Deep Listens: All Aboard the FF Paine Train: Part 1

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Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -
All aboard!
All aboard!

Deep Listens is a gaming podcast series I'm recording with a few of my friends. Every two weeks we pick and play a new game and then discuss it from a literary, philosophical, and game design perspective. Its kind of like a book club for video games. We try to dig as deep as we can on an individual game every episode so check it out!

In our inaugural FFX-2 podcast Gino and Chris "ZombiePie" -REDACTED- answer a trove of listener questions and free-style the lyrics to Suteki Da ne. We then discuss the game's opening fever dream and feel sad about games. We cover all of the events of chapter 1 and let me tell you, this is one of the darker FF episodes. FFX-2 is a bad game peaople. FFX-2 is a bad game.

All Aboard the FF Paine Train: Part 1

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#1 Posted by KingBonesaw (1090 posts) -

Seeing this made me glance over at my bookshelf that I fill with random books (since who wants an empty bookshelf) and noticed this:

I'm dumb
I'm dumb

My limited edition FFX-2 strategy guide I got when the game came out. I used to be such a fucking mark for Final Fantasy that I was way too excited for this game. The game sucks.

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#2 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@kingbonesaw: I have that too, but nothing beats my metal boxed copy of FFXII with matching limited edition guide book.

I hate FFXII so much.

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#3 Edited by Justin258 (15025 posts) -

@kingbonesaw: I have that too, but nothing beats my metal boxed copy of FFXII with matching limited edition guide book.

I hate FFXII so much.

I have been playing the PS4 re-release of FFXII and it's only reinforced the notion that FFXII is the only FF I've enjoyed as much as IV and VI.

The most interesting thing about this series is the vastly differing opinions on the quality of each entry.

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#4 Edited by liquiddragon (2543 posts) -

I thought it was a fun game though I consider it FFX fan fic or alternate universe and refuse to believe the 2 have any actual connection. What the hell, and you don't like FF12?

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#5 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@liquiddragon: I remember finding the combat boring and the opening is so long and boring that I haven't replayed it.

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#6 Posted by Please_Love_Me (118 posts) -

I like X-2 a lot, enough to platinum it on the Vita remake. I was bed-ridden for most of that and probably wouldn't have gone out of my way ordinarily, but I really enjoyed it.

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#7 Posted by TheRealTurk (202 posts) -

@kingbonesaw: I have that too, but nothing beats my metal boxed copy of FFXII with matching limited edition guide book.

I hate FFXII so much.

Nonsense. FFXII is a representation of all that is good and pure in this world. It is a pleasure to listen to those characters talk. Any game that has a character use the word "quiddity" properly in a sentence is good in my book.

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#8 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15162 posts) -

Inject this damn podcast into my veins. I've been waiting for this.

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#9 Posted by jeffrud (599 posts) -

Don't hurt my precious stupid game child!

For real though, I'm stoked to listen to this tomorrow. This is one of my favorite podcasts on all the Citadels.

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#10 Posted by hawk767 (23 posts) -

@thatpinguino: How spoilery do you guys get with these podcasts. I don't have major issues with having aspects of games, story or otherwise, spoiled I'd like to know going in so I know which episodes I may want to avoid until I get around to playing the game. Added you guys to my podcast app though and will get some episodes downloaded over night for my work day driving this week, looks like a killer series.

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#11 Posted by Vasta_Narada (715 posts) -

@hawk767: Haven't listened to it yet, but I'm going to say very. The FF podcasts in general go through major story points in sequence and talk about them. This is true for all the podcasts in general but especially for the FF ones.

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#12 Posted by hawk767 (23 posts) -

@vasta_narada: Alright, I figured as much, I'll probably just steer clear of certain topics like I do with people like Noah Gervais on youtube who does a similar point to point breakdown of games.

