FF13 heading to X-Box 360 brought a small insight to the bizarre relationship we gamers have with Squaresoft's business practices. In regards to FF7, it held a sway over gamers to jump Nintenship onto the PS1 decks, created a near decade (and somewhat ongoing) wait for Square to return back to Nintendo. It established a new graphical order and design for games in the series. In regards to FF1, it's release history across multiple platforms and multiple times reflects it's historical importance in gaming history; truly a game for the people regardless of console loyalty. In regards to FF6 it represents a pinnacle of 2D 16-bit RPGing, a crown jewel representation of Nintendo's golden age; and being the last flagship FF to hit Nintendo, is possibly the reason why FF1-FF5 have gotten advance or remakes out of some sort guilt licensing out of leaving Nintendo when they did. Having a huge ass user base probably helped to, but still it's nice to think that way.
With remakes of FF3 and FF4 released on the DS, it might be safe to assume that continuing the idea of this retro-loyalty Square-Enix might follow suit with FF5 and FF6 as well. This would have been the best consolation prize that any fan of the pre-FF7 games would enjoy. It strikes a peculiar balance between catering to nostalgia via keeping some elements such as super deformed chibi characters and adherence to the original plot; but also gives us an illusionary graphical remake by modeling the characters after their Amano designs rather than the SNES in battle representations. For most fans of the artwork who could only glimpse at the protagonists in their intended form via the menu screen or only appreciate the art by the enemy sprites; I imagine it was a treat to finally see the other side of the battle line being just as artistically expressed.
Lord Cecil, you certainly look more badass than being the size of one tile.
However Square-Enix has always been the tease. Just as we were comfortable with the idea that the FF3DS engine is the best that they will offer in terms of graphical representation of the pre-FF7 games, Dissidia changed a few things both for the better and somewhat for the worst. Aside from a tech demo, and her FF Anthology appearance FF6's Terra was represented in quality 3D, along with Bartz from FF5 and what we could easily say an upgraded version of Cecil's FF4DS model which already featured cinematics that stirred up dreams for a more real-time offering on par with current gen productions.
See what a real cash grab effort looks like?
As some of the A-List games become more brown and grey it only reinforces me standing in the camp that games are getting far too realistic nowadays. Why push the boundaries of realism when you have at your disposal to create anything you want or want the players to see. At least with games like Loco Roco, Okami, Team Fortress 2, Patapon and other games we are beginning to see more developers trying for something more stylistic than realistic. In fact since the time I wrote this rant, many games had went to a non-realism route, with even some games changing midstream to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Borderlands before and after art style change
That's why I was always sort of torn whether any of the pre-FF7 games should ever be remade because in the end we'd just get photo-realism as opposed to something that rivaled our imagination at the time of playing those games. Granted the DS intro cinematics and Dissidia certainly did an exceptional job of CGing Cecil, Bartz, Terra etc. into the 3D realm and yet that isn't something I necessarily want to represent the moments or characters. Square-Enix basically painted themselves in a corner with FF:Advent Children because now if they ever remake FF7, the *have* to use FF: Advent Children quality and design to appease the fans. I guess FF7 is suited for that, but like I said not so much for the pre-FF7 games.
I'm a coward. A coward who denies his true art-style origins.
Last year's film festival had a film called Ten Nights of Dreams and it left me with the hugest smile on my face in a long time. It's basically a collection of short films that has 10 different dreams directed by 10 different directors. I didn't know what to expect from it and as I sat in the dark by the 6th film I believed this film was beginning to be a waste of a ticket. But once the title of the 7th dream and the credits for the directors shown I got a chill down my spine. I saw Yoshitaka Amano's name.
Now forewarned the dialogue is shit as is the voice acting which is the only one in English. The story itself is alright, but the ONLY thing that is important is the visuals.
I've always wondered if they could ever make a game using his style of water color and wispy artwork which is just awesome to see; but actually seeing it live, breath and be in MOTION is just a fanboy's dream come true. Even though the voices were grinding on my nerves, the visuals are so breathtaking and I was so surprised by this that I totally ignored it. This reminds me of when the artist Dave McKean decided to direct MirrorMask who also had an art style that I would have loved to see in motion. Problem was it did seem a bit lower on the quality end in terms of the CG. However with Amano, you can see they went all out to make his stuff totally true to what he usually does. It looks less CG and more like a living water color moving before your eyes. You want to see crazy stalagmite towers? You got it. Bizarre creatures from Amano's mind? You also got it. A little moogle cameo? Well there you go. Even though the animation is a bit stiff and not as smooth as most other CG films out there, the visuals totally make up for it.
If the Pre-FF7 games were ever to be remade on consoles this this is the animation style that I hope they will use. That art style is much better suited for those games than the more photorealistic FF7-Advent children application for the FF7 onwards games (excluding FF9 of course). Granted Dissidia did highlight the glaring weakness of Amano's artwork; the waif-ness of the leads which compared with their post FF7 breathren; look actually more feminine than Nomura's designs (if that were actually possible) and in contrast Nomura's designs of the Pre-FF7 characters looked more manly than their Amano counterparts. However if you are still a fan of his artwork, it certainly is a treat to behold. This was seriously the best thing I've seen at the film festival because it was such a surprise for my game geek self.
Seriously though, I just hope that Square Enix gotten wind of Amano's project because this might be the most awesome way to really show the fanboys they actually give a shit past remaking FF4, 5 and 6 on the FF3DS engine. If they gave FFTactics a bit of a facelift to have the cutscenes be reflective of Yoshida's artstyle, they should at LEAST consider to make some of the games reflective of Amano's style. However you be the judge, whether you hate it or love it, it's still amazing how far 3D animation has come and how far it still has yet to go.
In the end we might just accept the consulation prize for what we expect Square-Enix to do, but after seeing this short film I say fuck that consulation prize and so should you.
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About DarwinMayflowerone of us since 1:19 AM on 10.31.2008
Stuck between uneducated hardcore gaming nerd and pseudo intellectual, I've found my ego has not be recognized as much as I want (i.e. by everyone). Why not continue my rants in a more specifically highlighted area in which I could get some actual discourse, rather than an ignorance of my rants or creating an atmosphere of intimidation which results in no discussion at all. I love talking about games, I love games. Why not put it to good use?