I didn’t like Final Fantasy XIII all that much.
I know the sentiment isn’t all that uncommon; not a lot of people liked that game. Well, that’s not true. A lot of people liked that game, but almost all of them live in Japan. And people in Japan do some weird things. (Damn, and I’ve already used up my allotted amount of tentacle porn jokes for the month.)
But here in America, hating on Final Fantasy XIII is the hip thing to do. In fact, you could probably call it clichéd at this point. Saying, “I don’t really like Final Fantasy XIII” is sort of like saying “I don’t really like going to the dentist,” or “I don’t really like when my ex calls me drunk at 4AM when I have to be at work at 7.” So yeah, I understand that I’m not really making a bold statement by admitting how underwhelmed I was by it.
However, part of the reason I disliked the game so much was that it actually had some potential. You see, I may have been kind of annoyed by how boxed-in and claustrophobic the beginning of the game made me feel, but from a storyline perspective, I was onboard for the opening section.
In fact, there was one point, just a couple hours into the game, where I would even say I was impressed. You see, the gang fights this mechanical Shadow of the Colossus-type monstrosity, and then ends up being branded as l’Cie. This basically means they have a quest, or Focus, to fulfill; if they fail at it or tarry too long, they become monsters, but if they are successful, they turn into crystal and are granted some sort of eternal life.
So we have this motley crew of people who all hate each other, forced to work together to figure out what this Focus is and how to accomplish it before it’s too late. Five character archetypes forced to get along in a situation they have very little control over? Yes, this should have been Final Fantasy’s Breakfast Club.
Actually, the Breakfast Club comparison makes a lot of sense here. You see, Lightning is Molly Ringwald’s character, the chick who doesn’t really have a whole lot of personality. Snow is the obnoxious, showoffy stoner dude. Hope is the annoying scrawny one who gets picked on and struggles with how to make amends with his overbearing father. Sazh is that weird chick, because they both keep an inventory of things in their hair (the chick from The Breakfast Club, a heaping supply of dandruff; Sazh, a chocobo.) Since Fang’s not really a part of the story yet, I guess that means Emilio Estevez has to be Vanille, though this is the point where the comparison admittedly starts to fall apart.
Either way, you have this setup for this fantastic story, where these people are forced to overcome their differences and, if not become friends, at least figure out how to help one another out. Am I the only one who thinks that could have made an awesome Final Fantasy story?
Instead, we get this confused heap of mumbo jumbo where the characters end up on the moon or some shit like that, and they have to destroy Cocoon, or else save it, or else save it while destroying it or something? Okay, I’m going to be honest here: I stopped paying attention shortly after that whole l’Cie incident. But that’s not really my fault; the storyline just stopped making sense. All that setup work they did to introduce this awesome, tension-filled story was completely undone. It almost felt like the writers phoned it in from that point forward.
And that’s what disappointed me the most. I saw potential in Final Fantasy XIII’s story, and really, Final Fantasy games have always been about the story.
I guess what I’m saying is that Final Fantasy XIII should have been The Breakfast Club of Final Fantasy games. The fact that it wasn’t just seems like such a waste of potential, and that makes me sad.
And all this Breakfast Club talk has me wanting go listen to Simple Minds’ “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” on repeat whist eating a Pixy Stix and Cap’n Crunch sandwich. Wait, does any of that stuff even exist anymore? Damn, I miss the 1980s sometimes.