I was wondering why ghostlightning had suddenly brought FFX:III up to me the other day. His question was whether FF:XIII was going to be coming out on 360 too. Yes…..yes it is. Then I found out that the demo had been released in Japan on the PS3 yesterday and went to look at some clips. Truthfully I hadn’t been that psyched about FFX:III until I saw that they were going to be going with the whole cyberpunk theme for it’s characters and part of it’s setting. IMO FF: VIII had the most fascinating settings in the history of the franchise and I had been waiting a long long time for them to go back to that. Lightning’s Gunsword helps in getting back to that level of awesomeness too, because if I haven’t already been clear, my policy when it comes to games is “to hell with realism, do what you have to do to maximize the fun factor, then if you have to worry about realism”. I guess that means I’ve grown accustomed to Square’s late tendencies towards zazz factor (not so much cutscene porn, which they admittedly not quite as bad for as Konami’s Metal Gear Solid franchise) as long as it doesn’t interfere with gameplay. Of course if the realism is tied to the fun factor like it with such game franchises as Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty then by all means……
Anyway, I digress. What I am really here to talk about was the music during one of the early sequences in the Demo. Specifically this masterpiece in the waiting:
Final Fantasy XIII Boss Theme – By Masashi Hamauzu
Holy mother…..maybe it’s just me, but this is probably the best Final Fantasy song I’ve heard since FF: X, though maybe that’s because Masashi Hamauzu was one of the FFX composers. Nevertheless I didn’t expect to get completely blown away by one of the first tracks I heard from the demo and I swear to god it actually brought a tear to my eye because it sounded so much like the FF music I remember getting into back in my high school days and not the solid but merely passable stuff we’ve been getting since FF: X-2. I just love how it builds the tension in the early bits only to slam you full force with the piano player going all Elton John on us (that’s how I picture him anyway, slamming down on the keys like Elton John once he really gets going in a concert) as well as those lovely violins. Music to fight bosses by…..this is what I want. And yeah come to think of it the boss music in FF: XII was pretty good too, but I wouldn’t put it on this level and I certainly hope this doesn’t just mean that the boss music will be the highlight piece for all of FF:XIII as now that I know Hamauzu is the FF: X guy I expect great things from this games score.
And now I turn my eyes on Nomura’s character design. If my reputation truly does proceed me then I suppose people figure that I am about to lay into him again. Not so much actually. I know I tend to slam Nomura a lot for his character designs which I tend to find of the yaoi fangirl pandering variety if not just constant redesigns of Sephiroth, but so far I think he’s score a grand slam with his FF: XIII designs and is finally trying something different:
Lightning’s character design has grown on me immensely and I gotta say that I find her alluring (especially her ready pose in the demo….mmmmm hot stuff) yet agree with Nomura’s own description in “not very feminine” to describe her. She’s got a slim atheletic build and doesn’t appear to subscribe to any moe fetish or regular standard of beauty in her design. She’s just….cool and noble looking. Like they rammed up the standard J-RPG male hero traits upon the design of a female character, but in a way that creates something desirable. Not “doing gender“? We’ll see….but for now I’m sorry for bringing my social scientist learnings into an article about a Japanese RPG (hey, at least I don’t have to do proper referencing here though). For now let’s just say it looks like they are off to a good start in making up for Yuna. It really helps to start off a character concept by selling her as a feminist icon rather then as a dainty summoner girl in need of being guarded by a prissy blitzball player who then suddenly becomes a Tomb Raider wannabe/pop star…..as if that’s supposed to be a form of trailblazing in J-RPG heroine traits. God I hate Yuna’s character progression, let’s just move on and hope for the best from Lightning please….
Well I’ll be….I only count one belt and one zipper, and Snow who would appear to be our main male lead is a towering muscleman instead of a bishie. He’s even got stubble. His weapon….fists, which harken back to the days of Zell Dincht in FF: VIII, only with less of that early 90′s surfer dude factor that made Zell kind of a chore. I really hope this isn’t a fake out and that the manly man Snow Villiers doesn’t end up getting rotated out for some Genesis Rhapsodos knockoff wielding a massively overcompensating class sword at the end of an introductory phase or I will be most cross.
Alright, well I guess here is our cutesy jailbaitesque type character. Not quite as obvious as Rikuu, but still, I can’t say I picture her as an archer so much as somebody that is likely to throw flowers at enemies ala Maria Balthasar from Xenogears or to be of the dancer class, but hey whatever you say Square Enix.
It’s like Nomura was watching old 70′s TV shows and took a little bit of Lamont Sanford and then took a little bit of Isaac the bartender and combined them into one kick ass soul brother, but you know what, I love this character design even if it doesn’t do much to get away from the stereotypes that Barret Wallace started. If they are going for stereotypes though then his theme song needs to be some form of soul music, but honesty I have a slight preference for Quincy Jones. In fact every time he walks onto the camera it should damn well be playing something akin to the Sanford & Son Theme or better yet a thinly diguised remix of Isaac Hayes Shaft wherein any utterance of Shaft is replaced with Sazh. Stare at that picture while listening and tell me that both of them don’t work on some level. Guy also dual wields pistols…..I mean come on, how much further from Nomura’s norm can this design be? Are we all sure it’s really him and he didn’t just steal some interns work or something?
Well Lebreau certainly looks to be there to provide the alluring Asian Girl factor, but the rifle is so….out of the ordinary somehow. She has magic caster written all over, but yet there it is clear as day….rifle.
Getting a little more classic Nomuraish with Gadot, but even still the died neon orange (instead of blond which is a popular youth look in Japan) hair mixed with the well built body bucks the trend a little here and in an added bonus he doesn’t look like Gackt. In fact nobody looks like Gackt in this that I’ve seen so far so we are currently batting a thousand. Also SMG instead of some silly oversized pole or something.
Okay, so far so good Square Enix. Really, you guys are batting a thousand with me now so don’t screw it all up by adding in some sort of fake out to a less original set of oversized sword wielding pretty boys with lots of belts and zippers or something. Hamauzu, keep up the good work with the music. You have my support.