rionaleonhart: final fantasy xiii: lightning pays intense attention to you. (speak carefully)
The final boss of Final Fantasy VI was a nightmare. He kept killing people in one hit! He kept muting my entire party, and I was quickly running out of items to cure it! (It's possible I didn't prepare very well.) I was convinced for a while that I was going to lose, and I'd have to fight through that entire sequence of pre-final-boss bosses again. But I made it! If the fight had gone on for a couple more minutes, I'd have been doomed.

So, yes, I finished Final Fantasy VI! I'm fairly certain I snapped this game up when it first became available in the UK, back in early 2002, so it took me, er, fifteen years and two copies. But I got there! And I wrote a fic, so revisiting this game was a highly successful endeavour. Even if it landed me with a new rarepair.

(At the ending, on the airship, there's a bit where Edgar tries to flirt with Celes, and she walks off to stand next to Sabin instead. I'M JUST SAYING.)

I'm starting to spot a pattern in some of my pairings: two people are part of the same group of friends. They're not close friends - they don't necessarily spend time alone together - but they move in the same circles. The group goes through some major, traumatic experiences. These two find themselves isolated, with only each other, having lost contact with the rest of their friends. I start 'shipping it immediately. It happened with Celes/Sabin, and with Mike/Sam in Until Dawn. I think my fondness for Hope/Serah in Final Fantasy XIII-2 comes from the same place; they're not alone, but they've lost touch with everyone who really knows what they've been through.

Even if Celes/Sabin is what really caught my attention on this playthrough, I also have a slight fondness for Celes/Locke, and Celes/Terra, and Leo/Terra, and everyone just cuddling in a big pile, including the yeti.

I've criticised some aspects of this game, but it has a huge amount of charm. The cast is delightful, and the tiny sprites are surprisingly expressive, and the battle system is one of the best from the ATB era; all the different battle abilities do mean that characters have wildly varying levels of usefulness, but they also make things varied and fun!

My preferred team was Celes, Locke, Edgar and Sabin, although I'd have swapped Edgar out for Terra if I wanted it to be a team of my four favourite characters. The Tools function was too useful to give up! Plus I liked the idea of the brothers fighting side by side.

Celes is the best. I wouldn't have stood a chance without her in the final battle.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
I didn't think I'd actually write this! I've never even attempted Final Fantasy VI fanfiction before. If you'd told me a fortnight ago I was about to write Celes/Sabin, I'd have asked whether you were sure.

Sorry about the pretentious lowercase title. It just seemed like a title that demanded pretentious lowercase.

Title: a little thing like the end of the world
Fandom: Final Fantasy VI
Rating: light R
Pairing: Celes/Sabin
Wordcount: 1,600
Summary: Celes and Sabin, together in the wreckage.

a little thing like the end of the world )
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xii: fran glares; tremble with fear! (don't cross me)
If I were in charge of a remake of Final Fantasy VI, I'd cut the playable cast down substantially. I like the playable characters, but there are just too many of them for the plot to feel focused. The story of Final Fantasy VI would work perfectly well with just Terra, Locke, Celes, Edgar and Sabin in the party. And possibly Setzer, for the airship. And - and General Leo. Look, I'm in charge and General Leo is the best. I'd forgotten how much I liked him.

I can see that you sort of need a huge number of playable characters for the World of Ruin to work, though. If there are too few party members, it'll become tricky for the player to find enough to assemble a viable party.

I'd also make big changes to the feeding-fish-to-Cid bit. It admirably conveys the misery and monotony of being trapped on a tiny post-apocalyptic island, I suppose, but it's horrendous game design on about six different levels. (I saved Cid this time! The first time, I had no idea what I was doing and ended up running back and forth for what felt like a thousand years, catching fish indiscriminately and going 'when is this fishing going to end?' until he eventually died of food poisoning.) And I'd reduce the game's ridiculous encounter rate. I was so happy when I finally got a relic to bring it down.

Okay, that's enough nitpicking, because there's a lot I like about this game as well!

When I started this replay, I thought 'maybe I'll finally establish whether Celes or Sabin is my favourite character!' and instead I've ended up torn between three favourite characters: Celes, Sabin and Leo. Although Sabin definitely earned strong points with his 'Did you think a little thing like the end of the world was gonna do me in?' line; it was a timely reminder that life and hope and humour can be found in the darkest of situations, and it made me smile.

I was so happy that Sabin was the first person I found in the World of Ruin. CELES AND SABIN: THE PERFECT PARTY. It's just as well I love these two, because it's taking me a while to track down anyone else. Inevitably, I now want fanfiction about Celes and Sabin slipping into a strange, sad physical relationship while they cross the ruined world in search of others.

