rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy really brought home to me how tired I am of open-world games. I love the Assassin's Creed series, I love Red Dead Redemption, but I think I'm suffering a sort of open-world fatigue; I'm not really getting anywhere with Horizon Zero Dawn, even though it's staggeringly beautiful, because I'm just exhausted by how much there is to do. It felt so good to pick up Lost Legacy and play through a fast-moving game where you're constantly driving things forward.

One of the many reasons I am looking forward intensely to Danganronpa V3's release at the end of the month. Dangan Ronpa games are ALL PLOT, ALL THE TIME and it's great.

I'm feeling more generous towards Final Fantasy XV than I am towards most open-world games at the moment, because that game isn't really about the plot; it's a game about arsing around with your friends. Of course you should waste time on stupid sidequests; wasting time with people you care about is important!

Wait, maybe the problem isn't open-world games; maybe the problem is games where the protagonist is alone. In Lost Legacy, you spend most of the time hanging out with Nadine; in Final Fantasy XV, you've got three pals with you. I just want constant dialogue! And that's just not something you get in, for example, the Assassin's Creed games. (As much as I love Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, I'm sad that it went, 'Twin protagonists! You can choose which one to play! But the other twin doesn't tag along with you, sorry.' I want Evie and Jacob to snipe at each other while I'm running around London!)


...okay, I wrote the above in part because I was dithering on whether to play Infamous: Second Son, as a means of passing the time before Danganronpa V3's release. On the one hand, it had good reviews and my housemate had it, so it would cost me nothing to try it out. On the other, I was so tired of open-world games, and I'd tried the original Infamous once and hated it instantly.

I needn't have worried. I came to love Infamous: Second Son just as instantly as I'd come to hate Infamous. Turns out that this game is all about siblings who don't really get along but love each other nonetheless, i.e. my ultimate weakness. Almost at the very start of the game (twelve minutes into this walkthrough video), there was the perfect cutscene, cramming about six things I love into fifty seconds, after the protagonist Delsin got extremely stigmatised superpowers.

And it's so fun to play! Delsin can run so fast and can jump so high and has assorted zooming-and-hovering skills, so you can fly from building to building! He sometimes gives a little giddy laugh as he shoots up into the sky, and it's really endearing. It does suffer a little from Videogame Morality, where it's morally fine to kill the occasional civilian so long as you make up for it by stopping some drug dealers later, but I'm not taking it too seriously. I'm pretty used to suspending my moral disbelief in videogames.

This game further supports my 'maybe the issue is a lack of company in open worlds rather than open worlds in themselves' theory, because Delsin and his brother occasionally have little sarcastic phone conversations while you're running around the city, and it's great.

I'm only two hours into the game, so it's possible my opinion will change, but they have been a thoroughly enjoyable two hours.
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
My response to running out of Higurashi, apparently, was to write a heavily Higurashi-inspired Final Fantasy XV fic. This is horrible and I apologise sincerely for it.


Title: When the Cockatrice Cries
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 4,200
Summary: Something is wrong with Prompto's friends. Something is seriously wrong. He's starting to feel he might not be safe around them.
Warnings: Psychological horror, sexual threat.


When the Cockatrice Cries )
rionaleonhart: the last of us: joel and ellie look out at the ruined horizon. (lot of ground to cover)
I have no idea why Dreamwidth apparently has an 'anonymously buy two months of paid time for a random stranger' function, but I'm certainly not complaining! Thank you so much, unknown donor! I wonder whether you know who received the time. (If you do, I'm sorry that I took a few days to post an entry of thanks! I hope you see this.)

My immediate reaction was 'oh, man, I've got so much icon space! This time I'm definitely going to address my shortage of cheerful and friendly icons, rather than just filling up all the space with smug icons I'll never have cause to use.' And then I immediately uploaded some smug icons. I just can't stop myself.


I'm five hours into the second Higurashi instalment, Watanagashi; I've just played through the night before the festival. My main thought on this instalment so far: Higurashi, you can't take my weakness for psychological meltdowns and combine it with my weakness for weird romance! That's just unsporting!


