A Travelog of Ivalice: Introduction

By The Rocketeer Posted Friday Jan 7, 2022

Filed under: FFXII 91 comments

If I had to describe Final Fantasy XII in two words, I would pick “fascinatingly flawed.” The game is like a junk sculpture: a grand amalgam of pieces that, individually, are often nothing special, and are often, well, junk. But sometimes, in the right light, from the right angle, these parts form a whole that pushes back all of your expectations, and, for a moment, appears to take a new form, alien and intriguing, moving as though alive. And in that next moment, a hunk shudders and falls away, and the illusion is broken again. I’d be very hesitant to call it a great game, and at times I’d balk at calling it a good game. But nonetheless, I found myself circling it, time and again, stalking that one special angle, hoping to get one more glimpse of a mystique I was certain it hid.

Then a character would open their stupid damn mouth, and the spell was shattered with my controller.

Around a year ago, I got the chance to play through a real oddity: the final, updated version of Final Fantasy XII, verbosely entitled the “International Zodiac Job System.” I was curious about the mechanical, gameplay-oriented changes, but in the back of my head, I think I’d decided I wanted to play the game one last time, and get it out of my system once and for all. This was a real pull for me; I’d played the game two or three times already, and not in a dabbling, skittish fashion. FFXII, as I’ll be abbreviating it from here on, is not a short, small game, and I had multiple times pressed it headfirst into my mouth and kept pushing its flailing mass until nothing remained of it. This, despite finding the game often infuriating, blatantly flawed in several easily— and widely— observed facets, and, by this time, offering extraordinarily little I wasn’t, by now, well familiar with. Little, but not nothing.

In embarking on my last great odyssey of mist and magicite, the imperial and the empyreal, I set out to record and, with luck, pin down, if even for a moment, this ephemeral but inexorable pull the game seemed to have had on me. In fits and starts, whenever I played the game, I jotted down my impressions of it, assuring myself that when I was done, I’d be left with a concise distillation of all my sophisticated impressions of a bizarre, many-splendored game of our yesteryear. Looking back on the final product, so many months after first embarking upon it, I am struck by what I see:

I have created absolutely nothing of value in this respect.

So I said in 2014.

A gentleman admits when he’s proven wrong: IZJS wasn’t the final version of Final Fantasy XII. Really, it was a pretty foolish thing to assume given Square-Enix’s track record of re-releases. Who re-releases old work just to add visual improvements for a new audience? Move on! Make something new, you hacks!

When it comes to my own work, my opinion’s a little more stubborn. In 2014, I regarded what I’d written as less of a junk sculpture and more as a dump. “Blackmail material,” I called it. A product of long, footsore hours and too much Monster Energy Drink® working themselves out in the wee hours of the morning, when I should have been getting a couple hours of sleep.

When I began posting it, the game and its concomitant complaints and controversies had long been laid to rest in favor of determining whether Final Fantasy XIII was currently killing the series and whether Final Fantasy XIV was currently killing the company. I shared it with no greater expectations than that doing so would grant me the sense of closure with the game I’d so far failed to find. I didn’t expect to “light the Internet on fire,” which is good, because it didn’t.

They did throw me a parade, but after that things kind of died down.
They did throw me a parade, but after that things kind of died down.

But there was some part of me that hoped someone else out there might share my complicated feelings on the game, or at least find some entertainment in a different perspective. For better or worse, the Internet excels at connecting people who are crazy in the same ways. I was cheered by those who endured my work, and never more grateful than when I was told I’d put into words the thoughts that others hadn’t been able to express themselves.

It’s in this spirit of profound gratitude that I reinaugurate this series. Seven years passed from when I first completed the game to when I completed my thoughts on it, and seven years more— to the month!— have passed from then to the writing of this new introduction. In seven more years, I hope to have laurels more recent and decent to rest upon. Until then, it’s my joy not to let this game off the hook just yet.

