The Slow, Excruciating Death Of Final Fantasy

Civilization creator Sid Meier once famously said that a game is "a series of interesting decisions". Final Fantasy All The Bravest, a new game that came out for iOS on Thursday, has one interesting decision: How much money would you like to give Square Enix?

All The Bravest, a series of micro-transactions disguised as a video game, tasks you with swiping your finger up and down a screen as Final Fantasy characters jump and attack Final Fantasy villains on Final Fantasy backgrounds while playing Final Fantasy music. It's kind of fun, in that "I don't know why I'm doing this but it's kind of compelling for some reason" sort of way.

It's also less of a video game and more of a massive middle finger to fans. It should really be called "Final Fantasy F**k You Give Us Money". I can forgive the premium purchases: you can buy new maps for $4.49 each, which is fine, and you can buy 16-bit Final Fantasy characters for $0.99 each, except they're totally random and you don't know which one you're going to get, which is weird, but also generally an OK form of downloadable content.

No, the biggest problem in Final Fantasy All The Bravest is that when you die in battle, which will happen often, because battles are totally random and there's no way to heal, buff, target enemies, or do anything except swipe your finger up and down as your characters furiously attack, you have to either wait for your characters to revive (three minutes per character, or up to two hours), exit the battle and try again (pointless, since again, there's no strategy), or pay Square Enix real money to revive your party.

Let me repeat that: in order to make progress in the game you just spent $US4 to buy, you have to pay more money to Square Enix.

I can only imagine the English translators at Square Enix hearing about this, sighing, shaking their heads, and wondering if anyone will ever get to enjoy their work — which was stellar. Probably not. It's hard to play this game without getting angry.

But Final Fantasy All The Bravest is not an anomaly. This betrayal is nothing new. Square has spent the past half-decade picking away at our love for their ubiquitous, once-beloved series. All The Bravest is just another limb rotting off the bloated, mangled corpse that was once Final Fantasy.

As someone who grew up with the adventures of Cecil and Terra, I find it depressing to even write, but here we are. It's 2013, and Final Fantasy is on its last legs. The 25-year-old RPG series is a shell of its former self. When we see a new Final Fantasy game, our first reaction is no longer "awesome!" — it is "shit, how are they going to ruin my childhood next?" I've written before about some of the problems facing Final Fantasy, and even drawn up wish lists of things I'd like to see Square Enix try to do, but All The Bravest is yet another piece of disturbing evidence that this company no longer cares about its fans.

It's easy to pinpoint exactly when Final Fantasy started to die. In 2001, not long after the cinematic financial disaster known as Spirits Within, series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi left the company to go off to Hawaii and surf and make games where you surf. A couple years later, Square merged with Enix, and it's all been downhill from there, especially for Final Fantasy, which has had to stumble through a series of awful missteps over the past few years.

It's easy to pinpoint exactly when Final Fantasy started to die.

Final Fantasy XIII was loved by some but hated by many more, Final Fantasy XIV was an unequivocal disaster, and many of Square's other decisions are totally baffling. Why make a sequel to FFXIII, a game that sold well but may have irrevocably damaged this brand forever? Why make yet another sequel to that? Why dedicate so many of your resources to an MMORPG in an age where MMORPGs are all slowly eroding, or going free-to-play when they realise they can't survive on the traditional subscription model anymore? Why make a direct sequel to Final Fantasy IV that does nothing but directly reuse FFIV's images and storylines? Why release a Final Fantasy game without any sound? Why force us to pay so much money for mobile Final Fantasy games?

Well, I guess we know the answer to that one. Cash. Delicious, delicious money that pleases Square's stockholders even as it ostracizes the company's biggest fans. Final Fantasy All The Bravest is currently sitting at #25 on the iTunes top 100 list for paid apps. Sickening. I wonder how many people regret that purchase?

So what's next for Final Fantasy? On the horizon we have Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, a game that continues a story that nobody really cares about. There's Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a game that may or may not actually exist. And then what? Does anybody really trust Square Enix to make another great console RPG? Why does the thought of a Final Fantasy XV fill me with more dread than excitement?

I don't know what the next generation will bring for Final Fantasy, a series I could once rank among my favourite. And nothing will ever diminish or erase my fond memories of sneaking through South Figaro to figure out what the Empire is planning, fighting my way to the moon to take down Zeromus, and getting the CROWN to trade for the HERB to trade for the CRYSTAL to get the KEY to find the TNT that will let me explore the world. Even today, I can replay old Final Fantasy games and have a blast doing it.

