When Square does me good, they do me so good. Everything came together, and the game finally became mine. I report with much elation that the game is 100% in English, including all dialogue, menus and subtitles. Why the subtitles weren’t in Japanese (it is a game released in Japan, after all) made little sense to me, but I wonder if it’s not some Xbox system setting that makes the game say “Oh! You’re a gaijin – well, boy do we have a treat for you.”
It’s as if – more than anything including the inclusion of an “Easy Mode” – that they took the American Xbox version of Final Fantasy XIII and simply unlocked the region coding. And bless their goddamned hearts.
I thought about that Easy Mode and asked my son what he thought I should do. On one hand, it was the newest feature, and ostensibly the only thus-far “unplayed” game the world-over. On the other, it meant that if I started losing, then I must really suck. My son picked Normal mode – by chance or choice, I do not know, but I knew the moment he pushed the button that it was the right thing to do. We could play Easy mode as a reward for doing it right the first time, much like the 90-level New Game+ I opened up after finishing XII this year.
And we began. It is such a stunning beautiful thing that 90% of the stuff that should annoy me (the characters, the unending corridor gameplay, the convoluted combat system) does not.
It might be the music. And even that should annoy me somewhat, because it’s not by Nobuo Uematsu, who did the score for Final Fantasies 1-11. But I’m telling you right now that Masashi Hamauzu is a composer with a brilliant pounding heart – so good that I may even have to dip in to Unlimited Saga after I’m done with FFXIII just to get more. His confounding and astounding manipulation of motif, melody, and transition places me squarely in the world illustrated: A futuristic megacorpopolyptic machine hell earthbound to the primeval with ancient, flowing magic. The sadness of the day promising inevitable conflict for a better tomorrow.
Yes, I am in love with this game. I even got to hook it up to the good TV this last weekend. When I had to take it back to my den to play on the analog set, it was like I lost an eye. But soon the holidays will be upon us, leaving me entire day to camp out in front of the Regza, until the quilt of a heated kotatsu, enjoying hot water and shochu and all other exotic pleasures with weird names as I play through the chaotic beauty of this epic-ass motherfucker of a game.