if my anaphora is articulating my point? Despite the game doing its utmost to establish Queen Brahne as the current villain, we still lack any clear understanding why she’s doing all this global conquest. No seriously, why is anything in this game happening? Why aren’t there any ATEs set in Alexandria? What the fuck is happening to Steiner, Freya, and Beatrix?

Convincing Vivi and Quina to marry didn't fill the emptiness I feel right now.
Convincing Vivi and Quina to marry didn't fill the emptiness I feel right now.

Part 61: Someone Please Save Me From This Torment!

Fuck… I don’t even know where to start. I want any of you who like this game to honestly justify these abrupt thematic shifts. I can’t, but simultaneously, I am entirely powerless to outright declare this game a total failure. This game is a mess, but it is an emotionally taut and beautiful mess. I have slowly reached the conclusion that I love half of Final Fantasy IX, but despise the other half. So, in the end, what am I to make of this game?

Every step of the way, and for every minute I sink into Final Fantasy IX, it does something to draw me back. Either a location draws me into its tragedy, or the characters depict a level of humanity few games are willing to endeavor to depict. Then as I finally start to get cozy with the game it immediately compliments my goodwill with a depraved act of pure idiocy. These transitions are the true affliction facing the game, not the small nitpicking that I am innervated to do. There’s no structure or logic to its format other than to patch together a series of compelling scenes and characters. These characters and their moments deserve more than switch puzzles, abhorrent sexism, and comical joshing about. They all deserve a platform to assert a pathos, logos, and ethos which would highlight the multi-ethnic and livable world the game so earnestly wishes to impart on the audience.

In the end, the world and characters of Final Fantasy IX deserve so much more than what is provided in the game. However, as I say this I know the characters will stand above their superficial backdrop. If there is one thing I have to honestly concede it is the characters have become better. They have begun to metamorphosed, and some are even adults despite their appearances. At least the cast is not afflicted with a child character whose drivel adds in more inanity than you could shake a stick at.

Can I play the Final Fantasy that has dudes chilling in a car for four hours?
Can I play the Final Fantasy that has dudes chilling in a car for four hours?

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I could maybe forgive this game if the names of everything weren't all completely terrible.

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"I love half of Final Fantasy IX, but despise the other half"

Don't worry. From hereonin in the series that percentage will change more towards 60/40, 70/30, 80/20. And by that I mean you will hate the majority of it! Unless you're one of those people who likes X or XIII (XII is okay, I'll let that one off the hook), in which case you need your head seeing to! :-p

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#3 thatpinguino  Staff

@zombiepie: A lot of the "filler" sections you mention are a result of the town -> dungeon -> town structure of most RPGs. Every big story moment either coincides with arriving at a new town or completing a dungeon. That means that, for pacing purposes, the game "has" to follow that segment up with more combat-centric gameplay. Ergo you need to go to another dungeon. FFIX is pretty dogmatic with it's adherence to this structure, sometimes to the game's detriment. Here are the segments strung out Prima Vista/Alexandria (T) -> Evil Forest/ Ice Cavern (D) -> Dali (T) -> Black Waltz 2&3 (D) -> Lindblum (T) -> Gizmaluke's Grotto (D) -> South Gate (T) -> Burmecia/Cleyra's Trunk (D) -> Cleyra Settlement/ Red Rose/ Escape from Alexandria (T) -> Pinnacle Rock (D) -> Lindblum (T) -> Fossil Roo (D) -> Condie Petie/ Black Mage Village (T) -> Path to Madain Sari (D). While some of the dungeons suck a whole lot (Hey Fossil Roo!), I think the structure is pretty standard for JRPGs at the time. Now you could look at that structure and say that it's dated and flawed. You might well be correct in that analysis. However, that structure's purpose is to make sure that people who come to the game for it's combat have something to do regularly.

I will say that at this point Zidane's behavior is pretty clearly delineated between how he treats Garnet one on one and how he treats her in public. It's also delineated by whether he's in a romantically charged situation and when he's in a normal social interaction. Zidane's heart is in the right place, but also young, sexist, and stupid when it comes to his interactions with women. When he interacts with Garnet without bringing romance into it, he's great. When romance get's involved he doesn't know how to express himself and he makes a fool of himself. He does the same thing with Freya during some of their first interactions. I've certainly encountered enough high schoolers with the same problem (Zidane is 16) to think he's a believable, if annoying character. Just like Squall's aloof asshole routine is annoying, but not unbelievable (It's everyone else's treatment of Squall that's unbelievable). Ultimately, as you know by now, this game is using it's long run time to let these characters slowly develop over the course of the game. As I've maintained the whole time, you can't have natural character development if everyone starts out flawless and not every character can immediately "shape up" in the first act. This game is long and it uses that time to develop almost all of it's characters, unlike the other FF games you've played.

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At least the cast is not afflicted with a child character whose drivel adds in more inanity than you could shake a stick at.

And that's what they call foreshadowing! Looking forward to the next part.

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Don't complain about tonal inconsistency. Or sexism. You haven't played FFXV yet. You don't get to complain about tonal inconsistency or sexism until you've played the first 30 minutes of that game (and for the record it's . . . actually not bad. But shit is it all over the place).

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I'm glad you made it to Black Mage Village.

For as messy, inconsistent, patchy & cartoony as Final Fantasy IX is, it has a soft, human core at the centre. There's far more "sensitivity" in this game than in most. Questions of life and death can be so cliche and so boring and so try-hard. If anything can be said of FFIX I think it is that it is earnest.

The changes to locations over the narrative is definitely one of the standout achievements in this game. It really rewarded exploration and returning to locations. In most FFs, you might find yourself returning to X or Y place to cash in a sidequest or just stop in, but generally you found a static world or location frozen in it's previous peril, as if they didn't get the memo that things had moved on.

Also... FFXV is amazing, holy moly.

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soimadeanaccount

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#7  Edited By soimadeanaccount

I thought the Queen's greed and hunger for power is pretty apparent and honestly I think that's a perfectly serviceable assumption even if the game doesn't spell it out. After all that's just part of human nature, perhaps that said more about me than the game. Not the most unique interesting backdrop but relatable.

I never liked Beatrix character arc that much, happens much to rapidly and doesn't utilize the medium well (the worst case of that imo has yet to come). Of course there's going to be complain if the story and characters doesn't move fast enough isn't there? Perception of good timing will likely vary between players. I tend to lean on the slower side of things I mean I sign up for this 40+ hours mess after all.

