Playthrough: The Summer of XII

Box Art

The Starlight Megaphone is pleased to present The Summer of XII: A Final Fantasy XII Playthrough.

Released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan in March of 2006 and in North America the following October, Final Fantasy XII served as both a return to Ivalice and as an entry into the Ivalice Alliance meta-series of games. The game met with considerable success by allowing players to explore a vast and open world, and through the use of a battle system which combined M.M.O. mechanics with classic, menu-driven, A.T.B. combat.

Initially set in the Kingdom of Dalmasca, the storyline of Final Fantasy XII is characterised by its grand scale and impressive writing. The Archadean Empire is slowly crushing neutral powers caught between it and its enemy, The Rozarrian Empire. It in the aftermath of these brutal power struggles–The Battle of Nalbina Fortress–that the player’s involvement begins, as Reks. It is Reks who must assist Captain Basch fon Rosenburg in attempting to halt an Archadean plot set to take place during the signing of a peace treaty.

This is the final week of our four-week playthrough, in which we will aim to have completed the main storyline and final battle sequence of the game. Use the comments thread to discuss your final evaluations and opinions about how things have changed, improved, or entirely shifted in Final Fantasy games, JRPGs, and large-scale console RPGs in general since the original release six years ago. What do you think of the music, the graphics, the controls, and the translation? Have the voice acting, the writing, and the storyline held up? Or, have the ravages of time made the experience of XII‘s Ivalice an occasion for disappointment?

We now invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone as we return to Ivalice in Final Fantasy XII!


  1. Well, like some other people I got a head start on the game. I’m about 15 hours in and am currently approaching the Garif via the Ozmone Plain.

    Just something things I noticed booting up this game for the first time in a while: The super fuzzy low res visual took some getting used to and the inverted camera controls REALLY took some getting used to since the game offers no option to switch it. Maybe some people here prefer that set up, but it’s not one I’m used to anymore.

    I’m approaching this play through in a much more efficient manner than I’ve ever done before since I’ve researched exactly how the weapons work and good habits for getting money easily, and the result so far is I’m having a much easier time.

  2. Having only finished my first playthrough about a year ago, and with that playthrough being 100%, I’m not sure how much fun this one’s going to be for me. I burned myself out on FFXII, I think. Still, I do think this is an excellent game. I will probably skip the cutscenes whenever possible, though, since I don’t recall the game having a particularly compelling storyline and in typical FF fashion there are some fairly lengthy cutscenes.

  3. I’ve not played this since it was first released, so I’ve been looking forward to this. Sadly though, playing on a large flat screen T.V. means that the game looks way too fuzzy :(
    I can’t play it for as long as I would other games. A couple of hours a day though, and I should be on track.

  4. I am with Imitanis on this one, I wish I had my old CRT to play this one. Alas, that TV broke many years ago. So I am about five ish hours in, and I seem to remember the FMV graphics differently in my memorie than how they really are. The FMV graphics make it look like the people of FF XII are made of clay almost, for example Vaans hair in any FMV.

  5. If the dialogue came from just text boxes instead of voice acting, I’d like the cutscenes a lot more. That’s enough criticism.

    Is there a strategy for having different types of weapons, like bludgeoning types are better against skeletons or something?

  6. The weapon usage is important for what kind of character you’re building. Most weapons have some kind of specialty that they cater to or simply that they feature.

    Guns, for example, will never miss. They also ignore ALL defense. However, they’re slow and often much weaker than other weapon types. But ignoring defense and being ranged make up for that most of the time.

    Swords are pretty straight forward, they hurt based off of your strength stat, and usually are one handed so you can equip a shield for extra evade.

    Lances do the most damage, straight up, but don’t offer much for bonus damage. The strongest weapon in the game, the Zodiac Spear, is a lance.

    Samurai type swords and knives are based off of a speed stat or something similar. I’d have to look it up to be certain, but they generally favor quicker character builds.

    Staves give bonuses to magic stats.

    Hand Bombs, Axes, and I think Measures as well can do massive damage, but their chance to do so is randomized, so some times you’ll hit for much lower.

    Bows are another ranged weapon, but they can be negatively impacted by the weather. If it’s raining or snowing, you might miss a lot. I forget what stat they base their damage off of at the moment.

  7. Measures do very little damage and inflict buffs on-hit, so they’re mainly used to buff party members without using MP. Otherwise, Mel pretty much has it, though I’ve never heard of the bow thing before.

    Anyway, I’m planning to do a DCHLB (Dual Character, Half License Board) for this since I don’t just want to do another normal playthrough. I’m giving Vaan the bottom half of the board and Ashe the top. Not much to report so far, except to say that the Rogue Tomato and combat in general are a little more difficult without Cure.

  8. Wow, interesting playthrough choice, D.

    I’ve looked up the info in a FAQ on Gamefaqs, and here’s the general run down (credit goes to the person who wrote this: ):

    “-Swords have decent Speed and good strength. Damage from Swords is calculated by character’s strength, swords attack rating and the enemies defense.

    -Daggers have better speed than Swords. Damage from a Dagger is calculated from a character’s Strength and Speed, and the enemies defense.

    -Axes are faster than Hammers. Damage is calculated by your character’s strength, Vitality and Weapons attack rating.

    -Maces are helpful for a supportive type character. Damage is calculated by Weapons attack power, magick power of character and the defense of the enemy.