But it's time for fans like you and me to accept that Final Fantasy isn't Final Fantasy anymore. The series we once knew and loved is never coming back. We'll have to satiate our craving for great JRPGs elsewhere — and they are still elsewhere! By the end of February, we'll have Ni no Kuni, Fire Emblem: Awakening, and Etrian Odyssey IV, among others — not a bad haul for the first two months of 2013. But our love for Final Fantasy is unrequited. The series has been dying for years now, and money-mongering bullshit like Final Fantasy All The Bravest is a reminder of that.

Final Fantasy might not be dead yet. But it will never be the same.


Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.


Comments

    FF:ATB - A fun donation system? XD They probably would have done better if they labeled it that.

    Seriously though I think this series still has a long future ahead of it. SE isn't a small studio that will just die overnight if they have a couple of angry customers. The only major issues have all been with SE's attempts at diversifying. Yes everyone has their own opinion on this, but I believe what is important is their mainline not their revenue raising games and imo the mainline series still holds plenty of promise.

    At this point all I honestly believe SE need is another 12 months. By then they should be done with the XIV debacle, have anther expansion out for their biggest money maker XI, have Lighting Return and leave for good and they should finally be getting FFX HD then Versus moving.

    All this FF:ATB stuff should just be viewed for what it is and shouldn't even be compared to the rest of the series. If they called it FFXV:ATB then alarm bells should be going off. As I see it, FF:ATB is to the mainline series as The Hobbit mobile game is to the movie.

    I bought All the bravest. Don't regret it at all. I have played it for maybe 2 hours total game time so far maybe. It has been worth the money I spent so far, but I do not think I will be buying all the IAP that is on offer. Well, maybe Midgar. $5 for 2 hours of enjoyable game play does not seem so bad to me, even if it is only sliding my finger across the screen. I don't feel like I wasted my money, yet.

    I guess I would be one of the "few" who liked XIII and XIII-2. I thought the story was compelling, if a little confusing at some points. I liked the optional data log style information you can look into if you wanted to learn more about the world those games were set in. I can see why some people wouldn't want to read all that extra stuff, but I CAN'T see why people would complain about it being in the game. There is nothing forcing you to read it, ignore it of you are not interested!

    A lot of people who hate these 2 games will say they are not true Final Fantasy games.... but that is rubbish. Final Fantasy is 25 years old. Things will change, or they will get stale and die. I think what SE did was the natural growth of the series. I challenge anyone who does not like FF XIII to name another game series that has lasted 25 years without changing it up now and again.

    And to the "one long corridor" people, EVERY FF game is a freaking corridor. They are story games, designed to play out at a certain pace. Yes, this game in particular is corridor-y, but it does not mean other FF games were not at all. Gone are the days of the World Map, which is sad, but its not like you can jump straight from Midgar into Nibleheim while playing FFVII. They are ALL corridor games, and while some offer slightly more freedom that XIII, you could never just go about and do things when and where you wanted.

    I am looking forward to Lightning Returns, which looks like it will be a step in a new direction again with the focus being on only one character. I for one will never hate Final Fantasy just because it is now the cool thing to do. This series has had a huge impact in my life, and I will buy the new games as long as they keep making them. Final Fantasy forever.

      Your "one long corridor" rebuttal is nonsense.

      I'm playing through FFVIII right now. As I follow the main story corridor, I've been able to branch off in most places. Things like not getting off the train where the story told me to and going and visiting a whole other city. Hiring a car and driving around the world map. Playing a lot of cards, modding and refining items and magics that I shouldn't really have access to yet. Lots of character customisation, being able to junction magics and choose what abilities my GFs were learning. Fighting optional bosses. Plus incidental and dedicated side-quests all around. Also, the story is better, but that's nothing to do with the corridor (unless you count having a fleshed out explorable world full of history a positive).

      FFXIII gave you the freedom to grind some mobs for slightly earlier access to some extra stats on your character (to a point, further crystarium levels were locked away until you moved along the corridor) or to move around the 'corridor' to pick up an item from the ground. Other than that there really were no gameplay decisions until very late in the game.

      You just can't compare FFXIII's linearity to other FF games.

        You just can't compare FFXIII's linearity to other FF games.

        I just did. I also mentioned that other FF games offer slightly more freedom than XIII in those areas'.

        Things like not getting off the train where the story told me to and going and visiting a whole other city.

        Which you would have had to go to anyway. Like, the very next thing you would have had to do.
        So what you end up having to do now is go twice. And get nothing for the trouble of going there early.

