Monday, May 7, 2012

Top 50 Video Games: Number 13

Platform: Playstation
Absurdly Specific Genre: Crazy haired dudes and big noobered chicks fighting crazy haired dudes
Difficulty: 7 (I specifically avoided too much side-questing in the main game the first time around so that the final few bosses would be an actual challenge. As a result, I was pretty under-leveled for the final run, and it ended up being pretty taxing)
Beaten: Yes

What exactly can be said about this game?

If you've ever played a video game, you've almost certainly heard of it. You've probably played it. You've probably beaten it. Between certain blonde chicks dying off and certain white haired dudes with improbably long swords, there's not much about the game that hasn't been rendered cliche, myth, or video game canon.

Not that this is always a bad thing...

At its base, it's a fairly standard JRPG - lots of leveling, ambiguous plot, wacky hair. I can't even say there's a wealth of additional things that would make a person think that this game was anything other than hardcore nostalgia goggles and massive overhype.

The only problem with that theory is that I never even played it all the way through until 7 or 8 years ago. I'd seen the commercials for it back in 1997. I'd watched as a friend of mine showed me a bit of gameplay (I think it was the bizarre snowboarding part that never really made much sense to me), I remember thinking that it looked pretty cool, but I didn't have a Playstation, and once I bought a PS2, there were lots of other games that vied for my attention. I bought a copy, played around with it a little bit, got past the famous scene with backs and swords, and drifted on to other endeavors shortly thereafter.

A couple of years later, I picked it back up and started from scratch. This time, it stuck. The combat was fun, the writing - while still a little stilted and incomprehensible in proper Final Fantasy tradition - just sort of clicked this time around. I played for hours a night. My current wife (then girlfriend) would roll her eyes and complain about the music (she's crazy, btw. "One Winged Angel" might be a little overrated, but the soundtrack on whole is top notch). It was an immersive experience, one that matched up easily with the best that the newer consoles had to offer.

Last year, I gave it another run through, and guess still does.

The Honeybee Inn sequence is still a hundred kinds of weird, though.
Other Notable Games in the Series: Final Fantasy X is a much better game than a lot of people gave it credit for back in the day. Sure, some of the voice acting is terrible (the laughing scene, *shudder*), but it packed an emotional punch on a personal level that I'm not sure any of the games since then have managed, I had it ranked in the mid-40's.

Final Fantasy XII was fun, and tried new things game-wise, but for some reason, I never got the bug. I should go back over it and actually try to beat it, because I never even came all that close. What I did play makes me think that it might be top 100, but I'd be hard pressed to put it in just yet.

Final Fantasy XIII had a few hours of gameplay that were absolutely fantastic (basically everything on Gran Pulse). Too bad those few hours of fun were wrapped in 30-some hours of linear slog, which itself was wrapped in a utterly nonsensical and borderline meaningless story (try to explain the ending in a way that a) makes sense and b) doesn't invalidate the entire rest of the game's plot). Not in the top 100.


  1. I've won this one twice. I'm probably done with it forever, but it was fun both times. Beating the Emerald and Ruby Weapons were those moments where even when I did it, I hated myself and all the time I wasted.

    I think 7 suffers for the same reason 6 did, and that both games are really tight and really engaging in the beginning, and then near the end everything is wide open, the game becomes a sandbox, and story kind of flutters out the window for long periods. 7 is not as guilty of this as 6 is, but I still feel like it drags near the end.

    I don't know which one I'd rank first. Maybe IX. Depends on my mood. Haven't played any after IX, though.

  2. I was going to mention that the story's peak is obvious the Aeris scene, and story-wise, it's kind of downhill from there (though I think it stayed pretty solid, even then).

    I accidentally bumped into Emerald Weapon once. That was fun...

  3. IX is far and away my favorite.

    Linds complained about the music? To this?! This is one of the only games with music so popular that professional orchestras do live performances of the soundtrack. Nobuo Uematsu might be the world's best living composer.

  4. In fairness, I'm pretty sure the only reason she complained is that she had to hear the same four or five themes a hundred thousand times over the course of those nights.

    She made up for it (and then some) by taking me to Video Games Live last winter. When 'One Winged Angel' came on, she nudged me, smiled and excitedly said "I know this one!"