    -Measures are basically used for a upgrading [buffing] weapon. Damage calculations by
    attack power of Measure and nothing else, it ignores defense just like Guns.

    -Katanas have one best combo rate of any type of weapon, so they pretty awesome. Damage is calculated by characters strength, magick power, attack rating and opponents defense. Damage based on Magick is helpful because even then your support characters can deal good damage.

    -Ninja Swords have BETTER combo rate than Katanas, so they pretty awesome too. Damage is calculated by character’s strength, speed, sword rating and enemy’s defense. Genji Gloves/ Cat-Ear Hood make these swords WAAAY better.

    -These weapons [Lances] have the strongest weapons in the game. Damage calculation is strength, attack rating and the enemy’s defense.

    -Poles are another weapon that have a high combo rate. Damage calculation is character’s strength, attack rating of Poles, and against enemy’s magick defense(other than the normal defense).

    -Rods can add Magick Power to your character. Damage calculation by character’s strength, attacking rating, and enemy’s defense.

    -Staves increase magick power, they power up the elemental type that the staff is. Damage calculation by character’s strength, magick power, attacking rating, and enemy’s defense.

    -Bow damage is affected by weather in the area, such as Rain in Giza Plains. Damage calculations by character’s strength and speed, arrows strength, and enemy’s defense. Bows give no Added Effects or Evasion.

    -Crossbows can miss, but not very often. Damage calculation by character’s strength, crossbows attack rating and bolt power and enemy’s defense. Crossbows give no Added Effects themselves, but Bolts can.

    -Guns are a slow weapon type, but 100% accurate. Damage calculation by attack power of gun and ammo. Note-It doesn’t matter about enemy’s defense. It pierces right through.

    -Hand-Bombs can do massive damage OR little damage. Damage calculations by character’s strength and vitality, attacking rating of hand-bomb and the enemy’s defense. Hand-Bombs don’t Evasion or Added Effects.”

  9. I’ll obviously have much more to say than this, but goddamn YES not being able to invert the camera is annoying. I never get used to it. After 100+ hours of playing this game over my life, it never becomes instinctual. But when that’s my biggest complaint, you know you have a good game.

  10. @Ethan: I’m playing on an emulator, and thus have reversed the right stick inputs. From memory however, you do get used to the camera over time.

  11. I’m trying to think of what the other thing was, but I’ve been playing Dark Souls and something else and the damn camera controls are like the default Persona 3 ones. Which is to say WRONG. I need to replay this (I’m still not going to do those fucking Hunts…. which sounds oddly vulgar) but I still think it had one of the more coherent FF narratives of the post-FFVI FF games.

    I still remember being thrown off by being able to run while castint spells which is a way of 100% spell interruption (lag not withstanding) in FFXI.

  12. @SN – Perhaps YOU do, but I go the wrong way first with the camera almost every time still.

    I’m also with everybody else in saying how fuzzy the game looks. Despite all my HD whoring, I usually slip right into the graphical style of old games. However, I think because it’s obvious how BEAUTIFUL FFXII would be in HD, I’m constantly reminded of how it is not. SN, are you playing the HD upscale on your emulator?

  13. I feel like I’m am getting used to the camera now, but I also feel my brain working just a little bit harder each time I need to make a left down a hallway and then must push the stick to the RIGHT…ugh. However, moving the stick down actually does moves the camera DOWN, and not the viewing angle down, so then I end up slamming the camera into Vaan’s ankles when I just want a better overhead view.

  14. Because I am not a ponce:

    The graphics looks fine to me on my 42″ HD tv. This is because I am not sitting smack up against it, but rather on the couch about ten feet away. You know, where you are supposed to be sitting.
    The camera is wonderfully correct, and makes my heart sing. Too many children did not play fully rotatable 3D games back in the day, it seems, when the default camera options were always inverted. Also, this game has some of the best camera responsiveness in any game I have ever played. HINT: press the camera stick down and it will snap behind you, which may solve for some of the whinging I’ve seen here.
    The music is better than I remember it, but the audio balance on the voice acting is worse. The voice acting itself is top-notch, but they all sound like they were recorded with the mic. pressed up against their lips. This is the fault of someone in audio processing, almost certainly.
    I seem to recall hunts being somewhat more difficult that they are. Perhaps, having done them a few times now, I am prepared whereas before I was not.

    I am at Giruvegan currently, about 40 hours in, including time spent on side-stuff, which includes all hunts and sidequests available at this point.

  15. The voices sounding muffled is, from what I’ve read, a product of compression so everything fit on one disc. And I’ve gotten used to the way the game looks now, but at first…yikes.

  16. There’s no two ways about it; PS2 games look ugly on LCD televisions.

    The XII camera isn’t bad due to any inherent weakness in the scheme used, but rather because it does the exact opposite of the mapping used in 99% of games which also utilise a third-person camera, making it unintuitive. It’s one of those persistent niggles of expectation, like when games reverse the functionality of ‘X’ and ‘O’ for confirm and cancel.



    [edited to improve Clarity by Caspius]

  17. For once, I’m not the target…


    Wrong again, Mel…

  18. At the last boss, 50h in, having done many hunts and sidequests as well. Will just be doing the rest of the hunts and sidequests from now on out. Catch up to me! We can talk hunts!