Blackmage village is critical obviously and the act of seeing a blackmage in the wild acting "normal" and not chanting KILL should automatically be main quest worthy.

Funny enough with all the Final Fantasy-mania going on along with the holiday, I found some time to dive into FF13 for the first time. Haven't finish it yet, but made it to the so called "real" game part, so far I find it amazing even the parts that people complain about, and I too found one of the most human part in video game for me within FF13. Honestly unless it really fucks itself over until the end it is easily one of my top three FFs so far, it is pretty much an improved version of what X and XII try to be, and I think I like it more than IX. The only question is how high will it reach. Most of my issues with the game however lies in its gameplay.

As for the marriage part, Zidane is probably the "weaker" character here. Unwanted advance and perhaps a bit of cheeky purposeful mis-interpretation of their current predicament, but I think the scene shows how Garnet is able to focus on the task and goal while Zidane is the one who actually get shaken up by the concept of marriage. Also if you want to get down to it think about the history of marriage among royalties and what it usually means as compare to between the common folks.

Can't wait for you to dig into Eiko. Spoiler: I will be defending her existence!

As for filler, dungeon, puzzle, and the RPG gameplay loop, as mentioned above it is a long standing "problem" in the genre, and the issues and half-solutions have seemingly evolved over time.

I put these in a separate section since it is long and doesn't have to do with FFIX alone. JRPG battles aren't the most engaging thing in the world, there's reason why FF seems to be trying new battle system for their past couple of titles with varying degree of receptions from players. Putting battle aside what "game" does a JRPG really have? In comes the minigames and puzzle as the pallet cleanser, a change of pace, and the "turret sequence" of its days. Sure they miss their mark pretty often and perhaps at best a non-issue issue. The genre seems to be walking away from that in the recent years, but FF especially seems to be picking up some kind of secondary grinding besides level (rare drop, crafting materials, etc.) Puzzle element in dungeons is also fairly common during a certain period, some more involve than others.

There's also the expectation of an open world and world map for player to travel in between, and as observed the NPCs in Dali changes throughout the game. Honestly NPCs dialog changes along with the story is one of the oldest trick in the book, but it is rarely seen it in large quantity because there's rarely a reason for the player to travel back and forth through enemies filled areas and locations, making them walk all over probably does more harm than good. Some games let the player backtrack easier by forgoing an actual world map, but maintain a globe trotting feel by having the player pick where they want to go. I also wonder if players today still follow the talk to NPCs until they repeat rule, along with talking to them after major events. Not to mention modern day open world game pretty much set a whole new level of what an open world really is. Persona 3 and 4 moved away from that by establishing there's only one town and essentially one kind of dungeon. FF12 is actually very MMO-ish for its time fresh off FF11. FF13 follows a linear path for good part of the game rather than making an illusionary in between open world. FF15 seems to be expanding on exploration again probably as tech allows.

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#8 ZombiePie  Staff

I could maybe forgive this game if the names of everything weren't all completely terrible.

And he's not lying kids! Here are some of the "wonderfully creative" names that grace Final Fantasy IX:

  • The Evil Forest
  • Ice Cavern
  • Pinnacle Rock
  • Fossil Roo
  • Iifa Tree
  • Blue Narciss
  • Mount Gulug
  • Terra
  • Pandemonium
  • AND THEN THERE ARE THE NAMES FOR THE CHARACTERS!

If you are going to try and create this sense of "world" in your game, why not take the time to establish a language or literary convention? Oh wait... not everyone is J.R.R. Tolkien.

@kmfrob said:

"I love half of Final Fantasy IX, but despise the other half"

Don't worry. From hereonin in the series that percentage will change more towards 60/40, 70/30, 80/20. And by that I mean you will hate the majority of it! Unless you're one of those people who likes X or XIII (XII is okay, I'll let that one off the hook), in which case you need your head seeing to! :-p

I'M ABOUT TO START DISC FOUR!

So when does the "pain train" hit me? Is it a slow moving disaster, or a gut punch from nowhere? Oh and speaking of Final Fantasy X, someone just celebrated their birthday and received two twenty dollar Steam gift cards.

OH WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT! Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is $30 on Steam! SOMEONE PLEASE CONVINCE ME TO NOT SUBJECT MYSELF TO ANOTHER SISYPHEAN HORROR AGAIN!

At least the cast is not afflicted with a child character whose drivel adds in more inanity than you could shake a stick at.

And that's what they call foreshadowing! Looking forward to the next part.

This video is a perfect representation of my gut reaction to Eiko:

Loading Video...

Just give every crummy comic relief trope in my video game. I mean it. Give me every single one. This is how it ends. This is how my... everything ends. Just send me a lead pipe and label it "shit delivery system." I can take it.

Oh GOD... I'm not ready.

@lawgamer said:

Don't complain about tonal inconsistency. Or sexism. You haven't played FFXV yet. You don't get to complain about tonal inconsistency or sexism until you've played the first 30 minutes of that game (and for the record it's . . . actually not bad. But shit is it all over the place).

I don't like what I have seen of the characters in Final Fantasy XV. The depiction of male relationships, and "bonding" in the game just reeks of an aesthetic that I found completely outdated and harmful. I watched that Final Fantasy XV anime, and THAT'S A BAD THING! NONE OF YOU SHOULD WATCH THE FINAL FANTASY XV ANIME HOLY CRAP IS IT BAD!

I understand that I have yet to play the game, and you should never judge a book by it cover, but Final Fantasy XV is a can of worms I have no desire to open... kind of like Final Fantasy XIII... and Final Fantasy X... and Final Fantasy I & II... and.......

I'm glad you made it to Black Mage Village.

For as messy, inconsistent, patchy & cartoony as Final Fantasy IX is, it has a soft, human core at the centre. There's far more "sensitivity" in this game than in most. Questions of life and death can be so cliche and so boring and so try-hard. If anything can be said of FFIX I think it is that it is earnest.

The changes to locations over the narrative is definitely one of the standout achievements in this game. It really rewarded exploration and returning to locations. In most FFs, you might find yourself returning to X or Y place to cash in a sidequest or just stop in, but generally you found a static world or location frozen in it's previous peril, as if they didn't get the memo that things had moved on.

Also... FFXV is amazing, holy moly.

