I love me some Final Fantasy. Maybe it’s the gameplay, maybe it’s the world of monsters, maybe it’s the emphasis on story, but these RPGs are among the best. However, there are some things that just plain suck. I’ve played a number of Final Fantasy Games and I’m starting to see some trends that I don’t like. The following is a list of things I’d like to see. These can be drastic changes or simply things they’ve done before that I wish they’d do again. If you agree or disagree, let me know!
10–NO MORE GLARING DIFFICULTY SPIKES
This one was prevalent in games 12 and 13. In 12, there was a long journey to the enemy capitol, which crossed several areas. In every area, you had to stop and level up because the next one would be impossible otherwise. In 13, the game slowly progresses upward in difficulty and you can keep up. But then BAM! The last three chapters all have you suddenly bowing before the might of the simplest foes and you find yourself spamming your strongest hits and camping out near a save point.
Except for the inherent harshness of Gran Pulse on FF13, there’s really no reason for this! It makes the game less fun to play when you are absolutely forced to stop and train for hours, and then keep doing it at every juncture. A little better progression, please?
9–BETTER CHARACTER INTERACTION
This is low on the list because it’s usually done all right. In fact, 13 had some fantastic interaction…and then stopped. Seriously, once the group was a large whole, interaction became stale or nonexistent. They were a collective whole now, rather than a group of individuals. And in 12, there was hardly interaction at all. 11 and 14 were online games and don’t even get me started on the Dissidia games.
I want to see the characters forge relationships with each others–and not generic ones! I want to see bonds, struggles, and connections. Like I said, most games do this well, but several fall short or stop altogether. I think 10 did it best with each character having a different dynamic with every single other character. That’s reality, and that’s something I can get behind.
This is Tidus. He’s wearing a Babygap vest with sleeves, overalls that have one pant leg longer than the other, and I think that blue part of his leg is his underwear just hanging out. He is your lead character.
FF10 is probably the worst with the outfits–most of them just puzzling. But from the time we could actually see them as more than sprites, most FF games had ridiculous costumes. In FF12, Fran wears metal lingerie. I’m not kidding. I know they’re fantasy games, but the sheer impracticality of most of these outfits is painful. They’re supposed to be warriors…or at least people you can take seriously! How is what they wear in any way supposed to be useful?
And you know what else I want to see? Costume changes. Not random ones at the whim of the user, but practical ones if they fit the story. Most games have you travelling far from home and you can’t just pick up spare clothes–that’s fine. But in 13, we keep seeing flashes of the past. Are you telling me those characters wore the EXACT same outfit every…single…day? Lighting wore the same soldier outfit in the main game, two days before on guard duty, and then while she was chilling at home. I know creating characters is hard to do graphically, but a little more effort won’t go awry.
And I know the women’s outfits are ridiculous for other reasons, but I’ll get to those later.
7. NO ANNOYING CHARACTERS!
Seriously, how hard is this? 6 had Gau and Relm, 7 had Yuffie (optional, thank God), 8 had Zell and Selphie, 9…I didn’t play, 10 had that HORRIBLE laughing scene, 12 was actually okay, but they made up for it in 13 with…Vanille…
Oh…dear…LORD! Vanille looks like she’s supposed to be around 17 or so. She has the body of someone who’s at LEAST 14. She acts like she’s freaking TWO!! Spouting random noises at every given encounter, an overly childish personality, and the complete inability to shut up. I like how she grows up, but as you play the game, you’d rather she just die.
6. GREAT MUSIC
This is Nobuo Uematsu, the musical composer for Final Fantasy 1-10. Nobuo Uematsu brought some truly fantastic music to the franchise. Half the reason I love FF 10 is because I think it has the best soundtrack of any game I’ve ever played. It’s so powerful and really helps set the perpetually sad tone of the game.
Since he left, the games have not been the same. 12’s music was done well, but the standout track is the opening one…which was an older track by Nobuo! The rest was repetitive. 13 was worse because not only was it repetitive, but so often, the music did not match the situation!
In one scene, the character Sazh is talking about how his son is basically doomed. The music? Upbeat jazz. Because he’s black or something. Later on, when Fang is thinking of turning on her friends, the music is again, upbeat and almost triumphant. Set the mood, man!
5. A SIMPLER VILLAIN
Pretty much every villain is the same. All-powerful and uber-cocky. They love to spell out the situation and stand all mightier-than-thou. It’s also a staple of anime, so maybe it’s a Japanese thing, but I don’t know. I want a different villain, a simpler villain.
By that, I mean one who just does evil things. Yeah, give him a character and background, but don’t make him the speech-giving type! Have him actually be threatening and/or menacing, rather than, “Look at me, I’m so powerful and you’re all so weak!” Vayne in FF 12 came closest to this. He started out pretending to be a friend and did all right, I think, but truly harbored evil intent, and even then, he just did evil things, hardly ever just standing there, aglow in his own evil.
Dude, you know what might be cool? If the villain wasn’t some high-and-mighty powerful person, but more like a common assassin. He can have a high goal or agenda, but when it boils down, he’s not some political leader or some mega-powerful villain to end all villains. He’s just a guy who is very, very good at what he does. Maybe take a more gritty, Christopher-Nolan’s-Batman approach to the villain instead of so much of the arrogant silliness embedded in these villains.