I can't say Celes/Sabin is a pairing that's ever occurred to me before, but maybe the fact it's not an obvious pairing is what makes the concept interesting. It appeals to me in the same way Sam/Mike from Until Dawn does: under normal circumstances, they'd never look at each other in that way, but the circumstances are so far from normal. It's another living, breathing person, and that's suddenly become so precious.
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
I'm unsettled by the thought that some people read or watch DN Angel and come away thinking, 'Ah, yes, Satoshi, there's a young man who's definitely not in unrequited love with Daisuke.' I'm usually open to people having their own interpretations of characters and their relationships, particularly on points that aren't made explicit in canon! But Satoshi is just so painfully, tragically in love.

It will astonish you to learn that I'm rereading DN Angel. I must have first watched the anime thirteen years ago, and I've never really thrown off my emotional attachment to this ridiculous tale of rampant crushes and magical art theft. My feelings about Satoshi will lie dormant for years, and then I remember his tragic existence and those feelings BURN A HOLE IN MY CHEST.

I sort of want to write fanfiction where Daisuke finally realises how Satoshi feels about him (Riku probably tells him, because Daisuke is absolutely hopeless with feelings and there's no way he's ever going to work it out on his own), but I'm not sure where it could go. Daisuke approaches Satoshi to say 'I'm really sorry, I don't feel that way about you,' Satoshi goes 'well, I knew that,' uncomfortable silence, the end? It's not much of a concept.

It could theoretically be possible to make a 'sorry, I don't feel that way' conversation interesting, but it'd be tough with Satoshi. It's generally hard to make Satoshi have conversations. He's very quiet and intense.

Final Fantasy VI was on sale on the Playstation Store recently, and I lost my copy some years ago, so I bought it! Maybe I'll actually be able to finish it this time.

Here's an odd thing about Final Fantasy VI: at one point, a man tells Locke to give his son 'the password', but he can't remember what the password is. When you (as Locke) speak to the son, you're given three possible passwords to say, one of which is correct. So you have a one-in-three chance of getting it right. If you get it wrong, you'll be able to try again, after finding a fresh disguise.

But the three choices are presented to you, the player. They aren't presented to Locke.

Perhaps we're meant to think the son gave Locke the three choices (although that doesn't seem like a great password system), but I prefer to believe that Locke was told 'give him the password, I can't remember what it is' and then got the password, by randomly guessing from all the words in the world, within three tries.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
We're on the verge of a new main-series Final Fantasy release! It's been a while.

One of the things that fascinates me about the Final Fantasy series is the way it reinvents itself with every new game. Every entry in the series tries new things; every entry has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Here, for no particular reason, is my list of pros and cons of the main-series games I've played extensively (I haven't played the online entries, and VI is the only 2D release I've played for a substantial amount of time). Direct sequels and spin-offs aren't included. I've tried to avoid very subjective judgements, which is why 'the characters are the beeeeest' doesn't appear under VIII and XIII. Please imagine that 'music' appears on the 'pros' list for all of these games except XII (sorry, XII).

Final Fantasy VI:
Pros: Still looks good twenty years later. Characters all have distinct battle abilities. You can suplex a train.
Cons: Feels a bit unfocused on account of having too many characters and a non-linear second half.

Final Fantasy VII:
Pros: Materia system allows for interesting setups. Midgar is a great setting. Fascinating storyline.
Cons: Graphics have aged badly. Awkward translation. These two things, combined with oddly out-of-the-way backstory cutscenes, make the fascinating storyline very difficult to grasp. It's sometimes hard to tell how you're supposed to progress. (The upcoming remake may well resolve some or all of these issues.)

Final Fantasy VIII:
Pros: Actively rewards not getting experience, so it's great if you prefer exploring and progressing the storyline to fighting random encounters. Triple Triad!
Cons: Confusing stat system, making it easy to screw up your playthrough if you don't know what you're doing. Revolves very, very strongly around Squall, which is great news if you like Squall but may make things tricky if you don't. Story falls apart at disc 3.

Final Fantasy IX:
Pros: Fun and cute! Doesn't take itself too seriously, on the whole, despite dealing with some bleak themes. Contains Chocobo Hot & Cold, the greatest minigame ever made.
Cons: Slow battle system. You will eventually finish the Chocobo Hot & Cold sidequest and be sad that there are no more Chocographs to find.

