We are used to taking games too seriously. When you break them down to the most basic definition – games are toys, to be enjoyed and thrown away, but they are also works of art worth cherishing like movies, literature, and television. The Last Guardian and The Last of Us Part 2 are rightly seen as objects of true cultural merit to be valued and dissected, while obscene camp experiences like Earth Defense Force and Dynasty Warriors are games designed to be valued as stupid examples of excess that they manifest. are.
It is normal to admit that games as a medium can occupy all of these categories, being seen as masterful inventions of creativity and exaggerated examples of entertainment that can be enjoyed in so many different ways. These two approaches are perfectly valid and Final Fantasy is a series that understands this division perfectly. This is the property that gave birth to Kingdom Hearts and Advent Children, two things filled with so much convolution it’s almost laughable. But I love them both so much, fully aware that I can appreciate them for who they are while still enjoying them whenever the show decides to be serious and contemplative at the same time.
Although it has moments of cutesy distance, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a serious political adventure that explores mature themes and narrative consequences that its characters are forced to face. It adapts and improves upon the 1997 original in countless ways, preserving all of its masterful qualities while building on it in a way that feels bitingly modern. This needs to be taken seriously, given that Cloud and society are battling an evil society that is more than capable of destroying the planet they call home. Of course, the storytelling ultimately goes in crazy directions and dares to usurp the existing canon, but it does so with a straight face, so we stick to its melodrama for the entire ride.
The main entries in the series have managed to strike that balance for decades, and it’s often in the spinoffs where things get a little dumber and a lot more complacent. Dirge of Cerberus is a bunch of absolute nonsense, while World of Final Fantasy is a lovable homage to the entire franchise that incorporates original characters and locations in a way that stays fresh and exciting. Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin (my God, I hate that name so much) seems to occupy the same place in the air of gaming times. From its very first trailer, it was clear this game was going to be undeniably crap.
You play as a dude called Jack who has seemingly been snatched from the modern world and is tasked with working with a motley group of adventurers as they seek to defeat chaos and save the universe. At least that’s the rough set-up, the trailers and gameplay I’ve been subjected to are so ridiculous that anything could happen in the full game when it does happen next year. He’s just a dude, finding himself in a fantasy world where he wields giant weapons and dons absurd outfits while maintaining his same pragmatic attitude. It sounds like an edgelord meme that we would use to riff on games like this, but it’s real. There’s a scene where he pulls out his phone, detonates sick nu-metal, and walks away from the enemy because he’s tired of facing their bullshit. Yes, it does happen.
While some of the accompanying characters are your typical JRPG archetypes, others also feel out of place, and there’s an eerie, absurd beauty to that. Part of me loves the way Stranger of Paradise embraces this chaos and doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. Or he actually tries to be nuanced and meaningful, but it backfires in the most spectacular way possible. Anyway, I’m there, whatever the intention. It’s a deliberate reinvention of the Four Warriors of Light storyline that plays quickly and freely with the show’s canon in a weirdly exciting way. While the game was originally billed as a modern exploration of the first Final Fantasy, recent images and previews suggest that Final Fantasy 13 locations and patterns will be included as well. Knowing this, is Stranger of Paradise actually just a weird universe-to-universe adventure starring a group of nervous losers trying to save the fabric of reality? If so, sign me up.
Final Fantasy has millions of fans around the world, and everyone is waiting for Final Fantasy 16 and the second chapter of FF7 Remake to be vast uncompromising journeys to detailed obscene worlds old and new. I have no doubt that they will succeed in delivering such a vision, but sometimes it’s okay to appreciate more eccentric titles like Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin (but still hate the name) and how they’re willing to try something different even if it means becoming an internet meme or the butt of a joke for their entire existence. Such a reputation is worth taking in your stride, and I hope Square Enix takes that backlash to market the game as a daring, divisive, and ultimately fun moment that fans and newcomers alike will love. Please put several Limp Bizkit songs on the official soundtrack. For culture.
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