When Japanophilia & OCD collide

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog this week. I’m SO close to getting March as my most-viewed month ever (after last month, onwards and upwards), but I’ve been distracted. I SHOULD have been distracted by studying for tonight’s Japanese exams from my evening class, but I winged it and passed them. Not far to go now until a GCSE is within my reach! OH!! My teacher asked me if I might be interested in teaching English to newly-arrived Japanese workers in my town. If it works out this could be a really big thing for me! Watch this space…

The main distraction, however,  is the latest in the long line of Final Fantasy games: the clunkily-titled Final Fantasy XIII-2.

They don’t often do full direct sequels to the main Final Fantasy games (i.e. the Roman numeral ones), with 2003’s much-maligned Final Fantasy X-2 being the first, and now Final Fantasy XIII getting the “-2” treatment. FFX-2 took the beautiful world of Spira from FFX and crafted a sort of epilogue to the adventure as well as some closure for the characters we grew to love. It was criticised a bit too frothy and carefree after the relatively doomy parent game, and even though I loved it I would never say the sequel had improved on the original, it was just different.

However FFXIII-2 is certainly showing that it can be done, and while FFXIII was a bit of a chore for me – a painfully linear, bloated and po-faced entry – they have really learnt lessons from the fan reaction, and perhaps the reception for FFX-2 and made a game that I’ve been struggling to put down.

While the main characters from the first game are there, they are only there as cameos or occasional helpers, or alluded to in the extensive dialogue. You control Lightning’s sister Serah (formally an attractive but OTT crystal statue) and new boy Noel. I want to review this game after I’ve finished it. Anyway, there are dozens of locations in different time periods to visit (you are time-travellers), with paradoxes to resolve and plots to progress. More importantly there are LOADS of side quests, quite at odds with the restrictive feel of FFXIII. The bitty nature of the game is ensuring I just do “one more bit”, and then a whole evening has vanished.

I’m hurtling through the game at the moment, and just tidying up some pending side-quests before I press on and go for the final push to the end of the story. Not that that’s even the end, there are multiple endings, and plenty of achievement points to harvest. I’ll have to blog first, play later…

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