Spoilery notes on the first half of Higurashi Ch. 2: Watanagashi. )


I'm not feeling the spark of writing inspiration for Higurashi, but I sort of hope I do at some point, because I increasingly want to write some weird, complicated Keiichi/Mion. To be honest, though, it's probably more likely that I'll end up writing Higurashi AUs for all my other fandoms, rather than fanfiction for Higurashi itself. Prompto becomes convinced that all his friends want him dead! He still loves them, but he's increasingly terrified of them! It's great! (By 'great', I mean 'horrible'.)
rionaleonhart: legend of korra: korra cocks an eyebrow, looking smug. (we shall see)
This is a bit of an odd one. I wouldn't have expected a prison AU to be the sort of thing I'd write for this fandom. But then I saw this prompt on the kinkmeme, and somehow this happened. It takes wild liberties with both magic and prisons.

(I entirely failed to hit any of the 'bonus points if' details on the prompt. Whoops. The prompter was a good sport about it, though.)


Title: Deserving
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 4,500
Summary: Prison AU. Noctis, Ignis and Gladio are all serving time. When they realise Prompto doesn't belong there, they band together to break him out.
Warnings: Although this is an AU, it does contain Final Fantasy XV spoilers. It also contains hints of sexual threat.


Deserving )
rionaleonhart: legend of korra: korra cocks an eyebrow, looking smug. (we shall see)
I watched some more Elementary a couple of weeks ago, and the end of 'You Do It to Yourself', with Sherlock and Joan waiting quietly together in the clinic, catapulted me straight into 'shipping them. Oh, dear. I think I'm doomed to 'ship Holmes and Watson in every incarnation. The opening of the following episode, with extremely sleep-deprived Sherlock getting into Joan's face and rambling feverishly about the bank's security system, only made things worse.

During 'M':

Sherlock: I have every intention of torturing and murdering him.
Riona: Oh, wow, he just became so much more interesting to me. I mean, not that he bored me before. But now he's much more interesting.

After 'M':

Riona: I thought Watson might be too well-adjusted to let her relationship with Sherlock ruin her life. I'm so glad I was wrong.
Friend: I'm really worried about you, Riona.

Sherlock was punched repeatedly in the gut in the wonderfully titled 'A Giant Gun, Filled with Drugs', and it was great. And then he angrily pinned down another guy, and that was also great! This show is appealing to all of my most unsettling tastes.


I got the platinum trophy in Final Fantasy XV! I've never platinumed a game before. And then I just, er. Kept playing. I can't stop. I'm at over a hundred hours on the gameplay clock. My entire party is level 99. Yes, I've done practically everything, but there's still wildlife to menace!

I defeated a horde of Magitek soldiers. 'Glad that's over with,' said Prompto, exhausted, as an airship above us discharged another twelve.

I'm still constantly discovering new small details in this game. I was sparring with my teammates, and when they knocked me into the 'danger' state Ignis instantly stopped attacking me and moved to shield me instead.

I like Ignis so much more than I thought I would when I started playing this game. Like √Člise in Assassin's Creed: Unity, I think I took a while to warm to him because his accent sounded like a parody of mine. If I can't believe in a character's voice, I'll have trouble believing in that character. I also took a while to get to grips with his motivations, I think; I couldn't decide until the game's second half whether he was acting out of duty or out of love.

I love his terrible, terrible puns. (They all make terrible puns, but I feel Ignis takes a particular pleasure in them.) And his habit of occasionally muttering dark things, and how much he enjoys cooking. Prompto is still my favourite (by a long way, if I'm honest), but Ignis is pretty great.

I like everyone, really! Although Gladio is the bro I'm least attached to, which surprises me a little, because I was expecting him to be my favourite. He suffers from the omission, in the full game, of CLEARLY THE BEST PIECE OF DIALOGUE in the Episode Duscae demo:

Prompto: If you could be reborn as anything, what would you wanna be?
Gladio: Easy. I'd wanna be me.
Prompto: Wow, what a greeeeat answer.
Gladio: I know.

At the Game Developers Conference this year, Square presented some charts showing how the Final Fantasy XV characters interact with and perceive each other (there are more legible versions if you scroll down). There are some interesting details in there; for example, Noctis thinks of Ignis as the friend who understands him and Prompto as the friend who accepts him. Prompto thinks of Noct as 'buddy from school who I'd do anything for' (awwwww). But I think my favourite is Ignis's perception of Prompto: 'Expendable comic relief whose company I secretly enjoy.'

