I probably don’t have a lot to say about Skyrim that others haven’t said. I will say this — it’s a testament to how good of a game it is that I put around 500 hours into it despite it being shockingly buggy. And seriously, it is a very buggy game. It is easy to do normal things that result in the game crashing (which isn’t so bad) or losing items (very bad).

Still, it is a great, great game. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it taps right into a super-addictive part of my brain that could probably be exploited by heroin or pogs or something. I took my PS3 with me on vacation to the in-laws so I could play it. When we arrived and I realized that I had forgot to actually bring Skyrim, I went out and bought a used copy (from Trade-N-Games) so I could continue playing it.

So maybe I have a problem.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I finally got around to completing the main quest a few weeks ago. The main quest was great and could probably stand alone as a game itself, but of course it’s everything else in the game world that makes the game so good. I’m not really sure that I’m done with it, even though I’ve started playing Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Heavy Rain

I finished Heavy Rain last week (I had started it a few months ago, but wasn’t able to come back to it until a couple of weeks ago). Overall, I really liked it. What follows is fairly spoiler-free.

I only had a few complaints. First, I got the Really Happy Ending for Ethan, Madison and Shaun. That was fine, but Madison’s dialogue felt very contrived and unnatural. It almost ruined an otherwise great voice experience throughout the game.

Second, the quicktime events weren’t actually so bad, but a couple of times I meant to do one thing, and it turned out that I did another. For example, I intended to help untie another character, but the action I chose was to deliberately not help her. I reloaded the game because that didn’t feel right. It’s one thing to try to do something and fail, but it’s something else to accidentally do the entirely opposite thing that you intend. None of this is that big of a deal, but it does really pull you out of the story.

I enjoyed it overall. The main plot is very disturbing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s disturbing in kind of the way that Seven, for example, is. Anyone would find it troubling, but being a dad really did make it tough to stomach at times. Apparently the goal of the developers was to evoke emotional reactions. They succeeded, though I’d stipulate that showing children in mortal danger is kind of an easy (perhaps even cheap) way to do it.

The reveal of the killer’s identity took me completely by surprise—they did an excellent job of misdirecting the player (or me, at least) while still putting significant clues directly in front of them.

Chrono Trigger

My PS3’s hard drive crapped out a couple of weeks ago. Luckily I had already picked up a new drive, as I was running out of space. However, the old one died before I could back it up.

That means I lost a lot of saved games, including Final Fantasy XIII-2. I’m not happy about this. However, I was in a bit of a rut, so now I’m going to change things up. I’ve started playing Chrono Trigger.

I’ve played Chrono Trigger many times over the last 15 years or so. I’ve never actually beat it, though. I played the original on SNES in the late 90’s. I was borrowing it — sadly, I never owned it — and I gave it back before beating it. I did get very far into the game, as I recall. Later, I played it a bit in an emulator, then the PS1 re-release. But for all those times I played it, I never finished it.

So now I’ve decided: I’m finally going to do it. I have two realistic options: the Virtual Console version on my Wii U (in Wii mode) or the DS version. I think I’m going to do the DS version. While the VC version is an exact duplicate of the original game, I think I can get more play-time in with the DS. Plus, the DS version has nifty cinematic cut-scenes.

Oddly, I actually did beat its sequel, Chrono Cross. I’ve heard some people say that it’s inferior to Chrono Trigger, which I think is unfair. It was a fantastic, if occasionally confusing game. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve played it either, though, so I can’t say for sure.

I’ve only just started Chrono Trigger. I’ve just met Marle and I haven’t done the first bit of time travel yet.

Speaking of time travel (the main plot device of the game), I’ll try to restrain myself from going off on the insane lack of logic of its use in this game. I’m just going to go with it and enjoy it.

In other news, I’m still working on some console mods. I’ll post them as I go, maybe along with some instructable posts. In the pipeline are:

  • Dreamcast VGA
  • Genesis A/V and region
  • NES stereo
  • Saturn mod chip and (maybe) region
  • SNES de-yellowing
  • Gamecube region (tricky one)

All of these are in various states of completion, except for the SNES and NES mods. I’m also planning on building custom NES and Genesis joysticks. I might do an SNES one later, but I want to start small. The custom Atari joystick was fun, but I’ve got some gripes. It lacks heft — it feels far too light. I also don’t like the button; it just doesn’t feel right. So I might revisit that. In any event, I’ll let my mistakes there help me do a better job on future ones. I’ve got some better tools to work with now too.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations — Won!

