Fans of the Final Fantasy RPG game series around the world have been disappointed with the latest installation in the series Final Fantasy XIII. This highly anticipated game which was years in the making since 2006 failed to deliver to its fans, however this didn’t come as a surprise as I knew it was going to be a flop after playing Mistwalker’s phenomenal Xbox360 exclusive RPG Lost Odyssey. I spent over one hundred hours playing Lost Odyssey and could have completed the game from about 70-80 hours I think, but due to the difficulty of the game I decided to keep levelling up. It’s no secret that the creator of the Final Fantasy series Hironobu Sakaguchi and founder of Mistwalker created Lost Odyssey. Hironobu Sakaguchi created the Final Fantasy series from with his own vision from the heart as he did with Lost Odyssey making them excellent. In my eyes Lost Odyssey is the best JRPG this generation; however I believe this was, because Hironobu Sakaguchi was the driving force behind the game which is the reason why Final Fantasy XIII was a flop.
Where Is My Creator?
Final Fantasy was made and thought off by Hironobu Sakaguchi it was his dream and vision that made the Final Fantasy series what it is today, however Final Fantasy XIII is a perfect example of what happens when you take another man’s dream and try to create a game without their vision you get something that no one wants to play. Final Fantasy XII is uniquely different from the rest in more ways than one, but I do find it shocking that Square-Enix can’t do a successful Final Fantasy in the eyes of the fans without the creator behind it. It is ironic that the only Final Fantasy game that had no input whatsoever from the creator wasn’t liked by fans of the RPG. All over the internet I see Lost Odyssey being hailed and praised as tremendous RPG bringing back what people loved about them this is just a small reason why Lost Odyssey is better than Final Fantasy the driving force behind the game is Hironobu Sakaguchi.
Lost odyssey takes place on a world where a magic-industrial revolution is taking place and people have harnessed with energy using magic engines. There are three major nations in the game the Republic of Uhra who is building Grand staff a gigantic magical engine which is where the ending of the game takes place, Kingdom of Gohtza a highly magically advanced society, and Numara who are isolated and neutral, but is under threat of a coup d’état by the general. At the start of the game Uhra are at war with Khent a race of beast men and you are a Mercenary fighting on the side of Uhra.
The start of the game automatically places you in the middle of war switching from a fantastic cut scene into game play like Final Fantasy XIII does. In the middle of war a giant meteor falls from the sky and destroys most of the forces on the battle field due to Grand staff leaking magic energy, but as an ‘immortal’ you survive. After this you are joined by fellow immortal Seth and human Jansen who are sent to investigate Grand Staff and meet other characters who join your party to explore the world in traditional RPG fashion.
Unlike Final Fantasy XIII you do not know who your enemy is thus making the first half of the game a bit boring as you find yourself going from one end of the map until you reach the next part, but in Lost Odyssey the game is free roam. Those who like a gripping story and true RPG story will love Lost Odyssey, because it’s for RPG fans and it contains many side quests from the get go.
I won’t to spoil the story for those of you who haven’t had a chance to play the game yet, but the story is far more gripping than that of Final Fantasy XIII. I was even shedding tears at the end of the game due to the immense story line which was not linear, but put you straight into the story from the start. The game as I said is traditional of its genre meaning you even don’t have to do the main missions sometimes you can do a side quest then go back to the main story, but I hardly found myself doing this as I was too involved in the story especially the character who I really connected with. The Characters in Final Fantasy XIII were a too corny and stereotypical for most people out there I liked Vanille, but as a character she never bothered me I just found her a stereotypical Japanese character, but In Lost Odyssey you spend a lot of time with the characters and you seen how their attitudes change towards each other after being around one another and how they devolved as characters, whereas I find Final Fantasy XIII tried too hard with the characters forcing them to be emotional.
Mistwalker does well in developing the characters of Lost Odyssey, because we get to see them in most emotional states and how they react to certain situations. The immortal characters have lived for 1000 years the game has dream sequences where I memories are unlocked by a catalyst in the game for example if the character over hears a conversation it might trigger their memory and a dream sequence is activated which tells a short story from the characters past. The dreams play a part in developing the immortal characters and learning about their personalities we even get different sides of their personalities revealed to us. Some of the dreams were sad, joyful, and funny, but most of all effective and is a unique way of character exploration which has never been done before in a video game. the way the short story dreams are used in Lost Odyssey they are usually done through flashbacks for example the flashbacks in Final Fantasy XIII, before the events of game, although that was good its mainly used to bridge the story and make it clearer to the player, however we do see other sides to our characters it’s not as effective as the short stories in Lost Odyssey. Props for the ‘Thousand Years Of Dreams’ do go to award winning Japanese short story writer Kiyoshi Shigematsu who worked with Hironobu Sakaguchi to make the dreams successful which they did and turned them into a book.
