Stranger’s Paradise: The Origin of Final Fantasy

This week in zero punctuation, Yahtzee reviews Stranger’s Paradise: The Origin of Final Fantasy.

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I’ve mentioned before that I love getting into a game that I know very little about. It was easy this week because I can barely remember the damned Stranger of Paradise title. So now I will have to verify that he was not a stranger in heaven or a stranger in heaven lest I earn the wrath of the traction police. But anyway, the review code came up and I said “what is this game?” Then two hours later I said it again with a different effect: “What is this game?” The type of tone of voice the doctor would use if they were watching a video of your endoscopy and saw something with rudimentary legs and bat wings. The second half of the title might fill in some blanks: Final Fantasy Origin. The implication is that this game depicts the starting point for everything the Final Fantasy series has done over the years. And you know something, viewer, if that were the case, it would explain a lot. However, in defiance of that, it’s not an RPG or even one of those hybrid systems that I’ve always hated because they love trying to kick a giant scorpion to death while programming the microwave, but the hack and dungeon crawler slashes are a few souls. Oh, you’re late on this wagon, Final Fantasy. You will have to sit in the back with the tambourine players.

It’s called Final Fantasy Origin because it’s a retelling of Final Fantasy 1. Er. Apparent. I mean, a lot of things happen that remind us of things from that game but are like glimpses of distant land that you see as you get lost in an ocean of disease. The plot concerns a very angry man named Jack who seeks to defeat Chaos, even though he means the whole concept of Chaos or a specific person or monster with that name so that it seems unclear. None of this diminishes the individual enthusiasm with which he pursues his goal, angrily asking every boss monster he meets if they’d be a mess and cutting off every conversation with friendly NPCs if they didn’t quickly provide Chaos’ last known residential address. Not that Jack is unable to form relationships, because he comes with two escorts named Ash and Jed whom he met on the bus or something when it turns out they were all carrying glowing rocks. I guess I assumed the four Final Fantasy 1 warriors got together in slightly more epic circumstances than they met through Glowing Rock Tinder.

Anyway, in the prequel to Final Fantasy 1, four Light Warriors travel to a nearby castle to rescue the kidnapped Princess Sarah from the corrupt knight Garland. Stranger On Top Of Paradise appears to do pretty much the same thing until she defeats Garland at the end of Dungeon One at which point Garland transforms into a girl who only wears the basketball jersey which explains that she was also on a mission to defeat Mayhem but decides that chaos doesn’t exist and prays For chaos to become chaos and defeat but now it has been defeated so it somehow failed. And that was precisely the first moment that made me wonder what this game was about, and by no means was it the last. She joined the party and it turns out her name is Neon. I said aha. Jack, Ash, Jed, and Neon, is this a smart discussion about how the original game would only allow you to enter names with a maximum of four letters? “Maybe. Anyway, here is the fifth member of your group, Sophia.” Damn you, game. Unintelligible is a very powerful word, there’s a lot about the story that isn’t told to you from the start so maybe more context would be helpful, but it seems like every character spends every dialogue scene standing around throwing meaningless trash at each other.

And this game definitely loves the dialogue scenes. You forgot the very important rule of thumb, don’t talk about complete nonsense. The four warriors gather in the seemingly unclothed king’s throne room, and task them with purifying the four crystals. So they did, and then returned to the throne room where the same king, who did not move, said, “What have you done? The apocalypse is happening! Just off the screen! If you don’t believe me, ask this mob of angry townspeople of ten copies of the same man’s pastes” Would I be right in assuming that Stranger In The Vicinity Of Paradise was cut a little bit during evolution? I suppose it would have seen a world full of cities you can explore filled with NPCs who all shoot with a perfectly ordinary sentence when you hit their heads. And it’s all cut short because the last game is a linear sequence of combat dungeons and cut scenes that you pick from a damned list they’ve mapped out so you can pretend it’s another world. And I think they actually wrote the NPC dialogue because instead of letting it go to waste, they put a submenu at the bottom of the map screen where you can click a name in a list to be exposed to one of the townspeople’s copy pasted a trivial note on the current state of the map.

A very useful feature if you have breast cancer and you will only survive through the boredom of your breasts. Budget cuts also affected combat dungeons somewhat, because so many of them consisted of copy-pasted identical corridors and I was constantly turning around and confused. If you want to know where all the money went, I’d bet the Arms and Armor department. You’re constantly inundated with new gear, each lovingly designed and attached to your character model even in movie scenes, ensuring that the light warriors constantly look like they’re going to masquerade as a donation box in front of the used kitchenware store. I wonder if the people who do face animators for movie scenes know that the cast will be wearing full face masks most of the time. I also wonder if the coffee machine in the armor department doesn’t have piss. Oh fight? Yes, whatever it is, it’s okay. Light attack, heavy attack, dodge, block, other, better type of blocks that fuel your special attacks. There’s a very Final Fantasyesque action system that creates the usual paradox – you pick your favorite function, you level it up to make it as efficient as possible, and then you don’t want to use it anymore because all the more subtle jobs need to be leveled up as well.

But the combat got a little better after I unlocked some level 3 jobs and made a conscious decision to stop giving bullshit. I mean, all witches’ jobs are horrible because using the spell broadcast interface in the heat of battle is like a hippo standing parallel to an elusive gearbox. You also have two side NPCs. The entire plot revolves around the world where she is rescued by four light warriors but they probably hoped we wouldn’t point it out. So you pick two of your four NPC friends, and it doesn’t really matter which one you are, you can’t control them and they are all equally effective at being meat pinatas for enemies to beat up in your stead. Having said that, they have some useful advice in the boss fight with the undead dragon that kept poisoning me. They said, “You’d better treat this poison.” However, there is no way to cure the poison. I made sure. No spells and the only consumables are the five health potions that are refilled at the checkpoints, so unless there’s a juice cleansing enema clinic on the other side of the square and I never notice I don’t know what it’s all about. Another thing that was cut out, I suppose. So all in all, I wouldn’t recommend Stranger Along The Lines Of Paradise. Square Enix, who would buy something with so much of it blatantly missing? Seriously, did you know? I am trying to find a buyer for several pairs of my old pants.