Final Fantasy XIII: A Linear Story [ COMIC ]

There’s already been a lot of evidence to corroborate the idea that Final Fantasy XIII is a linear game. So I decided to take that and their recent drop in sales and put the two together. Now before the detractor start typing, I know there’s talk out their that this major drop in sales was “expected.” And maybe so… But just because you expect something to happen doesn’t make it a good thing. If that was the case then you would have felt better about your girlfriend cheating on you with your best friend. Wouldn’t you?

Now I’m a fan of the Final Fantasy series, but the lack of games for this generation seriously irks my nerve. Let’s take a look at the numbered Final Fantasy games for each generation of consoles:

    8-bit Console Era:
  • Final Fantasy I (Famicom/NES)
  • Final Fantasy II (Famicom)
  • Final Fantasy III (Famicom)
    16-bit Console Era:
  • Final Fantasy IV (Super Famicom/Super NES)
  • Final Fantasy V (Super Famicom)
  • Final Fantasy VI (Super Famicom/Super NES)
    32-bit Console Era:
  • Final Fantasy VII (Playstation)
  • Final Fantasy VIII (Playstation)
  • Final Fantasy IX (Playstation)
    128-bit Console Era:
  • Final Fantasy X (Playstation 2)
  • Final Fantasy X-2 (Playstation 2)
  • Final Fantasy XI (Playstation 2)
  • Final Fantasy XII (Playstation 2)
    Current Console Era:
  • Final Fantasy XIII (Playstation 3)
One game! For a generation of consoles that entering it’s fifth year (Xbox 360 November 22, 2005) we’ve only yet to see one numbered Final Fantasy on the consoles. Yeah, I know that Final Fantasy XIV is coming out soon and Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be out right after Duke Nukem Forever is released. But still, five years for one game. Come on… I just wanted to note that I have the same problem with this generation’s GTA entries, but the whole The Lost And Damned/Ballad of Gay Tony DLC thing kinda makes up for it.

One last thing, Final Fantasy XIII Endless Jumping Bug:

FF13 延々とジャンプし続けるNPC


  • Don’t forget the Crystal Chrnonicles and the remakes, though

  • Remakes are just rehashed content and the Crystal Chronicle games are just Final Fantasy Lite. That’s why I made sure to specify the numbered console games. Because in the end, those are the only ones that really matter.

  • saifrc

    The “drop” in sales for Final Fantasy XIII could just be randomness, and not necessarily *because* of something that can be pinned down (regardless of any so-called “expectations”). Unfortunately, we can’t really compare against past sales either, because of different sales environments. To be fair, though, the current sales are not bad at all — it would be more fair to say that the sales of NSMBWii and LoZ:ST are astounding, particularly if they can be sustained.

    I had always been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy main series, particularly in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, but there’s way too much on my plate (currently and in the near future) to even consider picking up FFXIII on release in North America. One could also theorize that the low sales of FFXIII were partly caused by the delay itself — with no major main-series release in several years, as you point out, Final Fantasy just isn’t as much in the forefront of gamers’ minds as it once was, particularly in the series’ heyday.

    As much as I’d like to say that the non-linearity of the FF series was a major reason why I liked it…I have to admit, in retrospect, it barely was. When I recount the events of previous Final Fantasy storylines, I remember them in a fairly linear way, even when there were sidequests aplenty. (Now Chrono Trigger, on the other hand…)

    On the topic of remakes and side-series, can I just give a shout out to the FFTA series? Despite a life that’s busy with non-video-game stuff, I logged over 80 hours in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and over 120 hours in FFTA2. When you make a game that’s more about tactics than about progress through a story, you can get very nonlinear. And you make the game both a) addictive, with its myriad job paths and items, and b) portable, on the GBA and DS respectively, you can keep a player hooked. If I could make meaningful progress in FFXIII just a few minutes at a time (read: bathroom breaks), I’d pick it up right now :-)

  • saifrc

    Also…is 13 unlucky in Japan? How did the game “XIII” sell over there?

  • Final Fantasy XII was one of the least linear in the series and one of my favorite. In all honestly, X and X-2 were the most linear and that was mainly because there was no overworld map. XII didn’t need one because you could pretty much get anywhere you wanted as long as you were strong enough.

