^ Aeo, yeah, you pretty much took the words out of my mouth, so thanks. I actually have some good thoughts about Eiko as well coming up.
Being honest though, even if I am fitting into my girlie stereotyping
, I love a good shopping trip and I especially like a good love story (you'll see me pulling a stupid little smile whens something sweet happens). The FF series has always been pretty good at separating romance with goals, but I agree things get simplified (for the worst) when love becomes the sole purpose or a strong character completely defrosts into a sap as soon as she's bit by a love bug.
Still, Freya is a pretty interesting case. She left her Kingdom to go find Sir Fratley (I love saying his name) and she's like a Shakespearean-devotee to him ("All that was left of you were rumours of your death; but I will search the world if I must to prove it wrong"!
), but I honestly don't see her much weaker for it and she's still this sort-of "retired knight" who's willing to come back in times of need. Lenneth (Valkyrie Profile) was similarly not a character made "weak" by her love; if anything it gave her that extra mileage to an otherwise stoic character. Both of these were "tough girls" too. I find it funny that FF13's Lightning didn't have a love interest, but really no plot especially to make her very interesting.... besides her sort of soliloquy-ing her way through the games to appear deep. I'm not saying she needed a love interesting, but I still find her a soldier-character done poorly because she wasn't interesting to begin with (and the plot zig-zagging about didn't help define her either). Samus was great but she's still hurting from Other M's plot wounding her. :P http://youtu.be/SFyKLnOgOk0
Here's that FMV cutscene on Pulse with Lightning and Snow.... maybe this shouldn't have been a full CG scene, nothing really happens that a normal cutscene couldn't have done and FMV's might have more constraints than a normal in-game moment. This pretty emotional event is packed into 2 minutes, Lightning gets angry for some reason and pulls a sword, and the usual hodgepodge of Japanese "we will meet again" dialogue is said for about a minute but without contributing anything interesting or different and basically serves to make you look at the pretty graphics. If Lightning is fighting for her sister, it's barely convincing. And not knowing her past through JP-only novels doesn't help either.
Freya is indeed interesting. Mostly because she's in that weird awkward place where she fades into the background over the course of the game, but given her character and the events within the game, further elaboration could've easily turn into overexposure. By that, I mean that her character arc is pretty well defined all things considered. She's a warrior of Burmecia, renowned enough that the King seeks her assistance during Alexandria's raid on Clerya, though not the famous hero that her fiancée Sir Fratley is given that the King asks for him first. She's also a woman of her kingdom as she and the other maidens on hand perform the River Dance of Protection (though her messing this up is a beef I have with this game's treatment of Freya since it comes back to that ugly 'Women can't be Warriors and vise-versa' thing that crops up a lot in video games and anime). She has a history with Zidane which she gets to express during the Festival of the Hunt in the form of a rivalry. And she even has her own moment in the spotlight by taking on Beatrix solo during the raid on Alexandria shortly after she stomped her and the rest of the party at the end of Disk 1 (even if it was just an excuse to shuffle her out of the party and to make room for Garnet). And of course, her stated goal and reason for joining the party in the first place is to find Fratley, which she does, but has to deal with the fact that he's suffering from memory loss, which is a matter that doesn't lead to too many antics (unlike Steiner or Vivi or Quina who have dispositions beyond struggling with their personal conflict that lead to silliness).
So in essence, you've already got a fairly developed character, but her ties to the party more or less starts and ends with Zidane and Fratley. And while other video game series' would give someone as marginalized as she was more limelight in a spin-off or something with a focus more suited to delving into that character or characters, Final Fantasy at the time didn't do sequels or direct spin-offs (FFMQ and FFT were the biggest FF spin-offs that didn't end up immediately wing up becoming their own series at the time), which left underdeveloped characters like Freya, Amarant and Lani (remember her?) hanging.
It then becomes a question of how much focus should she be given, provided that her less antic driven characterization prevents her from sneaking into a lot of focus during the side skits? She still has the fact that she's not only a capable and experienced warrior, but also one of the party's heavy hitters Job-wise, so she could have stepped up to the front line of a conflict more often (versus Zidane being treated as one of the party's heaviest hitters alongside Steiner). She could've delved into her time at Burmecia or her search for Fratley more (and by search for Fratley, I mean her earlier experiences on the road and adventures she might have had with Fratley; versus just repeating that she's on the trail for him because she loves him). She could've even been more active in searching for a way to restore Fratley's lost memories (or maybe that they can't be restored and has to come to accept that and learn to make new memories, which I think the game did do but its been so long that I can't fully recall).
I guess, all things considered, she did better than Amarant.
As for FFXIII, that was a game that only had a couple of months spent on actually writing compared to the better part of a full decade spent on making look pretty. It doesn't help that to actually fit something resembling a cohesive narrative together, they had to bolt on story segments without reason or care in regards to the parts they were bolting them onto (like all the character development and deaths retcons that occurred first at Chapter 9 then at Chapter 12). Or the fact that they wound up pulling some 'Stealth Protagonist' bullshit with Fang and Vanille (which always amuses me because you can tell that the writers wanted to pull this before they realized that the artists had already finalized Fang's appearance and gender).
= Garnet and Zidane, for reasons I'll totally get into later, DO make a really cute couple. Besides the beautiful and tear-jerking finale of FFX, I'd go so far to say one scene of Garnet and Zidane demonstrate way better chemistry than most of Tidus and Yuna's interaction (*throws up the flame shield*)
= Fer real though, we need a Princess character that has a shitty singing voice and her song make the birds poop on her instead of flock to her. It's a really, reaaallly tiresome trope.
BUT, I do respect that at least Garnet isn't the typical "I WANT TO BE FREE" Princess, rather she wants to go home and wants to do good for her people.
I think I've seen something like that done all of once, and I don't recall it being 'on' the Princess but just causing the birds to collectively lose their shit from the Princess hitting the 'Brown Note'.
Either way though, I'd love to see a 'Princess breaks out into a musical number' cliché interrupted at least once from a Princess tilting her head back, straightening her diaphragm, popping open her mouth and just as she hits that first note, some fat winged rat bastard dive bombs the largest, nastiest, most foul looking/smelling dirty birdy turdy it can drop straight down le olde' Wind Pipes. Bonus points if the gal really can sing (hell, you could make a movie out of that; get someone who can sing operatic quality music, have them headline the movie, make the movie a musical, then proceed to have everyone but the headlined talent sing their asses off, then finally, at the closing moments of the movie, the heartfelt song that you know will be headlining the Original Soundtrack release starts playing, and just then, the above happens, then the credits play; I've seen movies built entirely around lesser jokes before).
But really, there needs to be more female comedians that practice the art of physical comedy.
That said, I too like this couple more than FFX's. Partly because I liked Zidane over Tidus, and mostly because Zidane wasn't stupid enough to blow himself up on a random Bomb.
^ *clicky!* ^
Track: Quina's Theme
= Quina the "s/he". ...Not even your Master knows. I kinda prefer it as a 'she', because it would certainly be a first for a female to appear to.... strange (and relating to what Aeo and I just mentioned about how females are otherwise typical drawn; but I'm assuming they might be asexual or reproduce ...like worms...or I'm over-thinking Qu sex... yikes.
). Getting off-topic, I'm surprised how infrequently my textbooks used "s/he" and stuck to "he/she"; I won't lie going with the former (thanks to FF9) helped me to lower my page count for several University essays. :P
= Oh Quina. You so fine, but so simple.
I love Quina, I really do. S/he isn't a complicated character, and the small details are really all that are needed (probably my favourite character theme too, which is surprisngly not-silly sounding at ALL and uses some cool 8-bit-like sounds). I do like that you can borrow him/her for a "trial period" for Disc 1 before the mandatory join in Disc 2 (the area around Qu's marsh having a ton of enemies with "Eatable" skills); and being without a proper white mage right now, it's super helpful to get at least some blue magic (anyone else think getting White Wind AND Big Guard so early was intentional?).
Considering that those are usually the abilities that Blue Mages want most (and that IIRC Mighty Guard isn't quite as good in this game as in others), I'm not terribly surprised. Also, it's hard to say whether the devs meant it as a means to substitute your party's sudden lack of a solid healer when Garnet/Eiko decide to take off due to plot, or if its meant to be sort of a "And here's the not hard-mode way of doing this section." way. I'm going with the former since the next best healer is Armant who won't show up for at least another half of a disk.
= ^With that in mind, I really wish "Potions" were less useless in FF games. "Tales of" games have apple gels (healing a percent than an amount) are way more useful long-term. But healing 100-150 when characters are hitting WAY above that as a max HP just stinks.
At least its not FF1 where Potions only healed 30 HP and that was it.
= I hate this part of the game. The enemies hit hard but die fast. Vivi's magic sucks doing the same or a LESS than Zidane is with a normal (non-MP-consuming) attack and eagerly NEEDING a "-ga" level spell, and Freya's stuck with her first weapon while the party has no adequate way of healing itself. Quina is so either/or dealing either Mage damage or Melee damage (she sometimes hits for 50, then sometimes hits for 500...)
It really doesn't help that you just lost your main healer and tank and are only getting a slightly less heavy and highly less trained hitter and a sudo mage (who is both optional and also completely untrained at this point) to cart around with your thief(ish) MC and other mage (who's still fragile as all hell).
= Kuja appears!!! She is still the hottest male villain ever. Being honest, I hate that "beautiful male" stereotype in Japan, where roses pop out of nowhere, and they do the fabulous hair flip, and get angry at being less beautiful because of a small injury *groan*. The Suikoden tends to have one of these per game, Ghibli's version of Howl suffers from this affliction, and every otome game gets one too... It's gotta be a cultural thing, but it doesn't do a thing for me. Anyways, I love his "Millennium" theme adding the "We Will Rock You" beat to a pretty awesome party KO that finishes the first disc.http://youtu.be/XMLiqEqMQyQ
You know, it would be nice to get a female Golbez archetype one of these days. I mean, unless you count X-2's LeBlanc (Edea was close too but she kinda shares her role with both Seifer and Ultimacia, but I guess when you stop to think about it she does count doesn't she? nevermind).
= So...do you guys know better than me? Is it EVER worth Stealing from normal enemies or is basically saved (unfortunately) for bosses?
Yans have Elixirs. Otherwise, nope. Bosses only.
Then again, I sort of recall Zidane having an ability that improves with the number of successful Steals he preforms, so you might have to either way.
I don't feel like finagling with quotes, so I apologize in advance for taking the easy way out here:
RE: Garnet & Zidane
I actually agree they make a much better couple than Tidus and Yuna. I'd go so far as to say I found the ending to FFIX more touching than the ending to FFX. I mean, they actually act like a couple. I don't think I remember once throughout FFX of Tidus and Yuna saying anything bad about the other, but Zidane and Garnet give each other shit all the time. Right up to the end with Garnet's love-taps for Zidane putting her through everything.
I theorize that the Qu are a race of Gourmands because they reproduce through mitosis once they've eaten enough.
RE: Chocobo Hot & Cold
You know, Square Enix keeps saying they want to make more money in the mobile market. But...
Is there a mobile version of Tetra Master? No
Is there a mobile version of Triple Triad? No.
Is there my mobile dream game combining the Chocobo Mini-RPG from FF8 and FF9's Chocobo Hot & Cold? No. (seriously, how awesome would that be?)
My point is Square Enix has more of an opportunity to make money in the mobile market than just about anyone and they squander it with shit like All The Lamest.
...Also, frog catching can go to hell.
Triple Triad has shown up in FFXIV and I think someplace else as well. But then again, Chocobo Hot and Cold's best feature was the fact that it offered fantastic loot which is hard to replicate outside of a proper game.