owlmoose: (ff7 - sword)
[personal profile] vieralynn asked about my favorite aspects of the Final Fantasy series, and how these aspects compare to other fantasy/rpg video games.

My favorite aspects of the Final Fantasy games are characters, world building, and story, pretty much in that order. When I sit down to play a new FF, or come back to revisit an old one, these are the things I am looking for, and hoping to sink into. Of course, not every FF game has these in equal measure: the lack of world building in FFXIII kept me from investing as much as I would have liked, for example, and the stories vary in quality quite a bit, and even the games I love most (FFX, X-2, XII, and IV) have a dud character or a flat plot point here and there. But overall, I would say these have been the series' strengths for me.

As I mentioned in my answer to [personal profile] lassarina's question about RPG gameplay, I haven't actually played that many RPGs outside the Final Fantasy series, but the one other series I have invested in, namely Dragon Age, succeeds in all three areas listed above. Excellent NPCs across the board, interesting stories mostly told well, and a fascinating setting in the world of Thedas. So no wonder I've been drawn to it, both as a player and as a fan. Mass Effect is also pretty strong in these respects, especially the storytelling, but I didn't connect as strongly to the characters or the setting as I did to Dragon Age, or my main Final Fantasy fandoms (Spira and Ivalice). (I'm still not really sure why that was. Probably that's another post for another day.)

I think it's pretty safe to say that, so far, I've found the Dragon Age games more compelling across the board, in all three of these areas, than any of the most recent Final Fantasy titles (FFXIII and its sequel). And although I have some hope for FFXV, for various reasons I don't trust Square Enix as much as I used to -- especially not in how they handle characters and character development. It'll be interesting to see if I continue to be a fan of the franchise going forward.
owlmoose: (ff13 - lightning)
Here's the thing, about the recent announcements regarding Lightning Returns.

You all know that I'm a huge FFX-2 fan, so it's not like fanservice or character redesigns or playing dress-up dolls are deal-breakers for me. I might have rolled my eyes a little bit at Lightning Returns and her five million outfits, and I think it's more than fair to ask if a Final Fantasy game with a male protagonist would have ever included such an aspect, but it doesn't bother me really.

This thing with the breast enlargement bothers me. Not just the fact of it, but the way it was presented, the tee-hee-nudge-wink grossness of it, the idea that whether Lightning's breasts jiggle is the most important thing about the game, the fact that it's Lightning being sexualized in this particular way. In her original characterization, Lightning broke out of many of the female character stereotypes that have plagued Final Fantasy games in the past, so to see this change is really frustrating.

Take this news and combine it with the lack of female playable characters in FFXV (which hasn't been officially confirmed but seems highly likely) and the redesign of Stella from this to this, my faith in Squeenix is pretty much shot.

I will still probably buy and play Final Fantasy XV; I will still probably not get Lightning Returns unless I ever manage to finish FFXIII-2, so nothing has changed for me, really. But it's all very disappointing, and getting worse.
owlmoose: (ffx - ifrit)
It's time to sign up for the 2013-14 Chocobo Races, which is a series of monthly challenges run by the moderators of DOINK! (aka Final Fantasy Exchange). Of which I am sort of now one, since I'm co-mod of the DOINK Tumblr account along with [personal profile] vrazdova. And I am now also the fearless captain of Team Ifrit!



The races will kick off officially soon, but signups are already open, and will remain so throughout the challenge. So go sign up! For whichever team (Ifrit) you find most worthy (Ifrit), of course. Don't let the fact that I'm a team captain (Ifrit) influence you in any way. ;)
owlmoose: (kh - roxas)
I don't usually pay much attention to E3 or other events like it -- I figure I'll get my information from the write-ups after the fact. But we were promised information about Dragon Age 3, so I've been keeping an eye on the date, and then my Tumblr dashboard exploded in liveblogs and commentary for the various press conferences, so I ended up following along for most of the day (except for an hour in the afternoon when the construction noise from next door got to be too much to deal with, and then early evening when our power went out). Naturally, with that much data, I came up with some thoughts and impressions, almost all of it making me very happy.