Again, I'm not "digging" what I have seen of Final Fantasy XV, but maybe I can be convinced otherwise. The combat looks like and even more "swimmy" rendition of the visceral action combat of a BioWare game, but with a handful of traditional JRPG trappings. I kind of like the two in their purest forms rather than weird amalgam experiments. Also, as I mentioned in the above comment, everything I have seen of the story has zero appeal to me. A wise man once said "You've got classical music, and rock n' roll. Both are good in their own context. But when you get somewhere in the middle you get 'child banging on a piano.'"

This entire franchise has been an interesting introspective examination of story theory first, and a methodical breakdown of gameplay/mechanics second. The idea of a Final Fantasy game standing of the laurels of its mechanics first, and its story second, would be a recipe for boredom for me.

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@zombiepie: "OH WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT! Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is $30 on Steam! SOMEONE PLEASE CONVINCE ME TO NOT SUBJECT MYSELF TO ANOTHER SISYPHEAN HORROR AGAIN!"

In all seriousness, the series never managed the transition to spoken dialogue. XII had some charm, but even so the failure to create likeable characters and write convincing dialogue has just made these PS2 era games (and onwards) nigh on impossible to like wholeheartedly (for me anyway).

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@kmfrob said:

In all seriousness, the series never managed the transition to spoken dialogue.

I've always thought this. To add to this, once voices were introduced, the music was relegated from being front-and-centre to being in the background, which stopped it from lending emotion to otherwise dull conversations in the same way it used to.

I remember feeling sad during that conversation the party has with Aeris's mother. I don't even remember what they were talking about, though. I'm pretty sure it was just the music.

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Gotta admit, FFIX has some wicked looking summons/espers.

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@kmfrob said:

@zombiepie: "OH WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT! Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is $30 on Steam! SOMEONE PLEASE CONVINCE ME TO NOT SUBJECT MYSELF TO ANOTHER SISYPHEAN HORROR AGAIN!"

In all seriousness, the series never managed the transition to spoken dialogue. XII had some charm, but even so the failure to create likeable characters and write convincing dialogue has just made these PS2 era games (and onwards) nigh on impossible to like wholeheartedly (for me anyway).

I have a theory about this. I actually think it's the combination of better graphics and voice acting that started to do the series in. See, way back in the day, the character sprites were these tiny little squat things that obviously couldn't emote that well. So everything needed to be conveyed by music and text. Want to know a character is angry? Then the text should be IN ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!

Then graphics started to get better, so the characters should be a little more expressive. How do you know Steiner is comically angry? Because he does his jumping jack animation. But there still wasn't any voice acting, so a lot of things still needed to be conveyed by music and text. And the graphics weren't so good that the characters looked realistic. They were pretty cartoony.

And then we hit X, which in my opinion is the beginning of the downslide of the series. Now the devs had access to both he graphics necessary to create realistic looking characters and voice acting. The problem that resulted was that the developers went for realistic (rather than cartoony) models, but the characters moved and acted like the text was STILL IN ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!

Which is how you end up with crap like the FFX laughing scene, or pretty much the entirely to FFXIII. You have real-looking characters doing and saying things no one would say or do. I don't know that the phrase "uncanny valley" necessarily fits the situation but its kind of the same thing. The characters just feel "off" because of the way their movements and speech interact with their appearance. They look "real" but act and speak like anime characters.

I think that's partially why I like XII so much. The character animations were relatively subtle and the dialogue, despite the bad attempt at Fancy English, sounds like something people might actually say.

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soimadeanaccount

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I thought the voice issue is due to translation and timing. A Japanese line to say a certain thing would be of different length than that of English so there are timing differences for each line, in FMV heavy games like FF where progression of a scene is automated to tie in with the action on screen and the characters models the margin of error is just that much large. The problem of translating Japanese acceptance of anime tone and behavior to English might as well be black magic. I think X has it the worst, XIII has its ups and downs from what I have seen so far, XII has less peaks and valleys but at the same time kind of monotone and forgettable.

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@zombiepie:So when does the "pain train" hit me? Is it a slow moving disaster, or a gut punch from nowhere?

So the thing is, being that you are about to hit Disc 4, you've actually seen the "worst" of it. As in, you've hit the moment every modern Final Fantasy game has where to shifts to a weird science fiction plot. The end of disc 3 is the biggest shift towards that, and disc 4 doesn't do much to up the ante in that regard. So if you don't hate it already, I don't think you're gonna have a nightmare time. Not to say there isn't weirdness abounds, but no sudden shifts.

All excepting the Final Boss, of course.

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#15  Edited By kmfrob

@lawgamer: @mandude:

I will certainly jump on with the notion that the music took a hit with the move to spoken dialogue. But also, as @lawgamer said I think it just highlighted how poor the general writing was.

I don't know if I necessarily buy it as a matter of translation though. I have played some of the Final Fantasy games in Japanese and it's not a vastly different experience (and also the people translating these games generally do a pretty good job). I think it's just a case of the writing being infantile.

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I don't have much to add beyond saying I still very much enjoy these. I played through a bunch of the FF games again recently and I agree that IX leaves a lot to be desired while also blowing me out of the water from time to time. I've also been playing XV - it probably wouldn't be as interesting to write about as it has far less in the way of story density.

Seeing you mention X/X-2 and other games, I'd say that X and X-2 are probably going to be interesting to write about (but perhaps arduous to play), while VI stands up as the title I think you're most likely to enjoy the most.

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I don't have much to say regarding FFIX at the moment, but I have to chime in on the FFXV discussion to say that that game turned out pretty good so far. I'm only in chapter 3 so I'm a far cry from being able to give a solid opinion on it, but so far the cast is people I like being around. The marketing campaign for the game didn't do it any favors in the cast department, I can't argue that, but in-game they are generally cool dudes.

More importantly, perhaps, I believe in their relationships to one another: in trailers it's a lot of dude-bro fist bumping and quips during fights, but as I play I often hear remarks that I myself would say or hear in my own circle of friends--whether it be busting Prompto's balls for his crush on Cindy or checking up with Gladio on whether his sister is okay. My biggest critique so far is that most of the time something happens, everyone has a remark and those lines don't often feel necessarily or in conversation with everyone else's.

Will the cast of FFXV have bonding that I can appreciate like Zidane and Vivi do? Only time will tell, I suppose, but so far the band of four has had some really human moments and that's promising.

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I don't know if the older games really have much density in them, VI stood out with its large cast and a more decentralize character story telling which was interesting at the time, or when I got around to play it, which I took a liking to and see similarities pop up in IX and XIII. The story also took a few interesting turns. IV...killed all my interests in going back to earlier ones maybe for the better.