A warning: those seven years have somewhat distanced me from the subject… and, you might say, from the author. I haven’t played the game since then, and I succeeded in my quest to close my thoughts on it. I have not spent the last decade crystallizing further my thoughts on Final Fantasy XII, and whatever response or complaint you might have to this or that assertion or argument, or to the unreasonable extravagance of the obscenities and imprecations with which they are expressed, will be passed along to the responsible party as soon as the time-telegraph becomes affordable. To honor my host’s generosity, I have taken this opportunity to dispense with my old, flimsy excuses and edit the ramshackle old flophouse of an analysis more seriously than I had bothered previously. But I’ve no interest in expanding from revision into recreation, and in principle, it will be now as it was then, and what it was then.

Without further apology, I’ll close this new introduction now as I closed it years ago:

In sum, this [series] mirrors its subject in so many ways: there are severe pacing issues, the tone careens back and forth all over the place, the prose is in sore need of trimming, and I’m not sure the creator was paying much attention at times. If you assert that any section of it is reproachful or appalling, I may be hard-pressed to disagree. But in the end, it’s like a junk sculpture: a calamity of disparate elements, but sometimes, in a certain light…

The Travelog commences next week.

 


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91 thoughts on “A Travelog of Ivalice: Introduction

  1. Jimmy says:

    I am looking forward to this.
    I have never played a Final Fantasy game and never intend to, but a detailed analysis of a story by someone that cares a lot about it is what I’m looking for.

    Thanks for the time you have put into this, both then and now.

    1. Sleepyfoo says:

      I am also looking forward to this, despite having read the prior version on the twentysided forums multiple times.

      It is also amusing how Basch is completely absent from the pick at the top.

      1. sheer_falacy says:

        They should have drawn Basch in the same pose as Fran. I demand equality in broken backs.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          May I recommend “The Hawkeye Initiative” to you? Fair warning that a large chunk of google results may not be safe work.

          1. Kincajou says:

            Don’t forget Escher girls!

  2. John says:

    I’ve never played Final Fantasy XII, but I have come at it sideways, so to speak, by playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. So in my experience, the denizens of Ivalice are adorable little cartoon people with mostly sensible outfits and no one ever really gets hurt no matter how much fighting there is. I’m sure that Final Fantasy XII will do nothing, nothing at all to disabuse me of that notion . . . unless of course a couple of non-RPGs for Nintendo handhelds aren’t anything like the PlayStation RPG which allegedly shares their setting, but, really, how likely is that?

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      I haven’t played Revenant Wings, but things in FFTA are completely screwed by the basic premise, which is the protagonists literally being transported into the world of the Final Fantasy videogame, so in the end it’s really hard to shake the feeling that nothing you do matters, even if the game tries to convince you everything you’ve lived is real. This isn’t like “Prey”, where whether the events of the game occurred or not, the threat is still very real, or like The Matrix, where even if the world of the simulation is false, the people hooked to it are real and so it’s the struggle to survive outside of it. In FFTA things could have perfectly been a dream and the real world moves on unaffected by your adventure.

      1. Henson says:

        Man, I haven’t played Tactics Advance, but from the way you guys describe it, it sounds like the gulf between it and FF Tactics is immense.

        1. John says:

          Yeah, probably. Especially plot-wise. My impression is that the character art in Tactics and Tactics Advance is at least in a fairly similar style, though I say that based on maybe five minutes of the original Tactics and a couple of screenshots I’ve seen over the years.

        2. Zerotool says:

          Tactics is a game based on the War of the Roses. Tactics Advance is anti-?isekai.

        3. Syal says:

          It’s wild how different they are in tone. It’s like if the sequel to Twisted Metal had been Mario Kart.

          12 has Tactics Advance’s races and world setting with Tactics’ “a character will die in every scene” sensibilities.*

          *(Well, that’s badly overselling it, but, y’know, there’s explosions.)

        4. Parkhorse says:

          What the others haven’t mentioned: FFTA’s gameplay is really fun. Fairly easy, but enjoyable. My recollections of FFTA2 are more mixed, but I do recall being able to set up absurdly overpowered characters, so it had that going for it.

          1. John says:

            FFTA is indeed fun, as long as you can tolerate the law system, which I fortunately can.

        5. Scerro says:

          It’s such a large chasm that I mentally prefer to keep FFT’s Ivalice separate from FFTA/FFXII’s Ivalice. FFT is missing the major races of FFTA/XII’s Ivalice, and it just doesn’t work. Keep in mind I adore FFT, it’s bare minimum in my top 5 games, if not my favorite game.

