>Yuna: yes I liked X-2. Suck it up and deal. (possible spoiler warning)

>I’m having a really shitty day, so I thought that I’d write about something that I liked rather than going off on another rant that I really don’t have the mental energy for today. So today, here’s a love letter (so to speak) to one of the greatest female characters ever, who – like Lightning – would have been perfect in every way if she’d been wearing pants:

There’s a reason why I’m addicted to Square and BioWare games – both companies know how to write some fantastic female characters. And Yuna was the first character I ever encountered in my gaming life that made me sit back and say ‘holy crap, she is such a fantastic female character!’.

Okay. So enough peaens to Yuna. Just what makes her so awesome? Let’s start with the fact that she’s a complete and total badass. The first time you meet Yuna, she’s tired and sweaty from just having completed a huge ordeal – successfully summoning her first aeon:


Now that I’m a summoner, I could totally feed you your heart on a plate. Just sayin’.

So right off the bat, Yuna is established as a powerful character. She’s no fragile little flower, waiting for a big, strong, manly hero to solve her problems. Aeons are entities of unbelievable power, so being able to call and control them confers with it a certain base level of badassery. I mean, when someone can call something like this to do their bidding:


(Oh, she can also walk on water, bee tee dubs.)

…it pretty much means you shouldn’t mess with them.

What I liked even better about Yuna was that she didn’t fall into the “powerful weakling” trap that’s so common with many female characters in JRPGs. From the outset, Yuna was the leader of the party who had the skills and knowledge to get the job done. Really, Tidus – the protagonist – was just along for the ride. And how great is that? How many times in gaming do you see a female character really, truly in charge? Even the strongest male character, Auron, deferred to Yuna’s judgement when they were at odds.

And let’s face it, it’s not like Yuna’s job was all sunshine and puppies. Nope. She was walking a road that ended, as far as she knew, with certain death. What’s more, she had to deal with the aftermath of disasters that left hundreds of people dead in their wake, and she was constantly being scrutinized as a public symbol of hope. But Yuna never whined or complained like you’d expect of a more strereotyped character. She did what she had to do.

One of the things that I loved most about Yuna was that she was either the saddest happy character or the happiest sad character I’ve encountered. Both roles are pretty stereotyped – pretty much any JRPG you play will have at least one genki girl. And many JRPGs and anime have stereotyped sad girls (often sad girls in snow). I love the fact that Yuna managed to turn both stereotypes on their head. When Yuna is sad, the player is sad because she’s a genuinely endearing character. And when she’s happy, it doesn’t ring false like it would with a genki girl.

Furthermore, her sadness doesn’t detract from her strength or otherwise make her seem like a weaker character. She has her moment of sadness, then she straps on her big girl boots and gets on with what she has to do. Her sadness, rather than being seen as a weakness of character, helps to define her strength because even when she is most sad she doesn’t let that sadness control her life. That’s powerful stuff.


Let’s face it. If you found out the person you fell in love with wasn’t real, you’d be pretty sad too.

The thing that makes me appreciate it all the more is that Yuna’s sadness in X-2 mainly stems from not being able to be with Tidus. And that makes me appreciate her refusal to sit around and mope even more. She’s moving forward with her life, not sitting around and being all weepy because of a man. Yuna’s shenanigans in X-2 aren’t all about saving the day, sometimes they’re about having fun, pure and simple. And sure X-2 was full of fluffy “girl power” moments involving Rikku and Paine, but frankly I think that’s the sort of thing that gaming needs more of – not less.

In the end, Yuna manages to be a strong, well-rounded character who never loses sight of herself or her ideals. And maybe best of all, she manages to save the day and rescue the prince instead of being the damsel in distress. At the end, Yuna’s actions bring Tidus back – which wouldn’t have happened if she’d sat around being a sad girl in snow (or in sand, considering that Besaid is pretty tropical.)


I’m not too proud to admit that I cried.

Now if only more women in games were written as well as Yuna, I’d have a lot less to complain about. …and okay it would be nice if she was wearing shorts that didn’t expose the lower half of her buttocks. Details…

45 thoughts on “>Yuna: yes I liked X-2. Suck it up and deal. (possible spoiler warning)

  1. >Hey, no need to defend your love. X-2 was great, even if the costumes were slightly over the top.I hadn't thought about it before, but Yuna occupies the middle ground, emotionally speaking, in both games, between Rikku and Lulu in X, and Rikku and Paine in X-2. Wakka's in a similar position between Tidus and Auron, which is kind of interesting.

  2. >It's always so nice to hear that I'm not the only one who loved X-2. I usually get made fun of when I express that opinion. There is a great deal of silliness in X-2, but from a gameplay standpoint, it was the most entertaining FF game I've played.

  3. >its not just Yuna, but every character in FFX is well written. The theme of the game is "sacrifice." Each character has sacrificed something by the end of the game. The revelation of Yuna's fate to Tidus is really powerful. Suddenly everyone's actions and attitudes make sense, and you realize the awful nature of what you've been working toward.Truly a great story, not "for a videogmae" but a great story period.

  4. >Plus the ending with Tidus coming back is so aptly awkward! I mean, he's been gone for two years, and when he comes back, the woman he was maybe in love with is *completely* different. I liked how the game didn't imply that getting back together wasn't going to be all sunshine and roses, and might actually be some work. It was… maybe the most authentic relationship ending I've seen in a game.

