auronlu: (Angst)
Woo hoo! It's time to head out of town and tackle the world map. A whole new wooooorld! A new enchaaanting point of v... good gods, what is this trash heap? Oh, right, Midgar.

Cloud on the world map

Actually, before we can start gadding about, we must egress the Shinra building where I left Cloud hanging. (Or was that Rufus?)

On with the Playthrough, Aka A Study in Unreliable Narration )
auronlu: (CeilingCloud)
Last time, we psychoanalyzed the most blockheaded hero in the history of gaming...



...and put him through his paces as a cross-dresser and champion of put-upon sex workers (in which task he failed miserably, since we left Don Corneo alive with his family jewels intact. Phooey).

Reluctantly, I must set Wall Market frivolity aside and get back to saving the Planet.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: (Default)
Next up, Final Fantasy VII descends unexpectedly into Scum and Villainy with a side helping of burlesque. I will also attempt to explain the Mysterious Voice in Cloud's Head.

But first, we need to meet the third corner of Cloud's pointy little love triangle. Whom I love, despite Squeenix dropping heaps of overhype on her tombstone. Did I mention this walkthrough would have spoilers?

I'm Aeris, the flower girl. Nice to meet you.

Which brings me to the most difficult and challenging, thorny and complex issue of this entire game. No, it's not Cloti versus Clerith, which sounds like dueling nasal sprays. This issue is much more challenging, and has riven fandom to the core...

On with the Playthrough )
auronlu: (n00b)
...With the best ever nickname for Tidus and funny commentary.

A funny thing happened on the way to Zanarkand. Go. Read. Enjoy.

(and ignore the totally incoherent I left behind WHAT.)
auronlu: (Date With Cloud)
Into Midgar we go! I hope I don't bore you with my Maechen imitation, but I'm seeing so many things now that I didn't understand the first time I played FFVII. Warning: there will be spoilers referring to events later in the game.

The opening FMV is still a lot of fun, with retro CGI graphics transitioning smoothly into live gameplay.



While I've been enjoying my 8 month sojourn in 16bit/retroland, it feels luxurious to come back to a PS1 game with backgrounds detailed enough for storefronts. (I briefly misread "Goblins Bar" as "Goblins Ban[k]" and was thinking, "Gringotts" even though this game predates HP.) And yep, there's Loveless, a play that's referenced in most of the FF7 spinoffs. Someday I need to get my hands on Crisis Core.

Aeris' etherial appearance contrasted with urban grunge is a startling juxtaposition, reminding me of my own experience moving from green countryside to the big city (which I've since fled). She walks the old-school players out of the shadows and into the Brave New World of FF7, where the visual setting is now a major (if not the dominant) character in the story, as it will be for all future FFs.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: (CeilingCloud)
I wrote a "Before I start playing" post Saturday night, collecting my thoughts about the game. So that's here.

Final Fantasy VII Playthrough: Introduction.

And tonight, while putting together notes for my first playing session, I had a fit of PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER.

Final Fantasy VII: MORE OF SAME about how FFVII is actually exactly like all the Final Fantasies that came before it except II.

(This is a short somewhat tongue-in-cheek post)

So where did my evening go?
auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
At long last, I've got all my party members together, and it's time to take on Joker the Evil Clown!

Edgar: It's time to break into Kefka's domain!

But wait! Since a major portion of this game is devoted to rounding up and then re-rounding up a cast of fourteen, let's get some sound bites from our assembled war band! I'll be slipping in some wrap-up game commentary and character analysis; I hope I don't bore you.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
Whew! I got  bogged down rounding up all my scattered party members — seriously, we just lived through the end of the world and everything, but did they have to be difficult and run off and join weird cults and get themselves lost on mountaintops, in the depths of monster-infested catacombs and so on? — so this playthrough is once again tardy.

Cid: You're finally awake! Celes: I..feel like I've been sleeping forever.

Hey, it wasn't that  long since my last post.

So, last time in my Let's Play Final Fantasy VI, the world went to Hades in a haversack. Miraculously, the crustal ruptures we saw in that exciting end-of-the-world cutscene did not result in Siberia-sized lava outpourings, a planetwide blanket of sulfuric acid fog/rain, or other Permian-Extinction-style armageddon. (Geology porn... bookmark for later!)

Instead, as this is Final Fantasy, Celes awakens in a blasted world that's creepy and sad and fragmented. FFXIII-2 riffed on this trope again 17 years later, and the music from its Dying World fits nicely:



Yeap, it really is that bad.

On with the playthrough... )
auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
Last time on "Let's Play Final Fantasy VI," Emperor Gestahl, baby snatcher, ravager of towns, enslaver of Espers, told us that, "After all I have put them [the Espers] through, it is up to me to set things right. That is why... I need to borrow Terra's power." So he's asked us to take him to the Espers to apologize.

Gestahl: We must make for Crescent Island aboard the freighter from Albrook.

This screencap is boring, apart from the unusual combination of lobster and sushi rolls and roast turkey, but I just want to stress that he said we.

