Malik  (7/23/04)

I'm afraid that this week has required a shorted issue of Malik's Bitchings.  While I have many things to bitch about, I like to keep this on track, and most of my bitchable subjects for this week are not in the geek realm.  So, today I bring you the awful truth about the most asinine of all geeks; the fanboy.

Well, It's No FFX... 

So, I just got my latest issue of Game Informer a couple days ago, and I saw something that can only be described as shameful and tragic...I should mention that I only get this poor excuse for a magazine because I signed up at Gamestop for their membership thing since I like to save some money on used games and with how many I get a year, this membership dealio is a pretty good thing. 

So, when I flipped to the review of Star Ocean 3, it started with one of their head editor guys (Reiner or something like that is his name) completely messing up what should be an unbiased review. He begins by saying Star Ocean 3 has some big shoes to fill...while this is true, his reasoning quickly becomes lost in a see of FFX worship. What he says is that with other SquareEnix titles, like FFX (of course), and other sci-fi themed RPGs, like Xenosaga, that SO3 has a lot of work ahead of it to try to please it's target audience. Well, let's start in the right direction with this; 

While FFX is a highly regarded (yet very, very crappy) RPG, and it is from SquareEnix, it is not, at the same time, from the same company. What I mean by this is that the SO series originally came about from Enix back in the days that Enix and Square were rivals, not the same entity. So, it is not right to start off a review with a biased approach of saying they are from the exact same source. It's like comparing a (we're going to pretend for a second) new entity in the King's Quest series (I wouldn't mind a new KQ...I miss that much nostalgia) with StarCraft...just because Blizzard and Sierra being part of the same conglomerate. I mean if you're so hooked on FF games, that's good and all, but it doesn't mean you should bias a review for a different title just because of your personal bias. 

Secondly, while Xenosaga and SO3 are both Sci-Fi, the same could be said in comparing a new Star Wars film with a classic episode of Star Trek. They may both be sci-fi, but it's a different breed of sci-fi and they should never be compared. In the same way, Xenosaga is a more introverted tale of character development while SO games are usually more extroverted and deal with a larger image of the worlds involved than just the characters who are involved. 

So, my beef is that a review should always be unbiased and deal with the material at least when the review is initiated. In the end, you can say that (after describing the pros and cons of SO3, for example) something in FFX is better (in your crappy opinion that is full of shit...FFX was a sad excuse for a mass marketed RPG), but not at the onset of the review unless you want to completely bias the entire review. 

The only big shoes SO3 has to fill, in the US, is the shoes that were first worn by SO2. Also, the target audience of SO3 (in my rather insightful opinion) is the same people who played SO 1&2 (of which, in the US, that would only be SO2 since we missed out on the great SO series beginning). This has been done far too often lately. It has especially become painful after the release of FFX. 

A review of a game should be designed to be insightful and not biased. In other words, a game must be weighed on it's own merit before it is compared to anything else in the same genre. A review is meant to help a geek determine if they would want a game, but I for one would never had pre-ordered SO3 if I went off of Reiner's reviews of SO3. I mean if they can only be compared with FFX as cheap knockoffs, then I would definitely stay away from these games. However, if these titles were reviewed on their own merits, I would buy/pre-order both of them. Thank goodness I actually do my own research into future releases and don't just go off of the bias of GI...for anyone who does only go off the bias of GI...well, I feel sorry for you. 

Ironically, if a game is like FFX, instead of being called a great title, it would be called un-innovative and a cheap ripoff of the SquareEnix license...yet if it's not like FFX, then it's called a cheap wannabe. Is this hypocrisy even logical? 


Every game on the market (especially the different releases of the FF series) is it's own unique creature, and as this it must be reviewed and handled separately. Any reviewer who wants to bundle a title with any previous release in a review is only valid in doing so if the title being review is a DIRECT sequel of the previous release it is compared to. These two games, FFX and SO3, are as different as a piece of fillet mignon and a piece of shit (FFX being the piece of shit and Star Ocean just being the shit). 

Not to sound immodest, but this is why I strive to write long and detailed reviews (and why I release so few at a time). All games are unique in and of themselves and thus need to be handled with care and effort. If you want to call yourself a professional and yet you start all reviews of RPGs by comparing it to your beloved piece of shit...I mean FFX...then you have as much right calling yourself a professional as I do calling myself a computer programmer because I've designed some retarded BASIC programs as a child.

The Standard...AKA, The One Game 

So, on the same sort of theme, I have to ask to myself one important question every time I read these BS RPG reviews; why is FFX and FFX-2 the standard to judge all other RPGs by? 