That was quick. I started AC: Revelations on 12/3 and beat it yesterday, 12/16. That’s much better than my normal 6–18 months.

First, the bad. This game was glitchy, at least on PS3. More than once I came across groups of guards that did nothing and could not be killed. You could attack them, they’d go through all the animations, then they’d stand back up and hang out like nothing happened. Also, I never finished all of the “Desmond’s Journey” side stories because the 5th (and last) one crashed my PS3 every time I tried to access it. Every. Single. Time.

I also did not enjoy the strategy mini-game Den Defense. It actually isn’t too hard when you get the hang of it (I even got a “Perfect Defense” PS3 trophy), but I actually got all three den defenses required for a guild challenge out of the way as soon as possible, then made all of my dens assault-proof. The third defense was the hardest, and I lost it twice before finally winning it. But one of the losses was in an area with a Coward Templar Captain, which was very annoying. So I actually made all dens with Cowards assault-proof before attempting the final den defense again. Super annoying.

Near the very end of the game, something weird happened. Minor spoiler follows. Sofia was kidnapped by the main bad guy. To trigger the next memory, I had to go back to Assassin’s HQ. I got there and Sofia was inexplicably there. Ezio showed her all his books and they talked, with Ezio avoiding talking about what exactly he does. Then the scene ends and she’s nowhere to be found. Because she was kidnapped, of course. Then I went and rescued her and continued with the game’s conclusion. Very confusing.

With that out of the way, I thought this was a very good game. The hook-blade was fun, the combat was even better than AC: Brotherhood and the side-quests were fun and addictive without pulling you too far off the main storyline.

Desmond’s interactions with Subject 16 were interesting, if a bit of a letdown. Maybe I missed something, but Subject 16 communicated a lot of cryptic things over the last couple games and now Desmond had the opportunity to have some things clarified, but he didn’t really do that.

In fact, the sort of meta-plot (with Desmond and the contemporary assassins) was probably the weakest part of this game, and that makes sense. The plot itself really concerns Ezio and Alaïr. Ezio has hit middle age and is struggling with how to live his life. Through his investigations he sees how Altaïr spent his twilight years. The short video story “Embers” follows up on this, showing Ezio in a sort of retirement. He wants nothing to do with the Assassins any more (likely feeling that he had already done his part), but is briefly dragged back into the conflict.

I probably had the most fun in a particular segment near the end of the game where Ezio causes all sorts of mayhem, from bringing a tower down to torching a half-dozen ships with Greek Fire. A close second would be an episode even closer to the end where Ezio leads his assassins into the Arsenal. I kind of felt like a Sith Lord in that segment.

Overall it was a fun game, annoying bugs notwithstanding (seriously, Ubisoft — straight-up crashing?). I’m definitely looking forward to AC: III. There are a lot of interesting possibilities with setting it in the American Revolution. And that the protagonist is at least partly Native American (I got the impression somewhere that he’s half Native American, half European) should make for a interesting, possibly complex story.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood — Won!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been breaking several of my self-imposed rules. The result has been pretty good, actually.

As I said before, I beat Unwound Future a couple weeks ago. Last night I beat AC: Brotherhood. I’ll get to that in a minute. But right there I was breaking a rule: playing more than one game at a time. For a while there, I was playing Unwound Future, AC: B and Final Fantasy XIII-2. Now it’s FF XIII-2 and Professor Layton and the Last Specter. That’s not so bad — Layton games are really just puzzle games with a story wrapped around them, and it’s on a portable device. But after beating Brotherhood, I’m all fired up to play more Assassin’s Creed.

My wife picked me up AC III on Black Friday (for $35 — not bad) and I ordered AC: Revelations (got it free with Amazon points). That’s another broken rule — no new games. Still, I’m really enjoying the AC games, and Brotherhood ended on a cliffhanger, so I’m probably going to jump into Revelations.

