Tag Archives: final fantasy

Final Fantasy XV and Modern Japanese RPGs

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I was able to take a bit of time out to play the first few hours of Final Fantasy XV, and I’m a bit surprised at how much tries to feel like modern big-budget role playing games while preserving many of the common tenets of traditional Japanese RPGs. I don’t know if this game has had a polarized reception, but overall I like the direction of what I’ve seen so far. I just don’t really know how it lands the execution of its ideas compared to similar games. Continue reading

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The Real Situation With JRPGs In The West

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During a discussion on GAF stemming from Square Enix’s comments about the popularity of the Dragon Quest games outside Japan, someone posted a chart that, if legit, proves something about the Japanese RPG market in general I think a lot of people may miss. This has to do with the actual size of that market which has colored conversations on the shifting fortunes of JRPGs in western territories over the years. Continue reading

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How Much Can Final Fantasy XV Really Rebuild The Franchise?

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So Square Enix is finally confident enough about Final Fantasy XV to go big with the marketing. Everyone’s talking about the recovery of the franchise. With all the progress we’ve seen so far on the game and the legitimate hype surrounding it, to me this still feels like only the first step on the road to recovery, a recovery that could still be a fragile one. Continue reading

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10 Years Later: Final Fantasy XII Should Have Been The Future Of Console RPGs

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So Final Fantasy XII is 10 years old (in Japan). I usually don’t say a lot about the anniversaries of individual entries in game franchises, but this one stands out for me. FFXII is easily my favorite main Final Fantasy game, and the first point where I made a legitimate effort to get into the series. More than that though, I look back on it as a critical turning point for where console role-playing games could have gone in contrast to where they actually went. Continue reading

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PSX 2015: What Do All These “Console Debut” Games Mean?

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While I personally didn’t freak out over any individual announcement from Sony’s 2015 PlayStation Experience event over the weekend, overall it was a pretty impressive display. Most people paying attention probably already realize what’s major about it — we’re seeing the return of Japanese developers to modern console visual fidelity. The only catch is it all might not be exclusive to PlayStation anymore.

The unveiling of games like Ni-Oh and Ni No Kuni II along with other games we saw at E3 and the Tokyo Game Show like the NiER sequel or 13 Sentinels: Ageis Rim is important because it signals the return of a certain flavor to console gaming. I really do think one of the main things that hurt the PS3 early in its lifespan was a lack of Japanese games as those developers struggled to catch up to the then-new hardware. The PS2 dominated due to a snowball effect of a plurality of Japanese developers exclusively supporting it. Those third party exclusives were the PS2’s main strength, and that asset was pretty much absent from the PS3’s library. The major Japanese games that did show up were almost all also available on Xbox 360.

Now we’re seeing either returning franchises or new games in the console retail space that aren’t quite AAA and can stretch out a bit creatively from the design mold of every game trying to chase the Call of Duty audience. It may not be the same as the PS2 era, but it’s starting to remind me of it. Continue reading

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Is Dark Souls A JRPG? Probably.

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While trying to maintain a media blackout on Dark Souls III in the midst of double-digit minutes of footage being leaked some time ago, I started thinking about how far the franchise has come since the slow trickle of word-of-mouth that surrounded Demon’s Souls during the PS3’s early years. I’ve come to the realization (perhaps late) that the Souls franchise might be the most relevant Japanese RPG franchise on the market today, or at least one of the only really relevant ones to the mass market.

The problem is, many people seem to doubt whether it’s an JRPG at all, saying it looks and feels too similar to Elder Scrolls and too different from Final Fantasy. Once you go from there into the discussion of what defines a JRPG, you have to dig into the origins of the JRPGs and the Souls series itself which brings out its interesting relationship with both past RPGs and today’s popular western RPGs. Continue reading

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What’s Happening To Turn-Based Games On Consoles?

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Trying out Lost Dimension for a couple hours gave me an opportunity to think again about why I (and perhaps a lot of other people) have been averse to turn-based Japanese RPGs in recent years. The reasons are complex and probably different for everybody, but I think it’s an interesting issue to look at when you compare them to the massively popular western RPGs on consoles these days. I also coincidentally seem to be putting this up just as Square Enix suggests the possibility the Final Fantasy VII remake might leave behind the original’s turn-based combat system. Continue reading

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Square Enix on Windows

Depending on how much you’ve been watching Steam’s release lists these past few months, you may have noticed more and more mainline Final Fantasy games showing up on it (along with other slightly unexpected Japanese games). There are factors in play you can look at to maybe guess what’s likely to come next from Square Enix on Windows.

Continue reading

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Final Fantasy X: RPGs Past And Future

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Starting up the HD remaster of Final Fantasy X has given me my first opportunity to look at it since completing Final Fantasy XIII. The two are often compared, usually in criticisms of the latter. I’ve always felt like there are stark differences between the two games that are really important when it comes to FFXIII’s reception.

The leading issue with FFXIII and fans in the years since its release has been its linearity. Instead of exploring a vast world map you pretty much just spend 60 hours running down corridors that blur the line between RPG and cinematic action game. In every discussion I’ve seen about this someone eventually snaps back citing how FFX is equally linear. I agree the two games are possibly more similar to each other than to any other main FF game. When you think about it FFXIII is sort of the logical conclusion of some of the things FFX started. FFX was the first game in the series with voice acting, the first 3D entry with lots of real time cut scenes, and it uses a ton of what are essentially scripted events during gameplay.  Maybe that similarity between the two games is what makes their differences all the more important.

Most of FFX is indeed a straight line like FFXIII, but I think the main difference is what you do along that straight line.

My main issue with FFXIII was always that you pretty much just watched cut scenes and fought monsters for the whole game, which wears thin over the course of 60 hours. FFX on the other hand features towns full of non-player characters to talk to, shops to browse, inns to stay at, secrets to be found, and quests to complete. In a sense, FFX still manages to feature a tangible world despite the heavy linearity of its map. In it you still do most of the things people associate with role-playing games.

FFX’s story furthers this too. The game is about a group’s pilgrimage across the world, so the feeling of a globetrotting journey that’s near ubiquitous in classical Japanese RPGs is still present. FFXIII feels more like an action game briskly taking you from event to event. In general I think FFX manages to skillfully dodge a lot of the problems people have with classical JRPGs too.

I’ve had a lot of problems with the genre, mostly dealing with its mechanical stagnation in the face of western RPGs that try to offer the most open-ended worlds they can. And yet, I don’t really disdain FFX’s random battles, character tropes, and anime designs at all. It feels like a just-fresh-enough take on just why people like JRPGs.

When I first played the game back in 2001, even though I saw it as a basic kids-save-the-world story, it was immediately apparent there was something more to the story, world, and characters, even if that was only the flavor of the storytelling. To this day FFX’s character designs also stick out at me because of how cohesive they are with the world (excluding Lulu) and how unique they are among RPGs. How many Final Fantasy games have deliberately Asian-looking settings? The battle system is random and turn-based, but simultaneously offered new flavors of old mechanics while keeping those mechanics impressively well-balanced.

Look I’m just saying. I think a lot of people complain about FFXIII while ignoring its similarities to FFX because FFX still does what it needs to do to feel like the traditional JRPG many fans expect. In a lot of ways it’s about as condensed as the traditional formula can get before it starts to become something else.

BULLETS:

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