Ah, so much can be said about the Final Fantasy franchise. It’s highs, heralded as the ultimate king of RPGs, followed closely by Sega’s equally long-running gem Phantasy Star and The Dragon Warrior games. To it’s lows, meaning the critically successful, yet eternally flawed FF7 and it’s games thereafter. I’ll spare FF7 my wrath for a later time, as that’s not the focus of this today. I wanted to look back at a lot of the moments of this franchise that weren’t terrible, but made me cry, scream, and solemnly shake my head and almost feel pity for the people who gave up their dignity just so these segments, characters, and moments made it into the “final” cut. these are my Top 10 Final Fantasy Fails.
10. Zidane’s Origin (Final Fantasy 9)
As I approach the last chapter in what I believe is the swan song for solid Final Fantasy games, its climatic story arc ends with……..Zidane being a clone. That’s all they have to offer? I’d like to state that I absolutely hate (HATE!!) clone-based stories, and I haven’t read or watched a good one that has kept me enthralled since Parts: The Clonus Horror and some Twilight Zone episodes. Nevermind the fact that FF pulled this trick two games ago with everyone’s favorite mama’s boy Sephiroth and that spiraled into stupidity and nonsense that fueled my anger for well over a decade. Needless to say that when Zidane realized he was nothing more than a biproduct of genetic experimentation and went into a cliché melodramatic bout of self-pity and resentment, so was I. This singlehandedly took this entire game down a notch for me, and just came off as silly and unnecessary, as Vivi had this same story. And, yeah, people have tried to tell me, “But you see, it was something that came full circle for Zidane about being happy with who you are, and your life is magical and not just an afterthought of a mad scientist. He now had to deal with the same hurdles. Eh, no, he didn’t, and here’s why; 1) His obstacle was resolved with “THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP!!” in one scene. 2) He’s the only humanoid in this universe running around with a tail, and Kuja revealed that he, Zidane, and other clones are genderless, so even though he spent his life as a skirt chaser, he had no equipment to seal the deal. As a professional man, I think I would know if parts were sold separately, if you know what I mean.
9. Guardian Forces Cause Alzheimer’s!!! (Final Fantasy 8)
Apparently, Squaresoft got wind of the summons in FF7 wreaking damage on all foes, making the game way too easy by casting Quadra Magic and Knights of the Round on the same materia slot. So the developers cursed the cast of FF8 with summons that make them all forget the exact same selective memory plot point of growing up together in the same orphanage while being cared for by the villainess. Nice, that’ll teach’em. All we have to do is make sure Squall’s big sister with the psychic dream powers don’t help him out by sending cryptic flashbacks. This plan is fool-proof!!!
8) Enemy Skill Magic; The Magical equivalent of a clearance Sale
I won’t rain down on this one completely, because some of these skills are kinda useful, but have you ever found use for that lousy attack that a Ochu would use on you to cast Silence for one half of a turn? Would you ever feel the need to drag that attack out? “Alright, I’ll finish off this enemy with an attack I picked from this Hedgehog Pie in the third dungeon of the game!!” Unless you’re mastering Quina or are one of the 13 people on planet Earth who used Gau in their party, Enemy Skill is, and always will be pointless.
7.) Ultros, the Hitman Squid, Trying to smash you with an ACME Weight! (Final Fantasy 6)
Where exactly do you start with this scene? Once you wrap your head around a cephalopod hired by a psychotic clown to kill you and your party, you then have to wrestle with image of said octopus holding a 4 ton weight over your head and attempting to drop it on the skull of a woman who is so into the theatre she didn’t want to perform in the first place in that she doesn’t see this transpiring directly above her. Also add that the rafters in this old, decrepit theatre house may harbor rats the size of children, but can also support the extra load of four people sprinting across the top of them to stop Ultros, engaging in a full-scale battle involving chainsaws and suplexes. I gotta get those guys to build my house with infrastructure that good. This whole thing plays out like a Wile E. Coyote skit written by Bjork!
6.) Final Fantasy Unlimited!!
Square Enix realized that they had a super cash cow on their hands and arrogance ran rampant as they looked for various ways to throw away all of that disposable income. So instead of granting me a long overdue DVD release of Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, they gave their money to studio Gonzo, proud makers of some of the worst anime to come out all last decade, and told them to make one of the most shrill, annoying, nails-on-a-chalkboard grating video game-based anime I’ve ever seen in my life. It makes Art of Fighting look like Ninja Scroll. Original characters that are less interesting than watching an apple brown, a plot thinner than wet tissue paper, and half-hearted references from the games this was loosely based off that makes the Super Mario Brothers movie look like a triumph. I didn’t know what to expect going into this show, but when I was done, I wish I had a memory card in my brain so I could delete this data from my mind.