Besides the translation as in the letter of the dialog versus the spirit of the dialog I feel like there's also a different cultural or social acceptance of dialog, tone, and subject matter. It is hard for me to explain since I don't exactly dive deep in either or perhaps I am exposed to both just enough for it to be confusing.

Say the fantasy genre probably means different thing between the two. There's also the acceptance of anime and its tropes and the whole self-serious-brooding-anime.

Anyways perhaps all fictions of all mediums are terrible to begin with so it doesn't really matter.

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#19  Edited By Teddie  Online

This is the Final Fantasy game I am playing this year:

Loading Video...

I made the right choice.

To add insult to injury the random encounters at Fossil Roo pop-off at an all time high

I had 2 in the entire area. I thought I must've turned them off or messed something up, but I actually just got lucky I guess. It did emphasize how asinine the switch puzzles really were, though, since that was all I was doing in that area.

I sort of want to defend that marriage stuff because, in that instance, every one of Zidane's advances are met with deadpan Garnet ignoring them outright, as opposed to her actually getting uncomfortable or hurt by any of it. It's like a bad comedy routine where the guy chasing the girl keeps falling flat on his face, as the butt of the joke. But it's still not funny, and it's still super dumb, so it deserves all the criticisms you gave it.

I think in regards to the love/hate thing, you'll probably have a better idea once you see it through? Like, they wrap up and follow through on a lot of the game's main themes and storylines really well in disc 4, and it's not going to make the bad stuff retroactively good, but it'll probably make the game feel more "whole", if that makes sense.

So, as a general thing, dunno if you've been aware of this but FFIX was Sakaguchi's last time heading up one of these games (he's the guy who started the franchise), so a lot of stuff is just thrown in there because he wanted it to encompass and represent the series as a whole (on top of doing its own thing). It doesn't really excuse all the tonal shifts (like the hard sci-fi turn, or Mt Gulug being pulled from FF1 for no reason), but I enjoy the references and easter eggs, and playing the game feels like a celebration of that series for me, as well as being a good game on its own merits.

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#20 ZombiePie  Staff

@soimadeanaccount: To be honest, I wouldn't feel the need to comment on the queen so much if the game had just introduced the primary antagonist earlier than it does. We go a solid, and I mean "SOLID," two discs in Final Fantasy IX under the assumption the queen is public enemy number one. Kuja's introduction is that of a flamboyant pawn, and nothing more, for hours upon end. This in turn has a number of consequences for the game's story. For one, it deprives the final story arc of time that I feel it needed more. The "pivot" that melted my brain last episode honestly should have been provided with more foreshadowing, or narrative time to bake in the proverbial storytelling oven." Instead it comes out of nowhere and we just have to deal with it... it is a thing that happened... that's all I am going to say as of now.

In terms of Ekio... you and this game deserve better.

@thatpinguino: There needs to be a better differentiation between the typical "town -> dungeon -> town" format. The usually styling of the format in CRPGs is to indeed introduce a new town or city, but the difference here would be forcing the player to interact with the towns in order to gain access to the dungeons. Usually by interacting with citizens of town or city you are re-directed to different locations in the game's wilderness. This incentives the player to interact with the environments they find themselves in, and establishes a better connection between the story and game.

In the end, why exactly are you motivated to ever interact with any of the NPCs in Final Fantasy IX, or any of our previous follies? The truthful answer is simply "Because they are there." This if anything, is another highlight of why I feel the entries we have played in this franchise struggle to meld their mechanical structure with their stories.

@kmfrob said:

In all seriousness, the series never managed the transition to spoken dialogue. XII had some charm, but even so the failure to create likeable characters and write convincing dialogue has just made these PS2 era games (and onwards) nigh on impossible to like wholeheartedly (for me anyway).

As someone who once reviewed anime for a fan run anime wiki/blog I'll just come out and say that I can deal with bad dialogue. The desire to play Final Fantasy X/X-2 has its advantages. To be honest, it is the game in the franchise that is 3D that I know the least about. The only two things I know about the games are: 1) some blonde mo-fo laughs for a bit, and 2) cast "Life" on Sin.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 provides me with the best opportunity to have a "pure" Final Fantasy experience wherein I would experience its ups and downs without any expectations.

@hassun said:

Gotta admit, FFIX has some wicked looking summons/espers.

I would have no idea because I have only summoned Ramuh and Carbuncle once or twice each. Fun story about Carbuncle. I love to use Carbuncle during bosses that primarily use magic. Lo and behold I learn the hard way that is your party has Reflect cast on it, healing spells FROM YOUR PARTY REFLECT BACK ONTO THE BOSS!

WHY IS THAT A THING!

@beforet said:

@zombiepie:So when does the "pain train" hit me? Is it a slow moving disaster, or a gut punch from nowhere?

So the thing is, being that you are about to hit Disc 4, you've actually seen the "worst" of it. As in, you've hit the moment every modern Final Fantasy game has where to shifts to a weird science fiction plot. The end of disc 3 is the biggest shift towards that, and disc 4 doesn't do much to up the ante in that regard. So if you don't hate it already, I don't think you're gonna have a nightmare time. Not to say there isn't weirdness abounds, but no sudden shifts.

All excepting the Final Boss, of course.

That shift is a real fucker.

I... I don't know. Has there every been a Final Fantasy game that just had a story. You know, here's a bunch of people on a quest to stop an unimaginable horror from ruining all life as we know it, and that's it. Is that ever going to happen? Like will I at some point play a game that just has a solid story that doesn't decide to change the genre of the game halfway into the game?

I really want to know this.

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#21  Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

@zombiepie: In the end, why exactly are you motivated to ever interact with any of the NPCs in Final Fantasy IX, or any of our previous follies? The truthful answer is simply "Because they are there." This if anything, is another highlight of why I feel the entries we have played in this franchise struggle to meld their mechanical structure with their stories.

It's a philosophical difference between CRPGs and JRPGS. In CRPGs a lot of NPCs are functional. They exist in order to send you on quests, regardless of how nonsensical the quest is. In a JRPG like FFIX the NPCs exist to add flavor to each location. In a CRPG a baker might ask you to find a legendary rolling pin in a forest because he needs to bake a cake for lord El' Rah' Quen. In FFIX that baker is probably just a baker who'll tell you what baking is like in the town he's in.

I... I don't know. Has there every been a Final Fantasy game that just had a story. You know, here's a bunch of people on a quest to stop an unimaginable horror from ruining all life as we know it, and that's it. Is that ever going to happen? Like will I at some point play a game that just has a solid story that doesn't decide to change the genre of the game halfway into the game?

