The Storytelling Issues of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

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I’ve watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (and its director’s cut version, Advent Children Complete) more times than I can really remember, and probably more than I care to admit. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what the issues with that film in particular are. Everything in my previous post still applies, it’s clear that while the film has excellent visual flair it still has problems using that to tell a coherent story.

But I think it’s hard to really comprehend this on a simple viewing. You have to really break it down in order to figure out where the film stumbles in terms of storytelling. To that end, I’ve broken the film down into scene beats, bold indicates a scene added or altered in the Advent Children release.

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The Difference Between a Cutscene and Film

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There’s something that I’ve been thinking about for many, many, months. I wanted to do a post on why, for whatever reason, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children doesn’t quite feel like a movie. It was a similar feeling to Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, of which I discovered the root cause when I went to its IMDB page. Literally, all the team had experience with was cutscene work.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children possesses the technical properties of a movie, and is technically proficient in its construction. It’s the most watchable of all the Final Fantasy movie, not as anemic as Final Fantasy: Spirits Within or as fundamentally broken as Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive.

However, in order for me to really get at the heart of what the issue is, I have to answer a question that no one that I’ve ever seen has really given an answer for or even really addressed: I have to delineate the difference between a cutscene and a film.

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Just For Fun, Folks!

I wrote this as a social media post long ago, but it deserves a place here! Enjoy!

Inspired by the Portal board game, I have devised a list of potential board game ideas to pitch to Hasbro:
Mighty No. 9: Just copy the Mega Man board game, but do a half-assed job at it.

Konami: The Board Game: You are one of the top executives at Konami, and you’ve been looking to restructure the company by laying waste to your intellectual property. Players work together to sabotage valuable IPs through neglect, outsourcing to no-name developers for Silent Hill, and making completely inappropriate pachinko slot machines out of Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Castlevania. The game ends when players land on the “Fire Hideo Kojima and Burn the Evidence of P.T’s existence” space. The player that cares the least wins.

Shenmue: Explore an incredibly detailed board while reading the cards as monotone as possible. While there is combat, the real fun is getting to collect capsule toys and drinking soda. When you get to the third section of the game, wait for at least fifteen years to resume play. But you can always go back and ask around for sailors.

Fanboys: Are you too emotionally attached to a consumer product as a way to compensate for the lack of meaning in your life? Fantastic, you can meet up online with and argue over which gaming platform is the best! Earn points by successfully annoying your target into stepping away from the computer in rage, and don’t be afraid to play the “death threat” card. Points don’t matter because no one you’re defending actually cares about you, but watch out! If the moderators find your rambling, you could be banned. The expansion includes “PC master race” pawn, updated spec wanking, and a shaker full of salt.

Videogame Movie Adaptations: You’re a plucky Hollywood executive trying to reach the coveted 18-35 year old crowd, but there just aren’t enough superheroes to go around these days. You can always try to be the one executive who manages to make that first great videogame movie adaptation! Buy the rights to a popular franchise without doing any prior research into whether or not it has any cinematic value. ¬†Bank on its marketability, but come to the cold realization that you’ve joined literally every other one of these in existence. The game ends when one the players reveal themselves to be Uwe Boll.

Disproportionate Outrage: Did a publisher move a character just a few pixels to the left? Were they caught in the egregious act of removing a gratuitous panty shot? Well, you’re all about that artistic expression, right? Send hate mail, useless petitions, death threats, rape threats, and whatever means are at your disposal to get what you want. Remember, your devotion to a piece of media takes precedence over a real person’s life! Comes with double standard rules that ignore when Square-Enix has to clothe a male character more modestly. For some reason, that’s not such a big deal…

Half-Life 3: Just an empty box.

The Apathy of Mighty No. 9

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As with many game releases, I often hold back for a while in order to get a more accurate and less charged point of view. I had heard of the infamous “Mighty No. 9”, helmed by Keiji Inafune. While he was not the creator of the Mega Man franchise as is often believed, he certainly was a major part of it.

There is a certain element of modern folklore to Mighty No. 9’s development history. Indeed, many can easily recount Mighty No. 9’s rise and fall.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Capcom virtually demolished the Mega Man franchise after Keiji Inafune’s severance, relegating the property to cameo appearances (which varied from extremely unflattering to being fairly well-received) and an abysmal mobile game with gameplay so stripped down that it was easily replicated within 24 hours, minus the card game aspect.

So fans were eager to back Inafune’s Kickstarter, the spiritual successor to Mega Man known as Mighty No. 9. But how was that going to play out?

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Capcom And Konami’s Ongoing PR Nightmare

 

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Photo by Alvimann at Morguefile.com

I find the game industry to be an unusual specimen of sorts. The interplay between fans and media creators is a tangled mess that will largely be explored in “Fear and Loathing on the Internet”, but I do want to call attention to a certain pattern of corporate behavior.

Today we’re going to talk about two large game publishers, Capcom and Konami. For the uninitiated, Capcom and Konami cut their teeth early on in gaming history. Capcom became well-known for franchises such as Mega Man, Street Fighter, and Resident Evil. Konami became well-known for franchises such as Metal Gear, Castlevania, and Silent Hill.

But, take a quick glance at internet forums and you’ll find the discussions regarding Capcom and Konami to be largely very denigrating. What on Earth happened?

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Day of the DLC

 

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Photo by OfDoom at Morguefile.com

I am not a man of nostalgia. My impression of video games, as a whole, has improved over time. My childhood may be have been filled with moments of legitimate joy, but it was also filled with many more times of trial and error. Gameplay conventions that I appreciate about the modern state of gaming were absent. I recall trying to play the original System Shock and being shocked that it required the player to use a slider on one of its many intimidating user interfaces just to look up. It was an era before mouselook, an era in which I was uncomfortable travelling.

But just as it would be inaccurate to view my personal childhood through rose-colored glasses, so too would it be inaccurate to view the present state of gaming through the same lens.

My largest gripe is the surge in DLC or downloadable content. DLC is pretty self-explanatory in concept. Previously, additions to a game could only be released for PC games as expansions. Consoles for the most were absent from this process, though the lock-on cartridge for Sonic 3 and Knuckles could be argued as its own form of an expansion pack (though it would be more accurate to describe it as a standalone expansion). As the Dreamcast introduced online connectivity, and the original Xbox introduced hard drive storage, it was now possible for a game to receive patches and updates from the internet.

But, the widespread adoption of DLC came quickly, and without structure. People were still trying to figure out what to do with it. Arguably, they still are. But what was happening as a result?

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No Man’s Sky and The Death of Hype Culture

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I’m certain that I’m late to the party on this subject, but I do want to throw in my two cents on the broader pattern of the presence of “hype culture”. The recent release of “No Man’s Sky” helps to highlight a key problem with how consumers and media creators interact.

Hype culture is the result of the process of elevating the consumer’s expectations through tantalizing press releases, trailers, demos, or other forms of marketing and promotion that are meant to produce “buzz”. After the product is promoted, consumers begin to jump on the bandwagon in anticipation for release.

But does this expectation always match with reality? To that, we turn to the case study of No Man’s Sky. What happened with No Man’s Sky, and why did it turn out the way that it did?

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