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Final Fantasy: Now with blood and guts

  • Published at 14:59:48 PT
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Reports from the floor of this year's Jump Festa event in Japan suggest that Square Enix is developing the Playstation 3 title Final Fantasy Versus XIII with more mature audiences in mind. How might the inclusion of gratuitous violence in a high-profile title affect the series as a whole?

Journalists attending Square Enix's closed-door video presentation at this week's Jump Festa event have been shocked by the level of gratuitous violence displayed in the Final Fantasy Versus XIII extended trailer. Games Are Fun reported:

Surprisingly, there were actually some gruesome scenes of necks breaking and blood splattering not common in other Final Fantasy games. In addition to having some interesting swords, the main character in the trailer also has the ability to teleport as he teleports up and kills other soldiers that were descending down on him.

The prospect of neck-cracking and blood-spurting in a series that until now has limited itself to cartoon violence comes as something of a surprise, especially when one considers that director and character designer Testuya Nomura is best known for his action RPG, Disney tie-in Kingdom Hearts. Perhaps the risky choice for a decidedly gorier role-playing game testifies to the comparative absence of stigma against violent entertainment catering to kids found in Japan. Take, for instance, the tremendous popularity of the blockbuster action movie Battle Royale, which depicts an entire grade of school students mercilessly offing one another.

 
Versus XIII's protagonist and the unlucky opposition
In Columbine-wary America and Europe, by contrast, selling violence to kids, while often profitable, is increasingly drawing the ire of concerned moms and zealous politicians. While no one is expecting the new Final Fantasy title to be Grand Theft Auto, unlike Rockstar Games Square Enix carries the baggage of an expansive adolescent fan base to consider. What will happen when young fans of Kingdom Hearts beg their parents for the newest Testuya Nomura title if Versus XIII ends up being a foray into M Rating territory? Will mothers find their kids hopping from Donald and Goofy directly to Resident Evil 4 by way of chocobo and co.?

A webcomic lampooning the ESRB ratings system by CheapyD
Few may be lining up to protest gruesome first-person shooters, so long as parents and the ESRB are on the scene to curtail childhood gunplay. But one needs only consider what Rockstar has been facing to wonder if Nomura is perhaps risking his so far squeaky-clean reputation. Recently, Rockstar was forced to change the title of their edgy boarding school title "Bully" to "Canis Canem Edit" in Europe due to preemptive complaints by parents concerned (unwarrantedly) that the game encouraged the player to prey upon the inherent disadvantages of weaklings and peaceniks. This comes just after Rockstar was pressured to give Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas an adults only rating when it was discovered that a minor hack could uncover a gratuitous sex scene called "Hot Coffee."

The infamous hot coffee mod
While no one is expecting Nomura to have kids beating hookers to death in stolen cars, one cannot help but wonder what might come of a skull-cracking, blood-spurting Final Fantasy. If Square Enix chooses not to back off from the premise of a disturbingly violent game incorporating the flagship title's popular mythos, they might just end up brewing a shitstorm of controversy when the game hits North America. Or, perhaps, no one will notice, and Square Enix will have taken a triumphant risk in seeking to recruit a broader base of more mature gamers.

As for angst-ridden Versus XIII's seeming preoccupation with the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the homage featured in the trailer seems, if nothing else, a little out of its element. Sure, the prince of Denmark resemble's Nomura's bad-ass hero in his black clothes and brooding demeanor. But calling on the bard for atmospheric resonance in a beat-em-up like, say, Capcom's Devil May Cry, would be like casting Lawrence Olivier as a blood-soaked, ass-kicking action hero. Hamlet may sentence to death his brainless school chums Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but did he cunningly lure them to the gallows and soliloquize mournfully on the matter, or did he materialize before the baddies and ferociously snap their necks?

When you think about it, a spiritual successor to melancholic young Hamlet already appeared in a Final Fantasy title. Remember the spoony bard that spent half the game in bed?


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Forums / News / Final Fantasy: Now with blood and guts

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Is sililoquize even a word?

