Final Fantasy – A Crystal Compendium presents Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a prequel to a 10 year old game, starring an NPC from the original game who was long since dead and had only appeared in flashbacks, and was released exclusively on a portable system of questionable popularity. This sounded an awful lot like something that was stretching really far to cash in on Final Fantasy VII nostalgia and I couldn’t believe at all that it could possibly live up to expectations. Still, it was a Final Fantasy VII game, so I had to try it.

Much to my surprise, it actually lived up to all that it had promised rather well. Here was an action-RPG with a solid real-time combat system, a surprisingly large amount of content, extremely high end cutscene videos, and some very impressive in-game graphics for a portable game of its time. I’m told that the gameplay is very similar to Kingdom Hearts, though I’ve never played any of that series. You can certainly see a resemblance in the visual design though. The gameplay followed a formula that has become the standard for the modern day action-RPG, with a main story that was of a somewhat short length for an RPG, but packed full of dozens of hours worth of pointless side quests. This is a formula that is still subject to a lot of debate even today, but one that I find to be pretty enjoyable if a game has good enough gameplay to back it up, and I believe that to be the case with Crisis Core. There are a ton of optional extra adventures to tackle, many featuring challenging exclusive boss fights. After digging up my dusty old PSP, it seems that I spent around 55 hours on this game back in the day. Not bad for a last gen portable game.

As for the story, it adds some interesting details to the history of key characters like Zack, Sephiroth, and Hojo, as well as dropping in as many familiar guest-stars as possible without creating continuity conflicts. The history of The Jenova Project and Sephiroth’s descent into madness are expanded on, mostly via the introduction of a new character, Genesis, who serves as something of a proto-Sephiroth. There’s also the fabled “romance” of Zack and Aerith, though this was not one of the more exciting aspects of the game, having felt more than a little undercooked. Overall, it does a good job of being a faithful supplement to the original without interfering with the pre-established history or being entirely reliant on nostalgic call-backs.

What really stuck with me above everything else in this game though, was the bizarre attachment I grew to have with Zack. Poor, doomed Zack who was destined to die in order to help mold Cloud into the iconic character he became. Zack only had a handful of lines back in Final Fantasy VII and there was never really much to him except for a fancy haircut and some flashy sword moves that Cloud would come to adopt as his own. Crisis Core does an excellent job of filling that void of a character though, and does so to such an extent that as the end approached, I found myself hoping that beyond all reason, some crazy deus ex machina would manifest and somehow save Zack from his fate. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. Maybe the Zack that was said to be killed in Final Fantasy VII was another weird clone. Maybe since we didn’t actually witness his death very clearly, he actually survived somehow. Maybe Crono pops out of a portal and whisks him away to the distant future even though that’s not even the right series. IT COULD HAPPEN! But did it? Well, I’ll leave that for you to see for yourself, but I will tell you that this game had one of the most memorable and powerful endings I’ve ever seen.

Crisis Core remains my absolute favorite PSP game to this day, but it’s unfortunate that so many other people are probably missing out on it due to its exclusivity on a system that wasn’t exactly a massive success. I can’t imagine too many people are going to run out there and pick up a PSP right now just to play this. I’m honestly pretty surprised that Crisis Core still hasn’t been re-released on newer platforms. You would think that Square-Enix would be all over this with how much they love to constantly re-release other Final Fantasy games. Maybe in a few more years when that Final Fantasy VII remake comes out, they’ll get the bright idea to put out a remaster of this on modern home consoles so that more people can get a chance to experience it. If so, I highly recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy VII. It’s not going to blow your mind and become one of your favorite games ever like VII surely did, but it’s a great game for what it is, and it’s a worthy addition to its world that feels genuine, and not like some simple after-the-fact cash-in.

This is merely a small sliver of the grand universe of Final Fantasy though. For more great games in the series click the pic below, which leads to the hub of the mighty Final Fantasy – Crystal Compendium project, which is being hosted by The Well-Red Mage and is bursting with other more fine WordPress talents than I can even remember the names of. Thanks to the host for having me, and thanks to everyone else involved for being generally awesome. 

Final Fantasy – A Crystal Compendium presents Final Fantasy Dimensions

Surprisingly, Final Fantasy Dimensions is an actual whole RPG for your phone. By this I mean that it is a single player game with a full campaign without any weird PVP F2P mechanics or microtransactions, unlike most other Final Fantasy mobile games. It does come broken up into four chapters, the first whole game, that’s it. No need for any other purchases or endless online grinding.

No, Final Fantasy Dimensions is just a regular old Final Fantasy game, with a heavy emphasis on the old. The style in this one is very much like the original NES and SNES games and carries with it all the best and worst traits of those ancient JRPGS.

Graphically it all looks like a familiar, but nicely updated, version of those early games. If you have fond memories of Final Fantasy on NES, you’ll probably be a fan of the classic visual themes and music here. Gameplay mechanics are a big mash-up of different things from 1-6. There’s a sizable job system here, with a lot of customization options for each of your characters, and many very familiar classes to choose from, like Red Mages, Dragoons, or even those damn spoony Bards.