1. First, of course, the DA3 trailer, which has grabbed me completely:



Fall 2014! This is a little disappointing, but on the other hand I would really rather they take their time and make a solid game -- I enjoyed DA2 a lot, but it was clearly rushed, and I wish I had been able to play the game the developers intended. I'm glad they don't seem to be making that mistake here. Also, it will be available for both current and next gen consoles, which I know is good news for a lot of people (although I'm highly likely to buy a PS4 -- see below).

Thoughts and speculation are spoilery for trailer )

2. Also good news: there continues to be absolutely nothing of interest to me that's exclusive to the Xbox, thereby validating my choice not to get one. :P

3. Sony announces that the PS4 will support used games and not require always-on high-speed Internet for single-player games. This is probably the single best announcement out of the entire show: Sony will not be playing along with Microsoft's attempt to destroy the used game market and price lower-income gamers out of their content. As I speculated on Tumblr, I have to wonder whether Sony was originally going to go down that road, then backed off when they saw the uproar that MS provoked over the Xbox One. But it doesn't really matter -- they aren't doing it, and given how much they poked MS in their presser, it seems pretty clear that they aren't going to. Score one for consumers. Does this mean that the console wars as we know them are drawing to a close? Only time will tell. But regardless, I know which company is getting my money.

4. Final Fantasy XV! Which is actually a rebranding of the long (long, long) anticipated FF Versus XIII, a fine decision on Square Enix's part. There's a new trailer, which is very pretty if a little heavy on the dudes. But I'm willing to cut Square a bit of slack in this, at least in the Final Fantasy series, as long as they have good female characters in the game. No release date, but still, more movement on this game than I've seen in a long time.

5. Last but not least: Kingdom Hearts 3. I didn't know how much I wanted this until I saw the teaser trailer, but now I'm a bundle of squee. No release date on this either, of course. I'm going to guess sometime next year, which would suggest that 2014 is going to be really, really busy on the game-playing front.
owlmoose: (ff12 - ashe)
Happy DOINK! reveal, everyone! I totally scored this year, receiving not one, not two, but *three* awesome fics based on my prompts, one regular gift and two Moogle Fluff stories:

Compromise by [personal profile] lassarina - FFXII, Ashe/Balthier post-game.

There the Bones of Us May Lie by [personal profile] justira -- even more Ashe/Balthier, this one set during the game, right after Ridorana.

Warrior's Flame by [archiveofourown.org profile] Jessicamariek -- FFX, Rikku and a proper Al Bhed mourning ritual for Tidus and Auron.

I adore them all and highly recommend that you check them out.

As for me, I wrote two gifts this year:

On the Sidelines - FFX-2, Paine and Lulu. "On Yuna's first visit back to Besaid, Paine and Lulu have an opportunity to get to know each other a little better."

Dreams & Obligaions - FFXII, Ashe/Basch. "Ashe and Basch have been carrying on a secret relationship ever since the war ended. But changes will soon force their secrets to come to light, and Ashe and Basch must decide how to proceed."

Looking for more? The full collection is here. Enjoy!
owlmoose: (ff7 - sword)
I was chatting with a friend about my Final Fantasy X replay (about which more at another time), and she expressed an interest in the series but was wondering where to start -- which makes sense, it's a huge series with no clear starting point since so many of the games stand alone. I have my own thoughts on this subject, of course, but I wonder what the rest of you think.

So here's the question: if you were to rec one and only one Final Fantasy game to someone who has never played anything in the series, which game would it be and why?

