Final Fantasy Dissident or: How I learned to stop loathing FFX fans and love the critics

As I started dislodging the chip on my shoulder that is the befuddlement of why (I thought) everyone prefers Final Fantasy X over Final Fantasy XII, I’m reminded of “what curiosity killed. Just a friendly word of advice”.

I had this hounding idea in my head, that I’m just the 1% for preferring Final Fantasy XII over Final Fantasy X. While the latter surely has its merits technology-wise – being an early-era Playstation 2 game whereas XII was released in the tail end of PS2’s lifecycle – I just never took a shine on the overall game.

FFX is too restrained in its world design, a feat that XIII manages to replicate to stupefying excess and coincidentally falls into the same category as X – my least favourite modern FF instalments.  As a gamer born in the late 80s (Now I’m aware I’m off on a slight tangent, but bear with me), and initiated into the Final Fantasites (yes, I just coined that and I’m deeply ashamed for it….) by way of Final Fantasy VII and it’s vast overworld, X and XIII’s exploration being mostly confined into a glorified scenic route makes the underlying design choices feel even blasphemous.

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While one must applaud the boldness inherent in making choices that most big franchises would choff at in fear of alienating a mass of dedicated fans, design should nevertheless serve the game instead of having to change for change’s sake.

Returning from said tangent, with the recent release of FFXII The Zodiac Age to glowing reviews  and columns on how XII was a misunderstood and underrated masterpiece in Final Fantasy canon, I noticed annoyance creeping from within me. I remember thinking already back in the day of the original release XII to be the better Final Fantasy between X and XII, a sentiment that was unpopular then amongst my peers and those forum-dwellers that I then visited.

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 I thus decided to unleash my wrath on the world on how y’all been wrong all these years for dissing an amazing modern Final Fantasy which has more than a slight twinge of Star Wars in its design and story – I mean, how much better than that can you get? Well, maybe if you somehow mixed Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty into it successfully but let’s not get into that tangent…

But then, as I started comparing review scores for FF XII and The Zodiac Age, I stumbled onto something that I did not expect: the review scores for them were similar or lower for The Zodiac Age than XII. What sorcery is this?! This isn’t the reality I signed up for when I started to brainstorm and research this blog post.

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How could it be that I, a man who takes slight pride in remembering the most trivial matters –  related to games, movies, bands and music, and artists – have such a skewed perception of what was regarded as the high-point of early 2000s’ Final Fantasies? Upon my research into that finally revealed to me just how wrong I had been the whole time. Looking at different rankings, lists, and what-not, one particular ranked list sorted by Metacritic user scores finally opened my eyes. I had been the dissident among us regular folk, whereas I had been the conformist had I been compared to critics. Maybe the peculiar love of a peer-maligned entry in one of my favourite game series’ was an early sign of a latter-life career path as a critic?

TL;DR: Thought I was the odd one out for loving FF XII instead of FFX, turned out it was just among my peers and you should doubt your reminisces of being the special snowflake.

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