  19. I agree about the music, Caspius. I’m definitely finding it more enjoyable although there are still times when I think “certainly the Giza Plains does not need music that makes me feel like I’m taking on all of Mordor”.
    In terms of the voice acting, I actually think it’s a stylistic choice. I noticed it from my first playthrough. It certainly sounds fuzzy, but FFX’s voiceacting was crisp as a bell (despite the content being way more intolerable), so that leads me to believe somebody thought that adding that filter to the voices would make it seem more detached, much like the general emotion of the game.

    All that being said, I’m actually enjoying the plot more this time around. It certainly doesn’t continue as strongly as it started, but things generally make sense and motivations seem pretty clear.

  20. @Ethos: Well, despite what ‘Wrong-Again’ Mel claims, it is not a result of compression–and, in fact, it isn’t a filter either. In the former case, no compression causes an effect like that–compression actually causes a different effect–tinniness, as a result of the low end frequenceies being truncated, or muddiness as a result of too much high-end being cut out. Compression does not add proximity distortion, full stop.

    Proximity distortion is what you get as a result of 1) using an insufficient condenser or 2) amplifying low-definition audio. In the first case, the mic is overloaded by the incoming sound–that is, the sound levels are too high for the mic line. In the second case, there is insufficient audio fidelity recorded and, when the track is amplified, this lack of recorded fidelity is amplified as well.

    In listening to the tracks from the game across what is now my seventh playthrough, I feel even more certain that this is an example of the first case. The problem is that it is actually rather difficult to fix in processing. The audio should have been rerecorded. but it seems the audio engineers were either not listening to the direct feed, or they were operating in the assumption that the direct feed was fine. (Alternately, they could have recorded low and then amplified, as per no. 2 above.)

    As for a filter, definitely not the case. There are filters used: judges, for example, have one which makes them sound like they are talking in helmets. But they also suffer the same proximity distortion. This was not something deliberately added in, but rather something which was done either by accident or as a result of negligence on the part of the audio team.

    Incidentally, one of the reasons I think it is the condensers are at fault is because there are instances of both popping and maxxing out, neither of which would result from compressions or a filter, nor from post-produc. amplification.

  21. I’ve been accidentally participating in this one already. I am about 30 hours in as we speak! Just happened to be playing through it already. I really do enjoy this one. Keep getting distracted by the hunts and stuff

  22. Seems you have a good sense of audio equipment. I haven’t noticed any of the popping or maxing you mentioned, but yours is the most comprehensive argument I could find on the subject about the low quality sound for the voices. And to further suggest it isn’t compression, the game comes in around 3.7 gigs which would be under the 4.7 gig capacity of a PS2 disc. (Unless the PS2 used special DVDs, or unless this game disc was double layered) I mean, I guess it could still have been compressed, given all that, but it’s looking less the case now.

    Anywho, I had taken a pause for a bit, I’m on my way to the Gran Kiltias and getting all the hunts as they become available. The only one so far to give me trouble was the Croakadile. Took some fiddling and a Belias to put it down, but I managed.

  23. Yeah, sounds like we have the best theory on the audio.

    It’s strange, the hunts are really the only major sidequest (I’m aware it’s not the ONLY one), but the way they’re set up really makes it seem like more. In a good way, though. It’s impressive that hunts have the sort of legs they do.

    And really, Mel? This is my first time doing all the hunts as they become available, and Croakadile was one of the few that gave me no trouble whatsoever.

  24. One thing I was commenting to Thea about was how much of this game is developed to be totally and completely optional.

    There are huge, vast areas–fully realised, with voice acting and cutscenes and the like–which one will never even know the existence of if one is only doing the storyline. In this way, it really does feel like FFXI to some degree. Zertinian Caverns? Necrohol of Nabudis? Nabreus Deadlands? Cerobi Steppe? I bet there are people who have completed this game but who have never so much as stepped foot into those places.

    The hunts and sidequests are really essential if one wants to get the whole FFXII experience.

  25. @Durga: You can’t be ‘distracted’ by the hunts–they make up a substantial portion of the game’s content! Enjoy them! :)

  26. I hate the Hunts soooo much. I’m convinced they were implemented to sell Brady’s Guides because I have no idea how you’re supposed to find the damned monsters.

    I killed that Red Tomato Mandragora they make you do outside town by those dinosaurs. Then I tried to go find a White Mousse in the Sewer Level (this game actually has you start in a sewer killing rats) and after an hour of being harassed by bats(?) I gave up never having found the thing.

    I then continued the story. Or tried to, anyway. I was outside town in the Desert Level were I was brutally murdered by Nidhogg who was one of those dragons who had a ring on its head for some reason and a palette swap of that later unfortunate dragon with a ring on its head boss fight. And had I not lost terribly I didn’t have that Hunt flagged yet anyway.

    Un-Hunt related, are the Elementals killable? I know I finished the game underleveled last time, I zombied (not the status effect) the shit out of the elevator boss fight and not-Sephiroth/Kefka/One Winged Angel boss fight, but even by the end of the game I couldn’t kill one in that marshy area from the beginning of the game. They were still all, “THUNDAGA YOU DEI!!!!”

  27. @EP: The hunt log tells you where the monsters are located, and the hiring party gives you even more information on the hunts. Moreover, the hunt targets show up as huge red dots on the map, as opposed to the normal size dots, so you can just run around (in flee mode) looking if you are not sure.