  5. >X-2 was an incredible game for all sorts of reasons, least of which was that we finally get to see what happens to a world "2 years after the heroes save everything". The callbacks/reincorporations to X were really thought out well.The *only* thing (aside from "jump button" that I have to say bad about FFX-2 was all the limitless random combats, they get tiring quickly, even as a vehicle to awesome costume changes.But yeah, by "Episode 4" of 5, when you watch the world-scenes from your airship, you pretty much get that Yuna is pretty much the most powerful woman in all of the world (socially, politically, etc). That's pretty damn cool.Also: Paine's story, if you gather up all those spheres and see her history with the three youth leaders, she's got a lot under the surface as well.Anyway, it was exciting to see a game featuring or primarily all women protagonists that didn't feature, like, tentacle rape and shit.And yeah, I cried too.

  6. >Yuna was never kidnapped, at least to my knowledge.FFX-2 was an amazing game, with wonderfully done characters and a fascinating story. Yuna was by far the best female character presented in that game, though Paine and Rikku (albeit slightly annoying) had their moments as well. I find that all of my female friends who played X-2 loved it, while my male friends said it was sub-par, which I genuinely believe stemmed from the shift of focus from a male viewpoint to a solely female one. However, I agree with wundergeek that the "girl power" feel of the game is a welcomed change, and that we need more of it in gaming.I would also like to make a shout-out to Lulu, the amazing mage who's unique character all too often gets overshadowed by her not-so-preferable attire…

  7. >Yuna wasn't kidnapped, the entire team except for her was kidnapped. Arrested if you want to be technical.The escape from the wedding might be a bit misleading, but if you consider who is threatened and whose behavior is being commanded by those threats, it's very clear who the hostages are and they aren't her.

  8. >Yuna actually does get kidnapped by the Al Bhed… only the guardians kick their ass. (And then we find out it's Rikku.) And yes she gets taken to Home against her will by the Al Bhed… But I think both of those incidents are obviated by the fact that she fights her way out of Via Purifico pretty much on her own. Also, she threw herself off of a tower to save her friends – which takes guts!

  9. >Yes to all of this article! I /loved/ FFX-2, I say it proudly as much as possible. And I usually defend it when people start ragging on it. Surely there were some awkward and silly moments.. but over all I really liked the story, the music, and the gameplay (Ultimate Yuna Dressphere will conquer the world!). And I really dislike downer endings, so I was glad to see Yuna and Tidus still got to be happy in the end. Yuna fought hard for that happy ending (and no offense to Tidus.. but I really preferred Yuna as the main character XD)

  10. >ack, too long, again!@wundergeek, et al:I haven't really been a fan of the Final Fantasy Series since, well the FF on SNES(2 U.S, 4 Japan), but I've seen them played fairly often, and thought they were just ok.(Props to 1 for having the clichΓ© 'rescue the princess' mission at the beginning![if it had to be there at all!]) VII really went too far off into left field for me personally(too much magitek, swordguns, all the leather, etc…), I just couldn't get into it.(I don't like much fantasy in my sci-fi, and vice versa.) Doesn't reflect badly on the game, imo, but other people I know(and didn't: see the Internet) loved it!(Males and females, even pre-doujinshi and fanfic craze.) I am surprised, however that one game in the series became a cottage industry on its own. I guess that's why you had the immediate sequel to X? Square/Enix hoping that lightning would strike twice? Once again, X was kinda ok in my eyes(save the broken 'soccer' game where the damage calculation wwas fukked up!), but pretty popular, though not what S/E hoped apparently.(But while chasing VII is probably a bad idea in the long run for S/E, at least the fans got that side-quel, right?)I think X-2 was panned because of the superficiality to its immediate predecessor(though practically all FF are similar in tone and theme!), and of course, the whole clothes coordination thing, which personally I thought was unique, at least. Though I guess it was iffy in a game seemingly targeting women. Ya know chix and fashion, etc… As if guys weren't always shopping in these games, not to mention endlessly customizizng the looks of their characters and paraphernalia!πŸ™‚ I don't think Bioware's games are exceptional per se on female representation, especially see Mass Effect's ridiculous 'lesbians' and Jack's personality in 2(sex scene[*shudder*], but they're not as bland or even atrocious like other companies, and that's something.(I have seen a number of comments(from females mostly) who say that Jade Empire's depiction of female characters was the best so far…[And one female friend agrees apparently…]) Then there's the default male Shepard Soldier provided for the player and the resultant inference that due to the fact many people didn't change the character in the beginning, electing to jump into the story, that they preferred a male soldier as their character!(Great logical fallacy on Bioware's part!) I enjoyed the Knights of the Old Republic games to a degree, and hope they do a good job on the MMO, with more memorable characters, prominent females especially. Star Wars does need a few more, imo.Square/Enix I'm kinda meh on too, but it seems they're getting better than the stereotypes employed in the past.(Though early Enix games in the DW series had independent, strong Princesses, see especially 2 and 4. And 7th Saga, IIRC.) But they're vidya gaem companies, so I honestly don't expect much, especially now that professional authors and screenwriters are 'penning' some of this stuff. I'm just glad when something isn't cringeworthy!Nice rundown of your fav character from a game that probably didn't get its due. Next time my roommate runs through it, I'll be thinking about your observations!