Something about Final Fantasy XV that's been playing on my mind: the hotel rooms have two double beds. Always two double beds. Maybe they book two rooms, I thought at first, but Ignis occasionally says that 'the tent lets you stretch out a bit more' when you camp. How is it possible that sleeping in a tent with three other people is less cramped than sleeping in a lovely roomy double bed? Answer: you have to share that bed. Canon.

One of the hotel receptionists says, 'The finest room in the house is available for your... immediate comfort,' and I'm convinced he thinks all four of them are banging. I'm not entirely sure he's wrong.
rionaleonhart: ffxv: prompto is trying to listen but actually thinking about his giant crush on you (prompto has a crush on everyone) (i can be serious)
I really need to stop feeling that the things I write for [community profile] ffxv_kinkmeme somehow aren't 'valuable' enough to post elsewhere. Silly, cute writing isn't inherently worth less than serious, tragic writing! It's okay to write fiction with the goal of making people smile; making people smile is actually a pretty great thing.

The original prompt is here.


Title: Education
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Prompto/Gladio
Wordcount: 1,500
Summary: Prompto asks Gladio for advice on flirting. It doesn't really go the way he'd planned.


Education )
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
My sudden, intense burst of writing for Final Fantasy XV again continues! This is rather less serious than my last couple of fics. Somehow I still haven't written a Noctis/Gladio/Ignis/Prompto fic, but at least this incorporates three of the four. Sorry for leaving you out, Ignis.

In a weird way, my approach to pairings in this game reminds me of writing for Top Gear. Even if there are some pairings I enjoy more than others, I'm happy to write the boys in any combination. Rather than 'shipping anything specific, I just have story ideas and then go 'right, if there's going to be romance in this one, which character combination would work best with the concept?'

(Newer followers: er, yes, I'm afraid there was a time when I wrote a lot of Top Gear fanfiction.)

I use so many italics when I'm writing Prompto. It's like I'm seventeen again.

I should note that I originally posted one of the scenes in this - the Prompto/Gladio one - as a kinkmeme fill, back in January (I was the second filler). It's been slightly tweaked to fit into the wider story.


Title: Well, This Is Awkward
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13/R? Let's just go with the UK rating system and say 15.
Pairing: Prompto/Noctis, Prompto/Gladio, Noctis/Gladio, Prompto/Noctis/Gladio
Wordcount: 3,000
Summary: When you're on the road together, you can end up in uncomfortable situations.


Well, This Is Awkward )
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
More Final Fantasy XV fanfiction!

...more Final Fantasy XV fanfiction I can't actually write a useful summary for without spoiling the game. Curses.

Writing this presented a really interesting challenge! ...that, again, I can't actually talk about for spoilery reasons. Stupid Final Fantasy XV.


Title: Connection, Duty
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Noctis/Ignis
Wordcount: 4,000
Summary: Ignis hears a familiar voice.
Warnings: Spoilers for most of the game.


Connection, Duty )
rionaleonhart: ffxv: prompto is trying to listen but actually thinking about his giant crush on you (prompto has a crush on everyone) (i can be serious)
HAVE SOME MISERY. I saw this prompt (Final Fantasy XV spoilers up to chapter 11) on [community profile] ffxv_kinkmeme, and the idea intrigued me so much that I had to give it a go.


Title: Break
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 1,300
Summary: Any summary I could write would suggest Final Fantasy XV spoilers, so I'll just warn that this fic has spoilers up to chapter 11 and was tagged 'blood and misery' on AO3. When I told Rei the concept, her response was 'why would you write that?'


Break )
rionaleonhart: ffxv: prompto is trying to listen but actually thinking about his giant crush on you (prompto has a crush on everyone) (i can be serious)
Final Fantasy XV is, it turns out, a pretty good thing to play when you're feeling down or distracted. You can lose yourself in lengthy battles, watch your boys drive across the world, take up low-effort hunts or sidequests, fish, wander the landscape, collect ingredients in an attempt to help Ignis invent new recipes. There's so much aimless pottering around to be done. I finished the actual plot about fifty hours in, but by this point I've accumulated over eighty hours on my save file, and there are still sidequests I haven't finished.

