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Final Fantasy XIII was a confusing mess for me. I know the fanboys and fangirls will run to the defense of the original and claim that a bunch of people just didn't understand it, and many of us weren't enlightened to the epicness of its grandeur, but for me... the game just sucked. It was hard to follow and I didn't care anything about the characters.
Square actually seems to want people to like Final Fantasy XIII leading up to the Lightning Returns release in two weeks, so they let loose a 16-bit remix video to recap the entire story and I – along with a bunch of other nostalgia-hungry gamers – absolutely love it.
As noted by most people who watched the video on Sony's official YouTube page and Celtic Gamer, the lack of voice acting, the succinct presentation of the story and the setup of the scenarios provides a clarity that just was not present in the original two Final Fantasy XIII games.
The 16-bit remix provides gamers with an actual, linear idea of what the story was trying to achieve and does so in a much better way than the big-budget 3D games. Oh how I pine for the days of the classic 16-bit era, where gameplay and immersion weren't measured by voice-acting lines and texture resolution.
Now don't get me wrong, I love my graphically intense games like Max Payne 3 and iCEnhancer mods, but when it comes to fantasy RPGs... Squaresoft was legendary back in the day for telling the kind of stories we could fall in love with and doing it in a way that made us feel engrossed in what was happening on-screen, every single step of the way.
Unfortunately, Square Enix has lost sight of what made them famous in the first place. We have a lot of trash filling up the store shelves and a lot of uncreative decisions made that do nothing for the legacy of the brands that helped put Square on the map in the first place.
Whoever designed the 16-bit retro-spective did an amazing job and actually understood how to concisely convey the story, the characters and the world without a ton of exposition. Isn't that amazing? I gathered more understanding of the convoluted world of Final Fantasy XIII in less than 10 minutes, compared to just trying to grab an idea of what the heck was going on in the first six hours of the original Final Fantasy XIII.
I should point out that I don't think that what was portrayed of Final Fantasy XIII in the 16-bit recap was more engrossing or better depicted than Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy IX, but I do think it at least ranks above some of Square's less ambitious and intriguing RPGs.
But enough ranting.
This whole 16-bit story recap remix was to help get people amped for the eventual release of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the presumable finale in the trilogy of Final Fantasy XIII games. Square has this last and final chance to redeem themselves from the unfortunate mess that was Final Fantasy's tenure throughout the seventh generation.
Hopefully, with enough feedback from this 16-bit retro-spective, maybe Square will get serious about Final Fantasy (or any IP for that matter) and start making good games once again. A new Chrono Trigger, perhaps?