The exception is Kefka. He was pompous and arrogant, yes, but everything he did had one simple reason: Kefka was bat-crap crazy.
And if you make a female villain, PLEASE don’t sexualize her! Cleavage doesn’t make you more evil. Dolores Umbridge was one of the greatest villains of all time and she was always clothed (thank God)!
4. COMMITMENT TO RISK
I’m especially looking at FF13. MAN, they took some risks! In the beginning, Snow leads a bunch of noobs into battle and gets them all killed. A bad guy named Roshe/Roche/whatever gets killed mid-speech! Sazh commits freaking SUICIDE! Those were some risky moves, even akin to Aeris dying in FF7! The problem?
The people Snow killed aren’t dead unless they were truly background characters; his little party of troops survived inexplicably. Roche comes back later with no explanation as to how he’s alive and no one even seems surprised. Sazh didn’t really commit suicide, we turned the camera away at the last second! Aren’t we clever?
And those were such good moves! I wanted Snow to see the consequences of his hero complex (trust me, he needs them). I wanted a bad guy to die and stay dead mid-speech! And Sazh’s suicide blew my brain as much as it did his! Those would have been extremely challenging moves to make and they would have been admirable. But no. FF13 immediately undid all of them. It’s like they wanted to have a shock with none of the consequences, and it was pathetic.
3. A LEAD CHARACTER OVER 30
Look at the lineup of Final Fantasy heroes. How old are they? If you consider Balthier from 12 a lead character, he’s easily the oldest and he’s 30 at the ABSOLUTE oldest, and I even doubt that! I know they’re warriors and youth lends itself to that, but they have older characters in almost every game–Cyan, Cid, Auron, Sahz–so why aren’t any of them leads?
I want to see an older character lead the party. Someone over 30 is someone who has actually had a chance to live life, someone who sees the world completely different from the energetic youth. They could actually have a life of their own, a spouse, children…and wouldn’t that add some glorious complications? I think we’d get a better everyman, someone who has to juggle saving the world with their past, their families, their struggles, all that.
There’s more meat to work with when you’ve actually lived a little.
2. GOOD FEMALE CHARACTERS
Final Fantasy 13 came SO close…Lightning was a powerful warrior who didn’t give a crap…Fang actually appeared muscular and tough at times…even Vanille didn’t flaunt her sexuality. Heck, the summon Shiva–notorious for pretty much just being a naked blue chick–was even fully clothed! But Lightning had a short skirt and her brand was on her breasts. Fang had a prominent Angelina-Jolie leg going on. We got a partially-nude scene with Vanille, whose brand was on her upper thigh. And the Shiva sisters maybe have been fully-clothed, but they joined together to form a motorcycle by scizzoring. And Snow rode them by sitting on their joined crotches.
The Final Fantasy series can’t seem to picture a women who isn’t a sex object. Every character is either showing something off or trying to be seductive. And if they’re not doing that, they’re riddling it with pathetic sex jokes and camera shots that would make a harem-anime roll its eyes. The only exception is the hyper-naive and innocent girl, like Yuna from 10, and that’s an extreme.
Now, several of them are actually good characters. But I wonder: why can’t video game women be strong simply by being strong? Why do they all have to have outrageous curves, lots of exposed skin, a slutty attitude, or some combination of the three? I know, I know, it’s a new world and women are sexually liberated and all that, but I have two answers to that.
Number one: 95% of female characters are like that, whether they’re leads, side characters, or background characters. I want to see a female character who is simply a strong female character that has nothing to do with her body.
Number two: Do you really think that when the developers made these characters they were really thinking of women’s rights?
1–A DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE STORY
This encompasses nearly every video game, but Final Fantasy especially. If there is a love story, whether minor or major, it always plays out the same way. Interest can spark at any time, usually when they first meet, but they will delay doing anything about it, perhaps have one or two special moments that go nowhere, but at the very end, they finally confess and get together…or die. Or, like FF6, nothing happens and we’re supposed to just forget about it somehow.
It’s a long-run will-they/won’t-they scenario and I see why it works: we get sucked in and hope they end up together like 75% of the romance stories out there.
You know what I want to see? A romance that already exists. I want to see a couple that’s already together by the story’s beginning or gets together halfway through. FF10 kind of did that with the lake scene, but nothing came of it. FF13 was closer with Snow being engaged to Serah, but she was gone the entire game, so again, nothing came of it.
I don’t just want to see a relationship spark and start. I want to see it grow. I want to see this couple go through the trials of the game and relate to them as a couple, not just people on the same journey, but as a pair that is in love! Love sets a different dynamic and you have to respond accordingly.
And even when the two characters DO get together before the end, it always turns into a quest to find/save them. Tidus wants to save Yuna. Snow is trying to restore Serah. It’s always one-sided, usually on the man’s, but that’s a different topic. I want to see two characters go through trials together. I want them to team up and become and indivisible pair that makes each other stronger.
Perhaps they should make a game where there are only two characters: a husband and a wife, and their relationship plays through the course of the game, testing them, perhaps even breaking them or coming close, but in the end, they power through and stand back-to-back to take on the world.
I think I just wrote the video game for Mr. And Mrs. Smith.
Well, that’s my list. I still do love the series and the magic they bring. Do you agree? Disagree? What would you change about the series, or would you keep it as it is?