I really want to know this.

No. Not in the main line games at least. They all go nuts in the third act. Every single one. You haven't even played all of the games that go to space, and you've gone to space in all three of the game's you've played.

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soimadeanaccount

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#22  Edited By soimadeanaccount

I fully expect the villain stacking to get to you, I have my own issues with it, but at the same time I don't think a game needs to reveal itself as fast as possible. As long as there is enough screen time to flesh out the character I don't think an early introduction is necessary, I think Kuja works, his introduction at the end of disc one is already showing the player there's something more sinister behind it all. There are also characters that don't work... Part of my fondness of Eiko is actually regarding that, her character isn't anything special, but for a character that is introduced late, I think they made it work with some pretty clever trick.

The closest to a simple story of fighting against a world destroying horror from what I have played is probably FFIV. FF1 might also fit the bill? IV however is without a doubt my least favorite FF so far. I dislike it for that exact reason. It is just too simple, there's nothing too unique or that interesting about it (barring a few set pieces.) The presentation of its story beats are set up in two sentences and get resolve essentially 2 screens later making it feels like nothing is really at stake and we are just going through the motion at a would have been accelerated pace if it isn't for the need for level grinding (game is hard) and the padded out gameplay. The game in reality is actually very short. Lots of people however swear by it, perhaps that colored my expectations. The ever so slightly off putting craziness is why I come to FF, I like that despite being probably one of the longest franchise in gaming they try to doing something new, doesn't always work, but it is always at least interesting to see, especially if you consider FF to be the most mainstream within the genre. The thing that actually bugs me the most about FF currently is that it all devolve back to saving the world, FFXII had such promise, but they just have to go back to that well also.

I don't really see an issue with the town engagement format or the lack of one way or another. Perhaps it is a bit convenient that there's usually a town on the way to where you need to go, but that falls on if the game's world building is up to snuff. The functions some of the towns serve might be questionable beside the obvious gameplay related buying/selling/rest, but I don't think a pure side quest hub is positive either. I think both JRPGs and CRPGs are relying on the towns and its NPCs to give the world a lived in feel or as environmental story telling, again falls on if the game is using it well. Also if it is just dungeon after dungeon you wonder if there is actually people who live in the world or if the entire population only exist in that one or two cities. Which...could totally work if that is the world the game is trying to build. Still the town format has been changing in recent games, Persona 3 and 4 only have 1 town and essentially 1 dungeon, XIII doesn't really have a true town either, I think even in X town started dwindling, and large cities in XII serve as hub the player returns to.

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@zombiepie"I... I don't know. Has there every been a Final Fantasy game that just had a story. You know, here's a bunch of people on a quest to stop an unimaginable horror from ruining all life as we know it, and that's it. Is that ever going to happen? Like will I at some point play a game that just has a solid story that doesn't decide to change the genre of the game halfway into the game?"

I'd say that V didn't have any sort of immense whiplash in the story category - but V is a lot more heavily focused on boss battles and game mechanics than a deep story, so it's a bit of an exception. I also don't think VI does this to the extent that a lot of other FF games do. It's certainly goes places that might not be expected, but not to the same extent of pulling a sharp 90 degree turn and veering off into insanity and/or science fiction.

But yeah. Final Fantasy as a series is generally characterised by a deep dive into the unexpected at about the 2/3rds point.

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It's been a long time since I've played IX but for a good long time I always felt it was my favourite of the PS2-era games and I'm pretty sure I still hold to that for the most part.

As for Zidane's crazy flip-flopping of character and mood, could we possibly attribute that to the fact that he's an awkward teen that hasn't really had much interaction aside from an abusive father figure and a bunch of bros in a travelling thieves guild/acting troupe?

The reason being that sometimes the way people deal with heavy situations is to use humour or to do something that distracts from it. Personally, I have sometimes followed up some really somber conversations with a light-hearted quip or something meant to illicit a different emotion (laughter, disgust, maybe some amalgamation of the two) to lighten the mood or to divert attention away from the previously discussed topic. Is it feasible that Zidane is embarrassed/uncomfortable delving into these deeper, more serious topics (such as the story about his past) and so has to go back to his swashbuckling persona in order to change the subject?

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@zombiepie: I can spoil that one of the images in this thread is a summon. :v

Also, yay Lani!

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@zombiepie: The crazy shift trend started with Final Fantasy 6, I think. Before then, most games where pretty straightforward. Final Fantasy 13 basically starts with the Sci-Fi and doesn't really change course, I guess. Final Fantasy 12 is star wars from the jump, too. The Ivalice games in general stay consistent with setting and tone, from my understanding.

Wait, 4 had the Space Whale and a battle on the Moon.. Forgot about that.

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@zombiepie said:

Queen Brahne is no better than the mustache twirling villains that your middle school English teacher implored you to avoid writing in your quarterly unit on creative writing.

...

it is downright baffling how underdeveloped Final Fantasy IX’s initial antagonist is.

Boy, are you playing the wrong series! I'm not sure there are any Final Fantasies that don't have a villain who's evil for the sake of evil and/or insanity. Some are more stylish cartoon villains than others. Some might be sliiightly more nuanced/better justified if you happen to talk to the NPCs who give some of their backstory. There might be a second villain who has a more realistic motive.

I would have no idea because I have only summoned Ramuh and Carbuncle once or twice each. Fun story about Carbuncle. I love to use Carbuncle during bosses that primarily use magic. Lo and behold I learn the hard way that is your party has Reflect cast on it, healing spells FROM YOUR PARTY REFLECT BACK ONTO THE BOSS!

WHY IS THAT A THING!

If you want to Cure your party members who have Reflect, you have to cast Reflect on the boss, then cast Cure on it (and cast any attack spells on your party members). Everyone knows magic only reflects once.

I... I don't know. Has there every been a Final Fantasy game that just had a story. You know, here's a bunch of people on a quest to stop an unimaginable horror from ruining all life as we know it, and that's it. Is that ever going to happen? Like will I at some point play a game that just has a solid story that doesn't decide to change the genre of the game halfway into the game?

I really want to know this.

Boy, are you playing the wrong series! Final Fantasy I is kind of like that. To the best of my recollection, all of the rest have an out-of-nowhere third act. (I haven't played XV yet, so I can't speak for that.) Sometimes, the villain was actually being controlled by an even bigger villain who was never mentioned before! The later installments, it tends to be a more...involved shift than that (but you've already lived through the worst with VIII). VI at least handles it relatively well and somewhat earns it, but it still does change pretty dramatically in the third act.

