Playthroughs Revisited: Volume II

Hello and welcome to The Starlight Megaphone‘s final 2021 playthrough–a chance for newer readers to participate in site-wide playthroughs from early in the life of The Starlight Megaphone, and a chance for older readers to return to games that have not had a site-wide playthrough in many years. Three previous site-wide playthroughs have been selected from our vaults: Final Fantasy VIII (September 2011), Wild Arms (February 2012), and Final Fantasy XII (September 2012).

Below, we have a brief explanation about each of the three site-wide playthroughs that we are revisiting. Each one concludes with links to the original discussion threads. We’ll be selecting a few classic comments each week to read on the podcast, along with some of the comments from our own playthrough of these three titles. Please comment below with your progress, thoughts, and reflections on any or all of the games we have selected. You may also make use of our Discord chat’s #events channel as a place for conversation or simultaneous play.


Final Fantasy VIII

In 2011, the site’s staff included many personnel who were fans of the anime School Days. Unwisely, they convinced Caspius to launch a related playthrough and, to coincide with the beginning of the 2011 academic year, he did so. Hence, the first Final Fantasy VIII playthrough launched as School Days: A Final Fantasy VIII Playthrough in September 2011. Of the nearly twenty staff members at the time, almost all participated in the playthrough, and some of them completed the game. But the general consensus was largely unchanged by the experience: Final Fantasy VIII is not the best game in the series.

The FFVIII playthrough was one of the first playthroughs to benefit from a digital re-release: the PSOne classics version of Final Fantasy VIII was released on 17 December 2009 in North America and on 4 February 2010 in Europe. By 2012, Square Enix had already released many of their classic titles on Sony’s service, and they continued to do so for the next several years. At the time, most console gamers were still reliant upon obtaining physical media to play games, but the site-wide playthroughs of Final Fantasy Tactics and then Suikoden both occured after the launch of PSONe Classics editions, and this playthrough continued in that tradition, ensuring an easy and inexpensive means of participation for most Starlight Megaphone readers.

Final Fantasy VIII is currently available on PS1/PS2/PS3 (PS1 CDs) and PS3/PSP/PSV (PSOne Classics); a Remastered version is available on PS4/XBO/Switch (Digital) and PC/Mobile (Digital).

Read the Final Fantasy VIII original posts and comment threads here: School Days.


Wild Arms

After the site-wide playthrough of Final Fantasy VIII was completed, the staff of The Starlight Megaphone were evidently enervated by the experience. Five months passed before anyone had the strength to even consider suggesting a new playthrough, and no one wanted to revisit the Final Fantasy series. Instead, the staff turned their attention to a series that had once seemed to promise more for the future: Wild Arms. However, the PS2 release of Wild Arms 5 in 2008 (North America) and 2009 (Europe) had been the last signs of life for the series on consoles, and sadly remained so. Nevertheless, it was in a spirit of optimism about the future that the Starlight Megaphone staff launched Wild West, fully expecting additional games to come.

As one of Sony’s own titles, Wild Arms was one of the earliest PSOne Classics to release. By the time of the playthrough, the game was widely available and readily affordable for owners of the PlayStation 3. In addition, the original game disc was available for sale via the secondhand market for less than $10.

Wild Arms is currently available on PS1/PS2/PS3 (PS1 CDs) and PS3/PSP/PSV (PSOne Classics).

Read the Wild Arms original posts and comment threads here: Wild West.


Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII debuted in 2006, and now most gamers are familiar with the Zodiac Age 2017 remaster. But, before the Zodiac Age there was the 2007 release of the International Zodiac Job Edition, a most inaptly-named (it was exclusive to Japan) expanded version of Final Fantasy XII, a version which job system now familiar to players via the original release of the (later) Zodiac Age edition (i.e. jobs could be selected, but not changed). The Zodiac Age Release presented remastered graphics, and later updates to the Zodiac Age added a remastered soundtrack and gameplay tweaks that allowed for job changes.

At the time of the playthrough, only the original PS2 discs had been released, and only in the original version in English-speaking territories. It would take ten years for the 2007 International Zodiac Job Edition to make its way west as the 2017 Zodiac Age remaster. This Playthroughs Revisited is therefore the first time that the site is playing through the game with its updated job system.

Final Fantasy XII is currently available on PS2/PS3 (PS2 DVDs); a remastered and updated “Zodiac Age” version is available on PS4/XBO/Switch (Digital) and PC (Digital).

Read the Final Fantasy XII original posts and comment threads here: The Summer of XII.


We encourage readers to play one, some, or all of the games included in our revisitation of classic The Starlight Megaphone content. In particular, we urge you to read the comments posted during the original playthroughs: do you agree with the original comments? Is your approach to video games different from those of our readers who posted their views a decade ago? If you commented on those original posts, has your opinion changed? Please let us know your thoughts in the comment thread below!

