Sunday, July 12, 2009

Final Fantasy 7's Cloud's Cross Dressing

If there's one game that has had every single minute detail of its events analyzed a hundred times over, both by people smart as a whip, and by those so inhumanly ignorant and intolerant that every sloppy word of their communication is a victory against human culture,* it's Final Fantasy 7. And after a few years of listening to such things, I can say with some confidence that I've heard most of the many criticisms that the latter group of people can levy at it--I've seen people who claim to hate the entire game more than any other they've ever played for reasons including, but not even close to limited to, Cloud's height, Cait Sith's Limit Breaks, the lack of sufficient canonical proof for the "clearly factual" romantic relationship between Vincent and Cid, the fact that the game has violence, and its audacity to include colored people in its cast.** I kid you not on any of these items, and I say with certainty that there are plenty even stupider ones that I just don't remember.

There are, of course, many complaints about the game that come up over and over. Some are valid. Others are most definitely not. Of this second category, though, one of the ones that annoys me the most is how much people complain and whine about the Wall Market scenario--specifically, the fact that Cloud cross dresses.

Now look. I'm not exactly a huge fan of the event myself. It's a rather dull little humor mini-quest that isn't actually funny most of the time, and it takes way, WAY longer than it should even if it WERE entertaining. And the entire thing suffers from an already slightly sub-par translation having to censor the bejeezus out of something like half of the dialogue, which means that a lot of the time what's being said makes no sense whatsoever. It's practically like a practice run for reading the online posts of the people who complain about it,*** it's so bad.

But of course, most of the people who cry out against this scene with such rage aren't mentioning any of the above points. THEY just hate it because it's so "gay," and shout about how it proves that Cloud is gay.****

Putting aside the fact that cross dressing doesn't have any real conclusive link to homosexuality, people just don't fucking THINK about this whole scene. Cloud NEEDS to get into Don Corneo's perverse mansion. Tifa's in there for reasons he doesn't know, and could be (probably is) in danger. The only people who get in there on short notice are girls. So to get in there, he needs to look like one.

Some will point out that Cloud is pretty tough and kills stuff for a living, so he should have just barged in there by force. And yeah, he probably could have. But that would be forcing a conflict with armed guards who could, for all Cloud knows, number in the dozens--it's a mansion; it's got plenty of space to fill with henchmen. It would be stupid to just charge into a fight against unknown odds in unfamiliar ground if (note the "if," I know Cloud does this plenty more times later in the game, but he doesn't have the easy alternative of going incognito in those cases) there's a better alternative. In addition, he doesn't know the status of the person he's trying to rescue--her location, whether she's in immediate danger, and most importantly, whether she will be PUT in immediate danger by him invading Corneo's pad.

It's also not entirely out of character for Cloud, either. No, no, I don't mean the cross dressing--I mean going for tactical stealth over diving headfirst into hostile territory. He has his whole team dress up as Shinra troops later in the game to infiltrate Junon, because sneaking in is a clearly better option than outright attacking. In both situations, disguising himself appropriately makes SENSE.

Along with being annoyed at how short-sighted, ignorant, and intolerant many of the people are who make complaints about this scene, I'm also frankly confused about why the idea of a guy dressing up as a girl to avoid trouble is so shocking to people. I mean, have they never watched a Bugs Bunny cartoon before? Or...well, just about any TV show made in the 60s to early 70s (was there some sort of cross-channel mandate at the time that all shows had to have at least one time when a guy prettied himself up?)? It's not even like it's an unknown to the RPG world. Kyle of Lunar 1 disguised himself as a girl to lure some bad guys, Mike in Startropics does the same to get into an amazon nation, and "Reyna" in Eternal Poison turns out to be a guy pretending to be the real Reyna, and wears his disguise for the entire game. Granted, that last example is from a game that almost everyone will have played after FF7, but the other two came from games released before Cloud ever threw on a dress.

People need to actually THINK. And being less ignorantly prejudiced would be good for them, too.

* Oh, Gaia Online Final Fantasy Subforum, how I loathe thee.
** Oh, Gaia Online Final Fantasy Subforum, how I really loathe thee.
*** Oh, Gaia Online Final Fantasy Subforum, how I just fucking hate thy guts.
**** Oh, Gaia Online Final Fantasy Subforum, how I wish that 90% of your members would die in a fire.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chrono Trigger's Next Sequel: Why SquareEnix Disgusts Me

Note: Thanks to good sir Seifersythe for correcting me on a numerical issue I initially made with this rant. The correction has helped to further prove my point here. Good man!

Yes, I know. This is pretty old news at this point. And there's not much to make a rant on. But I really just had to say something about it.

