Final Fantasy X : gaming for deaf and lazy people

March 9, 2008 at 8:32 pm (Leikr, Smáskitligr) (, , , )

gaming for deaf and lazy people

The visual quality, it has to be said, is bloody marvellous – a good move on Squaresoft’s part, considering just how many hours you spend watching clips in this game, a game that doesn’t have “levels” so much as “bits between clips”. There are two sorts: realtime rendered clips, and videos-proper that must have taken inordinate and frustrating amounts of time to make. The latter, I have to admit, are impressively detailed (considering the game’s release date), but really have almost nothing to do visually with the in-game characters. Nevermind that Yuna looks almost sweet in the realtime clips: in the videos she’s a squinty-eyed pig who looks like someone bashed her face in with a board. Tidus looks disturbingly like an ex-boyfriend of mine, and also like a girl, but in realtime he’s a white middle-class surfer kid.

Unfortunately, my favourite part of the visuals, and probably the game, has nothing to do with the endless popcorn breaks; the monsters, when waiting their turn to fight, do weirdly realistic and well-choreographed little dances. Really, the amount of fighting and side-questing in this Final Fantasy is roughly the same as the amount required to beat “Advent Children”, if you count “ordering a pizza” and “quarrelling over the last buffalo wing” the same as “side-questing” and “fighting”.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing this game, when I can actually play (besides enduring the videos, I have to contend for the right to be P1, because my Pepto-Bismol pink PS2 is co-owned) – unless of course the characters are speaking. Sadly, they spend a lot of the game nattering, and even have to spout “witty” one-liners in the midst of battle. I suppose it wouldn’t be as terrible in Japanese, but I’m currently playing a French version with English voices. Instead of dubbing different versions for each language, or just keeping it all in Japanese for everybody, or even making an English language version for the pesky American market and letting everyone else hear the original under their subtitles, they decided that for some reason the French would be happy with a twice-translated game.

The dubbing, by the way, is awful. None of the characters’ lips conform to any known laws of articulatory phonetics. About twenty percent of spoken Japanese consists of expressive and meaningful noises that are not words, and can really only be translated into English by using words, but the game carries on the industry’s annoying tradition of forcing American voice actors to imitate those noises, which sound out of place and unfamiliar in their throats; the effect is rather similar to an obsessive white anime fan making the “V” symbol in a photograph.

Let’s move smoothly over the script and pass on to more pleasant things. The music, for example, is just marvellous, so I suppose if you’re after the most enjoyment from this game, you don’t actually have to be deaf, just quick on the “Mute” button. The costume design isn’t too ridiculous (high praise for an RPG), and neither is the hair, unless you count Seymour, but counting Seymour is like that old maths joke where a rat in the middle of 9 cats makes each cat one-tenth rat on average; I’m not going to touch Seymour’s hair design with a ten foot pole (not that I would ever need a ten foot pole to touch that hair from anywhere else in the known universe). Yes, Tidus’ right trouser leg is made of egg crates and wrought-iron, and Lulu seems to be aiming for Romantic Goth Rastafarian Beachcomber with that whole ivory lace, skirt-of-belts and beaded cornrow combo, but whatever.

I swear, I enjoy playing this game. I’m not horribly bothered by the weird character management; I prefer the classic approach, but it’s refreshing not to have to obsessively change armours for once. I love the frustrating temples. The chocobos and cactuars are adorable. The scenery is unobtrusive, but pretty. The weapons have really cool power-ups. There is not a single thing wrong with Rikku (unless you actually want to use her). Tidus’ dad angst doesn’t take over the entire game, Auron doesn’t go all softie at any point, Wakka eventually stops whining, and best of all, Kimhari belongs to a race of gigantic mountain cats all voiced by Arnold Schwartzenegger.

7/10

(6/10 without the music)

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1 Comment

  1. imolta said,

    It’s about 5 years late, but I fucking love your review.

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