    Open your hunt log up, dude! It is all there!

    And yes, elements are killable, even fairly early in the game. It is largely a matter of protecting yourself adequately and using elemental weaknesses to your advantage.

  28. @ Ethos: Yeah, I may have been too underleveled for Croakadile. I fought him pretty much RIGHT as you are able to start that hunt. And if you’re trying to rely on picking away at his health (like I foolishly was) then you’ll meet with a very hard time, if not failure, thanks to his regen, various immunities, and his ability to double his character level AND regain all his HP when he goes critical the first time (and none of that can be silenced). However, once I leveled a bit and threw in Belias to the mix…it was like cleaning up some froggy roadkill.

  29. THERE it is! Caspius said what I’ve been trying to say in two articles and a few comments. So much of the game is OPTIONAL. Those locations are a perfect example. It feels like finding a secret cave, there’s something so magical and awe-inspiring about finding a massive location that is not a part of the main quest. THAT is payoff in exploration.

  30. A thing I really liked about the game was the optional stuff. Near that forest area where the bunny lady lost her shit due to Mist you could find what I’m going to call Lightening Dog Monsters that I think were neon purple which gave crazy EXP. They gave like 10x the normal EXP. It was like Intangir from the original FF3/FFVII release.

  31. @EP: Those are Hellhounds. There isn’t anything special about them, they just happen to be part of a higher level section of Golmore, so they are twice the level of the rest of the monsters there–around 37-40 instead of 20-22. As you may recall, you return to Golmore and pass through that section later in the game on the way to the Feywood and Giruvegan, at which point your party should be approaching level 40–hence the more difficult monsters.

    Incidentally, if all you want is a lot of exp., you could do the same thing by going further into the Estersand, or by walking into the Zertinian Caverns entrance just outside of Golmore, or any other thing that would let you visit higher level monsters, since the only reason the Hellhounds were giving you lots of XP was because of the level difference.

    Did you not use Libra when playing? It allows you to see all the hidden traps, but also displays enemy levels, statuses, and weaknesses.

  32. Okay, I just got to the Drace execution scene and I have to say that I am flat out digging the story this time through. It’s not presented in the same in-your-face way that most FFs are, but once you expect the at-a-distance style of story-telling, it’s really quite effective. Far more so than I initially experienced. Ashe is such a complex and flawed character. She’s not very interesting in the way she talks, but her choices and actions show that she’s deeper than her formal royal speech might make her appear.

    @Caspius – Bah-ha, yup. “Nono, you still go on the path you’re supposed to go on. I mean, sometimes you can go other places, gather new information, and see other things if you go off the beaten path, but it’s not exploration”

  33. @Ethos: Re. the storyline, I, too, have been enjoying it very much this time around. Perhaps it is because I know it already, so I am paying attention to certain things more than I was the first time–and I am not skipping through the cutscenes and dialogue, but rather reading them with an eye towards understanding Ivalice, instead of just getting the key storyline hooks. I had a great time with this playthrough (sadly, already over for me–the whole game, inside of three days or so).

    Also, it occurs to me (and this will be a topic on TSM) that if Square wants to save the FF series, they need to start making games where that majestic Fnal Fantasy Theme would not seem out of place. Hearing it when I go to load a file, I am constantly reminded of this. It is a wonderful theme–not necessarily for its musical construction, but rather because it somehow captures the spirit of Final Fantasy in a way that no literary description possibly could. And, I think that if SE really want to make Final Fantasy games, they need to set up their prospective world, play the theme whilst looking it over, and ask themselves, “Does this fit, or is it an imposition?”

  34. So, Lusi, do you think Final Fantasy is something that should be kept closer to its High Fantasy roots or not necessarily? Because when I hear that theme I get more of an old world vibe than anything else. Somtheing about all of the Final Fantasy brand to me just seems “old” and “vintage”, right down the the way they stylize the name Final Fantasy in a bold face and a simple underscore. The world of XII borrowed heavily from steampunk aspects, from what I can tell, so even though it does feature a very industrial civilization the game still maintains an older feel (right down to the knight armor the Judges wear and of course the style of the dialogue and written exposition).

    Personally, I didn’t dig the more futuristic aspects of XIII but that may have been because I was lukewarm to the whole game.

  35. I got up to the point on the Leviathan where Ashe joins permanently, so now the DCHLB can truly begin. I’m still trying to decide which character to control most of the time. On the one hand, controlling Ashe will let me handle magic casting, but then again a lot of the magic casting can be automated using Gambits (which Ashe, unlike Vaan, will actually have slots for). I’ll probably control Ashe for most fights just because manual control of the mage will be good and Vaan’s actions can very easily be automated despite his only having two Gambit slots.

    Having two radically different characters should prove interesting, if nothing else.

  36. @Ethan: That isn’t exploration, the game is just tangentially linear! ^_^

    @Mel: In happier times I have not required the FF series to be set in ye olden days, yet the storytelling is so poor at the moment that I feel that they should be forced to use a more basic setting just to prevent the team from burying the game under great heaps of vapid jargon (much as one would fit a connical hat upon their cat to prevent it from picking at stitches, for SE finds it too easy to indulge their worst tendencies).

