As ol’ Ben Franklin used to say: in this world, nothing can be said to be certain… except for death and taxes. And that’s very much true, but I think it’s time to update the age-old saying for the modern era. Indeed, there are three things that can be said to be certain in life: death, taxes, and Angela’s heavenly thighs. In case you were wondering, we’re going to be prominently discussing the last thing on that list, so uh… buckle in, buckos.
ライトニング リターンズ ファイナルファンタジーXIII
If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you may remember that back in 2016, I played the original Final Fantasy XIII to completion and found it to be… a decidedly okay experience. It wasn’t a particularly memorable title and it does bleed from several wounds, but I can’t say I share the same level of disdain for it as a lot of other people. That very same year, I had the misfortune of also playing its abandoned stepchild of a sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2, which then became my least favorite Final Fantasy game of all time. Yeah. To say the series took a nosedive with this entry would be an understatement; in fact, XIII-2 soured me on the entire XIII series, and in an attempt to alleviate the pain it had so insidiously inflicted upon me, I never went on to finish the trilogy with Lightning Returns. Not the smartest move in retrospect, but allow me to elaborate. It took three goddamn years for the mental scars to heal and for me to consider returning to the XIII saga to finish what I had started. And it was totally worth it. Lightning Returns, as you might’ve guessed from the title alone, revolves around Lightning Returning (shocking, I know) and is actually a pretty good game, all things considered.
Okay, so imagine playing a classic turn-based Final Fantasy game and there’s this boss that’s giving you a hard time. But then you go ZA WARUDO and shove your battleaxe up its ass (blade first) while time itself grinds to a halt. And then there’s gravy and puns and Chelly sings a really badass song four times in a row to make sure you learn the lyrics and can sing along with her. You know what, I take it all back, please don’t actually imagine any of this because it’s a pretty terrible and awfully confusing summary of Bravely Second, which, by the way, is the sequel to a game I’ve never played because lol whoops. But don’t worry, I still enjoyed it quite a bit! As it turns out, it actually works reasonably well as a standalone title.
テイルズ オブ ジ アビス
Despite its severe issues with backtracking and overall pacing, Tales of the Abyss is still, I would say, one of the most consistently enjoyable and well-made titles in the franchise that genuinely feels like a complete package with tight combat mechanics, a dramatic, twisty-turny plot, memorable characters and environments with a satisfying degree of visual polish and variety. I mean, sure, the Tales franchise is kind of the McDonalds of JRPGs in a sense, and for the most part Abyss is no different in that regard, but it still manages to be one of the juiciest, most succulent and content-rich burgers on the menu.
Hello and welcome to gareblogs, where we make food analogies at every opportunity we get. Please enjoy your stay.
テイルズ オブ レジェンディア
Its strange cocktail of likable, well-developed characters, tedious gameplay, a unique setting and a number of baffling design decisions make Tales of Legendia probably one of the most divisive and controversial entries in the series, and while the characters mostly worked for me and made the oft-frustrating journey one ultimately worth soldiering through, I’m also pretty damn sure that I’m never, ever, replaying this game. Because holy shit does it have a boner for recycling all its content and throwing it back into your face.
In 2006, Tales of Destiny (the second entry in the series, released a couple years after Phantasia) received a gorgeous-looking remake exclusively for the PS2, and then two years after that, it was further improved upon with a Director’s Cut version: aside from some balancing changes and extra content, this edition also added a new game mode called Leon’s Side, allowing you to re-experience the storyline from the perspective of everyone’s favorite dual-wielding bishounen. But putting that aside, the game itself is probably most notable for having the best 2D battle system in the entire franchise, which, I would say, is no exaggeration at all: when it comes to 2D Tales combat mechanics, it doesn’t quite get any better than ToDR.
JP title: テイルズオブファンタジア クロスエディション
Here it is: the grand ancestor of all Tales games. The one JRPG that started it all. Well, more specifically, this is the PSP remake of Phantasia that comes bundled with Narikiri Dungeon X. At its core, it’s more or less the same game, though it does feature some enhancements and additional content, including a brand new character.
Man, people weren’t joking when they said CCC was way better than Extra. Like, I’m trying to think of the best way to illustrate how true that statement is. Okay, so basically… this isn’t “just” an alternate version or a sort-of-sequel. It’s more like… the real story of Fate/Extra. No, I mean, seriously. If you were to ask me, I’d say the entirety of the original Extra exists for the sole purpose of serving as a prologue to CCC, which then goes on to use it as a stepping stone in order to tell the story Nasu truly wanted to tell. At least that’s the impression I got, considering how utterly unremarkable vanilla Extra feels in retrospect now that I’ve finished CCC.
Somewhere on planet Earth, in a fictional apartment shared by two fictional roommates…
“Man, it’s getting late. Think I’m gonna hit the sack. …Oh, what’re you playing?”
“You mean like Fate/stay night? Dude, I loved Fate/stay night! So is that girl Saber? Whoa, wait a sec, why is she wearing red all of a sudden…?”
“She’s not that Saber. It’s a different Heroic Spirit. Look, I’ll explain. She’s actually–”
“What do you mean she’s not that Saber? Then why does she look almost exactly li–“
…Neither of them slept that night.