Also Jeriaska? Do you sleep?
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You got me, Quale

It's "soliloquize"
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My god people need to get over the whole violence/blood/gore stuff in video games. If you can't distinguish the difference between reality and fantasy/videogames/entertainment then maybe you shouldn't be playing the game. But for those 95% that can, bring on the blood, aren't FF games all about killing to save the world anyways? I don't see the big deal.
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Hey, InfernoSoul. I think it's becoming increasingly worrisome to people like moms and politicians that as game graphics accelerate toward photo-realism that the line between real violence and virtal violence is being blurred. We are talking about impressionable minds, here. The abstract violence of Space Invaders, for instance, isn't RE4, no?
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Yes, this is true however photo-realism is quite a ways off. The graphics are better but come on most games still look fantasy even when going for realistic-themed look. If the parent doesn't want the kid to play the game then by all means don't let them. However don't punish the whole world because of your inability to tell what is right or wrong or distinguish the difference between reality and fantasy. Violence is always going to be in this world trying to get rid of it is just going to make matters worse. Look at the whole Alcohol Prohibition, that caused more violence and crime then when it was legal. This is all towards those congress people and soccer moms that want to rid violence in gaming in general but either way. Trying to censor stuff is just going to make things worse.
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Also head on over to the forums for an elaborated discussion on this matter! [/plug]
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Whatever our legislators in their boundless wisdom decide to do with games regulation, it would be a damn dirty shame if they criminalized game sales to minors. Retailers will be much more apprehensive about promoting, advertising, and even selling mature games, while as a result sales will decrease and ultimately developers will think twice before making mature games.

This is an effective means to exert voluntary censorship by way of criminal legislation.
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Don't you think that would drive up demand of the game? People may think the game is so good because it is hard to advertise much of the game. So then all the mature audience might want to pick it up to see what all the fuss is about. Then the little kids will ofcourse want to play it because they aren't suppose to. Kids will find a way to get the game and parents will realize that keeping stuff like this from a kid will make matters worse(sometimes). They might steal it to be able to play it, go behind the parents back and play it. Why not just supervise the child while they play, instead of making them do all this stuff you would punish them for?
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That's certainly feasible. When something becomes scarce or is made scarce, people want it more.

However, if events in Japan are in any way a harbinger of things to come in the U.S., which I think they are, then there will be a problem. As far as I know, Japan has no single retail chain with the power and reach of Walmart, which has a history of banning material that is counter-conductive to family values (let's not get into the whole gun hypocrisy). In banning AO games, Walmart has already shown that they have qualms about games. If Walmart alone ceases sale of criminalized games you immediately take the nation's largest distributor of video games and largest retailer in the world out of the equation.
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That could be a good thing. Take the monopolizing walmart out of the equation and what does that mean? Well that means it leaves the door open for stores like EB games, gamestops and new game stores to open up and compete with each other. It could be a bad thing and it could be a good thing. However I don't buy my games from walmart anyways so I could careless. :)
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That's the most retarded, misguided thing I have ever heard in my life.
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That is what happens to monopolies they get split up. So pretty much if the lame ass walmarts stop selling videogames kids and people can go else where to purchase them. What is retarded about that? Sad about your precious walmarts not selling games anymore? What you said about walmart hurting the gaming industry and/or sales is probably one of the most "retarded, misguided" things i've ever heard in my life.
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You know, after seeing Akira I just got the impression that pretty much anything goes in the Japanese entertainment industry. Imagine my surprise at seeing Dead Rising met with such stigma in Japan. Seems violent games are scaring retailers on both sides of the Pacific.

What's a "Z Rating" stand for, anyway? Zombies?
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Any person, such as yourself, that attempts to depreciate the power of Wal-mart as an inconsequential dot of American capitalistic retail power is misguided and disillusioned.
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Inferno is not disillusioned. Rather, you are attempting to deprive him of the illusion that Wal-mart is inconsequential, thereby instilling in him newfound disillusionment.

Disillusionment is what we are after, Matt. More disillusionment, more more more!
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Do you guys sit around reading a dictionary and thesaurus all day? Basically walmart isn't shit to the gaming industry in my opinion. Also you could have just said "Inferno doesn't believe walmart is monopolizing the gaming industry and Matt believes walmart has a big part in it, at least in the USA." Decoding your sentences are stressful. :D
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I like the Oxford English dictionary. Odd?
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Nah, I was just curious.
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There is also a documentary coming out called Moral Kombat on the subject of videogame violence.
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so now that think i have the whole world looking at me and almost want to cry when i play Super Mario World on my old super Nintendo cause i am still very confused about all this. . . anyways, i actually kinda like that square is trying to make the bold move towards more mature video games, but not to forget about toning it down, the only thing I'm worried about in the world of tomorrow is finding a way to string out stupid people who don't know how to use their money towards people who might find a way to actually do these things in their own wrong doings, (freakin' pressure up the ying yang man).
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the real worry about all this about the thrid party is well umm, mind privacy, basicly.
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