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To add onto "Final Fantasy has always had weird shifts", even Final Fantasy 1 had time travel in the last act. And that game barely has a plot!

Probably the best ending of the series, that said. Weird to think of it that way.

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#29 ZombiePie  Staff

@lawgamer said:
@kmfrob said:

In all seriousness, the series never managed the transition to spoken dialogue. XII had some charm, but even so the failure to create likeable characters and write convincing dialogue has just made these PS2 era games (and onwards) nigh on impossible to like wholeheartedly (for me anyway).

I have a theory about this. I actually think it's the combination of better graphics and voice acting that started to do the series in. See, way back in the day, the character sprites were these tiny little squat things that obviously couldn't emote that well. So everything needed to be conveyed by music and text. Want to know a character is angry? Then the text should be IN ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!

Then graphics started to get better, so the characters should be a little more expressive. How do you know Steiner is comically angry? Because he does his jumping jack animation. But there still wasn't any voice acting, so a lot of things still needed to be conveyed by music and text. And the graphics weren't so good that the characters looked realistic. They were pretty cartoony.

And then we hit X, which in my opinion is the beginning of the downslide of the series. Now the devs had access to both he graphics necessary to create realistic looking characters and voice acting. The problem that resulted was that the developers went for realistic (rather than cartoony) models, but the characters moved and acted like the text was STILL IN ALL CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!

Which is how you end up with crap like the FFX laughing scene, or pretty much the entirely to FFXIII. You have real-looking characters doing and saying things no one would say or do. I don't know that the phrase "uncanny valley" necessarily fits the situation but its kind of the same thing. The characters just feel "off" because of the way their movements and speech interact with their appearance. They look "real" but act and speak like anime characters.

I think that's partially why I like XII so much. The character animations were relatively subtle and the dialogue, despite the bad attempt at Fancy English, sounds like something people might actually say.

Well then tell me this. Why is it that the anime voice acting community has improved leaps and bounds, but the video game voice acting community has not? Honestly, television animation had many of the maladies you mentioned years ago, but generally speaking not anymore. All of your complaints use to be issues associated with animation in general. Remember how Disney characters use to bob and weave in order to clearly create the illusion of movement? Now we only see that in parody. So ultimately what is hold back this franchise, and the video game industry in general, when every other expressive medium seems to have vaulted over this problem years ago.

I don't have much to say regarding FFIX at the moment, but I have to chime in on the FFXV discussion to say that that game turned out pretty good so far. I'm only in chapter 3 so I'm a far cry from being able to give a solid opinion on it, but so far the cast is people I like being around. The marketing campaign for the game didn't do it any favors in the cast department, I can't argue that, but in-game they are generally cool dudes.

More importantly, perhaps, I believe in their relationships to one another: in trailers it's a lot of dude-bro fist bumping and quips during fights, but as I play I often hear remarks that I myself would say or hear in my own circle of friends--whether it be busting Prompto's balls for his crush on Cindy or checking up with Gladio on whether his sister is okay. My biggest critique so far is that most of the time something happens, everyone has a remark and those lines don't often feel necessarily or in conversation with everyone else's.

Will the cast of FFXV have bonding that I can appreciate like Zidane and Vivi do? Only time will tell, I suppose, but so far the band of four has had some really human moments and that's promising.

Okay... it's not like there's this enormous list of Final Fantasy games I'm already rope-a-doped into playing. Lo and behold SquareEnix decides to continue making new ones that just add to my backlog.

I still do not like what I have seen of the game's combat, but maybe that is also something you have to try before you judge.

Seeing you mention X/X-2 and other games, I'd say that X and X-2 are probably going to be interesting to write about (but perhaps arduous to play), while VI stands up as the title I think you're most likely to enjoy the most.

YO! I thought y'all said to avoid X-2 like the plague? The prospect of playing a "franchise within a franchise" next year is... not exactly something that excites me.

@teddie said:

I sort of want to defend that marriage stuff because, in that instance, every one of Zidane's advances are met with deadpan Garnet ignoring them outright, as opposed to her actually getting uncomfortable or hurt by any of it. It's like a bad comedy routine where the guy chasing the girl keeps falling flat on his face, as the butt of the joke. But it's still not funny, and it's still super dumb, so it deserves all the criticisms you gave it.

I think in regards to the love/hate thing, you'll probably have a better idea once you see it through? Like, they wrap up and follow through on a lot of the game's main themes and storylines really well in disc 4, and it's not going to make the bad stuff retroactively good, but it'll probably make the game feel more "whole", if that makes sense.

So, as a general thing, dunno if you've been aware of this but FFIX was Sakaguchi's last time heading up one of these games (he's the guy who started the franchise), so a lot of stuff is just thrown in there because he wanted it to encompass and represent the series as a whole (on top of doing its own thing). It doesn't really excuse all the tonal shifts (like the hard sci-fi turn, or Mt Gulug being pulled from FF1 for no reason), but I enjoy the references and easter eggs, and playing the game feels like a celebration of that series for me, as well as being a good game on its own merits.

We firstly need to recognize that regardless of how a person responds to harassment, whatever the offending act may be, harassment is still harassment. Even if the intent was to provide Garnet with new opportunities to stand up for herself she is still doing so in the face of unwanted harassment which does the story no favors in terms of increasing my sympathy towards Zidane. Speaking of disc four wrapping things up nicely, @thatpinguino had the audacity to compare Final Fantasy IX's conclusion to "Moby Dick." That is a real thing that came out of his mouth.

The fact Final Fantasy IX is an homage to previous entries in the franchise is a point I have been meaning to bring up, but only briefly touched upon on this episode. The musical tracks which are remixes of older soundtracks have usually been my least favorite in the entire game, and that is especially so with the Black Mage Village music. Other references are far from narrative shattering, but they are usually placed during IX's quiet moments which I already find to be a bore.

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@zombiepie "YO! I thought y'all said to avoid X-2 like the plague? The prospect of playing a "franchise within a franchise" next year is... not exactly something that excites me."

I agree that avoiding X-2 is a fantastic idea. I just saw you mentioning that playing X/X-2 was something you were considering. When I say it might be interesting to write about it, I mean that in the sense of it having a lot of Bad to talk about. I don't think you'd enjoy it. But it could make for some entertainingly nauseated prose.

