Month: January 2020

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – The Fall

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I’m excited, are you excited?

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was Square’s big attempt to go multimedia. Their brand new “Square Pictures” logo proudly greets you after the Columbia Pictures one. Look at them. King of kings. Look upon their works. But it turns out I may have been wrong when I joked about TSW forcing Square to merge with Enix. I’ve since heard that that’s simply an urban legend, and that the two companies were going to merge to begin with, only for TSW to nearly scare Enix off! This had added consequences, as I’ve heard it convinced Square to suggest the new company should could milk all their franchises for easy money as a way to re-sweeten the pot, leading to the spinoff and sequel boom that played out almost uninterrupted for the next decade or so!

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Final Fantasy IX – If these shadows have offended, blame Steiner

FFIX-00130The party teleports away at the last minute, as things collapse back on the Hill of Despair (more on that later), and finds themselves back outside the Iifa Tree in the present, the tree’s roots starting to move like tentacles as they began the process of destroying Gaia, or whatever would happen after the destruction of Terra. Luckily for the party, Mikoto was on board the Red Rose with Beatrix and was able to sense Zidane telepathically, and they sent a message to Cid to pick up the party. But at the last second, a psychic voice reached out to Zidane. I originally assumed this was Garland, but no, it was Kuja, who was still alive. Zidane wanted to rescue or at least go to him, saying that, “Because I might’ve done the same thing if I were in his shoes.” Okay, like, I sympathize? But also don’t agree in the slightest. But whatever, he’s doing it anyways, and to my absolute annoyance, he reneged on his life lesson from Disc 3 and decided to ditch everyone to go in alone. I really expected them to turn him around on it, but Amarant just gave up and everyone ultimately followed his lead, even Garnet, who had the longest farewell speech. Extremely disappointed at this reversal.

After the others were gone, Zidane began his approach. This was shot in a very peculiar manner, with a pre-rendered CG in the background, depicting the Iifa tree nigh-attacking him with its roots, but with Zidane’s in-game model running around on top of the pre-rendered CG in what I can only assume is real-time. I’m not sure why they did this, though I imagine it was budgetary. On the PSX, this looks a little janky but not ultimately that bad. In the HD remake, with the now out-of-date prerendered cutscene in the background and the HD Zidane in the foreground, it looks like absolute crap. Long story short, Zidane finds Kuja, including an unintentionally silly bit where he spots him, time momentarily freezes, and he falls past.

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Final Fantasy IX – Death Awaits All

FFIX-00119Now that this room is clear of its Liche problem, I should probably talk about That Other Thing. FFIX fans know what I’m getting at. This room is actually home to Steiner’s Actual Ultimate Weapon, but getting it is easily one of the most ridiculous challenges in Final Fantasy history. It’s actually so absurd that I get the impression that many players, Kyle included, simply don’t include it in their mental assessment of the genre’s worst challenges, since it’s just so wildly “out there!” You see, to get this final weapon (which is, of course, invisible like everything else in Memoria), you have to make all the way to this point in the game in under 12 hours. This is a simply unreasonable challenge, especially if you’re the kind of person who would actually want to do it, because if you’re the kind of person who would actually want to do it, you’re probably the kind of person who would get annoyed at missing other things and would go out of your way to make life worse by doing all sorts of other challenges! This, shall we say, “extended version” of the challenge basically requires you to skip cutscenes, which couldn’t be done on the PSX without opening the disc drive while it was still in operation!

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Final Fantasy IX – Ghosts of Bosses Past

FFIX-00104Session 4 carries on through to the end of the game, though considering how close we were at the end of Session 3, that isn’t particularly surprising! Actually, Kyle and I had a tremendously successful session, finishing off not only FFIX, but also TSW and a certain other project I’ll talk about when we get there. It was good stuff!

Since we’re getting towards the end of the game, I think I should add a brief forecast for what’s coming soon on the blog. The Spirits Within follows, we wouldn’t miss it. After that, we’ll be doing another Look-Back at the Final Fantasy and Persona PSX games and their sequels with some new Top 5 lists. But before we get to FFX and X-2, we’ll be doing two of these “special projects” I just hinted at, so look forward to that! As for FFX, I should publicly clarify that FFX is one of those rare games that both Kyle and I have already played in the past! (The only other Final Fantasy game in this position was Mystic Quest.) After that, Kyle has played FFTA, and I’ve discussed my testy history with 4HoL, but beyond those, every game in the series is brand new to both of us until you get to FFXV. FFXV is special, since I actually played it partially as an official part of the Marathon, since someone had to write up all the time-sensitive events! As a result, the FFXV Journal actually has several completed write-ups, which is a weird feeling since they won’t run for years!

You may also be curious how we’re going to handle the upcoming FFVII Remake. We probably are going to play it eventually, but Kyle wants to wait until all the episodes are released, so it may be… ahaha… some time, as it were. I may end up playing it on my own in the interim. For the record, Marathon rules don’t obligate us to play new remakes like this, no matter how different they may be from the original, but unless the game turns out to be a serious dud, I think we’ll want to play it, so no worries there. We played Dirge of Cerberus, didn’t we?

(The “We don’t have to play remakes no matter how different” rule is a technicality that dates back to the abbreviated, and so rarely-mentioned, Castlevania Marathon, what with a half-dozen retellings of the original Castlevania on the market!).

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Final Fantasy IX – Tattered Quilt

FFIX-00096The party reunites, and preps for the *cough* “final” dungeon run. First up was a trap that I didn’t understand, where you have to hit a switch and then avoid lights that appear in a grid while crossing the room. I thought it was a whack-a-mole game and kept deliberately chasing the lights until Kyle spoke up and explained things to me! One of the monsters in this area was the Movers from FFV, a final dungeon enemy that rewarded treasure troves worth of AP. Not so much here, where they gave no more than a regular enemy! The presence of an end dungeon enemy, plus the inevitable encounter with Garland and Kuja, prompted me to joke that we were in a fake-out dungeon, like Exdeath’s Castle and the Floating Continent before this. Kyle asked how I could possibly think this wasn’t the final dungeon, and I got to look him straight in the eye and say: “Well, I have this fourth disc in my game box that I haven’t touched yet…” This structure doesn’t work on the PSX!

Next up was an elevator puzzle. The idea is that the elevator has a ramp that’s required to get on or off, and the ramp rotates 50 degrees each level it rises. You have to coordinate the ramp with your climb in order to get anywhere. If you fail to do it in a mere two touches of the controls, the game will have your other party members stay behind to run it for you, which trivializes the puzzle. Funnily enough, this is delivered as an ATE, and is actually the last ATE in the entire game, despite this not actually being the final dungeon! There’s an entire disc to go and they just… abandoned this prominent side feature!

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