The Final Fantasy Awards: Best Game – Ethos

ffixEthos’ Pick: Final Fantasy IX

Well, no surprise here either.

Final Fantasy VII may have got me into the series, but Final Fantasy IX was the first I ever played all the way through, and for good reason. IX has perpetual charm, the best music in any video game, the most addicting PSX-era ability, weapon, and synthesis systems, and the most human characters of any Final Fantasy.

Riddles often counters my argument of IX’s light-hearted tone lending to its credibility by stating that the game is just as melodramatic as the rest. And I’ll agree that it absolutely can be, but it’s the fact that the default tone is that of self-mockery and innocence which gives the game such an uncanny human depth that makes the dramatic moments more believable. I’ll admit that VII is the only other Final Fantasy in my books to also have this ability, but IX extends it further so that each character and locale is dripping with character.

Kuja isn’t a fantastic villain, but he is a fantastic character. He’s scared, feminine, narcissist, and people still make fun of him to this day about it. But the great thing about IX is that it already makes fun of him. The game is so self-aware, that I think its ability to laugh at itself is perhaps its most impressive and engrossing feat.

Now I’ve talked Final Fantasy IX’s character arcs to death, so instead I’ll make my final praise about the cohesive world. Only X has come close to creating such a thoroughly connected universe. While VII can make each area feel unique and full of mood, IX does the same, yet makes sure each area is aware of its place, both geographically and politically. The story returns to familiar locales, but it feels different every time because of the journey the characters have gone since their last visit, replicating yet another emotional phenomenon from everyday life better than any other game I have played.

I entirely understand Riddles’ choice of FFVII as I agree with many of his points and I adore the game myself, but ultimately IX just makes more sense to me as a gamer and as a person.

Runner Up: Final Fantasy XII

Wow, really? Yup. This game didn’t even get so much as a second place during all my awards this week, but it just beat out FFVII for my number two spot overall. And for my reasons, just look to Riddles’ post. Not since FFIX have I been so into the game mechanics themselves. I loved the marks, the massive world, the weapons, and the gambits. I even got some enjoyment out of the – admittedly – incredibly bland License Board. If XII had more than Balthier to buff up its cast, and a legitimate villain and story, the game could have been mindblowing. As it stands, it’s the Final Fantasy I have the most fun with directly after IX.

Although, it is worth mentioning that I haven’t beat IV, V, or VI, and I quite enjoy what I’ve played of V, and I have a feeling I’m going to like VI a lot more this playthrough. We’ll take a look next time we divvy out these awards…

Dishonourable Mention: Final Fantasy III

There are a scary number of contenders here. II is pretty dumb, but has its charm, XIII has a horrendously designed tunnel, but also contains the undeniably amazing Pulse that will happily drain way more hours than the main quest did, and VIII has its soundtrack, art direction, and opening hours to defend itself with. Still, III is the most boring piece of donkey shit I’ve ever forced myself to beat. What a piece of garbage. The positive from all this is that even with the disappointment of XIII, remembering that the greatness of X, X-2, and XII came before it is encouraging. Perhaps XIII is yet another III or VIII. Wait…I’m noticing a pattern here. CONSPIRACY!

…okay I need sleep.

I hate Final Fantasy III.

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14 Responses to “The Final Fantasy Awards: Best Game – Ethos”

  1. SiliconNooB says:

    -FFXII could have been amazing with a deeper story featuring more tragedy and politicking. A great game which is also a bit of a missed opportunity.

  2. SiliconNooB says:

    -Hey, if FF games with a “III” in the title all turn out to be awful, then brace yourself, there’s two more to come! XD

  3. Ethos says:

    I suppose I meant the numbered games proper.
    I think there’s a lot of cool lore in the datalog, so Vs. XIII might still be cool.

    I totally agree about XII being a bit of a missed opportunity. Which is crazy seeing I love it so much.

  4. SiliconNooB says:

    Not so crazy, it was a great game in the sense of its game portion, but it could have been a truly transcendental experience. I was hoping for a story as dramatic as that of Vagrant Story, and what I got was considerably more rudimentary and minimalist.

  5. 7thCircle says:

    It’s interesting to me that people’s favorite FF tends to be the one of the first ones they’ve played. The lists this week were dominated by the PS1 Final Fantasy titles, and both of you got into Final Fantasy in the PS1 era. Someone who’s a touch older and got into FF in the SNES days would probably have been kinder to FF4 and FF6. Maybe someone a touch younger would have been kinder to the PS2 FFs and explained how FF X-2 deserved to win half of the awards. At least FF7 was an excellent game, and IX was a… well… less excellent than VII but still good game. IX felt nostalgiaed/shoehorned into some of the Ethos awards, to be honest. Best cast? Child, please.