          Systematically I never liked FFT:A’s way of leveling skills. I also felt like high ground damage modifiers were too much, and the law system didn’t add anything to me. Actually I’ll be honest. I hate card systems in games. FFTA was a jumble of systems to keep you from min-maxing or optimizing anything. Want this special skill? Go grind with this garbage weapon to 999 points.

          As I couldn’t stomach FFXII’s story OR gameplay, I’m interested to read an in-depth analysis of the game.

      2. John says:

        Revenant Wings is nominally a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XII. It is, however, a much more cartoonish game than its predecessor. That is to some extent an unavoidable consequence of being a Nintendo DS game rather than a PlayStation game, but it’s also partly deliberate. The main characters are Vaan and Penelo, who are accompanied by another, even younger pair of plucky young street children. Characters like Balthier, Fran, and some other, more forgettable people do show up as time goes on, but the narrative, such as it is, remains focused on Vaan and to a lesser extent Penelo. The world may be facing impending doom and the characters may, in the finest JRPG tradition, have to fight and kill God at the end, but everything is fine politically, everyone is happy, and all of the game’s battles but the last few are framed as wacky sky-pirate adventures. Also, Revenant Wings is an RTS rather than an RPG, but that’s beside the point.

        As for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, I have always taken it for granted that the game isn’t about Ivalice but about the characters’ personal and emotional growth. Ivalice isn’t real and ultimately doesn’t matter, but the things the characters learn in Ivalice–and here I’m talking about things like maturity, perspective, and confidence rather than, say, Blizzaga–are real and are also transferable to and applicable in the real world. Pretty standard temporarily-transported-to-a-fantasy-world stuff, really. In any case, it worked for me. I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work for you.

  3. kincajou says:

    I have never played the game and must admit i have only a passing experience on your comments across the website. This said i like your writing style (or should it be “the cut of your jib”?) and i look forward to your analysis, it sounds like we’re in for a great ride!

    One question, shamus said that the pictures are independent of the analysis, how did you guys chose the alt-text? Did you give Shamus free reign to do as he pleased? Did he show you the pics and you chose the captions? Did you tell him “i want an image here, it needs to show this and it will have [TEXT] as a caption”?

    How was the sausage made?

    1. Basically, I sent Shamus the text. He took the screenshots he was making throughout the game (as I think he was either already planning his own series or just always takes screenshots of games, just in case) and interspersed them through the text. I included a few requests for particular screenshots if and where I thought they would work. I have final cut, and I can edit the posts myself to change things and move things around if I wish, including adding alt text to the screenshots, which otherwise have no text associated with them aside from a few Shamus specifically marked as his own notes, which I’ll keep even if they are full of lies.

      Earlier this week, Shamus said that all of the screenshots would be provided by him, but while that will remain true for gameplay screenshots, this is already not true as of the image in the body of this introduction; Shamus unwisely agreed to put images I send him into his file system where I can add them to the posts and make captions. Rule of thumb: if it’s a screenshot of gameplay, it’s a shot of Shamus’ game; if it’s a shot from a cutscene, it’s probably from Shamus but might be something I captured; if it’s something bizarre, that’s probably me, unless Shamus suddenly becomes a fan of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

      1. kincajou says:

        Awesome, thanks for the extensive info :)

  4. MelfinatheBlue says:

    Huzzah! I remember really enjoying this on the forums, great to see it make a comeback. Did you ever write that thing on escaping from RPG prison, btw? After all, it’s one of the great crutches of game beginnings, along with amnesia, dying (looking at you Mass Effect 2), and transportation to a strange land…

  5. BlueHorus says:

    I’ve got to say, whatever Shamus or the Rocketeer say about this game, the character art images so far (featured at the top of the articles) have kind of made up my mind: I hate it already. It’s the costumes.

    Yes, yes, I know, ridiculous costumes are part of the JRPG experience. And I’m usually fine with that. But a lot of these costumes seem to have crossed the line from ‘outlandish’ to ‘this is someone’s fetish’.

