Wednesday, March 30
Brought to you by a web server you all know and love,* it's the Skeptic Society Web Forum. Their main site (hosted on a different server) is at Skeptic.com.
* Little hint: this link also works.
Tuesday, March 29
How did it come to this?
High Summoner Yuna (that's me), destroyer of Sin (that's Sin, the giant turtle thing, not sin in general), bringer of the Eternal Calm, saviour of Spira, turning the Fayth of the Final Aeon, the most sacred place in all the land, into a monkey farm...
And I forgot to save the first time, and I had to go and do it all over again! Darn monkeys.
Yes, kids, I've finished Final Fantasy X and moved on to Final Fantasy X-2 (which in the way of these things was discounted by 50% three days after I bought it).
I could have finished FF X much sooner if I hadn't gotten distracted by side quests and stat-maxing. And if you haven't played it already, I'd recommend that (if you do come to play it) you don't get distracted by side quests and stat-maxing. Okay, so the battle with Lady Yunalesca was easy exactly because I'd been running around collecting goodies and building up my team... But the battle with Yunalesca is supposed to be one of the high points of the game, not Splat! Oh, she's dead.
Not entirely my fault, though: In the international version of the game, they've introduced new monsters - the Dark Aeons - and if you're approaching the end of the game and want to go back and collect something you've missed, you'll run into these bastards, and they're flippin' unkillable. I looked up one helpful guide on the net, and it read like the recipe for rabbit stew: First, be about twice as powerful as you currently are. Then...
I didn't need to face down the Dark Aeons, as it happens. They don't really add anything to the game, and since they are actually more powerful than the final enemy, they rather distort your expectations and goals.
Anyway, that said, Final Fantasy X is the best computer game I've played in some time, and has probably the best storyline of any game I've played. I can see why people are (or were) so fanatical about it - there's always a Yuna or three in the cosplay contest at any anime convention. After a visually impressive (if slightly odd) start, it really sets its hooks into you. By the time you've reached the end, you've spent fifty or more hours with the characters, and seen them sacrifice friends and love and eventually themselves in order to save the world. It's not a happy ending either, nor should it be; but it's a good ending.
It's a pity Yuna's such a cabbage. Late in the game she's developed into probably the most powerful force in all of Spira (with the exception of the Dark Aeons, who I will pretend don't exist), and she's still a complete... Cabbage.
Final Fantasy X-2 takes up where Final Fantasy X left off. It's the first true sequel in the series, and for good reason. When you've saved the world, what else is there left to do?
X-2 answers this by being a much more light-hearted game than X. It's like one big side-quest. It doesn't have the same depth or impact as the original, but having Yuna running around dressed as a moogle handing out balloons, or the great chocobo chase (darn thing got away!), or the monkey farm incident, or the massage scene... Ooh. Aah. Oh! Yes! Yes! There! YES! Crunch!
It does have a certain absurd charm. And there's also a more serious game in there, which I'm just now getting to.
If you like role-playing games and haven't played Final Fantasy X, do. If you liked Final Fantasy X, you might also enjoy X-2, but it is a very different game. The combat system takes some getting used to - it's real-time rather than turn-based. The skills system is also completely different, and again takes some getting used to. X-2 has something called "dress spheres", which are basically like character classes in Dungeons and Dragons. You have a Warrior dress sphere, a Thief dress sphere, a Dark Mage dress sphere and so on. Each of your characters can eventually have all the abilities from all the dress spheres, but can only have one sphere active at a time. Switching dress spheres in the middle of a battle is awkward at first, but you are rewarded with a classic mahou shoujo* transformation sequence. Though they don't get naked.
And the game has Yuna wearing hotpants and packing pistols.** She's still something of a cabbage, though.
Anyway, the point is, in as much as this has a point: These games are running on a Playstation 2, which has a 300MHz processor. If the significance of this doesn't strike you, I'll be exploring it in more detail in Part 2, coming soon to this blog.
P.S. I'm back.
* Japanese, literally "magical girl". Think Sailor Moon.
** And optionally, pistils. It's a pun, not an error. The FF translation team should be spanked.