  11. >Rest of post:And when is the 'Fantasy' gonna be 'Final'? There's like 26 of 'em! ;-)(Though 'Mystic Quest', the name for their SNES beginner RPG, also the first in Europe, sounds more like what you actually do, imho.) This from a guy who's favorite game is 'Final' Fight!(Whose females run the gamut in depiction,[and after 1, are selectable as brawlers] and are never 'weak'![There's even a transexual lady! On the 'bad' side admittedly, but the comics nuance the situation…. Wow, that kinda sounds like I'm excusing that a bit in my enthusiasm, but it was revolutionary to include a person like that at the time. But, things need to get better on depictions of various people, 'villains' or no, right? Where are say, transexual heroes, other than Vivian from Super Mario RPG: The Thousand Year Door?]) There's 6, so far!(And I want more![I ignore the non-existent Streetwise, as is proper] ;-))Great post!@LilithXIV:'there were some awkward and silly moments..':From what I've seen(and read) over the years that's distinctive of the JRPG, they often don't take themselves as seriously as other games do. It's kinda endearing, really… Of course, some people dismiss games like these as not 'serias bizness', and therefore not cool, and not worth playing. Their loss, imo. 'And I really dislike downer endings':I like 'em occasionally(life's not always puppies and rainbows, so occasionally I like having that forcefully pointed out![not too, often, I'm not a pessimist generally!]), but I was delighted with the downer at the end of the remake of the Bard's Tale!(The one you get if you elect to join forces with the Demoness… Evil Love triumphs. I nearly cried! ;-)) This also explainsmy love for the Descent, the awesome all-female cavecrawling horror flick, despite the goings on in the pic.

  12. >huh? So you don't think the whole dress-sphere thing was a thinly veiled attempt to equate fashion, and by extension, the projection of a self-image as the most important, central function of the female characters? It's like dress-up Barbie with xtra gunz and monstaz.

  13. >Zhu Bajiee: In a Western context, that would probably be the case. But Final Fantasy is rather interested in fashion in general — outfit changes appeared for the first time in Final Fantasy III (JP), and one of the first things we were told about the upcoming Final Fantasy Versus XIII was that they'd commissioned designer clothing for the (largely male) main characters. ;)Besides, there's a lot more to the characters themselves than just fashion and self-image, so it's harder to interpret that way.

  14. >Valeran: Oh, sure BioWare has plenty of gender fail. Did Matriarch Benezia really need to show off most of her tits? Couldn't Morrigan wear some fucking clothes? They're not perfect. But they're SO MUCH BETTER than everyone else out there, and in terms of their writing they are TOP NOTCH. They write female characters that are amazingly compelling and well rounded, even if the character designs are eyeroll-worthy sometimes.

  15. >Zhu: As someone who was once completely obsessed with anime, yeah – what Ikkin says is pretty much on the money. Henshin – ie transformation – sequences are all the rage in anime and in JRPGs. I've seen so many of them for both male and female characters that it honestly didn't give me a second thought. I think it's one of the things that maybe doesn't translate as well about the game culturally speaking.Now I do wish that Yuna's default outfit in X-2 had her wearing f'ing pants. But if I refused to play RPGs that had ridiculous outfits for female characters, I wouldn't play any RPGs ever. And Yuna is such a well-written character that I'm willing to roll my eyes and play anyway.

  16. >While BioWare did indeed flunk on the gender aspect in many, many ways, I felt that there were some redeeming qualities as well. Take, for instance, female Shepard. Despite being unfairly put on the back burner when it comes to advertisement, her character in-game was superb! She was intelligent, independent, strong-willed, and had an amazing voice actor to boot. Not once during my playthrough of ME or ME2 did I feel uncomfortable or awkward when it came to playing as a female protaganist. BioWare allowed me to feel in control and confident as Shepard, and I loved that about the game. Tali was also another strong character in the ME series, and Liara developed into a more well-rounded character in the second game.Dragon Age: Origins wasn't as great as ME when it came to how female characters were dealt with, but they did do a great job with Wynne's character design. She may have been an old woman, but she was witty and could hold her own in any situation. Morrigan, on the other hand, I didn't care for at all…So, yes, BioWare is not perfect. Not by a long shot. However, they certainly do a much better job than the majority of game developers out there.

  17. >YES, I love this post–I love Yuna, too! FFX-2 is one of my favorite games. (I've actually cosplayed Trainer!Yuna and have plans to do Black Mage next.) Yuna's a strong female character, but she's not a Strong Female Character(TM), which I appreciate. And I mean:And sure X-2 was full of fluffy "girl power" moments involving Rikku and Paine, but frankly I think that's the sort of thing that gaming needs more of – not less.EXACTLY. Every time someone pans FFX-2 I'm like, this is a major game where every playable character is a woman. When do you ever see that??

  18. >Bioware's female characters are all well-written, complex and dynamic affairs. Yeah, they're not all paragons of independence but it's not really gender fail unless something comes with a complete lack of thought and regard.Dragon Age's Morrigan is wonderfully complex and defied pretty much every expectation you might've had about a bioware femNPC. And yet, as you struggle through your friendship with her, you find that there isn't one reason why she's like that, but many. Most probably didn't like her for her difficult personality ("Morrigan disapproves"), but they're confusing gameplay with characterization.Leiliana was a fairly realistic les option who was very easy to scare off or offend, just like real life. This, from the bold countenance belying a once-burned, twice-shy interior struggling, and succeeding, to keep it together.And oh, those wonderful conversations between Fem!Warden and Sten.