Because...well, you'll see shortly.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
And we're off! We head to the southern continent (map) to infiltrate the Magitek Research Facility in Vector, capital of the must-be-evil-since-it-has-no-name Empire.

Setzer's airship, the Blackjack, zooms through the night

Our goal is to rescue the Espers who are being drained of their power as fuel for Magitek.

I love seeing how Final Fantasy rings changes on its ever-accruing mythology from game to game. The draining-Espers idea evolved from Cid's innocent mistake in FFV, in which the machines he created to amplify and collect power from the Four Crystals of Light inadvertently damaged them. FFVI fuses the concept of crystals, which existed right from the start of Final Fantasy, with the separate FF concept of summons, originally a job class ability like geomancy. We'll see beings turning to crystal again in FFXIII's L'Cie, while ShinraCorp, Odine Enterprises and Draklor are all spiritual successors of FFVI's Esper-juicing factory.  

on with the playthrough )
auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
Before I jump in with the next segment of the walkthrough, I need to back up and reiterate something that commenter inked_compass observed about the last scene, when our scattered party reunites in  Narshe: "More of the Returners talking about Terra rather than to her. Good job guys."

It's also true of Celes. Locke bursts in to report that Celes told him there's an Imperial army marching on Narshe. Celes doesn't say a word then or when Locke, Cyan and Edgar argue over whether she's an Imperial spy:

FFVI: Celes Joined Returners

The ex-general's silence raises an intriguing question: Has she joined the Returners? All she's said in-game is that she is, or was, General Celes, now "nothing but a traitor." Those could be the words of a loyal soldier smitten with shame or sorrow at having been cast out. And Locke strikes me as the sort to assume the best of people.

Whatever Celes is thinking, I hope to see her and Terra speak up for themselves and display more autonomy soon.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
Before I launch into the next leg of my Let's Play Final Fantasy VI playthrough, I'd just like to note that FFVI's washed-out chocobo design is redeemed by its music of pure techno awesome:



I defy you not to bob your head while listening to that with headphones. Or, to quote a couple commenters on the above video:
question: What is it about riding giant chickens that restricts random battles? ~ The Zeldaniac

Picture this, if you're an enemy and you hear this song, are you going to interrupt it by attacking the guy riding the chicken, or are you just going to dance? ~ hoodedbro1001

Now back to our regularly-scheduled playthrough.

So, in our opening FFVI sonata, our heroes Edgar, Locke, Sabin and Terra had reached the rebel hideout of the Returners. We had just imbibed our first Backstory Dump courtesy of Banon, the rebel leader, when news arrived that the town of S. Figaro was under attack and that imperial forces were headed our way.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
I'm laaaate starting my FFVI gameblog, although I started it at the beginning of the month.

Opening FMV analysis time!



When I first started playing Final Fantasy in the VII-VIII-X era, I was mildly bemused by a series whose releases seemed at first  to have almost nothing in common but their titles and big yellow birds. As I've worked my way backwards, I've enjoyed that "click" of recognition whenever I spot recurring elements: FFXII's glossair ring airships, the trains of FFVII and VIII, the Evil Empire ("empire bad, kingdom good," as we first learned all the way back in FFII), and the tragic/unearthly damsel. FFVI's mechs, however, are almost a first for the series (I say almost, since Doctor Lugae, the Hojo lookalike in FFIV, drove one in his boss battle).

It's interesting to see how the old FF character classes of white mage, black mage, fighter, thief, ranger, ninja, summoner, monk and berserker are submerged yet remain visible beneath the surface. (Coming to the franchise so late, I was  puzzled about fans calling Tifa a monk, or Cid a dragoon, or why Kimahri was blue. Now I understand!)

Like any good opening FMV of the mature FF years, this one raises all sorts of questions about who-what-where-why that will only become intelligible on a replay.

I pause to listen to a orchestral performance of Terra's theme, since my emulator makes it sound less than the perfect bit of music it is. Then, onward.

On with the Playthrough )
auronlu: (Blah)
I'm a little torn here, as I've fallen a month behind Moogle University's 2013 Final Fantasy Marathon thanks to that dreaded problem, Real Life. Should I start Final Fantasy VII along with Sev and Rina? Or stick to Final Fantasy VI so I can recap in order? After much waffling, I'm going to stay the course and stick to FFVI.

Final Fantasy VI on Mac Emulator
It feels so decadent plugging a PS3 controller into a Mac's USB port. Gosh, it works! 

FFVI is the last non-MMO of the Final Fantasy numbered sequence of games that I haven't finished yet, because I got bogged down after the party scattered, and lost myself in Sidequests Before Saving the World. So I know most of the game, but there are still some discoveries I haven't yet made. (Note to self: do not be a completist. I often lose my fun in trying to achieve every last sidequest.)

As so often, I have mixed feelings about the games that fandom loves most, and love the games that much of fandom despises. FFVI is one of those that hasn't yet sunk into my bones like X, V, and to some extent XII, XIII and VIII.

