All About FinaleFantasmi
5Feb 10The FF series is good because it is fantastically strange and constitutes escape into another world. For example, FF VII is perhaps the most full of sheer strangeness of tone and mood---it feels as if it doesn't even parallel our reality, but is primarily skew, overlapping just a bit. I mean, what IS Jenova? That's a pretty freaky concept, and the first time you see it, it's really freaky. That of course goes along with Sephiroth, who is presented as so weird that you have to really pay attention to even figure out what his problem IS. In FFX, SIN. 'nuff said, right? Giant, near-immortal monster that is actually a person turned into an aeon used to defeat Sin, thus making a cycle----a really really weird cycle that serves as THE central issue. FFVIII also has a decent share of "out-there" weirdness. I mean, the Sorceress was a pretty messed up b, if you know what I mean, and there were some pretty weird dream sequences and flashbacks. And, I think it is safe to say that, regarding all of the 2D FF's I have played, they are all unconventional. (FF I,II&III are kind of weird, not quite enough story to really be examples, imo.) FFIV was crazy with the Fiends and the stuff on the moon, and the feel is just of another world, like FF VII. And in FF VI, which I haven't even played, there's Kefka, the really insane, malicious, and sadistic villain of evilness. Now I'm not saying that these are bad because they are too far detached from reality----actually the exact opposite (it's final FANTASY, you know?--an escape from reality is at least the primary, if not only, purpose). FF games are generally great because they are so fantastic and strange that they transport you to another world, but put a story of humanity in that otherworld and show how truly universal human values can be. FF IX seems to match the others in the "out there" department, but has more, from its traditional tale-style backbone. And I guess I need to give some more support for my claim of traditional elements in the game. The easiest and best example is the end: you know he has to come back, and when he comes back, they use that anticipation to make it extremely dramatic. It is a classic---*traditional*---story ending. In fact, I'd say it is THE most traditional element there is: "Happily ever after". Which separates it from the rest in the series in a major way. That is to say, FFX has an extremely tragic ending, same with VIII, and VII has the death of Aeris which stays as a tragedy forever after, along with the persistence of Sephiroth---meaning it is never really over in FFVII. There isn't really a happily ever after in any of them except 9. I mean, even in the 2D ones, something is almost always lost that removes the possibility of a happily ever after. (The exception might be I&II, or III but I don't really care all that much). Maybe that's why FF IX is my favorite, and not FFX...hmm
5Feb 10(and a really crazy comparison to food
FFIX may come across as weird to most people simply because of the design of the characters--the artwork for the characters is kinda weird, kinda cheesy a little bit. I don't think I need to explain just how, but I think the design was intentionally odd because it gives the feeling of old traditional Tall Tales from a good number of cultures. And in a way, that makes sense, considering the story definitely has a traditional-tale feel to it, but blown up to epic proportions, with countless elements of fantasy and even a touch of science fiction. So a lot of the story is derived from other stories; but I still say that the story is original--everything created by man is derivative to some extent, after all. Anything that could be called a tall tale especially--in traditional story-telling cultures, where oral history is preserved through these stories, they are retold, usually changing with the telling. Originality comes only in the small innovations or the selection of pieces and motifs, mixed and matched and changed a bit, but favorite pieces are kept. No need for complete originality---FF IX seems to have taken the traditional and blended in the mind-blowing. Like adding raspberry sorbet and really concentrated lemon, lime juice, butter, cinnamon, black pepper, a jalapeno or maybe a bitter root of some kind, green curry paste, and a touch of sage, salt, and molasses, to good, hearty bread. Weird beyond belief, definitely, but if you like the parts, you might just get swept away with the combination of "hearty" (heart-warming or traditional) texture with extremely tangy, sweet, sour, spicy, bitter----more than you can even identify mind-blowing flavor (crazy, new, innovative) . You got your bread--a compelling adventure story around the world, with companionship amongst travelers, exploration of the unknown, and strange new cultures. That's the crust. Then the characters and their backgrounds, their personal stories, and how they came together. So far, pretty standard----like maybe a rye or sourdough, or even as sturdy as bannock. (If it's weaker, or