August 26, 2022
Good morning! Welcome to our regular column where we write a bit about some of the games we’ve found ourselves playing over the past few days. This time: Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy and one of the greatest games of all time.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We Been Playing, here’s our archive.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade, PS5
When people talk about Final Fantasy 7, I keep my mouth shut because, between you and me, I’ve never played it. And I know, I know, but I didn’t have a PlayStation so how could I? All I could do was go to my friend’s house and watch him play, but there’s only so much time you can do before it gets weird and the parents kick you out.
But now, 25 years later, I have the chance to experience it again, as if it were a new game, thanks to Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade on PS5. And all of this fascinates me because I get both a history lesson and a modern game. And it’s beautiful and it works deliciously: I know technical issues aren’t always the sexiest thing to talk about, but FF7 runs like silk on PS5. This, as a project, as a remake, is about as lavish as it will ever be (excluding future installments) and only a game as historic as Final Fantasy 7 could ever command something like that. So that’s great.
But there is also this jarring dissonance between the old and the new. On the one hand, you have a dazzling new combat system that’s acrobatic and cinematic, and feels more like an action game than anything from Final Fantasy (except maybe 15). But at the same time, you have old level design, pacing, and mission design from the original game, and they collide. Is it old, is it new? I’m not sure he ever really knows – he sort of hesitates back and forth.
It’s not that I’m complaining! I to like that such a project exists. I wonder, however, what young audiences detached from the context surrounding the original think, but perhaps such detachment is impossible. Back to my Cloud I go.
Final Fantasy 12, PS5
Double speed is a game changer. I never quite enjoyed Final Fantasy 12 the first time on PS2, despite loving the series as a whole: the combat is overly intuitive, the maze-like dungeons are laborious, and the environments are sandy brown, earth brown, and rocky brown. .
But the Zodiac Age version brought a number of changes, best of all double speed which allows you to simply run through all the trash with a hilarious running animation, Benny Hill theme not included. It may seem like overwhelming praise, but it allowed me to see the game with fresh eyes.
Final Fantasy 12 has always shined for its grounded political drama and likable cast of characters (except Vaan, sorry). It’s always like that. But at double speed, dungeons are much less of a roadblock, and I got to lush late-game areas much faster. Battles, on the other hand, are a breeze. Without getting bogged down in the laborious minutiae of each encounter, the focus is instead on the license board metagame, tinkering with my party’s available abilities and deciding what weapons and armor to unlock next before earning points. one hand until it becomes so OP that the bosses are laughable. Suddenly, the long party management game feels much more manageable at higher speeds.
I’m also more inclined to check off the game’s side quests and hunts. These require a fair amount of backtracking through each maze-like environment, but at double speed I can focus on the destination and not the travel. And that led me to more challenging and interesting boss fights, as well as additional stories to flesh out the plot. I’ve never cared about that superfluous stuff before, but the double speed allowed the finalist in me to happily spend an evening ticking off menu items, giving me the space to relax and enjoy the ride. It’s a strange dichotomy to rush while taking my time.
I always felt like I misunderstood Final Fantasy 12 the first time around and wanted to give it a second chance. Now, despite its length, I have been able to skim through it and reassess its merits. Double speed is an option that all JRPGs should have, frankly.
There’s probably a book to be written of how Lumines and Tetris aren’t alike. It’s weird to report, however, that I’m now bad at both in exactly the same way.
It’s greed, really – greed and a desire to show off. In Tetris, that means I’m forever waiting for the long block and planning around it, taking stupid risks in hopes it’ll fall and score me four lines at a time.
In Lumines, the long block is called the fuse block – it’s the block that allows you to clear all blocks of the same color once it’s connected and the timeline scrolls. This means I rig landscapes with a single color back and forth, building dangerously high and courting disaster, chasing the perfect payoff.
And it must be said that winning in Lumines is much more exciting than winning in Tetris. Four lines is fine, but there’s nothing quite like a chain of orange blocks bursting and leading to a secondary chain of white blocks bursting in the next timeline pass.
When it works, anyway. When it doesn’t work – and all afternoon for me it didn’t – the two games are quite similar in the way they evoke sweet frustration.