Sunday, March 20, 2022

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (Playstation 5, 2022)


I've never covered the original Final Fantasy on here, yet here I am covering its remake. That IS what this is, right? I don't know! Let's find out.

We start with Garland, the Lu Bu of Corneria's military, stalking around. I CAN'T SEE.

He's quickly confronted by the kingdom's troops. That's a lot of troops.

John Connor: "All of them, I think"

Garland then proceeds to LAY WASTE to them in brutal fashion. It's like that one Darth Vader scene in the hallway, times 100.

Looks like this is Corneria Castle, and the scene ends with him carrying Princess Sarah away over the corpses of all of her other soldiers. Welp.

People in this world seem to shatter into red crystal when slain, so there's a lot of that and a lot of blood flying around. This is already the bloodiest Final Fantasy game in history.

Wait a second...I stand corrected, they only shatter into red crystal when they're killed by Chaos.

We get our first battle, as three unnamed heroes lock horns with Tiamat. Is this a flashback or a flash forward? I'm not sure, but I think it's a flash forward of something later in the game.

The battle system is vaguely Souls-ish but simpler, and seems to handle very well. I like it more than the battle systems of the last few FF games.

Defeat Tiamat and she explodes in a torrent of blood and red crystals.

Huh, so I guess the red crystal thing happens when the hero defeats his foes as well. Weird.

Win and it cuts to the hero, Jack, walking in the "now we are free" field from Gladiator. It kinda looks like he's under the Erdtree. Why did they release this game so close to Elden Ring anyway? It isn't often that Square-Enix is an underdog, so good luck. This probably would have been better off getting a Summer release with less competition and a little more polish.

This is actually the single shot that made me interested in playing this game. The demos they released weren't very good and actually DETERRED me from playing it at launch. However, this shot...this ONE shot. Well, they got me.

A tutorial follows where the game explains how combat works. I'm not normally big on tutorials and prefer to learn the old fashioned way (through death), but at least this one doesn't last too long.

Here's Corneria, the walled city. And it's got hints of the original's town theme. Oh My God

That's right, you're looking at this very shot, in updated form.


Er, sorry. Here's Jack, who is so unhappy all the time that he makes Cloud look like Bayley.

Ain't no stopping him now / We celebrate on the floor.

His two bros, Jed and Ash. All of them have an orb, as is tradition for Four Heroes in this world. They seem to be one short, though.

Jed is the fun likeable guy here and is a bit of a flirt, though in a respectful way, so good on him. Ash is the big brawler and voice of reason. It's sort of like Jed is Laguna and Ash is Kiros and Ward after doing the Fusion Dance.

They do the Shield pose, sort of, and we're off to see the King.

I hope this really is based on the Shield pose. Square have slipped wrestling references into the FF series several times before.

Alright, so before we can start our main mission, we have to go on a monster hunting sidequest...

...oh, the sidequest is already done. So was Tiamat one of the famous monsters?

...nope, it appears that the Tiamat fight was indeed a flash-forward. Weird that they'd show that here at the beginning, but it's a cool fight at least.

Their ship is impressive...and kind of evil-looking. TCELES B HSUP?

We get the prophecy from the FF1 early-game, but it lacks the iconic tune. That said, one of the things this game does super-well is bring back music remixes from other FF games, usually in the form of a subtle backing to another track so it takes you a minute to work out what theme it is that you're discerning, and from what game.

It really fits, considering the themes of the game seem to be "recurrence" (the characters constantly experience deja vu) and hazy memories of the past (the characters all suffer from varying degrees of amnesia).

The main dude, Jack, has the worst amnesia, and can't seem to remember anything past last year.

Our heroes show up at the King's chambers. Apparently they aren't the first pretenders to show up claiming to be the Four Warriors of Light prophecized by legend. Lots of other four-person teams have rolled up all "WE will defeat Chaos"

and most of them died

There were other pretenders who showed up earlier this very day. A big guy on a bike? IDK. I wouldn't worry about him.

The royal minister is appalled at what he sees before him. What a motley crew.


"You need a fourth member or nobody will take you seriously"

Alright then, time to look for recruits.

We should probably recruit a girl so people don't think we're gayin' it up. I mean nobody would think that, or care, or have a problem with it, but Jack seems like the kind of guy who would think that people think he's gayin' it up and have a problem with him.

Like the kind of guy who would unironically wear one of those "NOT GAY" t-shirts.

