auronlu: (Default)

[click to enlarge]

Yuna’s pilgrimage is a linear journey across a landscape, but the landscape isn’t static. Unknown to Yuna and friends (apart from perhaps Auron), they’re crossing a gameboard, and the boundaries are being redrawn around them.

[[SPOILERS from here on]] Above, I’ve shown the biggest shift in spheres of influence. Before and after Operation Mi’ihen, the Crusaders are nearly annihilated and lose all authority in the regions where they had been the major power.

As we can tell from piecing together various NPC comments, their downfall was engineered by Maester Kinoc. I believe Maester Seymour was not originally a party to Kinoc’s stratagem, but barged in at the last minute and partially usurped it, as I’ll explain below.

Read More )
auronlu: (Default)
Okay, so I’m all caught up to where I left off on my old Let’s Play Final Fantasy X liveblog.

It’s been so long since I posted those that I’d almost forgotten some of the themes I was trying to highlight during my playthrough.

Lemme recap some of these themes. [SPOILERS!]
Read more... )
auronlu: (Angst)
  • Final Fantasy VII is a party of people who lie to themselves to get by.
  • Final Fantasy X is a party of people who find different ways to deal with grief and loss.



...inspired by pondering Mintywolf's current FFX Playthrough.

We were talking about the scene between Auron and Tidus on the docks when Auron tells T. the truth about his father, T. loses it and blames everything on Auron, and Auron starts laughing.

I noted that Auron has a certain sympathy for Tidus precisely because Auron himself used to be very high-strung. The only ways he knows to deal with grief are to get angry (which he used to do), weep (which is what Tidus does) or laugh (which is what Auron does now).
auronlu: (Blah)
You probably remember most of these anyway, but when I glanced over my last post, I noticed that the names are starting to pile up.

FFVII Who's Who )
auronlu: (Blah)
I think you've explained this before, but now I'm all muddled again.

What do these mean? Would a Japanese speaker associate these words due to their similar sounds, almost like puns or wordplay of some kind?

シン = Sin in Final Fantasy X, pronouned "Shin." The ... katakana? ... is phonetic.
神 = shin as in god, spirit, kami, shinto? (This is Kanji?)
死 = Shi, death? (This is kanji?)

And on top of all these is loaded the English meaning of "Sin."

Yes/no? Am I understanding, or am I conflating unrelated words because they sound similar to my ear?
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: (Default)
Crossposted from my Tumblr (ack, when did that start happening?!)

Square-Enix had a livestream interview at E3 today with producers Kitase and Toriyama. Here's the original video:



Their interview starts at about 05:15 and runs for an hour.

I have written out a complete transcription here.

Addresses a lot of juicy stuff, but fails to answer two questions:
Last Mission not yet confirmed.
Release date not yet set.
auronlu: (Yuna-Aeris)
Dissidia is Crossover Crack, but I haven't yet played it. However, even without Dissidia as an excuse, there's a lot of Final Fantasy characters who could collide in intriguing ways with minimal fiddling. Sev and Rina's playthrough of ALL THE FINAL FANTASY games in [community profile] moogle_university has gotten me thinking about various possibilities.

Meta babbling about likely crossover candidates )
auronlu: (behindyou)
Reposted from Tumblr, because Tumblr blows as a place to talk about anything or find anything you posted earlier.

Note that some of my comments derive from backstory provided by the Ultimania guide rather than from the game itself. Ultimania is a supplement put out by Square employees, rather than what really happened or what was said in-game. So I regard Ultimania as subject to fan interpretation and selection. Here's what I took from it.

When Lulu Broke (and Why), a Character Study )
auronlu: (Default)
*nosebleed*

For those sensible souls who are NOT following me on Tumblr...


[ETA: So apparently fanservice still works on me. DAMMIT LULU.]

After I got done ogling old friends, my eyes were drawn to that durned inscription.
I swear the second line starts with "aerith." (See Spiran main alphabet.)

The scary part is that on the one hand I'm simply jumping all over this as a fan, but on the other hand, I've become a virtual freelance video game blogger /critic, so I'm allowed to do this for work.

Yes, I'm a bad fan )

So, with that understood, I posted old-vs-new comparisons on my article about the FFX Remaster here. (My pittance from that page is generally about 30 cents a month thanks to the header/sidebar ads. Whoopie.)

