HealyG (healyg) wrote,

Currently Reading Wednesdays 6: I get bored and talk about video games instead

Currently I'm reading Final Fantasy 5 (GBA version).

What? It's an RPG, it's got text and words. It's got a lot of words.

Anyway, the story so far is that the four magical crystals that guide the world's elements (water, earth, fire, wind, you know the drill) are breaking, one by one. Once a crystal gets broke, the element associated with it slowly corrupts until the planet is just unlivable. Where I'm at the wind and water crystals are already long gone, and the fire crystal just bit it. Part of the reason for this mess, we learn, is that some schleimel of a scientist made some devices that increase the crystals' power, but are a massive drain on them, causing them to shatter. Very deep, very ecological. One wonders if the world would be in the mess it is today if we had but listened to the wisdom of Final Fantasy 5.

In all seriousness, Final Fantasy 5 is not a game you play for the story. The characters are just barely developed enough so they aren't ciphers, and the story is mostly there to get you from point A to point B. What you're really here for is the easy-to-use, complicated-to-master job system. Basically you get around 22 jobs, doled out in groups over the course of the game, ranging anywhere from traditional Final Fantasy Black/White Mages to uncontrollable berserkers to just weird, off-the-wall shit like Geomancers and Dancers and the beginning of a Final Fantasy tradition, the enemy-ability copying Blue Mage. It's quite fun to get into, although maybe not so much when you're grinding for new job abilities.

But I think that last issue may be due to my poor planning and over-specialization; part of the problem is that I really have only one dedicated mage, Lenna. I made both Bartz and Galuf into Blue Mages, but that class isn't very effective in this stage of the game (you haven't run into all the good enemy skills, basically), so they're in more combat oriented classes right now. Faris is kicking all kinds of ass as a spellblade-ish Mystic Knight, but it's only a matter of time until I need more offensive spells than my party can give. I think I might need to respec Galuf or Bartz into the summoner class, maybe both. I should probably train up their White Mage skills too. I nearly wiped on the water crystal boss, and lost Lenna during the one on the fire ship.

Also, an actual book I am reading this week is Jeph Loeb and Time Sale's Batman: The Long Halloween. This is actually a re-read; I read it before and kinda hated it but all the details of it slipped outta my head the instant I put it down, so I could never put my finger on why. Looking at it now, I think it's partly because it's got such a sour, cynical tone. I'm not bothered by the only two Frank Miller Batman books I've read, though (Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One), and while you could argue that tonally they're cut from the same cloth, I think the difference for me is that Frank Miller is much more knowing, or perhaps honest, about the effects he's reaching for; he knows what he's doing when he makes the Mutants such horrible S.O.B.s, he knows why he's making the Gotham Police Department so incredibly corrupt. Loeb, though, seems to be adding in these dark, gritty details because what else do you do for a dark, gritty story? That's why, even though the Frank Miller books have objectively worse shit going on, The Long Halloween feels meaner to me.

(Another thing I don't like is how played out the whole thing feels; everything in the story has been done elsewhere, and likely done better. Sure, all your favorite villains are there, but their schtick is so overdone you'll be begging for their part to be over. I guess that's what makes it such a great beginner Batman story, though, since it's likely a new fan wouldn't be bothered by this. As I remember some guy on a web forum saying, even the worst Batman stories still feature Batman punching all the bad guys until there are no bad guys left to punch.)

I won't deny it hits a couple grace notes for me, and I do like the art, but overall this re-read of Long Halloween didn't change my opinion of it much.

Next time, on Currently Reading Whenever I Get These Things Out: Next week I'll probably review Comic Book Rebels, by Stanley Wiater and Stephen Bissette. (Hooray, a straight answer this time!) It's a series of interviews with famous comic book personalities from the early 90s. I was gonna review it this week, but I had barely begun it by the time I wrote this post. Next week, though!
Tags: batman, comics, currently reading wednesdays, final fantasy 5, video games
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