(Stuck with lousy PS2 emulator screencaps, as usual, even though I’m playing on PS3. Grumble.)
In our last recap, city slicker Tidus discovered what it’s like to be utterly alone (apart from giant fish monsters, ghosts in trippy flashbacks and the odd judgmental seagull). I ended the post with Tidus staggering about with 6HP in a boss fight, thanks to some idiot who forgot to save.
Keep in mind that apart from a quick nap, Tidus has just lived through a full day ending with a blitzball tournament, his entire city and all his friends being exterminated, his first taste of combat, getting sucked into Sin’s sphincter for a traumatizing encounter with Dad, a couple of boss battles and a fetch quest in a cold, wet, dark ruined temple. I’m always impressed by how Final Fantasy characters seem to careen from one life-threatening crisis to the next on next to no sleep.
Also, he missed out on two dinner dates, so he’s hungry enough to eat a sahagin.
Later. Now it’s time for him to gulp a Potion and meet the grease monkeys of Spira.
Into Spira one more time, with feeling. The remaster’s title screen now features “A Fleeting Dream,” putting us right in the groove. Whatever one may say about Tetsyua Nomura’s belt fixation or Motomu Toriyama’s disturbingtendencies, composer Nobuo Uematsu is indelibly awesome. The remaster has done only a light touch-up on this piece. For the most part, I approve of the remastered tracks.
My Sir Auron figure is back to babysitting the kids again. Poor guy can’t catch a break.
Expert Sphere Grid, here I come. With most of FFX memorized, I’m excited for anything new. (I’ve never played FFX International).
Savvy FFX players know to start the game before watching the oddly subdued opening sequence, since it repeats with NewGame. My gaming-buddy Mintywolf notes that slow pacing in the prologue is a common feature in Japanese cinematography, in contrast to boom-pow-hook-the-audience-now Hollywood.
So. In a barren, blasted wasteland that I initially took for the remains of a bombed-out city, our heroes sit around a pathetic little campfire looking more bedraggled than heroic.
She’s the one with the ginormous sword in this story, right?
The Heterosexual Leading Pair are introduced right off the bat with a shared look, a lean-in, and a gentle touch that shows genuine affection without being in our face about it. I still love the original faces, particularly Yuna’s, which is a little earthier and less dainty than her HD model.
The intro scene gave the game designers a chance to show off their new (now old) facial expression rendering software, but there’s more to this scene than “yo, look at our amazing PS2PS3 PS4 graphics, baby!” Final Fantasy likes to fling players in media res. Just to shake things up, FFX tosses us in termina res, right near the end unless you count a bazillion sidequests.
I have unfinished FFVII and FFX Let’s Plays, I haven’t gotten to Lightning Returns, I was wasting time playing Kingdom Hearts for the first time, and I’ve fallen hopelessly behind in Final Fantasy fan discussions and game commentary on moogle_university. My FFX novella, Love Her and Despair, is languishing with the last five chapters in a messy and forgotten state.
What a PERFECT time to start a new game playthrough!
Zencribnotes on Tumblr inspired me to try Final Fantasy Dimensions again. It’s an iPad/Android native Final Fantasy game that came out in 2010. When I last tackled it, I couldn’t fully appreciate how much it was a homage to the early FFs. Now, by golly, I’m going to play Final Fantasy Nostalgia Bingo, because that’s the main virtue of this game.
I’m laaaate starting my FFVI gameblog, although I started it at the beginning of the month.
Opening FMV analysis time!
When I first started playing Final Fantasy in the VII-VIII-X era, I was mildly bemused by a series whose releases seemed at first to have almost nothing in common but their titles and big yellow birds. As I’ve worked my way backwards, I’ve enjoyed that “click” of recognition whenever I spot recurring elements: FFXII’s glossair ring airships, the trains of FFVII and VIII, the Evil Empire (“empire bad, kingdom good,” as we first learned all the way back in FFII), and the tragic/unearthly damsel. FFVI’s mechs, however, are almost a first for the series (I say almost, since Doctor Lugae, the Hojo lookalike in FFIV, drove one in his boss battle).