Back to geeking at FFX. My finger was hovering over the Amazon preorder button two hours ago. But I'm holding off in case they decide to release some fancy version with extras. For most games, I wouldn't succumb to the merch, but for this one? Yeah. I might.
auronlu: (Default)
I'm still sloooooowly digging my way through FFIII again and still need to create write-ups for what I've done so far.

But in the meantime. Sev and Rina have posted their playthroughs (both hilarious as usual) on [community profile] moogle_university, plus some thoughtful meta and commentary about FFIII and the early FFs in genera.

Here's all their posts on FFIII. I left a loooong rambling comment on Sev's post about early FFs, for what it's worth. We're discussing story and characterization and early job / character classes and the oddities of black and white magic.

Which all sounds boring, but is anything but. Go look! And be amused by their zany summaries of the games!
auronlu: (Blitzball)
Most of you already saw this on Tumblr, but just to signal boost...

Sometime this year, the long-awaited FFX HD remaster will FINALLY be released for Playstation 3, Vita. (Probably not XBox.)

It includes:

  • Final Fantasy X
  • Final Fantasy X-2 (bundled together on PS3, separately on Vita...what?)
  • All content previously only available in international version, INCLUDING Dark Aeons, Penance, "Last Mission" story, Coliseum (which I'm psyched about, because you can grab any enemy you defeat for an ally, including Lulu, Lucil, Elma)
  • Revamped sphere grid
  • Three new dresspheres (presumably psychic, festivalgoer and something else?)
  • Tweaked X-2 gameplay
  • New final bonus dungeon in addition to Last Mission's bonus dungeon.


So many people have been playing these games on emulators that we've gotten spoiled to seeing twelve-year-old graphics as crisp as they can be -- much better than they were on our old fuzzy tv sets. So the graphics won't actually be that much of an upgrade. We're talking Dissidia graphics, not FFXIII graphics. But the point is that all the content will be playable, including chunks that were never released in the U.S., on a modern console.

Now if only they had room to cram in the Japanese voices with English subtitles and/or get Hedy Buress to reread Yuna's lines for FFX without Shatnering. (I still want to bop whoever told her to lip synch, which most of the VAs decided to ignore.)
auronlu: (Default)
I was just reading Liv's Let's Play Final Fantasy VIII, which has some spot-on comments about (a) every character's failure to grow up and (b) the game's reticence to show them growing up and reacting to what's happening.

These are two different problems. Both of which are common in video games, particularly Final Fantasy.

I think the early games were aimed at a younger audience -- yes? -- then, around FVII or so, the games started to be aimed at late teenagers, and the characters were their age or just a bit older. In FVIII, I feel, the game was aimed at players who were the same age as the characters.

So here we have a fictional fantasy depiction of teenagers being child soldiers. It's less idealized than many "teen heroes save the world" stories, in that these characters often act like teenagers, self-centered and mixed up in their feelings and coming up with boneheaded, idealistic, and impractical plans (see: Rinoa, would-be freedom fighter and trust fund baby). In Squall's case he's got a serious case of "I don't care" nihilism which is a common stance at that age. (And we know some of the reasons for this, but Liv doesn't, because she hasn't played that far, and anyway, I'm not sure if it's sufficiently justified.)

We've also got the adults who put them in this situation, and that's a whole other fascinating issue.

The game doesn't fully deal with either of these issues: the immaturities of child soldiers and young people in a military organization, and the grown-ups who exploit them. But it raises those issues, which is fairly unusual for a "teenage heroes saves the world" story.

FFVIII tells that story not through social commentary but via the teenaged POV of the characters, for the gratification of teenaged players who may not be interested in much gray area. For them, Squall is COOL because he's nihilist, and Selphie is the fun party girl, Irvine is a hot bishie guy, and Rinoa is a self-insert for every pampered child like me who latched onto idealism to rebel against our parents...and so on. (Or am I oversimplifying and underestimating a teenager's POV?) I view these characters from the outside as common teenaged roles, but the game is showing them from the inside to people who are likely to be surrounded by and participating in one or more of those roles in their daily lives.

Contrast that with FFXII, which seems to be aimed at college student aged players, and which ditches teen romance for political intrigue, power struggles, and artsy riffs about history and agency and fate.


annnnnd I just got a phonecall which totally broke my concentration on where I was going with this, so I'll just leave this out here.
auronlu: Maria, Guy and Minwu fleeing at end of battle, apparently after looting Firion's corpse. "You obtained 36 gil!" (ffii)
...uh... right. So, month two of our great Final Fantasy Playthrough Marathon, inspired by the geniuses of [community profile] moogle_university, and I'm already behind.

