Why FFX-2 Does Not Stink|
January 4, 2004
Well folks, the results are in. Chris Holzworth’s editorial regarding Final Fantasy X-2 has received a gargantuan amount of feedback, both positive and negative. In total, I have received 8 editorials in response to Mr. Holzworth’s opinions, and so I’m going to split them up into two updates. While I would have liked to have separated the updates into “pro” and “con,” there were just too many responses disagreeing that I decided to mix them together. As a note to readers, by next update, this topic will have gotten tired, so I urge you all to ponder the next topic, located below:
Due to media portrayals of video games and video gamers, some gamers have become disgruntled enough to do something about those portrayals. Events such as Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play toy drive and Nintendo’s policy of donating consoles and games to hospitals have shown that gamers are not all cloistered, anti-social fiends that the media portrays, but instead come from all walks of life and act in socially conscious ways. So the question is: how have video games (and RPGs in particular) made a positive impact in your life or the lives of people you know?
|Point by Point
When I read Chris Holtzworth’s rant on FFX-2, I was pretty disturbed. Contrary to what he said, he’s obviously not the right person to explain why FFX-2 stinks. Isn’t it common sense not to judge something without knowing everything? I’m not saying you’re not supposed to make a judgment on a game you’ve never played; everyone makes their first reservations about a game from the very first batch of released screenshots they see. But Holtzworth basically just reviewed the entire game based on what he presumes and hears of it. That seems just a little bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? And I, like many others probably will, want to dispel some of the bullshit that was spewed.
First off, I’ve actually played the game and if you hated FFX, I really can’t see how you’ll like FFX-2, despite the fact it’s quite different from its predecessor in nearly every way except graphics. It doesn’t add much to a world you already know, and if you didn’t like the world the first time, there’s no reason you’d want to re-explore it again. But if you did love Spira, then you should like learning even more about its inhabitants.
Now let’s actually look at some of things Holtzworth said which are simply untrue.
“It is a mold-shattering, trend-breaking, tradition-smashing slut fiesta (Arriba! Ed.).”
Well, the first three adjectives are true, but whether they’re good or bad is specific to each person. However, I think everyone can agree “slut fiesta” has a negative connotation to it, and if you’ve played the game, it’s obviously not true. Of course Holtzworth is exaggerating when he uses the expression and admittedly, there are a couple of suggestive, yet humorous scenes in FFX-2, but seriously, skimpy clothes don’t mean shit. They’re not that really that skimpy and not really that offensive. Get over it. What really matters is how they behave, and if you actually played the game, you’d know they don’t act like sluts in any way. Yuna doesn’t go around shoving her mounds into men’s faces or brushing her ass on their crotches. You’re not going to be “offended” by the game. It’s rated Teen for hell’s sake. And, by playing the game, you’d also know that the majority of the dresspheres are far from skimpy or “fiendishly sexual.” FFX-2’s job system is just that: a job system. God forbid the goddamn Black Mage looks different than the Samurai (both of which are more than fully clothed). Shocking, isn’t it?
And I don’t know about anyone else, but the vast majority of the girls and women I see in public today are wearing clothes. Really, I swear. Maybe Chris lives near a nudist colony, but for the most part, the tits and the asses are usually covered. Perhaps there’s a belly button here and there, but hey, whatever someone wants to imagine is up to him.
“Considering the plot is nothing more than one big super-happy fun-time Japanese Comedy hour, I don’t see the allure. Zany antics and shitty dialogue ending with Tidus’ inevitable return doesn’t make for a good game.”
“Tidus’ inevitable return?” You’d think so, wouldn’t you? I initially thought so as well, but the story’s really not that predictable. You'll think differently as you progress through the storyline. So for those of you thinking “inevitable,” think again.
Don’t worry, I didn’t really spoil anything. And it’s amazing how Holtzworth generalizes the entire plot through sheer guessing power. Yay for inanity.
As for the music, I’d have to admit, it’s definitely nowhere near the caliber of any previous Final Fantasy. Still, it’s passable. It’s not going to win any awards, either for Best Music or Worst Music category. Well, maybe worst depending on your tastes.
