January 29, 2014

This Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Trailer is Adorably Retro

Square Enix released a rather cute promotional trailer today, for the upcoming final installment in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. Critical opinions of Final Fantasy XIII aside, it's a pretty cool video of the prior events that lead up to the beginning of Lightning Returns. I'm not sure its explanatory power is sufficient to get somebody who never played these games up to speed, but at least it's a cool throw-back to the classic SNES Final Fantasy style.

Part of me wants to warm up to these games a bit, after seeing this. I didn't like the original Final Fantasy XIII's story at all, and although XIII-2's developments didn't seem much better the actual gameplay and depth was much improved. XIII-3's mechanics seem like they will be legitimately enjoyable, even if the plot still sounds like hokum. There are some genuinely good elements in there, and it seems like Square Enix learned some lessons after the initial stumble.

If there is one thing I take away most from this trailer, though, it's just how contrived and random everything seems. The abruptness with which Lightning falls through a rift in the earth, only to fall into Valhalla and become a "warrior goddess" isn't just a cartoonish abstraction -- it's essentially how the story goes! Characters and concepts just appear and are forgotten as it becomes convenient. The rules about the nature of reality completely shift from game to game, as if the writers haven't fully decided where to take things. Sometimes I feel like I'm playing the JRPG equivalent of Axe Cop.

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