I actually wrote this post before I started the game, but now I'm eight hours into it. At least six of which were OCD level grinding while stuck on the phone with my Mom (only slight exaggeration). 

Pregame Show: Final Fantasy II


Behold my candy red sword of awesome.

So, February is Final Fantasy II month for our year-long 2013 Final Fantasy Playthrough Marathon!

I am utterly ignorant of this game except that it stars Firion, the dude (?) with a dead bird turban on his head. I've been taken aback by the candy red sword he brandishes on the Amano cover art. I noticed he also rocks a Swiss Armor Weaponry outfit on his Dissidia character design. (See this fan photo gallery of his Trading Arts figure showing all the stuff he's got strapped on: front, back and sides.)

This is the only time I've ever seen a fantasy game character portrayed with all his weapons not hidden in an invisible Bag of Holding. It reminds me of a family trip when I was aged four, told I could only bring whatever toys I could carry, and turned myself into a Shambling Mound of Stuffed Animals by roping them all together into a tyke-sized tent that I wore like an aegis. So I'm wondering how Amano Dude fights with all his weapons strapped on. Wouldn't he trip over the trident?

Which brings me to the one other thing I've learned about this game from the comments on Lassarina's pre-game post: that the leveling is insane, and that you have to become proficient in individual weapons by hitting yourself with them. Or something. (Or, rather, that your proficiency with anything from weapons to spells to stats increases the more you use each thing.)

Once again, I'll be playing the iOS version of this game, which is a port of the remastered FFII seen in "Final Fantasy Origins" (PSX), "Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls" (GBA) and Final Fantasy II (PSP). I have no gamer pride and feel no need to subject myself to the original, harder version of this game.

I have no particular expectations other than the fact that it's early Final Fantasy, so I'm looking forward to nostalgia (and the first bona-fide chocobo and Cid). I confess that I'm dreading the infamous game mechanics in this one. Which means I'm totally going to overdo it on grinding.
auronlu: Four warriors of light from Final Fantasy I (ffi)
So, Sev and Rina (see, I finally spotted your nickname, TOOK ME ABOUT TIME) have finished their glorious playthrough of Final Fantasy I on [community profile] moogle_university, and I should jot down my wobbly little thoughts about the game before I forget: about playing it, and about the story (is there one?)

Playing FF was a heck of a lot more enjoyable than I had anticipated, partly because I went all in, shamelessly importing four characters from the magical gamespace multiverse to flesh out the Warriors of Light. Through them, I could inject personality and commentary into a very simple game whose party was only as interesting as you imagined it to be. If I hadn't done that, the game would've been been flat like Zork, or like ... well, early Might & Magic, not that anyone here played that puppy.

I came into Final Fantasy I thinking, "Well, this is the first Final Fantasy, so I mustn't expect the complexities and story plotting and characters of the later games. It'll be simple and clunky and the game mechanics will probably drive me INSAAANE." By virtue of the fact that I was playing a remastered edition, I didn't have to deal with the arbitrary game mechanics of the original, so I could just sit back and play it. I don't feel any burning desire to play games on PROUD or HARD or ARTIFICIALLY DIFFICULT mode. I've done graduate school three times; that's enough for me.

I liked FFI. It really did have a certain charm, despite its stock fantasy simplicity; it did have many of the beloved game and story elements that have made Final Fantasy enduring. I could believe that this game hooked enough players to rescue Square from near-bankruptcy. Even odd little things like the iconic black mage with the Jawa eyes contributed to making it just...a little...different.

Of course, all the D&D flashbacks gave me the nostalgia factor I was missing by not coming to Final Fantasy until VII-VIII. So that helped.

So, some in-game stuff. Spoilers to the ending, such as it was.

Meta about Final Fantasy I )
auronlu: (ronin)
We've got a lot of vaguely European armor, weapons and fighting styles in Final Fantasy and other JPRGs, but there's also ubiquitous Ninjas, Samurai, and fighting monks who exhibit fantasy variations of eastern hand to hand styles.

