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A Tale of Two Final Fantasies

I realized that I haven't written about two of the latest Final Fantasy games that I'm playing!

Final Fantasy Code 0 (PSP)
This is the school war drama Final Fantasy. Long story short: Class 0 and their two new transfer students help Suzaku win the war against Byakko (with Gembu and Souryuu also involved). You go to classes, take on missions, make friends, and fight for the future of your world. It has aspects of FF13 (crystals and l'Cie) and FF8 (emo schoolkids and an attempt at keeping a schedule). While you (normally) fight in groups of three, you can make up your party from any of your 14 class members, each of whom has a completely different fighting style and set of abilities. Jack has a katana and can be very very slow, Ace has cards for fast but light long distance hits, Eight is a pugilist with short range but fast and easy-to-use attacks, Rem has very weak dagger attacks but extremely strong magic. There's a ton of them, but it's quite fun to explore and get used to the quirks (personality-wise and attack-wise) of each character.

Also, the story is VERY DARK. There is blood, more blood than I've ever seen in a FF game. (The opening movie starts with a big battle that ends in several, if not necessarily explicit, certainly very bloody deaths.) People get killed. It is not a pretty, theoretical war. It is WAR.

This is one of the themes of the story. As you find out early on, in this world, people who die are immediately forgotten. There are some discrepancies about how much is forgotten; best case scenario, people remember vague shades of "That guy who I talked to once" or "That woman who lived at our house". At worst, people seem to forget, well, everything. It's a plot with a lot of potential to go really dark places, and FF0 actually goes there. You had a family, or a best friend? It's okay, you don't remember them. You die in battle? No one will ever mourn for you. You killed someone? You will never know who.

One of your jobs in the game is to pick up dogtags. See, in this world, dogtags aren't supposed to go into the battle field. You keep them at the school and reclaim them afterwards, because otherwise, they would never know who the hell died in battle. Some people consider it to be bad luck and bring the dogtags into battle with them, and you get to pick them up. Because, you know, otherwise, they would never know why Class 2 only has two students. The people who live in this world seem to think that forgetting of death is a good thing, because you'll never get tied down to the past. FF0 makes it very clear where it stands on the issue.

Great gameplay with some humorous moments in a very serious story.

Final Fantasy 13-2 (PS3)
The sequel to FF13, this game does a great job of throwing you in the deep end and letting you slash your way out in desperation. The story is, like all FF games, gloriously fascinating and more than a little convoluted. Long story short: TIME TRAVEL. Interestingly enough, this is also a wonderful excuse for adding more exploration aspects to a linear story. Want to go back? You can! Because [wave hands] TIME TRAVEL.

The biggest change to the gameplay is your party. The basic gameplay stays the same as FF13, but you only have two main characters. So who is your third? One of your menagerie of collected monsters! In a rather Pokemon twist, you gather monsters, level them up, and then throw them into battle. However, you are only able to bring up to three monsters with you at any time, which means that you have to think carefully about who you want on your side. I also recently discovered that, in addition to awesome leveling up, you are able to literally absorb other monsters to gain their abilities, which obviously means that I am giddy with the prospect of creating Ultimate Monsters. I have started color-coded charts, and I am having a BLAST! (Chart-making, obviously. I have no time for "gameplay".)

Also, there is this: http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/02/06

No shit, my Cait Sith is wearing the exact same hat. Because Cait Sith is the first (and ultimately probably one of the best) of your healers, so you need to drag him around wherever you go, and what the hell else are you going to put on your Cait Sith besides a freaking jaunty hat? (Another monster has a lovely 4-leaf clover on his head. AWESOME GAME.)