On the other discussion you were having about the voices in FFX, my two pence is that the real problem with the voices is a lack of direction combined with an attempt to make the English lines match up with the Japanese lip movements, leading to a lot of very oddly paced or phrased conversations. I have a lot of criticisms I would level at X overall, voices one of the smaller, but I think that's the core reason it gets so much flack.

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#31  Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

@mechamarshmallow: FFV doesn't have a crazy back half twist?

In FFV it's reviled that the big bad is an evil tree wizard that came to life by having too many evils sealed in it... from another planet. You find an interdimensional teleporter that teleports you to another planet at the end of that game. You find out one of your primary cast members is a fucking alien. That game is just as, if not more bat shit crazy, than other games in the series.

@zombiepie: To be fair, I invoked Moby Dick as an example of a novel that would be complete bullshit if you completely judged it midway through the story. I didn't compare them in terms of quality.

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@thatpinguino I think you're misconstruing some important information there.

"Other planet" and "Alien" aren't really accurate. You're right that skipping worlds happens, but the bigger part is that the two worlds were originally one and were split into two some time ago, and a big part of the plot is reunifying them into one planet. That sounds kinda crazy but in practice it's closer to two continents coming back into contact after a lengthy blackout than literal alien planets. The big bad being an evil tree filled with demons that can take a human form is a bit weird, I'll grant you that, but that's typical fantasy stuff as far as I'm concerned. Altogether a lot less of a left-turn, IMO, than say, going to the moon.

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@beforet said:

@zombiepie: The crazy shift trend started with Final Fantasy 6, I think. Before then, most games where pretty straightforward. Final Fantasy 13 basically starts with the Sci-Fi and doesn't really change course, I guess. Final Fantasy 12 is star wars from the jump, too. The Ivalice games in general stay consistent with setting and tone, from my understanding.

Wait, 4 had the Space Whale and a battle on the Moon.. Forgot about that.

No way, dude! That's my biggest gripe with all the Matsuno games. They start out as somewhat fantastical political dramas, then in the third act, out come the magic stones and demigods. It's like he can't help himself.

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Having read the post in full now, i want to point out that i found this game damn near forgettable in terms of plot. This is barely a trip down memory lane for me - i can recall almost next to nothing about this game outside some of the main characters and antagonists. Everything else you're writing here isn't checking any mental boxes in my mind.

And we have yet to get to the where it *really* goes off the rails

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#35 ZombiePie  Staff
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#36 Teddie  Online

I don't want to be "enjoined" with FFXIII ever again...

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@zombiepie: I'll believe it when I see it. I've been burned by Square rumors before.

But in case this is true, just remember that you are morally obligated to play every single Final Fantasy game that is both easy to play and capture screenshots for. Oh, and PS4 has a screencap feature. How convenient! :D

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Vgleaks has been wrong before so I wouldn't put too much stock in that but why would you have any problems with getting more games from a series you absolutely adore?

I'll be more interested in the versions of the game that they are putting out. I'd like to finally stop getting mobile ports or even mobile ports of Nintendo DS versions.

The one game on that list I'm really interested in is FF Tactics: War of the Lions. But for that it would need to be the PSP port and not the mobile port of the PSP version. And even then intrepid fan modders would need to fix the problems of War of the Lions (maybe by using the original FF Tactics as a base) to finally end up with the best possible version of that game. A version even Peter Brown would prefer.

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#39  Edited By soimadeanaccount

The XII release will be the one with the zodiac system isn't it? I wonder if they will make even more changes, having specific job per character sounds interesting, but if it is locked...less so.

Not sure what's with all the FFXIII hate, I just finished it and like it quite a lot ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Honestly the open world part of the game is its weakest point, the rush towards the end isn't tied up as nicely as it could have either, but base on the subject matters that's kind of to be expected, combat system is also frustrating at times. Then again I like it because of how different it is and I find its story strangely topical.

Going through FFXIII-2 now...half of my brain feels like it is melting while the other half is interested enough to insist on seeing it to the end, very divisive.

As for comparing video games to any sort of so called "famous classical" fiction that are often put on a pedestal. Honestly I will probably take video games over majority of them. At this point in time they are good as reference materials for definitions since the role they played in history likely serve as the archetype of a certain concept or idea at best, or have become big enough to be the most generic thing ever. Anything trying to be complex are often pretentious bullshit. For actual enjoyment and entertainment there has to be a better way. Which funny enough we can say similar things for video games for better or worse.

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MechaMarshmallow

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@soimadeanaccount"Not sure what's with all the FFXIII hate"

Personally I was interested in some parts of the setting and combat system, but I quit after what felt like hours being stuck with two separate parties of 2 members walking down single corridors full of monsters with no story. I don't know if it gets better after that but the main complaint I hear lines up with my experience, which is that every single event is spaced out by very significant story-devoid travelling.

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Dhutch

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@thatpinguino: Hey, @mechamarshmallow responded to you a bit on this but I should also mention that the worlds situation thing happens before the halfway mark- it's absolutely not a crazy back-half twist. The big bad's nature shows up later, and that IS weird, but.... nothing more than that.

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dudeglove

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@zombiepie: I can believe it could happen. Squeenix technically has a back catalogue of games that would in theory require maybe slightly less effort to remake than it would to make a whole new FF game. Steam is increasingly both a thing in Japan and China, and with restrictions on consoles (albeit you can now get a real legit PS4 in China nowadays since... whatever it was this year-ish, but Sony does have a Shanghai office now), not to mention there's like a BILLION people there, it's not a surprise any of the games would be dumped on steam.

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@zombiepie: All I can say to those rumours are... HELL YEAH BABY. I never got to play Lightning Returns and if the PS4 bundle is true, I'm all on-board.

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#44 thatpinguino  Staff

@dhutch: As someone who's been seeing @zombiepie through all of these games, I can say with certainty that he will flip the fuck out about the twist in FFV. He flips out about the slightest in thematic changes or hints at romantic subplots. When FFV comes around in 2020 or whenever, he will go on for a half hour in some podcast about the stuff I mentioned and I will try to keep him from losing his mind. It's been the same inflection point for him in three games now.

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GERALTITUDE

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Well, that is truly, TRULY hilarious. Thank you Santa, for delivering this early xmas gift to me.

I imagined the horror on your face reading this list and it was pure bliss for me.

As a FF fan, there's a lot to look forward to here, and while lots of this sounds plausible, it definitely reads as a bit of dream-making for a 30th anniversary special. I'm just happy thinking about the modern-day, 16 year old equivalent of me. That kid who has played 1 or 2 FF games and now says to themselves LET'S PLAY EM ALL BABY! and has such easy access to them all.

