Smash Bros. Creator Loves Lightning Returns’ Battle System

Smash Bros. Creator Loves Lightning Returns’ Battle System

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the third and final(?) chapter of the Final Fantasy XIII saga, came out in Japan last November, and what do you know, it’s pretty good. At least Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai thinks so.

I think at this point, saying Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the best instalment of the Final Fantasy XIII saga is like saying Revenge of the Sith was the best one of the prequels. Not that FFXIII-2 or even FFXIII are “bad” games — but after the hype and excitement of seeing the first Final Fantasy on the PS3 and having it not measure up, I think the collective disappointment was such that the subsequent games felt more like damage control than their own competent installments of the franchise.

That said, Lightning Returns is genuinely fun, and as Sakurai notes in his semi-weekly column in Weekly Famitsu, he was able to “see the culmination of the Active Time Battle system.”

The ATB system has been an integral part of the Final Fantasy series since 1991’s Final Fantasy IV (Older western gamers will remember it as Final Fantasy II). However, as Sakurai notes, over the past 20 years Square Enix has been experimenting and refining the system with each game in the series. “I was amazed at how, even under the limitations of there being only one party member [in Lightning Returns], [the ATB system] has evolved.”

While the original ATB system may not have been “perfect”, it was still a well-designed system and while its latest incarnation in Lightning Returns is quite refined, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Sakurai noted that, as a developer, Lightning Returns made him reacknowledge the importance of never being satisfied.

“It’s easy to pick up an already released game and simply enjoy it, but in order to generate entertainment, you need to keep your eyes peeled.” Sakurai writes. “I was reminded that if you take what seems natural for granted, nothing will evolve or change for the better.”

Sure, you can play Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII for the story, or the costume customisation, or the flashy visuals, or just to have closure to the FFXIII saga, but also remember that it’s one step in the evolutionary ladder of game development — and like it or hate it, that’s kind of cool.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is out in Japan and is scheduled for release on February 11th in North America, and February 14th in Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

ファミ通.com [ファミ通.com]


  • I might play some of these games if I could follow their order.
    All I see are X’s and I’s (some even have REAL numbers) online this, offline that.
    I have no bloody idea what order they go in.

  • Only decent FF games are 7 & 8 and 10 (if you ignore the horrendous voice acting). The rest have pretty shitty stories. Yes, even those old so called SNES classics.

    • Shame on you, FF 9 was the very best of them all (haven’t played ps2 ones though, waiting on the HD releases).

      I have played 7 and I don’t understand the hype or how anyone can even say its better than 8/9.

      Also these words “I think at this point, saying Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the best instalment of the Final Fantasy XIII saga is like saying Revenge of the Sith was the best one of the prequels. ” Sum up my feelings perfectly, a polished turd is still a god damn turd. The series should have been unequivocally dumped after the first 13 and we should have had 2 proper FF games made.

      With that said depending on my mood I may give this game an EB rental just to confirm my suspicions of its highly probable awfulness, re above reasons.

    • “The rest have shitty stories”. FFXI would like to have a word with you. Chains of Promathia, Treasures of Aht Urghan and Wings of the Goddess all have great, if not, amazing stories (that are, in my opinion, better than most of the single player games stories).

      Ragnarok cutscene:

  • I thought the game was terrible. I didn’t even finish the demo.

    Maybe I had to play the previous FFXIII games to understand it.

    • Dude, even if you did play the previous FF13 games you probably wouldn’t understand it. Hell, it’s hard enough understanding those games. Games with storytelling so bad, that the majority of it is told through datalogs after the event happens, most of which still don’t explain everything thoroughly.

      • I agree. I’ve played 1 and 2, then I played the demo and was like “Wait, how did we even get here? What are they even talking about now?”.

      • The FF13 series is actually pretty simple to understand without the datalogs. I don’t see how you think it doesn’t make sense/is bad, unless you just simply weren’t paying attention to the story and were blinding yourself with your bias against it. Also, you’re wrong about the “majority” of the story being told through datalogs.

        To @GerminalConsequence If you played the Requiem of the Goddess fight and/or seen the secret ending in 13-2 (heck, you don’t even really need to do the fight to understand this) It’s pretty simple to tell how you ended up where you are in the demo. Spoilers: Lightning puts herself into crystal stasis at the end of 13-2, in which she sleeps for 500 years to gain power. The world of Nova Chrysalia is the world that Caius created after Valhalla merges with the normal world (He explicitly states this himself in the secret ending). The world you see now is simply the aftermath of the events after 13-2. The ending of the Requiem of the goddess fight even further shows this as it reveals Lightning waking up again several hundred years later Really not that hard to understand.

  • I was (mostly) referring to the combat.
    It felt like an RPG masquerading as a really clunky action game.

    I was also annoyed that it started by playing the opening cutscene twice; once with credits and music, and the second time with actual dialog and sound effects.

  • Hey, whadda ya know? The culmination of the ATB is an MMO hotbar… Or at least that’s what it felt like. Pop your cooldowns, then just keep firing off a sequence of attacks as the cooldowns end. Watch for the tells and make sure you position yourself correctly and respond to any special attacks with the right counter.

  • You need not worry too much about order from the Final Fantasy franchise. 90% of the games are not connected to each other and are of their own series/stories, so you don’t need to play one to play the other. The only games that are sequels are 10/10-2 and 13/13-2/Lightning Returns.

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