        Hiring a car and driving around the world map.
        That could only take you to place you had been before. You drove around exploring a map that has nothing new or secret to offer. You had to keep playing to story to get to the next area. The game unlocks as you progress, just like XIII.

        being able to junction magics and choose what abilities my GFs were learning.
        Functionality of the game. Not really a side quest. Or exploration. VIII has GF's and magic junctioning, XIII has the Crystarium. I am not going to bother arguing which is better, because they are game mechanics, and based on opinion. I happen to dislike having to Draw 100 scans from bite bugs to increase my stats.

        Fighting optional bosses.

        Don't do this until near the end. XIII has the option too.

        Plus incidental and dedicated side-quests all around.

        What, Triple Triad? That's pretty much the only side-quest you can do for most of the game.
        Maybe the Brothers too, though not really a "dedicated side-quest" as you have to go there anyway. More of that optional boss stuff you were talking about earlier.

        Also, the story is better, but that's nothing to do with the corridor (unless you count having a fleshed out explorable world full of history a positive).

        Matter of opinion. I also happen to like the story in VIII more than XIII. But the world in XIII is JUST as fleshed out, if you want to read the data log.

        modding and refining items and magics that I shouldn't really have access to yet.

        Like what? You can only Draw magic from the creatures in the area you are already supposed to be. It's not like you managed to get to Cactuar Island on the first disc by exploring is it?
        The enemies all scale with you through out the whole game, so you cant exactly find tough enemies with rare strong magic to take. You could stay in Balamb and fight bite bugs till you are level 100, and get Firaga if you wanted to. But because the game scales with you, there is no reason at all for that. And you can only refine items from the cards you have at that point in the game.

        Other than that there really were no gameplay decisions until very late in the game.

        I made no argument about this for XIII. It IS a corridor game. Other FF games only give you the ILLUSION of freedom though. ALL FF games are corridors, they only vary in corridor width.

          Completely agree.

          The only major real difference with XIII is the decreased ability to back track which honestly is often is a completely unnecessary feature. People just kick up a stink because they want what they can't have. FFXIII's story just didn't allow for this trivial minor feature to be used.

          Final Fantasy 13 is a dog turd. Absolute trash. Final Fantasy ended at 12. If you want true turn-based RPG, in Final Fantasy style, you have to go with MistWalkers games - Blue Dragon, Lost Oddysey and The Last Story. SquareEnix has lost-the-plot and are simply trying to prop themselves up with cheap, skinnerbox, App-Crapp.

            The Last Story isn't turn based at all. It's even further than XIII from that style.

          It's not like you managed to get to Cactuar Island on the first disc by exploring is it?

          No, but if you didn't go exploring you wouldn't ever find it. Same with the Underwater Research Station, the area where you acquire Odin, Island of Heaven and Hell, you wouldn't get half of the best items.

          Hell, VII had entire characters locked away in sidequests you'd never find if you just stuck to the story. To see everything in VII required 100+ hours only 30 odd which were story related.

          You've kind of missed the point entirely if you"re only considering story related stuff.

            I missed no point.
            Most of what you mentioned, are side-quests near the end of the game.
            And for Vincent and Yuffie, you can stumble upon both of them by accident even on your first play through. Yes, they are nice additions to a great game, and having unlockable characters is a neat idea.

            My original point was, he did not discover anything. He skipped ahead of the story to a city where he could do nothing new. It was not a side quest, it was not a secret. He went to a place early and would have had to go back the direction he came with nothing to show for it.

            Yes, its great to have side quests in RPG's, something to do besides stop Kuja or Sephiroth or save the world from Sin.
            All FF games have them. XIII just starts later than most is all.

            This is all coming from someone who did not even DO the monster side quest in XIII. I thought it was a waste of time. But it was there for people who wanted too, and that's the point.

              There is a point. The fact that the game offers you the freedom to do this if you wish, makes it feel less restrictive to the player. Even if they are still stuck in a slightly wider, branching corridor, the illusion of freedom keeps them from noticing. Also, exploring is fun.

          Which you would have had to go to anyway. Like, the very next thing you would have had to do.
          So what you end up having to do now is go twice. And get nothing for the trouble of going there early.

          Perhaps I had to go there next (I didn't), if that was a first playthrough it would have been something new and interesting. And there were extra items and cards to acquire earlier than perhaps intended. Point is, there were options for where to go next, even if some were dead ends. Options that FFXIII did not have.

