Summer found me reading several books until recently. I’ve been finding my stories in another medium: video games. I decided to dive into one of my old faves, Final Fantasy. A good ol’ JRPG!
This post is kind of a response to a couple posts I published last year about Final Fantasy here and here.
I was impressed last October with the new Final Fantasy VII Remake coming for PlayStation 4. I wondered then, would I buy the console just to play the game!? And if so, would I play through the whole game like I first did back around 1997. Answer: no and yes.
Final Fantasy VII
Instead of a PS4, I bought a Nintendo Switch last Christmas! And I’ve now played through Final Fantasy VII (the re-release version) after many years and many attempts at replay. Since first finishing the game in the late 90’s, I restarted it several times but was never able to get through it. Until now!
There are several plot points and events in the story of the game that I didn’t remember, so I relived it both afresh and with nostalgia – it was fun! Yes, the graphics are dated, but the nostalgia factor for me made it enjoyable. When it first came out, the game was impressive on the PlayStation (PS1)!
What made FFVII so impactful circa 1997 was its over-the-top visual storytelling in a video game. It blended full-motion CGI video with pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D polygonal characters in a seamless way, within the tech limits of the time.
While the storytelling was spectacular, the story itself was, dare I say, epic!
You literally must save the entire planet with all its inhabitants from total destruction and utter ruin. No big deal though, right?
Squaresoft (Square-Enix) had a knack for huge stories with existential overtones. They’re full of drama, tragedy, betrayal, love, camaradiere, danger – all the stuff of relationships. There are plot twists and turns. And like the JRPG genre Final Fantasy is in, there are often well developed character story-arcs. And of course, lots of magic and action. (Summons!)
This Summer, finishing FFVII for the second time was more than a mere fun replay. For me, it became a stepping stone on a path I never finished. I went back a little before I would go forward.
The path started in the 90’s with FFVI on SNES, then jumped to FFVII on PS1. Next, I played FFVIII and FFIX, also on the PS1.
The next FF installment, number ten, debuted in 2001 on the PS2, a console I didn’t own. So I never played Final Fantasy X but have always wanted to.
And now I’m finally playing Final Fantasy X for the first time!
Final Fantasy X
FFX is nearly 20 years old, but to me it is brand new! I read some reviews (no spoilers!) about it and was pretty stoked. It’s one of the best in the long running FF franchise. Here’s a salient quote I found:
“Whereas many of the previous Final Fantasy games were games with story elements, this is a story with gaming elements.”
Hear that? FFX is big on story – like reading a book!? Sounds good. Although it might be more like an audiobook since the dialogue is full of voice acting, a first for FF games back in the day.
The only real downside I’ve read about FFX is that the game, driven by a great story, is more linear than previous FF games. But I think that straightforward approach will help me play through the game. So bring it on.
In the Final Fantasy franchise, there’s always been a steady progression in Square-Enix’s ability to cinematically showcase the story with advancements in graphical quality. I enjoyed the visual experience starting in the 16-bit era with FFVI (FFIII SNES). It got remarkably better with FFVII, FFVIII, and FFIX (PS1).
Now that I’ve started FFX, I’m super impressed with how much Square-Enix has improved everything. And I’m lucky, since waiting almost 20 years to play FFX means I not only jumped from PS1 to PS2 level pizzazz, I jumped to the high-quality version with the FFX HD Remaster!
So that’s what I’ve been up to lately, geeking out on gaming. Overall, I’m consuming more content than creating it. That happens. The scales tip from one side of the balance to another.
For now, I’ve got to save the world again from crazy-bad destructive forces. Wish me luck!