Stranger of Paradise is great, but I long for a simpler Final Fantasy celebratory game

Final Fantasy turning 35 this year and Square Enix lined up a lot of things to celebrate the series’ birthday. The biggest and most obvious part of the celebration by far is Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origina new spin-off that looks forward and backward at the same time.

Of course, a lot of the things that will make the biggest splash in this celebration may be the ones we don’t officially know about yet. We still don’t have an official announcement about a Final Fantasy 7 Remake sequel or the console versions of Final Fantasy 1-6 Pixel Remasters; obvious things are coming. We also don’t have a release date for Final Fantasy 16, which should probably land somewhere in the ‘anniversary window’, even if it doesn’t show up this year.

But so far, three months and with FF’s December birthday drawing ever closer, we’ve got two big celebrations. The return of Chocobo Racing is one of the Switch exclusive forms of Chocobo GP – the rest is Stranger of Paradise, a curious new collaboration between Tecmo Koei’s Team Ninja and some of the most important creations of the series. Square.

Stranger of Paradise is basically two things. First of all, it’s an attempt to incorporate Soulsborne-style gameplay into Final Fantasy’s drawings and worldview. Team Ninja also developed Nioh, arguably the most successful Soulsborne developed outside of FromSoftware, and you can certainly see the connective tissue between Nioh and FF Origin. As Dom said in their review, it’s a competent attempt at this type of game – although I would argue that if you reduce the difficulty to more casual modes designed to allow FF fans aren’t comfortable with action RPGs of difficulty, the house of cards is down. There’s also too much goddamn loot; like Nioh, it keeps throwing useless stuff at you and I really wish it wasn’t.

Sorry tangential, sorry. The second element of Stranger of Paradise’s identity is perhaps the more interesting one for fans – as the name suggests, it’s an origin story of the first Final Fantasy, of its kind. The trailer depicts some familiar characters and locations from the first FF, and the name of the game is pretty clear; Its subtitle is ‘Final Fantasy Origin’, after all. No spoilers here but suffice it to say that the game lives up to its name in terms of what it tries to do with its story.

And you know what? It’s fine, but… I don’t like it. In fact, I think this game’s connection to other FF stories and worlds is its worst element.


In terms of its 35th anniversary, Stranger of Paradise offers two things worth discussing. First, there’s its connection to FF1, where it’s set in the same world and has locations with the same name. The second is the reason the locations only have the same names: each FF1 locality is paired with a level from another Final Fantasy game, with the legendary dumps explaining that these locations were built. construct ‘based on’ areas from other dimensions. For example, when you visit an overgrown forest, the loading screen will show straight up noting that this forest resembles a location from ‘9pm’. As you load into the level, worry and behold, it has music and bears a striking resemblance to the Devil’s Forest dungeon in Final Fantasy 9.

The content is amusing for about ten seconds every time Stranger of Paradise does this – usually when you first hear the area’s iconic musical chorus. But the truth is it’s a cheap trick with no real meaning. After getting excited about the feature before playing the game, it has since ceased to be in reality.

Where the game’s creative leaders have tried to make sense is in tying this story to the first Final Fantasy – a simple NES-era plot game that takes a clever twist in relation to the original Final Fantasy. time travel and the time loop, in turn, open up a fair amount of latitude for experimental ‘inserts’ into the canon. This was even done in an earlier anniversary game: the 20th anniversary game of Dissidia Final Fantasy (and its 2011 sequel). But, to be honest, I don’t think it works. What begins when fan service gives way to disgruntled delivery where those who don’t know FF1 won’t understand what’s being referenced and those who do will feel like what’s being presented doesn’t usually really suitable.


What I’m saying, really, is that in this sense, Stranger of Paradise feels like the most wonderful of worlds. It’s neither a particularly fruitful celebration nor a strong-sounding prequel to FF1. It has a deep, fun RPG system – but I wish it made its own FF universe to live in. ), which is practically hindered by the need to conform to FF1. Many of the best FF titles are spin-offs that have succeeded in entirely new worlds, such as Final Fantasy Tactics and the sinister but truly endearing Crystal Chronicles. I wish this game had done that.

What about the celebration? Well, I just wish for something… more basic. There’s nothing wrong with just focusing on fanservice, especially if that’s the point of the game. FF has a rich history worth celebrating.

I wanted a Final Fantasy celebration that made me feel the same way the early Hyrule Warriors gave the Zelda fan in me. That game forged a new version of a familiar world, then threw locations and characters from classic games together in a fun, non-canon game filled with unexpected moments. break and call back. Not bound by the need to ‘connect’ to any other canon, it’s just fun. Of course, I refer to that game specifically, since it is also a Team Ninja game.


Final Fantasy came close to this with Dissidia, but its format as a one-on-one fighting game for the PSP really stood in the way of what it could do. When Dissidia went HD, Square Enix missed the point entirely and tried to build a weird team-based e-sport.

Anyway. If you want a Final Fantasy story and don’t care about Soulsborne-style games with deep systems, you should probably skip Stranger of Paradise, or wait for the price drop, or the inevitable inclusion of the Game Pass . If the story content doesn’t bother you and you get into the battle, you’ll likely have an explosion. I like the systems, but I will continue to wish for the kind of fanservice mix the series deserves. Maybe the 40th anniversary, right? Stranger of Paradise is great, but I long for a simpler Final Fantasy celebratory game

Fry Electronics Team

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