          That could only take you to place you had been before. You drove around exploring a map that has nothing new or secret to offer. You had to keep playing to story to get to the next area. The game unlocks as you progress, just like XIII.
          Not really... you mostly gain access to a continent at a time. Exploration of the world map is optional, it's quite possible to just go straight to your next destination and miss things like Obel Lake or finding new monsters to fight (and draw new magics from).

          Functionality of the game. Not really a side quest. Or exploration. VIII has GF's and magic junctioning, XIII has the Crystarium. I am not going to bother arguing which is better, because they are game mechanics, and based on opinion. I happen to dislike having to Draw 100 scans from bite bugs to increase my stats.
          I'm just saying that my Lightning character is going to be pretty much identical to your Lightning character, apart from accessory and weapon choices for most of the game. By the end of the game their stats and skills will be even more similar.

          Don't do this until near the end. XIII has the option too.
          Well FFVIII has at least two disc one optional bosses, Diablos and Brothers. Brothers requiring a whole optional dungeon.

          What, Triple Triad? That's pretty much the only side-quest you can do for most of the game.
          Maybe the Brothers too, though not really a "dedicated side-quest" as you have to go there anyway. More of that optional boss stuff you were talking about earlier.

          There are plenty of smaller side-quests and townspeople to help. Plus Triple Triad.

          Like what? You can only Draw magic from the creatures in the area you are already supposed to be. It's not like you managed to get to Cactuar Island on the first disc by exploring is it?
          The enemies all scale with you through out the whole game, so you cant exactly find tough enemies with rare strong magic to take. You could stay in Balamb and fight bite bugs till you are level 100, and get Firaga if you wanted to. But because the game scales with you, there is no reason at all for that. And you can only refine items from the cards you have at that point in the game.

          You can find most (if not all) of the monster and boss cards on disc one. And you can acquire cards a lot faster if you have the time to play around with the rules spreading mechanics. You can then mod these cards into items and those items into magic spells. Spells like Triple, Meltdown, Holy, Agas. And with abilities like Card you can stay low level and earn ability points - whilst having all these high level spells.

          It's not the kind of thing I'd recommend to a new player, but it does make the game far more replayable.

          I made no argument about this for XIII. It IS a corridor game. Other FF games only give you the ILLUSION of freedom though. ALL FF games are corridors, they only vary in corridor width.
          Well I think other Final Fantasy games did give you freedom, in plot advancement and in game mechanics.

          For the record, I am a fan of FFXIII. It's just not the kind of game I would like to replay as the gameplay doesn't really get interesting at all until Gran Pulse, rather late in the game.

            I think my point is, you got nothing from going to that city that you could not get by going there when you are SUPPOSED to (I am assuming the city was Deiling City) and that you had to back track to continue the game. It was not a place you would have missed if you got off the train at Galbadia Garden. That, to me at least, is not proper exploring.

            And yes, it is nice to go off the beaten trail and do things other than progress the story, but its still an illusion of freedom. You cant skip anything. XIII just lacks even that illusion of freedom until the near end of the game.

              I'll take illusion of freedom and the fun of exploration any day over being stuck in a 1-way corridor. It's obvious that there's a lot of negative feelings about the latest Square-Enix games from a LOT of people, you can't just stubbornly continue to tell people they're all wrong.

          "All FF games are corridors" excluding the online games, of course.

        Going to a city you're not supposed to so you can sleep in their inn and check out their item shop? Such freedom!

          Are you a 10 year old girl?

          Even if there isn't much to there, at least you have the freedom to go there anyway.

            The point is though that if there isn't much to do there it doesn't hurt to use that to the stories advantage and have your party chased out of town never to return or something. In fact I think some places have much more values to gain by denying players return back there should they have a reason to. Which XIII happened to have a lot of.

        Whoa, settle down dude. It's a game and the experiences are subjective.

      Oh wow, I'm just gonna say that your comment is the most ironic piece of text I've read on the internet. You should feel proud.

      I don't hate SE because it's cool, I hate them because they completely destroyed the series with 13. It's not a good game. It just isn't. They took one of my favourite series and ruined all the good memories and mechanics that made it good.

      Your corridor argument is stupid. No other FF game is as much as a corridor as 13. There isn't even any small side exploration. Even when the game "opens up" it's still disappointing.

      I'm not even looking at it through nostalgia goggles. My first FF game was X. Since then I've played them all in some capacity. XII is my favourite and I don't understand what went to wrong in 3 years.

        Your first FF was X? Corridor. One long corridor that you could eventually zip back and forth down when you get the ship.