  37. I half agree with you on that point about the theme, Caspius. I don’t think the majestic Final Fantasy theme would work in Final Fantasy VII at all. It doesn’t seem to fit with the style of the game or even Nobuo’s musical direction for that game. However, setting aside VII, my favourite Final Fantasy games are IX, XII, and recently VI and I think the majestic theme fits nicely with all those games. So maybe you’re on to something.

    I’m going to spend the rest of today playing XII, so hopefully I can stop hunts and chaining enemies enough to finally make it to Archades.

  38. Unless I have missed something, the FF music fits just fine into the mysterious world of VII.

  39. As SN and I discussed on the podcast, FFVII works just fine. And if you want to know why, you can listen to the podcast!

  40. Doesn’t work fine for me! Seems very out of place. But I’m very curious in your contrary opinions. I’ll listen to the podcast later (after a lot of FFXII).

  41. IMO, FFVII is the game that the FF theme fits best with, but then FFVII was my first FF, so there may be something in that.

    Nonetheless, I didn’t feel that the FF theme fit with FFVIII (a year later), nor with FFX (my favourite game in the series).

  42. @SN: I’d say, for me, it felt best as an opening with FFI and IV, and would have been fine in VI (though it fits better at the ending, in that game).

    Similarly, by the time I heard it in VII, it totally made sense. If it were to play at the title screen, it would seem out-of-place. And, Sakaguchi seemed to realise that. He put it at the end, when we could appreciate the music in the context of the entire epic we had just witnessed. That’s why it fits: because it is set against the monolithic grandeur and the deeply personal, juxtaposed and thus struck into sharp relief, just as the world itself sets swords against guns, tanks against chocobos, and rocketships against ancient civilisations. Final Fantasy VII is the all-compassing world, and it is also the deeply internal, personal struggle of a single man, involved in a quest to find himself within himself, against himself.

    If the Final Fantasy Theme doesn’t suit that, heard at the end of the entire epic, with the open ending about to be displayed, where Red XIII stands on a cliff overlooking Midgar five hundred years later, well, then it doesn’t belong anywhere at all.

  43. I didn’t even need to listen to the ‘cast to be convinced! I’ve only beat FFVII once so I didn’t remember when it played in the game. I was just picturing it as an overworld theme and it was missing completely. FFVII was my first Final Fantasy as well, but I feel that’s part of why the theme wasn’t instantly nostalgic for me. It became retroactively so, actually, I first noticed it in the FF9 credits and then on the piano. I didn’t even know it had been around since the first game until I actually played FF1 many years later. But it is strange that with that history I do agree that it seems to best sum up the best of Final Fantasy. Far more than the Crystal Theme I’d say.

  44. And by “strange” I mean “interesting”.

    Has anybody mentioned how great it is that the menu can be opened at any time? If I want to use the license board in the middle of a boss battle it’s not a fucking problem. So many RPGs seem to have arbitrary restrictions on stuff like that.

  45. @Ethos I’ve always loved that you can change your equipment, hand out licenses, and even switch party members around in the middle of combat. It’s one huge strength of the FFXII battle system in my eyes.

  46. Oh yes, changing equipment is a big one. This is the first playthrough during which I know about the nihopalaoa trick. Huge during hunts. I’ll be able to break Riskbreaker for the first time.

    Oh, and despite playing almost all day on Sunday, I still didn’t make Archades. I love this game.

  47. Despite deciding that I would make use of the Nihipipioompaloompa this time, I have not yet had cause to do so–maybe on the last few ‘ultimate’ hunts at are left to me?

    I think I have found the game much easier this time around, probably because I had a plan from the beginning, rather than just randomly bumping into shit in the night.

  48. Precisely describes my experience. Although I’ve gone into hunts a little underleveled. Also I’m bad at video games, so the Nihipipioompaloompa was helpful versus the flans in the waterway. I haven’t used it otherwise. Except for on the King Bomb boss. That gave me more trouble than I expected.

  49. Either Ethos is referring to the jungle area in FFXI (Yhoator) or he’s some manner of witch. I’ve used science and determined this.

  50. About the camera, I did bitch about it in the FF12 thread, but I did also get over it. Lusi is correct, it’s something you get used to after a time. However, I will share my theory for why I think inverted cameras were more standard than they are today (and please feel free to disagree, I know how reluctant some people are to do so).

    I think inverted cameras are a Japanese development preference that took hold throughout because of their dominance in the market over Western developers making console games prior to ’03. And so, their preference became the standard. But, for some reason, that ideal wasn’t shared with many prominent Western devs and as their games began to spring into the hugely popular and trend setting examples such as Call of Duty, THEIR preference took hold. Not sure why Japanese devs prefer inverted controls, but I once read an article (many moons ago) with Miyamoto describing inverted controls as operating a puppet on a stick. You would move your end of the stick left to have the puppet (the camera) pan right, and so on. Anecdotal, but… it’s a thought.

  51. @Mel: Wrong again. But by a huge margin this time. I mean, you’re not even close.

    Camera controls were initially found in PC 3D games, which predated 3D console games by many years. These were almost entirely western, not Japanese enterprises (n.b. I cannot think of any such Japanese endeavours, but I wish to avoid being universal in my exclusivity). They were not based on puppetry, either, but on the controls for aircraft simulators (the first games to use this technology were flight sims and then space sims), which are themselves based on aeroplanes, where the controls are inverted.