too sentimental, it might be a waffle cone or something. But the background in FFIX is more substantial--like a loaf of bread instead of an ice cream cone.) So far, a pretty average story---you could get by with that. But when you add your raspberry sorbet----the unexpected, somewhat ironic love story, it gets weird. Just like the contrast of flavors in the food, a love story can get kinda hairy when mixed with an adventure story of that strength. But if you're like me, you like that weirdness. I've never tried it, but coming up with it just now, I actually really want to try sourdough with raspberry sorbet. The contrast of flavors and textures is unconventional and thus allows the *possibility* of something great that nobody has ever really considered before. But that isn't really all that weird---I mean, if you were served bread with raspberry sorbet, you'd think it was weird and kinda silly, but not really CRAZY different. But add the lemon-lime concentrate (the Terra-Gaia situation, the Lifa Tree, Shimmering Island), black pepper (the oddness of the black mages), jalapeno/bitterroot (Kuja), and green curry paste (the fact that Zidane is a genome that was designed to destroy Gaia---and I use green curry paste not because I don't like curry, but because twice I had green curry that nearly made me sick---and the sickness correlates to Zidane's problem in an interesting fashion). The mixture of sage, salt and molasses represent smaller flavors in the game that are too dispersed to really name to anything in particular.
After all of that---that immense miscellany of vastly different flavors that would never be put together by any sane person, you have a chance at something great----assuming you have an awesome team of master chefs that can figure out just how to combine all of it. The result, if you're lucky, could be an explosion of flavors that is greater than you could have imagined, or predicted. Now if that isn't an innovative way to describe FFIX, I really couldn't imagine what is.
(whew, I think that was the biggest extended metaphor I've ever made--comparing the whole of FFIX to food. --Who woulda thunk it? XD
2Feb 101. FF IX: Tied with FFX as the greatest game ever created. Absolutely better than any other game---not only in all of the normal categories, but the story is absolutely unrivaled. (I realize, of course, that story IS a normal category. What I mean to say is that these 2 games are so good they pretty much transcend the normal category). I would say the creators of the Final Fantasy series have done what would have been a silly, impossible-sounding feat: they raised the level of story in a video game to the status of *literature*. Beyond sheer drama and the simple entertainment offered in most novels---love, suspense, etc.---literature seeks deeper meaning, deeper connections. So, SO many themes--universal themes. I consider these life lessons infinitely more important than standard school learning, which I find, even so, vital and quite simply the only real thing to live for (when you get down to it). Strange as it may sound, I believe I have perhaps learned as much from video games as I have from school, or anything short of my parents. FFIX may come across as weird to most people simply because of the design of the characters--the artwork for the characters is kinda weird, kinda cheesy a little bit. I don't think I need to explain just how, but I think the design was intentionally odd because it gives the feeling of old traditional Tall Tales from a good number of cultures. The story combines things from everywhere to make a truly wonderful story. It goes beyond simple romanticism---it is a masterful amalgamation of different art forms: Literature (which I consider to be art), visual art--of course the FF series is known for amazing graphics (moreso in FFX, but FFIX has its share of eye candy---the scene of Alexander and Bahamut over Alexandria, for example) as well as extremely detailed scenery, and music. (I am tempted to also include gameplay OS design as an art form, but I'm gonna say it isn't quite.) Those are the three art forms that compose a proper FF game--heck, any good game. It is the masterful combination of the arts that makes FF games, 9 and 10 in particular, better than anything ever created. I just want to include that my favorite part is when Zidane questions himself (forgets who he is, stops caring about his friends, loses his mind--in a sense, etc.) after speaking with Garland on Terra. The music--- "You're Not Alone", literally gives me a chill down my spine, and goose bumps, every single time I hear it. It just goes on as you fight your way out, friends joining in the battle just in time to save you. Absolutely one of the most moving moments in gaming.
Also, the music. I have one thing to say: Nobuo Uematsu is a god. For all of FF, he has put out better music than I have heard anywhere else--and I listen to classical music, most of it to be considered the same type---full orchestra. Nothing comes close to the music of FF.