  19. >Honestly, X-2 is the wall of fire for determining who I listen to about games. Anyone that acknowledged that X-2 played better than X but liked X more anyway is a cinephile, not a gamer. And you won't beleive the number of cinephiles slumming in the game press because they couldn't make it through film school. (most egregiously, Leigh Alexander called Ninja Gaiden "shallow". It takes month of actual non-grind effort to grok and complete those games!)Final Fantasy has an interesting relationship with women characters. On the one hand, women are their primary fanbase. On the other hand, there is nothing fangirls hate more than female characters. (Plug "Het is Ew" and "Real Women Don't Wear Dresses" into TVtropes if you need to know why this is so) That means that we've had pretty-boys from X (and _arguably_ as far back as VIII) to XII who had nothing to do with the story and didn't bring any interesting game elements as main characters. Now, towards the tail-end of the phenomenon, we can start to see Square, who care much more about story than anything else (not that they actually make good stories. If a group of Let's Players called "Tipping 40's", can point out plot holes and inconsistent characterization every 20 seconds, you suck at story.) trying to acclimate us and themselves to a female protagonist. X was Yuna's story until they chickened out at the end. XII was Basically Ashe doing things while Vaan watches, and Square doesn't back out this time. Finally XII has them decide to genderflip Cloud as part of what I can only assume is a scientific test to determine whether lack of gay-subtext would alienate the women that play. The results are skewed by the fact that XIII is the worst game to actually play since Superman 64, but the experiment seems to have succeeded.Of course, we also got rampantly escalating fanservice characters to try to keep men interested, (Lulu -> Fran -> Vanille, and all of X-2) but women have learned to ignore women in media since forever. It's probably a net gain for the fans, so I'd expect that we'd see more extreme token sexy girls to go along with our gains.(How did V end up with a female majority party and VI end up with female main characters, then? Well, back then fans played games instead of watching them, so men didn't care, and the graphics were too primitive for most to get aroused by anything, so slashers weren't there. VI changed the first, and VII's FMVs changed the second.)

  20. >Hazmat, there's so very much wrong with your comment.Game length != depth. Depth of what, we're not sure, as games can have (but aren't limited to) depth in gameplay, and depth in narrative. To date, I don't think I've heard anyone talk about how great Ninja Gaiden's story is.Re: Final Fantasy's primary fanbase, the only reason why you'd make such a comment is if you've only polled fanfiction.net's slash / yaoi section. So I'mma call bullshit on this one, which kind of tanks the rest of your comment as that was the premise for most of your other arguments.

  21. >Sam: So. I get that you have opinions. But if you could refrain from presenting them as opinions, that would be awesome. A lot of the things you're calling shitty are personal taste.re: writing – them's fightin' words! But seriously, I beg to differ. The localization and the writing has gotten better with every iteration to come out. Since X and on, I would argue that only BioWare can compete with Squeenix in terms of creating consistently characterized, well-rounded, compelling and endearing characters. I cried during X, X-2, and XIII. Previous to playing X, I had never cried at any video game ever, and despite playing a whole host of fantastic BioWare games the only BioWare game to make me cry yet has been DA:O. (Screwed up and got the sad ending. Sadface.) I cannot disagree more that there is inconsistent characterization. Characters get real, honest-to-god plot arcs! That's not bad writing, it's the polar opposite.And have you not been reading the other comments? Every woman I know who plays the FF games – and I know a lot of them! – LOVED X-2 and LOVES them some female characters. So please don't take a small vocal subset of the anime fandom on TVTropes (which is a subset of the larger anime fandom) and try to generalize it on to female gamers at large, especially since I know a ton of people who play Final Fantasy but otherwise are not part of anime fandom.Now I will give you the fact that it can be argued that X is Yuna's story, even if I don't agree with it. (For me, Tidus' story had equal emotional resonance, even if Yuna called the shots.) But even if that is the case – so what? How is that a bad thing? OH NOES! A FEMALE CHARACTER IS THE PROTAGONIST IN A GAME! THIS GAME IS AUTOMATICALLY TERRIBLE.And as far as gameplay goes – I realize that it's not everyone's cup of tea. Active time battles aren't to everyone's tastes – I know a lot of fans of the old school Final Fantasies prefer turn-based. But d00d! XIII had the best battle system since X-2, and maybe even better! The battle system was flexible and challenging – I only ever beat one boss on the first try – without being so hard that I wanted to throw the controller across the room. Even better, the game was flexible enough to accomodate play styles AND didn't have the random battles that everyone has been bitching about.So. Okay. You're a dude who hasn't liked any of the recent FF games. Congratulations! You're not alone. But please, you know, read the comments and realize that there's an equal number of people who don't agree with you. Like. At all.

  22. >This is going to be long. Bear with me."Game length != depth."I did not say that. You infer it, but if you must know my opinion, the depth of a game is the difference in skill between the best and worst players. Therefore the amount of time it takes to master a game (meaningful time, not grinding) is a symptom of the quality of the game."Depth of what, we're not sure, as games can have (but aren't limited to) depth in gameplay, and depth in narrative. To date, I don't think I've heard anyone talk about how great Ninja Gaiden's story is.""Gameplay" is a stupid word. Here's why: Would you rate a game by it's "bookread?" No? Why not? The answer is because most people that review books review them as books and most people who review games either didn't play them enough(games take a while, and you've got a quota) or don't like games in general enough (everyone else) to review them as actual games. People are confused because story, characters, and plot, which as so very important in the movies games superficially represent are immaterial to the actual experience of play. I would defend the Ninja Gaiden series as a superior series (despite the absolutely aggravating women characters). Not superior to FF games, those are a different genre. But I would defend the FF Tactics sub-series over the main FF series on the same grounds."Re: Final Fantasy's primary fanbase, the only reason why you'd make such a comment is if you've only polled fanfiction.net's slash / yaoi section."Every significant gathering of women on the internet I've found shows this to be so. I'll give you that women that don't disclose their gender over the internet might not care that much about these things, but that's unknowable speculation."A lot of the things you're calling shitty are personal taste."Of course these are personal opinions! If you or I believed that they were objective truths, we wouldn't be discussing them because there would be nothing to say. (Like if yu found someone was a flat-Earther for example)."Since X and on, I would argue that only BioWare can compete with Squeenix in terms of creating consistently characterized, well-rounded, compelling and endearing characters. ""In videogames" is what you should add to that. IF you want your videogames to be a narrative medium them you must compare the narrative to those in existing medium. Now, I minored in English, okay? And I can tell you right now that there is nothing in a videogame that compares to even the lesser penny dreadfuls of a century ago. This is because plot is no more useful to a videogame than it is to a sports game. Now you can add plot to sports, and many do enjoy it. We call that "Professional Wrestling". Here's the thing: Professional Wrestling fans are unlike videogame fans. No PW fan will be telling about the maserful angles of Vince Russo. This is because they have a thing called perspective.The closest we've had to a good story on a videogame was Planescape: Torment, but that was accomplished by making a game that was near-indistinguishable from a book anyway."I cried during X, X-2, and XIII. Previous to playing X, I had never cried at any video game ever, and despite playing a whole host of fantastic BioWare games the only BioWare game to make me cry yet has been DA:O."That is the only arguemnt you've made yet to actually convince me. I guess you'll just have to call me an elitist and I'll just have to say you have bad taste.πŸ˜‰

