Monday, September 19, 2011

Final Fantasy is the Twilight of RPGs

If you don't have a problem with the title's analogy, please hit the back arrow located on the upper left of your browser window. My writing is not factory pressed formulated fatuity. No, I actually do give a shit about art. Contrary to what Ebert believes, who I agree with most of the time, video games can be artful: Braid. And I actually care when a great developer, that used to produce groundbreaking, epic titles, has lost the plot.

Final Fantasy wasn't my favorite RPG series of yesteryear. I was more into Breath of Fire and Lufia. Not that they were better games, they were just the ones I had more access to. When I did get around to playing Final fantasy II and III (US), I fell in love with them as everyone did. And I'm not above professing such, at the time, for Final Fantasy: VII, VIII, and IX. Yeah, I said eight; after all, I was in its targeted age range.

I know a lot of this has to do with "growing up" or so I'm told. Final Fantasy is now made for Japan's shonen (teenage boys) demographic. Essentially, to those of us older fans who became more complex adults: It has seriously lagged behind. But there is a certain charm in a well told story for any age. You needn't look further than the success of Hairy Potter or Doctor Who to see it. While there are some who believe all books should be intellectually challenging, complex works, I'm in the camp that wants both at different times. I can read, like, a Wallace or Pynchon and switch to Hickman and Weis, without skipping a beat. In other words, I'm not some uptight pedant or that smug. And to my credit, I went through and survived 13 ... barely.

To be honest, I think it's more than just age. There has been a paradigm shift in contemporary film, literature, and video games. It's a craving for dimensionless non-layered writing. In Final Fantasy VII there was a lot of introspective conflict and even some philosophy. And in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, personality was still in the pages. At one time, writers used to obey the show not tell rule, but it's quite the opposite today. Unlike most people, I was laughing at Nolan's Dark Knight. Basically, to make Batman a more "complex" film, he had the characters simply talk about how complex they are; it's ridiculous! I digress though. Since seven is my favorite one, here are the top seven reasons why Final Fantasy is Twilight.

Top 7 Reasons Final Fantasy is Twilight: 

  1. The men sparkle: If they aren't casting magical spells that cause sparkles around them, their wrinkleless complexion, palish skin, and girlish features do the rest.  
  2. The last couple games have featured female protagonists who fit into every stereotype and had the depth of a rain puddle.
  3. The music: While that makes sense for Twilight, I have no idea what Sakaguchi or Motomu Toriyama were thinking. But hey, maybe the lyrics "I put on my makeup talking to the mirror" just scream Final Fantasy now? Sure, I get it: grab your sword and shield, talk to yourself in the mirror, put on some makeup, and go on a epic quest to save the world! Now that I think about it, I can totally see Cecil singing it with Kain on harmony!
  4. The Fans: Outside of the obvious teenager cliches, you'll find their adult fans all share one thing in common: They haven't grown since high school; I don't mean physically, either.
  5. They are both wildly inaccurate to their titles: It's never been a final fantasy, and Twilight mostly takes place during the day.
  6. Can you feel the love tonight? Well, in that superficial, horribly paced, generic way. Mysterious boy meets girl. Something conflicts with their relationship. Said thing is resolved. Boy sparkles then goes away. I'm actually talking about Tidus from Final Fantasy X!
  7. There are way too many of them: that is all.

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