JRPG Musings and My Final Fantasy Marathon

March 14th, 2009

final-fantasy-origins

When it comes to 3D games, my preferred genre of choice is action/adventure, and for 2D games, it’d have to be the platformer. Platformer is a little too broad a definition as the games within this genre often encompass action, puzzle and role playing elements – it’s more or less the 8/16bit equivalent of the action adventure. Super Mario Bros, Shinobi, Castlevania are all justified examples of games straddling between genre conventions. On the whole, I guess you could say that I’m an enthusiast of the action/adventure genre of any make up.

I’ve always been interested in RPGs, but less conventionally so than the typical RPG player. My brother is a good example of that type of player, so my tastes are roughly derived of titles that occasionally interest me from his side of the collection. This makes for a seemingly diverse, perhaps sporadic interest in the genre, with my favourite games including Lufia 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem and Golden Sun.

On second thoughts, are these titles honestly less conventional? Maybe it’s just due to our natural assertion of the typical RPG being a JRPG, where the titles listed -although Japanese made- are less traditional in that sense. Lufia is less well known/niche-y, FF:Tactics and Fire Emblem are Strategy RPGs with a European thematic, and Golden Sun is a more modern distillation of the genre with a strong adventuring influence.

This conclusion may suggest that I’m less interested in the JRPG in itself, which is probably a fair assumption. JRPGs are very iterative, with only modest modifications between each installment, or so it can be argued. I’m no doubt interested in this genre from an observer’s point of view, but am hardly a player with a rich JRPG history. I love Metal Gear not Final Fantasy dammit!

I will admit that on several occasions I unsuccessfully tried to break into the conventional JRPG mold with attempts given at Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX (twice on the latter actually), unfortunately my interested ensued rather quickly. Maybe I should’ve tried the real JRPG touchstones of the day like Phantasy Star and Dragon Quest, I’m not sure.

Whatever the case, I have finally rebooted my foray into the traditional JRPG genre, beginning with Final Fantasy Origins on the PSone (it contains the first two games). In fact, if you’ve been following me on Twitter (and please don’t, the service is clearly works only for pretentious fags*) then you’ll know that I’ve completed Final Fantasy and am already a good portion through the Final Fantasy II adventure. Yay for steadfast progress.

Although there isn’t much benefit in playing the games sequentially, I’ve decided to play them this way in a kind of marathon format. It seems only trendy nowadays for people to diminish their old-game-shame list with a hasty marathon, it’s only fitting for a blog as trendy as this one. Zing! With the progress I’m making, I can probably catch up on the complete series before the next 20 second chunk of video for Final Fantasy XIII is released.

As expected I’ll be writing up my thoughts for consumption soon. I usually have a steady string of new posts, sitting on the side lines waiting to be uploaded to DanielPrimed, but I haven’t been in the writing mood the past few days and am left more or less high and dry. Obviously I want to write about this marathon which I’ve been on for the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve finally finished reading the Metal Gear Solid novel too and will be sharing my thoughts as well as a dot point comparison of nuances between book, game and lore. I’m probably going to can my Syphon Filter: LS writing and instead wrap a few great ideas into a deeply personal critique of the series in relation to early 90s action cinema and my childhood. I do want to analyze the Aussie bloke; Dane Bishop in Logan’s Shadow though as he’s a particularly interesting character. That’s a bit of a teaser, I guess. Been prepping a lot of Chinese articles for my Chinese blog lately, including a 2000 character gaming manifesto which I’m very proud of. Look forward to hitting my groove again while I pray some of this university homework would disappear.

Getting back on track, if you have any advice for tackling the series, or any of the games in particular then please make me aware via the comments.

*Been pondering a way to prove this through the linguistic make-up of the service and spin it into an interesting article. Still thinking…

  • I’m impressed by your dedication — it’s not every day you hear that someone is voluntarily tackling the entire FF series!

    I play a lot of JRPGs, the kind often associated with excessive amounts of grinding, random battles, and wide-eyed heroes and heroines who look like they’ve just jumped out of an anime series. As my workmates like to call it, the “most annoying kind” of JRPG. Yet, I find myself playing them because I like the pay-off at the end.

    A JRPG will make you invest copious amounts of time into leveling up your characters, which can be a total pain in the arse, but at the end of the day you’ll be so much more attached to the characters and the game, and because the characters mean something to you, the story will also take on greater meaning. I like to think that I was able to get a lot more out of FFX than my friends and colleagues did because I played through it properly and spent so much time in Spira. So I guess my advice for tackling the series is to remind yourself that it’ll be worth it in the end.

    While you’re at it, play Chrono Trigger! It’s awesome.

    -Tracey

  • Hey Tracey, I can’t help but feel naturally obliged to play my way through the main series. I’ve always had an appreciation for the genre, but mainly as an observer, with the exceptions of smaller niches contain within the JRPG make up, as mentioned. My twin is doing the same with the Metal Gear series, so in a sense we are switching prior roles that we had back in those days.

    I’m particularly looking forward to playing Final Fantasy VII, and analyzing it from the perspective of someone external to the fandom and technological impact that made it such a pop cultural sensation in the first place. Thanks again.

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