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.
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 complete as much of these games 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!