        X is LESS of a corridor than XIII, but it's still a freaking corridor. No World Map to explore. Just a series of areas you move through from one to the next, advancing the story.

          All JRPGs' are linear structure, with an open world play field. Stop talking shit! The fact that FF13 takes away from what little exploration there was, to pursue an half-arsed copy of what SquareEnix thinks a Western RPG gamer wants from an Japanese RPG. Is an massive, design failure if their ever was one. Final Fantasy is so far from it's roots, it's not funny.

            All JRPGs' are linear structure, with an open world play field. Stop talking shit!

            That is EXACTLY what I was saying, so how am I talking shit? Just because I don't care that XIII had no towns or villages to explore does not mean it is a bad game. I fail to see how exploring the Calm Lands in X is any different to the Archytle Steppe. Or the mountains behind Nibleheim for any random section of XIII. It's all the same. Move to the end of the zone, occasionally finding items on offshoot paths on the way.

            Also, Is an massive, design failure if their ever was one.
            there*

            Last edited 19/01/13 4:59 pm

              That is EXACTLY not what you're saying. EVERY SINGLE RPG makes you go from point A to point B to progress. The difference between the other FF games and FF XIII is that there's NOTHING BETWEEN those points in 13. No sidequests, nothing to find when you go a bit off track, just a path.

              How on earth does you calling a game a corridor correlate to you saying it's a linear structure with an open field?

              Edit: Well done, you've reached the point where all you can do is correct a grammatical error. I would clap, but your own self satisfaction is probably enough to help you get off.

              Last edited 19/01/13 5:02 pm

                Rubbish. What exactly is there to explore between Midgar and the Chocobo Ranch? Nothing.
                How about Balamb Garden and the town of Balamb? Nothing

                Those corridors are just wider than the corridors in XIII. More room for all the nothing in them

                It's all the Illusion of freedom. There is not much to find by exploring the open fields in most FF games UNTIL you reach near end.
                The ONLY thing different about XIII is that there is nothing at ALL to find until you reach near the end.

                That said, I love the freedom of running around a world map looking at things, seeing what is over the horizon. Even if you cant get to a lot of it until later in the game. The fact that its not at all in XIII did not ruin the game for me though.

                  Kalm. Ifrit's cave. Not the best examples but at that point of those games, the player should be engrossed in the story/grinding so exploration wouldn't really have much point. Also, Balamb Garden and Midgar have so much charm and I know I explored every considerable inch of those two places before I hit the world map.

                  Anyway, the main problem I have with 13's area system is that the treasure chests were on the map. The areas themselves are incredibly beautiful dungeons.

                  Ignore what I said about treasure chests, memory playing tricks on me. XIII has good dungeons, except for the start bit. Which did go on a little long for my taste

              FF13 took away the actual turn-based gameplay in which you could choose for yourself what move you made next. And replaced it all with a press-button-to-cycle-through-3-canned-attacks. So far removed from it's source... I really think SquareEnix needs to go back and actually play FF7, FF8, FF9, FF10 and FF12, to educate themselves on what makes Final Fantasy - Final Fantasy.

        I couldn't agree more. Even if the majority of Final Fantasy fans had loved FFXIII I would still dislike it because it's a bad game. It's not just a bad game by Final Fantasy standards, overall FFXIII is a below pair rpg/game. FFXIII has an average often confusing story with quite a few plot holes, as others have mention it's super linear which is rarely good for an rpg and most of all it has a very dumbed down battle system. FFXIII is a 30 hourish commitment to unlock an average open world experience with little replayablity. I have not played the sequel so that may have redeemed it a little. Was FXIII-2 any better?

      What about FF6? After the [SPOILERS] destruction of the world, you may very well go and try to fight Kefka almost immediately but if you don't, there's basically as much game to play and as many things to do as there was before the cataclysm basically in any order you want. Now please don't tell me that the game is still a corridor because after all that you still /have to/ go and defeat kefka.

        It is still a corridor because up until that point, you have very little choice in where to go. Most Final Fantasies open the world up AT this point of the game.

          BS. In the first third of 6 you can choose what sequence you want to complete the three major story arcs.

        Yep. A great jrpg lets' you spend as much time as you want building your character & inventory with the decision up to the player when he/she chooses to start the next 'phase.' And previous Final Fantasys' let us do this to our hearts content.

    The last good Final Fantasy game was Lost Odyssey.

    Depressing thought.

      You mean. The Last Story, right? That game was epic.

        Wii games don't exist, because it's too painful to lug out the system and play them.

