Apocalyptis Noctis (Part II)

(Continued from Part I)

The short answer is this: having wrapped up the main story of Final Fantasy XV (but not the gobs and gobs of postgame content), I feel confident in standing by my earlier statement that it’s the one I like the most since FFIX, even though its flaws are now more apparent.

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Apocalyptis Noctis (Part I)

I haven’t been writing much recently; the Holiday season threw me off my game. However, I did manage to write a short piece on Final Fantasy IV for Beneath the Tangles’ 12 Days of Christmas feature.

At the risk of becoming a bit one-note I’m going to do yet another Final Fantasy related post, this time on Final Fantasy XV, the most recent entry (having gotten my hands on a PS4 I can now partake of the full splendor of the modest upgrades that the current generation has seen over the previous one). I’m far from completion, but have logged enough time to have some opinions about the thing.

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World of balance

ffvi-logo

Final Fantasy VI is a beloved game. While its immediate successor was far more popular, and while there have been other entries that have proven more influential, FFVI is always looked back upon as a high watermark in the franchise. But why it is so isn’t always well articulated. The gameplay bears a lot of the dated jankiness affecting mid 90s RPGs, while the story is quite content to rehash Star Wars. It doesn’t seem like a game that should work in 2016-7.

And yet the overall experience of playing FFVI nowadays is a uniquely satisfying one. This is, I think, because almost all of the design choices feel so purposeful and assured that you’re willing to overlook a lot of the game’s rough edges. If the purpose of an RPG game is to give the player some smooth-yet-crunchy stat based mechanics to play around with while showing off some stellar writing, then FFVI is a failure. But if it is about making the player feel like they’re on an adventure, then FFVI is one of the greatest successes in the genre.

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Top ten books I read in 2016

As usual, this list rears its head in December. And as also is usual, none of the books listed here were actually published in 2016. However, this one is somewhat unusual in that it has a dearth of sci-fi and fantasy and, uh, is more thematically unified.

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Jolly old Saint Nick

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas. It’s also the fifth anniversary of Res Studiorum et Ludorum’s inaugural post. As a result of this coincidence I’ve sometimes thought of St. Nicholas as the unofficial patron saint of this blog. Every new post is like a Christmas present (maybe)!

Anyway, that means I’ve been consistently blogging for half a decade. It’s peanuts compared to the veterans out there, but still kinda shocking to realize.

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Final Fantasy VI and Advent — Beneath the Tangles

My newest post at Beneath the Tangles is up! Click to find out why I think FFVI fits in with this liturgical season.

I almost despair at having something new to say about Final Fantasy VI. Although it isn’t the most popular JRPG ever made, many debates over what the best JRPG evurr is have boiled down to a match between this title and the near-contemporaneous Chrono Trigger. But on a whim I was inspired to pull my…

via Final Fantasy VI and Advent — Beneath the Tangles

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Waking the wind fish

links-awakening-beach

It’s been fun using my 3DS to reconnect with the Zelda franchise. The most unexpectedly moving of my various revisits has been Link’s Awakening, the 1993 Game Boy title which blew my mind.

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Entry no. 56

moana-poster

It’s fair to say that, even if it isn’t completely successful, Moana feels like Disney doing what it should be doing. Which is to say that it’s a beautifully animated musical which pillages some piece of folklore/fairy tale in the service of fun songs and lame, questionable moral platitudes. Frozen had its Austenian charms, but it was severely hampered by bland art direction and some bland tunes; Moana has a lot more to like in both regards.

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Assorted

I’m involved in a top 5 JRPGs roundup at Beneath the Tangles.

Also I recently rewatched Zootopia and found that my opinion of it has gone up. I found it irksome for being indistinguishable from a Pixar or Dreamworks movie, but it’s probably the most successful of the CG era Disney movies. My earlier post could probably be expanded upon, given that it was literally a bullet-point list.

Final Fantasy XV is on the cusp of release and I…am having trouble consistently maintaining enthusiasm for it. Aside from not having a means of playing it, all the early previews suggest that the franchise is still operating on a wavelength fundamentally different than my own. That Florence & The Machine cover of Stand By Me sure is pretty, though.

All the hype did inspire me to log some time into Final Fantasy VI, an entry which I have a weird relationship with. FF IV was the first one I laid hands on (back when it was still called FF II here), but while it intrigued me a great deal, I was too young to really get a grasp on how to play it. FF VI (back when it was FF III) looked really cool but was always unavailable at the video store, and so I never really played it until its Playstation rerelease. By that point it was already overshadowed by VII and VIII.

As a result I’ve always appreciated VI more than I’ve enjoyed it – even though it is, on balance, the most solid entry in the series. This time, however, something clicked. I think I’m starting to dig into it as an RPG. I also didn’t realize just how well paced the opening hour is: within ten minutes you’re into the meat of both the gameplay and the plot, and there’s a sense of forward momentum that never lags even as the game allows you to meander and do RPG stuff.

Even the excruciatingly long loading times of the Playstation version haven’t kept me down. Yet.

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Samurai boogaloo redux

My previous post on Shin Megami Tensei IV found me pretty annoyed at the game. In the meantime I’ve found myself drawn back to it on occasion, which has provoked something of a reconsideration.

A lot of my earlier hair-tearing came from a place of genuine appreciation: SMT IV, more than any other new-ish game I’ve played (with the exception of A Link Between Worlds) gets to the heart of why I love the medium, and JRPGs in particular. But it also kinda fails to completely cohere into the game it could be.

If I were to organize everything into a clickbait thesis I’d put it thus: Shin Megami Tensei IV is the Neon Genesis Evangelion of our times. Except that it lacks NGE’s miserabilism, creepy sex stuff, and general contempt for its fanbase.

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