This has been sitting in the queue for a while, and its kind of short, but I figure I might as well push it out, as generally when I hate something I rant and rave instead of writing a small blurb so it probably won’t fill out anytime soon.
Tales of Xilia
Are you a woman? Do you get tired of the literal seconds of your media-consumption that don’t remind you that the world views you as a sex object? Well this is the game for you! Literally not a cutscene goes by without either a lecherous comment about women’s look or a loving camera pandering over the barely-dressed female character’s bodies. And just in case you’re thinking there’s even Strong Female Characters here to give the illusion of inclusiveness, worry not! The female protagonist is stripped of her power in the opening of the game and has to be escorted around by Men the rest of the time.

I couldn’t make it more than a few hours into this shitshow and I’m never touching this franchise again. It’s a shame because the actual gameplay was fun (the story was fucking stupid, but eh), but fine, game, if you don’t want me here I won’t give you my money. Fuck you, too.

Also the voice acting was terrible. You may be thinking, “Okay, but that doesn’t really detract too too much from the game itself.” You are wrong, which I know because that was what I thought. The voice acting is really bad.

Final Fantasy IV
I never got into Final Fantasy. Not for any reason in particular– it just never popped up on my radar as a kid and now there’s a hundred million of them and I feel like I don’t have the time to catch up. But Boyfriend had this and it’s supposed to be one of the best, so I gave it a shot.

This is probably one of the most boring games I’ve ever played. I honestly couldn’t finish it, it was just mind-numbing.

That’s really all there is to say about it. It’s just uninteresting. The story is cliche, the characters are cliche, the battles are monotonous, and there’s no sidequests or minigames to keep you going (the promise of murdering woodland creatures powered me through Assassin’s Creed 3, I swear). It’s hard to even describe what the problems were because they were so rote. The characters were cardboard cutouts I was never emotionally invested in. The plot is typical “save the kingdom” stuff without the usual jRPG backdrop of a fun fantasy world or colorful people and places to make it worthwhile. I ended up level grinding on autoplay because the battles didn’t really require any strategy.

I mean, on one hand, there’s a reason my kneejerk reaction to people shouting, “It’s a classic!!!” is, “So that means it sucks then, great.” I’m looking at you Earthbound (and you, too, James Joyce). However, I do realize that when it was originally released in 1991, it’s highly likely that at the time everything was all shiny and new territory and it was exciting and stuff. But if that’s true, it just hasn’t stood the test of time. When games like Chrono Trigger still feel fresh twenty years later, it makes me think that all this game had going for it in the first place was a lack of competition.


  1. SpoonyViking says:
    I’ve always found the Final Fantasy series overrated, especially VII. If I had to recommend any of them, it would be VI – and even then, I’d still rate “Chrono Trigger” as much, much better.
    That said, IV at least gave us the “spoony bard” meme. :-)
    1. Elisabeth says:
      I replayed FFVII recently, and while I enjoyed the 1st disc a lot, I quit just before the end of the 2nd disc. I’ve seen the ending of FFVII once before, and it felt like a slap in the face after FFVI and Chrono Trigger. Also, I just lost interest in the story and the characters after the 1st disc. The plot wanders, the Weapons are just filler, and it turned out that I didn’t care about the heroes without Aeris. My biggest complaint is that Sephiroth is too weak to be the main villain of the game. He’s arrogant in the flashbacks, but his personality shift to mass murderer is so sudden that I always interpreted it as Jenova controlling his mind. If you think about it, he spends all the game (except for flashbacks) frozen in stasis in the crater while his clones doevil under the influence of Jenova.
      1. Wright of Void says:
        I’m pretty sure he was mindcontrolled by Jenova? It’s the real villain as I recall, Sephiroth is just its puppet. It has been several years since I played, though.

        But yeah, that ending. It’s like they ran out of film, only it’s on purpose because incomprehensible ambiguity is the highest of high art, right???

        1. SpoonyViking says:
          If I remember it correctly, the game does leave at least some room for the theory that it’s all just Sephiroth being batshit crazy because of the Mako experiments.

          Either way, I agree that makes him a very pitiful villain. I much prefer villains who are well aware of what they are without reaching Dick Dastardly-levels of cartoonishness.

          Edit: Hold on, did Act play this game yet? Is she going to? Are we spoiling things for her?