    But then again, XIII was directed by Motomu Toriyama who also directed X-2. So many he just stuck with what he knew.

  • tudza

    I believe you meant to use the word “corroborate” not “collaborate”.

  • @tudza Isn’t that what I said ;)

  • Kronos_Killer1

    What about Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and the Final Fantasy Legends games on Gameboy or the FF7 backstory games like durge of cerberus?

    And on a side note: what is your favorite FF to date, Steve?

  • Jim

    Is Square still rehashing the same story-line? I loved the FF series, but it seemed to get too cliched and drawn out. Maybe they figure more time between games will make you forget how similar it is to the last game?

  • Typhon

    Linearity and non-linearity comes down to preference, of course, but I have to agree with saifrc that the more memorable moments playing through an FF tend to be directly related to the main storyline, with little side-plots being just that; on the side. Personally, I look to the main FF series games for the linear plot, and how the game generally sets itself up in a way that you play through most of the game, and wait until near the end (or after you’ve beaten it, even) to do all of the extras. I get all the non-linear RPG goodness I need from BioWare titles and the like. Besides, just because you could EXPLORE freely in several of the FF games didn’t mean they weren’t linear. You had to go do something very specific in a specific place to progress the story, so I don’t see much of a basis for complaint besides not having a world-map (never really enjoyed the disproportionate random-battle grinds across bland fields anyway).

    And on the subject of Final Fantasy games off the number-beaten path, does anyone else wonder why they are numbering the MMOs? That kind of baffled me that it wasn’t just “Final Fantasy Online” from the start. I have a strong belief that most players of home-console RPGs weren’t all that interested in getting sucked into something as time-consuming and… well, ENDLESS, as an MMO. The satisfaction of beating the game, along with learning more about your characters, has always been an FF mainstay since the characters started having personalities (see: II). MMOs aren’t supposed to end, and the playable character is either the main hero of the world (just like everyone else, bluh) or you have to make up your own story. It’s a different enough experience to be deserving of a subtitle, not a number, I think.

  • The Borzoi

    I’m pretty sure PS2 is only 64-bit and the current gen is 128-bit.

    Also, if the drop in sales is referring to just FFXIII’s sales, it could be that they’ve dropped because everyone has bought a copy.

  • @Kronos_Killer1 Overall, I have two Final Fantasy games that I consider my favorite: VI and XII. Though, I feel VI has the best characters and overall game. I love the characters in XII and the exploration and fighting system was awesome. Also, I think the sphere grid from X was my favorite specialty gimmick of any game in the series.

    @The Borzoi and the Nintendo 64 was 64-bit. The PS2 and N64 were definitely not the same quality.

  • Nighkali

    I notice you all seem to be forgetting -my- personal favorite FF game, which would be Tactics for the ps1 -Drool- there is a non-linear story line if Ive ever seen one, personally crazy, and in my opinion had the best class/skill system that Final Fantasy offered in its series, except maybe to 10 with that wide-range of leveling options. The original tactics also trumphs tactics advanced 10 fold. I just couldent stand in FFTA how you had to use weapons to gain skills.. I know its reminessant of 9, but its really annoying that I have to use the first weapon in the game if I want to train my high level black mage to have some healing abilities. Lame. Sorry, Im ranting and off topic! As to the sales in the current FF XIII, I think we should just wait and see what happens in America. The Japanese have diffrent interests in what they enjoy in games (Giant women in bikini’s being attacked by helecopters comes to mind) and in the past, they have declined generally popular games in the states. The largest example of this I can think of is the sales of the original Xbox, which where dead as a rock over in the east, but here they skyrocketed with success. Truthfully Japanese and American consumers are diffrent! Just because something fails in Japan doesnt mean it absolutely sucks!

  • Krats

    @saifrc – 4 is unlucky in japan, 13 is just another number to them.

    @Steve Napierski – I agree with your selection of faves for the exact same reasons; except for the sphere grid it was like you said a neat gimmick but meh I’d choose the job system from FFX-2 over the sphere grid.

  • Jakk Frost

    ok, this is the first I’ve heard that FFXIII is linear, and all I can say is “awwww dayamn!”

