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...]

Mar 242014
 

I spent the last weekend between two screens. On one, I was playing the HD reissue of Final Fantasy X. On the other, I was watching a particularly exciting edition of America’s annual exercise in basketball excess, the NCAA tournament. Every year the tournament becomes a point of conversation across the country as Cinderellas like Dayton outplay their reputations, traditional powers like Louisville live up to theirs, and upstarts like the almost-victorious Coastal Carolina try to do the seemingly impossible. Final Fantasy X has a deep connection with sport. Protagonist Tidus and party member Wakka are both professional athletes, as [Read more...]

Nov 052013
 
Let me do it

I have the same fundamental problem with Gone Home that I had with Assassin’s Creed III. In terms of their construction, these games could hardly be more dissimilar – ACIII is an expansive open world third-person game where the player spends almost every minute killing people, and Gone Home is a first-person adventure in uncovering the events of the past year in a single empty house. Yet these games are alike in that they give the player a good set of tools for solving their problems, which they seem unwilling to let em use freely. The main story of Gone [Read more...]