Anyway, back to Brotherhood. I really, really enjoyed this game. I don’t remember why I stopped playing it in March 2012, but over Thanksgiving break I dove right back in. I was on Sequence 6, I think, which is very close to the end of the game (there are 9, and Sequence 9 went very quickly). I had already opened up most (but not all) of Rome. So I proceeded to mop things up. I finished Sequence 6, claimed the final Borgia Towers (which — long story — allows you to exert influence over a regain by reinvigorating its economy and also allows you to acquire more Assassin allies). I then went on to finish Sequence 7 and finished up most other missions. I actually finished every single side mission in the game except for the Mercenary Challenges. One mission, “Young at Heart” frustrated me to no end. So I skipped it. I don’t know if I’ll go back and try to finish it. I also don’t think I’ll try to finish each mission with 100% synch, which basically means I’m not going to redo old missions, keeping with certain goals or restrictions in order to get full credit. There is some DLC (Da Vinci Disappearance, I think) that I may play; not sure yet.

Anyway, Sequence 9 went fast and was surprisingly easy. I remember the end of the first Assassin’s Creed being more difficult (and frustrating). It was very entertaining, though.

SPOILERS follow.

I really did not see the last couple minutes of the ending coming. My wife and I suspected that Lucy Stillman might actually be a Templar (and at this point that hasn’t been ruled out), but I did not see the Final Fantasy VII-esque Desmond-being-possessed and murdering (or maybe just wounding? It’s not made clear, but she appears to bleed out) Lucy thing coming at all. The fade to black surprised me too. Nice cliffhanger.

One worry I have is that the game makers are dangling a lot of little hints, strange references, etc. that I’m not sure will pan out. For example, “Subject 16” babbles a lot of things to Desmond that make no sense out of whatever context they should exist in.

It bugs me when storytellers do this kind of thing without a substantial, meaningful payoff — Lost and Battlestar Galactica were guilty of this. It’s ok to leave some ambiguity, but it’s not okay to string an audience along with promises of an explanation just to leave them with mystical half-explanations.

I’m not saying that will happen in the AC series, but it has some of the hallmarks of a story that ends up like that. So we’ll see.

Still, Brotherhood was a fantastic game. I loved the Assassin recruits. It adds a whole new strategy to the game. I loved the Project Legacy tie-in. Legacy doesn’t work reliably anymore, but I got all the rewards available from it early on.

I don’t think I really mastered combat — kill streaks in particular did not come easy for me. At least not beyond 2 or 3. I also never tried the multiplayer mode. Multiplayer doesn’t appeal to me much for whatever reason.

Looking forward to AC: Revelations!

Thanksgiving Break Games

Just a quick update, since I beat a game! A couple days ago I finished Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. I’ll get to that momentarily.

During the break I also played a bit of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I’m completely breaking my “one game at a time” rule, but I wanted to mix things up a bit. I’m pretty close to the end, I think, and I may go for it. I’m going to try to throw some FF XIII-2 in here and there so it stays fresh.

Oh, and I also started Professor Layton and the Last Specter.

See? I can’t just stick with one game.

Anyway, here’s a quick commentary on Unwound Future. SPOILERS follow.

I liked the ending better than Diabolical Box. The explanation for the “time travel” wasn’t completely bonkers. London had been re-created deep underground and the time machine was actually a large elevator. It’s financially and possibly physically improbable, but it’s within the realm of belief. Less believable to me is how they made a convincing sky — or maybe the London sky really is that dull?

Anyway, this Truman Show-esque ending wasn’t bad. What I’ve liked about the Layton series is that (so far) it hasn’t given supernatural explanations for things. Even if the explanation is insane and improbable (Diabolical Mask), they still give something resembling a scientific explanation. They come close to violating this in Unwound — Layton’s old girlfriend, who had died 10 years ago in a time machine accident, had been propelled 10 years into the future. That’s cool — time travel to the future is definitely possible, given enough speed. What was less cool was that her (ahem) molecules wanted to return to her own time. Then she started glowing, walked around a corner and then presumably went back to when her homesick molecules wanted to be. Then, of course, she was vaporized by the time machine explosion, since they never found her body.

Also, the bad guys “came to [their] senses” remarkably fast at the end of the game. I’m pretty sure that’s not how things work.

Still, all that weirdness didn’t ruin it by any stretch. The puzzles were lots of fun, and the story (while somewhat silly) was entertaining.

Back on the FF Train (again)

My last post was August 8.

This blog is called Stack of Shame, after all. This is how it happens.