So here's the deal, for all 0 of you who haven't heard yet: a major representative of SquareEnix has gone on record to say that the company will not make, nor consider making, another game in the Chrono series because sales of the Chrono Trigger rerelease on the DS are not what they wanted. When told that fans were and always had been fanatically yammering, as fans often do, for another CT sequel, SquareEnix disregarded it by saying "That's not what trusty Mr. Sales Chart says!"

A few facts relevant to this situation:

Chrono Trigger is an SNES game released over 10 years ago initially.
CT is almost universally loved, and one of the most famous RPGs of all time.
It has already been rereleased before, on the PS1.
The DS release was priced at the same cost of a brand new game.
The DS release had sales of over 800,000 copies last year, its year of release. RPG Dark Cloud 1 has sold, years after being made, a total of about 800,000 copies as well. It has had a continuation of its series. RPGs Breath of Fire 4, Suikoden 4, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 1 all sold significantly fewer copies during their years of release, as is the case of many, many other RPGs. Breath of Fire 4's units sold was less than in its initial year than CT's DS release, yet was deemed a success and had its series continued for a 5th game, not to mention was deemed one of the PS1's Greatest Hits. Suikoden 4 also had less than half the units sold in its launch year, yet not only had its series continued, but also had a direct sequel, Suikoden Tactics, made for it. And of course, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 1, a SquareEnix game, was deemed a high enough success with fewer units sold in its initial year than CT DS to have its series continued, as well.
Putting out a remake of a game with minimal added content (new translation, bonus dungeon, programming it to work on the DS) costs a LOT less in time and, more importantly, money, than making a new game does, so SquareEnix makes a lot more on average from a remake purchased at full price than a regular, new game.
Chrono Trigger's SNES release sold multiple millions of copies.
Chrono Cross sold well, probably because it was CT's sequel more than anything else.
Final Fantasy Chronicles, the package that contained the PS1 rerelease of CT, was very successful.

So basically, Chrono Trigger has been wildly successful for the company, is a legendary name of gaming, and has proven that a sequel to it can be profitable. Its first rerelease sold well, and its latest rerelease doesn't seem to me to be a sales failure, especially given how cheap it had to have been to produce it. The fact that SquareEnix can move hundreds of thousands of copies of a decade-old 16-bit game at a new game's price that has been rereleased once before in the recent enough past without a whole lot of advertising is pretty incredible, if you ask me. Not just that, but it's greatly outsold many other RPGs known to be successful during their initial years, some of which were new SquareEnix games!

Now, for the record, I don't want a new CT sequel. I really, really hope we never get one. Because as far as sequels go, Square and SquareEnix have always had a horrible track record, particularly in recent years--although, honestly, SquareEnix has just been terrible all around in the last couple years. I see no evidence whatsoever from their products, statements, or general business attitude to believe that they would produce a worthwhile CT sequel. I'd even be surprised if a CT sequel they made wasn't actually WORSE than the first one they tried--and you've all probably picked up on my great dislike for Chrono Cross by this point. I love CT, perhaps more than any other I've ever played. I don't want them fucking around with it.

Nonetheless, this latest little stunt of SquareEnix is just repulsive to me. If the company could just take a moment to remove its head from its ass long enough to look at the big picture instead of search its colon for its next Final Fantasy 7 sequel/prequel/whatever, it would recognize that there is ample evidence to prove that there would be plenty of profitable interest in another CT sequel. But no, it wants to bitch and whine and moan because its latest transparent, heinous attempt to cash in on its fans with another cheaply-made but expensively-priced remake didn't sucker enough fools for its liking.*

It's as short-sighted as it is callous, and shows the company's true apathy** toward the people it owes its existence to--long-term, loyal fans, ones who will keep interest in a good product long after its initial debut. The company's current plan of action for quick, easy sales relies heavily on those fans' support in both sales and word of mouth--a significant portion of SquareEnix's market for its countless remakes are people who owned the game the first time around and are just further supporting the company by getting it again, and people who have HEARD those old fans go on and on about how great these old games were. This is also true of its business plan of sequels and prequels to older games, too--the people buying FF7's countless spin-offs and FF4's sequel and so on are significantly comprised of old fans who loved the original. So instead of giving one of their most profitable demographics, to say nothing of that demographic's worth as a consumer simply by terms of loyalty, an ear and letting them know that they're appreciated by at least considering their wants, what does SquareEnix do?

It makes a final, conclusive statement to prove that it cares for nothing, absolutely nothing, but making a buck. Or yen, in this case. Quality, fans, pride, they all fall before the mighty power of money. Disgusting.

* Hypocritically, I might add, since it's made series continuations for games that had less profitable launch years recently!

** "Apathy" is me being very generous and giving SquareEnix the benefit of the doubt. What I REALLY think this move shows is real, venomous SPITE for its consumers. But I wouldn't want to be accused of not being objective.

...Well, being LESS objective, anyway.