The battle system in Final Fantasy XIII is a new unique real-time orientated battle system that I like very much, but I have always preferred the traditional turn based system. The turn based battle system is generally preferred amongst JRPG fans, because it gives room for more strategic battles and if you have been playing RPG’s for a long time you would know that the turn based system is like an element of the genre. Final Fantasy XIII introduces us to new features such as Roles, Paradigms, and the Crystarium. The Role a character is in battle determines what abilities they can use for example a medic has the ability to heal all party members, but can’t cast magical attacks like a Ravager. Each role has their own abilities that has to be learnt by the player in all there are six Roles Commando, Ravager, Medic, Synergist, Saboteur, and Sentinel each with their own specific uses. The unique paradigm system allows you to mix and match type combinations which you will set you’re fighting strategy, but it doesn’t matter as you will end up paradigm shifting (Changing to another set of roles) to a paradigm with a medic until the party is healed then back to an attacking one. Summons make great additions to the battles, however the cost is too much using up technical points. As I said before the battle System is more traditional in Lost Odyssey you can cast spells which take up MP, use items, use skills which can be attacks or stat enhancers that cost SP, and attack normally. Like Final Fantasy XIII Lost Odyssey has its own unique battle system where there are two rows a back and front row and the back row is protected by a wall combined by the calculated HP of the front row. This game play element allows the player to protect the weaker party members and is good for preparing a strategy and plays a bigger part than the Paradigm Shifts.
Another unique feature incorporated into the Lost Odyssey Battle system is the ‘Aim Ring System’ for normal attacks. When attacking normally two rings appear on screen and the player has to time his button release so that the outside ring which is timed to close in on the smaller ring fits together. This system acts as a targeting system for added effects of rings equipped to characters and the accuracy of the button release is scored perfect, good, or bad. The higher the accuracy the more damage dealt. The last difference in both games is the level up system which in Final Fantasy they have a Crystarium grid where experience from the battles allows the player to choose what paradigm they level up and moves they learn by spending points, whereas Lost Odyssey has the more preferred and traditional way of having levels which I feel is much better, because you can see your progress and don’t feel that the cost of HP or a skill is a waste of CP (Crystogen Points). A Useful tool in Lost Odyssey is the immortal characters being able to revive from the dead on the battle field after two turns as keeping them dead for a bit can lead to a good battle strategy instead of reviving them if you know an enemy super attack can kill them again, also immortal characters can learn skills from mortal character making them stronger and be able to cast higher level magic’s. Both have decent innovative battle systems, but Lost Odyssey clearly has more to offer in terms of strategy and there is obviously more attacks to carryout in battle and in Final Fantasy XIII you only control one character and the rest are AI controlled. I can see why Lost Odyssey has many strategic devices being a hard game, and Final Fantasy XIII being relatively easy.
Harder the Fight Sweeter the Victory
It is no secret that after a player has just defeated a tough boss they feel happy inside and that they accomplished a great feat. That is the feeling I got from Lost Odyssey whenever I beat a boss, because of the games difficulty level being so high. I’m sure if you played Final Fantasy XIII you would agree the game doesn’t really test the players’ ability and is a fairly easy game to play through. The only challenge I found in the game was when I had to fight an Eidolon as only certain moves can fill up the gestalt meter. The difficulty in Final Fantasy XIII makes strategy limited as most of the time I found myself only Paradigm Shifting when I needed a medic to heal my party members, other than that I just pressed the A button on my Xbox 360 controller to execute an attack. This made battles seem repetitive as I just laid waste to my enemies by using one button most of the time. I won’t lie to you I have died during the game, but only when I wasn’t paying attention or texting on my phone and loosing concentration. I expected a hard tough game like I had with Lost Odyssey and was disappointed when I never got that especially, because I never used the innovative battle system more strategic. From early on in Lost Odyssey the battles are hard and it is difficult, therefore I spent more than twenty hours of game play training up my characters, making my immortals learn skills, and doing all side quest character mission to achieve each characters strongest and personal weapons which eventually lead me to having all my immortals at their maximum levels of ninety nine.
Will We See a Sequel?
To conclude my thoughts are that both games are unique and very good obviously I prefer Lost Odyssey as most RPG fans will, because it’s very traditional bringing back what made us all fall in love with RPG’s like Final Fantasy. I truly believe that if Final Fantasy is to be what it was or is to get better Square-Enix need Hironobu Sakaguchi, because Final Fantasy was his idea, dream, and vision, and they will end up ruining the game. Publishers today think they can sell a game based on the name and franchise which I believe Final Fantasy XIII did, but gamers are starting to not fall for these tricks and if the next Final Fantasy is like thirteen I guarantee a decline in sales. There have been much speculation about a Lost Odyssey sequel, but Mistwalker haven’t said anything about it yet, however they are working on a Wii RPG called The Last Story which is said to be their only project. After playing through Lost Odyssey I expect The Last Story to be an amazing game, because at The Koalition we have been following the games development via blog. If a sequel is announced for Lost Odyssey I predict the series will be the next Final Fantasy. Lost Odyssey has potential to be a major RPG franchise and it can only get better I hope Microsoft and Mistwalker bring out a sequel title, because the world has only seen the tip of the iceberg with Lost Odyssey. Lost Odyssey is better than Final Fantasy XIII and I just told you why.