Wednesday, April 30, 2014

History of Swick's RPG Extravaganza (part 3)

Need a refresher? - here's PART 2
Want to know what the hell I'm talking about? - here's PART 1

After experiencing Final Fantasy 7, I, like many other Americans who were unfamiliar with the series beforehand, became a large Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) fan, and purchased Final Fantasy 8 and Final Fantasy 9 when they came out. The plot of FF8, especially with the other lives and characters who looked the same as other characters, really confused me, and the roles of the characters seemed parallel to the characters of FF7 so I wasn't entirely impressed with the game as a whole (plus, while Chocobo raising was fun in FF7, the card game in FF8 just seemed mundane...) In fact, I'm not sure I ever completed FF8. Perhaps it deserves a replay from me. I will credit that the soundtrack and cutscenes from the game are absolutely splendid. I was glad of the more realistic effects rather than the awkward polygon figures of FF7.

Final Fantasy 9, on the other hand, has won a place in my heart. Maybe not among the best games I have ever played, but certainly in the list of games that I have a real fondness for.

This poor installment was originally just going to be a spin-off game. I'm really surprised because the Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu got so enthusiastic about this particular installment- he was only to write about 7 pieces, but ended up writing over 100 pieces, he liked it so much. It is the most musically diverse Final Fantasy game out there. I own a copy of the soundtrack and several other CDs relating to it. I think what really struck a chord with me about this game was that Final Fantasy finally went back to its traditional fantasy roots with just a little bit of a scifi twist. FF7 and FF8 were so heavy in the scifi realm that drawing the fantasy essence out of them was sometimes hard. I also liked the most cartoon character designs... and the underlying theme in the game of 'what does it mean to be alive?' (as evident through the characters of Zidane, Vivi, and Kuja) ... the other characters illustrate 'alive' by certain social statuses and gender roles. Perhaps it is just the 'English major' in me that read so much into what was intended to be a simple game. Nevertheless, I grew very attached to the characters in FF9, and from this game spun my first fanfiction... none of which I am proud of, nor will I display. If I'm lucky, those abominations are dead, lol.

Few other RPGs caught my interested in this period of gaming. I did not own a Sega Saturn or Genesis, and Super Nintendo was primarily for Super Mario World... the Nintendo 64's Zelda games are worth mentioning, but I have never been a big a Zelda fan as my sisters M and A are. In every playthrough I tried of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I managed to fuck up somewhere in the infamous Water Temple and rage-quit before resetting my entire save.... there are only so many times you can sit through the Great Deku Tree bullshit. I didn't even touch Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask... and my sisters say that I missed out.

We're coming to the end of my experience with PS1-era RPGs, and in the next post, I'll talk a little bit about my early experience with PS2 RPGs. There is one other game I want to mention thought that I feel bad gets overlooked so much, because it really is a great game, it just came out at a really really bad time...

It unfortunately came out RIGHT when PS2 was launching and didn't stand much of a chance. The game is absolutely beautiful for its time-period, but suffers a little story-wise, and the combo system requires immaculate timing. Considering what a cult following it has, especially since it was released to PSN for download, I'm surprised that no one has tried or attempted to make a sequel to this game or a remake. Perhaps it is better left as it is though.

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