my life as a king

FFCC: My Life as a King – My Power Nap as a King

Shut up, Jecht.

The next day, Leo is atop the tower when he imagines his father talking to him (or is outright visited by his ghost, it’s hard to say). At first, Epitav seems to be insulting his son, calling him a crybaby (which the game has always used as an insult), only for him to turn around and call Leo’s empathy a quality that he lacks, which prompts some visual frustration from Leo. It’s a rare, genuinely effective emotional moment between the jackass father and his abandoned son, but I should note that it’s hampered by the fact that Leo is basically a silent protagonist.

When you want a character to communicate, your options are to have them to do so directly (through speech, sign, writing, or other methods), to have them express their feelings through animation, or to have others comment on their behaviour. Leo doesn’t do the first, has barely any of the second (less than a dozen?), and the third is an extremely shaky and arbitrary route to begin with, and would take extremely skilled hands to handle! Suffice to say, MLK doesn’t manage it in my eyes. All Leo’s qualities, like empathy, are just informed attributes that don’t actually show up in his actions.

Now, there is a fourth way to communicate your character’s feelings, but I don’t know if I should be bringing it up: the things your character does through regular gameplay can be seen as an expression of their character. It can be seen like that, but not only is the industry as a whole bad at this angle, but Square Enix in particular is so preposterously bad at this that it’s been one of my running jokes for years! Is MLK better than the curve? Well, I guess Leo talks to his citizens every single day in our playthrough, but the devs can’t guarantee you do that, and Kyle and I had long since stopped actually listening to them, which doesn’t seem very empathetic!

And worse than all the above, as the scene goes on, Epitav tries to say explain that he’s a gung-ho, bullheaded idiot who charges off to war at the drop of a hat, but this makes him a terrible sedentary king. Okay, good point. But Leo, he says, will be a good king because his personally is totally opposite of his father! Right? Oh wait, that’s right: everyone keeps reminding us that Leo has to be forced into this role with a hydraulic press, because he’s actually a gung-ho, bullheaded idiot who’d rather be fighting! Yeah, Leo’s portrayal has actually been closer in line with his headstrong father, and he has to be practically restrained into the role Epitav is now claiming he’s great at!

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FFCC: My Life as a King – Bad King Epitav, Rules with a Ghostly Hand

One of these days – one of these days! – I’m going to remember that Daylight Savings Time throws WordPress for a whirl and screws all my scheduled posts. This time I didn’t even realize I had to correct things until a few weeks in!  Sheesh!

It took us a while to get the White and Black Mage buildings. We are not proud. We finally got the White Mage Temple on Day 36, with Dana finally excelling and killing a boss instead of Mr. “You’re Not The Only Hero” Franklin. White Mages start off with nothing but Cure spells, requiring another building for anything else, which makes them awful solo adventurers, but this is the situation the game’s put us in, isn’t it? The advent of mages also introduces Rods to the Weapon Shop and Robes in the Armour.

Thankfully, the Black Mage Academy followed quickly after the White on Day 38, though I insisted we put it further away from the Adventurer’s Quarter, as I was hoping to put another residential district near where the Quarter had been creeping, not knowing that the game was never going to give us another Bakery (in hindsight, the remaining civilian building should have gone there instead of where we ended up putting it, but we didn’t realize it has the same functions as a Bakery!). On the plus side, the Academy ended up between our two residential districts and might have boosted the Intellect stat of local resident adventurers, but not so much that I ever actually noticed it. As for the Black Mage Academy itself: Black Mages start with Fire spells, and never branch out into other elemental disciplines, since the complexity would just make things unweildy.

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FFCC: My Life as a King – No one likes a tough pudding

On Day 9, Kyle and I spent our first morale sphere to upgrade the castle, only to learn that you need to do this three times to get any upgrades! Bah! Now we have to socialize even more! And again, bah!

