Dressed for the Occasion

At least you won’t need to pay for dry cleaning.

Which, now that I think about it, is actually a really good question- who developed sphere technology that dresses you in different clothing and armour? It seems like such an odd thing to develop. You’d think they’d prefer to develop an infinite food source, or technology that doesn’t try to kill them, or even the ability to capture fiends in spheres which they would use to battle other fiends.Dressed for the Occasion Those would be useful options. Copyright infringement aside. But, no, they decided to put clothes into these spheres.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand Spira.

Final Fantasy X-2 is an interesting sequel in many ways. Most of the original characters are scarcely present, the Sphere Grid is gone, Garment Grids and Dresspheres provide most of your character customisation options, you’ve got an airship available from the moment you finish the introductory mission, and it’s probably best if you don’t take the story too seriously.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a suitable sequel, though. It’s just that it might not be the sequel many were expecting. Most were probably anticipating a prequel which looked at the events surrounding the journey Braska, Auron, and Jecht embarked on before the events of Final Fantasy X. Instead they got a slightly ridiculous insight into the events following the Eternal Calm. But I think it was a bold choice to introduce new story elements instead of dragging out existing ones. The aforementioned prequel would have been such an easy choice, too. That said, while I feel that the sequel does conclude the story fairly well, I also feel that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy concluded things more satisfactorily, which shows that the series has progressed over time.

There were a few things about the Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster which I do believe weren’t present in the version I have on the PS2. Such as the Creature Creator system, which allows you to recruit fiends into your party that you develop in a very similar way to strengthening Aeons in Final Fantasy X. There are also new accessories, altered accessories, an extra chance to get the Mascot Dressphere, numerous changes to the enemies you’ll face, and even some slight alterations to the events you’ll experience.Dressed for the Occasion

Whether those are positive or negative changes is open to interpretation.

I’m particularly impressed with the graphical enhancements in the HD Remaster as well. It looks gorgeous. Especially when you consider that the original versions of both titles on the PS2 didn’t look that bad, in fact, at the time, they were some of the most impressive titles on the market. But the enhancements present really breathe new life into the world of Spira.

I’ve enjoyed playing through both of these titles again. While I will admit that I prefer Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2 is an interesting look into a familiar universe with both established and newly introduced characters. It also features (for the first time in the series) an all female cast. Then there’s New Game+, which I’ll be able to use to experience the story once more and finish off all of the things that I missed in the first attempt. So neither is finished just yet. But, for now, it’s time to bid Spira adieu and move onto new adventures. I’d still highly recommend the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster package. It’s well worth the price of admission if you enjoy classic JRPGs.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

The Summoner’s Pilgrimage

It’s quite the journey.

But with the help of a legendary guardian, a man obsessed with Blitzball, a lady who loves belts so much she made a dress from them, a powerful warrior from a distant land, and someone who just appeared in Spira you might just make it. You’ll need a little more than luck on your side, though. You’ll need to have Fayth. Myriad Fayth. Which is the whole reason you’re on this journey in theThe Summoner's Pilgrimage first place. That and exploring the world around you, looking for meticulously placed treasure chests in random locations, and (of course) farming AP like there’s no tomorrow.

Mostly because if you fail there probably won’t be a tomorrow.

Unlike most Final Fantasy titles I’ve completed, this particular title boasts a new challenge through the Expert Sphere Grid which is (almost) entirely new to me. I’m still not sure what it really does, either. Other than change starting locations, shuffle around certain nodes, and allow for complete freedom with character development. Maybe that is literally all it does. I don’t know.

In either case, it’s been interesting going back through the various characters and creating strategies of my own. I’ve got a fair few Black Magic users. Got a couple of White Magic users, too. I’ve seen the wondrous cacophony of destruction that is a Doublecast Ultima. I’ve also witnessed Auron cleave an enemy for nearly 100k damage. It’s honestly a little disgusting. I’ve experienced the better parts (exploring the Omega Ruins) and the worse parts (trying to obtain the Sun Sigil) in equal measure. I can’t say I haven’t had fun, though. I can’t say whether it’s made things easier or more difficult, either. I think that having a secondary White Magic user in Rikku (who practically mirrors Yuna) has proved invaluable.

