In Defense of Final Fantasy XII
Criticism 2: "The game rips off of Star Wars"
This complaint bewilders me. Sure, Final Fantasy XII has some Star-Wars-looking alien-like monster-people in the main city. Sure, it has flying battleships and lasers and fighter jets. However, it also has men in suits of armor, loudly clashing swords (of metal, not light), weirdly European fashion stylings, and the magic-users look like creepy druids. It has rabbit-women, as well, which I don’t reckon "Star Wars" ever had. Also, it has Chocobos.
Okay, so the Chocobos — big, yellow riding birds — were actually stolen from Hayao Miyazaki’s movie "Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind," and Hironobu Sakaguchi freely admitted that way back when. He also admits that the airships were inspired by "Laputa," also directed by Miyazaki. Furthermore, Sakaguchi, a huge Star Wars fan, often used the theme of an evil empire and a small band of rebels in his earlier stories. IV even stars a holy knight, his father, a scary man in a black suit of armor, and a battle between the dark side and the light side. Yet these are all universal themes, at least.
What Square-Enix could have done to prevent this: They could have cut a two-minute movie trailer that emphasized the originality of the game’s story. They could have even spoiled a few minor details — a lot of Japanese gamers state that the story is too slow to move, and it’s hard (very hard) to tell what’s going on at first. It turns out — if you stick with it for eight hours — it gets really, really interesting. There are layers of drama that seem straight out of a few Alexandre Dumas novels. They could have spoiled just one layer of this, to get people into the story. And it would have stressed that this is a human drama — not some cheap thrill show like Star Wars is patterned after.
Instead, the trailer running of Final Fantasy XII blared loud music over a blazing montage of high-action full-motion video sequences of airships exploding and monsters roaring. This is how all videogames, you must understand, have been promoted in Japan since Final Fantasy VII in 1997. With Final Fantasy VIII, the first Final Fantasy to have a "Love Story," things were hardly any different, except that the FMV montages showed two characters hugging in the end.
In Final Fantasy XII, there is a love story. Only it is hidden. The game opens with a wedding, and then two parallel scenes portraying the deaths (in war) of two platinum-blond young men. The first of the young men is the groom from the wedding. The bride is a main character of the story. The hero of the story is a platinum-blond young man, whose brother was the second young man to die in war in the prologue. The trailers featured for the game don’t emphasize the little literary coincidence enough. The game, in its flow, wears the secrets on its sleeve. Square-Enix needed to just show at least one close-up of that sleeve in its FMV trailer.