Following the announcement of Final Fantasy XV (formerly Final Fantasy Versus XIII), I realized that, aptly dubbed, Squeenix was like a bad boyfriend I kept letting back into my house. A couple of years ago, after the downfall of Final Fantasy XIII, and the lack of announcement for Noctis's game anywhere in sight, I decided that I would never buy another Square Enix game unless it was his. I have kept that promise. I didn't buy any of the Kingdom Hearts filler games, or that rhythm game everyone was so pleased about. I didn't buy Final Fantasy XIII-2. I've been a good little girl.
And yet, as soon as I was finished reading through the various news articles at their E3 spot this year... I'd forgiven them. I'd forgiven them years of sins simply for saying, here, we still love you. Have a Noctis. Better yet, have a Noctis AND a Sora.
I'm going to tell you my Square Enix story, and then I'd like to hear all of yours. Have you been in an abusive relationship with this high-fantasy company? Have you stuck it through and bought all the new releases? Was there a last straw for you too? Let me know!
I wish I could be one of those gamers who could start their love of this epic saga with one of the classics, you know Final Fantasy III or even Final Fantasy VII. Unfortunately, I can’t. To be quite honest, I’ve never even played either of those games. Don’t get me wrong, I know almost everything there is to know about Final Fantasy VII, and whatever I know about three… well I know that from playing Dissidia. My adventure actually began with Final Fantasy X.
Back in those days, I would’ve been labeled a ‘casual’, and rightly so. I only cared about the story that drove the game. Gameplay, quests, leveling. None of that mattered to me. Story and graphics were my passion. And man, back then Final Fantasy X had the best graphics around! That was why I loved them. They were always so beautiful and creative. I believed that each game was a work of art. So I played Final Fantasy X, badly. And I played Kingdom Hearts, not so badly. And eventually I even played Final Fantasy XII (my favorite), and Kingdom Hearts 2, pretty well.
Those were the days where you could call yourself a Square Enix fan and get away with it. You could even say you loved Final Fantasy XII and no one would make fun of you. (Well, maybe only a little.) I sure do have a lot of fond memories of those days. For instance, I was so bad at Final Fantasy X that I never actually beat it. I got all the way to Overdrive Sin with only one character (Auron) dealing in the four digits, and the most damage he could do was about 1200 per hit. With only a few turns to turn the tide, it was impossible for me to beat the game without starting all over again.
There was also one time where I properly set up the Gambits and let my characters run around in that jungle, the one with the cats and the snake/vine monsters (?) for two hours without touching the controller. I think I took a nap, and I woke up and was about five levels higher. I really was a fan back then. I have several limited editions of that game and some of the others. I’ve got the special edition of the VII movie, Advent Children and some art books scattered around.
I think the beginning of the end came during the wait I endured for Kingdom Hearts 2. I diligently and loyally waited the 3 years it took to get that game out, and in a way I was disappointed. The game was short, overly simple and despite being gorgeous, it really turned a lot of the established principles of the first game on its head. I almost felt as if the story was changed last minute. I loved it, all the same, but looking back I realize I felt a little gipped.
If that was the climax, everything after that was the downfall. I’m not sure how many goddamn sequels you can make before people get annoyed. I’m not even sure you can do it and carry on the story properly that way. They’ve got a handy chart on Wikipedia, in case you’re not familiar with how desperate they were to keep the moneymaker going. (Because really, isn’t that all those sequels were? An excuse to capitalize on the franchise? Only a handful of them were actually relevant to the plot, and because they were released on handhelds that not everyone has, not everybody was able to continue the story in a linear and kind fashion.)
That was the problem. They weren’t being fair to the gamer. It was like a trick: Buy this game and you’ll get more stories. Sorry, it’s only for –insert handheld you don’t own here-.
2004 – Chain of Memories (GBA) 2007 – Re: Chain of Memories (PS2) 2008 – coded (mobile) 2009 – 358/2 Days (DS) 2010 – Birth by Sleep (PSP) 2011 – Re:coded (DS) 2012 – Dream Drop Distance (3DS)
At an average retail price of $40-$60 a game nowadays, even for some handhelds, you’re looking at (including the actual first and second game) $320. And that’s not even including all the merch and accessories you probably own. Or strategy guides if you’re into that. It was absurd and it was undoable, and as a fan I had to abandon the franchise because the games all felt halfhearted and hard to get into. Granted, I didn’t play all of them. But this isn’t a discussion about the multi-part KH franchise.
This is about Squeenix.
Finally, they released Final Fantasy XIII and I thought, this is my gateway to Noctis and new and wonderful things! I was supremely excited: the graphics were GORGEOUS! And then I started walking through a tunnel…. And a cave with no turns… and a fortress with no side rooms…. And even a field that seemed pretty roundabout. I had no freedom. Unlike X or XII, you couldn’t just go romping around. You were forced to play through what was essentially an interactive movie. Calling it a game would be generous.
So I began to focus more of my attention on waiting for Versus. And waiting.
And… wait… no… oh sorry…
Until finally, at the last E3, almost seven years later, Versus was announced, and was to become the next installment (squee!) Final Fantasy XV. And at that moment, I forgave every single sin Square Enix had committed to me. I forgave every useless sequel, every bad moment in XIII. I even considered buying XII-2 and Returns. Hah! Me? Buying a Square Enix game? How silly! I haven’t bought one in years!
It’s just amazing that after seven years of anticipation, of letdowns, of unhappy surprises and wasted gameplay hours, that after all this abuse they have shelled out… I will forgive them.
But if this game isn’t the best thing since XII, may Aeris have mercy on your soul friends.
How do you feel about the franchise? Do you have any love/hate stories?