Blitzball: the Review!

Blitzball: the Review!

Blitzball sucks.

Oh my god it sucks. But maybe some explanations are in order, you know for the uninitiated. Final Fantasy X, or FFX. was released in the US in late 2001. Square , well, they kind of never got over the success of FF 7. Japanese companies kind of aren't good at quick changes, reading where markets are going, generally, and for years after the titles release the back of their game manuals would have FF 7 ads.

The games before 7 hadn't been in 3d worlds, in fact 7 was one of the first 3d worlds in a game. Though like Resident Evil it had that weird problem of tank controls and camera angles that modern gamers probably can't imagine. The 8th game in the series though, it was kind of a let down.

So they were going to make 3 games at once, 9 for fans of the older series, 10 another game like 7 with the futuristic elements in tow, and 11 their MMO. They would have something for everybody. FFX ended up being a fairly popular game yet it was clearly doomed.

Why was it doomed? Character designs, Tidus looks like a reject from Kingdom Hearts, voice acting, just awful at times, and a general inability to give players too much control. Literally we thought it was bad enough for them to still be giving players tutorials 5 hours into the game. We had no idea what was waiting for us.

Also the characters are all kind of super dumb. So, one of the problems with lots of stories from Japan, like anime now, is that they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want characters approaching depth, but they also want cheap laughs. They want a fun vibe but also a dark tone. These results aren't impossible, just they aren't easy to get. FFX kind of falls in that uncanny valley where they want you to see these characters as people, yet also see them as cut-outs when it works for the story.

But can I say one last thing about the character design before I get into blitzball? It's just awful. Everyone looks stupid, everyone's dressed in a fan-service-y way, just no. Even the religious leaders are dressed with their bodies showing. Just no. Ugggh. And the HD remake edition doesn't help this at all. Characters like Wakka look all the more stupid, and while Tidus and co. are more detailed than ever they stand out against a backdrop of npcs that look like rejects from the original Deus Ex. "Are those supposed to be eyes? Are these supposed to be people even? They look like some terrible future worlds androids attempting a reasonable facsimile of human appearances."

At least there's some weird bugs in the game now. Tidus will just start a running animation while he's supposed to be talking to other characters in a CG scene. They've made the characters more detailed by kept the original animations so when Tidus shows Yuna how to whistle their hands never once touch their lips. It's a really bizarre show of affection. And god all the unskippable cutscenes. I picked up the game for the better load times, but if I need to replay something, like say a blitzball segment, I have to sit through these cutscenes every time.

Blitzball is one of those things, how could they ever make it work. As the game starts you're thinking "huh, so they made a terrible version of soccer, well at least there are all sorts of cool moves to use." And no. It's not that. I mean, yes the game is a terrible version of soccer but it's mostly just getting the first score then hiding from the other players. Restart until you get that result.

I don't know if I've ever had a tutorial give me motion sickness before. The camera is just awful for the game, but during the tutorial it just spins around in circles. Also, the tutorials suck. Nothing in the actual game plays like the tutorials, which give you insanely high stats to show you how things work. Guess what, your team is literally the worst, nobody has good stats, Tidus has merely passable stats, but you're not going to see him ever take on 4 other players at one time.

Oh man, your goalie sucks too. Not that it really matters since goalies seem to get the worst of the statistical randomization. Their only important stat, catching, can go from 50% to 150% cause...reasons. Seriously, who thought this would be fun? It uses statistics though doesn't mind throwing them out the window, it basically attempts to make the fast paced movement of a actual sport become a slow endeavor where every encounter matters and burns stats. And if you're going to make a game like that, as a side game for a bit of fun when you don't feel like fighting random battles, why make it less fun than fighting random battles?

Seriously, I played a few games only to realize some characters on the team have a shooting skill of 1. 1. Shooting determines getting goals against a goalies catching stat. The other teams shooting stat is like 14. They can make shots that seem like something that could be made, you basically have to get a perfect unmissable shot, then run the ball behind the goalie to exploit an AI bug.

Blitzball, as a diversion it's terrible, as a game in itself it stinks, and in execution it gives me a clearer understanding of the whole JRPG problem. I mean, Squeenix recently said they had sort of broken the world up into regions and decided no region besides Japan liked JRPGs. Well, if you let the idiots that made blitzball keep making your JRPGs then yeah, nobody's going to want to buy those games.