The aim in this playthrough is to as much of these game as possible in about two months, ending on 21 January. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play these three games. That will help to sustain our discussion, and will motivate others to join in and play along at their own pace.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! The playthrough time frame is intended to allow anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the games. Comment and tell your friends!

32 comments

  1. I’m going to be firing up Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on Switch later tonight! I have already played about an hour of Wild Arms, getting all the party together in Adelhyde and going out to the ruins after that.

  2. Final Fantasy XII here too! Both Wild Arms and FFVIII are quite recent playthroughs for me so FFXII it is!

  3. A dead Switch intervened for me, but charged it yesterday and jumped back in this morning! I’m in Barheim Passage. Great to be back!

  4. No progress since I last gave a update. I was going to play some last night but had a my time taken away with other stuff. So still at Raben. I’ll see what I can get to tonight.

  5. Playing XII, I discovered a surprise!

    Zodiac Age allows you to set *or disable* gambits for guests *and* even issue their commands; they also level up and have extra skills. In the original version, guests could not be controlled in any way, their gambits couldn’t be accessed, their gambits were always on, and they couldn’t level up.

    Downside: original guests had their own infinite item pool. Zodiac Age guests draw from the party item pool.

    Nice!

  6. Reached the Lhusu mines. Tough finding time to play–I’ve been very ill and extremely overworked, but the semester is wrapping up soon!

  7. Unfortunately, I have been feeling worse yesterday and today then I have felt so far.

    We had the exterminator out to our house, and they installed a barrier under the outside siding of the house to prevent mice from climbing up into the interior of the walls. The sealant compound that they used smells like rubber cement, and the smell is extremely strong. It has made me feel very ill, and we have been compelled to open the windows and turn on the fence, despite the fact that it is snowing outside!

    I feel really, really crummy. And will probably be spending the next day or two in bed.

  8. So sorry, that sounds extremely unpleasant. Hope you feel better soon!

    Todays session got me to Bjujerba. Mines are next I think!

  9. You are almost caught up to me! I completed the mines and I am on my way to the meeting with the Marquis.

  10. I’m going to use the tv today and play this evening 😊 This is the furthest I have gotten actually. Well a while ago. It’s crazy to think I played it so little. I think I just expected the turnbased from FFX and struggled to understand it. I was pretty new to rpgs.

  11. I’m playing FF XII on the switch. I’m at the first Mt Bur-Omisace visit and am going around doing hunts and grinding for LP while Larsa is still in the party. The fact that Larsa no longer has infinite Hi-potions makes him much less useful than I remember him being in the original.

    FF XII was the game I changed my opinion on the most over time. I bought the original on the day of release and played it for around 40 hours and just thought it was fine and didn’t bother to finish it. For a few years it was the only mainline FF game I hadn’t finished. Then one day I picked it back up and absolutely loved it. The parts I remember loving the most were exploring the optional dungeons with Esper fights at the end and doing the hunts. I think the further you get in the game the more options you get which makes the battles more enjoyable as you go on.

    I went through the starting portion this playthrough as quickly as possible until I had the whole party just because I wanted to get the the hunts and other optional content that really makes me love the game. I really like the class based License board compared to the original. The huge unfocused license board is probably the biggest reason i initially bounced off of it before finishing it. I’m using all 12 classes even if it isn’t the most optimal way to play the game.

  12. My party is:
    Vaan: Ninja/Foebreaker
    Balthier: Machinist/Monk
    Fran: Archer/RedMage
    Basch: Knight/Uhlan
    Ashe: Bushi/TimeMage
    Penelo: WhiteMage/BlackMage

  13. I need to check my Xbox version of 12. I kind keep the same archtypes you have there. Vann, theif or ninja. Baltheir and Fran are ranged characters. Basch the tank. Ashe is kinda like yours. usually a debuffer. Penelo a dual mage like yours

  14. I Have:
    Vaan: Ninja/Foebreaker
    Balthier: Bushi/Knight
    Fran: Archer/TimeMage
    Basch: Uhlan/Monk
    Ashe: RedMage/BlackMage
    Penelo: WhiteMage/Machinist

  15. I’m in the middle of the Pharos Lighthouse. It seems like all the most annoying story-line dungeons are right at the end. I have found Giruvegan, the Great Crystal, and Pharos (so far) to be a chore to go through. This is mainly because of the mass ailment-inflicting enemies and switches that you have to be in the exact right place and not doing anything else to press. I have enjoyed the side content as much as before. The hunts and esper fights are as enjoyable as I remembered. The ability to speed to game-play up has been a great boon. It makes the game have a lot less dead time when you are going from one place to another and makes grinding if you want to do it way quicker.