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#13 Posted by GundamGuru (730 posts) -

@thatpinguino: I'd be interested in what about the combat of FFXII you found boring, and if you thought a 2x or 4x speedup would improve it any (since they added that in the remake). I, for one, found the XII remake to be a nice return-to-form after years of XIII and now XV. If only there were an option to make Vaan wear a shirt.

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#14 Edited by Vasta_Narada (715 posts) -

I'm coming around on the gameplay in XII with the remaster, honestly. Like Gino, when I played the original XII I thought the combat was super boring. Especially since it's optimal to just setup sick gambits and let the characters do their thing. Maybe my tastes just changed, or the fact that I'm streaming TZA and talking about it/other stuff while fighting is doing work, but something about the combat is clicking now. Adjusting gambits is fun in a puzzle-game-sort of way, and trash mobs are easily sped through with a click of the button and switching on my lead character's gambits. On top of that, the licence board is actually interesting now since characters are funneled into loose classes instead of all being increasingly generalist (and broken) a la the sphere grid. And they got rid of the spell queuing so there's no longer someone stuck with a full ATB waiting to cast a spell because another character is casting.

@freedom4556: The solution to Vaan's shirtlessness is to not use Vaan and ignore him when he's on-screen in a cutscene. It's what he deserves anyway.

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#15 Edited by Jesus_Phish (3487 posts) -

@thatpinguino: FFX-2 is a bad game. But it also has probably my favourite or second favourite leveling and combat system in any Final Fantasy game. Bringing the job system from FF tactics over (and stupidly renaming it Dress-Sphere) was a great idea (not the Dress-Sphere name though).

It's just a shame that the rest of the game is a mess and somehow has a bad version of blitzball in it.

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#16 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@jesus_phish: FFX-2 has the makings of a great combat system. It just has a bunch of terrible design decisions dragging the core down. We go really deep on all of the small issues that ruin the combat for me in the show, but here's a not-so-short list:

  • Characters can be interrupted indefinitely
  • Queuing up chains is more tricky than it should be due to characters taking terrible paths to enemies
  • Character positioning is important, but you can't control it at all
  • Class AP is not shared among all party members, so you need to grind the same class 3 times if you want full flexibility
  • Characters gain AP by acting, so slower classes and MP reliant classes level slower than faster classes
  • Many classes wind up feeling interchangeable because the enemies in FFX-2 are much less differentiated than in FFX
  • A bunch of FFX systems are just thrown out with no explanation
  • Some of the classes are broken and others are next to useless
  • The special dress spheres are broken
  • Healing items have a charge time before you can use them, making timing revival items difficult in fast-paced battles

FFX-2 might have the best base combat system that I ultimately ended up disliking due to sloppy design. And I love class systems! I did a fucking FFV Four Job Fiesta for the GBCER! I love playing with weird jobs!

@freedom4556: I found XII to be more of a programming exercise than an engaging system to play on a moment to moment basis. When you don't have your gambits set up properly, you're at a disadvantage and the game feels like a bad MMO. When you've configured your gambits well, the game plays itself. I never found either of the poles to be fun.

I really disliked the combat in XIII as well for similar "the game plays itself" reasons. I haven't played XV yet.

Honestly, X is the last FF game who's combat I've unreservedly enjoyed.

@jeffrud: FFX-2 knows what it did.

@therealturk: Maybe some day I'll play past the beginning of FFXII and find out the game is great (this series will force me to at some point). But until that day, I have no real fond memories of XII and I spent dozens of hours playing it.

@hawk767:In the episode descriptions I always spell out what story points we're going to cover. In this one it's all of chapter 1. I usually mention the start point for discussion and the end point.

The podcast is effectively a spoilercast/book club for games so we go deep on every game we talk about.

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#17 Edited by odinsmana (917 posts) -

FF X-2 is a really dumb game and I really enjoy it. It`s greatly helped by having my favorite combat system in the series. It`s the only time I have liked a job system in a non-tactics JRPG and I just thought it was a ton of fun. Man, I kinda want to go back and play it now. Can`t wait to listen to the podcast.

