Final Fantasy XIII was the worst game I’ve ever played.

I don’t like being all absolute like that, but it’s true, simply because the game was actually fun at some parts!

I bought the game for sixty bucks on its release date from Amazon high off of hype and damn if I regret doing that.  The game is atrociously slow to get to its fun parts, where there were about two of, and it definitely didn’t help that the game:

– had the kind of narrative that managed to fit into the stereotype of what people bitch about JRPGs having (a group of people fighting their fate to save their world), while having the same annoying method of storytelling with characters forcing lines out that were supposed to be deep but instead awkward.  All of this being done in many cutscenes, and I can sit comfortably through cutscenes as long as I don’t have to question things like “Who the hell would say that?” too many times.  I’m not expecting reality in my games, but if there are going to be civilized people in it, at least have them not act like Saturday morning cartoon characters talking about how friends should stick together and all that gooey, mushy mess every time the game decided to stop putting monsters in our way.

-started off ridiculously boring for someone who wasn’t new to RPGs.  When playing a new game, I want to be able to get a grasp on the mechanics quick and easy so I’ll be able to have fun with it for the entirety of the game provided it wasn’t stale and repetitive.  The battle system in FFXIII took too long to kick in, and this was made unbearable by how there was no exploration in the beginning.  No out of the way items.  No unique or odd NPC experiences.  Hell, there was no liveliness at all since all you’re doing is trying to escape from some soldiers, which ended up working against the game because this urgency lasted for about nine of the thirteen chapters.  The game only consists of you controlling one character running forward, running into or getting jumped by enemies, cue transition into battle screen, then you control your selected party leader and guide your two AI-controlled partners.  Later in the game, you get to add hunting monsters down.  That’s Final Fantasy XIII.

What makes this game the worst game I’ve ever played, however, was how the fighting would actually get fun at around the fourth chapter, despite the game still holding your hand at this point with the mechanics (you have no opportunity to change your party until chapter nine).  It was about the time Lightning learned Launch and I started getting better with Paradigm Shifting when I was thinking “Oh hells yes!” in battles.  But I ended up skipping running past some monsters in order to get through parts because some people in Square Enix still believe entering a separate screen for fighting keeps people interested in video games, especially when there’s numerous monsters on the field.  Because of this, I hit a difficulty spike at around chapter eleven, where I was about to quit the game because it was like I was being punished for getting bored as opposed to the game actually keeping me entertained.  This was when the thought of me paying sixty bucks kicked in and the fact that I beat every Final Fantasy game I get, so I ended up running backwards from the end of chapter 11 to where it began to grind on monsters and do monster hunting missions, then I proceeded to destroy everything until the end of the game.  That’s when I fought the final boss, which was another way of Square punishing me for not destroying everything in my path up to this point and mocking me for my previous grinding attempt.  The battle was dramatic, but that was shot and killed when it took two hours.  However, the ending was awfully nice, it being 4 AM when I beat the game and birds chirping outside in the arriving dawn.

Final Fantasy XIII should not have had any good parts to it.  If it didn’t, it would’ve been easier to just get a refund or sell the game.  That way, it would’ve just been a  horrible game.  But to have fun parts, then punish me for having that fun turn to boredom twice not only makes Final Fantasy XIII the worst game I’ve ever played, but it makes it an asshole.

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Why Majora’s Mask is the best game in GameFAQ’s Game of the Decade semifinals.

GameFAQs is having a Game of the Decade contest to finish off 2010.  The final four games in the running are Final Fantasy X, Fallout 3, Super Smash Bros Brawl, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

It’s an interesting line-up.  Personally, I would’ve just picked Resident Evil 4 and be done, but there’s not much to do about it.  However, I do think Majora’s Mask is the best game out of those four for two reasons:

1. The game design in Majora’s Mask was brave, fairly original, and managed to work.

Repeating the same three days over and over again sounds bad on paper. Majora’s Mask managed to pull it off. Firstly, it fit the theme of time travel. Secondly, it fit the theme of preventing impending doom. The player would always start off in Clock Town right under the Clock Tower and watch the carpenters set up for the New Year’s Festival, but every three day sequence would play out differently – notably by completing a dungeon by the final day, and then going back in time to begin your quest to complete the next one. Going along with the theme of impending doom, the player always felt the pressure of having to complete their quest before the moon fell. Given the power to slow down time, it was the perfect mix of having enough power to triumph over the dungeons while making the player feel powerless against the moon, or rather, fate itself.