“Dynamic characters and dialogue and a strong story are what make an RPG (or, in very rate instances such as DC2, a fabulous battle system.)”
Eh? Why would anyone even think FFX-2 lacks this? Oh right, haven’t played the game, making stupid assumptions. That one little thing kind of blows away most of Holtzworth’s argument. Rest assured, for people who aren’t part of the recently established “h8-FFX2” bandwagon, FFX-2’s story, while a little sloppy and short, still manages to incorporate “dynamic characters and dialogue,” as well as a new prevalent underlying theme not touched upon much by previous Final Fantasies.
At the end of the day, I play video games to have fun. They’re a form of entertainment. A game entirely composed of turn-based combat is not fun. It’s only tolerable when a killer storyline accompanies it. That’s what RPGs are about, and that is what FFX-2 is admittedly lacking.”
This seems to imply I don’t play RPGs to have fun, even though I certainly enjoyed FFX-2 and its “admittedly lacking” storyline. But then, it’s not really “admittedly lacking” anything. FFX-2’s storyline is surprisingly more engrossing than what you’d expect for a flashy cash-in sequel, although it’s still sub par to the Final Fantasy series (and I have to admit, Yuna and Rikku act like teenage girls, which can be both annoying and charming at the same time). I’m going to have to play that “People who say shit about a game they’ve never played don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about” card again.
So for those of you who feel this rebuttal is a bit disjointed, I’ll summarize:
FFX-2 is not a slut fiesta. Female humans wear clothes. Plot is sloppy, yet endearing. Music is OK. Stupid assumptions are NOT OK. Holtzworth hurts RPGFan’s reputation and credibility.
It’s pretty obvious FFX-2 was never meant to be a “ground-breaking” RPG like its predecessors were made to be. Without playing FFX, it’d never stand on its own. But whether or not you think it’s a worthy successor to FFX, it is most definitely possible to enjoy it. It’s worth mentioning that Hedy Burress makes a much more lively performance than last time, considering she now does the voice of the main character.
Just remember people, it’s really, really stupid to judge something without experiencing ANY of it. There’s just no logic to it. By criticizing anything as if you knew everything about it without even touching it, you don’t risk looking like a dumbass, you’re guaranteed to look like one. There’s simply NO way you can justify your statements except with shallow easy-to-break arguments. Just DON’T DO IT. EVER.
- Evan Kao
This was the first good rebuttal that came my way, and I must say that most of the ones which followed it were, for the most part, well written and thoughtful, although as we’ll see, some stray from the middle ground into bias and personal attacks, what the kids today call “flames”.
The biggest criticism people have about Chris’ editorial seems to be his having not played the title in the first place. He is definitely pre-judging the game, although probably in a more educated manner than most people who have done so. Still, Mr. Kao is right in saying that outright critiquing of a game simply from screenshots and second-hand information sets a person up for derision.
However, the most important thing about Mr. Holzworth’s opinions is that it is his opinion, and by that logic cannot be “wrong.” Neither can Mr. Kao. So, in the end it all comes down to whose opinion is more widely accepted. So far it isn’t Mr. Holzworth’s, but at the same time, it isn’t Mr. Kao’s either. So what now? Keep arguing, for it amuses me and keeps me in a job.
|Chris Holzworth is Sexist
I am not going to be the one and possibly only jackass to write a bitter disapproval with your section about "Why FFX-2 Stinks" because a mass of my friends are going to write also. But before I begin my mindless rant against your biased article, I will say this. You are in my eyes, sexist. Females of today dress almost exactly like the females in FFX-2 minus the swords, claws, and various weapons. Face it. And as Damian said, this is a strong step for females in gaming. Females need a decent role in a game with some depth... none of this DoA: Extreme Beach Volleyball, BMX:XXX shit.
You wrote in your article that Final Fantasy has attributed more failures than successes in your life, and I realize that may be personal, but in terms of the whole mass of gamers, the Final Fantasy series has been the core of RPG games to date. And if you are not one to believe me, trace the roots of some of the words, or even battle systems back to the days of NES. You will find they were -not all- but mostly from the original Final Fantasy.