    As a fan of older installments of this game series, I recall that the costumes were weird, yes, silly, sure, or even kinky, maybe.
    But they were never this bad. This is so extreme it would actually distract me from whatever the characters are saying. Am I just getting old?

    Also related: the girl in the front-left of the frame, in the above picture…has she got three hands? One attatched just under her right shoulder?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I think that’s spiky-hair-guy’s hand – who I am imagining as grown-up Calvin from the comic strip and am looking forward to learning that he is much more nuanced and much less interesting in the game version.

    2. Shamus says:

      I’ll agree that these costumes are really weird. Like, it looks like the characters failed to put them on properly. The header image from Wednesday gives you a better view:

      * Basch has that weird hole in the front of his undershirt and you can’t tell if he tore his shirt or if he’s got a button-up shirt that’s off his shoulders and tucked up underneath his armpits.
      * Ashe looks like she’s got a white half-top being worn over an upside-down corset?
      * Whoever designed Fran’s bunny-girl outfit is apparently on a mission to erase the line between fanservice and pornography.
      * Vaan’s outfit isn’t THAT unreasonable. Other than it being way too busy, it’s basically the same outfit as Disney’s Aladdin. The only odd bit is that he’s got a shitload of armor from the knees down, like he expects he’s going to be fighting armies of Lilliputians.

      But then we have Balthier…

      And you know what? I’m pretty okay with Balthier’s outfit. He’s got a waistcoat, a white shirt, black pants, and a couple of low-slug holsters. If his waistcoat wasn’t so busy with golden inlay then he could probably pass for an English gentleman in the Victorian or Edwardian period. Shit, I’d wear that myself if I still had the physique I had when I was 22.

      And his hair is reasonable, too!

      1. Syal says:

        I know Pat Stares At hated Vaan’s metal vest with no undershirt. Something like “if you can afford a solid metal vest you can afford a shirt.”

        Also of note; Fran’s lingerie outfit is also solid metal. You can also give her a Limit Break that’s just a series of high kicks, which looks incredibly uncomfortable to do in a metal thong.

        1. Shufflecat says:

          Is that really metal? In the pictures it reads to me like Vaan’s vest and Fran’s lingerie (there really is no other word for it) is mostly tooled & painted leather or heavy embroidery. The only parts that read as 100% for certain metal to me (apart from the many decorative findings) are their shin & knee protectors, and maybe Fran’s bracers.

          An image search shows a lot of cosplayers assuming that’s all metal, and the game screenshots are… wierd (they use the same “metallic” shaders for everything on a given outfit, but structurally some bits look like metal and some look like leather or cloth), but the concept and promo art all make it look like those parts are mostly leather and cloth, so I kinda suspect the cosplayers are reading the intent wrong.

          The “gold inlay” on Balthier’s waistcoat straight up looks like fancy tooled & dyed leather in both art and screenshots. It’s not even metallic “gold”, just mustard colored.

          1. Syal says:

            Here it is in-game. I’m seeing it as metal.

            1. Shufflecat says:

              Like I said: in the screenshots I saw it looked like they were using the same “metallic” shaders for everything, whether it matched the sculpting or not. So I fell back on the concept and promo art, where there’s more detail and nuance, and I assume it represents the intent more fully than the old graphics could.

              And in that video I’m just seeing 2000s-style console shaders where everything looks like it’s made of fondant no matter what it’s allegedly supposed to be. None of it reads as metal in the video. The material isn’t even shiny, just… sorta grey.

              But I haven’t played the game, so the balance of influence in my brain is probably different. To someone who has played the game, the in-game textures/shaders are probably THE image they have of this stuff, so if the in-game textures were deceptively unclear, it could cause a rift in perception between the intent and what the audience ends up having baked into their mind’s eye. I know I’ve observed that in myself with other games that I have played.

              1. Chad+Miller says:

                I always read it as metal too but this makes a lot of sense. The conversation also reminded me of how Vaan’s torso originally looked and how a lot of people thought his abs made him literally look like a doll: https://twitter.com/diego9vii/status/1318278671497678852

        2. Benjamin Paul Hilton says:

          It’s like the opposite of Tom cruises charscter from Legend. A mail shirt with no pants

      2. bobbert says:

        What about Penelope?