Alright, I'll stop bashing Jack. He may be 10x worse than Cloud but he has his moments.

Princess Mia...I don't remember her from FF1. Could be a new invention. She's small and redheaded. I don't think she can join the team, though, because if she held a two-handed sword it would tip over like a seesaw and she'd be hanging off of the handle in the air. She is very wee, you see.

The Queen, on the other hand, takes one look at Jack and gets hot under the collar. She'll be in her bunk.

She tells Jack that he'd be so much handsomer if he'd smile more. Well maybe he'd smile more if the King would admit that we're the true four three heroes!

Corneria's legendary fountain is here, recreated in all of its glory. Let's pull up the NES version:

Yeah, that's quite an evolution. Remember to wash your face.

Princess Sarah's breasts fly over to greet our heroes, followed closely behind by Sarah. She is CUTE, and it helps that she first appears playing the NES town theme on a lyre. Square-Enix is basically going "please love her"

Wait, didn't Garland kidnap her in the intro of the game? Yet here she is. Was that also a flash-forward? Is this a remake or a retelling, a prequel or a sequel? All I know for sure is that Princess Sarah has got a bangin' bod, and you can't teach that.

She has...multiple favors to ask of these strapping men.

We need a fourth, maybe she can join the party? She can play bass.

Turns out...she's none-too-pleased because the kingdom's most loyal knight, Garland, disappeared while chasing down the same guy Jack is after, Chaos. Ten years ago, and nothing from Garland since.

She seems to have a history with Jack and some sort of romantic connection, but you wouldn't know it from this scene because he clearly wants the conversation to end so he can leave.

Yeah? Well if Garland's so great, why don't you marry him?

So.... Nobody knows where he is now. All we know is, he fought Chaos, and was never seen again.

Ooh, the plot thickens quite a bit here. Sarah, and her luscious breasts, tells our heroes about how nobody seems to remember Garland besides her. It's like he never existed at all, and she's left suffering from the Mandela Effect.

Now that's strange. We're already deviating from the beaten path of FF1 here.

As long as those flying Whisper things don't show up buzzing around, we're good. Also not trying to fight any time gods or whatever like FFVIIR threw at me.

But wait! She has one more favor to ask of Jack before they go.

*cut to outside Corneria as the city begins to shake violently*

After Sarah is fully satiated, we're booted out onto the world map. This is unmistakably FF1's world map if it were in Zone of the Enders. We just "finished" the Corneria level, next is the Chaos Shrine level. No overworld hoofing here.

Wonder if this is a preview of how FFVIIR-2 will be set up, since they've got the overworld situation to figure out.

This was the first dungeon of the NES game, and it is here as well. Our heroes are on the lookout for Garland, who was last seen in this area.

While loading areas, you get these odd Fools Missive messages. They seem to be written by a distant observer.

A Watcher, if you will. Joe?

I can't make heads or tails of them so far.

The Chaos Shrine / Temple of Fiends looks VERY Amano-esque. That's an Amano environment if I've ever seen one.

Jack's interest is fully piqued at the prospect that Chaos is lurking within this shrine.

What I'm wondering is, if Chaos has a shrine so close to Corneria Castle, why hasn't Corneria gone full scorched-Earth to wipe this place off the map? The only things guarding the place are a bunch of goblins.

Here's a save point. They made save points like Souls bonfires, in that when you use one it also fully restores your character, lets you allocate points, and respawns nearby enemies for farming.

A gander at the skill trees. Each class has a skill tree and you gain points to spend in a class by fighting enemies as that class. It looks like you level classes up VERY fast so I'm guessing the game wants you to try them all.

So far I've got the equivalents of Fighter, Thief, and Monk. Before long you also get Black Mage and Lancer. I'm guessing White Mage will be the last "tier 1" class you get, which is usually the case in modern FF. No idea about the status of Red Mage in this game.

You also get equipment upgrades. Constantly. Tons of equipment upgrades, all the time, from every fight, of all shapes and sizes. You have a hard cap of 500 inventory spots for equipment and I ran out after 3 hours. Seriously. Then I ran out again on hour 6 (which is where I am as of this writing).

Starting the actual dungeon, Chaos Shrine's interior looks pretty awesome. The level design of this game has garnered some complaints, but so far it seems alright to me. Linear but not too linear, with a couple of alternate routes through this first dungeon. It could be a little less dark, but it IS the Chaos Shrine and whatnot. Only thing missing are the bats.