I was also curious about those failures, and also with you blaming Square-Enix for not coming up with a decent game. I must bring up Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, one of Square-Enix's first titles. To me, that game broke the boundaries of the Final Fantasy series and rose to a higher level. Very good. And also with games for PlayStation and all of that, Final Fantasys have been breaking the boundaries of their times. Go to any PlayStation magazine and read reviews. I guarantee you that they are all over the 4 out of 5 level.
And now onto your rants about the outfits of FFX-2. Yet it pains me to admit that you are right - on some - not all of the outfits. For example you are saying that all of the dresspheres are just lame excuses to see ass and tits blowing in the breeze, when in fact only a select few are like that. For serious gamers, like me and my friends, we didn't pay attention to over half of them. Here are some rough examples detailing your wrongs.
Example: Rikku's thief: who would want her as that when they could equip her as a dark knight and wreak havoc like none other, and doing it fully clothed in a set of bronze, evil looking armor plates.
Example: The Lady Luck Dressphere, the prime example of the slutty outfit, which you are probably referring to in your article, is worthless. That dressphere has no real ability, and if you use it you are almost guaranteed to die.
Example: The Mascot, the hardest dressphere to attain, in fact covers the body head to toe in a cute outfit that resembles characters from old FF's: Cait Sith, Tonberry, Moogle. Tell me what is slutty about a mascot, unless you find looking at Purdue Pete (The football mascot for Purdue) a major turn on.
Example: The Special Dresshperes, Machina Maw, Floral Fallal, and Full Throttle. Yes in some of the changing scenes you see skin, but not half as much as you see in other games that you have tragically left out. What is slutty about a girl in a massive suit of swords and armor? Or even a girl in a white dress with a flower behind her? Or even a girl riding on a tank-looking machina? Nothing.
There are some that I have left out like Gunner, Berserker, and others that do reveal skin and show off an aspect of sluttiness, but that is not totally what Square was shooting for.
With the aspect of you saying the game's plot sucks, you can't really say anything along those lines because you haven't played it. It is a story worth listening to, with some comic lines to keep the game interesting. I mean, a giant machine with the ability to destroy the world, and a spirit of a dead man possessing people to operate it, just because he failed to protect his lover. Tell me how that is any different from what people do today in the world? (Where do I start? – Ed.) If someone fails to protect the one they love, they will usually do ANYTHING to bring it back to terms.
And with your dis on the music, how dare you. The MIDI's are nearly the same as any other Final Fantasy. And when you actually have a female sing a whole song, it deserves some credit, especially when that artist is a well known American artist.
If I forgot anything in my rebuttal, then please inform me, but I believe I didn't. And once again, I don't think you have room to talk, let alone make fun of Final Fantasy X-2, if you haven't played it. I understand it needs a special taste to like Final Fantasy's but you have to look past the surface into the story to get the game, and if you cannot do that, I recommend you go back to your Football and Volleyball games where no plot is involved whatsoever.
Pat Miller, Manager of Gamers in Lincoln, NE.
- Pat Miller
I left out the post-script due to it being largely personal flaming rather than arguing the merits of Chris’ arguments. That being said, it seems we have some real vehemence directed towards Mr. Holzworth. While I’ve tended to avoid putting in a direct contradiction to any of the opinions expressed in these editorials so far, I must take issue with one statement: when you actually have a female sing a whole song, it deserves some credit, especially when that artist is a well known American artist. If it’s utter mindless garbage, I don’t have to give it credit at all. Not that I’m implying the opening song is garbage, as I haven’t heard it myself, but your reasoning is spurious in this instance. Brittney Spears gets no respect from me (even though she managed to make a career out of having no talent), and your comment makes it seem as if it’s a huge step forward for the woman’s rights movement that a female can “sing a whole song”. What, are they 3 year olds? That statement, in itself, sounds sexist in my opinion.
My critique doesn’t end there, especially since this is by no means the first time a female has been the lead vocalist in a video game. Harkening back to Pastiche in Sonic CD, and going through every PS(2) Final Fantasy since VIII, females have sung the theme songs. Perhaps there’s enough sexism to go around on both sides of the debate.