Along the way, the player could interact with Termina folk and sometimes impact what would happen to the characters in the next day. The effect this could have on the player would be downright touching sometimes.

2. Majora’s Mask nailed its intended themes better than the other games in the GotD finals

Brawl’s a fun game to play, but the Subspace Emissary felt more like a chore than an adventure with famous Nintendo characters. Fallout 3 felt more barren than it was supposed to, namely with the characters being copied straight from Oblivion.

Final Fantasy X’s fault, while not as major as the previously mentioned two, was that it carried the same worn theme of freedom of choice with fate while not doing anything particularly special with it.

To put it bluntly, people get screwed over in Majora’s Mask. The most obvious example is with the Deku butler in agony over his son, who’s stuck as a tree in the end. The fact this was even shown in the ending after Link’s victory over Majora meant Nintendo wanted the players to feel sorrow. And then add that the very next to final scene has Link back in the Lost Woods looking for Navi. Anyone who’s played Ocarina of Time would know the Lost Woods turns non-Kokiri into monsters, and Link doesn’t have Navi’s magical protection anymore.

Then there were a few subtle events that went along with the grim theme. Link is the sole witness of two ill-fated lovers as they bond in suicide, preparing for the moon to crash into the town. Link also travels to the eastern Ikana Canyon, where the undead roam, which in itself is depressing because everyone there simply wants to be put to rest.

And finally, every success done in the game is short lived, yet the player has evidence that they did in fact succeed. Got rid of the never-ending winter that the Gorons suffer through? The player get the remains of the boss in the temple as well as the new magic and tools. All the snow melts, too. However, the player has to go inevitably go back in time to avoid getting a Game Over, and everyone’s issues that the player solved in the previous three day sequence have returned. The player still has their upgrades, but every problem has returned. The Gorons are back to freezing to death again.

It’s OK to hate Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is the franchise that made it cool to go Disneyworld hopping alongside Donald Duck and Goofy while running into noteworthy Squaresoft (now Square-Enix with all its negative connotations) characters. 2002 brought about the titular Kingdom Hearts, the first game of the series, and there are currently KH games out in the world. Below is a list of them. The games with asterisks have never been released in North American soil because the western world is unworthy based on what the overlords at Square-Enix say.

Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix*
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Kingdom Hearts: Re-Chain of Memories
Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix*
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
Kingdom Hearts: Coded*
Kingdom Hearts: Re-Coded

Sure, three games. Soon to be four since Birth By Sleep is getting its own Final Mix in January. And yes, Coded isn’t even given attention and Re-Coded looks a lot better, but the real attention should be drawn to the Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix came across as a special edition of the vanilla version. Nothing overwhelmingly different was put into the game. The Japanese version of the original Kingdom Hearts had less than the North American version (A secret boss fight with the one-winged fangirl’s dreamboat – Sephiroth and a short teaser video of events that’ll occur in the games released 4 and more years later).

The Japanese fans hated this and wondered why the fat westerners got more content. So Square made Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix and everybody was happy. The biggest addition to the game was the redone and extended teaser video, which American fans ate up on Youtube.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories came out in 2004 and received love and hate, despite arguably having the most creative gameplay and very intriguing plot. It was on the Game Boy Advance, so people who bothered playing the game used it to get Kingdom Hearts dosage until Kingdom Hearts 2 came out.

And then….Kingdom Hearts 2 was released.

Playing and beating Kingdom Hearts 2 for the first time made many flaws of the first game obvious to me, yet the sequel felt almost like a downgrade. Mashing X in KH1 managed to be more enjoyable than watching Sora, the playable character, go through Quick-Time Events with just one button and do all sorts of cool things without your control. However, the worst parts were how overall KH2 was easier than 1, the sense of exploring and finding new items, weapons, and secret bosses was almost gone, and what used to be a charming fairy tale with the right amount of subtle detail was a turned into a debacle. The direction of KH2’s design took too casual of an approach. This is obvious when you find every treasure chest right in front of you, as if the player would get frustrated having to actually find things.

Thinking about it, the differences between Mass Effect 1 and 2 are very reminiscent of the differences between Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. The first games were fun despite their flaws and the sequels were made with a more streamlined experience in mind. This meant that the player didn’t have to think when playing the game. At all. If you manage to juggle an enemy into the air, you won the game. In ME2’s case, you shoot…a lot. However, ME2 was far more enjoyable than KH2 but that’s a whole ‘nother story!