Bats: "KEE! KEE!"

Jesus Christ!

Here's the venerable Bomb, who tries to inflate/blow up as is tradition.

Midway through the level, you can kick down a ladder to create a shortcut to the bonfire, very Souls-style design.

Another gander at the Amano-scape outside.

Right before the boss is an optional fight with Tonberry.

Tonberry's attack strategy: "Don't mind me! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! STABSTABSTAB"

Literally all of my deaths in the first third of this game have been to Tonberries. These things are no joke. You can always just run past them though.

Here we are, at the boss door. Now we find out how much of a remake this is...

...welp, there he is. Chaos. Or Garland. Whichever. He sits on a massive evil throne.

Jack is completely smittenhouse for this guy.



This first boss fight is a good lesson in how boss fights in this game work. Play defensively, block a lot, look for the boss to get distracted or finish a big attack and then get in there with some power moves.

Jack finishes him off with a big cutscene move involving a bunch of punches.

That's it for Chaos Advent. Not Garland, it seems.

"Hopes and Dreams" is a phrase with some weight to it, due to Undertale.

I feel like this face reveal is going to be them pulling off Not-Garland's helmet and it's Jack underneath. What? Two Jacks??

Wait, no, it's a girl, who was projecting an illusion of Chaos for some reason, hoping someone would come along and defeat her.

...I don't follow. Seriously, I don't follow this at all. Why was she sitting on the throne all evil-like?

While she stands there, our heroes talk about how their orbs are all lighting up at her. Jed's orb is going crazy!

Her name is Neon, and she was part of the last set of Four Heroes who went out looking for Chaos (and lost). She's the only one left. Except it wasn't even Chaos who defeated them, it was..something else. It wasn't Imps was it? I know they can be a threat when they pile up in large numbers, but come on.

Since their journey went so poorly, she's now questioning whether Chaos even really exists, or if it's something the King created to send people on wild goose chases.

I mean, it makes sense. The king gives the people a symbol of all that is bad in the world, and tells them the world will be saved if only we help him overpower the symbol, and it gives the people hope that the world CAN be saved at all. If all it takes is stopping this one particular enemy... Well, if only. It's a bill of goods, sold by leaders across time and space.

"So what happened to the other 3?"

"One of us got super-flu from brooding in the rain. The other was dogpiled, absolutely dogpiled, by OGRE and GrOGRE."

"What about the third?"

"Went to a brothel, was killed by the hand masseuse. A relentless woman."

Jack doesn't believe any of this. Chaos is REAL dammit! He then puts on his headphones and storms out.


It's too bad this scene was in the demo(s). It's so out of place, and makes him look like a total asshole. Which he isn't, not really. He just has his own motivations and isn't here to dance for everybody else.

Here's the Chaos Advent fight, as I'm following the tradition of recording major bosses. Not much to say about this one. It's visually impressive, for sure.

Outside, Neon says they need a fourth so that they can be a proper Four Heroes team, and why not her? Ash and (especially) Jed are okay with this, so it really just comes down to Jack. Finally, he gives in and lets her onto the team.

They do the Shield salute (now with a fourth) and we're off to the races.

I like these characters (even Jack), and think I understand all their motivations somewhat. That said, this game has a TON of nonsensical dialogue, a modern FF trope unfortunately.

That's it for now, but I want to do a little theorycrafting here real quick. There's a fifth character in the main image of the game here. Considering there are supposed to be Four Legendary Heroes, does that mean we lose a character at some point? Will Jack go all Lynx and leave us?

More than that, though, check out the colors around the characters. Jack is surrounded by dark smoke, Ash is surrounded by brown smoke, Jed is surrounded by blue smoke, ??? is surrounded by green smoke, and Neon is surrounded by red smoke. What do red, green, blue, and brown mean?

That's right, it's the color of the four fiends in Final Fantasy 1. The image already implies that Chaos is emerging out of Jack here, so is the further semi-hidden implication that the other characters are the Four Fiends? Perhaps the orbs they're holding are the same orbs guarded by the Four Fiends in FF1?

It could also mean that they merely carry the orbs that correspond with the four elements. Either way I'm interested to see where this goes.


  1. I'm amazed they weren't thrown out of the kingdom because of the bizarre modern clothes they're wearing.

    I guess it'll be a little longer before you KILL CHAOS.

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