      3. BlueHorus says:

        Yeah, I’m fine with quite a few of the costumes on display, particularly the three on the right. They’re fine, especially for a JRPG.

        But there ‘s a point where the ridiculousness of the costume distracts from the character, rather than informing it.

        Whoever designed Fran’s bunny-girl outfit is apparently on a mission to erase the line between fanservice and pornography

        Especially with that pose on the image above…

        I’m waiting to see what role she has in the story. Given the usual Final Fantasy tropes of ‘fighting an evil authority’ or ‘saving the world’, and ‘the importance of friendship’, she’s going to look grotesquely out of place almost everywhere.
        I can’t wait to see her butt* into important political discussions and revelations about serious issues.

        *Hur hur hur, ‘butt’!
        Actually, puerile jokes aside, this is kind of a demonstration of the problem at hand…

        1. bobbert says:

          I’m waiting to see what role she has in the story.

          No joke, she is mostly there because she is married to Balthier.

          1. Archguru says:

            She’s functionally Chewbacca to Balthier’s Han Solo.

            1. Rho says:

              Which, incidentally, the game would be WAY more fun if all her dialogue was replaced with wookie noises.

      4. Zeta Kai says:

        At least they’re not doing that asymmetrical fashion trend thing in Spira (FFX) where nobody could decide between two different outfits, so they put half of each on themselves & called it a Look™.

      5. Sannom says:

        And what about Penelo’s ? Too boring to merit a mention ?

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Ah…having not played the game, I had to look her up. So this picture manages to not include her ridiculous boots…

          …wait a minute, it’s only the front half of boots!
          Or leather plant pots, or whatever you’d call those things.

        2. Geebs says:

          Penelo dresses exactly like all the other NPCs, which is at least appropriate to her character.

    3. Sleepyfoo says:

      I think that is supposed to be Balthier’s hand, he’s the largest guy right behind her.

    4. John says:

      My biggest regret about the forward march of technology–except, y’know, for all the serious ones–is that it allowed Japanese game developers to stop representing characters with cute little cartoon sprites and start representing characters with big, high-poly 3D models complete with terrible outfits and weird, doll-like faces. Square Enix is at the forefront of the trend but is by no means the only Japanese developer on my Big List of Little Grievances for this reason.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Well, it’s not the technology’s fault that the character designs have gotten worse. Here’s a picture of a character from Final Fantasy 6 remade with modern graphics – which is pretty unremarkable, for a JRPG.

        Someone CHOSE to make their character a bunny girl in a stripper outfit and pose her so it looks like she’s not wearing underwear…

        1. John says:

          Oh, no, people have always been awful. It’s just that technological progress has allowed them to present their terrible taste in increasing and ever-less-desirable levels of detail. There are only so many unnecessary buckles you can put on a sprite that’s just a couple of dozen pixels wide, but a modern 3D model can accommodate all too many.

        2. tmtvl says:

          That URL is not working for me, can anyone else verify whether it’s the URL? It could also be something on my end, but I can’t think of anything off-hand.

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            It worked for me the first time I clicked it, and now it doesn’t. Between this and another link I posted it may be this is some Wikia countermeasure against linking to images.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              Yeah, a load of the images I posted are broken as well, and they’re all Wikia links too.

          2. BlueHorus says:

            That URL is not working for me

            Second link of the same character, not from Wikia:

            https://cdn-prod.scalefast.com/public/assets/user/1614900/sample/a1a68dc609871c040e98be9733743997.jpg

    5. Chad+Miller says:

      My vote for “most ridiculous clothes” in this particular game still goes to the pirate Elza:

      https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/finalfantasy/images/0/0d/Elza_FF12.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/810?cb=20121017073311

      “Yes, underwear on the outside of booty shorts is totally something a pirate would wear. Shut up.”

      1. bobbert says:

        Didn’t FFX have a similar girl?

        Also, the link doesn’t work for me.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          Friggin’ fandom wiki.

          One of the other first-page google results is this reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/FinalFantasy/comments/1jqziu/i_think_the_thong_goes_beneath_the_shortselza_in/

          1. bobbert says:

            Oh my!
            You failed to mention her shirt, which is a crime against nature in its own right.

