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About
I'm a guy who likes to write about videogames. Sometimes in funny ways and sometimes in artsy ways. You'll just have to read my blogs to find out the difference between the two!

I'm in my mid 20s, I'm from the United States, and this is currently the most productive thing I'm doing with my B.A. in English. I also tend to write really long comments in response to people that start to read like mini-blogs. I apologize in advance for the walls of text.

Also, I like to have fun. I write about controversies sometimes because I get compelled, but I much prefer using caps lock to convey my love for quality RPGs.

I'm currently playing the following:

Borderlands 2
Ys Origin
The Stanley Parable
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX

I've been featured on the front page! Check it out!

The Ys Buyers Guide
I Love Final Fantasy: All The Bravest
My fondest videogame memories involve breaking them

My blogs are like my childrens and I love them all. Having said that...

The following are my personal favorite blogs among what I've written here:

Why I Love Your Blog
A 100% Objective Review of the Ys Series
Sexualized is a lazy term
Klonoa 2 is awesome and you should play it
Boobs

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Final Fantasy XIII does nearly everything that I believe a jRPG shouldn't do. The dungeon design is nonexistent, all pressure of resource management has been nullified, and the story is honestly the worst I think I’ve ever seen in a game. I’m also 65 hours in and I can’t stop playing.

Final Fantasy XIII is old news by now, so I thought there would be no surprises when I decided to pick it up for all of $10.00. Depending on who you ask, the game is either a brilliant reimagining of the jRPG formula or a disgrace to the Final Fantasy name. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d end up agreeing with both sides. Even the first 20 hours in which the game is “still getting good,” I was surprised by how much I was enjoying the experience.

Around the 40 hour mark, I asked myself a question that challenged everything I knew about gaming: Can a game be enjoyable without actually being engaging, immersive, or even fun?



I was initially inclined to call Final Fantasy XIII a “guilty pleasure,” but that doesn't quite fit. I’m not really embarrassed to play it, and it’s not indulgent in cheap thrills like ultra violence or sexually provocative content. It’s not that “so bad it’s good” kind of enjoyment either, as that is more appropriate for games like Deadly Premonition. Upon deeper introspection, I found my reason for enjoying Final Fantasy XIII is actually quite simple: A game can have a fundamentally flawed foundation, yet be built around that intelligently to create a satisfying – if not fun – experience.

For example, while most good RPGs use limited resources/HP/MP to add tension to regular battle sequences, Final Fantasy XIII does away with virtually all resource management and actually works with this as a mechanic. Since the AI doesn’t need to worry about excessive use of resources, the decision to only control the party leader actually succeeds and makes battles flow quickly. The rating system means battles focus on being effective instead of efficient, all while still giving the player reason to take each encounter seriously. Honestly, I’d take the battle system of, say, Grandia, over Final Fantasy XIII’s auto-combat any day, but finishing a battle in a hot minute and seeing a five star rating is a unique form of satisfaction. Maybe I didn’t do a whole lot to earn it, but I can’t deny I enjoy doing it.



Furthermore, let’s take Final Fantasy XIII’s crystarium. The crystarium is a clunky level up system that only pretends to offer choices and makes a time consuming process out of a normally streamlined staple of RPGs. Yet somehow, taking five minutes to watch my EXP advance toward each stat upgrade is strangely – again – satisfying. Instead of earning a lot of rewards at once during a dramatic level up process, Final Fantasy XIII gives small rewards frequently. All the flashing lights and pretty sounds make each of these small rewards feel significant without actually being significant, so being forced to deliberately level up characters emphasizes this illusion of importance. It’s like filling in a connect-the-dots puzzle versus being handed the finished picture… and that simile is more literal than I thought it would be.

And the story… my goodness, the story. I wasn’t joking when I said it’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen, yet that’s what makes it so enjoyable. Snow’s annoying optimism makes it hilarious when Lightning punches him in the face. The bad guys are so obnoxiously evil that I feel overjoyed when they get their comeuppance. The world is only so nonsensical to allow for inane gadgets and sparkling scenery around every corner. Maybe I just have an incredibly high tolerance for jRPG melodrama, but for all the story’s incoherence (which I assure you was plentiful), I usually felt I was getting what I wanted. It’s sort of like cheering on the drunken couple at the karaoke bar because they keep picking your favorite songs. Also, my analogies aren’t getting better and I apologize.

Some might read this and say my enjoyment of Final Fantasy XIII is shallow and therefore should be discouraged. To an extent, I’d agree on the shallow part, but I wonder if that’s a bad thing; I’m willing to bet we all play games that fall into the enjoyably bad place that Final Fantasy XIII does. The act of keeping the player involved by sprinkling small rewards and cheap thrills is commonplace now, so at what point do we distinguish between the rewards of a good game versus a bad game? It’s commonplace for games to feature a “level up” system, even if it’s just a means of delaying powers a protagonist should have had to begin with. First person shooter level design has streamlined so that players can consistently have more things to shoot while looking at pretty landscapes and scenery. The entire genre of “loot games” is built around the pursuit of small rewards. All these things are done to keep the player feeling “rewarded” and satisfied without necessarily creating a fun or immersive experience.


Small rewards are even given to real life to keep people interested


To clarify, all of the above can be (and has been) done in genuinely fun and engaging ways. By analyzing exactly why we enjoy certain games, we can come to a deeper understanding of what can make a system “shallow” or truly great. Final Fantasy XIII's foundation was built for the frequent distribution of shallow rewards, and I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy that. Sometimes I don’t want to shed tears playing a To the Moon or spend hours customizing my team in a Devil Survivor. I may remember those games more fondly and recommend them wholeheartedly, but I’m happy to have a Final Fantasy XIII when I just want to unwind and watch pretty colors when I level up. 

I still consider Final Fantasy XIII a “bad” game, as it’s not really a “good” game and mediocre doesn’t describe my feelings toward it either. However, I think it’s okay to like a bad game. It’s not exactly worthy of the Final Fantasy name, so for those who expected the game to be better, I absolutely do not blame you. To me, Final Fantasy XIII is like a well made chocolate bar. It’s made with pure ingredients and tastes good, but it’s still candy. It lacks the nutrition of a vegetable or the exquisite flavor of a gourmet dish, but damn it, sometimes I just want some chocolate.  If it was all I ever had, I’d probably get sick, but every once in a while it’s good to have a little snack between meals.
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