Also FFXII was and is great. I was not sure if it was going to hold up, but I really enjoyed playing through the Zodiac Age. I guess it`s a testament to how varied the series is that so many of the entries are so incredibly devise.

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#18 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3487 posts) -

@thatpinguino: It's been a good while since I played it, but I'll take your word on how broken it might be. However none of that mattered to me when I played through it on release all those years ago. Some of them I even liked.

I liked the character positions thing, though my memory of it was you could sort of control it by knowing that if you did ability A you'd end up over at point 1. So if you didn't want to end up there out of worry that an AOE would hit you and someone else, don't do ability A. That could be entirely wrong though! The same with the healing items. It made it feel like you had to be careful about when to use them instead of just throwing them out whenever.

Still, it's been a long time since I played it so I could be entirely wrong about how good I remember it being. It's blitzball fucking sucked though, I know that much.

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#19 Posted by GundamGuru (730 posts) -

@freedom4556: I found XII to be more of a programming exercise than an engaging system to play on a moment to moment basis. When you don't have your gambits set up properly, you're at a disadvantage and the game feels like a bad MMO. When you've configured your gambits well, the game plays itself. I never found either of the poles to be fun.

I really disliked the combat in XIII as well for similar "the game plays itself" reasons. I haven't played XV yet.

Honestly, X is the last FF game who's combat I've unreservedly enjoyed.

I had an interesting discussion about the "plays itself" criticism with my brother. If you set the combat system to wait (which I think it's on by default?) with Gambits off then it plays just like an ATB FF, but with real-time movement. Which is also happens to be a fix for the "no control of position" complaint against X-2. The menu systems are definitely a bit clunky for that as far as switching between characters to issue manual commands, but it is the amount of micromanagement I needed to handle a few of the game's harder bosses. That said, the trash mobs were always completely boring, and many of the dungeons pointlessly large. It is funny on some level that playing less of that game (at 4x fast forward) makes it better.

I bounced off of X-2 back in the day because of the tonal and stylistic shifts. I remember powering though about a dozen hours of it later with a guide, and still falling off because of the tedium. Do either of you have any experience with the infamous Via Infinito? It'll be interesting to see where you guys are at on X-2 by the end of the feature. It remains one of my few "ones that got away" that I've yet to finish.

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#20 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@thatpinguino: It's been a good while since I played it, but I'll take your word on how broken it might be. However none of that mattered to me when I played through it on release all those years ago. Some of them I even liked.

I liked the character positions thing, though my memory of it was you could sort of control it by knowing that if you did ability A you'd end up over at point 1. So if you didn't want to end up there out of worry that an AOE would hit you and someone else, don't do ability A. That could be entirely wrong though! The same with the healing items. It made it feel like you had to be careful about when to use them instead of just throwing them out whenever.

Still, it's been a long time since I played it so I could be entirely wrong about how good I remember it being. It's blitzball fucking sucked though, I know that much.

Most of these annoyances don't ruin your ability to progress. They do make close battles feel much more like a crap shoot. Like in one battle I had an enemy that would reduce the whole party to 1 hp and mp. If it caught me with my ATBs in a bad spot, I couldn't heal before it acted again and killed most of my party. Or sometimes a character would take a weird looping route towards an enemy because multiple characters were moving at once, costing me time and running straight into the path of an attack.

It wasn't game-breaking, it just felt unfinished and rough.

@thatpinguino said:

@freedom4556: I found XII to be more of a programming exercise than an engaging system to play on a moment to moment basis. When you don't have your gambits set up properly, you're at a disadvantage and the game feels like a bad MMO. When you've configured your gambits well, the game plays itself. I never found either of the poles to be fun.

I really disliked the combat in XIII as well for similar "the game plays itself" reasons. I haven't played XV yet.

Honestly, X is the last FF game who's combat I've unreservedly enjoyed.