            1. Chad+Miller says:

              Yes, it’s like it exposes less skin than actual swimwear would, and the swimwear would be setting and occupation-appropriate, but because she just has her brassiere-laden tits hanging out from a shirt that manages to be impractical by basically any metric it somehow feels more like gratuitous nudity than a skimpier top would have.

              1. BlueHorus says:

                You’re right.
                On second glance, it’s not that the shirt is hanging open – which would be gratuitous in and of itself – instead, this shirt looks like it was designed to not be able to button or zip up over her chest. There’s simply not enough material there.

                ‘More gratuitous than a skimpier top would be’ is exactly right.

                It makes me think of the Witcher 3. Which is a game featuring lots of naked ladies, prostitutes you can sleep with, sex scenes…a lot of which was gratuitous and unecessarily shoehorned in.
                But, you know, there was something honest about it. Wham, here are some titties. Bam, here is an NPC you can fuck.
                And then there’s an explicit sex scene and everyone moves on. Most of the NPCs you can sleep with actually spend most of their time in, you know, clothes.

                It’s all just so much more …grown-up than what I see in FF12, even if it’s still gratuitous.

      2. baud says:

        For the picture links starting in static.wikia.nocookie.net (from various *.fandom websites), you have to remove everything in the URL after the extension (jpg, png) so that the pictures load for other people.

        So that link should work: https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/finalfantasy/images/0/0d/Elza_FF12.jpg

    6. Benjamin Paul Hilton says:

      This reminds me of the spoony experiment videos on the FF series where he eventual just admits that he hates all the tropes that come along with jrpgs.

    7. Mopey bloke says:

      I do think it is someone’s fetish. Ashe’s clothing for one is based on a Japanese sailor suit uniform.

      1. Retsam says:

        Is it? It doesn’t look like any I’ve actually seen.

  6. droid says:

    I don’t usually flame bait but the best game in the Final Fantasy series is Bravely Default 2.

    1. Fizban says:

      If I were to play Bravely Default 2- should I play Bravely Default 1 first?

      1. Syal says:

        I’ve read an LP of 1, but I don’t think it’ll matter. The plot of both games is extremely light. 2 has wandering field monsters while 1 had toggleable random encounters. 2 is also even lighter tonewise, in that you don’t have to kill people to take their Jobs, you just yank it off them like Akiba’s Trip.

        1. bobbert says:

          Didn’t BD2 have the lady whose daughter died, then she lost her mind, started living alone in the woods, and nursing and talking to a doll like it was a real baby?

          It was way too REAL for me, and I had to stop watching at that point.

          1. Syal says:

            I’m admittedly still really early in the game. Just found the Water Crystal, the first/second of the four. But former villains are offering me sidequests now, which was impossible in 1 on account of them dying in their bossfights.

            Maybe ‘simple’ is a better word. They’re not games that require close attention to the plot.

    2. Mye says:

      Is it much of an improvement over 1? I found it to be very bland and the only aspect I liked was the job system, but it was hampered by the low difficulty (on normal) or the completely uneven difficulty on hard (the hardest boss in the game is some random joke boss in the middle of the game, right after a really important fight plot wise which is super easy).

  7. Pax says:

    Looking forward to this as FFXII is especially like a lost game to me. Like others, haven’t ever really played a Final Fantasy game, but I kind of kept up with them and their general media presence for a couple of years. Basically, there was FFIIV, and it was huge and everywhere, and then there was 8, and I was able to understand it was different and had gun swords, and then there were some more that became increasingly blurry until they were a total mash of JRPG tropes and elaborate anime costuming. There were bunny-eared girls at some point? I don’t know, I completely lost the ability to keep track after X entirely.

    1. Henson says:

      Final Fantasy…. IIV? What number is that? Three? Or have we fallen into the mirror universe?

      1. If I’m doing my math correctly, and if I understand the history of the series correctly, I think Final Fantasy IIV is… Wild Arms 2? Hey, not a bad pick.