I mean, we often hear about how video games are over taking TV and movies as the most profitable form of digital entertainment. However, if we saw the themes from FFX or FFX-2 as TV shows, the same audience that made these games so dominant would not give a shit. I can't think of the last time that we had a show on TV or a movie about a whiney loser who is obsessed with his past neglect by his father or a similar theme actually survive for more than a handful of episodes. I personally like my movies, TV shows, games, books, and other forms of entertainment to have a similar theme, and that theme never includes a whiney obsessive idiot who cannot see the world around him due to his compulsive behavior towards his neglectful childhood or a simple-minded obsession with a woman (with an equal amount of baggage). Or there's FFX-2, with it's J-Pop video that's been extended for a whopping 50 or so hours...if it wasn't for FFX-2, I don't think a story of one hell of a girls-month-out could actually capture the attention spans of anyone who matters. These would just not make interesting stories for anything...especially a 60 hour video game. Yet, these characters have compelled millions of geeks and fanboys to worship the almighty Square. 

I personally like to think the the real issue is a little deeper. While many people will blindly say that FFX and FFX-2 are the best examples of story-telling and character development in an RPG, games like ToS are discarded as cheap imitations...WTF?  I think the answer is really found in peoples' loyalty. If a game like FFX was made by a company that no one had ever heard of, people would have simply said it was a ripoff of the style used in FF7. Plain and simple, it's the fact that Square and the FF series have the largest number of fanboys for any series or company that makes unbiased geeks feel bitchy when reviews about new games always contain the phrase, "imitation of FFX", even when the supposed imitation is not in any way tangible. 

I think the issue at hand is not as much of different games being unjustly compared to a series that it has nothing in common with, but rather that fanboys are making their presence felt in far more areas than just message boards. The worst case being the (supposedly) professional journalists who are so stuck in their own little obsession that they cannot see the rest of the spectrum...let alone being able to see what their beloved FF series has actually become. I mean when was the last time you heard someone actually say that, for not being direct sequels, all FF games that came after 7 have been cheap imitations...I mean they all may have some unique, and usually crappy, method to introduce an innovative game mechanism. However, they all have the same cast of characters; I mean the moody and disturbed, but psychologically unstable main hero (Tidus, Cloud, Squall) with the same levels of neurosis, the same heroine who cares too much about the world to be stuck in some sort of relationship with the main hero that she is obsessed with, despite her own intentions (Yuna, Aeris, Rinoa). The only exception to this rule, at all, was FFIX, which many fanboys of the recent FF games have dismissed as a crappy game that didn't deserve the FF name (despite how it was the last truly original FF game that still remained true to the series). How can people call ToS a cheap imitation when these non-related FF games are all cheap imitations of the story and characters first seen in FF7? There is no way to describe it short of saying that fanboys need to realize that there is more to their world than their obsession...I, in many ways, am as close to being a fanboy of Xenogears as possible, yet I'm still able to see the other great RPGs out there, so I know it's possible. 

Of course, there's also the graphics...I mean with the detailed cut scenes of a FF game, Square cannot lose.  I mean who needs substance when they can get some nice looking, but hollow cut scenes?  I do!  I for one would rather have a cut scene ala ToS or Xenogears; a cut scene or two that are detailed CGI stuff is nice, but if some of the cut scenes are done with the in game engine, I sure wont complain, as long as the plot is king and the cut scene is not just there to showcase a new graphical technique.


If someone wants to strive to be a professional journalist, bias is the most important thing to throw out. Especially people who professionally review games. While I know enough to discount most reviews that begin with something about the wonders of FFX and FFX-2, not many people do. Therefore, a reviewer needs to realize that their words may have an affect of the lesser geeks, and thus they should either throw out or profess their obsession prior to trying to influence someone in their buying habits. I mean, a review for SO3 should focus on the game itself and not serve as an advertisement for FFX...morally and journalistically, this type of action is just wrong. 

Also, all fanboys who cannot let go of their obsession long enough to be social to non-fanboys of the same game/series/company should fornicate themselves with an iron rod. 


I think this was a bit more on the short side than I'd prefer for the week, and also was a little more on the side of rambling than I try to aim for, but considering I have to put up with a day job and all that, I can only do what I have the time and energy to, I bring you all this stuff with no pop-ups or other annoyances.  Anyway, if you think I need to lay off FFX and that it is really the best game ever made...well, then you're a damned fanboy and you know my feelings about fornicating yourself with a metal object.  Anyway, if you feel my fanboy...I mean Square, it's fanboy out of line, you can contact me, or you can hit the forums.