  • Taroni

    Just tell me it ain’t just going to sell off T&A like in FFX-2. Half naked jailbait, incest cousins and LeBlanc massages lol

  • DittoToo

    This generation is seriously lacking in RPGs in general, IMO.

  • D-vid

    My fav FF is IX. I like the learning abilities through your weapons and armor and the story was great. But the summons were too weak and the enemies were too (lowest HP for the Final Boss of all FFs iirc).

    @Ditto: There are lots of RPGs for the DS. Some are just remakes of older games I think, though. But yeah the consoles lack RPGs, that sucks.

  • BothersomeMe

    We are needing to face the facts here oh fellow gamers…Final Fantasy…has reached its limit…we cannot demmand anymore! I mean…they are becoming shameless StarWars Prequels! FFVII Crisis Core, Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, X-2, Dissidia? THEY RAN OUTTA IDEAS!!!! As most info has been released, Lightning is supposed to be a female hero with aspects of Cloud…except she doesn’t carry a giant buster razor…YES I SAID IT! Cloud’s weapon IS A RAZOR!!! He is so emo, he probably needs it to take out some of his pain…curse those sequels.

    We need to bond together……..and find another RPG series that is as enjoyable…ASIDE FROM DISSIDIA!!! If we depend on it too much…It will become our FF Crack…we need something new….something…ORIGINAL….we may have to make it ourselves….

  • Chibi-Acer

    11/22/05 to 1/04/10 is only 4 years, 1 month, and change. Hardly 5 years. The PS3 didn’t come out for a year after the 360. And Final Fantasy 12 actually came out in 2006, so technically it came out during the current generation for a last gen console. >_<

    Anyway, the FF series stopped for me with X. It was the last FF game Sakaguchi made before leaving to start his own company. Now it’s just a bunch of people making games with the FF brand name. I still played and enjoyed XI and XII, but it’s not really the same.

  • Scravo

    Barring the latter half of FFVI, I don’t know of any main Final Fantasy game that had a nonlinear story. Each game has a narrative that is dependent on the player progressing through a series of locations and plot points. Final Fantasy games are not Bethesda or Bioware games, so they aren’t known for giving the player freedom to explore the story from any given direction.

  • JMagnum

    Why didn’t you list Final Fantasy XI for the Xbox 360?

  • @JMagnum Because it was not originally launched on it. Same reason all the remakes for the PSOne aren’t listed either.

  • Maple Leaf

    I like the chibi angle the comic took, I can’t recall if you ever tried a style like this before or if my memory is just fuzzy felt right now.

    Now as far as my opinions on XIII go, well it’s being subjected to design flaws in exchange for it’s other seemingly “epic” aspects. No clue weither I can unquote “epic” due to not actually playing the game.What gets my goat is the complete twisting of the original ATB system from 12 onwards…

    Personally it has the potential to go the Megaman route though and revert to a previous form (Go back to the design of IV – VI would be the most optimum) and then they can rake in some hard cash from the nostalgia AND new players alike. And since it’s a JRPG, the stock quote of cutting down on the sheer exposition would be a plus for the mind numbed masses in the western world who only find themselves capable of playing for the gameplay and graphics…

  • Ryu

    “10 points for listing FFVI as one of the best Final Fantasies. I liked FFXII, but the plot just couldn’t keep me interested. I have only finished FFVI (of all the FF games that is), and it’s one of my favorite SNES games ever.”

  • raculot

    @Steve Napierski – The instruction length for a processor (“number of bits”) is a very poor indication of its actual performance, it just means that it can be given longer instructions (useful in some mathematically-heavy instances but generally not).

    As far as the processors for recent game consoles:
    PS1: 32-bit PPC @ 33.8 MHz
    N64: 64-bit NEC @ 93 MHz

    PS2: 64-bit Emotion Engine @ 295 MHz
    Xbox: 32-bit Pentium III @ 733 MHz
    Gamecube: 32/64-bit PPC @ 486 MHz (32-bit ALU, 64-bit FPU and others)

    PS3: Seven 128-bit Cell managed by a 64-bit PPC @ 3.2 GHz each (PPC at 3.2GHz)
    Xbox 360: Three 64-bit dual-threaded PPC processors @ 3.2GHz each
    Wii: 32/64-bit PPC processor @ 729 MHz

    The fact of the matter is that the majority of calculations required for a 3D game can be accomplished within the 32-bit instruction length, and that beyond 64-bit there are few perceptible benefits for longer instructions. Game console performance today is a combination of main processor clock speed (PS3 > 360 > Wii, Xbox > Gamecube > PS2) and graphics processor performance.