Kingdom Hearts 2 also expanded on the lore started by the first game, as a sequel should. But what was revealed made me and a whole ton of other people (don’t lie, nobody’s judging you except for those crazy message board folks who come up with theories about the series) feel stupid. Seriously, too many things happened in the game that were A) weren’t explained and would be explained in future games which took place before the events in KH2, or B) weren’t explained clearly enough and players would have to rely on the word of the Kingdom Hearts god himself, creator and zipper fetishist Tetsuya Nomura.

It’s bad when someone reads a book and has to ask the author what was going on in chapter x or in paragraph y. It’s TERRIBAD when the author fullheartedly welcomes the confusion, and the fans somehow take lack of information and call it ‘depth’. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are deeper than all of the Kingdom Hearts games, and I am huge geek over both series.

So it turned out that Square-Enix are Magnificent Bastards and Kingdom Hearts 2:Final Mix+ is released in Japan for about 70 USD. The package contained both Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix and a PS2 remake of the GBA Chain of Memories cleverly called Re:Chain of Memories.

Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix is the main reason why I think it’s okay for people to hate the series. I don’t care if you stop reading after this paragraph. I probably should’ve had this as the first sentence of the article, but then I’d have to explain to the entire world why while doing more backtracking than you do in a 2D Metroid game.

Where Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix added a few shiny things, Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix was a whole new and better game over vanilla KH2. A new difficulty was added that capped HP gained through leveling up, and gave the option to not gain experience points at all in order to do level 1 runs. New cutscenes were put in that explained some of the things that were confusing in the first go-around (and they were oddly done with the characters animated to move their lips as if they were talking in English, yet they had no voices and all the subtitles in the game were Japanese.) And most of all, the post game content with all the extra bosses with supped-up HP and strength made KH2:FM so much better than vanilla KH2, that I hated it.

Yes, KH2:FM is one of my favorite video games, but I hate it because of what it represents. Yes, video games cost money, but it doesn’t need to be thrown in my face that there’s more to what’s going on in the game and that I have to pay to find out. I’m all gung-ho over buying Half Life 2: Episode 3 whenever it comes out. I bought the previous 2 episodes no problem. Each episode was fun and entertaining and left me with a great, meaningful cliffhanger. None of the Half Life 2 characters pulled a keyblade out of thin air with no questions about where it came from and how the person managed to obtain it. But instead, with Kingdom Hearts, the non-numbered games and the Final Mixes (KH2:FM at least) have to be played in order to get what’s going on. Kingdom Hearts 2 made no sense without playing Chain of Memories, and again, someone had to have a GBA and a PS2 to play both.

And then, even when playing all of the games, the story is a mess that is far removed from what the first game started. Yes, everything makes sense now, but the story is flat out terrible. How it got terrible is anyone’s guess. I am of the opinion that Kingdom Hearts was raking in so much money, an excuse (see: plot) was made for each game as they came into development. This is normally forgivable, for I forgive and appreciate the timeskip between Half Life 1 and 2, but I can’t say the same for the Kingdom Hearts series. The current trend with the games is that you later understand why something happened in the previous game in the later game. That is not a good trend.

Fuck what the critics say. This game owned hard.

The first Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories, and more or less 358/2 and Birth By Sleep stand out as my picks for the best made games of the series, each one having a wholesome feeling despite every single game in the series ending with a cliffhanger. Stepping back and looking at all of the games as a whole, the story is taking Disney characters to a point of ‘depth’ that screams cash cow (it’s better to whisper cash cow than to be obnoxious about it) and the charm of the series is gone. It has been replaced with a desire to see what will happen in the last Kingdom Hearts game, whenever it comes out…if ever. And chances are it’ll have a cliffhanger also with unexplained nonsense happening. I believe I’ll be 30 and married by the time said nonsense is actually explained in a game.

Kingdom Hearts – a series of initially unexplained events. At least, if you do try to get into all of the games, you’ll have access to a wide library of games since you’ll have almost every console and handheld. Soon, you’ll have to get a 3DS and shell out…what…300 or 400 bucks?

I could go on.  I could talk about the flaws of fighting until you reach a cutscene or talk about how every single character likes to say every other character’s name.  I could talk about how the series is a prime example of what video games need to avoid being like.

But I won’t.  Instead, I’ll figure out how to use WordPress.