          The Last Story is my only reason for owning a Wii and still keeping it plugged in.

          Funny, that's how I feel about the 360. Mine has been in a box for the past year.

    I kind of want to get FF:ATB just to check out the 2D assets they made for Midgar.

    Final Fantasy 10 felt like the last real FF game to me,FF X-2 felt gimmicky and unneeded and FF XII came out to late in the console Gen to be relevant to me personally, and also felt a bit like a single player MMO which I don't enjoy which also excludes FF XI.
    Although I did play FF XI for a while it wasn't worth paying for a subscription.I did enjoy FF XIII and finished it but XIII-2 sits virtually unplayed in my pile of shame and I don't see me finishing it.
    Oddly I think I prefered Lost Odyssey to any FF's this Gen as it felt more like a traditional FF then any of Squre-enix's offerings, it had the turn/ATB system, the spells and even an airship piloted by Cid.
    Maybe XV will turn things around.

      I actually rate FFXII pretty highly. Definitely a real FF game, and I'm a fan of the battle system.

        I sort of did... until the end. The story just petered out and the battle system lost its interest. It was just too shallow and easy for me. It did get me to sink a lot of hours into it, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the others (earlier others). Some of the environments were amazing, though. Rabanastre blew my mind at the start. And the characters have a lot more depth than 13's

        I didn't like the way the characters could all use any weapon, I really liked the character specific legendary weapons of the previous FF games.

        Also the way the battles would play themselves was a bit boring.

        I did like how Vaan got pushed to the side and was a spectator to the story, he was such a lame character.

          he was a spectator because originally balthier and fran were the stars till squares R&D had a fit saying that ff stars youthful heroes. So Van and Penello were hastily created. It really shows.

            Yeah - they made the game unplayable for me. I realised I couldn't identify with FF characters any more and went and played something else.

      FFXII was great for me because it had a focus on what many RPGs have today: Exploration. Plenty of end game content too.

    Why dedicate so many of your resources to an MMORPG

    Probably because FFXI is the most profitable game Square has ever released and continues to be so profitable that they're releasing another expansion for it this year on the Playstation 2.

      *releasing another expansion for it this year on the discontinued Playstation 2.

        Well on the PS2 in Japan at least. Everywhere on PC and the game actually still looks good enough to pick up now. In fact I've just been doing a little research to find out what I would need to give this game a go.

    I've been coming to terms with the death of Final Fantasy over the past year. It's quite a soul-searching experience. On the one hand, it's one of my all-time FAVOURITE series, and one part of me just wants to look on the bright side. "There's been a couple of mis-steps, but it's still Final Fantasy, and Square-Enix know what they're doing... Right...? Right...?"

    No, and no.
    There, I can say it now.

    With FF13 (which in itself, wasn't a terrible game) it was clear that the FF brand that we all knew and loved was dead. With everything that's happened since, Square-Enix has been urinating all over the grave of our old friend. It makes me feel sick. The only solace is the fact that the old games are still fantastic and can still be played for enjoyment. But I think it's pretty clear that Final Fantasy isn't a shadow of what it once was and we will all have to accept that it probably never will be again... Excuse me... *sob*

      Welcome to Sonic Land! If you're already here - I'm sorry...

    I used to be more than happy to buy a new release FF game at full price based on brand recognition alone, but not these days. Now, I wait until it's cheap, and even then I check reviews first to make sure it's not completely unplayable. It's a shame. Sure, there were good things about FFXIII and FFXIII-2, but they were just missing something, though I can't quite put my finger on what.

      I'll give you a hint; it was lacking relatable characters.

        You can relate with an emo git with a sword bigger than he is?
        Or a man with a machine gun welded onto his arm?
        A man created by the dreams of gods?
        A girl who can summon mighty beasts in a land where magic is forbidden?

        Final Fantasy Characters are never relatable because they all live in a fantasy world.
        We become attached to them because of the time we spend unraveling their stories and the trials we face with them as the game progresses.

        But they are not relatable.

          I found the characters' attitude and behaviour in the earlier games a lot more relatable than for instance, Snow and Lightning. They just seem too cliché, even for FF characters. Enough to the extent that I was so uninterested in their quest, personally, I would've liked their enemies to win. If they weren't so two dimensional themselves.

          Just accept that the reason so many people are defending the other games is because they enjoyed them more than XIII. I know I did. It's not because I'm closed-minded or overly-nostalgic. I enjoy XIII. Just nowhere near enough to justify the amount of time and effort that Square Enix put in it.