  23. >"I cannot disagree more that there is inconsistent characterization. Characters get real, honest-to-god plot arcs! That's not bad writing, it's the polar opposite."THIS on the other hand… I said it before, but watch the Tipping 40's review. X had such bad story structure that A) a group of Alchoholics noticed and B) they had to do a live recording of the entire game to point it out. (Okay, to be fair, half of it was pointing out how badly the game actually played)."And have you not been reading the other comments? Every woman I know who plays the FF games – and I know a lot of them! – LOVED X-2 and LOVES them some female characters."Okay. My point was that I have seen many people in both real life and Internet space tell me how awesoem X was and rant about X-2 if it gets brought up. Those people are stupid (to me, since I apparently need to point out that personal opinions are personal) because X-2 plays a hell of a lot better than X. I thus use those people as a screen to know whose opinions on games I should trust as quality review. That's all." So please don't take a small vocal subset of the anime fandom on TVTropes (which is a subset of the larger anime fandom) and try to generalize it on to female gamers at large, especially since I know a ton of people who play Final Fantasy but otherwise are not part of anime fandom."Okay, here's another thing: I have never met an FF fan that was not an anime fan. I have never seen an FF internet community that was not as I described. Silent Majorities might well exist, but we are in now way obligated to assume that they do. People play the game for the game? Cool, though I'm not sure exactly why they haven't moved on. Bad taste? ;)"Now I will give you the fact that it can be argued that X is Yuna's story, even if I don't agree with it. (For me, Tidus' story had equal emotional resonance, even if Yuna called the shots.) But even if that is the case – so what? How is that a bad thing? OH NOES! A FEMALE CHARACTER IS THE PROTAGONIST IN A GAME! THIS GAME IS AUTOMATICALLY TERRIBLE."Whoa, were in THE FUCK did I ever say that this trend was a bad thing? I am charting the trends that influence the series. You do not get to call me a misogynist –and don't you even pretend that's not what you're doing!– for not literally crying over your favourite games."[XIII 'Gameplay' stuff]Sweet mother of Ishtar. I'm not trying be a Rouguelike elitist, but I honestly cannot even process anyone ever losing a fight in XIII. X-2 was the closest the main series got to Tactics series in complexity and skill, and you're praising something that could charitably be beaten with 40 lines of C code. There is a fundamental disconnect between us on this issue."So. Okay. You're a dude who hasn't liked any of the recent FF games. Congratulations! You're not alone."Okay, so I haven't disclosed my gender and I have spoken with contempt towards the sexual aesthetics of modern games, something men are much less likely to do, but you are assuming I am 'male' based on my dislike of the FF series. Is this correct?" But please, you know, read the comments and realize that there's an equal number of people who don't agree with you. Like. At all. "Oh, I'm aware that my opinions are relatively unique. Comes with the Philosophy degree. That doesn't actually matter though. Allow me to demonstrate:"Wundergeek, you do know that there's a GREATER number of people that don't agree with you on sexism at all, don't you?"Do you see why this is a bad argument now?

  24. >I'm going to go into detail here, because you guys are getting some really weird ideas about my views and I think that most of that is my fault: 1. All things are subjective. This is called "taste". We as humans have agreed by suing the term "bad taste" that some taste is better than others. We both obviously assume our taste is best, just in case that needed to be said. 2. None of this means you did not actually enjoy what you enjoyed. Neither of us is arguing that, say, a Transformers 2 fan did not actually like the movie and is just in denial.3. The primary purpose of a game is to be played. Games should thus be judged on how well they play. I contend that the reason people in general have forgotten this is because games contain other forms of media as a sideshow. Whereas a no board game fan would praise a marble checkers set over a plastic chess set, modern videogames have dazzling in-game movies, arranged orchestras for sountracks, and so much more of the like that anyone can be awed into forgetting that these things are chrome.4. NEVERTHELESS, aesthetic beauty does have secondary value. The values are:4a. The mechanics of playable characters are a meaningful element of characterization, which is normally meaningless. An example: the Chess Queen's relationship with her husband is meaningless in the context of the game, unless it has mechanical effect. It does, and we can infer things from it. (that she's the one in charge, but he's still the de jure head of state)4b. Certain things are therefore both aesthetic and mechanical. Fire Emblem is an example, where certain characters play together better based on their in-story relationship, and the old veteran soldiers earn less experience from fighting than new recruits.5. Something can have bad aesthetic value and great play-value simultaneously or vise versa. Some games do not, therefore, justify their terrible aesthetics enough to play because their play value is not enough. Blog-relevant comparison: Oneechanbara, not worth playing to most, and Bayonetta, worth playing to anyone that likes the genre.6. the people on this blog are much less picky about play value than I am. That is not an insult or an attack: it is an evident fact. We are, however, equally disdainful of the sexual aesthetics of modern games, which have turned many a game that would be perfectly ordinary into something ugly.7. Accordingly, my objections to someone that likes a game with (what I consider, if it must be said again) poor play value do not start when they say "this game had a great female protagonist." They start when that person concludes that "that makes it a good game." This does not follow. (unless they meant "this female protagonist is really fun _to play_ but I don't think that's happened yet, and if it has, my apologies)Am I being understood?