Then again, with the acquisition of the Nirvana, and full Black Magic spell availability, Yuna has become a force to be reckoned with in her own right. Able to easily break the damage limit and deal 30-40k per spell. It, again, is honestly a little disgusting. It wouldn’t scratch the super bosses… but that’s for another time. Maybe. It’s actually funny that I don’t enjoy Blitzball enough to bother trying to get Wakka’s Celestial Weapon, but he’s a good candidate for breaking the damage limit. He’s got nearly as much Strength as Auron does.
The Summoner's Pilgrimage
That said, I love the way the Masamune fits so perfectly with Auron.

He’s probably the only character who has consistently been able to take a punch and get back up throughout the entire experience. The fact that he now becomes even more powerful each time he gets hit just makes that sweeter. Especially considering he was one of the first to reach the health limit. He’s got a bountiful pool to draw from and it’s immensely useful.

I’ve always felt that Final Fantasy X was a genuinely difficult entry in the series. It’s one that has very interesting mechanics for key fights that rely more on your ability to understand, react, and survive than simply deal damage. Significantly easier when you’ve got Auron and the Masamune- but still an experience. I highlighted many of the key changes to the Final Fantasy formula which I think Final Fantasy X exemplified through An Evolving Narrative. It’s still one of my favourite entries in the series and one that I still enjoy to this day. That said, I’m looking forward to Final Fantasy X-2 as well. There are a number of things that I love about that one, too. Despite (in my opinion) being easier than the previous entry.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

An Evolving Narrative

It’s a natural and beautiful thing.

As part of my seasonal tradition this year I’ve been playing through Final Fantasy X once again. It’s one of those adventures (and stories) that’s just as fun to experience a second (or a third) time as it was the first, even if you’re already aware of the plot twists and turns. You might even make more sense of the events the second (or third) time, too. It’s equally as interesting when you consider that many of the changes in Final Fantasy X shaped the series as a whole, with later instalments taking note of what worked and what didn’t.

There has definitely been a greater emphasis on presenting stories since then.

From Final Fantasy XII where no character was individually crucially important as each had their own role to play, to Final Fantasy XIII where the world was secondary to the development of the characters found therein, to Final Fantasy XV which seems to be building around both aspects but still focusing on the party and their development through their adventures.

Of course, as I don’t own a PS4, the information about Final Fantasy XV is pieced together from things I’ve seen through to about chapter three of the main story. But what I have seen I’ve liked the idea of, as, even though I’m not playing this myself, I’m interested to see how the characters change. How they develop. If they develop at all. How that will impact the story and whether there are choices within the story that affect how it ends, or whether the ending is set no matter what you do. It’s an interesting change of pace for sure. It’s also interesting to see a similar battle system from Final Fantasy XII making a return, albeit without the Gambit system (if I remember correctly) but with party specific interactions at the very least.

We're in a different business these days.

We’re in a different business these days.

It’s also interesting to think that Final Fantasy XIV, their second MMORPG, has a particularly story based approach as well, often requiring you to complete things individual to your class to progress even as far as requiring you to venture into dungeons. Something that isn’t typically present in those kind of things. That said, I feel like Final Fantasy always had great stories to tell it’s just that they were harder to convey with the older technology. You can certainly show a wider range of emotions with hyper realistic 3D models.

You can also have tens of thousands of polygons for just their hair.

On the other hand, I feel that Final Fantasy IV still has one of the best collection of characters in the series which is equally as dynamic as it is interesting. Often times characters will leave, return, leave again, and then return for the last time. Or they might die. But each event actually changes the characters or the remaining party to some degree. It has a great story, too.

