Final Fantasy XIII Demo (Is Masashi Hamauzu Square’s Next Nobuo Uematsu? Has Tetsuya Nomura Finally Evolved?)

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:

ffxiii-lightning_cg

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….

ffxiii_profile_snow

 

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.

wolba

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.

ffxiii-sazh

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?

repuro

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.

gadou

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.

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19 Responses to “Final Fantasy XIII Demo (Is Masashi Hamauzu Square’s Next Nobuo Uematsu? Has Tetsuya Nomura Finally Evolved?)”


  1. 1 Zack April 18, 2009 at 3:43 am

    Didn’t Maria from Xenogears blow bubbles at the enemy for an attack? Maybe I just enjoyed the bubbles too much to notice flowers. Same effect overall haha.

    The music from the demo was definitely something I noticed. It feels like it could create one of those “moods” when you’re fighting that completely takes you in.

    Lightning is my favorite character design so far. I like the feel they’re giving her. Sazh is kind of awesome in my book, but that might just be because the baby chocobo and his looks just made me laugh and seem like they fit together. Snow would probably be the next character I like. Lightning definitely has my favorite character design so far though.

    I’m almost expecting to see an oversized sword of some kind put in there, but so far? I’m really looking forward to FF XIII. The character design, music, the themes they’ve got going and etc seem like they could blend together to form a great game. Hoping they don’t disappoint.

  2. 2 ghostlightning April 18, 2009 at 5:04 am

    Lightning? as in ghostlightning? ^_________^V

    Man I’m stoked. Glad to see that there are people who actually appreciate VIII. I loved that game. It’s still my favorite. I LOVE FINAL FANTASY VIII!!!

    Gunsword 4tw! FANBOY GLEEEEEEEEEE!!!

    Ok, that aside. I’m really excited that this will come out on the 360. I can’t afford two consoles and the PS3 was insanely expensive 3 years ago. Making it available for long-time fans like me is a good thing. GJ Square Enix!

  3. 3 Kaioshin Sama April 18, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    A little something extra that is probably relevant to most of the readers here. Never noticed the similarity before.

    VIII is my favourite game in the series. It dared to take it’s story, characters, setting and gameplay systems away from the roots of Final Fantasy even more than the two games before it (you even get to go into space at one point) and I really wish they would do another story in that universe. To see Deling City, Esthar, Dollet, Balamb, Timber, all of those European and sci-fi inspired locations again would be a real treat. There wasn’t one location in that game that didn’t stand out to me.

  4. 4 ghostlightning April 18, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    LOL Feldt is that you?

  5. 5 ghostlightning April 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Sorry for the double post. Wow, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia when you started mentioning those names.

    I am also quite fond of the Gardens being able to just lift themselves up and behave like mobile fortresses.

    The empathy system with the guardian forces are a bit tedious and clumsy, but the idea behind it is quite awesome to me. It’s only tedious and clumsy because I was ‘gaming’ it rather than role-playing.

  6. 6 Kaioshin Sama April 19, 2009 at 4:29 am

    @ghostlightning: I like how everyone knows what I am talking about with Oerba even when I don’t give any real hints. Must be that obvious a similarity.

    I gamed the Junction System too and I always wondered why so many people seemed to think it’s complicated when it really isn’t. It’s just an offshoot of the Esper, Materia system that required you to think just a little more about what you were doing. Let’s see, I think I had everybody with 9999 HP, 255 Str, 100+ at least of every other stat, and 20% absorption of every element. Even Omega Weapon could be beaten without a single Holy War with those junctions.

  7. 7 Zack April 19, 2009 at 5:14 am

    Although it’s not my favorite of the FF series, I have to admit I really like how some things were presented in VIII and the setting. I would like to see another game with something similar to it.

    @Kaioshin: I think part of some people finding the junction system complicated was from FFVII before it. The Materia system was, in my opinion, very easy to grasp and use. It flat out told you what each materia did to your stats and the spells. Where as in VIII you had to use junctions which could possibly be overwhelming if you weren’t accustomed to it. I think some people were expecting the ease of VII’s system in VIII. Or some just didn’t like the change and said it was too hard to use.