There are also still lines I haven't heard and animations I haven't seen before. Prompto and Noctis teamed up to take down an enemy and then high-fived in the middle of battle. Ignis and Noctis did a flashy move together and then stood back-to-back like cool dudes. What a great game.

I also enjoyed this exchange, from the Balouve Mines:

Prompto: At least if we get lost, we can follow the rails back.
Noctis: Good point, Prompto.
Gladio: Even you can come in handy.
Prompto: And even you can be annoying!


Every so often, I find I've written down something I have absolutely no recollection of. In this case, 'I dreamt I tried watching Game of Thrones but couldn't take it seriously because Jaime was played by Julian Barrett in a bad blond wig. Also, Brienne was seduced by a woman and was then heartbroken when the woman turned out to be Grindelwald in disguise.'


The part in DN Angel vol. 9 where Daisuke brings Satoshi to his house is absolutely heartrending. Not because anything bad happens, but because it's just a nice, warm moment in the icy desert of self-loathing that is Satoshi's life, and you know it's fleeting. Satoshi says he ends up destroying everything he cares about. Am I something you care about, Satoshi? Because you're destroying me.

I don't know how this never occurred to me before, but Riku/Sora from Kingdom Hearts and Satoshi/Daisuke from DN Angel are very similar pairings: the reserved boy who believes he doesn't deserve happiness, the spiky-haired optimist he's quietly in love with. The difference is that, if Riku is in love with Sora, it may well be reciprocated. There's no 'if' in Satoshi's love, but there's also no reciprocation. Poor Satoshi.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy viii: found a draw point! no one can draw... (you're a terrible artist)
Here is an entry of scattered nonsense that amuses me.

Occasionally, if you use Windows 10, your computer will go 'hey, I made an album from some of your best pictures, check it out! :D'

It offered me one album consisting solely of the following:

- sixteen screenshots of Final Fantasy XV
- a danisnotonfire tweet reading 'sometimes i dream about being one of the reindeer galloping through the sky with leather straps tying me to my friends mm yes carrots please'


It's been a while since I last posted any of our household's attempts to reproduce lyrics in the medium of fridge poetry!

'Why are we wasting time on all your wasted crime?' (Shawn Mendes, 'Treat You Better'): 'why are we breaking clocks on your low doings'

'I've got two legs from my hips to the ground' (Monty Python, 'I've Got Two Legs'): 'I have two walking arms from my lustful latitude to the grass'

'I'm Christina, and here's my ass!' (possibly not technically a lyric): 'it is I a lady's name please watchfully adore this behind'

Why is 'latitude' a word in this poetry set? (If you want 'longitude', though, you're going to have to make do with 'unlatitude'.)

The set generally has a strange blend of really common words and really specialised ones. I spent ages looking for 'dance' and eventually resorted to 'adjust your behind to jazz'. Rei couldn't write 'bee', but she could certainly write 'mean gold wax merchant butterfly'.


Finally, I recently discovered a video of the best moment in Until Dawn, which I didn't realise even existed. In the words of the uploader, Mike fights a shower curtain and gets his ass kicked.
rionaleonhart: ffxv: prompto is trying to listen but actually thinking about his giant crush on you (prompto has a crush on everyone) (i can be serious)
Why didn't I keep writing for Final Fantasy XV? I wrote a couple of fics there and went 'yes, this fandom's so alive, there's an AO3 audience of thousands, it feels great, TIME TO PLUNGE INTO YET ANOTHER DYING FANDOM.'

In fairness, Oxenfree does contain a lot of themes I find really hard to resist. Time shenanigans, sibling relationships, strangers bonding under intense pressure. Sibling relationships between strangers who bond under intense pressure! That's not a combination you get to see often. I was doomed from the start.


Title: A Thousand First Impressions
Fandom: Oxenfree
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 1,500
Summary: Spoilers for the entire game. Jonas meets his stepsister for the first time.


A Thousand First Impressions )
rionaleonhart: ffxv: prompto is trying to listen but actually thinking about his giant crush on you (prompto has a crush on everyone) (i can be serious)
Written for [community profile] ffxv_kinkmeme! I'm not sure it perfectly fulfils the prompt ('Prompto gets the shovel talk from everyone' - in the end, only one of the talks was actually threatening), but it was a lot of fun to write.