        1. Mye says:

          Wild arms 2 was pretty good, it had a fun story and likeable enough character. The western theme wasn’t overwhelming and it made the game stand out from every other JRPG at the time. I do think the franchise peaked at 3, 4 had some interesting stuff but was overall fairly bland and 5 was just boring.

      2. Paul Spooner says:

        .slaremun namor ni VII nettirw neeb syawla sah 7 ,hhU

        1. tmtvl says:

          I knew Paul was secretly a talking broom from Matoya’s cave. Everything makes sense now.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            .hguoht sobmoc terces rof stnih yna tuo gnivig eb t’now I diarfa m’I !tuc peeD !hoO

            1. Pax says:

              Well, I’m glad my hideous brain-fart has generated my most-replied to post ever. I think this is teaching me the wrong lesson…

      3. John says:

        I think IIV is actually a valid Roman numeral, and works out to 3 in the same way that IV works out to 4 and IX to 9. No Roman would write it that way, not least because writing III is faster, but I believe it’s technically correct. I’ve seen similar structures before, albeit for much larger numbers, as in XXC for 80 instead of LXXX.

        1. Syal says:

          And now, for riddle purposes, I need to know if IVX is a valid number.

          1. Philadelphus says:

            This is reminding me of the time I tried doing calculus with Roman numerals for fun (ha!) and nearly broke my brain (and handily demonstrated why we don’t use them anymore).

            1. Tuck says:

              The fact they don’t have a zero is kinda important.

              1. Henson says:

                You’ve never played Final Fantasy Type-IIIIIV?

              2. Philadelphus says:

                Yeah, I cherry-picked an integral where it wouldn’t come up. (Reading that again, I’d completely forgotten the whole other madness that is the Roman fraction system, which apparently worked on a base-12 system to better handle common fractions of 1/3 and 1/4…)

          2. Zeta Kai says:

            Well, either way you slice it, the answer is “6”.

            (IV)X
            (4)10
            10-4=6

            ((I)V)X
            ((1)5)10
            10-5-1=6

            1. Syal says:

              There was a book riddle a long time back that was “turn IX into 6 with one stroke.” And it gave three solutions;
              SIX,
              IX6, and
              IX.
              And I’m looking at it going “can’t you just put a V in the middle and have an actual Roman Numeral solution?”

  8. EOW says:

    Well, this is going to be very interesting.
    I feel the same way about ff12, i even started replaying it, seeing if this will be the time… and it wasn’t. I can never seem to get past the henne mines, not because i can’t but because… i just lose interest.
    I’m curious to see how this’ll go

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      I’ve played three different versions of the game at this point: Original, fan-translated IZJS, and now Zodiac Age.

      I did like the game enough to finish all three times, but the Zodiac Age Playthrough is when I decided I will never beat Zodiark/Omega/Yiazmat. That was the first playthrough were I did damn near everything else, down to using the wiki to find most of the rare game.

      I do like it overall but there’s too much bullshit you would never figure out without a guide combined with too much grind and too many dead periods in the story (I don’t blame people for quitting during that whole “journey to Archades” stretch at all)

  9. As I said above, if you enjoy this series you should be thankful to Shamus for hosting it here. However, if you don’t enjoy this series, please instead blame Paul Spooner.

    Let’s review the timeline, shall we? June 21st, on the Diecast, Paul mentions he played Hardspace: Shipbreaker thanks to me, and didn’t enjoy it. His voice betrays his desperation for revenge. The next week, Shamus is too busy reading Camus and hurling brandy snifters at the wall to record a Diecast. July 5th, Shamus mentions he’s been replaying Final Fantasy XII for the first time in fourteen or fifteen years, and is curious about other people’s reception of the now-aged game. Paul sees his chance to strike, and casually mentions my old Travelog to Shamus. One more week, and Shamus is transmitting on an open channel to summon me from my casket of black ice.

    Alas, it seems my plot to trick Paul into having a disappointing time with an Early Access game backfired spectacularly, but I never imagined the depths to which he would sink or the collateral damage he could countenance in his schemes to ruin me. So thanks a million, Paul.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      You think we’re finished? You think this makes us square? What of your other crimes? If a decade of retro-chronological torment is the price for Hardspace-we-released-an-update-titled-Atlas-Tugged-Shipbreaker, how will you answer for the -3146973 hours that steam now thinks I played BitBurner?