    FF:ATB is clearly not meant to be a sit-down-and-play-for-a-long-stretch-of-time. It's a mobile game. You rapidly swipe/tap your characters, take down the enemy, and go on until the next until you come across one that stumps you. There are ones that are designed to stump you; there's no way you can take them down in one go, even with the maximum 34 party members. This is especially true for the DLC worlds.

    You don't HAVE to use the hourglass. Get wiped out, sit the game down, go do something productive while your party refreshes, come back, and take down that boss. If you're lucky, you might even have Fever available for an easy. Take your time; it's not a race. If you're paying to revive your character's, you're only competing with your own stupidity.

    Can we just stop whining about how FF isn't how it used to be? I'd be appalled if the gameplay was stuck in the 90's. Imagine on today's consoles, your hyper-realistic protagonist stomping around on a spinning ball as you travel from town to town. Today, the world map concept is ridiculous.

    I can see it now; everyone bitching about the action-RPG/AssCreed gameplay of Lightning Returns. I'm looking forward to it! Finally, a Final Fantasy game where I'm not able to comfortably play with a controller in one hand and a sandwich in the other.

    Don't let your nostalgia goggles get in the way of embracing new ideas. You'll look like that cranky old guy standing on his porch waving a walking stick/Buster Sword cosplay replica telling kids to get off his lawn. Don't like Final Fantasy: All The Bravest because it's different? I believe Final Fantasy IV is still on the New & Noteworthy list.

      Totally agree that Lightning Returns looks good! Might have to get 13-2 if it matches expectations. Also, I hope it doesn't mean turn-based battle systems lose their place in numbered FFs

      I've given action RPG's a fair shake. I'm actually kind of fond of Action RPGs when there's only one character ala Daggerfall, which I finished back in the day, or heck Dissidia.

      I don't like Action RPG systems in games with parties though, because they remove control of the party from you (I didn't really get on the Persona 3 bandwagon for this reason too, and it was a Turn-Based Game).

      I don't know how I'll feel about Lightning Returns. I suspect the battle system will annoy me less than it has in XII and XIII because they aren't preventing you from controlling the party since you only have one character. On the other hand ... I'm less than impressed with the idea of having to rush through the game because some inexorable clock is ticking down. Inanity like that just annoys me (and there's things like that I despise in traditional turn based RPGs too like Missable Items).

      I'm quite comfortable with being able to play an RPG with a controller in one hand and a sandwich in the other, because I'm usually looking for a mental challenge rather than a physical one* . Tactic's Ogre Let Us Cling Together is completely turn based, entirely sandwichable , and if you're trying to get all the music and achievements , rather difficult.

      *Disclaimer: My reflexes suck so things that people who regularly play FPS games find a challenge tend to end my interest in a game rather quickly since they may as well be a brick wall.

    Make sure you hold 'All the Bravest' in the air - It's good for business.

    Can't wait for Final Fantasy 13-4 - that'll be the one for sure...

    FF6 and FF7 were personally the only ones worth playing.

      I'd definitely say that those two were the best, but I think there's quite a few worth playing.

      IV was pretty good, with some likeable characters and a cool setting, and some great gameplay. If you're a fan of fantasy settings, V is perfect for you, and beyond that has some good gameplay. VI, I believe, is perfect, VII is amazing, IX is fantastic, and Crisis Core: FFVII had terrible gameplay, but amazing cutscenes.

      Also 5, 9, 10 and 12. I don't even mind 13, the gameplay leaves something to be desired (like 8, the combat system really isn't good) but the characters grow and develop over the course of the story. FFs before 5 were fun at the time but don't stand up today.

      8 is the one I can't stand... the draw system was awful, the story made no sense and pulled the ultimate big bad out of nowhere at the last minute, and right from the start I really disliked Squall. And 13-2, which seemed good... until it turned out to be half a game. I didn't play 10-2, but I suspect I'm thankful for that.

        In a way, yeah. What you did miss out on in X-2 is the fantastic battle system.

    "Final Fantasy XIII was loved by some but hated by many more,"

    Where's the proof that more hated it then loved it? I think that more loved it than hated, with good sales and two sequels supporting my position.

    "On the horizon we have Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, a game that continues a story that nobody really cares about"

    I care very much about it - are you calling me a nobody? Howmany other of your readers are 'nobodies' in your eyes?

      It's easier to express why you don't like something than to express why you do like it. Haterz gonna hate and all.

      FF XIII-2 was billed as fixing all those things people didn't like about FFXIII, I pretty much bought it on that premise and was still somewhat disappointed. In fairness for me that's still driven by lack of party control though, and it wouldn't have played anything like FFXIII if they'd used a system where you had party control.