Consequence of being in this fandom: when I tried to write 'prompt' up there, I automatically wrote 'prompto' instead.

Being in a fandom of this size is a little intimidating, to be honest. When I posted my previous Final Fantasy XV fic to AO3, I was going 'well, this is just silly fluff, but I don't have to be embarrassed about that because I'm posting it on Christmas Eve and nobody will actually read it'. It got over a thousand hits.


Title: Life Imitates
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Noctis/Prompto
Wordcount: 3,200
Summary: Everyone keeps trying to lecture Prompto on dating Noctis. Which would be fine if he and Noctis were actually dating.


Life Imitates )
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
For some reason, all the fanfiction I want to write for this game is cute and silly. I suppose it makes for a change from all the psychological trauma, but it's also a bit disconcerting. There's kissing in this! This isn't my comfort zone!


Title: Scattershot
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Noctis/Prompto, Prompto/multiple
Wordcount: 1,700
Summary: The longer Noctis spends travelling with him, the clearer it becomes that Prompto can get a crush on anyone.


Scattershot )
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
Merry Christmas, if you're celebrating!

Tradition demands that I post a stupid Christmas-themed manip on Christmas Eve, so here you go. Let's hope this works; I haven't used this image hoster before.




You're all shocked by the subject matter, I'm sure. I don't imagine Christmas exists on Eos, but I bet Prompto would get really excited about it if it did. I suspect he begged all the others until they finally agreed to put on those outfits.

(The reporter in Lestallum asked for photographs of imperial bases for an article, so off I trotted. When the time came to present them, Prompto handed him three photographs of imperial bases and one beautiful monochrome shot of Gladio's bottom. Nobody commented on this. I'm so confused.)

I posted an entry of tips for playing Final Fantasy XV a few days ago, and now I have one more to add. Once you've finished the game, you may want to reload your save and do some of the sidequests, dungeons etc. you missed. When you eventually feel you've done everything you're going to do and you want some closure, roll the credits from the title screen. These aren't the same as the credits that roll when you finish the game - they don't offer extra cutscenes or anything, but they have different visuals and music - and I think they're a really nice way of saying goodbye to this world.

It's entirely possible I'll be tempted back to attempt the last few dungeons, though. On the one hand, I'm concerned that they might get frustrating. On the other, Prompto complains the entire time when you're in a dungeon, and it is my favourite thing. I don't want to miss a second of it.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
Here are some non-spoilery notes on things Final Fantasy XV does right and wrong, in case anyone's dithering on whether to get it. (I'm not sure anyone reading this is actually dithering on whether to get it, but I just wanted an excuse to talk more about this game.)


Positives:

- Both the visuals and the soundtrack are beautiful. No surprises there.

- The four main characters are really well portrayed. I absolutely believed in their friendship and cared about them. Prompto is the best.

- It might actually have the best villain in the series. And I say that reluctantly, because I loathe the villain. I absolutely hate him. I can't remember the last time I so intensely wanted to punch a character in the face. But he's good.

- I played from beginning to end without once feeling the need to grind for experience. You'll pick up plenty of experience points from doing sidequests, so you're unlikely to ever find yourself going 'sigh, better kill a bunch of wildlife before moving on'.

- Although you wouldn't necessarily be inclined to sigh in that situation, because combat is fun! I particularly enjoy warping all over the place.

- Emotional investment is obviously a very personal thing, but I got so emotionally invested in this game.


Negatives:

- The story is interesting but clumsily told. The early developments seem to assume you've seen Kingsglaive. There are thrilling revelations that are never explored further or brought up again. There are characters who never really get a chance to shine. I can see that there was a conscious effort to cut down on cutscenes, and I can understand why, but I do feel the game could perhaps have done with a few more.

- Also on the subject of story issues: the pacing is a bit odd. The leisurely pace of the first half of the game makes sense, given the roadtrip theme, but once you get into the second half events will whip past at lightning speed. Final Fantasy XII still wins the Worst Pacing in a Final Fantasy award, but not by much.