      1. How dare you? I did not turn you to the dark side of Bitburning. You have only your own weak character to blame for your “time compression-heavy playstyle.”

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Lol! It’s true.
          Quite peeved that they use processor ticks instead of system time for most of the mini-games. Gave me an excuse to hack the save game file and the core game logic though.

  10. Retsam says:

    Just like FFXII, I’ve started reading this essay multiple times, but never actually finished it. … mostly because I’ve never quite given up the idea of going back and actually finishing the dang game (… among other hilarious jokes I tell myself).

    It’s precisely because this game is such a “junk sculpture” – if it were better I’d have finished it, if it were a bit worse, I’d have ditched the idea of finishing it, but because it’s in that uncanny valley, I’ve been waffling over the idea of going back to it for a decade.

  11. Karma The Alligator says:

    Looking forward to this. 12 has always been a mixed bag for me, where I really like the world and the beginning, but about the halfway point I usually lose interest because everything is so massive, and I don’t like playing at increased speeds like you can in the Zodiac Age version. I basically only completed the game once (or at least I don’t remember ever completing it on PS2), yet killed Yiazmat twice (I remember on PS2 I started the Yiazmat fight as my housemates left to go see ‘Black Sheep’ in the cinema and I only finished the fight when they came back, to give you an idea of how long and boring the fight is).

    1. Rho says:

      I got nearly to the end of the game myself, then stopped because I literally had no clue what the characters were even trying to achieve by that point. And worse, I realized that I simply didn’t *care*. That, for me, was an unusual and somewhat unsettling feeling at the time, as I always kinda liked the FF worlds even if I didn’t always connect to the characters. (No, FF8, sympathetic backstories revealed forty hours into the plot does not make up for god-awful characterization for the first forty hours.)

      But the FF12 world seemed, quite frankly, to be filled with either people I didn’t like or whom were mostly annoyed and irritated by the Big Bad guy’s plans, which were to mostly get what he already had and wreck stuff along the way, than actually endangered by it.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        I saw Rocketeer’s forum posts having not thought about this game in years. When I tried to reconstruct the plot in my head I realized that I straight up couldn’t remember a single thing after Giruvegan, and this was the reason why. Ashe’s dithering to the Occuria marked the end of anything making any sense to me at all, and while I didn’t lose enough momentum not to finish the game it did pretty much degenerate into monster hunting after that.

        1. Syal says:

          Just finished the game tonight, and, ho boy is that ending a hot mess. Bad dungeons, breakneck “we’re out of time” pacing that still adds new plot developments, it’s… Giruvegan onward is really bad.

  12. Zeta Kai says:

    FF12 was a frustrating, disappointing experience for me, & I only watched someone else play it. The game’s art-book promised so much gorgeous content. The game’s intro promised so much gorgeous content. The game’s bestiary promised so much gorgeous content. And the game just didn’t deliver on those promises.

    Half of the art-book is barely seen in the game, just pretty pictures of things you’ll never experience (especially the airships, OMG; there are over a dozen fully designed, but you only interact meaningfully with two of them). The game’s intro introduces a rich, deep world, full of lore… and you spend most of your time in the game skirting the periphery of this world, with everything interesting happening off-screen elsewhere, or already happened before you show up. And the bestiary is so detailed, so interesting, so… copy-pasted that it’s insulting; if you want lore, then read a single entry for a creature type, but reading the entry for a second creature of the same type is the same entry, but run through a thesaurus.

    This game is a mile wide, but an inch deep. From the characters, to the setting, to the backstory, to the plot, to the combat, to the limit breaks, to the summons, to the creatures, to the progression, to the side-quests… you name it. It’s the Lost of video games: All questions, no answers. All style, no substance. All smoke, no fire.

    And don’t even get me started on the pacing. We didn’t even know that we were in the final dungeon until after we beat the final boss. We were floored, thinking “Is that it?!” Yes, that was it. It didn’t feel like it at all, but that was indeed it.

  13. Narratorway says:

    Holy shit! Rocketeer’s posting on the main site?! I have a reason to come back!

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