I was just puttering my way through Suikoden V again -- SOOOO much easier on a back-compatible PS3 where the load times are speeded up -- and I noticed that one Elf character starts to lift his bow in a Japanese archery style -- but then, no, he drops his hands and draws European style. Fran and everyone in FFXII have western stances as well. Of course, most of them are using shorter bows -- Penelo's is much too short for Zen archery, and the Elf characters in Suikoden have short bows as well. So I suppose that what I think of as a Western draw is really a shortbow draw.

Anyway, just once l'd love to see a kyudo (Zen) archer in a game. I've seen them practicing at my local range a few times, and it's absolutely mesmerizing. This video captures it.

I could've envisioned Fran and her sisters using a variation of it, since they are such meditative warriors who prize stillness and silence (when they aren't being driven into a killing frenzy by the Mist.)

Then again, Kyudo archery is usually reserved for religious ceremonies and Zen meditation, and is normally done so slowly -- maybe it would seem jarring to depict it in a battle or competitive setting?
auronlu: (franservice)
I strongly recommend reading: “Oh, You Sexy Geek!”: “Geek Girls” and the Problem of Self-Objectification by Courtney Stoker (found via [community profile] metanews)

I'm particularly taken with Olivia Waite's interpretation of Leia's "I will strangle you for making me wear this" slave costume.

Rambling thoughts in response to the essay... or just my own vague thoughts about cosplay.

I've always had ambivalence about cosplay: I rejected Barbie as a child, because I recognized the poisonous apple, and when I encountered cosplay, I thought (a) "Ugh, dress-up ... I hate clothes" and (b) "self-Barbiezation, double ugh."

I gradually overcame that because I learned that good cosplay is an art that takes great craftsmanship, it's fun, and it's creative. Also, I have a totemic relationship with fictional characters: I enjoy and feel satisfied when I see excellent representations of them, in the way that traditional cultures like seeing their gods or cultural symbols represented. There's something viscerally appealing about "Oh my gosh, there's Lulu FOR REELZ!" that still hits me when I come across a good cosplay photo, even though I've seen a gazillion good Lulu cosplays.

Which is fine: in that case, I'm just appreciating cosplay as a craft and as an activity. However, because I'm bi, there's also a part of me that responds to fanservice -- usually designed by and for guys, but it often intersects with my own tastes. (My self-chagrin being represented by userpic above.) In my case it's non-heteronormative, but still, I like looking at Teh Sexy. So I'm buying into and perpetuating fanservice by favoring female cosplayers with The Sexy bodytype, except that I have a slightly broader definition of that bodytype than some

Also, if a character is too visibly objectified and stripped of strength/intelligence/personality, I recognize the poisonous apple and recoil from what is my personal Uncanny Valley: a recognizable female character sapped of her soul for titillation purposes. Hentai does this in spades. Sometimes cosplay does it, mostly by body language and gestures that telegraph meanings which don't seem to me to fit the characters at all.

So anyway. Good essay, and that's my rambling response.
auronlu: (joggerz)


Above: My 30-year-old hand-painted D&D figures face off against my Final Fantasy figures for the last remaining die from my basic D&D set.

([personal profile] heavenscalyx painted the woman in front center with the staff and hammer, my longtime fighter-cleric Moy Ruadh; to her left are a D&D Ranger (archer) whose name I've forgotten, a Magic User in blue named Gadrath the Unfortunate (Mom's main character), Dad's Haakon in full plate mail and shield at far left, and a bunch of fighters behind them including Gaon Birchlurcher the Elf in the blue cloak (my very first character), Raknar the Dwarf, my grog/retainer fighter Gregor Trueheart with the red-striped green shield, a couple halflings and a random fighter, and in the far back, my Aunt's thief Ralph Tharn beside my poor old cleric Brother Brussels (as in brussel sprout) with his vegetable coat of arms on his shield. Most of the better-painted figures were done by my mother — including Tharn, unfortunate shemagh and all — whereas the messy and garish monsters in the back are my feeble attempts.

Note: I've made a table of all the D&D monsters ported into original Final Fantasy bestiary. It's nearly everything except the bosses, and even some of those!
auronlu: (CeilingCloud)
One huge change in Final Fantasy games is that characters became more and more complex, with preset backstories, lines of dialogue and character development within the game. Increasingly, we become observers, puppetmasters, and/or passive participants, discovering what makes characters tick as individuals and coming to know them as fictional characters while (at the same time) seeing their worlds and acting out their adventures in their shoes.

 

Somewhat incoherent ramble about preset characters and Roleplaying... )

 

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