Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Yahtzee vs. the JRPG

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 6 Apr 2010 12:00
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This might sound like me hyperbolically overstating things for comic effect again, but if you claim to have enjoyed playing Final Fantasy XIII, then you are wrong. Because I don't think you can use the word 'playing' in this context. Final Fantasy XIII is more like something you 'watch', or 'are subjected to'. For the lion's share of the game the only real input the player has is during battles (and even that's a loose and uninvolving input), or when using that bloody stupid crystal level-up system, which is probably the most unnecessarily bloated and blinged-up system of its kind I've ever seen, like a diamond-encrusted flowchart tattooed on the stomach of a fat eunuch.

So saying that you 'play' FFXIII is like standing in the middle of a river and claiming to be the all-powerful master of water. No, you're not, you're just an idiot with wet trousers. The only way you could 'play' FFXIII is as a drinking game: take a drink whenever a character makes any vocalization that isn't a word. That's any grunts, sighs, giggles and mumbles. And good luck making it through any scene featuring Vanille.

Just to reiterate what I said in the review, I didn't always hate console RPGs. But ever since Final Fantasy 7, the series - and its various imitators - has generally been sliding towards being nothing but extended showcases for art and costume design, with a spicy undercurrent of blatant fetishism (which gets decidedly icky when underage characters are involved - and I don't care what any official media says, if Vanille is over 16 I will suffocate myself with a miniskirt), even though the designs being showcased don't make the slightest bit of sense. Why, exactly, are oppressed train passengers bound for death camp gulags all wearing spotlessly clean outfits dreamt up by axe murderers who have slipped their leashes and attempted to escape through a clown factory?

But it wasn't always like this. Let's look back on some turn-based RPGs I've had nice things to say about. This may be a short column.

Final Fantasy 6 (or Final Fantasy 3 if you can't count) on the SNES was mentioned in the video, and was the last fully 2D Final Fantasy (going by the main series, disregarding all those handheld spin-offs). Despite or possibly because of the low-res art, the chibi-style characters managed to show a lot more life and expression than any of the frowny uncanny valley monstrosities of future games. The story, crucially, was easy to follow. None of that 'dream of the fayth' or 'smashing together past and future like pillowy breasts in a granite wonderbra' bullshit - just a rag-tag group of assorted heroes up against a demented villain who wants to blow up the world because he feels like it. But while straightforward, the plot was told in a grandiose, almost operatic fashion in a clean, well-designed world. I'd like to see more games have the balls to have an apocalypse half-way through.

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