Wizard is about to die, needs fun badly

by

May not resemble actual product

Square Enix has gone insane the last few years. And by insane I mean aggrivating, bordering on “when the hell are we gonna see something without Nomura’s zippery stench?” Never, it seems. They recently announced we can look forward to ten whole years of Final Fantasy 13. Which makes a lot of sense, they’ve been milking Final Fantasy 7 the past half-decade to startling success and, I dunno if anyone’s noticed, but there’s hardly a difference between the numeric installments anyway, so I guess we can all do well with just one for the next ten hundred years.

Since the merger with Enix, Square has been content to churn out remakes, ports and spin-offs of every single entry and mascot character of its franchise-behemoth, with very little of their output actually satisfying me. I can take so much Final Fantasy 7 before the taste wears out and I want to disappear to a corner of the globe where no one’s ever heard of Cloud or Sephiroth, where zippers and black cloaks are repugnant, where idiotic Kingdom Hearts fans don’t litter YouTube with their retarded amateur music videos. Seriously, have you seen these things? Nothing, except threats on my family – MAYBE – can get me near Kingdom Hearts II which, to my knowledge, is getting “remixed” and ported, with a 3D remake of their Game Boy Advance game included. I suppose if you like your stilted anime acting and button-mashing peppered with playing cards that’s something to be excited about but for people with any respect for mature storytelling and gameplay, it’s a pox.

(C) Tim Torres Enix Taito Bandai

And no games on the Wii’s Virtual Console? Square, what… what are you thinking? You won’t re-release, say, I dunno, OH! Chrono Trigger for millions of Wii owners but you’re content to “upgrade” Final Fantasy 1 – that’s ONE, as in the 1986 original – and port it to PSP, a system only TWO people have? And for what? So they can revisit “the good old days?” For the 12 millionth time? On PSP? I… I just don’t understand.

Sure, they got Final Fantasy 6 on GBA, that’s cool, and yeah, I hear that Final Fantasy 12 is a breath of fresh air, though I have yet to actually spend an adequate amount of time with it to see how it fits in the grand scheme of things. Which strikes me as really odd because I clocked in 20 hours with it so you’d think that would be an adequate amount of time, but no.

Not with an RPG. Not with Final Fantasy. Or Dragon Quest. Or anything anymore. RPGs are such timesinks I think I’m getting sick of them. I can’t dedicate so much time anymore to one game when there are so many other games and endeavors that deserve my attention. Like, it’s been freakin’ forever since I picked up a book. And not a comic, a book book, with a spine and lots of small text. I’ve been trying to read Harry Potter 5 for what must be a year now but it just wouldn’t catch.

Besides who has time for Harry when there’s FINAL FANTASY 3 for DS?! It’s the last Final Fantasy to reach our shores so I HAVE to play it right? I should! I thought Final Fantasy 4 Advance was a pleasant surprise for such an old game so FF3 must be as well, even though it’s older! Right? Right?!

Fucking wrong. It’s not just older. It’s the oldest. It’s the oldest thing ever. Nevermind it’s the third Final Fantasy, or that it’s the upgraded remake with stylus support and new 3D graphics. It’s the oldest thing to ever exist on Earth. Ameobas? Bacteria? Dinosaurs? God? Fuck all that. Final Fantasy 3 DS was there first.

 

Artist's rendering

FF3 is the finest (finest?) example yet of Square’s smoke and mirrors technique of prime presentation and graphics in exchange for actual substance. Well, Dirge of Cerberus or Kingdom Hearts are even better (better?!) examples but Square does the same thing, gussies FF3 up for a fancy system like the DS, gives it impressive-for-a-handheld graphics, however, only the most gullible or forgiving can be distracted for the game itself is the most standard, clunky corpse of an RPG ever, covered in cobwebs, reeking of rot.

Games (though not necessarily RPGs) have come so far since then. WHY are there no save points in dungeons?! What FUCKING ASSHOLE at Square Enix thought that was a bright idea? How is that acceptable in 2007? Nevermind that save points are a backwards and ancient tradition anyway. Yes, an outdated, horrible tradition. If there are any programmers out there who can explain to me why save points are so essential I’ll… I dunno what I’ll do. You name the terms. I’ll thank you real hard. I should be able to save wherever I want. Lots of games do this, fuck, all games SHOULD do this. Especially when there’s a random shitty battle nearly EVERY STEP.

