Home Editorial How to Effectively Whore Out Your Franchises – The History...

ffx2

Hey Square. Remember this? Yeah, it wasn't that great. Stop doing this kinda thing.

I’m sure you’re all wondering about the results from the poll that was in my article last week, even though you can look at those comments and count up the votes yourself! I will announce more info about that after this article, which is a rant.

Because, sometimes, video game companies you once loved do stupid things.

Recently, Square-Enix announced that they would be releasing a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, which is aptly named Final Fantasy XIII-2. This is something I have a couple issues with, because Squeenix does not have a great track record with these types of ventures.

Now, back when Final Fantasy XIII was in development, Square announced that it would be part of a world-compilation, titled Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy. More or less, they would be releasing a whole bunch of games which all featured similar settings and themes. These games would be Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Final Fantasy Type-0 (previously known as Agito-XIII), and now Final Fantasy XIII-2. Now, I have yet to play XIII, although I have a copy being shipped to me as I type, so I will be playing it soon. However, I have experienced the game through my friends and online videos, as well as reviews and other online rants. So, this leads me to a central question: Do gamers really care that much about XIII’s setting that we NEED a direct sequel? Because from I’ve seen, a lot of people want to move on from XIII.

However, before we can truly answer this, we need to look at the past.

World Building, Done Right

IvaliceAlliance

This one worked out pretty well. Maybe because it was started over 10 years ago and Square didn't try to release all the games in a 4 year period.

The first world-compilation that Square would undertake happened before they merged with Enix. It started off as a couple games spaced fairly far apart in their releases, and then eventually got grouped together and named the Ivalice Alliance. These games were all set in the world of Ivalice, which was a world similar to that of other Final Fantasy titles: they had swords, sorcery, large Summoned creatures and chocobos, but also had its own history which was developed over the course of the games in its setting. These games were Final Fantasy Tactics for PS1, Vagrant Story for PS1, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (sorta) for GBA, Final Fantasy XII for PS2, Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings for DS, and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 Grimoire of the Rift for DS.

With the exception of FFTA, which was a parallel world kinda thing, these games were all in the same world at different points in the timeline and different parts of the country of Ivalice. I’m not going to go into the specifics, but I really liked how they developed the setting. Early in the timeline, around Final Fantasy XII, you commonly see many types of species along with the Humes, or humans. Most of them are exclusive to the setting, such as the Bangaa or Nu Mou, while the Moogles also show up, though this time they speak the Common language naturally. In the later entries of the timeline though, these people are noticeably absent, sometimes only referred to in dialogue, as though something may have happened in the times we don’t get to play. In most of the major console releases, the stories focus heavily on serious, government-driven intrigue making the setting seem both a little more real and a little darker than other Final Fantasy settings. The handheld titles are mostly side-stories in the world, with a more lighthearted feel, but still develop the world in a good way, showing that there is indeed a happy, adventurous side to the setting. In my opinion, this is how a world-building compilation should be done.

Now, let’s see how you do it wrong.


Final Fantasy X-2: Literal and Figurative Whoring

First, let’s look at Square’s first direct sequel to a core, numbered Final Fantasy game: Final Fantasy X-2. This game has a bad reputation for several good reasons.  But first, I want to get something out of the way: I really liked the battle system. It was a great take on the Active Battle System, and changing Jobs mid-battle in order to power up? Great idea! It’s a fucking shame, then, that they had to waste it on this abysmal cash-in. They churned it out so quickly because more than half of the environments and character models were simply copy/pasted. What about Wakka and Lulu, who are described through dialogue as fat and pregnant, respectively? Are the models changed to show this? Nope. Way to go, graphic designers.

x2yuna

How do you show the main character has grown in 2 years? Have her start dressing like a whore, of course!

And the story. My god. Ok, so one can make the argument that the story isn’t bad, just different. The last game was dark and depressing because for most of it, the characters believe that they’re on a death march, with Yuna dying at the end of their pilgrimage. In this game, she doesn’t start with a quest like this, and is free to enjoy the world she saved.

Now, one can make the same argument for Final Fantasy V, which also had a very light-hearted and fun story. The world in that game is fantastical, while the characters are charming and witty. You have a clear, defined quest to save the world, but the characters still find the time to take in the sights while vanquishing evil. Even with a such a light story, the villain was still very menacing (if not too comedic), giving you so much reason to hate him, with a genuine need to take him down because of his actions. This is a light-hearted fantasy story done well, in my opinion (Final Fantasy V has some issues of its own like any other game, but for the most part I love it).

This is not what X-2 did.

Running around in a Charlie’s Angels inspired romp of globe-trotting was not a great story choice. Narratively, the game tries to go through the same emotional ups and downs as Final Fantasy X, but it does very little to achieve this. The main plot is shallow, and the villain just turns out to be the incarnation of whiny spite. Very, very disappointing.

zackcrisiscore

Sorry, Zack. No one cares about you. The fans all just want CULOUDO and Sephiroth.

Final Fantasy VII’s Spinoffs: An Argument for Pro-Choice Game Development?

Next, we have Final Fantasy VII. Oh this game, the one that brought the series to the masses, and as a result, a game so many people love. Many claim it to be the absolute best game of the series. This is debatable, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about how badly Square screwed up that setting with the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. And it could have been awesome, which is why I despise it so much. It started with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, a movie that, to quote The Spoony One Noah Antwiler, was “Loud, dumb and obnoxious.” Not only that, but the story made as little sense as possible while hanging onto the barest strands of a narrative plot.