        2. Farla says:
          I know this one!

          Okay, so the official answer is that no, all that’s a red herring and the real idea was that Sephiroth is puppeting Jenova. If you pour over the terrible translation you can find what were meant to be clues about this, where the “Sephiroth” you spend the game chasing is actually Jenova’s body, which tears off chunks of itself to turn into the monsters because Sephiroth views it as disposable.

          No one picked up on this because it means there’s no explanation whatsoever for why Sephiroth decides to kill all everything right after finding Jenova, so everyone went with the idea Jenova drove Sephiroth crazy to completely possessed him because that actually makes sense.

          1. Wright of Void says:
            …What, really? That makes so much less sense. I’ve heard about the “Sephiroth” being a piece of Jenova, but I always assumed the reason it was throwing chunks at you was because it was a weird alien that viewed its body as disposable. And yeah, by all appearances Sephiroth was supposed to be pretty sane before interacting with Jenova, so how did he go from that to genocidal without any mind control? Bah.
            1. Elisabeth says:
              “And yeah, by all
              appearances Sephiroth was supposed to be pretty sane before interacting with
              Jenova, so how did he go from that to genocidal without any mind control? Bah.”

              That’s why I came up with my theory. In the flashback you see, he’s somewhat arrogant, but that’s understandable given how powerful he is. But he’s not the Omnicidal Maniac he becomes later. It’s a complete 180-turn in his behavior.

          2. SpoonyViking says:
            So the only real Sephiroth is Safer Sephiroth?
      2. SpoonyViking says:
        Yeah, I agree with your interpretation (and I actually think it’s canon that he was at least partly influenced by Jenova). Ironically, my favourite depiction of Sephiroth was in Advent Children, even if I still don’t think he’s anywhere near the best “Final Fantasy” villain (I’d nominate at least Kefka and the Emperor, from “II”, ahead of him).

        I think FF VII had a very interesting setting and premise, but I felt both were very underutilised. I honestly wanted the whole focus of the game to be on the AVALANCE-SHINRA conflict (preferably with at least a bit more nuance to SHINRA, but I could live with the current cartoonish villainy of the president), with Sephiroth being more tied to it; basically, I’d have preferred it if they cut out everything about Jenova and the Cetra.

        1. Elisabeth says:
          ” I honestly wanted the whole focus of the game to be on the
          AVALANCE-SHINRA conflict (preferably with at least a bit more nuance to
          SHINRA, but I could live with the current cartoonish villainy of the
          president), with Sephiroth being more tied to it; basically, I’d have
          preferred it if they cut out everything about Jenova and the Cetra.”

          Same here! I’d prefer if they made some of the Shinra characters less cartoonish, but I think Rufus Shinra would have been a good villain. To me, the plot lags once the focus of the game shifts from Shinra to Sephiroth as the villain.

          Kefka’s definitely my favorite FF villain.

          1. SpoonyViking says:
            I have a soft spot for the Emperor. He’s actually very generic in so many ways, but he’s got style. Objectively, though, I agree that Kefka is a better character. Definitely memorable, too.
  2. Wright of Void says:
    Yeah, FFIV is pretty meh today. It’s kind of like the Epic of Gilgamesh or something – interesting as a historical evolutionary step, but not so great objectively.

    That said, you might enjoy FFVI. I think it’s aged better than some of the others, and it made quite a few innovations I find interesting. It also has not just one but two female protagonists! It’s no CT but it might be worth a look.

    1. SpoonyViking says:
      Except the Epic of Gilgamesh is still awesome. :-P
    2. actonthat says:
      Boyfriend got me either VI or VII for my birthday after hearing whichever it was is one of the best, so I’m going to give the franchise at least one more shot eventually.
  3. Roarke says:
    The only Tales game I played was Tales of Symphonia. It was a long time ago and I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember that the JRPG-requisite lecherous jerk party member was a surprisingly deep and well-rounded character who just happened to be ruined by the fact that he was a total sleaze. Also I remember that I liked the game and it had wonderful music.
    1. actonthat says:
      I actually download Symphonia, and I liked the beginning, but after Xilia I just could not even. Which is probably unfair, but Xilia was just so bad.
      1. Roarke says:
        I, ah, would recommend it to you, especially since you already have it. It really is not only much better on the sexism front, but also just better all around. Symphonia is the Tales game that popularized the series here in the States, if I remember right. It deals with some pretty deep themes and is also just pretty awesome in general.
        And stay away from your F/SN comment section.
  4. Keleri says:
    Ahahah, I finished Earthbound for the first time recently and while I see its quirky appeal, I don’t get the near-reverence.