It’s been a fairly nostalgic year in many ways and I’ve been looking forward to experiencing Final Fantasy X again, which makes it a nice way to spend the festive season and to end off the year on a more positive note than has been present throughout. Took up the Expert Sphere Grid, too. I did use that system for about five hours back on the PS2 after I finished it the first time, but I never got much further than that. I’m not entirely sure how different it actually is (in terms of statistics and abilities) but it does seem more flexible. Seems easier to build characters who are proficient in a range of different abilities and spells than simply their default load out, which for some is actually somewhat confusing. Like Wakka. I don’t know what to do with him.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Beacon of Salvation

Brimming with the light of creation.

Thus we reach the end of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. It started with Adventuring on Gran Pulse, led to the story of the Paradox Police, and now closes with Lightning’s final story as the saviour of souls for the dawn of a new world. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is certainly a unique entry into the Final Fantasy series. It may be the only main series instalment (or sequel of) where you have only one playable character. That said, it is an adventure filled with nods to previous instalments across the entire series.

Beacon of SalvationWhile it feels a little more like Diablo II or Dark Souls than Final Fantasy, it’s nice how they managed to merge the elements of Final Fantasy into a single character adventure where you’re afforded a (surprising) amount of customisation. I particularly like how each weapon seems to be designed around a particular purpose or use within a set of skills.

The same could also be said for the garbs which make up your Schemata.

Unlike other instalments in the series there are no direct benefits to developing your character through combat. Besides any money, abilities, or other items dropped. Lightning is entirely developed through the main quests and side quests she completes. However, there is a twist- you only have thirteen short days to complete everything. So, if you’re diligent, like I was, you might be able to complete almost all (if not all) quests in one run. It’s more likely that you’ll need to come back to a few in New Game+, though. Not that quest completion carries over to New Game+ along with everything else. That said, that does give you more opportunities to become even more powerful as you attempt to tackle the new challenges of Hard Mode.

New Game+ is an actual restart of the story this time, too. You don’t defeat the final boss and then continue playing afterwards (as you did in Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2). You will lose a few things like quest completion, some key items, and the Ultima Weapon/Ultima Shield. I’m not really surprised the Ultima equipment disappeared, though. It’s sort of story related and ridiculously powerful. It’s unlikely I’m going to attempt New Game+ at the moment, but I intend to get back to it at some point in the future and experience the extra challenges and content therein.
Beacon of Salvation
I’m glad I took the time to pick up the trilogy and play it through in one long run. I’ll admit it has side tracked me a little here on Moggie @ WordPress, but I am looking to dive straight into all sorts of things over here now that they’re all finished. Hopefully that wave of content will include a particular chocobo that we haven’t heard much about in a while.

I think I might be getting that familiar itch for JRPGs again.

Then again, it’s not really all that surprising considering the entire Final Fantasy XIII trilogy lasted over two hundred hours. You don’t get that kind of value for money all the time. Also, while I have finished the main events, there are all sorts of secondary things for me to undertake. Like finishing off the ruin on the fourteenth day in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Or fighting some of the more challenging enemies on Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII. So it’s not completely over yet. It’s been a strangely nostalgic year in that respect. Many older inspirations or habits returning, while, sadly, some things have been lost. Some that are irreplaceable. With loss comes new opportunities, though.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

The Ballad of Caius

I apologise profusely for that.

As a forewarning this post contains very light spoilers. While Lightning’s Story: Requiem of the Goddess is a post-story DLC, it doesn’t really reference the post-story events if you don’t have the story content in the explanations or videos. Which I don’t. As copyright claims caused me an inconvenience which led me to change what I’d upload and share. Still, if you’d prefer not to know anything about Final Fantasy XIII-2 then I’d suggest you turn away now. Or click the back button. Or even close the window.

Don’t even think about clicking on the YouTube video below, either.