1. (tied) FF X Just as I said for FF IX, FF X is an absolutely masterful amalgamation of art forms to create a whole new one. The story line is the most moving, flowing, unimaginably beautiful, yet unbelievably tragic story I have ever experienced. It made me cry. Literally. (Just to give you an idea of what that means in my case, my friends would likely not even believe me if I told them I cried. It just isn't something I am apt to do---it's just that good). The romance is so deep it extends beyond man and woman, to humanity itself. The characters and their connections are so rich and deep, and the Macalania Forest scene between Tidus and Yuna is the most romantic thing I have ever experienced. "To Zanarkand" and "Suteki Da Ne" are the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard, and "Otherworld", combined with the absolutely epic opening scene of FFX, is pretty freaking awesome. And the ending, possibly the most tragic thing I have ever experienced, left me waiting for the sequel---which actually came, and I was so happy. Until I saw the opening scene of FF X-2. It made me want to hunt down and literally murder the person responsible for absolutely [bleep]ing up the story. Absolutely infuriating, absolute monstrosity, FF X-2 is something I'm going to pretend didn't happen so that I don't shoot myself. Oh yeah, I went ahead and played it through, waiting for closure. But when I figured out that you need to get 100 [bleeping] percent of everything in the game just to get a glimpse at Tidus, I said NO. From the best story ever to the dumbest. So yeah, FFX is the best game ever made, FF X-2 is the worst simply because of how disappointing it is. As a game by itself, it is just so-so. 2. Zelda: Ocarina of Time: I'm gonna keep it short: Best childhood memories. (Obviously, as a review, that doesn't help anyone, but it's freaking Zelda, if you're wondering whether to get it, a thousand other people will agree with me that the answer is YES. PERIOD.)
(wait, where'd my #2 go? I wrote a whole section.....x( man, oh well, another time I guess....)
3. FF VII: Despite all the negativity from FF fans on FF VII's unusual popularity versus that of other FF's, FF VII presents perhaps one of the most unique stories I've come across. It presents a lot of confusion and fear, a lot of ambiguity, and a whole lot of misleads. It is made to confuse you, plain and simple (yay, irony!! but out of that confusion you get a feel for a wonder deeper than I can describe. Certainly special in the sheer queerness of itself. (and no, not queer as in homosexual, as I have actually heard a good number of people accuse Cloud of. Cloud has problems, yes, and he does act rather like a wuss or emo or whatever quite a bit too often, but if you consider the [bleep] he's gone through: absolute loss of control of his mind, which, if you look at from a realist perspective, is really a big deal that actually gives him an almost valid reason to run away from his responsibilities. Of course he shouldn't run away, but that's a major point of interest).
Oh, and I almost forgot Sephiroth haha =O. Really awesome (although if you compare him to other villains, he isn't all that evil, straight off. Not that that really even matters.) He's awesome by his sheer appearance, grandeur, and the whole mind control, and (questionable) immortality thing. He's enigmatic, as everyone in FF7 is, which I think is a fine way to go about things in a story. He works well toward the general mood and tone of confusion that the game is possessed by. FF 7 is a classic that leaves a deep impression.
4. FF VIII: Seriously not as good as X, IX, or VII, but still amazing, all things considered. The romance between Squall and Rinoa is in some ways even more intense than that between Tidus and Yuna, because FFVIII focuses almost exclusively on the intensity, and actually strangeness in some parts, of Squall's quite....different, love for Rinoa. Definitely special, but often just too uncomfortable to be....as good, I guess. There's something about FF VIII that is just unsettling---moreso than FF7 because it doesn't seem...intentional :/. The unsettling nature of 7 is quite blatant and purposeful, so it's ok, but in 8, I have no clue why it makes me feel so uncomfortable. (Maybe I see some of myself in Squall, some dark piece of character that I don't want to admit to....I don't know.) FF 8 is good, no doubt, and I'm glad I played it, but personally I'd rather not play it again.
Oh, just btw, "Man with the Machine Gun" is really epic---but, silly as it sounds, it's just annoying in the game. The concert recording of it is absolutely fantastic, but as Laguna's battle theme, it's really quite repetitive-sounding (whether it actually is or not) just due to the recording on the game.
5. (still working on the list...more later)
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