    Also, how trendy defaulting to FF3 when you can’t come up with a decent dishonorable mention for awards. Really, if you’re going to keep anything before FF7 from getting any more than a brief side mention in a single category between the two of you, it would have been more interesting in hindsight if you had also limited the dishonorable mentions that way. It would have forced you to think about the dishonorable mentions more if you had to pick between 7-12 for each one, and the justifications would have been more entertaining to read. Realistically, there was no way FF1-3 could win awards for story, music, etc, so why bother putting them up for losing them?

  6. Ethos says:

    It was funnier as an inside joke.

    And I think your bias is more present in your comment there than in my posts. I firmly stand by my decision with FFIX as best cast. I simply can’t think of a FF game that I’ve completed that has a better one.
    Obviously people will be kinder to the generation that brought them in (although I like X, X-2, and XII quite a bit and all three more than VIII), but I did give thought to all these awards, and didn’t pidgeonhole FFIX into awards it didn’t deserve like Battle System and Storyline.

    Plus, I’ve beat FFII and FFIII and I haven’t beat IV-VI, so they got the ignore, and it kinda bothered me, but I had to work with what I’ve played.

    Glenn, usually you make incredible, inarguable points, but you seem flimsy this time. Riddles and I were both obviously swayed by nostalgia to a degree, a point we both make, but your preference for VII only left room to accuse IX of being shoehorned, and not VII.

    My top three (IX, XII, and VII) are all very close, and I would call all three excellent games without hesitation.

  7. SiliconNooB says:

    FFIX has an amazing core cast, but the party has a bunch of filler characters also: Amarant, Eiko and to a Freya. It’s not the cast that I’d choose, but it’s good enough that I wouldn’t question it as your pick.

  8. SiliconNooB says:

    And to a *lesser extent* Freya.

  9. 7thCircle says:

    I know I have biases when it comes to Final Fantasy games. The last couple times in my life that I felt depressed, I hooked a SNES to my TV and played an old RPG from my childhood. It comforts me. And I know I will always view FF4 and FF6 through a filter like that. I didn’t mean to sound incredulous or offended that you guys would prefer the PS1 FFs as a whole over the others. My points aren’t always made from a “RAWR I’M OBJECTIVE AND YOU ARE NOT” standpoint, and any conversation comparing Final Fantasy games across the entire series isn’t going to be unbiased and objective anyway. We all know that.

    IX’s cast was nice and all. I liked the characters. I liked that they were believably funny one moment and touching the next. But my nostalgia filter ranks IV and VI’s casts over IX’s, and my common sense filter puts VII and XII’s cast over IX’s, so that award seemed more super subjective than the others. Also, any excuse to say “child, please.” Really, any argument I end with “child, please” is one that I know is flimsy.

  10. Ethos says:

    Bah-ha ha ha, I accept.
    I can understand preferring VII’s cast (or the SNES ones for that matter since I can’t speak from experience), but mentioning XII surprises me a bit.
    Although I liked it more than most. I like Balthier and Fran, and even that prince kid.

  11. SiliconNooB says:

    … XII’s cast don’t come anywhere close to coming out on top (WTF?). The cast of VI are great as were IX, along with other many casts … but FFXII’s doesn’t cut it, Balthier was pithily amusing, but only comparatively …

  12. 7thCircle says:

    As we talked about on IRC in days past, the character interactions in FFXII were excellent, and it was the first FF localization that wasn’t total crap. If you separate the characters from the confused, inconsistent, weak story they were attached to, I thought the cast was great. FFXII certainly has the most believable cast for me, and it’s the only recent FF game where I looked forward to the naturally flowing cutscenes that showed the characters being themselves and acting natural. The problem was that the story itself was junk, and although you control Vaan from the start, he was an auxiliary character and you needed to regard him as such.

    I wouldn’t put it on top, but I would give it a small edge over FFIX.

  13. Ethos says:

    Oh, absolutely the interactions were natural. I loved the scene direction and animation in XII. Still the best cut-scenes in any Final Fantasy. But the stuff they were saying were boring. Not just because the story was boring, but they way they said it all. It just wasn’t interesting. It’s way more a testament to the scene direction that I was looking forward to cut-scenes as well.

  14. SiliconNooB says:

    The character interactions were natural, but there was no real depth there, it was all very dry and rudimentary. If your criteria for judging good characters is an absence of fuck-ups, then sure FFXII doesn’t make any mistakes, but by every other metric FFXII’s characters fail to engage.

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