My answer behind the cut, so as not to prejudice your comments. )

Update, Tuesday evening: it turns out that my friend doesn't have access to most of the platforms that have FF games made for them, so this discussion is mostly theoretical, alas. But thanks, still, for weighing in, and feel free to keep commenting! It's still an interesting topic and I've enjoyed seeing what everyone has to say.
owlmoose: (coffee)
I was getting coffee at the cafe across the street, as I often do on morning when I have no plans to go out, and someone was playing the piano. This happens so rarely that I forget that the cafe even has a piano, so it look me a moment to realize that the music was live. The song was also familiar, and it took me awhile to place it out of context. Then it hit me: it was the Hymn of the Fayth, from FFX.

By the time I pulled out my phone to inform Tumblr what was happening, the pianist had begun playing Zanarkand, followed by a little bit of Yuna's Theme, and then he moved on to other, less nerdy things (a bit of "Come Sail Away", and some other pop songs, some of the Top Gun theme, a touch of "Heart and Soul"), although there was also an attempt at Roses of May, from FFIX. Then, before I finished my breakfast, he was gone, vanished before I could compliment him on his musical stylings. A bit of random happiness for me, although it makes me a little sad, too, that he will never know that at least one person heard his musical choices and knew them to be a sort of fannish kin.

It's time!

Apr. 1st, 2012 05:37 pm
owlmoose: (ffx2 - yuna)
Time for Doink! (aka Final Fantasy Exchange)



Sign up, spread the word. :D
owlmoose: (cats)
The Final Fantasy Kiss Battle is back!!! Details here. So excited!! :D

(Although I can't get too excited, because I still have to finish my Tumblr DA Valentine's Exchange story, gulp. Must do that first, must do that first... But at least I can leave prompts tomorrow!)

Speaking of Dragon Age and Kiss Battles, don't forget that it's still going strong! Prompts and stories have been trickling in, and I intend to keep actively promoting and modding at least through Saturday. So you have plenty of time, if you haven't gotten a chance to come play yet.
owlmoose: (ffx2 - baralai suspicious)
Finished my [community profile] newgameplus story with time to spare; phew. Now I can finally contemplate other projects. Like the "Old Friends" follow-up, which is nudging me to post it in chapters. And my Mega Flare, which has been sadly neglected lately. And the next round of Chocobo Races!

image of a cactuar and a tonberry from Final Fantasy with the word Versus in bold between them


I have been a very bad tonberry and didn't participate at all last time. /o\ But now that I have a little more breathing room, it's time to come play. I'm eyeing a handful of prompts and thinking of more. Meanwhile, while I was being giddy on a finished project high, it occurred to me that we haven't had one of these in far too long...

The FFX/X-2 Random Pairing List
Round Four


Every bit as ridiculous as you remember it being last time )

As always, no need to claim -- if one or more of these inspires to create, or gives you an idea for a Chocobo Race prompt, feel free! But a link in comments would be excellent.
owlmoose: (ffx2 - crimson squad speech)
1. Final Fantasy folks: [livejournal.com profile] muggy_mountain has a modest proposal regarding feedback and remedying the recent lack thereof in our fandom. Check it out, and join in!

2. Avatar fans, or anyone who appreciates awesome television: KORRA. There is a trailer. It is awesome. I might need to watch it another fifteen dozen times.



More info and lots of pictures from the ComicCon panel here. So excited. Is it 2012 yet?

3. I get a weekend! Last week, I did not, so this is much-needed. I kicked it off yesterday evening with a friend's birthday party -- good company, toasted marshmallows, and maybe too much sangria. Today is quality time with T, and tomorrow I anticipate video games, shopping (I need jeans and shoes), and writing. Should be a good time. Hope you all are enjoying yours.
owlmoose: (ff13 - vanille)
Yes, indeed, we are doing a second round of Mega Flare this year, and signups open today! Check out all the details at [community profile] megaflare_ff. Whee!

As long as I'm here, I might as well finish up the 30 days meme. I've noticed that pretty much no one has managed to draw this out over 30 days, and I see why; most of the questions are too short-answer to really justify a whole entry, and neither do they really invite discussion or debate. But I hate leaving projects undone, so here we go!