      But when you have a billing like that I wouldn't count its sales as a ringing endorsement of the first product.

      You are? Oh good, maybe you can tell me what the story is.

        So like, this chick gets literally iced and her bitchy sister gathers a group of randoms including a moron with a dumb bandanna, a walking racial stereotype and an annoying kid and together with a pair of bogan chicks they find out NASA didn't fake the moon landings, they faked the whole moon, so they kill some of NASA's robo people. Then they go to Australia and some crazy shit happens and I kind of zoned out at that point.

      You cannot imagine the depths of pure hate and putridness I feel for FF13. Me and my mate were lifelong FF fans. Bought 13 without even blinking at full price. I managed to play 2 hours before I never touched it again. No other games have managed to give me and my mate this feeling. It's more than hate, it's a feeling of complete betrayal. They've destroyed something we loved.

    This article is depressing but true. What the heck happened to good lol story telling?

      Don't forget ME 1 and 2. Those games games had amazing stories (soooo not starting another flame war by getting into 3, lol)

    Sorry for deviating from Final Fantasy for a second but I feel this is still relevant...

    "A couple years later, Square merged with Enix, and it’s all been downhill from there..."

    I regard that as an ignorant statement which overlooks a lot of great games, such as the Kingdom Hearts series, The World Ends With You, Sword Of Mana, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and Final Fantasy Dissidia, just to name a few.

    So much cognitive dissonance from butthurt Final Fantasy fanboys who can't accept that their beloved series is now the jRPG equivalent of Daikatana.

      lol ur getting downvoted to oblivion. But you're right, FF is poison for me now. Not going to give Square 1 cent of my mioney.

    Yes, that's what we need, more negativity. *clap clap clap*

    Meh, I don't understand all the crap.
    Some like the series, some don't. Some like certain games, other don't.
    Damn as far as Im concerned I hated 8-9 and 10 with a passion. Didnt mean they were crap, I just didnt like them.

    Didn't mean I jumped on the internet like a wanky keyboard cowboy to argue that everything is shit.

    Don't like em, don't play em. Leave it to the people who do enjoy them.

    just bring me back relatable characters that i can actually get attached to and a decent story and most can be forgiven. That was what was really missing from XIII i thought. I thought it was fun except for that I didn't care enough about the characters or what was going on to want to advance the story any more. Everything else ticked all the right boxes for me, battle system, linearity in favour of story all didn't matter it was that the characters and their motivations were boring and cliche and the story really held no pull or mystery at all.

    The two MMORPGs killed the franchise. They took their eye off the ball after FFX, and I say that as someone who more or less liked XII and XIII and even XIII-2 up until I reached the "end" and discovered it was half a game with DLC to complete it. They take forever to complete games (the long, long wait for a Final Fantasy game on this generation of consoles was ridiculous) and then do stuff like hideously expensive mobile games and DLC to finish the story on the main games.

      Sorry Arky.
      Although I might go as far as saying FF14 MMO may have been a contributing factor, theres no way it was a bad idea business wise to create FF11.
      I mean the game has been a driving force for the company since 2003. It's active userbase is big and is still going strong with the release of yet another expansion for it, which is being greatly anticipated by fans of the game. SO 10 years later people are still actively playing and happy to pay their monthly fee for the privilege.

      I will agree that the ending of XIII-2 was a kick in the teeth, its not the end of the world.
      We all need to remember that the Final Fantasy series has always been kind of like an experiment.
      They try new things, people like it or don't.

      To all the people bitching about the XIII games, just remember, originally they said they had a story to tell, this is the story. If this isn't the story for you then just wait for the next one. This one is the last of the Fabula Nova Crystallis. Just be patience guys.

      Oh do tell how FFXI played a part in killing the franchise. This FFXI player (who has finished 5/11+1 storylines available as well as loves the game due to unforgettable memories) would like to know why.

    I like to think that square enix are just experimenting with how best to make money off this mobile gaming thing.
    The big name games they have (in AUD) tend to be over $10, with stuff like FF tactics at almost $20.
    On the otherhand they have cheap (or free) games that then smash the user with micro transactions.

    I think they are still finding their feet in the whole mobile gaming world, and I lookforward to them calming down and charging reasonable prices... I mean I WANT FF Tactics, but already own it on PSP (as a UMD) and from the PSN as a digital download, and won't pay $20 for it... if it were $10 maybe I'd pay for it on my phone...

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