the spirits within

Marathon Look-Back #2, Reviews

Well, it’s that time again: time to look back at a long period of gaming spanning several years in both development and playtime. The last time we did this, we were covering the NES, SNES and GB eras, plus their direct continuations. The games we’ll be covering this time are all the PSX-era RPGs and their continuations, basically everything we played after FFVI and up to the present day, including six Final Fantasy games (seven if you count Before Crisis), three Persona games, two Final Fantasy movies, and one Final Fantasy TV show. This is proximate to our last look-back in terms of product count (our last Look-Back covered twelve Final Fantasy games, one OVA, and the undersized FFII Soul of Rebirth and FFIV Interlude), but represents way more blog posts overall. The Directory was really getting unwieldy. Admittedly, as Kyle comments in one of his reviews, all these spinoffs and sequels are going to make this something of a FFVII-centric post, but it’s how it’s gotta be.


Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – A New World, One Way Or Another

Back in prison, the laser bars fail and a loudspeaker begins to broadcast an evacuation order. And then the action scene starts and I can start to cover large spans of time with less summary coverage! Fun times! Gray and Aki are briefly separated from the others by Phantoms, but they all reunite quickly. During their time apart, we learn the Phantoms are now fully visible. Gray says that it’s probably because they passed through the barrier, which is presented with all the air of a line that’s meant to be authoritative and correct. I find this fascinating because we know that it’s actually not true: we know the Phantoms went through the power lines and that’s where they picked up their charge. The writers have essentially given Gray a perfectly logical explanation that happens to be entirely incorrect, just so he and Aki will stop asking question! What an odd little path we took to get here! Meanwhile, the Deep Eyes having secured a military vehicle complete with heavy weaponry.

After some scenes of chaos in the city (including the death of Dwight Schultz’s one-scene character as an incidental kill, an interesting re-use of existing assets), the Deep Eyes decide to go find Aki’s impounded ship from the beginning of the film, probably because it’s the only way they can guarantee finding a space ship with the keys, so to speak. Blocked by a meta, Neil makes a risky jump, but while they escape, Ryan takes a piece of debris to his gut, an innocuous but realistic sort of injury that’s kind of surprising from a film. Their vehicle also loses one of its wheels. Luckily, they’re close enough to the ship to walk, so they split up: Ryan will be forced to stay behind temporarily, armed with the mounted cannon on the back of the ship, while the others prep for launch and Ryan’s recovery in various ways, Gray going to the control tower.


Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Aki and Gray end up meeting inside of some kind of observation platform where Aki is working, looking for the next spirits. Unbeknownst to them, the rest of Gray’s team are just outside, hot-wiring the platform to strand the two up there for a “romantic” moment. It goes about as poorly as you’d think, but we do learn some of the pair’s history, or at least the end of it: that Aki basically ran away from Gray and their romantic relationship so she could do her job. They end up shouting at each other a bunch.

To clear the air, Gray asks her to tell him about the six spirits they’ve found. Aki relents and explains that she was the first spirit, and that Sid found the data he needed after she was infested (and presumably used it to save her), suggesting (backed by later evidence) that the spirits are all living things that have come into contact with the Phantoms in some regard. This is why she has to find them outside the cities. Most of the other spirits are plants or animals, but the fifth was a little girl who was dying of a Phantom particle infestation, and rejected Aki’s attempts to comfort her by telling her about resurrection via Gaia, saying she’s ready to face the reality of her own death. Aki soon admits to him that she doesn’t know how much time she has left herself. Yeah, uh, like FFIX, TSW’s big theme is about finding comfort in death and living what’s left of your life to its fullest potential, I think Sakaguchi had it heavy on his mind at the time. Sadly, it only adds to the idea that this film is a retread of previous Final Fantasy concepts.


Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – The Fall

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 upon their works, king of kings. 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!