Day 21 – Favourite Final Fantasy pairing/ship.

If you have to ask, then you haven't known me very long. The answer is Paine/Nooj. First, last, and always.

More recently, I have also gotten really into Ashe/Balthier and Ashe/Al-Cid, the latter of which is sadly underrepresented in the fandom.

Day 22 – Favourite Final Fantasy summon.

Bahamut in Final Fantasy X. Not only does he kick ass in battle, he's integrated into the story in a way I haven't found another summon to equal. Also, I think his design is beautiful, especially his fayth statue.

Day 23 – Least Favourite Final Fantasy mini game.

The aforementioned butterflies are way up there. Also, monkey matchmaking. Really, Squeenix? Really? I also never got anywhere with the Calm Lands publicity game.

Day 24 – Best Final Fantasy quote.

"This is your world now."

Day 25 – Final Fantasy game you plan on playing (old or new).

Top of my list is Final Fantasy VI. I started it last year, set it aside because I got stuck on a boss battle, then got distracted and never picked it back up. I really want to finish it, though. I'm also looking forward to Versus, if it ever gets finished.

Day 26 – OMG WTF? Final Fantasy moment.

In Final Fantasy VIII, when you learn about their past in the orphanage. That bit of backstory stretches my credulity and breaks my brain. I don't know why that particular thing, of all the ridiculous coincidences that happen in every Final Fantasy game, strikes me so, but it always has. Particularly Irvine's reasons for not 'fessing up. I mean, what?

Day 27 – Best Final Fantasy storyline.

FFX, hands down. I love the story and the way the game tells it.

Day 28 – First Final Fantasy game obsession.

I think I have to give FFX-2 the nod over FFX, if only because that was the game that pulled me into being active in fandom.

Day 29 – Current Final Fantasy game obsession.

Dragon Age Final Fantasy XII. The more I read and write, the more drawn I am into the characters and the universe. So much possibility for interesting futures.

Day 30 – Saddest Final Fantasy character death.

And once again on getting drummed out of the fandom, but my answer to this question has to be Tidus. That ending scene, where Yuna tries to catch him and falls on the deck? Ouch. The way he faces the end of his existence with such calm and grace, never complaining, never angsting about it. He does what needs to be done, and then he says goodbye. I get misty, every time.
owlmoose: (ffx2 - YRP)
Got behind, so I'll get ahead a little bit today.

Day 16 – Your favourite Final Fantasy limit break.

From a sheer "kicking monster ass" perspective, how can it possibly be anyone but Yuna? Grand Summon, Bahamut, Mega Flare, battle over.

Day 17 – Favourite Final Fantasy mini game.

I doubt you will ever meet anyone else in the world who will say this, but the answer is Sphere Break from FFX-2. I love number puzzles, and this is one I both enjoy and am good at.

Day 18 – Favourite Final Fantasy opening sequence.

Depends on what is meant by this. If it refers to the opening images before you load the game, then the winner, by a long shot, is FFX-2. I neglected to mention "Memory of Lightwaves" when I answered the favorite music question, which was a terrible oversight that I correct here; it is one of the most beautiful songs in the series, and I used to just let the credits run. And I love the images, too, the stylized representations of the different characters and events of the game.

On the other hand, if we're talking about the opening FMV that launches the story, my winner is Final Fantasy XII. Epic in scope, it introduces not just the story and the characters but an entire world.

Day 19 – Best Final Fantasy outfit.

I don't really have a good answer for this question. I like some of the FFX-2 dresspheres a lot -- Trainer, Berserker, and Alchemist come to mind. Some of the prettier outfits, like Lulu's, are entirely impractical for battle, but the practical ones can be boring. I guess I could be predictable and say Auron. Billowing red coats are always fashionable.

Day 20 – Best Final Fantasy hair.