    It might entirely depend on the person though. Or I may be looking at it wrong. I seem to do that quite often.

    I think people might have just been used to how easy VII could be to customize certain things and struggled a bit with how VIII did it a tad different. I didn’t enjoy the junction system at first, but it grew on me over time. I think my main quarrel was drawing magic from enemies, but I got used to it and don’t mind it anymore. I still highly enjoy VIII regardless.

    I really loved the card game of VIII though. Triple Triad was it? I spent so much time playing that.

  8. 8 sadakups April 19, 2009 at 7:51 am

    It’s rather surprising that people are already dissing this game because the battle system for FFXIII is turn-based. Now that’s just ridiculous. If I may use an analogy, it’s like people were already dissing Gundam 00 when they saw that the pilots are bishounen.

    I’m not a fan of FFVIII’s Junction system. Drawing magic from enemies is a bitch.

    And yes, that’s Season 1 Feldt, alright. XD

  9. 9 omisyth April 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    OVERSIZED SWORDS ARE AWESOME.

  10. 10 Kaioshin Sama April 24, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    @omisyth: Okay you got me there. :P

  11. 11 Marcello July 12, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Hands down, I LOVE FF7.That game ACTUALLY made me cry (when Aries died) and made me want to get even with Seperoith. How could you NOT feel sad with that sad yet beautiful music playing as the white materia sank into the water. However, I do believe my favorite female ff character to date would have to be Fran. So sultry, so elegant, so mysterious and articulate. PLUS, she wore heals (TALL ONES) throughout the entire game with no problems. Out of the males in all the ff series to date, Cloud, then Balthier

  12. 12 Kaioshin Sama July 12, 2009 at 11:37 am

    @Marcello: So……Scottish….

  13. 13 Phoenix August 24, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Fair enough review. As big of a Sephiroth fandame, as I am, I too agree the silver-haired and all around bishie overkill had left unhappy with Nomura and SE all together. So far, there seems promise in a fresh cast design. Now, I’ll keep fingers and toes crossed that the game play AND story will make up for previous installments. (FF 8 FF 9, and the waste of my $50 – FFX-2) I have to admit, with exception of FF X, I have not completed an FF title since FF 7. FF 1 thru FF6.

  14. 14 Kaioshin Sama August 24, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    @Phoenix: His latest silver hair character for FFXIII (Yaag Rosch) looks like a bit of a step in a different direction. Less bishie and more menacing looking, like a villain should be. Kind of reminds me of Seymour.

    This is Yaag Rosch. Very military looking, but it looks like Nomura still couldn’t resist drawing him with an excess of beltage and leather. Baby steps….

  15. 15 Alvaro September 27, 2009 at 9:47 am

    ¡Viva Final Fntasyyyy!
    y viva ligthin o komo se llame

  16. 16 watch anime October 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I love Final Fantasy.. I hope they start bringing out GOOD ones soon..
    Sick of these mediocre ones like X X-2 and XI.. so terrible. :/

    Bring back FF6! Kefka ftw – but truly, I miss and love Sabin and Edgar <3

  17. 17 FlintEastwood January 31, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Yeah about time they bring out a decent Final Fantasy! I miss these games being works of art… VII and X set the benchmark, let’s hope XIII can give us reason to have such high standards once again!

  18. 18 Ivy Rose (crazygirl) March 5, 2010 at 6:18 am

    I totally agree. The music what kick ass, & I’m impressed that there’s cool looking African American character in a mordern Final Fantasy. ( & they gave him an afro) I don’t usually see that. Also the girly girl with the redish hair has a pretty cool JPOP look. I am also confused about the choice of giving the asian character the rilfe…? It’ll be interesting? But they did give her the o’ half skirt thingy. & I don’t know where to start with Snow! He’s very plain for a main character. & to end this ridiculously long comment…. I’m sure that if Lightning keeps her ‘serious-ness kick ass warrior woman who’s not butch’ look than I’ll be very satisfied with the characters when I go to play FFXIII.

    Ivy


  1. 1 Escute a música-tema dos chefes de Final Fantasy XIII | Select Game Trackback on April 18, 2009 at 1:13 pm

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