Final Fantasy X:
Pros: Nicely strategic battle system. Excellent levelling system; the Sphere Grid defines initial roles for the party members but allows for customisation. Strong, reasonably coherent storyline (this is very rare in a Final Fantasy game), although things get weird as you approach the end (this, by contrast, is very common). Probably the most accessible game in the series for newcomers.
Cons: Very linear. Awkward voice acting. A bit too cutscene-heavy. The European release likes to drop murderous superbosses in your face when you're innocently trying to revisit previous locations.

Final Fantasy XII:
Pros: Great translation; a lot of thought has gone into the way different characters would speak. Intricate world. No random encounters.
Cons: Poorly paced; long segments without any story advancement make it hard to follow the plot. Although the voice acting is good, the sound quality (on the PS2 version, at least) is poor. Boss battles tend to be a bit of a slog.

Final Fantasy XIII:
Pros: Good pacing, great battle system, gorgeous. Extensively explores the relationships between the party members. Rarely demands grinding.
Cons: Very linear; no sense of exploration. Writing occasionally lacks subtlety. No gameplay variety; there are battles and there are cutscenes, but that's your lot.

I've no doubt that Final Fantasy XV will also get some things right and some things very wrong, and I'm looking forward to seeing what those things are. Going by this lovely piano-and-violin piece from the Episode Duscae demo (and the fact that the composer is Yoko Shimomura), 'music' seems likely to be one of its successes.

If you'd offer different upsides or downsides for any of these games, I'd be interested to hear about them!
rionaleonhart: final fantasy viii: found a draw point! no one can draw... (you're a terrible artist)
Single best sentence in the written records I keep of my dreams: Dreamt that Boris Johnson kneed me in the stomach. How do I not remember this?

I don't own a PSP, so I haven't played either of the Dissidia Final Fantasy fighting games. However, because I am very interested by the prospect of characters from different Final Fantasy games interacting, I've been watching some of the pre-battle quotes on YouTube.

Whilst I love most of Yuna's lines - encouraging the heroes, showing her resolve when facing villains - I have a few issues with the portrayal and perceptions of Squall.

Squall to Cloud: Another lost soul, like me...

Awful. No. Squall doesn't romanticise his isolation; he just sees it as necessary. (The portrayal of Cloud is a different issue, best addressed by someone more familiar with the character than I; I never felt I could entirely get to grips with the cast of VII, largely because of the poor translation.)

Squall to Squall: There can only be one Squall.

I don't like this one because, in my eyes, Squall keeps a fair amount of self-loathing under his skin. 'There can only be one Squall' implies arrogance, whereas I think Squall feels on some level that it would be better if there were no Squalls.

In Duodecim, Squall's quote when fighting himself is, 'If you are me, then you understand,' which I prefer. Squall has always been fighting himself; when there are physically two of him, of course they're going to fight.

Kuja to Squall: I'll crush your confidence.

Squall is not a confident person. He is sure of his own ability in battle; he is a seething mass of insecurity in basically everything else. I don't like this line because Kuja strikes me as fairly perceptive, capable of picking out and needling at the things that really bother someone; I think he'd be able to see through Squall's front, and having him fall for the front implies to me that the scriptwriters have also fallen for it. Speaking of which:

Squall to Cloud of Darkness: I have no fear.

Utterly, utterly, utterly untrue. This line's sort of excusable, though, because Squall does like to tell himself that he's not afraid.

Tidus to Squall: What's on your mind? Spill it!

I do like this one, mostly because it makes me think of how hilarious it would be if Squall and Tidus spent any real amount of time together. They would not get along at all, although it wouldn't be for lack of trying on Tidus' part.

Yuna to Squall: Don't you want to be with the others?
Squall to Yuna: Can't you fight alone?

And these are perfect; don't change a thing. Squall and Yuna have always been opposites on this point: Squall views relying on others as a sign of weakness, whereas Yuna believes that her friends are the source of her strength. What would happen if, in some strange collision of the VIII and X worlds, Garden assigned Squall to be Yuna's guardian?

Squall to Vaan:'re hard to deal with.


Kefka to Kefka: Ooh, who's that handsome devil?

This quote has nothing to do with Squall, obviously, but I am including it because it is the best.

Also brilliant: Vaan asks Ultimecia how old she is. VAAN. And I never finished Final Fantasy V, but Bartz has some great quotes: 'Would it kill you to smile sometimes?' (when fighting Squall), and 'Light, give me strength! ...or whatever.'

