You're Kidding, Right, Square? Please Tell Me You're Kidding.

by Whitney Reynolds

Oh boy! It's time for another installment of the Final Fantasy series! Final Fantasy VIII was wonderful; it had interesting characters, an intricate plot, and simply beautiful graphics and design. An improvement on Final Fantasy VII in every way, really. Naturally, the next game should be even more realistic and complex.

But, hey, wait. What's this? The main character has... a tail? Old school black mages with big pointy hats, no gender characteristics, and two yellow blobs/eyes as the only facial characteristics? A return to short stumpy bodies and unnaturally large heads? And this is being celebrated as... a good thing?

Oh, no. April Fool's Day was a month ago. They're serious.

Don't get me wrong. I greatly loved the classic, 'fantasy' installations of the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy VI still stands as my favorite, and I'll always have a place in my heart for my introduction to the series and to RPG's as a whole, Final Fantasy IV. There's nothing wrong with swords and sorcery, crystals, characters with very obvious and specific character classes, and technology no greater than an airship.

But we have the technology now. We can make our RPG characters bigger, better, stronger, faster, and proportioned like actual human beings. There is no law that states that swords and sorcery non-technological RPG's have to feature character design that has, to coin a phrase, fallen off the ugly tree, hit every branch on the way down, and then had the tree fall on top of it.

Yoshitaka Amano is an artistic genius, really. Final Fantasy VI had the most beautiful and well-designed characters of any Final Fantasy game up until that point; they remained the most visual appealling characters until the release of Final Fantasy VIII, in which every character -- okay, every character except for Ward -- was an great piece of eye candy. And, hey, even Ward was well-designed. Amano's character designs for Final Fantasy IX are lovely works of art (even if Garnet resembles Celes's evil twin)... unfortunately, the final, rendered product looks nothing like the ethereal creatures of Amano's design.

The question I must ask Square is this: Did you recieve such a large amount of complaints about the realism and beauty of the character design in Final Fantasy VIII that you felt compelled to return to the old style of design that existed completely because of technological limitations? I mean, really, were people unhappy because Squall's head did not account for 2/3 of his body size? Were Seifer's arms woefully un-Popeye-like? Are you on crack?

So, this gamer hopes. It is a faint, desperate hope that has little chance of being fulfilled, but it still exists. I hope that when Final Fantasy IX is released, Square will have just been pulling our legs all this time.

[My Comments: The only problem I have with this editorial is the fact that I don't really understand the point this editorial is trying to make. It seems like all it is about is the need to hate FFIX before it's out. I doubt that is the intention of the writer, but it comes across that way. Having others read your editorials before you send them in is a good idea.]

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