5.) Kadaj Turning into Sephiroth in Final Fantasy: Advent Children
I got a lot of shit about arguing this point with fans years ago, and even if it was just a weak excuse to get him on the screen and have his epic slap fight with Cloud, it’s still stupid. Even in FF7’s own twisted, dumbass storyline, the one thing I took from it is everything you fought in that game were clones of Jenova, therefore Sephiroth is not the chosen form Jenova takes, it would be just another monster. Sephy was nothing more than a figurehead and the lead clone while the ORIGINAL Sephiroth lay dormant in the center of Crater. When Kadaj picked up Jenova’s head and fused with it, he should have just became a giant monster, not a Sephiroth clone. Yeah, I heard the argument, “But they are all still Sephiroth clones, so that’s why he became Sephiroth”. However, being another Seph clone is exactly why he wouldn’t change into him. What would he be, a double clone of the same thing? You know what, I’m fine with that theory. I don’t mind the analogy of Sephiroth and his clones being BK Stackers. Hey, throw another clone patty on that bun!
4.) The Super-Fantastic Cross-Dressing Escapades of Cloud Strife
I know I’m picking on FF7 here, but come on. This is like the Ultros scenario, except it has less dignity. In this debacle, nobody comes out looking good. Tifa doesn’t, because she’s returning to the business that made her any money. Aeris doesn’t look good because she stared at Cloud and thought his 6’1″ muscular frame would make a great shapely woman. That and she had Cloud tied around her finger (Zack would rather die. Oh wait…). Cloud doesn’t look good because he so badly wanted to get into Aeris’ pants that he thought whoring himself out to a perverted senior citizen would get him closer to her, going to such lengths as getting gang raped in a men’s bath house (Five visits and you get a free foot long. And a sandwich), and accepting gifts from someone with diarrhea. Don Corneo and his henchmen don’t look good because the Don is so hard up for action that they can’t spot Cloud’s Adam’s apple, despite it being visible from Saturn. And The player doesn’t look good because morbid curiosity will push you to complete the whole damn quest! it’s this side quest that sums up all of my feeling about this game; Tetsuya Nomura making you put on a dress and dance around while he counts your money.
3.) FFX’s Aeon’s Being Reduced to Pokemon
This might have sounded cool in theory, but I think it made the summons less imposing. the concept of giving them various attributes and a HP/MP bar adds different parameters to how you plan on fighting your battle, but this was a far cry from what these mystical figures were known for; raining down unspeakable amounts of pain and damage on the foes unlucky enough to witness the wrath of Bahamut or Shiva. In Final Fantasy X, they are nothing more than additional party members to a degree, and while they do wield awesome power, something just didn’t feel right. I missed them swooping out of the azure sky or emerging from a fiery pillar of earth and magma, destroying foes and vanishing back from wence they came. Well, it could be worse. they could replace some of the espers I grown and loved with a giant, green snot bubble…
……..Son of a bitch…….
2.) Goodbye World Map. You Will Be Missed.
This one may seem like a tiny nitpick, but I am an avid player of old school rpgs and the World map was one of the defining characteristics of the genre. Leading you party through vast grasslands and battling wolves and thieves to traversing through forests, full of monsters waiting to petrify you. Watching Final Fantasy pull away from this format in X, FF12 and the bland corridors of FF13 really bothers me. yeah, the layouts are expansive and beautifully designed, but the series’ turn from actual fantasy into this sci-fi hybrid just looks lifeless by comparison of the older games. A fine case of bigger not being better.
1.) Squall’s Very, Very Bad Day (Final Fantasy 8)
If there is one FF character who just had everything thrown at him but the kitchen sink (only because they couldn’t find it), and just kept on ticking merely out of spite, it was Squall Leonhart. While I think he’s just a glorified, but more polished version of Cloud Strife, Squall has many good reasons to be as pissy and cross as he is most of the time. Here is a short list of crap this poor guy had thrown at him in this game, in no particular order:
-His Headmaster gives him Satan in a genie lamp for no good reason
-His Headmaster fails to tell him there is a giant Jabba-looking thing in the bowels of the school, running the whole thing
-His best friend is a mincing idiot who punches the air
-His lifelong “rival” Seifer is a bumbling buffoon who makes team Rocket look competent
-He leads the most inept party of any Final Fantasy game, including a marksman who is too chicken shit to shoot anybody and a girl who shoots a dog at you
-He is constantly thrown off of great heights like ladders and crashing through windows. He’s impaled with an icicle and electroshocked shortly thereafter, shot at, kidnapped, sliced, telekinectally tossed around by your possessed girlfriend, attacked by Aliens from Ridley Scott’s movies on a space ship…and nobody else gets a scratch on them.
Combine all of that with the fact that Laguna is your dad, and you can make a strong case that no other Final Fantasy lead character has had to put up with the crap Squall had to deal with. At the very least, he does get a Disney harem in kingdom hearts, so some heartache can pay off.
Thanks for reading, y’all. Out.