    Anyone who has even a passing knowledge of the history of PC game development could tell you this, though.

    An aside: Saying, “it is like controlling a puppet,” is not the same thing as saying, “I invented that,”– and how you got that latter impression from the context you refer is absolutely beyond my ken.

  52. I didn’t remotely imply what you said I did in your last sentence. Lusi, your bait is getting stale.

    But yeah, my early PC gaming history is lacking. I’ve only gotten into it fully about 2 years ago, or so.

    An interesting fact to learn, nonetheless.

  53. @Mel: Your new defence, when you say something indefencible, is to claim you didn’t say it and that others are twisting your words. That hasn’t happened yet, and claiming others are responsible for the results of your poor thinking isn’t really on. But, to satisfy anyone’s curiosity, here are your quotes, in order, with the sequence of argumentation clearly laid out:

    Argument: “…inverted cameras are a Japanese development preference that took hold throughout because of their dominance in the market over Western developers making console games prior to ’03.”
    As I said before, complete bunk. But that aside, this is your theory. You move on quickly to another bald assertion, but you come back to this one a sentence later.

    Querying your argument: “Not sure why Japanese devs prefer inverted controls, but…”
    Here is where you have returned to what you believe to be the Japanese preference for inversion. Though you are ‘not sure’, the word ‘but’ at the end of this phrase serves as a clear sign that you are about to offer an explanation for ‘why Japanese devs prefer inverted controls’.

    Support: “…I once read an article (many moons ago) with Miyamoto describing inverted controls as operating a puppet on a stick.”
    This is second part of the above sentence, and serves as the explanation for the first section, according to the logic of your sentence.

    Reiterating support: “Anecdotal, but… it’s a thought.”
    The words ‘it’s a thought’ clearly refer to the fact that what you have just offered as a potential explanation: WHAT is ‘a thought’? The anecdote you related (as you say). WHAT is it ‘a thought’ about? It is about ‘why Japanese devs prefer inverted controls’ (which immediately precedes it).

    The result of this is that the ONLY support you have offered your argument is the anecdote at the end about Miyamoto thinking inverted cameras are like puppetry. (And, of course, there is the lingering point that 3D camera movement in games didn’t begin on consoles. Unfortunately, you got that wrong from the beginning, and doing so left you grasping at some pretty tenuous support to prop up your conclusion.)

    The non sequitur here is all yours, not mine, despite your claims to the contrary. You alone are responsible for the stuff you type in here. When your argumentation doesn’t make sense, you can’t continually accuse us of twisting your words when all we are doing is holding you to them.

    tl;dr: Think before you post. Continually entering illogical nonsense in here will not fly by the noses of myself and my staff in the way it would at FatCancer or 4Chan, nor are we afraid to say so.

  54. @Mel: I think we’ll just institute a Mel-mode, specifically for you, in which you are forced to read your entire entry into a microphone, word by word, before the computer will allow you to submit it to the site.

    I have occasionally enforced this upon staff members, and the results were positive. Perhaps I should try it with our more TROUBLESOME readers, as well!

  55. Aren’t you worried about the plums causing issues with the sound quality? You are so knowledgeable about audio equipment, I’m surprised you didn’t think of this. Tisk tisk.

  56. I haven’t been home so I’m still not at Archades. Really itching for another play session, though. Am I behind? Ahead? On par? It’s harder without changing discs as landmarks.

    NOT THE SAME THING, LUSI! Let’s aim high and hope that I can be 6969!

  57. Okay, let’s have an update ping!

    Where are you?
    Most signficant moment or thought so far?
    Anything negative.

    My position is the same as before. Last fight in the Pharos, doing hunts.
    Most significant moment: Cid’s VA at the first fight with him in Archades. He’s delightfully psychopathic.
    Negatives: Hate the clipping on the VA recording. Also, the stupid license grid should be visible from the start. Mine is unlocked in full, but I see no reason why it should be invisible to begin with. Stupid decision.

    However, it is good that you can do practically anything you like at any time, including during batles.

  58. I am RIGHT this moment in the Eruyt Village, cleaning up the hunts that unlocked after the boss fight at Bur-Omisace.

    My most significant moment: When I looked up that item you guys mentioned, the Nihihipocampus thing, it really changed things. Throw a Remedy at an enemy and watch the fun!

    As a negative, now that Lusi has pointed out the VA clipping I believe I am beginning to actually notice it. It’s not always there, but when it is…yuck. And ditto on the License Board. I’m playing with an image of it fully exposed so I don’t blow LP unnecessarily. Personally, I’m also annoyed at the game’s limit of one spell resolving at a time. Was this a technical limitation? It’s usually not a problem, but in tough fights it usually rears its head at the worst time.

  59. @Mel IIRC it has to do with some sort of hidden mechanic involving how much of some unit each action takes. I forget exactly how it works, but basically there are only so many actions that can resolve at once and magic takes up a big chunk of that.

  60. Fun fact: Eruyt Village is one of my favourite locations in any FF game, ever.

    I really need to try out the Nihimihietfilioetspiritusancti in the next hunt I do. Does an enemy’s immunity to certain spells (i.e. an enemy’s immunity to Silence) reduce the effects of a Nihipeepeetouchytouchynono-modified Remedy against said foe? If not, not only is that awesome and broken, it is hilarious as well.

