CoN 20th Anniversary: 1997-2017
Here there be Spoilers

Posted: 30th November 2014 18:34

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SOLDIER
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Believe it or not, the story is actually fairly coherent up to a point. The exact moment that it stops bothering to make any sort of sense is right at the end, when the game fails to report to you the outcome of the battle. At all.

It's very deep and symbolic and GOD WOULD IT HAVE KILLED THEM TO WRITE ONE LAST LINE OF DIALOGUE TO CLEAR THIS UP? Nope!

Instead they waited until Advent Children came out to tell us, "Yep! Meteor was destroyed, everything's fine...except the LIFESTREAM IS GIVING US EBOLA"

Really just...ugh. It's not even a very good Gainax ending. And VIII's is even worse, they stop making sense halfway through Disc 3. Same with every story since, as they've progressed into making less and less of a point with each new numbered entry.

Was it just childish idealism in me that believed stories existed in order to make some kind of point or carry some kind of idea? Because the way stories are getting written for video games these days, it's like they think it's a story just because it has words.

Granted, FF6 isn't exactly Oscar-winning screenwriting. But at least it gets to the ever-loving point! It gets on with it, you know? And there's all kinds of branching things and lines that you won't hear people say unless so-and-so is or is not in your party. There's so much that's affected by the choices the player makes. This kind of thing isn't quite as prevalent in the Cloud-centered world of the next game.

That really is the dividing factor between VI and VII. VI's cast is de-centralized; it can basically be about any of the characters you want it to (though Locke is the one with the most dialogue, if you ever wondered).

VII, on the other hand, keeps the story and the gameplay tightly focused on Cloud and his actions. I find this kind of a step back for the series, and one that would continue being replicated in every sequel. They're willing to change everything about Final Fantasy but this one element, that of having a central character. Why?

I thought it was a marvelous idea. It made the world of Final Fantasy VI seem a lot more deep, similar to how a person expects a cloak to always contain a man, or how a mirror makes a room look bigger. Since the game can be interpreted from any of the characters' point of view, the plot becomes much more intricate a thing to speculate on and get immersed in. Each character is interconnected to the others in a sort of lattice, and this gives the story layers of depth.

Having one "star" and several less-developed characters, I think, sort of comes off as a lazy way to write the series. If there's a Final Fantasy XVI, it should reuse the decentralized cast concept.

Footnote:
Also, the villain is as much a character in the story as any of the main characters. In a way, the game could almost be seen from Kefka's perspective as well, the antithesis to the iconic RPG hero in every way. The traditional hero in an RPG is out to save the world from destruction, or darkness, or evil, or poor manners, or whatever. Kefka is on a quest to destroy the world! As far as he's concerned, the game's about HIM.


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Alfador only likes me.
Post #207789
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Posted: 7th January 2015 15:42
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Returner
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It's extraordinarily difficult for me to become immersed within modern video game narratives. Not sure if this is due to my age or by being burned a few times too many by shoddy plot executions. Prob'ly a bit of both.

Maybe this is due to some of the mistakes made between VII, VIII and IX. Oh, sure, they all kinda wrap up nicely in their own special way, but each leaves the player feeling a bit cheated at conclusion. VII's "huh?" ending. VIII's godawful twists ("we were ALL at the orphanage!") , IX's lackluster, disjointed and snowballed finale.

Each title starts out wonderfully. The player invests hours and hours into these characters and their arcs, laughing with them, training with them, trying to sympathize with their conflicting characteristics and motivations, Then they flip a table, say "HAHA", and screw us on resolution. Theories and speculation aside, they roll out the red carpet and bring out the nice china...only for the player to be told "the kitchen's in there, figure out what to cook and eat yourself."

I myself enjoy a nice fan theory once in a while, dun gimme wrung. But when I need a degree in philosophy and a Freudian understanding of psychology to get the friggen story or arrive at a sense worthy conclusion, simply because the game doesn't have the wherewithal or balls to actually say what the heck it's trying to say...is when I get pissed. Deep is cool. Conflicting is great, yeah. But murky, behind the stained glass, "weird and confusing for the sake of weird and confusing" resolutions are not. I find them lazy, their points hackneyed, more often-than-not sickeningly preachy and ultimately, sadly, predictable, .We're given no options or voice in the matter...which isn't that a large part of why we play games?

I find it tough to continuously care about game characters or their "struggles", because games no longer seem to let the player reach their own conclusions by their own means. Everything is streamlined, and when points aren't hidden behind the curtain, they are beaten into you with corked bats. There's no subtlety either way, nowadays.

Which is why VI and say, CT resonate so strongly with me. They start out innocently enough, typical fantasy/adventure kinda fare. Almost cliche. But then the player's characters/world are utterly decimated, friends separated, or heroes killed. Suddenly, rules have changed. The games stop holding your hand, the focus shifts from what the game characters are saying or doing, to how the player themselves can fix the characters predicaments. The WoR scenario is the best example, or the multiple endings available in CT. It's up to the player to fix everything, to reunite. Or not. That's the beauty of it, The player is in near complete control as to how things turn out for the characters and the eventual ending. Wanna kill Lavos in the first hour? Bam. You can. Wanna leave Strago a mindless puppet? Go right ahead. VII and such leave no room for these kinda options. Like you said, it's all about Cloud, all about Squall...there's no star figure in VI, or in the case of CT, a star who is decidedly boring and damned without his supporting cast.

Take Cloud away from VII...and what do you have left?

The thing is, the narrative of VI and CT (usually) eventually angers the player. They confuse, sure, and both have their weak spots. But the anger motivates. It drives the player. VII and such attempt such, but in such a round-a-bout way that, even if the player does reach a sense of fulfillment and conclusion, it's not by their doing. It's by how the game railroads said player into said conclusion.

VI and CT make many mistakes, but as you said, they at least stated their points without fear. They gave the player the freedom to reach said points by whatever means they found suitable, or enough options to give the player at least the illusion of freedom. Which, sadly, is what so many narrative games are missing and in dear need of.

This post has been edited by Daj on 7th January 2015 15:48
Post #208024
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Posted: 8th March 2015 20:44

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Black Mage
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I can understand that. I'm not gonna post a huge thing here, hopefully (no need to waste more of your time than necessary on my two cents) but looking at all the newer Final Fantasy games, you're making a decent point. The cast of this particular game (VI) are spread out, and very rarely will you be confined to the "main" character, Terra (or even Locke). You tend to have a choice in the matter.
If I remember VII correctly, you usually have Cloud in your party at any given time.

Then there's the villains...
While I liked Sephiroth, he seemed more stereotypically evil than Kefka.
I know that Sephiroth had a purpose, but the atmosphere makes it feel like he just does most of what he does for the sake of being evil, and to satiate his Oedipus complex. Not to mention that his dialogue is particularly monotonous...
Kefka, on the other hand, doesn't just do bad things for the sake of being evil. He does bad things for the sake of sadism and gaining power.

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"I'll be judge, I'll be jury," said cunning old Fury:
"I'll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.
Post #208267
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Posted: 9th March 2015 08:57

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Chocobo Knight
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I'm sure you're aware of tropes and cliches in fiction.

Heros can't die or villains take over the world and ruin it. The villians' job is to undo good in non-philisophical sense. It's up to the heros to reduce the damage.

If things go perfectly for one side or the other or both, then there's really no reason to write about it. It leads into a topic about it.

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Post #208276
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