This is even harder. I can come up with lots of bad hair, but good hair is much harder to come by. I guess I'll say Fran -- not exactly practical, but boy is in gorgeous. Lightning has lovely hair, too.

The rest of the questions. )
owlmoose: (ffx2 - paine)
I drove to Los Angeles and back this weekend. If I'm remembering correctly, this is a trip I haven't made since 2004; I've been to LA since then, but always with T, and he much prefers to fly. It's true that flying is, in most respects, more convenient, but I do enjoy making the drive from time to time. There's nothing quite like that moment where you pull onto I-5, step on the gas, and punch it up to 95 MPH.

It was a fun trip, featuring college friends, a Back to the Future marathon, five baby kittens, and a lot of tasty food. A fine way to spend a holiday weekend.

Meme time:

Day 14 – Favourite Final Fantasy male character.

Day 15 – Favourite Final Fantasy female character.


When I first looked over the questions on the meme, I did a sort of mental triage -- which would be difficult to answer, which would be easy, which would merit some significant writing time -- and my automatic thought upon seeing these was "How on earth am I going to choose?"

Then I thought for another thirty seconds and realized that these are probably the easiest answers on the meme. Favorite male character: Auron, Final Fantasy X. Favorite female character: Paine, Final Fantasy X-2. Not just because I adore them both (for reasons I have detailed before, most notably here), but because they were the first characters I was ever driven to write about, the first characters I ever spent days and weeks and hundreds of thousands of words fleshing out in my own head. How is it even possible to love another character more after that kind of experience?

The rest of the questions. )
owlmoose: (ff13 - raines)
Day 12 – Final Fantasy game you’ve played more than 5 times.

I'm not sure whether I've actually played FFX or FFX-2 more than five times beginning to end, but it's certainly possible. Especially with X-2 -- I know I've played that one at least four times in its entirety. But sometimes when I replay I don't start at the top, so that makes it harder to keep track.

I haven't replayed FFX in at least five years. Perhaps this is something to rectify.

Day 13 – Your favourite version of Cid.

Can I pick Al-Cid? Please, pretty please?

FFXII is interesting in this respect, I think, because instead of having one definitive Cid, we have sort-of Cids: Al-Cid, Dr. Cid, and Balthier, who is a Cid in all but name. Now, Balthier is my favorite character in FFXII (yeah, I know, get in line), but I think it would be really stretching the point to use him as my answer to this question. And so we return to Al-Cid, and yes, okay, we never see him so much as set foot on an airship, but... no?

Okay, fine. If we're being strict in terms of our definition of who counts as a Cid, I choose Cid Raines from Final Fantasy XIII. I find his whole backstory and character arc quite compelling. because spoilers ) I want to know more. And someday, I may finally be compelled to write it for myself.

The rest of the questions. )
owlmoose: (writing - slave)
Okay, so remember how I said at the start of the month that I was in consumption mode and shouldn't hold super high expectations for myself? Yeah, so much for that. 26,694 words this month, with a week to go, and inspiration still running high.

This happened last year, too, at just about the same time, thanks to a plethora of excellent FFEX prompts. This year? I think it's pretty clear who's to blame. 18,000 words in less than a month over three Dragon Age stories. It's been a long time since I've felt a creative drive quite this strong. And, as ever, I love it.

Still, while new fandoms come, the old ones aren't going anywhere. Even if I'm having a little trouble with the balance right now...

Day 10 – Best Final Fantasy scene ever.

Don't think I can narrow this down to just one. I've already mentioned the opening cutscene of the Assault on Bevelle in FFX. Auron's final scene is a favorite as well, and I will never stop being bitter that it didn't rate a full-blown FMV. The Crimson Squad confrontation beneath Bevelle in FFX-2 is my favorite scene in that game, closely followed by "Your plan sucks." Another cut scene I really love is the FMV that opens Chapter 12 in Final Fantasy XIII. It might be my favorite action sequence to watch in the series.