Lightning’s Story: Requiem of the Goddess continues the events of the main story to what some may consider a more satisfactory conclusion. Personally, it feels more like an introduction to Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII to me. In that you’re fighting as only Lightning in a series of two battles which have fairly different rules compared to what you’re used to.

The first and most interesting of those rules for those who are fighting for the first time is that dying is kind a good thing. As, whether you win or lose the fight with Caius, you’ll still gain CP which will advance Lightning’s roles and abilities. Second of those rules is that none of her Paradigm Roles are actually featured in the main story. For instance, while a Knight is sort of like a Sentinel it functions with a completely different ability. So, if you’re like me, and took a Blast Wave to the face because you wondered why reducing the damage would matter, you’ll be pleased to know she has a complete immunity ability as a Knight. Thusly, you take no damage. Not less. So, there are a few things you’ll need to adjust to.

The next most interesting part of this is that Lightning at full strength almost can’t die. In that, the only way you could lose is to switch to the Conjurer and just cast buffs on yourself over and over again. Even the Sorcerer would actually damage/wound Caius. That said, you will hilariously get an incredibly bad score for using Lightning at full strength due to how easy it is. But you can also weaken or strengthen Lightning if you’d like to adjust the difficulty. So don’t worry if you accidentally hit full strength.

In fact, I think you always hit full strength once you’ve defeated Caius in the second phase.

If you’re successful against Caius in the second phase (with a five star rating) with Lightning below Lvl 10 you’ll get rewarded with a Paradigm Pack addition. The Knight of Etro variant of Lightning herself, as a rather powerful Commando with many unique(?) abilities which probably make her the best Commando you can acquire. With a considerable amount of health, too.

Needless to say- it’s not for everyone. You’ll need to adjust to different mechanics than you’re used to, you’ll be fighting alone, and you’ll only have the stock items and abilities the DLC affords you. But it does close off the story rather nicely and opens the transition into Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII quite well. Which is actually my next stop on my journey through the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. As I’d like to complete them all in order. Rather looking forward to the next one, too. Oddly, despite Lightning being the only playable character, the equipment list is vastly broader than in the previous two instalments. The combat also looks to be quite the change of pace as well.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Paradox Police

You never know where one will appear next!

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a pretty complex instalment in that respect. While there is a main story to follow, there are also numerous optional areas which you can visit to unlock even more areas or any of the remaining fragments. It’s odd to encounter an actual quest system, too. Especially if you’re used to the linearity of Final Fantasy XIII where the Cie’th Stone missions were the only actual quests. Of which you were limited to one at a time (and undertaking them again was annoying). Now you can have dozens of quests strewn about all kinds of locations!

I do wish there was an actual quest log, though.

Paradox PoliceIt can be a little frustrating to return to the Historia Crux and then to the location only to find that you’ve yet to finish that quest. Or that you even know what it is. However, that’s a minor point as there are often reasons to visit as many points in time as possible. Mostly to collect creatures and find specific creatures that you’ll need for infusions or specific Paradigm Roles.

On that point, the creature system is quite fascinating and much broader than I initially anticipated. Especially the infusion system. Which essentially allows you to consume one creature to empower another and gain bonuses for doing so. Most interesting regarding this is that you can infuse Sentinels into Medics or Ravagers into Commandos and so on. They’ll retain their initial role when infused, so, for example, a Cactrot is a Medic and if it is infused with a Chocobo (a Commando) it will remain a Medic. That said, it can gain any of the unlocked passive abilities the Chocobo might possess. So while the weapon and accessory upgrade system is out- there’s more than enough to upgrade and tweak in the creature system to replace it.

I’ve been having a lot of fun collecting creatures to empower the ones I’ve got in my current Paradigm Pack. It’s a little finicky, though. You won’t always get the creatures you want and you can’t have duplicates. So if you’d like to use a creature for multiple infusions you’ll need to capture it, level it, and then infuse it before you can obtain a second one. Chocobos being the only exception as they will be used for Chocobo racing at some point. I’m not sure if the actual creature progression system will feed into what makes a good racing Chocobo or if they have unique statistics.
Paradox Police
Kind of like the breeding system in Final Fantasy VII.