 

FF3, anthropomorphized

EVERY GODDAMN STEP. Hours of dungeon-crawling… no save points… The game, for some reason, tags you along with an extra unplayable character sometimes so I have Aria, this princess whore, with me. In battles she casts Cura or Protect randomly on me – RANDOMLY – so when I use my white mage to cast Cura or Cure on my party, and Aria casts it on me anyway, I’m WASTING my MP. I have no way of knowing when Aria’s gonna cast her magic on me! If I knew, I’d be able to save precious MP, but no, thanks, Aria. You slimy bitch. I can’t replenish my MP. At least not in the middle of a dungeon. There are no ethers. So, with MP impossible to recover in the middle of a dungeon with no save points AND ENDLESS RANDOM BATTLES I can’t help but eventually run out of MP and ways of healing all together. No phoenix downs either, can’t buy those, haven’t found any in hours.

And that’s two fucking nights of dungeon crawling down the drain. No game is worth that much time and trouble. If you don’t want me to play you, Final Fantasy 3, then I won’t fucking play you. I swear, the game’s a relic of a bygone era that’s better off in the past.

It belongs in a museum!

It's not the years. It's the mileage.

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15 Responses to “Wizard is about to die, needs fun badly”

  1. kumquat Says:

    You should really just pick up pokemon for ds and be happy with your turtle with a tree on his back or your monkey with a fire butt or my happy ice penguin.

  2. james Says:

    You do realize that nobody’s holding a guy to your head and making you play these games, right? There ARE other companies than Square Enix that make RPGs. Why not try some by Atlus?

  3. sirtmagus Says:

    I can’t help but feel the same thing would happen with Atlus RPGs. I heard the SMT3 Nocturne horror stories. And Persona’s known for its share of shit. What do you recommend?

  4. riotsword Says:

    I’ve heard(read?) this rant before, but it’s still funny. It has a great title as well.

  5. inragedcow Says:

    Jeez Magus, if you were HARDCORE!!! you would have stuck with the game.

  6. james Says:

    Pick up Nocturne and give it a try. It does have the save point thing that you hate, but it’s still a pretty fun game. Even Mora agrees with me!

    Plus, if nothing else, it’ll give you a whole ‘nother entry to write about yet another RPG company that you hate!

  7. sirtmagus Says:

    I don’t HATE Square, I hate how lame they’ve been lately. FF12 was supposed to herald change but, nope, guess not. Matsuno went nuts instead.

    I do look forward to the Ivalice Alliance though. At least they’re finally milking the classiest game they’ve made. Feast your peepers on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L8zoCHZlUM

  8. Loki Says:

    Nice to see that this review is largly made from your post over at the pav.

  9. filmwalrus Says:

    Old or new, it’s sad and degrading when RPGs that expect us to commit 40+ hours (100+ in some cases) into something where the gameplay is entirely crap. It’s not so easy to tell, since sometimes the story is engaging, the battles are addictive and the leveling-up a compulsive carrot-on-a-stick activity, but I often realize retroactively that the bulk of many RPG’s took no real skill, strategy or actual planning. Even on good RPGs I often find myself slipping into a rut where a single strategy works for nearly every battle. Few games have the innovation or guts to create impressive battle systems like FF Tactics or Front Mission IV.

    And if every game developer could be made to understand that gameplay value does not mean arbitrary difficulty, frustrating restrictions and random battles that occur without variation some 3000 times in every dungeon then the world would be a better place.

  10. johnmora Says:

    “Old or new, it’s sad and degrading when RPGs that expect us to commit 40+ hours (100+ in some cases) into something where the gameplay is entirely crap. It’s not so easy to tell, since sometimes the story is engaging, the battles are addictive and the leveling-up a compulsive carrot-on-a-stick activity, but I often realize retroactively that the bulk of many RPG’s took no real skill, strategy or actual planning.”