That said, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIII-2 for a couple hours each night for a few days now. I collected 10–20 fragments. Leveled Serah and Noel a lot — probably way more than I needed to. Leveled some of the monsters a bit too.

I also opened up some new stages. Two versions of Vile Peaks. I’ve played some of one of them.

It’s been fun. Good for blowing off steam. I think I may be winding up some of the leveling for now and I may delve back into the main storyline.

Back to FF XIII-2

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted. I didn’t play Final Fantasy XIII-2 at all until two weekends ago. We did a little travelling and my kid has become much more mobile (he just turned 8 months). So we’ve had our hands full.

I did get some time that weekend, though, and I needed to blow off steam. So I played it for a few hours on and off. Of course there’s always that initial half-hour or so of disorientation when picking up a game after a while. I’ll forget how to pull up the map, or I won’t know why a character is equipped with this or that. This time was no exception, but it didn’t take long.

I wasn’t up for advancing the story (it’s hard to get into a movie or a game when you’ve got a squealing, gargling, pooping miniature person crawling all over you), so I decided to go for chocobo racing. I don’t have the time to experiment with it (see previous parenthetical), so I just went to the strategy guide. If I didn’t cheat, I probably wouldn’t bother doing it. So yeah. It gave some instructions for building up a Silver Chocobo to race with.

In a nutshell, this involves acquiring a Silver Chocobo, building up its stats, then infusing other creatures (one of which I also needed to build up). Building up stats in creatures requires certain items, which can be obtained by fighting certain creatures.

This is time-consuming. For example. I needed something like 46 Potent Essences. Which sounds pretty gross. There are a handful of creatures that will drop them after a fight. I went to the Archylte Steppe to track them down. I had completed some quests there earlier that ultimately resulted in me being able to control the weather with some steampunk machine.

Yes, I said control the weather. With a machine. Look — this game has magic, time travel and angry, fighting, hat-wearing dessert treats. Just go with it.

So these particular creatures only appear on the west part of the map and only when it’s raining. I set the controls for rain and spent a couple hours stomping around in puddles and collecting Potent Essences from Mud Frogs, Swampmonks and Caterchipillars. You know — a typical Sunday afternoon.

Did I mention that it was time consuming? Because it was. If I was lucky, I would get 1 Potent Essence after a fight. I occasionally got 3 or 4, but usually 1 or none. After one fight, I freakishly got 9. I was almost there when something happened that destroyed about an hour’s worth of progress.

Before I explain it, let me explain how our living room is currently arranged. We’ve got a fireplace. On either side of it are some shelves where most audio/video equipment, video games, etc. are. The TV is mounted above the fireplace. 1 There’s a couch on one adjoining perpendicular wall and a love seat on the other. There’s a chair facing the TV. The chair has an ottoman. There’s another, larger general-purpose ottoman. There’s no fourth wall — there are no walls separating the living room from the dining room or kitchen, which means when the dishwasher is going, I can’t hear shit unless I turn the volume up loud. That’s easy to do, since we’ve got 5 speakers installed in the ceiling. But I also share my house with my wife and baby, so courtesy demands I not blast it. But I digress.

So my receiver, PS3, etc. are all close to the ground. They are therefore in constant danger now that my son can crawl. So we set up a gate that does a good job of keeping him away from all that and the fireplace. It’s arranged in a curve, butting up against the sides of the couch and love seat. We arrange the ottomans on the other side, and the baby effectively has a large playpen.2

I was playing the game, my kid was rolling around, gurgling and doing baby-type things, and my wife was going between playing with him and watching what I was doing.

So here’s the problem: he can still reach through the gate far enough to reach the PS3. And the eject button. And the disc, once it’s ejected. So he did all those things. In the span of several seconds.

I was of two minds. One, I was annoyed that I lost my progress, though I obviously couldn’t fault a baby (well, I could, but then I’d be a big jerk). Two, I was pretty impressed that he was able to eject then remove the disc, which I was able to get to away him before he did something unspeakable to it.

So I need to rethink the setup.

On the upside, restarting from my last save seemed to reset a random number generator or something, and I got the materials I needed much more quickly.

I’ve procrastinated on this post long enough, so I’ll pick up where I left off in the next post.

  1. The room was designed for this, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. The mantle makes my 50″ TV look like it’s 40″, and it’s too high — I’d prefer it to be closer to eye-level.
  2. Read: he’s locked up.

