May 262014
 

Dragon Age II feels like the prequel to a really interesting series of games. The game seems to feel the same way, given its frame story of an agent desperately trying to find Hawke in the midst of a crisis. At some point after DA2, Thedas faces a Big Problem that only Hawke seems able to solve, but the game itself is just a string of little problems. This is somewhat unusual for fantasy generally, and especially rare for fantasy games. Fantasy works from the latter half of the 20th century on tend to resolve around a single, existential threat to [Read more...]

May 052014
 

Beyond its fraudulence and corruption, Final Fantasy X’s religion of Yevon is notable for its obsession with death. The church facilitates a “spiral of death” in which summoners and guardians sacrifice their lives to defeat and subsequently rejuvenate the death-bringing Sin. Important figures in the church view death as a form of salvation. Several leaders of the church are in fact already dead and clinging to a kind of unlife. Death and the dead rule Spira. From a narrative perspective, abandoning the dead past for a living future is one of the primary themes of Final Fantasy X. I covered [Read more...]

Apr 222014
 
Breaking the Spiral

If it were a new game today, rather than a re-release of one more than a decade old, Final Fantasy X might prove to be fairly controversial. JRPGs have lost some of their power with the expanded gaming audience, but Final Fantasy is still a widely-known name. There has also been a broader realization since BioShock that games can actually have something to say about social and political issues. TV news organizations have proven eager to exploit videogames for ratings-building, and at least one has a political interest in portraying traditional values as besieged by popular culture. In this context, [Read more...]

Apr 012014
 
These are his levels

“This is my story!” Tidus shouts in the last battle of Final Fantasy X, but that’s only half of it. Final Fantasy X is also his game. The minigames and some aspects of the battle system, as I mentioned in the last post, tie back to his athletic personality, but the game goes further than that. The level design of Final Fantasy X is a mirror to Tidus’ experience. In their classic form, JRPGs, including the previous Final Fantasy games, have a large zoomed-out overworld that essentially mimics walking across a map, studded with dungeons and towns that have greater [Read more...]