Day 11 – Final Fantasy game that disappointed you.

The best answer to this has to be FFVII. It is so influential, and so beloved, that I think my expectations for it were probably set beyond anything that was reasonable. So to come out of it with a largely "meh" reaction was a disappointing experience.

The rest of the questions. )
owlmoose: (BMC - cloisters)
Ah, jury duty. The sound of news programs in the background and the tapping of laptop keyboards as we wait to be called and hear our fate. The jury waiting room at SF Civil Court is actually pretty comfortable, with decent wireless and lots of outlets. I don't know whether to hope I spend a lot of time here today or not.

Updated: The correct answer was not. Free to leave after less than an hour, that's the way I like it.

Meanwhile, another day of meme.

Day 08 – Favourite Chocobo Version.

It's got to be this little guy: Sazh's pet chocobo chick from FFXIII.

So cute, such a great foil for Sazh, and I enjoyed the dimension it added to the story.

Day 09 – Favourite Moogle Version.

Final Fantasy IX. MogNet is one of my favorite sidequests in any FF game -- I enjoy a good excuse to run around the world and see it from a different point of view -- and the idea of a messenger network of Moogles really tickles me. We also get to see many different personalities on view, from world-traveler Stiltzkin to Eiko's faithful Mog, which is a great way to develop an entire moogle society.

The rest of the questions. )
owlmoose: (ffx2 - yuna)
Yay, surprise work on a Saturday, my favorite.

Day 06 – Favourite part of your favourite Final Fantasy game.

From Final Fantasy X, The Assault on Bevelle.



The video above is just the FMV, but really I love the whole sequence, from the airship zooming out of the sky through Yuna's wedding, her subsequent leap from the tower and the gang's escape. All the music suits the scene so well, beginning to end; we get some great character interactions -- including Auron calling out Kinoc; and Yuna has one of her crowning moments of awesome to cap the whole thing off. Whenever I play through it, I want to cheer.

Day 07 – Least favourite part of your favourite Final Fantasy game.

The @#%$&*! butterfly game. I'm not so crazy about the chocobo races, either.

The rest of the questions. )
owlmoose: (ffx - braska)
Moving to a schedule of multiple questions every few days, for now. Maybe two, maybe three, depending on which questions go best together.

Day 03 – Your favourite Final Fantasy theme/song.

This is a hard call because there is so much FF music I love. "Zanarkand" has always haunted me, from the very first moment of FFX. The Guadosalam theme, as well, and "Moment of Truth", which is the music that plays before Operation Mi'ihen. Then there's "Terra's Theme", and the music from time compression in FFVIII, and the Great Crystal theme in FFXII.

But then I crack open my iTunes and remember: oh yes, FFIX. From the opening theme to "Vamo' alla Flamenco" (which I loved so much that, when I was watching T play the first time, I would beg him to play Chocobo Hot & Cold, and then when I finally played on my own, I probably ran through the Zidane and Blank swordfight twenty times just so I could keep hearing it), from the frog hunting music to "Roses of May" to "Not Alone"... It is my favorite FF soundtrack, hands down, and if I had to pick a single favorite track it would probably be "Vamo' alla Flamenco" -- but I don't know, ask me tomorrow, I might say something else.



Day 04 – Your favourite Final Fantasy party from your favourite game.

FFX: the entire team. I was obsessive about switching people in and out of battle so that everyone could get all the XP, and I also liked the tactics I could employ as a result: letting each character play to their strength, and shield the weak sides of the others.

Day 05 – Your favourite Final Fantasy City/Town.

I don't know that I have one, really; I tend to think more in terms of worlds and universes than individual locations. This might be colored by the fact that my first game was FFX, which was less about each town and city and more about the journeys between them -- you're not wandering around on a faceless world map, you're actually experiencing the pathways and the trails and the rivers and the mountains along the way. So maybe my answer is Spira, which continues to be my favorite videogame world of all time.

The rest of the questions. )

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