I suppose part of my issue with Squall in Dissidia might just be that I don't really like Doug Erholtz as his voice actor, but I suppose that was inevitable; because I'm English, I tend to imagine that non-voiced characters from worlds other than ours are speaking with some form of English accent, and of course they'll almost always be voiced by Americans if they later appear in voiced works. Ah, well.
rionaleonhart: kingdom hearts: riku, blindfolded and smiling slightly. (we'll be the darkness)
Rinoa can imagine Squall taking someone to fight monsters in the training centre on the first date! Hee! He would. And he explains that you need to be quick if you want hotdogs absolutely seriously!

Also, I said 'no, just showing her around' when Dr Kadowaki asked whether Rinoa was my girlfriend, because it was true and I thought it unlikely for Squall to say otherwise, but then I became curious and looked up a script (other discs: one, three, four) to find out what would have happened had I said 'yes'. I am now regretting not having said it, because the exchange would apparently have been as follows:

Dr Kadowaki: Hi there, Squall! Oh, my... it's not everyday I see you walk around with a girl! Is she your girlfriend?
Squall: Yes.
Rinoa: Are you serious?! Squall?! I'm gonna take it seriously.
Squall: I'm serious.
Rinoa: Woo. I'm speechless.
Squall: I'm seriously joking.


(Does anyone know what replaces the 'showing Rinoa around the Garden' pre-NORG sequence if one has sent Rinoa to the Missile Base?)

The script also taught me that, if you choose to send someone else up the dangerous-looking ladder on the MD level of Garden, Squall will think about the people he's with and then decide to go up himself instead. Bless you, Squall. I mean, yes, it's terribly railroading, but it is also adorable.

Squall is still my favourite protagonist of the main-series Final Fantasy games, without a doubt. He has plenty of problems, obviously, but I identify so much with him and I love hearing his thoughts. I love living inside his mind during the game. I love poor, confused, socially-inept, overly-serious, unable-to-let-himself-rely-on-others, afraid-of-being-relied-upon-in-case-he-fails Squall.

Ooh, here is a poll I have never made before! (If you're not familiar with the Final Fantasy games but would like to answer the second question, just skip the first.)

[Poll #1452748]

The protagonist of Final Fantasy VI is debateable, but I've always thought of it as Terra, so Terra it is. And I'm leaving out Final Fantasy XI largely because the protagonist is presumably You, The Player, which isn't terribly helpful when one is interested in finding out her flist's Final Fantasy character preferences.

Regarding the second question: I don't insist on it myself, but both my housemate and [ profile] th_esaurus do, so I'm interested in finding out whether it's a particularly common habit.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xii: fran glares; tremble with fear! (don't cross me)
As I seem to be rediscovering old fandoms and anime, I thought I would rewatch DN Angel, which I have not seen for at least five years.

I had forgotten how much I love Satoshi and his ridiculously creepy crush on Daisuke. The poor boy! (By 'the poor boy' I mean poor romantically-doomed Satoshi, rather than Daisuke, although Daisuke does have to suffer Satoshi's rather unnerving affections.)

After watching the fourth episode (dear Satoshi: please stop pretending that you lose your hold on Krad around Daisuke because Krad is somehow 'reacting to Dark's presence'; it is because you are madly in love with Daisuke and you know it), I scrolled down a bit and thus stumbled across what is possibly my new favourite quote from a YouTube comment:

homocidal does NOT mean gay, it means you like killing people.

Oh, YouTube, you never fail to amuse and depress.

Note to self: when you're back in London, start playing Metal Gear Solid 2. After all the things I've learnt about it from browsing TV Tropes and [ profile] firefly99's journal, it seems to be:

a) the most confusing game ever created, and
b) completely awesome.

From the Wikipedia article:

The storyline explores many philosophical and cyberpunk themes in great detail, including meme theory, social engineering, sociology, artificial intelligence, information control, conspiracy theories, political and military maneuvering, evolution, existentialism, censorship, the manipulation of free will and the nature of reality.

In a videogame! I can't miss this! I become terribly annoyed when people say that videogames are incapable of depth, or take an 'oh, it's a videogame, of course it's not going to have a real storyline' attitude; it'd be nice to be able to point and say, 'YEAH, WELL, THIS VIDEOGAME CHALLENGES THE NATURE OF REALITY.' (I can already say 'FINAL FANTASY X MADE ME CRY', of course, but it's always nice to have more cases for the argument.)

I am, I suspect, going to be completely rubbish at playing a stealth game, generally being more of an RPG/platformer/action-adventure person, but it wouldn't be the first time I've played a videogame purely for the themes it explores (see also: Silent Hill 2).