  25. >The reason that I actually pay attention to this blog out of the infinite number that complain about game aesthetics, is because you, Wundergeek are an actual artist, which gives you the qualification to do these things. (philosophers like myself can talk and reason about anything, but true insight comes from those with passion for the subject. Exactly the problem in the games media) I have never been more impressed with anyone than when she defended HTK's art as actual art regardless of how it damages her values. The redesigned Sophitia, and most importantly the notes on the precise reasoning for redesign, is and are exactly the sort of things that make you irreplaceable.We've had a major disagreement now, and I know feminist blogs aren't much for dissenting opinions. (not that I blame them in most cases) I sincerely hope we can remain of speaking terms.

  26. >Hazmat Sam:Getting into the ludology-vs.-narratology debate is really rather off-topic for this blog.But I will say this: videogames are not just games, in the same way as movies aren't just moving pictures. And movies have their visual aspect separated out all the time (in fact, movies that focus only on visuals are rightfully derided).Non-ludic elements are more than just window dressing — they're clearly important to a majority of the audience, as well as a fair portion of the commenters here. Trying to argue that they aren't isn't particularly productive.

  27. >"And movies have their visual aspect separated out all the time (in fact, movies that focus only on visuals are rightfully derided)."Yes, because the entire point of narratives is to tell a story. Visuals in movies are only in service of this. But games are not stories. No one describes a game as a Myserty game or a Romance game. We call them puzzle games or Role-Playigng games or fighting games because those are the things that actually matter. Our language betrays us.Look, I did specifically admit that the aesthetics is very important to the people here. I specifically said that I agree with the criticism of the aesthetics. I agree that these things are important to the rest of you. I agree that bad aesthetics makes the total experience more enjoyable.I will critique badly dressed characters. I will laugh at bad dialogue, and I will join you in laughing at any of those "hey bitch just your opinion" nonsense comments into the ground. I will admit that the asethetics of game are worth serious conversation, that some games don't have the play to justify the terrible taste, and that the visual themes are important. But will not agree with the view that the cutscenes are MORE important than the play in a game. I love games too much for that.

  28. >EDIT: "We call them puzzle games or Role-Playigng games or fighting games because those are the things that actually matter."Should be:"We call them puzzle games or Role-PlayING games or fighting games because those are the things that actually matter MOST."Sorry for the typos.

  29. >Hazmat Sam: Yes, because the entire point of narratives is to tell a story. Visuals in movies are only in service of this. But games are not stories. No one describes a game as a Mystery game or a Romance game. We call them puzzle games or Role-Playing games or fighting games because those are the things that actually matter. Our language betrays us.We categorize videogames by gameplay because gameplay is a potential barrier to entry. Even the most narrative-focused videogame requires a certain degree of skill to complete. And categorization by skill seems to take precedence over everything else, even with books — "children's book" and "young adult fiction" are examples of book genres that say nothing about the narrative and focus on the skill required to read them. So that doesn't suggest, in any way, that videogames are not and cannot be a narrative medium as well.But will not agree with the view that the cutscenes are MORE important than the play in a game. I love games too much for that.Love videogames-as-games all you want, just recognize that the medium's grown bigger than that now. Immersive software can be used in as many different ways as text or cameras can, and none of them are wrong just because the medium is called "videogames."And for the love of Mario, don't say Final Fantasy fans have bad taste just because what they value in videogames is different than what you value in videogames. Especially not when it's completely irrelevant to the point made by the OP.

  30. >Sam: I apologize for making a gender assumption. Your name in addition to your hatred of the FF series caused me to assume that you were a guy based on my past experiences. I realize that Sam is a gender-neutral name. Mea culpa, moving on.Okay, so again – just because you do not like the FF games does not make them bad, or badly written, or bad games or what have you. Ninja Gaiden personally makes me want to chuck my console out the window, but I'm not going to go around saying ALL PEOPLE WHO PLAY NINJA GAIDEN HAVE BAD TASTE. I came very close to majoring in English, have been a life-long grammar nazi, and have managed to make a little money off of my writing – so I feel confident in saying that the FF games are structurally well written. You may not like them and that's fine. Personal tastes vary. But you not liking them =/ people who like them have bad taste.Also… have you even played X/X-2? I'm curious, because it sounds like you're relying on comments from other people. If you have, my bad, but if you're going to slam everyone who likes a game for having bad taste it helps to have actually played it first.

  31. >"But games are not stories."Do you only play games like Chess and Solitaire? Honestly, this is one of the most absurd statements I've ever heard. Yes, videogames are not SOLELY stories (artistic appeal and gameplay mechanics are also a big part of what makes a game entertaining), but a great majority of current games include some form of narrative aspect. The Final Fantasy series is a prime example of how much a great plot can enhance a videogame's overall entertainment value. Not all games are stories, and a lack of a plot does not make a game any less great. However, saying that games simply are not stories, is false. Many gamers, myself included, enjoy games because of the stories they tell.