Final Fantasy XIII-2: Graviton Cores, Music as a Crutch

I’ve hit a point where I’m hunting for items called “Graviton Cores” to help with a plot-related task.1 I’ve tracked down a couple of them, but the remaining ones are proving a little hard to find. Still, it’s giving me plenty of opportunity to level, collect monster crystals, etc. Which is another way of saying, “I’m doing one of my favorite things ever”.

But this also puts me at risk of accidentally abandoning the game. I get very wrapped up in all the advancement, then I take a break (like, perhaps, a holiday trip). Then I don’t jump right back in, because I was in the middle of something in the game. And I never have the time to reacquaint myself with what I was doing, and next thing I know, I haven’t played it for 3 months.

Still, I’m having fun and I’ll try to avoid this problem. That, after all, is the entire point of this blog.

Since there’s not much to talk about (yet) when it comes to leveling, I thought I’d write a little about the music in the game.

I’m a big fan of the series’ music, especially the music composed by Nobuo Uematsu, which is most of it. I don’t think the music for this game was done by him, but it’s still pretty good. My only gripe with it is that many of the songs have vocals.

I find the vocals to be horribly distracting. I’m not sure when vocals first started showing up in Final Fantasy music. I think it was X, but I’m not sure. In X, a song in one of the opening cinematic had death metal-style growling or barking. It wasn’t too bad there, though it was a little surprising.

In XIII-2, though, there are several tracks with vocals. And some of these are played during regular exploration. I find it very distracting. I also find it less fun. I usually make up ridiculous lyrics in my head. While I was re-playing Final Fantasy VII a few years ago, my wife came up with lyrics for two songs: one to the game’s main theme about Mexican food, the other for the battle music about Rainbow Horseheads. Discussion of these will have to wait for a future posting. For now, take my word for it that they were amazing.

Also, though, with vocals suddenly the songs become more concretely about something. And usually not something as interesting as the action going on onscreen. Moreover, now there’s another character of sorts to contend with — the vocalist.

And yes, I have similar feelings about music used in other media. Overall it’s used too much, and when it is used, it’s used poorly. Music so saturates games, movies and television that it can be jarring and disconcerting when it’s not used — I recall a notable episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that used the lack of music to good effect. In games a lack of music is often used to incur feelings of discomfort in players.

That’s always interesting, but it also highlights how much games, movies and television use music as a crutch. When used well, music can compliment some amazing storytelling. When the storytelling is weak, the viewer is left with emotional reactions to something that isn’t particularly compelling. That is, the music is serving as a cue — “Get goosebumps! This is an emotional moment!” — rather than letting the action speak for itself.

This was parodied very well by SNL several years ago:

I realize that I’m rambling a bit incoherently here. The point I’m trying to make is that music should compliment an experience. It should be a part of the experience, but over-reliance on it annoys me. And introducing a song with vocals is often heavy-handed, compounding my annoyance.

Final Fantasy games don’t tell objectively masterful stories. I wouldn’t argue that at all. But very few stories are masterful, and I certainly don’t expect that from any video game. Final Fantasy games do tell a good story augmented by excellent character development mechanisms and turn-based-derived combat. These are well-complimented by Uematsu’s (and Uematsu-inspired) excellent scores.

But XIII and XIII-2 have, well, pop songs.

Most of them aren’t pop songs, but the ones that are draw attention to themselves.

It certainly doesn’t ruin the game(s) for me. But along with the hyperactive battle system and the cinematic quick-time events, it gives me the impression that they’re trying to appeal to a wider (or a certain?) demographic. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the games are starting to feel different. These games don’t need these elements to be good.

  1. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you probably saw this as a status update posted directly from the game.

Final Fantasy XIII-2: Chocobo Racing and Moogle-Tossing

I’m about 30 hours into the game. It’s been pretty fun so far. I opened up a Golden Saucer-like location1 called Serendipity. So far there are 2 games available — Slots and Chocobo Racing. I was very excited to see this — I have fond memories of the Chocobo Racing mini-game in Final Fantasy VII. I entered one race and bet against my own chocobo. This paid off — my chocobo was not very good. Anyway, I’ve decided to put racing on the back burner for now. If it’s anything like the racing in VII, I’d risk getting very sidetracked if I started now.