If you have any stories of times videogames have made you cry (er, storyline-wise, rather than out of frustration; the ending of Final Fantasy X certainly did it for me, and oh the prologue of Kingdom Hearts II, and I became a bit teary during the final boss fight in Ōkami), or times they've made you feel guilty for an action you took as a player (asdjfghfjdhsggh I'm sorry FFVI Cid I didn't know), or times you've picked up a game you wouldn't have played otherwise because things you'd heard about the plot interested you, please share! Because videogames are a legitimate storytelling medium, and it is very frustrating when non-gamers dismiss the emotional effect they can have.
rionaleonhart: kingdom hearts: sora, riku and kairi having a friendly chat. (and they returned home)
In taking breaks from revision for the overly-weighted Literature exam that looms like a great terrifying monster in front of the summer holidays (all these lectures on postmodernism and I swear I still don't know what it means), I have started a new game of Kingdom Hearts II. Here are some thoughts on replaying the ridiculously long introduction!

KINGDOM HEARTS II: WHAT DID YOU DO TO SETZER? I don't remember the 'Setzer is a stereotypical vain dishonourable silver-haired villain' part of Final Fantasy VI! I have no idea why I didn't complain about his portrayal the first time I played the game!

(I do have a certain fondness for Hip Young Seifer and his posse, though. The Seifer of Final Fantasy VIII would probably run the Kingdom Hearts development team through if he knew how he'd been portrayed, but he is just so ridiculous that I can't dislike him. And he keeps his Final Fantasy VIII battle stance! Also, Young Fujin is terribly cute.

Something to ponder: in the Kingdom Hearts universe, where did Leon and Hip Young Seifer's scars come from?)

Hip Young Seifer: Why does looking at you always tick me off?
Roxas: I don't know. Maybe it's destiny?

Roxas, are you - are you flirting with Hip Young Seifer? Because I think Hip Young Seifer has made it fairly clear that he would not be interested in a relationship with you.

Actually, I'm quite interested in the relationship between Team Roxas and Team Hip Young Seifer. They insult each other and grumble about each other and fight, and yet the two groups seem to have an odd sort of friendship, or at least a potential friendship. Perhaps it's just the way Seifer keeps turning up to say HEY, I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU GUYS but I just came over to say hi.

('That was undeniable proof that we totally owned you lamers' is still one of my favourite videogame lines ever. Oh, Hip Young Seifer.)

And some slightly more spoilery things! Spoilers up to the end of the introduction. (Which takes four hours, by the way. I'm not joking when I say it's ridiculously long.) )
rionaleonhart: final fantasy x-2: the sun is rising, yuna looks to the future. (never leave us again)
You people are amazing. Absolutely amazing. I love you and your hilarity and the way you are always so wonderfully reassuring when I need it. But most of all, I love the fact that, when I jokingly ask for fanfiction about Jeremy Clarkson failing at university, people will actually write it.

I have such insane good Internet friends.

I've decided not to bring a TV; whether my resolve will waver as the new Top Gear series approaches remains to be seen. I've also decided to leave behind the PS2, as it would be rather selfish of me to deprive my brothers of it (and also probably rather difficult to play it without a television). I am a little sad about this, especially as I was really getting into Final Fantasy VI (which I've played before but didn't manage to finish before the memory card with all my Final Fantasy saves on broke, alas), but I imagine I'll probably find other ways to fill up my time. Such as PANICKING.

Final Fantasy VI really is a brilliant game (with the awesomest overworld map and boss themes ever!), and I don't know why I haven't played it more before. Also, it is one of the few Final Fantasies in which I can name the characters whatever silly thing I feel like, as I haven't read enough fanfiction to have them permanently linked with their official names. SABIN WILL ALWAYS BE ZEKE IN MY MIND AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.

rionaleonhart: final fantasy x-2: the sun is rising, yuna looks to the future. (don't regret a thing (livii))
In which Riona is excessively woeful about Doctor Who news. Major spoiler for the 2006 season. )

In other news: music! Tagged by the unspeakably evil [ profile] draegonhawke. GLARE. GLARE, I SAY.

List ten songs that you're currently digging. It doesn't matter what genre they're from, whether they have words, or even if they're no good. They must be songs that you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the ten songs and their artist(s), and then tag five other people to see what they're listening to.

Be warned, for my taste in music is extremely questionable. )


Also, in case you're curious (although I can't imagine why you would be), my AS results: B for English, Maths and German (which is, frankly, unbelievable - I was sure I'd got an E); A for Classics. Not bad. Now, if only I had the slightest clue which university was which.

Finally, if villa agents would let people know that the villa rental has fallen through more than two days before they are due to arrive, the world would be a much happier place. Also, if said agents would pass the money on to the owners five months in advance when the holidaygoers gave it to them, perhaps it wouldn't fall through in the first place.