I can say, however, that if you had truly read and understood Chris’ editorial, you’d know that he WOULDN’T be playing BMX: XXX or DoA Beach Volleyball because of the fact that the females dress in a provocative manner. On that point, your ignorance of the meaning behind the editorial takes shape. Of course, your rebuttal is a self proclaimed “mindless rant,” so I suppose some leeway is deserved.
Damian Thomas, Manager of Quizno’s in South Plainfield, NJ
I just read Chris Holzworth's "Why FFX-2 Stinks", and I had a few comments about it. Right off the bat, he says that he has never touched the game. Well then, I don't think he has much right to rip the game a new one, so to speak. Do people review movies without seeing them? If they do, their opinions are Holzworthless. A movie trailer and critic's reviews can give me a general idea if the movie is going to appeal to me, but I really can't say anything until I've seen it for myself, now can I?
The second thing that caught my attention was Chris' use of profanity and crude sexual references. Way to go buddy. That helps to establish your position as an expert.
Now to get to what Chris actually said in his rant. I have started to play the game (I'm about 6 hours into it), and I agree with some of what Chris says. The whole girl-power motif seems out of place. I half-expect YRP to yell "Angels style!" from time to time. The general tone of the game just feels a little too light-hearted. I'm wondering if there is going to be a source of evil threatening Spira again, or just some lesser conflict.
I couldn't tell if Mr. Holzworth actually heard any of the music in the game, or just heard about it from others. Either way, he seems to dislike it- and I am in agreement. I thought the music in FFX was great, but so far it has been nothing to write home about in FFX-2.
Despite the shortcomings that the game has, I like it. While the quest (if you can call it that) is not nearly as urgent as defeating Sin and saving lots of people, it still is interesting enough to spark my curiosity. I want to find out what is going on and see where everything is leading. Also, as the first direct Final Fantasy sequel, I think it's great to be able to visit the same locations from the original title and see how they have or haven't changed.
I think the battle system is one of the best ever in a FF game (except for Tactics, but that's a little too different to count it). I like the fact that battles are over quickly. As Chris said, "..turn-based combat is not fun..." so I tend to lose interest if I am trying to get from point A to point B and I get into 50 random battles on the way. When those battles take a few minutes or more each, the trek can be tedious. A fast-paced battle system is a godsend. I have to disagree with Chris' comments on the job system, as well. Being a big FF Tactics fan, I welcome job systems. I think the variety of jobs had more to do with the associated skill sets rather than the outfits. To focus on that just shows how irrationally biased he is being. I feel compelled to once again mention that Chris HAS NEVER PLAYED THE GAME!
Anyway, I thought the sphere-grid from FFX was a cool idea, but there were many times when I thought, "why didn't I go the other way?" This job and skill learning system is less frustrating because you apply AP (I think that's what it is) to the job you are currently using. There's no regret involved.
In closing, I'd like to say that I have played just about every Final Fantasy game made available in the US (with the exception of Game Boy installments and that one Mystic Quest game), and I have liked them all. Some would call me a fanboy, and I would just have to ignore that. Aren't we all fans of something? If I had the time and the finances, I would play- or at least try- every RPG there is. Since I'm not made of money, I am forced to be picky. I found out long ago that Square makes games that I enjoy, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt whenever I can. While FFX-2 may not be a great game, it is still a good game, and worthy of my time and cash. Sure, Square-Enix is feeding off the success of the previous game, and I say "bravo!" I think that "giving people what they want" makes good business sense.
- Andrew Falkowski
Before I get into your argument, I’d like to address something towards the end of it. The term “fanboy” doesn’t refer, in common parlance, to someone who is SIMPLY a fan of something, but rather someone who refuses to judge something based on any merit aside from its being released by a certain company, having a certain title, or other agreeably shallow judgment criteria. In other words, a fanboy/girl mindlessly accepts whatever is released not due to the product’s artistic or entertainment worth as a game or other piece of media, but because the media has some relation to a favorite company or game series. That’s as much, and perhaps more of a prejudice than Mr. Holzworth shows in his editorial. So as Penny Arcade would say, Pot to Kettle: you are black.
