Monday, 25 October 2010

The Final Fallacy

Now before I carry on I want to make it clear that it might be unfair of me using Square Enix as an example, I only say this because I haven’t played any of their recent games myself and this post is working purely on hearsay, but a critique was brought up against them recently and I thought it made a good topic.

Now I don’t know if you ever played or heard about Final Fantasy, but for gamer history it was kind of a big deal. Now the latest one came out of a while ago, and a lot of people didn’t like it (I’ve kept away from recent games because they remind me of everything I hate in anime right now). One of the problems someone pointed out was that Square Enix opted for style over substance.

What many final fantasy fans might not release is that the games have always walked the tightrope of style and substance. Many would claim that this ‘decline’ of substance actually started around the most popular one, 7, and continued onwards until the latest one, but these people don’t quite understand what the substance of these later games actually was.

Now you outsiders have an interesting position on this debate, if you’ve heard of Final Fantasy you’ve probably heard a fan’s almost crusader like admiration for their favourite Final Fantasy. But your just sitting there wondering, aren’t they just the same games?

This is the core issue at work here during this debate between the series, everyone, especially the fans, on some level expects them to be the same game.

You see Final Fantasy is a very interesting specimen because despite having so many similarities with each instalment, there all radically different from one another. Each game has a unique theme with which to tell its story, and at the end of the day the debate about which is the best is actually all about this central theme.

For example 8’s central film is friendship and trust, it’s about learning to believe in others and yourself. 9’s is Mortality, the inevitability of death and how the characters interact with that. 10 is all about the sins of the past, how they shape us, and asks, should we suffer for the sins of our fathers?

Now the great final fallacy (Haha, see what I did there?) is the fact that the first one you play is most likely going to be your favourite. After you have a favourite one you’ll expect the others to be much like it. So the reason that there is so much outrage between the games is because most people are expecting a continuation of their central theme, and thus are disappointed when this doesn’t happen. When you first play one you’re usually judging it on its own merits, but the instant you play another your now judging it against the one you like… There is no way to stop this, it’s just human nature.

In many cases you might simply dislike these themes, or not understand that their there at all. For example I really really dislike 7. I played it, and I hated every moment of it. I was never going to like 7 because my heart already belonged to another, and I was never going to give it a chance.

But this doesn’t just apply to the theme you see, it applies to every single aspect of these games. The graphics are different, the visual style, and even the gameplay is always different in some way… and it’s hard to not be disappointed that it’s not just all the same. I think the best example of this is the character Sid… In final fantasy Sid is always a character, there’s always someone called that, but his role in each game is usually vastly different… from being a background character, to a side char, to a main one, to even a player character… This is the point I’m trying to make, in many ways the Final Fantasy games are the same, but in just as many ways their very different.

At the end of the day this is what separates the fan base and it’s not something easy to admit to yourself. You might think to yourself “Duh I already knew this” but you need to have a good long look at yourself… no weaselling out of it, and understand that you do this and you are not correct in any way for doing it. By simple human nature it is very hard to comprehend that you could be mistaken, and that your opinion might have no merits what so ever.

Another complaint that rises up often between the games is the fact that the main character is annoying and dumb, or that some other character is annoying. First of all you don’t truly understand what annoying is if this gets you riled up, you think to yourself that there’s no way there could be anyone more annoying than this. You are wrong. Perhaps you thought Jar Jar Binks was f*** annoying, but you took solace in the fact he’s not real… and then you will meet that person who is just like him… and your faith in humanity will die that day….


You might think that this critique doesn’t apply to your favourite main character, but it probably does. There would be no character growth if there were no failings, so they have to be annoying or dumb in some regards. Perhaps you were upset that the latest characters look like wimpy girls? News flash, if the hardware had allowed it that’s probably what all the characters would look like. Did you not see that amazing wind like art that *is* Final Fantasy? If you’re thinking your 2d characters were immune to that you’re wrong, that’s exactly how they would have looked.

Alright so hopefully we now all understand a little more about the Final Fantasy games, but we still need to talk about the latest one. Now as I’ve already said I haven’t played it so I can’t be sure… But from what I’ve heard I think I’d agree that the latest one has chosen style over substance and not released what a mistake that was. If you look seriously at the final fantasy series the gameplay and the story have largely been two separate entities… they might have crossed over here and there but largely the context of the gameplay makes no sense in the context of the story.

Now you might be thinking, how would that work? Surely that hurts the whole game? But actually if anything it might have been FF’s greatest strength. I mean think about it for a second… you can tell any story you want… but have any sort of gameplay that you want. For a game designer this must be great, because you’re not limited to the rules of the setting and can go bat bananas with the gameplay (Which is why the characters can summon meteors, but when the story comes around suddenly giant robots worry them).

To me it seems like the latest FF has tried to merge the story and the gameplay and discovered that if you do this you are limited by the setting, which could be one of the many reasons they chose to take out lots of gameplay features. But I don’t really know.

The point I'm trying to make is that Final Fantasy fans are insane, and you should stay away from them.

... Myself included.

(Man, you don't even know.... When someone says something bad about the FF I like I become F***ing irrational... I can not control it at all)

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