  32. >Well, I HAVE majored in English, and thus my opinion is 9.314 times more valid than yours. I know this because of SCIENCE.The first paragraph of your first comment states several opinions as absolute facts in no uncertain terms, and we see the first instance where you attempt to say that people that play games for their plots aren't real gamers. And, if I fire a machine gun at a barn, then circle the closest three holes and declare myself a sharpshooter, that doesn't make it so. So don't assume your limited experience and preferential recall make you exempt from selection bias in your judgment about gaming populations' gender and predilections.Contrary to what you said, books and movies are graded on, among other things, their readability and watchability, just as games are critiqued on their playability (or rather, gameplay). Have you never heard of a "real page turner," or movies that, while fine in other regards were difficult to sit through? Hell, the act of viewing a painting or other objet d'art is fully considered in its creation, so that your eyes start, travel through, and end at specific locations.Yet no artist would state that this process is the entirety of their art, nor that other elements bear no consideration.You're a gamist. Ninja Gaidan is "deep" because it is difficult; Enslaved; Odyssey to the West is not as it is easy, even though its characters present the subtle nuances of a strained relationship based on subjugation rather than mutual acquiescence. Or that Kane and Lynch presents a bloody, post-modern take of the modern gaming protagonist that slaughters all in their path, showing them as anything but heroic, even if they have a daughter somewhere.That's fine. I get it. I have friends that openly admit to skipping every single cutscene in a game and, just as you do, look at me quizzically when I say I enjoy the plots of the few games I grant as being story-focused. That's cool.But don't come swinging out of the gate at people who obviously don't agree with what you're saying.

  33. >I don't really hate FF. It might seem as such because I am very blunt, but the first rule I learned in my profession is "Don't write like Hegel." Euphemisms are repellent. It would takea lot more than bad plot and sub-par mechanics to make me hate a game. Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun is about the level a game needs to sink: It has to actively hate me for me to hate it back. FF is just usually the microwave pizza of videogames. I honestly didn't think I'd even get any comments on my first post."Also… have you even played X/X-2? I'm curious, because it sounds like you're relying on comments from other people."Oh look at this! "You didn't like it, so you obviously didn't play it!" Goddamn, you sound like one of those loser Twilight fans. You know I've actually said that X-2 was good, right? Well, let me clarify: It's got the best job-system since V, and I do not feel the urge to skip every cutscene. Perhaps I shouldn't have told you to check an LP for my criticism of X, but the alcoholics have exhaustively detailed the flaws on their run and there's nothing I can add to them.Summed up: You are claiming that it's rude to say others have bad taste. Then you imply that the only way I could not literally cry over your favourite game is if I haven't played it. Now, supposing that I actually have played these games (I have), then what does that say? It says that you are 1) a hypocrite and implicitly calling my taste bad and therefore 2) a hypocrite. The only difference between us is that I am not an obscurantist in my criticism.Now, as to the 'some people don't want to play games, deal with it.' arugment, I'm not against un-interactive visual media. I've gladly partaken in the When They Cry series, you know. The difference is that these sorts of things know what they are: they call themselves visual novels (or sound novels, because no one buys Higurashi or Umineko for the visuals). But when something calls itself a game then we should at least give it the courtesy to be judged as one.Now, there are a lot more things I'd like to say here, but I fell that I'm already on thin ice, so I'll just be commenting on purely aesthetic principles. (well, most likely scrutinizing others' comments: I'm not a trained artist, just a trained Analytic Philosopher. This whole thing shows how stupid one can be when they finally have a chance to be useful, doesn't it?)

  34. >Sam: Whoa! I hope anyone reading this blog wouldn't think I was a Twilight fan. >:| I was asking if you'd played because you were referencing specific aspects of the story as commented on by other people. It was a more "understanding your frame of reference" thing than a "YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON" thing. I'm never ever going to play Soul Calibur IV or DoA, but I'm sure as hell going to criticize them.Read charitably. Just because this is the internet doesn't make EVERYONE assholes.

  35. >'recognize that the medium's grown bigger than that now':Game developers/designers routinely mention that vidya gaems are bigger than that Hollywood stuff, I've noticed.(And there's getting to be a lot more 'movie' in there between button pushing; some think it's gone too far, but that point was probably reached in Metal Gear Solid, imo. Think of it as time you can use to get a snack if ya don't care for it!:-)) They now employ professional writers for games as well as voice actors. There goes another avenue of entry for amateurs… Sigh. But seriously, the quality of story is what I'D expect nowadays, honestly. I've found that the 'cinematic sequences' in today's games(older games[zork, grim fandago, blackthorne, oddworld, sanitarium, day of the tentacle, crusaders of khazan, etc..) seemed like they branched out a little bit more, probably because a flop didn't threaten to take down the entire company 'cuz of overinvestment in new technology/hype) repeat a lot of themes, plots, well-worn characterizations, and even have similar dialogue to many books, movies, TV Shows, etc….(But the mean has improved considerably, I'd say.[FF in particular}) I find myself missing the old easily-summarized(and fun games) whose premise can be stated in about two sentences. Aliens are threatening earth. Kill 'em. Ninjas have kidnapped the president! Are you a bad enough dude…? You're trapped in a maze with ravenous ghosts. Evade them as long as you can, turn the tables on them whenever you get the chance. You got a crossbow! Kill Insects In Fantasyland!(For reasons no one has adequately explained to my knowledge, Centipede/Millipede was HUGE amongst the female demographic, as I recall…) An ape has kidnapped your girlfriend! Get that damn, dirty ape!πŸ˜‰ Fun Stuff, The Classics! But there's some new good stuff, too, thankfully!(Which still needs to be more representative of the various strains of humanity, one thing they definitely still have in common with their ancestors!)Planescape: Torment:Yeesh. The fanbase this one has. A shallow attempt at philosophizing in the CRPG, the gameplay was horrid, it had a superficial overlay of D&D's Planescape setting , and the standard trappings were caricatured as you would expect from an exasperated philosophy major(seriously); Kotaku has an excellent interview with Chris Avellone. His hatred of RPGs and videogames fuelled the development of the medium, in particular flagrant D&Disms pissed him off.(Symbolism of the Succubus? Undead and senseless hatred, cosmicism and nihilism, predestination of the soul.) More an 'experience' than a game, imo. And it suffered for it, I'd say. It didn't set the world on fire, but it became a cult classic. I'd happily consign this one to the loving attentions of its admirers. Now, get to work on more Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliances, please!(Without the ridiculous 'sexy' female character models with all the odd gyrating and body patting!)πŸ˜‰'the internet doesn't make EVERYONE assholes.':Sometimes it seems that way. I. E. Joke lost to Internet, etc…. Interesting posts so far….