  • Is it because I prefer sword-and-sorcery, mythic worlds to futuristic dystopias and industrial steampunk?
  • Is it because the cast was so big that I failed to bond with any of the major characters?
  • Is it that I was playing it while busy with family stuff and grad school, so that I couldn't stay properly engaged?
  • Or is it simply that I fricking hate clowns, a problem that has also dampened my enthusiasm for IX (Thorn and Zorn)?

I don't know. I remember loving parts of this game; I purchased Terra's theme as one of Uematsu's finest pieces, and I quite like some of the characters. But I feel like FFVI is my friends' fandom playground, much like those fandoms such as Sherlock and Avengers in which I don't participate, but many of my friends do. Hopefully, on this playthrough, I'll be able to immerse myself more fully.

For purposes of screencapping, I'm going to be sacrificing  sound quality a bit and playing  FFVI on my Mac via PCSX-R. (See the video info on that link for how I did it).

In-game sound is fairly good, but the FMV sound goes crackle-pop. Nevertheless, I'm really quite delighted to be playing this game on my Mac. The very first FFs I ever played (VIII and VII) were on my Mac, thanks to an emulator that friends gave me eons ago, so I've come full circle.

All right. Back into the melancholy world of angst and mecha!
auronlu: (FF5)
Holy Chocobo! We're in the home stretch of FFV! Let's pause a moment to ogle the closing FMV from the PS1 version.



It's a fine recap of some exciting moments in the game: pyromaniac Exdeath setting the Moogle forest on fire around the Guardian Tree, Galuf's attack on Castle Exdeath thwarted by the barrier and his friends showing up to spoil everything, Krile on her trusty dragon seeking the perpetually lost party, Faris losing her beloved Syldra the Sea Dragon all the way back on Disc One, the shade (?) of King Tycoon playing hide-and-seek with us, the Lonka/Ronka ruins flying up into the sky, and  a couple endgame battles we still have to look forward to (or flee, if we have any sense).

Symbolism ahoy! I've totally lost track of which crystal / element / attribute goes with what in this FF installment, and I don't know why I care, but I'm puzzling over them, particularly hope = fertility? I also marvel at how quickly graphics look dated, and how awesome Faris and Lenna look in trenchcoat and court attire with matching katanas.

All right! Sidequests before saving the world. (But I also save the world, because this is the final installment of my FFV playthrough.)

on with the playthrough )
auronlu: (FF5)
Welp! Back in the "Let's Play Final Fantasy" saddle after a real life "ack, the 'rents are visiting!" hiatus.

(This chunk will be a bit short. You don't mind, do you?)

As per Galuf's last wishes, it's time for us to launch his long-delayed assault on Castle ExDeath. I would pretend that this is the endgame, except that I've played FFV before, and cannot help but be aware that this is really the "Let's go to Zanarkand / City of the Ancients / Lunatic Pandora / OOPS there's more plot"  dungeon. Still, here we are.

FFV: Castle Exdeath

Krile, why are you standing in quicksand?

On with the Playthrough )
auronlu: (FF5)
Hooray! We've landed in another world to help our friends, and have promptly been captured and imprisoned! Aren't we clever Warriors of Light? We're giving Firion a run for his money!

FFV: Welcome to Castle Exdeath

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: (FF5)
All right, that last episode was very trying, so I have to rec this Faris cosplay to make myself feel better. Also this fanart, from Cumuluscastle.

Dragon and Faris

We left our star-crossed pirate in the dark night of the soul.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: (Faris)
Quick recap from the Advance introduction to FFV, to set the mood with zany plunky-plunky-plunky Uematsu music:



So our four heroes have been drafted as the Warriors of Light (WoLlies really need to form a union) and are off to the next Crystal, as soon as we can escape the Kiddie Pool Inner Sea.

On with the playthrough )
auronlu: (FF5)
As usual, I'd like to start my Let's Play Final Fantasy with (1) a link to Moogle University's FFV write-ups which inspired my own playthrough and (2) the opening FMV from the PS1 remaster (Final Fantasy Anthology, 2003, which is what hooked me on this game despite the flatter-than-Data's-poetry localization):



Thoughts:
  • Dear Squeenix, when you turn Amano's concept art into 3D, you do not have to leave their skin the color of a piece of paper.
  • It's amazing how quickly graphics look dated, isn't it? But Uematsu's music still soars.
  • I adore the outrageous spines and jewels sticking out of everything, especially that pirate ship.
  • Black trenchcoat? Check. Katana? Check. Bishie badassitude? Check. Sephiroth, you are a cheap imitation of the ORIGINAL appearance of this character design. Nyah nyah. 
Okay! Time to break open the iOS remaster, whose retro Amano concept art caricatures clash crazily with stretched chibis.I'll be borrowing some original-game graphics from videogamesprites.net for commentary, because I love 'em. Note: Boldface is actual game dialog, non-bold is my paraphrase, or...er...embellishments.

On with the playthrough )

June 2017

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