Combat can be done in a classic turn-based manner or with the classic active combat system. It’s all very basic, just like the old days, and actually gets quite repetitive after a while, also like the old days. How much you’ll be able to enjoy this game probably relies heavily on how much you liked those old days. If you don’t have a nostalgic itch for ancient Final Fantasy games, you’ll probably find this much too basic and repetitive to enjoy.

On the other hand, if this is your thing, you’ll be in for a real treat here as this game stretches the classic formula about as far as humanly possible, resulting in a classic JRPG experience that lasts around 50 hours or more, depending on how far you want to go in tracking down all those secrets.

One last important aspect to discuss is the story. Well, don’t expect much from the story here. Yes, it’s a very long game that takes you to a large number of locations, with a huge cast of characters, but they’re all as basic and clichéd as can be. Imagine the level of writing on an NES JRPG and you’ll know what to expect from this. There’s crystals, and there’s light and darkness, and there’s an evil empire, and blah blah blah. There’s nothing new here, you’ve heard it all before. It’s more of a tribute to all the classic games than an original story of any kind.

One thing’s for sure though, it’s all a lot of game for a mobile game. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth if you can stomach how dated it all is, and you may even have a good deal of fun while doing it! Just don’t expect any innovative new combat system or emotionally deep story here.

This is merely a small sliver of the grand universe of Final Fantasy though. For more great games in the series click the pic below, which leads to the hub of the mighty Final Fantasy – Crystal Compendium project, which is being hosted by The Well-Red Mage and is bursting with other more fine WordPress talents than I can even remember the names of. Thanks to the host for having me, and thanks to everyone else involved for being generally awesome. 

That Final Fantasy XV ending

WARNING: This is obviously going to contain massive spoilers for the game, so you probably want to stop reading right about now if you don’t want to know all the secrets yet. If you don’t want spoilers, try my spoiler-free review HERE instead!

So, there seems to be a lot of anger out there regarding the ending, specifically regarding the lack of details and the seemingly contradictory actions of the big bad, Ardyn. Ardyn reveals late in the game that he’s that he was king before your family became the line of royalty, that he was the one who saved his kingdom from the demons by absorbing them all into his own body, which resulted in him being exiled for his troubles because no one wanted this crazy immortal guy full of millions of demons hanging around, and so everything he’s done has been to get his revenge on the new royal bloodline.

This is a guy who was basically running the evil empire from behind the scenes by whispering into the emperor’s ear, who used his stored demonic powers to help the empire create demon/human hybrid soldiers to win the war with by experimenting on thousands of children, who was responsible for the overthrowing of Noct‘s home and the death of his father, went on to plunge the whole world into a demon-infested eternal darkness, and was personally responsible for murdering Noct‘s fiancee right in front of him.

And yet throughout the game we see him helping Noct several times during his journey. He seems to go out of his way to ensure that Noct gains access to more royal arms and aeons, which will only make Noct more powerful and help him with his efforts against the empire. Ardyn even goes as far as to make sure that Noct receives the ultra-powerful Ring of the Lucii, which is supposed to be the most powerful royal artifact and the key to saving the world. Ardyn literally has his hands right on it and flat out refuses to take it, insisting that it must get to Noct, and it does eventually lead Noct to the final power he needs too, which he uses to beat Ardyn in the end, which he probably wouldn’t have been able to do without.

So why did Ardyn go to such great lengths to both torment and help Noct? The answer seems kind of obvious to me (probably from reading all those damn comic books): Ardyn really just wanted to die. Here was a guy that was so powerful that he could defeat an entire legion of demons by himself, who became immortal because of it, but was stripped of his crown, shunned and exiled, and probably in constant pain from having to deal with containing all those demons. Everything he had was gone, no one wanted anything to do with him, and he couldn’t even die in peace.

Sure, he probably really did also want revenge on the new royal family too, but that was just a bonus. Think about it, every action he took was to help make Noct more powerful, and looking back on it, what seemed like simple sadistic torment, was actually Ardyn taking every opportunity to make Noct hate him and want to kill him as much as humanly possible. It was all about creating the ultimate weapon to destroy himself with. Ardyn even taunts Noct after the final battle when they’re both in the spirit realm, making sure to let him know that his body dying won’t actually stop him from coming back, that his spirit needs to be completely destroyed too. Why in the world would you say something like that at that moment unless you were asking for it?

It’s interesting because it seems like a semi-happy ending for the world, where Noct gives his life to defeat the big bad and bring light back to the world to banish the demon infestation, and so hooray, things are great for everyone, right? Except…Ardyn actually got everything he wanted, didn’t he? Not only did he finally find his eternal rest, but he took every single one of his enemies with him in the process, and hey, too bad for those who knows how many people that died and/or lived torturous existences as Magitek troopers. Everything went exactly to his plan. The bad guy won and no one even noticed. How fucked up is that? As barebones as the plot of this game was, I have to at least give it credit for this aspect of it.

So…anyone else out there finish this game yet and actually read this? Got any thoughts? Alternate theories? Horrible insults? Whatever?