    With modern graphical techniques (normal maps, etc), processor speed (and instruction length) is increasingly irrelevant, as more and more performance is offloaded to the graphics processor.

  • @raculot Very interesting. Nonetheless, that’s how those consoles were referred to as. That’s just how I was grouping them.

  • JMagnum

    Maybe they cut down on the exposition because they realized that there do exist people who recognize how godawful the narration and characterization in every FF game has been, and they want to reduce the impact of their incompetent storytelling by eliminating it.

  • Eric Faulkner

    Hi this is my first comment on your comics. I have to say that you forgot about Final Fantasy IV the after years that came on Wii Ware. I think it is easily overlooked because it is so expensive when you add the DLC to it and that it is on the Wii.

  • @Eric Faulkner Yes, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is technically a numbered Final Fantasy game, much in the same way Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings for the DS is a sequel to Final Fantasy XII. But The After Years was originally a cellphone release. It was updated and released on the Wii. This list is of numbered Final Fantasy games that were released on the consoles. It excludes re-releases and remakes.

  • The Anarchyz

    Final Fantasy XIII main team is not just Motomu Toriyama, he’s the director, but Yoshinori Kitase is the producer, and in X, Motomu Toriyama was also the director, he just had Takayoshi Nakazato and Toshiro Tsuchida as co-directors… So only citing X-2 is not accurate…

    About sales, i think you need to check previous FF sales, almost all JRPGs (including FF) in Japan are frontloaded, they get great first sales, and the legs are not so great, only good… I think that the only JRPG that escapes this rule is Pokemon…

  • David

    Wait… Final Fantasy was at some point non-linear? Is this one of those things like how Half-Life fans insist that the original was ‘as much a puzzle game as a shooter’ because occasionally you had to flick a switch rather than finding a key? I seriously don’t remember making a single choice in the SNES and PS1 Final Fantasy era that resulted in any actual change in the overall story (beyond ‘alternate’ endings that were pretty much the same thing with different dialogue).
    The only non-linear thing was the side-quests, but they weren’t free-form they were just optional extras.

    I loved Final Fantasy up until the end of VIII, but it seems like every Final Fantasy since has been trying to recreate the impact of Final Fantasy VII, cash in on nostalgia and wow us with visual accomplishments. I’ve just lost taste for it.

    @Maple Leaf: I don’t appreciate typical JRPGs anymore for the same reason I don’t appreciate MMORPGs. They use outdated engines to deliver sub-par storylines while stretching the content out with filler material until I’m killing fifty slimes between every minor plot-point. It’s not because I’m a shallow western gamer, I just get more creative stories and better gameplay from western developers (although that’s not to say they’re all gems! =P).

  • A.L.

    Like Pierski and a few others feel,Final Fantasy VI and XII are probably the best numerical FF games we have gotten story wise and gameplay wise,FFVI more so for story and FFXII for gameplay.For the most part,these games have been linear in the scheme that you couldn’t really diverge from the predetermined plotpoint of the story outside of actually moving around a world map and doing sidequests that could affect the outcome of the story,but not by much.Later entries in the series,at least up until XII,had less of these instances even though they were pretty good games in their own right,but for the most part,the games have not been very linear as far as go off and doing other things from the beaten path.

    There are quite a few JRPGs that are like that,but many more that are more opened where you can make your own choices and the direction of the game i.e. The Shin Megumi Tenshi series and the Growlanser series.For what its worth,JPRGs have always had the most engrossing stories with many that game you characters you could care about.WRPGs on the other had have always been about exploration and the decisions you make,but the stories for many had not always been fantastical.