- The 'go to this place and hunt for this thing while thousands of robots parachute onto you' sidequests can become very tedious.

- There are some really bad puns (this is also a positive).

- Not enough hugs. So few things I watch or play seem to have enough hugs. I don't think my hugging expectations are that unreasonable.


Tips for playing:

- You don't have healing spells, so healing items are your best friends. Stay stocked up. Ignis can learn a couple of abilities that let him heal teammates; they're useful and I recommend teaching them to him, but you'll need items on top of that. If an ally's in danger and you need to bring them out quickly or you can't physically reach them to rescue them, you can use a Potion (although you'll miss out on the cute rescuing dialogue, alas).

- Whenever you visit a new shop, press R1 to cycle through item categories to Auto Parts (if it sells auto parts) and see whether it's selling any Final Fantasy soundtracks for your car's CD player. This is very important.

- Remember that you don't have to do everything. If you've spent ages hunting for a sidequest objective and you're getting frustrated, go off and do something else instead.

- If you ever stray inconveniently far from the Regalia, check the options on the map screen; you can return to wherever you parked the car, or, if you're near a road, you can call the car to you.

- Go to the Chocobo Post and unlock chocobo rentals at the first opportunity. Do sidequests for Wiz if you want to be able to dye your chocobo stupid colours (and who doesn't?).

- You're on a roadtrip, and focusing on the destination will rob you of the journey. Don't feel obliged to do every sidequest available, but don't charge constantly towards the next objective either; relax, explore, enjoy spending time with your friends. These are the important moments.


Final Fantasy XV is flawed and messy and beautiful. It has issues, but it makes me feel like nothing else. It's a game I'd never be able to review on Amazon, because my head says 'give it four stars' and my heart says 'give it five'. As with Final Fantasy VIII, I can recognise its problems, but XV has slipped past my rational mind and gone straight to the heart for its verdict.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
Finished Final Fantasy XV!

For a while I've been trying to pin down my five favourite Final Fantasy games: VIII, IX, X, XIII and... what? VI? VII? XII? Many thanks to XV for coming out and making the decision easy. I haven't been this emotionally invested in a game since The Last of Us.

(I've always said that, although VIII means a lot to me, it isn't my favourite game in the series. But I'm not fooling anyone, am I? It's my favourite. Obviously it's my favourite. It's flawed in many, many respects, but I think it'll always be the Final Fantasy I love the most. Although XV has given it a run for its money.)

Prompto has shot awfully quickly up into my five favourite Final Fantasy characters, too. I love that he's enthusiastic and friendly and insecure and endlessly well-meaning. I love that he develops a crush on anyone he spends five minutes around. I love his really transparent efforts to make people like each other again when they've had a falling-out.

Things Prompto has broken at least three times over the course of this game:

- into song
- the fourth wall
- my heart


Spoilers up to the ending of Final Fantasy XV. )


In conclusion: I love this game, blazingly, passionately, but also I hate it. And I love these stupid boys.
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
I haven't loved a game this fiercely in a very long time. It's not perfect; traversing long distances can be a bit of a pain (until you unlock the ability to zoom around on a hot pink chocobo), and I'm having trouble following the plot (not that I expected a comprehensible plot from a Final Fantasy game), and I spent a full fifteen minutes hunting for the last yellow frog and cursing the game designers. But it seems ridiculous to complain when Final Fantasy XV gives me so much wholehearted joy.

There's an almost unprecedented lack of cutscenes in this Final Fantasy game. There's plenty of dialogue, but most of it takes place during gameplay; the actual cutscenes tend to be very short. It's an interesting approach, and for the most part it works.

Here are some notes on the game! Spoilers up to the end of chapter 7, but only for which characters join your party as a guest. I notice that all of these notes are about Prompto.


Final Fantasy XV, up to the end of chapter 7. )


I'm sorry to say that I named my chocobo 'Chocobro'.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
First impressions of Final Fantasy XV! I've played for six hours but have barely made any progress on account of being constantly distracted by all the optional things to do (I've only just completed the first chapter), so there are no plot details in here; you can read this without being spoiled.


First impressions of Final Fantasy XV. )


Finally: there's an NPC called Dave! That's not very Final Fantasy!
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!