This game, intentionally or otherwise, has many references to older Final Fantasy games. The intro sequence has a scene with a sword landing in the ground that reminds me of the intro to Final Fantasy VIII. In fact, the feathers that seem to fly when Lightning brandishes her weapon is very similar to a part of VIII‘s opening as well.2

Also, Noel Kreiss seems kind of familiar. Maybe he’s reminiscent of Final Fantasy X‘s Tidus? I do suspect, at this point in the game, that he may not be a real person.

This game also involves the moogle Mog more than most games. He/She was a playable character in Final Fantasy VI. I don’t think that’s happened since. Mog transforms into Serah’s weapon during combat, and is used for item discovery & retrieval outside of combat. By item discovery and retrieval, I mean that Serah or Noel grabs Mog, while Mog cries “Kupo kupo kupo”, then hurls him/her toward an out-of-reach treasure ball, or just in a random direction. If there’s a treasure nearby, Mog will retrieve its contents. If not, I can sometimes get a good item anyway, though I usually just receive 1 gil.

Moogle-throwing is oddly satisfying.

Anyway, I’ve been pounding away on the game. I get more time in on weekends than weekdays. Since I can’t just pick up and play it like I could with Final Fantasy (which I played on my PSP), I kind of need to set aside time for it. But, as I said, I am about 30 hours in. I’m guessing I’m about halfway through.

A few other notes: The Academia location was fairly annoying. I’d get into a fight every few seconds. Most of them were against very weak enemies, but it was irritating that if it took too long to get my bearings after a fight, I’d be right back in another one. This game has a convention where you’re alerted that you’re about to fight. A countdown starts, and if you locate and strike the enemy before the time’s up, you begin the fight at an advantage. The problem is, when the countdown starts, you scramble in various directions to hit the enemy. Once you’re out of the fight, you’re facing in a random direction, and sometimes you lose your bearings.

I worry that Square Enix concentrates too much on making these games exciting — the battles in this and Final Fantasy XIII are much more fast-paced than earlier games. I know there’s the option to carefully plan your attacks, but you can only do that with your lead character. And while you’re trying to select attacks, the battle rages on, so you’re better off just mashing Auto Battle, which picks a series of appropriate actions for you. In many ways it’s kind of a hybrid of Final Fantasy XII and the older games. You are basically configuring patterns for your characters to fight in, with occasional intervention. So there definitely is a strategic element to battles, but non-boss battles become both over-stimulating and boring at the same time. The camera flies all over the place, shit’s exploding, people are yelling things — it’s hard to keep track of it all. On the other hand, I spend most of my time mashing X and watching my characters’ vitals, with occasional glances at the enemies’ life and stagger bars. It’s a very different experience to traditional turn-based video roleplaying games (or at least the ones I’ve played).

The draw of earlier Final Fantasy games was the strategy in combat, character development and, at least after the first game, plot. From VII on, cinematic cut-scenes were also part of the experience and a reason to play. This game (and XIII) have all those plus these rather frenetic battles. I’m not sure that this is necessary, but it certainly doesn’t ruin the game for me.

Another irritant — this game, along with games like Assassin’s Creed (and from what I’ve seen, Call of Duty), like to throw important dialog at you while you’re otherwise engaged in activities. I don’t multitask well.

These are minor nitpicks, though. I’m enjoying it a lot so far. The time travel plot is interesting. There’s been hints that my characters are actually the cause of the time travel problems — that is, in the future (or in the future of their personal narratives) they may do something which kicks off the sequence of events that started the game. When they run into Caius Ballad in different areas, he talks to them differently. It’s not clear how his narrative or theirs intersect. It’s also being heavily suggested that it’s not always actually Caius they’re running into — some of them may be artificial reproductions.

On the other hand, at one point Serah’s fiancé, Snow, did a Back to the Future-style fadeaway. That sort of thing never made sense to me. If you’re going to adhere to a branching model of time then you wouldn’t have situations like that. That said, a central element of the game is the existence of paradoxes, which by definition don’t make logical sense, so I think a few weird things like that can be forgiven.

  1. The Golden Saucer was a location in Final Fantasy VII. There were some plot events there, but mostly it served as a site for a bunch of mini-games.
  2.  Update: I don’t know how I forgot to mention it, but Caius releasing Yuel into the water is an overt reference to Final Fantasy VII.