It got worse when Dirge of Cerberus was released for PS2. That game was just bad. Square is not known for too many 3rd person shooters, and this is the reason why. Bad controls, terrible environments and an awful plot all equated to a huge “Fuck You” to most FFVII fans and everyone who thought Vincent Valentine was a cool character. The other games are Before Crisis and Crisis Core, both of which are prequels and serve to introduce stupid meaningless plot which adds little to nothing to the core story. There are other things in the Compilation as well, but none of them are any good. The fans just want a PS3 remake of the original game, and that’s something they are never going to get.

Final Fantasy IV: The Not-Sure-If-Passable Years

The last direct sequel material we’ve seen is Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. This has a both a little good and a little bad. The battle system is more or less the same as the original game, but throws in a few cool features like Band attacks, which are multi-character techs similar to Chrono Trigger, and the Phases of the Moon, which alter the power of certain abilities, like powering up Black Magic while simultaneously weakening White Magic, or something to that effect. The graphics borrow environments from the old game, but update the character sprites so that they resemble sprites from Final Fantasy VI. The plot is mixed, in my opinion; the nature of the end-boss is what kills it for me. However, as a whole, this is a MUCH better attempt at direct-sequels than X-2 was.

Squeenix Setting Summary

This entails Square Enix’s past with direct sequels and world-building. They have had way more failure than success. It seems, though, that they could be learning their lesson. Unfortunately, there just does not seem to be enough interest in the world of Final Fantasy XIII or the characters who inhabit this world for Square to make a direct sequel. I’m guessing it sold well enough to allow them to do this, but who really wants it? Honestly, I’d rather see another entry in the Ivalice series, because that world is fleshed out so well, it deserves more time spent on its history and/or its future.

Video Adventure Update

Now, as for the new video series. After tallying up the votes, I will be playing Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link for your enjoyment! I actually have not played this game all that much, so it’ll be interesting considering I suck badly at it. I will try to have the first episode out next week, but if that is not the case expect it within 3 weeks.*

Note: I plan to follow up on this article when I complete Final Fantasy XIII.


*Or expect WiNG to throw a hissy-fit. ~WiNG

13 replies to this post
  1. As someone who’s enjoyed playing through most of the Final Fantasy games, I really hated FF13. Linearity is fine — FFX is one of my favorite games, and it was very linear — but you just need to care about the characters first. FFXIII just seemed to assume I cared about the characters because they’re being mistreated. Then the designers think that’s the signal to have their characters *whining nonstop* about their fate and their future for 15 straight hours. Nothing ever happens to make me care. (Oh, the battle system was really neat, though!)

    I’m gonna hold you to your word and hope for a follow-up.

  2. If a game company wants to slutify their characters, that’s their prerogative.

    I still enjoyed most of X2, despite its flaws. screw all the haters. >:I

  3. I don’t exactly like all these editorials based on “games in Japan” or “Square Enix’s Current State”. Really, we’ve missed out on greater opportunities in the past and we merely ignored it because it was Final Fantasy we were talking about. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a major problem with exactly how off track they’ve gotten since VI. So focused on the graphical fidelity since VII, they scrap a lot of what should be the focus of Turn Based Strategy games today. There’s literally nothing been truly holding up Final Fantasy except for their battle mechanics. Now that it’s nearly automated, there’s no point to play anymore.

    But I digress, as always. I just don’t think this is a necessary article at all. Just in passing comments relating to the two games that came out this year, we easily see how badly its turning out. THEY DELAYED DEUS EX -still raging-. So, do try to share a bit more poignant thoughts in the future.

      • I’m not trying to come off as crass, but I’m merely saying that this particular topic has been discussed and debated to pieces even when most all ready know about the declining state of the company. I think the fact there was a public apology issued to people who paid for one of their games is telling enough.

      • I was well aware that this topic has already been well-covered by many others in much more qualified positions than I when writing this article. However, when XIII-2 was announced it really just struck a chord with me, and the rant just kind of spewed forth, so I decided to expand upon it and turn it into this week’s article.

        And to be fair, I’ve started XIII already the other day, and I’m actually enjoying it. Mind you I’m only about 4 hours in and the combat only JUST started to get interesting at all, but it’s not shit. Like I said near the end of the article, I will follow up once I’ve finished the game.

        I have other rebuttals to some of your points, but I feel like I’ll save them for a later article.

        Alternatively, if you did not think these thoughts were poignant enough because of the subject, you didn’t have to read it. I stated pretty clearly what the argument was in the title.

      • It’s good to rant about and such. Heck, now that I’ve actual initiative to do so I’m starting to try it out. It’s just ill fit for this site.

  4. Ah FFs… I still don’t get how it’s all one series… I mean the later the FF the less it has to do with the other FFs. The only direct sequels are the “2s” as you pointed out.

  5. Spoony has seen better days, too. His videos are getting wierder ’cause of all those wierdos he collaborates with.

    • You make it sound that his collaborating with work colleagues is completely detrimental to his own special brand of comedy. And of course he’s seen better days, he’s been more ill than me in the last few weeks and that’s saying something.

      • His work has seen some definite ups and downs since joining TGWTG. However, for the most part I still enjoy watching his videos. His Ultima series is turning out to be very good IMO, but I like videos which are equal parts informative and comedy.

  6. Indulge me. Reported to who? And if I get a life, will you get some proficiency in the use of the English language? Because it’s truly horrific.

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