Last week saw the release of two much-anticipated Square-Enix games in the North America region. One, Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies, is the 3DS spiritual successor to Final Fantasy: The Four Heroes of Light and is a standalone game that should have been released here sooner than it was. The other, Lightning Reutrns, is the actual successor to Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, and promises an ending to a trilogy that was never supposed to be a trilogy. It’s really interesting to me that these games were released in the same week. Why? Because they appear to represent two completely different design philosophies within Square-Enix and also represent some truly interesting things about the Final Fantasy brand itself.
The Legend of Zelda is a series that, at this point, needs no introduction. It has been continually developed for over twenty-five years, and was definitely instrumental in popularizing the combination of puzzle, exploration, and adventure elements that is the series trademark. Games from the series regularly appear on lists of the greatest games ever made, and it is one of the two series that must be present on any piece of Nintendo hardware that is released.
Okay, time to come clean with you guys. I’ve never gotten into Pokemon before. I don’t exactly know why, either. Maybe it was because when it first came out, I was slightly older than the target audience they were intending it to be for. I’m not really sure. I even gave it a try once, when, at the insistence of a friend in college, I gave Pokemon Diamond a shot. And sure, it seemed like the kind of game that should have grabbed me immediately, because I really do enjoy games that have monster collection mechanics. Perhaps it was that during college, I didn’t have the time that those sorts of games would require of me, or maybe it was just because that game in particular just didn’t click with me.
Now, years later, that same friend insisted to me that it was because Pokemon Diamond was really one of the worse entries in the series, and that I should give it another shot with Pokemon Y. After hearing that quite a few things were getting updated in this entry, I grudgingly agreed that maybe it would be a good point in the series for me to jump in, and I gave it a shot.
Fire Emblem is one of those series that is spoken of with quiet reverence, in the dark corners of the collective gamer consciousness. Mostly, this is due to the first several games of the series not getting an American release and, as everyone knew at the time, games which weren’t released over here were infinitely more awesome. The series has always been one that has captured my interest, because it combines a whole bunch of things that generally draw me to games: plot, strategy, stat tweaking, and soul-crushing difficulty. For some reason that I cannot quite put my finger on, though, the most recent couple of games in the series, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn failed to hold my attention the way previous games had. I was hoping that the series wasn’t in full decline, what with some of Nintendo’s other questionable offerings as of late. However, other people told me that Awakening really was worth playing. And so, keeping with my trend lately of playing games at least six months after they’re cool, I ventured forth to see if the game could renew my interest in the series.