As for the other points you make, you seem to be echoing some of the statements that Mr. Holzworth has made, and you are apparently not alone, according to other pro and con editorials I’ve received. The poor music quality seems to be a very common theme, as does the lighthearted, teeny-bopper nature of the characters. The dresssphere issue is divided right down the middle, however. Still, if there’s one thing these editorials have done, it’s made me want to see the game in action for myself, simply to see with whom I agree.
|Our First Outright Agreement
I agree with Chris on his opinion of the disgusting offense of a game called FFX-2.
I, being a girl gamer myself, am completely appalled at this game. An all female cast would have been great, but these girls are whoring themselves to the public for the male audience, not for the girl gamer. To try and please the girl gamer, they added a "Charlies Angels" feel to the game, which just upsets me to an even greater rage. Our female heroine in FFX-2 is nothing more than a dumb, ditzy, skimpily dressed Yuna, which does not please me at all. If you're going to put in a female heroine, at least give her some decency. Heroes are supposed to be noble, brave, heroic, and humble, not a few strips of clothing thrown onto a gun slinging girl.
Unlike Chris, I found that FFX was a decent game. Although it was not FF7 or 6, it still beat out final fantasy 8 and 9 by a long shot and did have a good ending; in fact, it was one of the best I've seen in any RPG.
I wouldn't of minded a continuation of FFX-2 that much, as long as it held some decency and connection to the original. In this sequel, the once innocent, humble, and caring Yuna has turned into, to put simply, a stupid ho. Yuna used to have a brain in FFX, but in FFX-2, she’s a giggling, bouncing schoolgirl who talks to Rikku about, you know, who she like likes. Yuna took on the greatest change in this game, turning from conservative summoner to a downright slut. Her staff and summoner gown are replaced by guns and Lara Croft, up your ass shorts. Yuna was one of my favorite characters from X, and seeing her so greatly changed upsets me. You think that saving the world would have made Yuna more of an adult, but from what I've seen of FFX-2, it seems just the opposite happens. When not able to obtain a sphere, Yuna jumps up and down in outrage, like a six year old, and whines. When talking to herself in thought, Yuna actually sounds like she has a brain; when talking to Rikku, she sounds like Lizzie McGuire, a typical preteen.
I'm a huge fan of RPG music, and the soundtrack to FFX-2 simply makes me sick. All the songs sound like bad 70's music, and even the battle theme lacks zest. I can't name one song in FFX-2 that I really enjoyed listening to. Really. When I saw that this game's soundtrack was the number one selling game OST, I was starting to doubt the gamer's sense of music. This just goes to show that people will buy any crap with Final Fantasy slapped on it. This is THE WORST video game soundtrack I have ever heard in my life. This music, not composed by Nobuo Uematsu, is a disgrace to Final Fantasy, and the world of Spira.
The battle system is new and innovative, and is the only thing that keeps me hooked onto this game. I love the dress spheres, despite how almost every outfit makes all the girls look like whores. It's fun to see what sphere you'll obtain next, and what their costumes will look like. The fast paced battle system makes battles fun, not tedious. Well....that's about the only positive attribute to this game, besides its gorgeous graphics which, really, I don't care about.
I mostly agree with Chris about this game, and how it should be burning in hell. After watching the opening movie with Yuna singing as a pop star, I wanted to shut it off. My boyfriend was so offended at this disgrace called Final Fantasy that he refused to even watch me play it. This is no continuation to FFX, no, this is a good way for Square to make money. I wanted to remember Spira and all the characters of FFX as they were, not as they are in FFX-2.
- Mary Halloran
Mary, Mary, quite contrary… though in this case actually agreeing with Chris’ appraisal of FFX-2. Nobody seems to have any love for the game’s soundtrack, which makes me glad I have not yet picked it up (being the little soundtrack whore I am!) It is nice to have a female opinion regarding the issues Chris brought up about the game, especially the outfits. I’ve seen some pictures of the outfits, and I agree that some of them are more revealing than more conservative-minded people would approve of. Still, the biggest issue that has grabbed me from reading a myriad of rebuttals and Chris’ original editorial is what has happened to the characters and world FFX fans were so attached to. It sounds as if the deeply emotional and largely serious nature of the first title have been corrupted/lightened (take your pick) in the second, mostly so Square could attract a different audience to the game. But is this plan causing fans of the first game to become alienated? Time and sales numbers will tell.