And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Trash Culture’s Final Fantasy Retrospective Part 5: Mystic Quest
November 5, 2012, 8:01 am
Filed under: Reviews, Video Games | Tags: ,

By Chad Denton

Comic book companies were contractually obligated to replace at least half their pages with this ad, every month, for a whole year.

Comic book companies of the time were contractually obligated to replace at least half their pages with this ad. Every month. For a whole year.

Wasn’t the ad campaign for this game a horrible lie, even by the standards of ad campaigns?

Okay, okay, I’m going to come out and admit that it’s not fair to call Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest a bad game, not in a strict sense anyway.  It set out to provide a basic, watered-down introduction to console RPGs and, honestly, it achieved that goal quite well.  But at the same time it represented what was probably the most condescending message a company ever made to its own fanbase.  Square was basically proclaiming to Americans, you all can’t handle our real product (which in this case would be Final Fantasy V) so we’re going to give you a version that’s more up to your speed – and that speed would be somewhere along the lines of a golf cart with a defective engine.  Hell, when they released the game in Japan they even titled it Final Fantasy USA.  Square might as well have subtitled it “This is what Americans think a RPG should be!  Ha ha!  They embarrass us by buying our games!”

Now I’m sure there were other elements to Square’s decision.  Like the ad emphasizes, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest was also cheaper, selling for $40 at a time when most RPGs for the Super Nintendo ran in the $50 – $60 range.  But, trust me, you could see where you saved that money.  The game didn’t even have its own graphical signature;  most of the graphics were souped-up and colorized from Final Fantasy Legend III.  You could also pretty much beat the entire game in a day or two of even casual playing, which was great if – like me – you made a habit out of renting video games and even RPGs for the weekend (P.S. I still curse the assholes who always erased my saved games when they rented the games before I could!), but not so good if you bought it expecting something like the 40 hour minimum players could expect to put into Final Fantasy IV. Continue reading

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Trash Culture’s Final Fantasy Retrospective (Part 1A)
October 1, 2012, 11:21 am
Filed under: Reviews, Video Games | Tags: ,
A kick-ass franchise logo is half the work, right there...

A kick-ass franchise logo is half the work, right there…

By Chad Denton

“Final Fantasy” fans who got hooked in the ’00s don’t know how lucky they were. Being an old-school fan, who was literally with the franchise from the start, was a weird ordeal for anyone living outside Japan and wasn’t enough of a hardcore gamer to own a genuine Famicon and have the ability to fluently read Japanese. The majority of the games in the series were simply not available to people unwilling to learn Japanese until the advent of the Internet, emulators, and fan-translations, and even if you did know enough Japanese to play the games it was still a hassle and an expense to actually order the games and a Famicon or Super Famicon to play them.  To twist the knife, Square made the decision to title the real “Final Fantasy IV” as Final Fantasy II, which eventually created a huge (and now proverbial among console RPG fans) amount of confusion when saps like me finally got wise to the fact that all of North America was deemed unworthy to receive the series in full (I suppose it’s a good thing they ended the policy before “Final Fantasy VII” became “Final Fantasy IV.”) To make matters even more confusing, Square, despite the international success of the Final Fantasy franchise, decided that RPGs were unprofitable in the North American market and that the only RPGs that had any chance of selling had to be under the Final Fantasy brand name. So, when they did decide to release two other RPG franchises to North America, they released them as Final Fantasy Adventure and Final Fantasy Legend,despite the two series having almost nothing in common, even in gameplay, with any of the Final Fantasy games that did make it to North America and Europe. I never played “Final Fantasy Adventure” until fairly recently, but I did get to experience “Final Fantasy Legend,” albeit years after the series was first released on Game Boy. Continue reading



The Trash Culture Literary Corner: Worlds of Power: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest: Prelude: Revenge of the Colons
September 10, 2012, 8:05 am
Filed under: Reviews, Video Games | Tags: ,

by Chad Denton

It’s come to my attention that certain people have called into question the scientific rigor of this blog, and in fact the entire field of “trash culture studies,” so to deal with the ever persistent issue of genre elitism I’ve turned away from comics and video games toward the world of literature.  Thus on today’s docket we have…

Castlevania: Worlds of PowerExcept for “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, I can’t think of any trash culture reading materials that were more ubiquitous among my generation.  The “Worlds of Power” books were designed by Seth “F.X. Nine” Godin and his shadowy legion of ghostwriters for one reason:  to make money, obviously, but also I think they were a sincere attempt to get young gamers into reading.  Honestly, at the time, it wasn’t a bad idea.  Nowadays, no matter what the snobs say, video games have for the most part come into their own as a storytelling medium.  It’s arguably futile to translate something like Final Fantasy VII or Silent Hill 3 into literature, since games like those are able to convey narratives on their own and those narratives are intertwined with, say, the dread that comes from exploring the “Otherworld” or the sense of determination the player might feel in facing Sephiroth after hours of seeing Cloud tortured in nearly every possible sense by the villain. Continue reading