Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t a bad game. Neither was Final Fantasy XIII-2. And neither is the conclusion to the Final Fantasy XIII saga, Lightning Returns. Don’t just take my word for it, though; plenty of critics agree.
In one of the last issues of the sadly defunct GamePro magazine, my former colleague AJ Glasser gave FFXIII four stars out of five. 1up.com gave the game an A- rating. Eurogamer gave it 8/10. And, despite a couple of outliers, the overall consensus at the time of release was that Final Fantasy XIII was a good game — not a perfect one, by any means — but a good one. The same was true for Final Fantasy XIII-2, which scored slightly lower on average, and while I’ll admit Lightning Returns reviews were somewhat more mixed — not everyone enjoyed the game’s peculiar mechanics and structure — there were still a lot of comments about how interesting it was, despite its flaws.
Which is why it’s so baffling that I find a lot of the online discourse surrounding this particular part of Final Fantasy’s history so overwhelmingly negative.
As yet bereft of the iconic Jobs that would go on to define this particular installment in the Final Fantasy series, our heroes are tasked with seeking out a naughty old Djinn.
It’s not a quest they can really walk away from, either; a significant number of people in the vicinity have been turned into ghosts by this malevolent dark power — and of course, no-one but a bunch of freelancin’ kids could possibly go and sort out the whole problem.
While it’s a daunting challenge at first, it doesn’t take long for our heroes to build up their confidence at fighting — and before you know it they’re toppling their first significant challenge, proving themselves worthy of the title “Warriors of Light”.
Did you know that the Teleport spell does not work in the Unknown Palace? I did not.
As such, I took Minwu and company deep into said dungeon “just to see how far we could get” and then decided that we’d turn back when I ran out of Ethers. Unfortunately things turned out to not be quite that simple. At all.
The early Final Fantasies are interesting to return to, as they show the origins of various things that have become series mainstays over the years.
Today in Final Fantasy II, we see the first mention of the Dragoons in the series; while you can’t actually be a Dragoon in Final Fantasy II, you do learn a little bit about them and their companion Wyverns. We also see the Lifestream for the first time; this concept hasn’t been in every Final Fantasy, but it does play a prominent role in both Final Fantasy VII and, of all things, the CG movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Bet you’d forgotten about that, hadn’t you?
Maria also spends a lot of time training her Scourge spell, and we get into a real mess trying to get back out of a dungeon. Because, well, we’ve set a certain amount of precedent at this point, haven’t we?
We’re here at last! It’s the finale of the first Final Fantasy game, which means it’s time to return to the Temple of Chaos and sort this whole mess out once and for all.
If you thought later games in the Final Fantasy series got a bit confusing with time kompression and whatnot, then know that this has emphatically been A Thing in the series since the very beginning, as you’re about to see.
Still, after all our intense training in the four Soul of Chaos dungeons and the Labyrinth of Time, we’re more than ready to take on whatever awaits us… so let’s finish this!
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas! We’re fast running out of time for this year, but leave a suggestion anyway and I might use it next year!
To quote a now sadly defunct group of gamers of which I used to be a member: “Games of Shame. You know you have them. They sit in your closet, collecting dust: little jewels that you always tell yourself you are going to play, but never get around to.”
Part of the reason MoeGamer is a thing at all is a continuation of what this group, known as the Squadron of Shame, was known for: deliberately delving into the overlooked and underappreciated games from both yesterday and today, and playing the crap out of them until we could talk about them in detail.
As someone with an absolutely enormous… backlog, I have quite a few games that I’m absolutely dying to write about. But one in particular keeps mocking me from my shelf… and by golly, I’m going to make 2020 the year in which I actually knuckle down and crack on with it!
The end is in sight… but there’s one more endgame challenge before we can finish this thing: The Labyrinth of Time!
This dungeon was added in the PSP version of Final Fantasy, and suggests that you forget everything you thought you knew about the world. And this is good advice; you’ll be doing things in here that you don’t do anywhere else in the game!
It’s one of the most satisfying challenges in all of Final Fantasy, and while some might argue that the fact it was added in 2007 means it’s not “authentic” to the original, it’s certainly a whole lot of fun! Let’s do this.
The Warriors of Light are about to take on their longest, most significant challenge yet: the 40-floor Whisperwind Cove!
Thankfully, the boss fights in here aren’t quite as brutal as the devastating foes who lurked at the base of Lifespring Grotto, but 40 floors is certainly a lot to get through. Thankfully, there are plenty of places to rest and regroup along the way… including a village full of absolutely fabulous-looking mages.
I have no idea how long this is going to take, so if I manage to get enough episodes recorded in advance, there may be two episodes a week just while we clear out this monstrosity. And then we have the Labyrinth of Time to clear after this, too… why did I start this again…?
We’re well into the endgame of the PSP incarnation of Final Fantasy now; today we delve into the second of four “Soul of Chaos” dungeons.
Hellfire Chasm features 10 floors arranged in a random order, with a choice of two Final Fantasy IV bosses to fight on both the 5th and 10th. In order to fill out your Bestiary completely, you’ll need to run the dungeon at least twice to smack ’em all down.
Bring plenty of supplies; today’s a long trip, but we’re just getting started!
The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today