I had an interesting discussion about the "plays itself" criticism with my brother. If you set the combat system to wait (which I think it's on by default?) with Gambits off then it plays just like an ATB FF, but with real-time movement. Which is also happens to be a fix for the "no control of position" complaint against X-2. The menu systems are definitely a bit clunky for that as far as switching between characters to issue manual commands, but it is the amount of micromanagement I needed to handle a few of the game's harder bosses. That said, the trash mobs were always completely boring, and many of the dungeons pointlessly large. It is funny on some level that playing less of that game (at 4x fast forward) makes it better.

I bounced off of X-2 back in the day because of the tonal and stylistic shifts. I remember powering though about a dozen hours of it later with a guide, and still falling off because of the tedium. Do either of you have any experience with the infamous Via Infinito? It'll be interesting to see where you guys are at on X-2 by the end of the feature. It remains one of my few "ones that got away" that I've yet to finish.

My issue was more with stuff like the clunky character swapping in manual mode. Though speeding up the game when gambits are engaged sounds appealing.

I have never played Via Infinito and I never will. Playing more FFX-2 sounds like a bad time.

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#21 Posted by Dixavd (2827 posts) -

Hearing you two read my email on Yojimbo brought me so much joy. I even played it for my sister who found it humorous (both the fact you read it, but also that I bothered to write).

Also yes, my follow-up email on FFX is still on the way. Maybe I'll even include why I still really like FFX-2 (and why I don't see that as contrary to FFX being my favourite game of all time).

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#22 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@dixavd: Glad to hear it! Thanks for sending in such great feedback! I would love to hear some more stuff about the good FFX game.

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#23 Posted by Teddie (2029 posts) -

FFX-2 is such an insulting game because they clearly designed it with strategy guides in mind. I'm glad books "died" before that practice could catch on big-time. Talking to random NPCs!!! at specific times!!! counts towards your total completion!!!

I can totally see what they were trying to do with this game. The font treatment and the zoom-ins to give you a big dumb "YRP" logo and "cool" group poses is just the kind of ridiculous fun that would make this game okay. But then they drop that immediately, going right back to the stilted cut/paste animations, bad lipsync, and boring quests. I have to wonder if modern budgets/resources and... maybe Platinum Games directing it? could have made this game actually work.

Also, please, please make a bonus episode where you explore the FFX audio dramas and junk that emerged with the HD remaster.

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#24 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@teddie: At least FFX-2 didn't have FFIX's guide! FFX-2's guide will at least tell you what to do!

The drop off in quality between the mainline missions and the optional areas is so dang huge in this game. The opening is odd, but at least it's stylish! Things like the Mihen Highroad missions and Luca missions feel like grad school projects that didn't get finished.

What are the FFX audio dramas and what is the junk that emerged with the HD remaster?

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#25 Posted by Teddie (2029 posts) -

@thatpinguino: This and this. The wiki summaries should be all you need to see, I don't know if they ever got english translations. They sure are fun.

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#26 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@teddie: Boy do those look bad and dumb.

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#27 Posted by Mamba219 (233 posts) -

FFX-2, while pretty mediocre all the way through, does happen to have what is perhaps the best cutscene in the entire FF series, if not all RPGs.

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#28 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@mamba219: Which one? Spoiler tags please, just in case ZP looks in here.

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#29 Edited by Mamba219 (233 posts) -

@thatpinguino said:

@mamba219: Which one? Spoiler tags please, just in case ZP looks in here.

The Thousand Words cutscene. I think that scene tells a more compelling love story than the entire 50 hour affair of Final Fantasy X. Plus, for whatever reason, the localizers totally went balls-to-the-wall with the production values, nailing the lip-sync in a way they never did until Final Fantasy XII. One of the best three minutes in RPG history - too bad the rest of the game isn't up to the same standard.

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#30 Posted by ThatPinguino (2779 posts) -

@mamba219: We are rapidly approaching that scene and I cannot wait till we hit it.

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