Tag Archives: Final Fantasy VII

As Your Fantasy Town Mayor

To all of my fellow citizens of the town of Dadoria,

We live in a time of peace.  Of prosperity.  Whatever troubles may plague the world, we live in a video game fantasy town where birds chirp, kids play, and everyone knows each other.  Which, because we live in a video game fantasy town, means we’re all in grave danger.  As you all know, peace is exactly the moment when disaster strikes.  Whether it’s some dark god, evil empire, or previously defeated species out for revenge, something is coming for us.  As mayoral candidate for Dadoria, I want you to know that I can help.  We CAN defeat the inevitable, unspecified darkness!….with my six point plan.

1 – Fund research into town history

In addition to promoting civic pride, researching town history will give us a much better understanding of the various ancient traps laid for us by our predecessors.  While it may be tempting to live in ignorant bliss of the doom hidden within a nearby ancient temple, smart planning and responsible leadership will ensure that we can live with peace of mind despite the dangers.  Every 4,000 year old ritual sealing away the forces of darkness, every lost sword that holds the ultimate power, and every gateway to an evil dimension will be studied, catalogued, and placed on a publically available town website to ensure we’re making progress towards ridding our homes of these dangers.

2 – Establish a rigorous immigration protocol

Outsiders often bring unwanted attention to our otherwise peace burg.  Many a fantasy town has been undone by a clever old wise man who turned out to be a general in an imperial army or a lovely young lady who is actually part of a long lost magical race.  ALL prospective immigrants to Dadoria will go through a thorough review to ensure they have a history free of interesting lives linking them to dangerous adventures.

3 – Improve educational standards

Heroes.  They’re the worst.  If there’s one thing to guarantee the doom of our village, it’s a plucky band of youngsters living an idyllic life just begging for a town-wide massacre to start them on a noble quest to save the world.  As mayor, I would take great exception to the idea that we need to be the ones to die.  All kids between the ages of 13 and 18 will be sent to a quality boarding school where any that show a plucky, can do attitude will be banned from returning.

4 – Increase economic investment

To further discourage the development of homegrown adventurers, I shall direct the investment of town tax monies towards the increase in quality and rarity of our goods.  Any prospective heroes would need to start off buying high level gear and fighting brutal monsters.  Good luck with that guys.  As an added bonus, we’ll be at the top of the economic food chain when adventurers come knocking for powerful weapons and armor.  There’s no loss here.

5 – Energy diversity

While we all honor and appreciate the wonderful quality of life that the CRYSTAL OF FIRE provides, it’s time we looked to more traditional sources of energy.  I share your concerns about the pollution resulting from alternative sources, but it pales in comparison to the destruction wrought by an evil emperor who destroys our humble town to complete his collection.  Instead, I propose selling the CRYSTAL OF FIRE and using coal as a bridging source until we can transition to solar or steam power.

6 – Invest in our armed forces

At the end of the day, nothing stops nefarious actors like well-armed troops with a diverse array of weapons.  Ottis is a wonderful young man whose bumbling charm feels right at home in Dadoria, but he can’t stop the ravenous hordes of a demon army bent on global domination.  We need trained soldiers with guns, magic, and magical guns.  They’ll cut their teeth on the seemingly endless monsters in the area and make sure that any would-be conqueror gets a face full of bullets for even looking in our direction.

So, fellow citizens of Dadoria.  Vote me, vote for the future, and vote for not dying.

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Opinion – The Final Fantasy XV Opening

It’s like sticking the bread between two slices of salami.

The beginning of a game should set the tone for the early part of the adventure.  Many games choose to do so with an explosive introduction which often throws the player into an exciting scene.  The Final Fantasy series is known for this including one of the best intros of all time, Final Fantasy VII.  In that game, the players goes from a tranquil skyscape to participating in a pulse pounding strike against the Shinra power plant (it was the innocent days before 9/11).  Successful intros have similarly thrilling beginnings, even including the much maligned Final Fantasy XIII.  Surprisingly, Final Fantasy XV (FFXV) went the exact opposite route.  It is an interesting attempt at doing something different, but, sadly, it doesn’t quite work out.

FFXV begins with the protagonist Noctis joining his friends/bodyguards in bidding his father, the king, goodbye.  Noctis and crew hops into their car and drives away only to have it break down.  One of the earliest pieces of gameplay is the playing pushing the stalled car down a highway.  The experience is about as thrilling as it sounds.  This extends into the opening area where the only arching narrative is a fetch quest to get Noctis to a pier so that he can sail to a faraway kingdom to marry a princess for the sake of peace.  The intervening missions are largely fetch quests to explore a small, peaceful part of the kingdom and to get used to the gameplay.  Battles are limited and straightforward and the whole area feels like a waystation for something bigger.  And that’s the problem.

FFXV is a game about a road trip (at least, so far).  Unlike previous entries in the series, this one clearly wants to focus on a small set of characters and their interactions.  Developer Square Enix limits the characters and plot by keeping everything focused on the daily affairs of the local population.  By narrowing their view, Square Enix probably hoped to forge a bond between the players, the world, and the characters before embarking on the larger quest.  Rather than overwhelm the road trip theme with the story of invasion (you know it’s coming if you’ve seen Kingsglaive), FFXV starts at a moment in time when all is quiet.  This isn’t a bad idea, but the execution is questionable.  While the base gameplay is fun, the early quests don’t go out of their way to establish the all-important relationships that Square Enix wants to carry this game.  The chatter between characters begins that process, but the real stand out is the beautiful environment and breathing world.  Square Enix wants players to hop in their car and experience the ride before settling into the exciting parts of the game.  It feels like the road trip, more than anything else, is the focus of FFXV and everything that conflicts with it is pushed aside.

That’s unfortunate because shedding the story makes much of the later development incomprehensible.  A number of plot beats strike before, during, and after the opening section that lack support from the previous cutscenes and dialogue.  Without having watched Kingsglaive, the player will have no clue what’s going on.  At a bare minimum, this is poor form.  Completely offloading the introductory story line to a different media altogether isn’t just shifting the emphasis, it’s neglecting a key part of what an intro should do.

The introduction plays a very important role in setting out the themes and tone of what’s to come.  It should wet the player’s appetite for the game world and get them invested in its stories and characters.  In neglecting these duties, the introduction to FFXV feels more like a piece of filler midgame.  The basics of the game are all on display, but there’s nothing to suggest this area couldn’t have been 10 hours later in the game with minor tweaks.  I intend to keep playing, but I can’t help but feel that this isn’t a great start.

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