Granted we have yet to see what the keyboard controls are like! ><

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bennetfan7

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"Boy, are you playing the wrong series! I'm not sure there are any Final Fantasies that don't have a villain who's evil for the sake of evil and/or insanity. Some are more stylish cartoon villains than others. Some might be sliiightly more nuanced/better justified if you happen to talk to the NPCs who give some of their backstory. There might be a second villain who has a more realistic motive."

Except that Brahne is by far the most ridiculous example of this, she makes previous cartoonish and one dimensional antagonists look subtle and realistic in comparison, and Garnet's constant wangsting and momma's girl-ing just made it worse, and her whole "motive" is that she is just "greedy", cause we all know that's what real life dictators and tyrants are like right? Why do people think this game is "realistic" again? This quote from Socksmakepeoplesexy's review sums it up best: "Final Fantasy has had cartoonish villains before, but Brahne takes it to a whole new level. Watching her for too long can make you physically ill".

There is this fanfic called "The Thief and his Princess" which has Beatrix as the Queen and Garnet's mother instead (not to mention having a much better love story and actually develop Amarant), and honestly cements my view that the actual game should have done this.

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bennetfan7

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"I fully expect the villain stacking to get to you, I have my own issues with it, but at the same time I don't think a game needs to reveal itself as fast as possible. As long as there is enough screen time to flesh out the character I don't think an early introduction is necessary, I think Kuja works, his introduction at the end of disc one is already showing the player there's something more sinister behind it all. There are also characters that don't work... Part of my fondness of Eiko is actually regarding that, her character isn't anything special, but for a character that is introduced late, I think they made it work with some pretty clever trick."

The whole thing with Kuja was an incredibly obvious conclusion that the cast should realized WAY earlier, this quote sums it up:

"Moving on, they expect us to buy that she only ran away from home and traveled accross the entire continent to Lindblum JUST to talk to Cid about vague details (that he already knew about, and Garnet could have told him through a letter and Mognet), and nothing else, that's a really weak reason.

What should have been the reason was that Garnet was trying to figure out who that "strange man" prowling the castle was (Kuja), it was incredibly obvious that Kuja was the source of the problem, and that the characters should have been focusing on him straight from the get go, instead of wasting time with the whole pointless Brahne and Burmecia thing (don't fight the symptoms, fight the disease).

If a "suspicious person" (which is an understatement for Kuja, just look at his fashion sense) shows up at your home, starts meeting with your mom, and said mom starts acting crazy, it should be REEEALLLLY obvious that the person responsible is said suspicious stranger and you should find out who he is, where he operates and go after HIM.

Yet in the game Garnet dosen't even remotely come to this obvious conclusion up until after running home like a complete idiot, getting captured, and in her room suddenly proclaimed "*gasp* the incredibly suspicious person whom my mother meets with after which my mother suddenly started acting crazy was the REASON for said mother going crazy, I am TOTALLY SURPRISED by this not-at-all obvious answer that I'm just realizing now and should have seen from the very beginning".

I'm just going to say this is one of the biggest face palm moments in the entire game, it's just another cheap rehash of the "man behind the man" plotline from the previous games, twice with FFIV's King of Baron (fiend of water in disguise) and Golbez (manipulated by Zemus), FFV with multiple people (controlled by Exdeath), FFVIII with Edea (controlled by Ultimecia), those were all less obvious and more vague from the start.

Also I'm just going to put out another massive face palm moment in the entire game involved with this, Cid being aware of the enemy being after the Eidolons, I'm not even kidding here is the line directly from the game: "Brahne was after the <gwok> eidolons. That much, I knew."

*Sigh* So let me get this straight Cid Fabool, you knew that the queen was after the Eidolons yet before all the events that transpired you never bothered to share this INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT information with the cast, ESPECIALLY to the daughter of said queen who has said Eidolons WITHIN HER (that you should be well aware of) so that they would be more cautious?"

Anyways, regarding Eiko, this other quote sums it up: " "I used Eiko because despite being younger than Garnet, she was a far better written and more believable character than her. Garnet, I wanted to strangle the writers for creating such a horribly idiotic person and centering more than half the game around her. Eiko, I found everything she did matched what a real person of her age and maturity would do - and she still didn't manage to get anyone hurt or killed."

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bennetfan7

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FFIX is an overrated game with a lot of problems but you're phrasing it wrong.

ZombiePie, can I just say could you please stop overreacting every time a woman shows love?

Being in love with with someone of the opposite sex is NOT sexist or misogyny, and I hate how you're demonizing Zidane, Zidane is nice guy (my problems with him are that he is generic and clichè, not to mention inconsistent, and that he is supposed to be one of the most powerful characters yet he gets pushed around like a wimp and, to quote one reviewer: "The game's supposed protagonist run around observing events but really doing nothing to change them while the plot becomes increasingly obtuse and contorted."), Garnet is an obnoxious, wangsty, and implausibly naive character that makes selfish and stupid moves such as abandoning Zidane and her friends, and rendering the whole beginning of the game completely pointless, and is really inconsistent, the rest can be summed up in this quote:

"All right, I'll explain why I hate Garnet and don't get why people like her and hate Rinoa.

Rinoa:

1) Starts out immature 2) Gets called out on it 3) After making a giant fuck up, learns from it and shapes up 4) Mostly risks her own life, though others have to fix her mess - something she remains aware of thereafter 5) Has the crappiest luck in the universe, but does not directly serve as the cause of any future problems.

Garnet:

1) Runs away from home because she's afraid her mother is trying to kill her and take over the world 2) Risks the lives of many, many people and causes numerous deaths along her flight from the castle (yes, I count all those Black Mages on the ship as deaths) 3) Upon arrival in Lindblum suddenly proclaims that she refuses to believe her mother is evil and trying to take over the world, despite proof of her unprovoked attack on Burmecia, the slaughter of Black Mages, and the attempts to kill the kidnappers 4) Runs all the way home because apparently she wanted to just talk to her mom 5) Through her stupidity, she gets captured and tortured. Millions of people die from the results of her entirely preventable course of action.

That is why I hate Garnet."

The whole Zidane/Garnet thing is one of the weakest in the series, it could have been one of the best and one of my favourites but it gets ruined by all the horrible and clichè writing.

Here a link to my review that sums things up: https://jmariofan7.deviantart.com/art/FFIX-review-598982715

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