It’s interesting to see how the old FF character classes of white mage, black mage, fighter, thief, ranger, ninja, summoner, monk and berserker are submerged yet remain visible beneath the surface. (Coming to the franchise so late, I was puzzled about fans calling Tifa a monk, or Cid a dragoon, or why Kimahri was blue. Now I understand!)
Like any good opening FMV of the mature FF years, this one raises all sorts of questions about who-what-where-why that will only become intelligible on a replay.
As usual, I’d like to start my Let’s Play Final Fantasy with (1) a link to Moogle University’s FFV write-ups which inspired my own playthrough and (2) the opening FMV from the PS1 remaster (Final Fantasy Anthology, 2003, which is what hooked me on this game despite the flatter-than-Data’s-poetry localization):
Dear Squeenix, when you turn Amano’s concept art into 3D, you do not have to leave their skin the color of a piece of paper.
It’s amazing how quickly graphics look dated, isn’t it? But Uematsu’s music still soars.
I adore the outrageous spines and jewels sticking out of everything, especially that pirate ship.
Black trenchcoat? Check. Katana? Check. Bishie badassitude? Check. Sephiroth, you are a cheap imitation of the ORIGINAL appearance of this character design. Nyah nyah.
Now let’s start the iOS edition.
Okay! I’m not entirely happy with the stretched iOS redraws of the original character sprites. So, while I’m going to be screencapping from iOS FF5, I’ll be featuring some original-game sprites from videogamesprites.net for snark & commentary. Also, just to be even more confusing, the iOS version appends Amano’s original character portraits to speech boxes — concept art that the in-game sprite designers sometimes completely ignored!
Note: Boldface is actual game dialog, non-bold is my paraphrase, or…er…embellishments.
The original, 1990 Japanese Final Fantasy III starts out differently. It’s much more like FFI, with four completely generic, unnamed “Onion Knights” (aka “Onion Kids”) bumbling into a cave after an earthquake.
Here’s a derpy fan translation of the original:
Official Square material makes all four of them 14, whence the kawaii generic Onion Knight representing FFIII in Dissidia.
In 2006, FFIII finally came out in English via a Nintendo DS remaster that made the heroes more than cardboard and converted 8-bit sprites to 3D chibis. That’s the version that got ported to iOS. So with apologies to old-school purists…
After two months of discovering the joys of FF games I’ve never played before, it’s back to one of my recent favorites, Final Fantasy III. I and my iPad fell in love with this game last year, thanks to the remaster graphics that melted my cynical Grinch heart and won me over with the Power of Cute.
This doesn’t happen often. I was deeply suspicious of Mr. Rogers as a child, for Valefor’s sake, just because he was a little too saccharine. However, something about this band of heroic superdeformed polygon people managed to win me over to the point that…
Once you start down the chibi path, forever will it dominate your destiny.
Anyway, I have never seen any particular fandom with this game, before today, when I discovered this:
Which is awesome, because I always approve of obscure characters getting cosplay love. It’s obviously based on the opening FMV added to the Nintendo DS remaster a few years back:
I have to say: Luneth, Ingus, WTF? I don’t recall any particular friction between these two characters in the actual game. Guess I’d better pay more attention.
Nonetheless, I love this FMV for all the Final Fantasy Nostalgasm imagery rendered so magnficently: airship, chocobos, characters who like each other (this makes me happy), Behemoth, Aerith praying, the crystal, some of Uematsu’s glorious music,* and for once some actual costume changes, thanks to the Job System, giving us updated 3D renderings of some of FF’s original character classes: white mage, red mage, black mage, fighter. Most of all I love Arc with his nose buried in his books, and that simple image of the party doing party things in camp, which FF games seldom show.
(I will, however, boo Squeenix for giving the White Mage job to the girl. Really? Don’t you ever get tired of that? Oh, right, you finally wised up with Lightning and Fang. Sigh.)
*As a matter of fact, I first saw this FMV projected behind a live Distant Worlds concert performed by the San Diego Orchestra. Yay!
All right. I’m starting to get into recap mode when I haven’t got my recap together. Hang on, we’re in for an ADORKABLE journey!