It was around now that the game also gave us the next and, in our experience, the most frustrating blueprint sidequest in the entire game. When someone in town asked us to build a park, we discovered Leo had no idea what even that was, and one of the Moogles suggested it would be easier to draw one if Leo knew what a dandelion looked like. Besides the part where we had to work out (by accident) that the intended NPCs only show up a day apart as I’ve already discussed, the game also insisted the king not stoop to even this kind of grunt work, and instead we had to set a behest for an adventurer to find the dandelions in town! They didn’t imply it was even… a bunch of dandelions, either! Just one!

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FFCC: My Life as a King – Time Lord Employees

Day 3 opens with a new tradition: Chime’s morning reports. With a fixed angle shot and a chibi host, these sequences weirdly reminded me a lot of Dokopon Kingdom, which is from a completely different genre! Gonna have to cover that game at some point in the future too… The morning reports are split into two parts: first an Adventurer Report, where you can click on various elements for more details, and then a rather sterile, one-page financial report that’s exactly like you’d expect and mostly covers data you already knew. You’ll be spending a lot of time on these screens… urm, the first one, anyways. Kyle and I eventually came to pass the controller back and forth at the start of each morning report, since the game lacked all of our traditional swap points.

After this, we’re given our proper introduction to the adventurer system, and so it’s time for me to explain it here, too! Not far from the foot of the castle’s keep is the town’s one and only fixed, interactive element: the Frog Board. The castle and its surrounds are filled with frog decorations that go completely unexplained (including some that look like a perfect replica of the Bullfrog Studios logo?), and this is one of them. Anyways! Every morning, at the end of Chime’s report, she’ll ask you to place Behests on this and any other sign boards you’ve constructed in the kingdom, one per board. Most of your adventurers will wake up and then go straight to the board that interests them the most, a process that seems based on the level of the challenge, but is still ultimately random, leading to a few wildly inappropriate adventurers showing up at each board basically every morning. You can then assign whichever adventurers you choose from the assembled crowd to do each behest, while telling the others to go mind their own business, which they will do by either grinding for EXP in a dungeon of their own choice, or by resting in town if they’re tired. While you can talk to them as they wait at the board to give them orders or see their stats, it’s faster to got to the board itself, which offers info on everyone present (or not yet present, if you make it to the board quickly!). The interface could still be a lot faster, but it could also be a lot worse, it’s pretty close to the middle.

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FFCC: My Life as a King – Amid the Digital Gravestones

Let’s talk about games that have been removed from sale. Final Fantasy is a lucky series as these things go, since all the main series games have generally remained in circulation in some way or another for the better part of the past three decades. In fact, if FFI and II would finally show up on PC (and who knows why there’s a delay at this point), the entire main-numbered series would be on the same platform for the first time since the Famicom days! The series is also lucky enough to say that almost no games had been outright lost except those that require active servers (Before Crisis, FFXI on consoles, FF Airborne Brigade) or the unusual case of Flash game Dive 2 Hunt. I briefly covered some of these games in an filler post several years back.

But when it comes to spinoffs, sequels and other appendages, things haven’t been so certain on the sales front. Some of these losses are quite recent, and the fear that even offline games might be removed is a constant worry at the back of my mind. The Marathon has taken, and will take, years to complete. A decade so far, and who knows how long to go! And that means a lot of time for Square to fuck up and bury something else! Digital platforms are especially vulnerable, since they can’t produce used hardcopies, and smartphones are the worst: a platform infamous for remotely deleting titles without any warning, and disqualifying old software with OS updates. Indeed, the Marathon has already lost one server-free smartphone game: Final Fantasy Crystal Defenders: Vanguard Storm, which can only be played via emulation these days, so don’t expect to see it from us unless they choose to re-release it!

Today’s subject isn’t a smartphone game. With the shutdown of the Nintendo Wii’s Shop Channel in 2018-19, two more Final Fantasy games were removed from shelves and have yet to return in any legitimate manner: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles spinoffs My Life as a King and its narrative sequel, My Life as a Darklord. But thankfully: we already owned a copy of each!

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