    I WONDER WHAT GAME YOU COULD BE TALKING ABOUT

  11. Loki Says:

    Tim Rogers said that one reason why Dragon Quest was so sucessful is because it required no skill, strategy, or planning. If you couldn’t beat a monster you could always just fight more slimes until you got strong enough to beat that monster. There’s no obstical that couldn’t be overcome by simply putting in the time. Why this attributed to its sucess is beyond me. I mean, what makes RPGs attractive anyway? Why as kids were we drawn to them? Was it that we were too young and stupid to see the contrived stories, and boring battles? What is the appeal of this genre? I find myself asking this question more and more these days. Espically after playing FF III or seeing that they’re remaking FFIV in this style and witnising everyone go ga-ga “I must have this now” crazy because OH BOY IT’S FINAL FANTASY IV!

  12. johnmora Says:

    I absolutely hate Final Fantasy IV. There’s no reason whatsoever to play it in this day and age. We’ve moved far, far beyond it.

  13. IGoByChad Says:

    In response to save points, it could be one of two things in my head. It’s either on the game design side, where they want a save point to feel like a reward, a marker of progress if you will.
    Either that, or it’s laziness on the programmer’s side. Why worry about what the player could have been doing, what animations were happening, what events the player was in the middle of, or checking of any sort when the player can only save the game by accessing X point. If they have to do that, less chance for a mistake in the save / load process.

    I once read about a limited save idea that worked in such a way that you would have X amount of saves and you could re-fill those at some place in town. Just wondering, does that sound like a good idea to you?

  14. johnmora Says:

    I just don’t like it when in, say, computer games, you can completely circumvent any sort of challenge the game tries to provide by saving, copying the save file, go on and just re-paste your old save if you screw up.

  15. joeishikura Says:

    Yes, quick saving (saving anywhere at anytime) is more difficult to program than save points, but not horrendously so. At least not any more. And especially not for professionals. There are many well established methods of doing it (Game Programming Gems 3 has a good article “Save Me Now” written by Martin Brownlow on one method). I can be convinced that it was too difficult to write a quick save system to work on an NES, but it’s not a valid excuse on anything post-PlayStation.

    Nowadays, I’m certain it almost always comes down to a game design decision.

    The major problem with quick saving is exactly what johnmora mentioned: the continual saving and reloading. Undermining the challenge is one issue that johnmora mentioned. Destroying any sense of context is another. One gamasutra article sums up the situation: “Though on the one hand it is comforting to be able to save and load at will, continually loading – thereby undoing events, and making consequences irrelevant – tends to diminish a player’s belief in the game world, making it all the harder for the game to affect the player in a meaningful capacity. ” Incidentally, this quote comes from an article where one game designer tries to figure out how to avoid the problematic “save and reload like crazy” impulse: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=13087

    I definitely hear magus’s pain though. One of the most common situations that causes me to stop playing a game is when I make a lot of progress and I don’t/can’t save and then die. You see, I hate re-doing “work”. You can make me go through a horribly frustrating level once (maybe. if you’re lucky), but not twice. Not anymore. Not since I actually started viewing my time as valuable.

    Quick saving usually helps tremendously (especially when used in conjunction with auto-save).

    I’ve been playing some emulators recently and there are definitely times when I abused the quick save feature built into the emulator (but not actually part of the original game). I know that there a bunch of the games that I’ve beaten on an emulator that I just wouldn’t bother beating if I didn’t have the quick save option. I would have died, realized I lost an hour of game playing time, and decided I didn’t want to go through it all again. I can definitely see how quick saving can seem like the perfect system for any game.

    But one good counter-example is the entire genre of survival horror. The gameplay ramifications of save points and “safe rooms” are critical. For me, the most thrilling/scariest parts of Resident Evil are when I’m low on health, it’s been a while since I saw a safe room (so I can’t really turn back) but I have no idea if the next safe room’s close by, and I can hear something nasty in the next room.

    It’s especially critical for survival horror games for the same reason it’s often useful in other games. If you played for two hours and realized you hadn’t saved, doesn’t it make the next boss battle that much more intense? For once, something real is at stake when you play a video game: your time. When you die, it sucks because you lost something so precious, something worth bitching about. But win or lose, you got your adrenaline, you faced your challenge, and that video game had you at the edge of your seat. If the potential loss wasn’t so bitter, would it have felt half as intense?

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