Dual Flurry Fantasies

Happy New Year, at least I fully anticipate it to be, and plan, in fact, to berate like an impotent softball coach should it betray my expectations in any way.

Last year, I started no less than seven different Final Fantasy games and finished zero of them. This year, I’ve already begun two. I’d just like to talk about these two to kick off this year of entries and hope to finish with an appetite to vomit up more about the kind of EpicuzitrY going on these days.

There’s probably like 24 more hours to pick up Final Fantasy V for the iOS on the App Store at half price. The game usually goes for ¥1800 which always seemed too high, although I would jump off a moving train to get it for the Gameboy Advance at that price. Weird, right? Well, for ¥900 this game became mine shortly after the start of the new year, and has a lot of shit going for it besides just being a kick fucking ass classic FF from the golden SNES era.

I like the clock. At first I didn’t know what it was, because there just were four numbers displayed in a 2×2 grid pattern in the upper-left corner of the screen that seemed to have no bearing on the quest, but as they changed, a pattern emerged, and I realized it was the time of day in the real world. It is not intrusive, and I like it.

I can do without the graphics update which makes the characters look cartoonish and goofy. The Amano artwork in the dialogue bubbles is sweet as pussy sugar, but the sprites do not reflect this flavor at all. In FFV, the four main characters take on various “jobs” like White Mage, Ninja, Barbarian, etc., and each job has its own costume which usually looks cool. However, the sprites do not wear their job costumes in the overworld, which is some pretty lazy shit if you think about it.

Touch screen battling is easy enough to pick up, and mastering it can really save your ass, especially if you choose to go ATB instead of having all characters and monsters wait for each other to take their turns. You can switch between both battle modes at any time, too, and I thought it was really benevolent of them to offer both options.

However, the truly fantastic element of this particular incarnation of the game is that you can listen to whatever the hell you want through your earphones, and not worry about the game’s BGM cutting in. I listen to a hell of a lot of podcasts and radio shows, and sometimes even the sound of music, and it is often when I want to listen to when I play long, grind-heavy RPGs. Final Fantasy for iOS allowed this at first, but then some update fucked it all up and suddenly I was stuck listening to the same old game music again. Again, no offense to maestro Uematsu, but after hearing the FFI battle theme for the 397,000th time, you crave any kind of variety. With this version of FFV, not only can you keep an external app on your device playing, but you can also adjust the volume of the game’s BGM and actually listen to both without the two soundtracks shitting all over each other. It’s fucking wonderful and has guaranteed that this game will actually be finished sometime this year.

So that’s FFV. The other new game was also purchased at a holiday discount. For one day only, at only five copies per GEO store, Final Fantasy XIII-2 was to be priced at ¥999. I kept this information quiet and lined up at the store 15 minutes before it opened. The only other people doing the same thing were a young Japanese couple. When I left the store, they had a copy, I had a copy, and GEO had no more copies. I wanted to high five them, but thought the dude might be high on speed because it was freezing cold outside and he was wearing sandals without socks.

I liked Final Fantasy XIII well enough. I don’t really consider it an RPG, but it is a kick-balls fantasy adventure (with a killer soundtrack), and there’s more roaming freedom than what a lot of folks would have you believe. I only vaguely remembered the ending, and as it turns out, that is the ideal way to begin Part 2. You’re not sure about the events that happened, and neither is the main character. Things she thought she knew have become mysteriously forgotten by all the people around her, and it’s like a lot of shit never even happened, when it’s actually all up in the air. Time travel and destiny cementing and all that. I suppose the only way to really determine the ending of XIII is to play XIII-2, which is kind of the point of a sequel, isn’t it?

I’m playing it in Japanese, which slows me down some, but I find I’m a lot more tolerant about listening to dreamy, melodramatic ramblings if they’re not in my native language. Possibly because they’re easier to dismiss, but I think it actually has something to do with Japanese theatrical convention that has actors go over the top to match a sort of caricature voiceprint, while in English we tend to demand a dramatic rendering that is indistinguishable from reality. Not only do you lose a lot in translation, but the actions of the characters do not reflect what actual people do, so the illusion quickly evaporates in a game where one minute they’re doing backflips from a dragon and the next, they’re crying, punching the ground, and looking up at the sky repeating some platitude like “I promise,” over and over.

Okay, basically I hate Snow. However, in the brief flashback I saw him in, I could kind of buy his character thanks to his over-the-top anime voice in Japanese.

The only other shit I have to say is that it’s a beautiful game. Watch anything on YouTube. Also, I hope you like that weird-ass frenetic combat system, because it’s back in full force.

So begins 2014. Let’s eat a horse.

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