Tag: Final Fantasy

The Final Fantasy MMORPGs: Roads Less Traveled

My overall conflicted experience with Final Fantasy XIV still didn’t stop my jaw from dropping the first time I saw a dust storm settle over the sky of Ul’dah at night.

But for better or worse, Ul’dah and its dust storms are something that many gamers will never see. Unfortunately, not many saw its distant cousin Bastok either. The roads to the cities of Bastok and Ul’dah, to the games of Final Fantasy XI and XIV, are one and the same. They’re all roads less traveled in a world covered by interstate. Still, I like to believe that the scenic route is worth taking time to time–if you aren’t afraid of getting lost.

And I mean really lost–nearly everything in both games works differently from what you would think, creating what can be at times a frustrating of experience. However, if you know Final Fantasy’s history as an MMORPG, this may not be a new revelation.

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What Final Fantasy XIII and Heavy Rain Have in Common

Gaming is about the experience. Mashing buttons and keys is how I spent the nineties–I stomped on Goombas, explored dungeons in Hyrule, and bunnyhopped in Quake. When playing Doom in my early years, I was terrified of the demons that the gates of Hell unleashed. And I’ll never forget the first time I saw the rain streaked sky in Donkey Kong Country’s second level, swinging vine to vine.

I had a blast with gaming then and I have a blast with gaming now. My experiences have been memorable and positive–most of the time, at least.

As titles both released in 2010, it stands within reason that Final Fantasy XIII and Heavy Rain should have a lot more on the classics of yesteryear. They should have evolved significantly in the overall quality of experience–from gameplay to graphics, each title has had more than enough time to improve itself. But for some reason, I feel more immersed playing Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest than I do when I play as Ethan Mars.
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Video Games Are Undeniably Art

Video games are art.

It’s boring, it’s been said, and it’s been argued against. But it’s true. Game developers are this generation’s unnamed Ansel Adams and Andy Warhols. The video games they work to create are their own unique worlds imagined and they bring to life these visions with precise direction and immense effort. By any definition, the entire process is an art form; writers weave a story out of nothing, artists turn barren worlds into illustrated societies, and coders bring it all to life in an interactive formation.

The entire process is undeniably art–almost magically so.

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The Inconsequential Game Over: Dying for a Change

It’s 1993. I’m playing on my NES. I’m about to fight Bowser at the end of Super Mario Bros. It’s time for dinner, however, and my dad has called into the living room probably five or six times. I don’t want to eat because I’m about to finally save Princess Toadstool, but I’m seven and I have no choice so I put it on pause.

When I come back, after eating and doing the dishes, my console’s turned off. I stare in horror at my dad who is now watching television. And because the original game didn’t let you save due to technological limitations, I find myself back at the first level when I finally turn the console back on. There are eight more worlds left to go and I will never get close to the end again.

Games have been flirting with their portrayal of failure and game overs for years–they’ve been dodging the subject of death for even longer. Arguments have been made for and against severe consequences in the digital world for over two decades. Each game treats the topic differently. Some don’t let you save often if ever, others put a checkpoint around every bend. Sometimes, a game over screen means starting from the beginning while other times it just means restarting from an earlier level. And, in the case of Super Mario Bros., saving and thus restarting without penalty wasn’t possible until later titles in the series–the game over screen was permanent, whether it was reached by personal failure or an external error. When Mario failed, it was all over.

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