    Here’s something you can do for fun. Put your hand over your mouth and, using the same hand, pinch your nose shut. Now talk. VOILA! Final Fantasy XII voice acting mode! Try it today and tell us how the Imperial Dreadnought Leviathan is sunk, or how you’re Captain Basch fon Rosenberg!

    I think anyone who doesn’t play with a print-out of the License grid, or a copy of the strategy guide to hand, is either madly in love with surprises or a devout masochist. Especially considering that many licenses for weapons are not necessarily next to other licenses for the same weapons, especially on the left side of the weapon grid. Hand-bombs, Ninja swords, Daggers, Crossbows, and Guns are all mixed up over there. Armours and shields get all wonky once you get near the upper-level gear. And Maces, Calipers (who uses those!? seriously!), and staves are all mixed up as well. Wonky as fuck.

    Mel points out something interesting (hear that? It must be like Christmas in Mel-Land!) and which I forgot to notate. The resolution of spells one-by-one is annoying. I’ve never had it be problematic, but I do find it tiresome because particularly LARGE spells (i.e. -ga spells), cast in quick sequence, can eat up a huge chunk of time, and one has to sit there and wait for them to resolve, one by one, before the damage is displayed, again, one by one. TIRESOME.

  61. @Lusi I believe the way Nihopalaoa-Remedy works is that it inflicts any status the enemy is not immune to, and I assume which statuses are inflicted are dependent on which of the Remedy Lore licenses the user has.

  62. @Deimosion: Sounds like the programmers fully understood how it would be used! More’s the pity, as there have been times at which I would have liked to circumvent enemy status immunities.

  63. Despite Remedies not allowing you to break through immunities, it’s still quite a step up from casting ALL of those spells, using MP, waiting, and then with a chance to miss. It never misses, and there is no wait. Plus, Remedies are easy to come by at the time you’re likely able to afford and use the Nihilmehikalookalaho.

    Something I noticed when I was trying this out is one of the less encountered status ailments: Disease. I threw a Remedy at an enemy (one of the hunts) and one of the status effects that stuck was Disease. I hadn’t really encountered it much before in other playthroughs, but in general if you can inflict Disease on a high level monster, it’s INSANELY good. It makes it so their current HP is their MAX HP. So…they can’t heal and HP thresholds (apparently seen as a percentage of overall health by the game) will never be passed so that Elite Mark won’t go in to ape shit mode once you’ve gotten its health down a lot. Handy!

  64. @Mel Disease immunity is a lot rarer than most other status immunities, so yeah, Niho-Remedy works REALLY well against some bosses. It’s definitely the easiest way to get the Zodiac Spear earlier: that bomb boss whose exact name I forget won’t use Renew because the way HP thresholds are determined in this game is by a percent of their max health.

  65. Two weeks in! Who has reached the halfway point or beyond?

    And who is terribly far behind, hmm???

    Let’s hear it!

  66. @Mel: For the purposes of this playthrough, it is the point between (and equidistant from) the fade out after initially confirming game settings and the fade out from the victorious conclusion of the very last battle.

  67. Behind on the ping update!

    Where are you?
    STILL on the goddamned Phon Coast. I haven’t played in a few days (barely been home), but I’ve sunk 5-10 hours traveling to Archades. This is by far the most I’ve enjoyed playing this game. So good.

    Most signficant moment or thought so far?
    I think I already described it. When I realized I was still into the story on Mt Bur-Omisace. And I agree with Lusi that it helps to already know the tone and direction from previous playthroughs. So I can focus less on getting the details of who people are and the geography of the place and more on theme and character. Which, as mentioned, are deeper and better than I expected them to be.

    Anything negative.
    Hm, well I noticed the, er, unique sound from my first playthrough, so I’m too used to it to have it bother me. I wish I knew what made it such that characters can’t be swapped out. I understand it’s when you’re targeted by a cure spell, but sometimes I really need to switch out a character and can’t for the life of me figure out why his/her name stays red and doesn’t allow me to do so. Sometimes even when I hold down the flee button, the name stays red. Minor complaint, but I really have so few things to complain about this playthrough. The Giza Plains music is still too epic.

  68. @Ethos: Names are red (and consequently those characters cannot be switched out) when:

    A character is having an action performed upon them (and for a short while immediately thereafter, whilst the effect fully resolves, which takes slightly longer (~2 seconds) than for the effect itself to happen).
    A character is targetted by an enemy (note I said ‘targetted’ and not ‘being attacked’. Targetting is relatively persistent, whereas attacks happen in a particular moment. Fleeing doesn’t stop a character being targetted, either.).

    The latter is a principle of MMO design, so it stands to reason that you wouldn’t have much experience with it and are confused by it. And this is almost certainly the case in your examples above.

  69. Ah yes, I wondered if it was a targeting thing. But I thought that would be too common to be the case. Although it makes sense to think about. Oh well.

    Will get to play again on Wednesday. I don’t get to play often, but when I do, I tend to put in a minimum of 3 hours and usually more like 5.

  70. I’m curious, since Ethos mentioned switching party members. In my earlier playthroughs of this game, I used to have a rotation of fully leveled characters. But this was mostly because I wasn’t sure if at any point in the future you would be forced to use certain party members. Since I knew that wouldn’t happen this time around I’m only using Vann, Bathlier and Fran.