    In retrospect,WRPGs are enjoying a nice little boom pretty much due to new innovations to game experience and the fact that many gamers of this day and age have never played them.But like someone else pointed out,they are nothing but flawed 3D versions of table top games,but there’s no way a pc can compensate for a true Dungeon Master.On the contrary with the japanese counterparts,many themes are rehashed time and time again and it make it hard to make something is absolutely refreshing.With these flaws however,I think both veins of these RPGs aren’t necessarily better than the other and offer a different way for players to experience taking on a role to save a land or end it.

  • Tomo

    overall, i think that once the final fantasy series became 3d, the gameplay started dropping. sure ff7 was a half-decent story, ff8 was pretty(for its time) and 9 was pretty well rounded(i think that was their last cap) but ffx was too easy and linear(despite the coolness of the sphere system), x-2 was just atrocious, and unlike many people, i hated xii. as soon as i saw the gameplay, the cloud rehash that is lightning, and the trailers, advertising the fact that it only has the shadows of final fantasy left, this game lost all interest.

    i think the drop in sales is due to the millions of fans going t get the game, hoping for their good-ole final fantasy, and getting what could only be described as a WRPG wrapped in a JRPG-universe.

    btw, i love the comic.

  • Riaayo

    Couldn’t you contribute the drop in sales to the fact that most people who wanted FFXIII probably bought it when it came out?

    Also like a few others have mentioned, I was never under the impression any FF game was non-linear; side-quests are hardly an escape from a linear storyline, they’re just tagged on to give you something to do to take a break. You could say side-quests are like getting up to make a sandwich while reading a book; it didn’t exactly change the story in the book did it? The ending might seem better on a full stomach, though.

    The thing about a linear storyline is, yes, you do not get to make decisions that affect the course of the storyline. However, a linear storyline allows the writer to make every moment really matter to the entire flow and importance of the story. When you get non-linear it’s extremely hard to make every storyline as awe-inspiring as the others, or every moment as meaningful. If you like a very well-thought-out story, you are much more likely to get it by being linear… and I personally don’t really see a huge problem with that.

    As for release times… these kind of next-gen games take a lot of development, and with how much gamers expect out of their titles I’m honestly not all that shocked by having only one title in a five-year generation. I mean really, it takes years for hollywood to put together a movie that lasts you maybe 2 hours, and the movie isn’t even interactive.

    I’d just say be patient about it; I mean there’s plenty of studios and teams putting out multiple titles anyway, and I’d rather see new game ideas than continuations in old franchises anyway.

  • Kid

    Ok, if side quests don’t count as ‘non-linear’, then let’s just say FFXIII don’t have side quests at all. That way you all feel better?

  • Dragon Overlord Areku

    @Kid. Side quests don’t count as “non-linear” to most people because they typically have little or (in most cases) no impact whatsoever on the story. It’s usually just helping out a random person with no significance for a small reward, sometimes a new awesome sword that will help you beat the enemies faster, sometimes a crappy potion that you’ll probably end up selling. Let’s look an example. Say you’re playing a game where you’re some rich stuck-up snob on your way to attending a party with your rich stuck-up friends. Along the way, you might see a hungry homeless person that gives you a quest to go buy him some bread so he may eat. You, being the rich stuck-up snob you are, decide to ignore the hobo and continue on to enjoy your party. In a non-linear story, that hobo snaps after seeing an obviously well-off person show no signs of compassion and comes to crash said party with his friends, who somehow came across AK-47’s. The hobo and his friends open fire, wounding some and killing others. Later on, you struggle against the final boss, because one of the rich snobs killed at the party was a mage who could have disabled the boss’s force field, but is now too dead to do so. Now lets look at that same sidequest and how it affects a linear story. You reach the party and enjoy it unharmed. Later on the mage disables the force field surrounding the boss. She was able to do so because she is still alive at this point. Did the hobo die? Did someone more charitable come along and help? You don’t know, because you never see him, hear from him, or think about him ever again. Who needed that Small Health Potion anyway? Bit of an extreme example but…see the difference?

    @Steve. Love the chibi xD I can’t wait for FFXIII to reach the states…so that I may then wait 5 years later to find a cheap copy used :P FF stopped being worth buying brand new when Sakaguchi and Uematsu left :|