It’s nice to have the freedom to make all of these choices at your own pace. It’s also really nice that I do believe you have the capability to unlock the entire Crystarium before tackling the final encounter, which means I can continue to develop them as I’d like them to be. Which makes a little more sense to me as I’d prefer to go into that encounter at full power as it were.

Given the number of optional areas you can unlock, it seems that the story can continue for some time to come if you’re committed to completing everything there is to do. I’m not entirely sure as to what the fragments actually do. But I assume it has something to do with the ending or the possibility of receiving an ending as (in true time travel fashion) I’ve heard there are multiple endings. I’m aiming to collect as many fragments as I can but I don’t know if I’ll get them all, I’m also unsure as to how you go about unlocking a new ending and so I may only see a few. Unless it’s a system like in Chrono Trigger where going to specific locations opens up that ending. So you can essentially get them all without having to restart the adventure over and over.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Adventuring on Gran Pulse

The wildlife is certainly something!

When first introduced to Gran Pulse you’re experiencing what was common in Final Fantasy as a series but not in Final Fantasy XIII as instalment. A sprawling world filled with danger, treasures, exploration, bosses, and the ability to experience any or all of it at your own pace. You also (finally) gain the ability to choose your own party and experience the breadth of the various Paradigms which are available. However, this freedom does come at the price of sometimes being overwhelmed or simply outmatched.

Particularly with the Cie’th Stone missions which are quite literally all over the place.

Adventuring on Gran PulseGeographically and in terms of difficulty relative to numerical ordering. Exploration is key with Cie’th Stone missions, as often you’ll be unable to find new missions or the ones you can find are too difficult for you to complete. They’re also useful for opening up new areas or mechanics. Most are tied to the achievements you can unlock, too. From a character development perspective it will be when your characters unlock the highest level of power they can attain (pre-completion). That said, while I have mastered the three primary roles each character has- I’m hesitant to invest in any of their secondary roles. Mostly because even with over 700k CP I’m barely able to fill one of those roles out.

They’re also vastly statistically inferior to primary roles and cost a considerable amount to unlock and upgrade. Often at very little benefit. As there are few who will gain the range of abilities or effectiveness in that role as someone who has it as a primary role. That said, some secondary roles for certain characters open up abilities that the primary roles don’t.

Gran Pulse is (unsurprisingly) home to some of the rarest equipment, accessories, and components. Often hidden behind any of the myriad of challenges this harsh world has to offer, but usually worth the price of admission when you start acquiring some of the most powerful items. Like the Genji Gloves. Or the Growth Egg if you’re going for those character development achievements. It’s quite amazing how much there is to do and yet how little there seems to be available to begin with. It seems fairly linear- but it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

Adventuring on Gran PulseYou probably won’t be able to do it all on your first visit, either.

Leaving isn’t permanent- but it likely will be for most people who will move on to finish the story and defeat the final boss. I didn’t return the last time I finished Final Fantasy XIII, but this time I intend to go back and acquire a few more achievements and maybe even try to clear all of the Cie’th Stone missions. It’s been fun, though. If nothing else I’ve had a good time. It also brought back some great memories of playing the Final Fantasy series when I was younger. That said, this isn’t the end of Final Fantasy XIII- I have the whole trilogy to get through and I intend to do just that! I’m particularly stoked about what Final Fantasy XIII-2 has in store for me.

I was going to talk about creative things today as I’ve been working on something new. That said, I don’t have too much to share regarding that particular piece besides a rather hilarious sneak peek I posted over on Twitter. I should have it finished soon. So, if you don’t see it in the next post it should be in the one after. I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIII recently. So, this post seemed to fit as I could talk about something I enjoy and do something slightly different in the process.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie