but I thought they were actually pretty boring to walk through, with maybe the exception of Arcadia...
They were. That's because all the neat, atmospheric eye candy I was talking about never actually did anything interactive. They look pretty, but they're still the same "Stop in, get a plot point and new equipment, and roll out" thing that the FF series has always sort of had trouble with*. They're not places -- they're shopping malls.
Oh, and I completely agree about SO3s town design...
Not to mention the dungeon design. Big, maze-like, and completely empty.
Every game should build in L1/R1 camera swiviling, which some of those didn't provide.
I left my PS2 at home, but DQ8 and FFXII both have controllable cameras as far as I can remember (and I played DQ8 like, three weeks ago, so it's really bad that I'm not entirely sure HOW you control it). I don't remember how one controlled the camera in Steambot, though.
they could be extremely compelling and believable, so why jump to conclusions.
The point I was trying to make is that Farushi and Rushi are stupid sounding names to my native-English-speaker ears. Especially given that the standard English corruption of farushi would probably sound like fuh-ROO-shee. Which sounds like some sort of kooky-bastard Faroese Yoshi Kangaroo. And Rushi sounds like "Russia" with a speech impediment and a stupid Ohioese accent. The second paragraph wasn't related.
* I think it was worst in FFVI though, and I think FFVII to IX did skirt around the problem fairly well, in that exploring towns would tend to actually net you stuff beyond "MORE GIL LOL!"
Another thing that made FFXII sort of hurt in this regard is that the same side-quests were basically posted in every town with a mission board. No real reason to travel between towns just for the hell of it. And I'm of the opinion that in an RPG, the towns should be part of the gameplay, and not just momentary pauses between dungeons (which is probably why I like the SMT games so much, DQ7's city-centric plot progression, and various other things I'm not going to bring up AT PRESENT, but in general games that have sidequests requiring you to return to old town make me happy).
And I think the Squaresoft game that managed to annoy me the most with the lack of interesting town exploration was Chrono Trigger. Mostly because it felt like it was teasing you with all of these fascinating locations like Zeal, and you never really got to EXPLORE the places. Then again, I'm also a huge proponent for gameplay in an RPG extending to other things like that battle system. Fishing in the UnReal World, dating in Persona 3, and some of the neat stuff the fans have implemented into the delicious fanmade Elite remake, Oolite, to name a few. And of course the Zelda tradition of Gobs of Hidden Crap and etc.
So I guess in this sense, I would've found FFX pretty cool with all of its minigames, except they sucked. NO YOU IDIOTS, CATCHING BUTTERFLIES IS *NOT* COOLER THAN MAGIC THE FUCKING GATHERING *BALLS.* And neither is water polo.
This is where Triple Triad and Tetra Master get relevant though. In both FFVIII and IX, if you wanted the best cards, you'd have to going exploring to play people that had the cards you want. FFVII to FFIX also had Special Stuff to find (Materia, Dog Magazines, Coffee, etc.).