  16. I beat FFXII earlier this week. The last time I played I didn’t understand the story that well because I took a two year break in between the halves of the game. This time I really enjoyed the story and liked the little we got of Vayne as a villain.

    It’s also kind of funny how obviously Vaan was just inserted into the story as the supposed main character later sometimes. Them best examples of this for me are at the top if the Pharos where he interrupts Ashe’s monologue and she tells him to not interrupt her. Then we get a scene where Gabranth comes in talking about killing Ashe’s father and Vann breaks in with “and Reks!”. He just needs you to know he is there and totally involved in the plot.

    The Ivalice games, in my opinion, are all really great and this playthrough makes me wish they would return to this universe.

  17. I also started Wild Arms on the PSP, It’s pretty alright so far. I just got past the 2nd guardian statue being destroyed.

    I really like the opening theme and the music, except the battle theme which I already got sick of two hours into the game. It’s kind of cool how Jack learns new moves through interactions with the environments. that said, I would be annoyed if I missed a really good move because I didn’t happen to stand in the right place in a dungeon. I also really like the cool mix and match magic system.

    I thought I would be more annoyed with the puzzle based dungeons but they are ok so far.

  18. The Ivalice games are great. FFT and its sequels, FF12, Vagrant Story. I also want the same. I just love the Matsunoverse (TM). SE lost a great talent when he left.

  19. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ivalice is Square Enix’s best and most underutilised asset.

  20. This playthrough went straight west 🤦🏻‍♀️ Basicly it took me about 90 hours to beat Mary Skelter 2 😅
    And now being Christmas means Pokemon and kemco. And I have games on my wishlist and might get for Christmas. And to top it off Analogue Pocket arrived. I’m drowning in gaming 😂
    Ah well. Guess timing doesn’t always align.

  21. Last week I started another playthrough of Baldurs Gate. It’s a black hole I can’t seem to pull my self out of. I’m working on FF8 just about halfway through. I like Caspius played 12 really recent. I love 12 but not replay 10 months after I finished love. Wild Arms I started week before last but then got distracted by Borderlands 2. So to get this striaght. Started 8, got halfway stopped, played some Borderlands 2, played some Wild Arms, then back to Baldurs Gate. I’m finishing up Seige of Dragonspear so should be able to start 8 up again after Christmas. Hope that clears it all up

  22. The timing definitely doesn’t align sometimes. That said the longer playthrough windows makes it less of an issue than it was previously.

    I just got to the Giants Cradle in Wild Arms. I’m still finding the game to just be pretty alright. I do appreciate its old school RPG charm which raises its appeal for me. Going into the game I was under the impression that it would be a wild west based RPG and it really isn’t. I guess they waited until Wild Arms 3 to really lean into that aspect?

    I’m experiencing a lot of slowdown in boss battles. The worst was the fight against the giant spider where It got so slow I thought my game was frozen once or twice during the battle.

  23. It was one of the early PS1 RPGs, a holdover from the Snes. I think I liked it at the time. At that time I just had a few SNES games, Command and Conquer, Legacy of Kain and Wild Arms. I remember playing it but just the once. A good sign of a good game is how many times I replay it.

  24. I’m still slowly plugging away at Wild Arms. I at the section where your trying to help Rudy regrow his arm.

    The story and characters are getting more interesting compared to where I last updated. I particularly like Calamity Jane and Zed.

  25. I beat Wild Arms. The final dungeon being a space elevator was a pretty cool concept. The world of Filgaia is a bit more interesting than a typical JRPG world. Kind of a less drastic FF6 world of ruin meets the wild west and Phantasy Star. The idea of a post apocalyptic culture with ancient forgotten technology isn’t that uncommon but I thought Wild Arms did it a little better than it usually goes.

    My only real negatives with the experience were the kind of boring first one third of the game and the repetitive and boring normal encounters. Other than those issues It’s a pretty solid SNES-like RPG.

  26. Congrats LC11!

    Safe to say my FFXII playthrough has been a disaster 😅 Getting new games for Christmas, ending up with multiple listgames at once, getting Evercade VS, Polymega and Analogue Pocket at the same month. I’m basicly playing every rpg in the world except FFXII.

    But I ordered Arceus and hoping to enjoy that!

    I’m also excited for Triangle, although I’m hoping it will be a long playthrough or you might all be done by the time I get go it. My sister is launching her book and also has a lot of other work right now and we planned as soon as it got announced to take a full weekend together both starting it at the same time. She probably won’t have time until April to play it. But hey we live in delayland so who knows maybe it won’t even be out yet 🙈

  27. With that, our Playthrough is at an end! Thank you to everyone who participated, however much!

    Our next feature starts in one week! Get your pokeballs ready…!

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