    Is anyone else not switching party members in and out (I know Deimosion is not) or have you guys stuck to just three like I have?

  71. I’m too OCD to not have all my characters at the same level all the time. I level a set of 3 characters 2 levels at a time. All six are at 43 now I think.

  72. I used to be very OCD about party levels but, with this play through I am just leveling a core group.

  73. Yeah, I decided against it this time around, just to keep things moving as quickly and smoothly as possible. I know it means I won’t have back up if my main party gets wiped out, but…eh. Hasn’t hurt me much.

  74. I love having that backup, especially considering I am doing some rather difficult stuff which is outside of the main story. It has saved my bacon on a number of occasions when something unexpected has happened.

  75. Plus, I like it for keeping stuff fresh. The journey is VERY long to Archades. Which is awesome, but it does help to keep mini-goals in mind during the travel. It might be subtle, but it feels different fighting with different characters (I have each character set with a unique weapon type that I plan on keeping them on for the entire game).

    To answer an old point, I agree with Caspius about the License Board. I keep my netbook beside me with a revealed board whenever I play the game.

  76. Hah! I have an old laptop with probably the same image whenever I play!

    As for the weapons, I switch them as the situation demands. Baltheir uses Katanas and Ninja Swords as well as Guns. Vaan uses regulard Swords and Measures. Fran uses mostly Bows but also Daggers or other one handed things if necessary.

  77. I’m kinda just winging it on the licenses, but I have a general idea of what I’m doing. Licensing for Vaan has been extremely easy, since I only need to grab new licenses for him when I get new equipment. As for weapon usage, well…the only system I have in place at the moment is “Vaan gets whatever is strongest”, since Ashe is basically stuck with what she has.

  78. Mel got comment 100 as well?!?!

    I forget if this has already been discussed in this thread, but using Guns with Balthier and Bows with Fran isn’t a super strong idea. Actually, if you’re only having a 3 person party, then using Fran in general isn’t a good idea. She’s not in the top three in ANY stat.

    Because I rotate, I play as both Vaan and Ashe (who are statistically the most well-rounded characters) and sometimes Balthier to switch it up. I’m using weapons that play to each character’s strengths this time.

    Katanas for Vaan, Swords for Ashe, Daggers for Balthier, Maces for Penelo, Spears for Basch (Axes are too hit and miss for me), and I use Guns with Fran because I find that because it never misses and ignores defense and is also ranged, it bypasses a little of Fran being the worst character. Also it doesn’t have the speed nerf of her using bows. I’ve definitely been dicking around enough to be able to always afford the best of these weapons for each character.

  79. I’m just taking ALL the good numbers!

    About the one thing I didn’t do for this playthrough was look into the differences for each character. I assumed there were differences (and apparently there are) but I kinda didn’t care. I had no idea Fran was considered to be the worst, though. Oh well. They’re all level 38 or so and the rest of the party is still level 12… so I’m sticking with what I got.

    For the most part I do use Fran with a Bow, but I rarely use Guns anymore unless they would have a profound impact on an enemy.

  80. “Guns with Balthier and Bows with Fran isn’t a super strong idea.”

    This is true not only because bows and guns are generally mediocre but also because, ironically, Balthier has the slowest gun animation (tied with Penelo), according to the FF Wiki) and Fran has the slowest bow animation (tied with Balther). Also, for a character who’s hyped up as a master of Magick, Fran sure has…the second worst Magick in the game.


    Questions to consider:
    – Where are you? / Will you finish?
    – Most challenging point or issue faced?

  82. I got through Raithwall’s tomb. Managed to take down both Demon Walls, though in both cases I was only able to do it via Vaan and Ashe chaining Quickenings. I couldn’t put out enough damage fast enough otherwise, since I’m down a character. Belias was easy…just cast Berserk on Vaan and let him go to town.

  83. One thing also that I don’t think I’ve mentioned is the way I’ve been playing the game: sound off, and I’ve been skipping cutscenes. I absolutely love the music in this game, but having put over 150 hours into the game across various playthroughs, I want to listen to something else. I’m skipping cutscenes because I’m not really interested enough in the story to sit through all of the cutscenes again.

  84. Questions to consider:
    – Where are you? / Will you finish?
    Tchita Uplands. Besides about 2 hours of the Jak and Daxter Collection, FFXII is the only game I have played at home. I’d really like to finish on time and I’m enjoying this playthrough immensely, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to actually finish. I’d like to get in one more massive play session at the very least.

    Most challenging point or issue faced?
    This might not be the MOST challenging, but it’s the hardest part I can remember. At the alternate exit of Golmore Jungle, there’s that area that if you defeat all the monsters, skeletons appear instead. I was already underleveled for the area, so when 5 powerful skeletons appeared at a time, I barely survived. If I had remembered that Cura would have worked on them, I likely would have had an easier time.

  85. No :(
    But although I never even made Archades, I also put in 50 hours, which would have been enough to complete the game if I didn’t get so distracted by how good the game is.

  86. I guess I won’t be finishing on time, either. I do intend to finish relatively soon. I JUST made it to Archades and am also around 50 hours in.

  87. So, I don’t know if anyone will mind if I put this here, but…

    I pre-ordered X-COM: Enemy Unknown on Steam and one of its preorder incentives is a free copy of Civ 5. My Steam friends and I already own this game, so if anyone here would like a gifted copy of it just ask.

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