    Off-topic: Can anyone who has actually struggled through The Hunger Games in its entirety comment on whether this analysis has merit, because it makes it sound like something I absolutely want to read while being totally at odds with my assessment of the first few chapters of THG (post-apoc darkfic written by a 14-year-old).


    1. actonthat says:
      It has no merit. The most hilariously fanwanky part is where they try to justify her shitty technical writing as some kind of purposeful stylistic choice. Trust me, she just doesn’t know how to string a sentence together.
    2. Farla says:
      It’s a tumblrism. “I like this thing, so this thing cannot be problematic. In fact, it is anti-problematic. Here is a giant list of things touched on in any way by this thing. Each and every one of them is handled exactly according to tumblr’s SJ preferences. It is flawless and perfect. I am flawless and perfect in my enjoyment.

      Tumblr recs are like TvTropes recs. They’re both exactly as useless, they just come at the issue from opposing directions.

    3. Elisabeth says:
      I like the quirkiness of Earthbound, but the game mechanics are really awkward, like the menu system.
  5. Falconix says:
    Final Fantasy IV is probably a “you had to be there” kind of game, but even so, every time I tried replaying it I trail off either after first getting the airship, or after the boss fights in Dwarf Castle. Maybe it’s because I didn’t seriously start playing it until I got a SNES emulator, which meant I could just as easily go play V and VI instead which are more entertaining in different ways, or just play Chrono Trigger which is its superior in every way.

    I’ve never played a Tales game, but what I’ve seen of the character designs for each game make me feel like you could use them as a study of a game company’s descent into further pandering to the otaku crowd.

    1. Elisabeth says:
      FFIV definitely has not aged well. It pioneered a lot of RPG conventions, and it was certainly better than any other RPG available at the time, but it doesn’t up well to modern games. The gameplay isn’t interesting – too much grinding, no customization of characters, and that fucking Sealed Cave. The plot is a big mishmash of cliches. The original translation was awful – no huge errors apart from “spoony bard”, but the censorship made the script as bland as vanilla pudding. I thought it was a great game when I was 5 (which says something about how little-kiddish the story was), but I lost interest in it when better games came out.

      FFVI is my personal favorite, but I can admit that Chrono Trigger is the superior game. It’s pretty much flawless, and despite being 20 years old, it hasn’t aged badly at all.

      1. SpoonyViking says:
        Sorry to butt in, but “spoony bard” isn’t actually a mistake – “spoony” is an adjective that basically means “overly sentimental to the point of foolishness”, which fits Edward to a T. :-)
        1. Elisabeth says:
          Really?? I’ve never seen it used anywhere, so I assumed it was a translation error (I remember googling it a few years ago and coming up only with results related to FFIV). Well, the more you know. It still sounds odd to me even now that I know the meaning.
          1. SpoonyViking says:
            Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used, either, but the dictionary confirms it: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spoony. It’s why one of the characters in the secret designers’ room in the GBA remake says something like “The bard IS spoony – we checked!”. :-)
  6. SoxyOutfoxing says:
    I played a bit of Tales of the Abyss, and then started playing new things and never finished it, which I do with nearly every game I play, so that isn’t a condemnation or anything. The chief gender thing I remember from that, though, is well, there are three girls in your party. You play as Luke. Of the three girls, one is Luke’s fiancee for an arranged marriage, one is clearly his actual love interest (she shows up first and is mysterious and I think she attacks him maybe) and one is a thirteen-year-old gold-digger/title hunter who throws herself at Luke because she want to be a Duchess, and that is hilarious because thirteen-year-old gold-diggers are hilarious, apparently.

    Even if you ignore all the stuff going on with the last girl, all of these girls are connected to the hero through the idea of marriage/a relationship. A lot of RPGs manage to avoid that type of sexism when they have more than one girl, but not this one. It isn’t glaringly awful, but yeah, I’m not gonna be defending the franchise anytime soon.

  7. RNM714 says:
    Final Fantasy IV hasn’t aged well for the same reason Seinfeld hasn’t: Literally everyone copied it, and did what it did better. IV is less playable for it’s actual story then for what it represents in gaming history, just like the original Final Fantasy.

    My personal favorite of the series is FInal Fantasy V. It’s plot is a cliche storm, but lord what a ride. From gay panic on the high seas to rescuing wolfmen from another dimension to fighting an evil tree and his heterosexual bestie. Also the Job system got to it’s best form, which FFT would shamelessly copy.

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