  36. >Hazmat Sam: But when something calls itself a game then we should at least give it the courtesy to be judged as one.But here's the thing: the only medium name that exists for immersive software is "videogame." "Visual novel" isn't a separate medium, it's generally considered a genre of videogame, so the term "video game" itself" is kind of meaningless.What a videogame purports to be has very little to do with whether it accepts the term "videogame" (because most immersive software will, unless the developer is intentionally making a philosophical point). Final Fantasy, as a cinematic Japanese RPG, intends its audience to realize that it's not the same type of thing as Ninja Gaiden, or Donkey Kong, or Dragon's Lair, and to judge it by its own merits rather than the merits of a generic "video game."And, honestly, what the developers decide to call a piece of media shouldn't really matter when deciding whether the piece of media itself is any good — if Square-Enix decided to call Final Fantasy X-2 a platform game, it'd be a terrible platform game, but that wouldn't hurt its obvious quality as a JRPG. Miscategorization happens, and I think it's more courteous to recognize it as a miscategorization than to condemn something overall when it's really good at something else.

  37. >Vvelaran: Oh yes, you don't have to tell me that torment is shallow as hell. Any work about morality must be because, surprise! Morality is nonsense. That does not mean, however, that it is not the best story in video games. There could be a game that's got a better story, but I've yet to play it or hear an argument for it's existence.Ikkin: ""Visual novel" isn't a separate medium, it's generally considered a genre of videogame,"I have never heard of anyone that ignorant. Even Sankaku Complex understands that VNs and VGs have fundamentally different goals and methodologies that are usually at cross purposes. Nevertheless, assuming that this is the case, it's the same thign as when your grandparents call everything a "Nintendo". The solution to bad semantics is not to accept them, but to educate or argue for definitions that are useful."I think it's more courteous to recognize it as a miscategorization than to condemn something overall when it's really good at something else. "Hell, the problem with that is you're rewarding developer incompetence. Incompetence should never be tolerated. Perhaps excused, (the first access to RPGs Japan had were limited CRPGs, so it's not surprising their version of the genre turned out like this!) but never tolerated.Now, as to the games themselves, well, as surprised as I am to say this, I agree. Final Fantasy X is a bad game (ONCE AGAIN, not calling anyone's taste inauthentic) but it makes for a fun movie the same way that "Troll 2" does.

  38. >Sam: Okay, you know what? Please. Just stop. People are making reasoned and factually accurate arguments here and you are dismissing them by calling them "wrong" or "ignorant". We're trying to make allowances for your personal tastes. You, clearly, are not.Comparing FFX and Troll 2? Not called for. Calling other commenters ignorant because they put forth a concise and well-formed commentary on the problem with categorizing new forms of entertainment media? NOT CALLED FOR. All of these things are YOUR OPINIONS which are being presented AS FACT, which has been explained to you multiple times by multiple people, and yet you persist.I am more than happy to have discussions with you in other threads, but as far as I'm concerned you have exceeded the noise-to-signal ratio in this one and are no longer worth my time in this one. I've said everything I have to say to you regarding these games. From here on out, I will be skipping all of your comments. I'm not willing to make this blog a full time job, and I'm not willing to let pointless conversations suck time from the research I have to do to write new posts.I'm done here.

  39. >Rabbit-holed here from Borderhouseblog. Never played FFX. Don't intend to either. But after hearing an RPGBacktrack podcast that reviewed some of the FFseries and this post… I think I'm falling over the edge into getting a hold of X-2 though.-Ansi8

  40. I enjoyed reading an article expressing so much love for Yuna; she is indeed a magnificent female character. I may go so far as to say that she’s one of the best female characters in all of gaming.

    I agree with most of what you say, except for the first part. I don’t think it is Yuna’s supposed ‘badassery’ or ability to ‘kick ass’ that gives her strength and value as a character. To me, it is her gentleness, compassion, dignity, quiet resolve and iron will that endow her with a feminine strength rarely seen in female game characters. Remember that one does not need the physical force of a tornado in order to be likeable, worthwhile or even ‘strong’.

    (I do, however, appreciate the fact that Yuna commands quite a lot of power through her aeons and healing ability, and does so while keeping her gentle and peaceful character intact. More female characters — not just in gaming, but in general — should possess such a balance.)

  41. I know all of these comments are old, but reading through some of these articles compell me to reply!

    I loved X-2 for the gameplay, not the laughable story or characters, except maybe Paine and LaBlanc. It was about time that SQUARE(because enix had been doing it for ages) had some sort of rtab system, and that was what made the entire game fun for me. That and dress up.πŸ™‚ Doing all these little quests that the townsfolk could do themselves and seeing all those crap cutscenes for 100%? Not fun. Especially when you get to the end with 99% and have to do it all over. The gameplay however, kept me playing the game. C:

    Now Vagrant Story, Valkyrie Profile, FF9? Good stories and good characters, none of which i’ve rushed through or skipped cutscenes trying to get back to gameplay.

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