Author: auritech

Marvel Games Retrospective 3: X-Men by Konami

This is the third in my series of reminiscing on Marvel games of the past and present (although almost three years late!), and we’re going to revisit the mighty mutants of Marvel, the Uncanny X-Men, in their first arcade game! [Read Part 1 and Part 2 here]

X-Men was a unique title in that it had three cabinets available for play: there was a two player cabinet, a four player cabinet, and a massive six player, two screen behemoth. While multiple screen arcade games weren’t new, as Darius and The Ninja Warriors had multiple screens, X-Men’s six player count was definitely something that hadn’t quite been tried before and wasn’t quite duplicated afterwards. The game was released in 1992 and was an instant hit in the arcades, a time in which arcades in the US had been revitalized thanks to the success of Street Fighter II.

Wolverine is pretty sure this place is gonna get real crowded real soon.

Panorama!!!

The source of the arcade game was inspired by the 1989 animated pilot titled “Pryde of the X-Men,” wherein Kitty Pryde is introduced to the team in quite a hit-the-ground-running kind of fashion. It featured Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Dazzler, and of course, Wolverine, against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Magneto, taking the fight all the way to Asteroid M. Now, retrospectively, “Pryde of the X-Men” isn’t very good. There’s a lot wrong with it. And for some bizarre reason, Wolverine is given an Australian accent, which may or may not have foretold the future where Hugh Jackman was to faithfully take the claws for about 17 years. But if you’re a Marvel loving kid waking up in the wee hours of the morning in 1989 to watch the Marvel Action Universe, a syndicated block of cartoons featuring reruns of old Spider-Man (And sometimes His Amazing Friends) episodes and, for some reason, Robocop, seeing that was a very pleasant and very welcome surprise.

A couple years before that whole Adamantium snafu....

Wolverine against Magneto??? That’s crazy talk!!!

The art style in the game is very much influenced by that pilot, although with a slight anime touch, and it looked great as a result. Time has worn that away a little, but it still looks pretty good even if a bit sparse. The screen fills with enemies, explosions, and fire and it still keeps up with all the action. It was a step up from the 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game in every way.

The gameplay is simple. Like TMNT, you fight in a wide plane in all eight directions. You get three buttons: attack, jump, and mutant power. You can combine attack and jump, but the mutant power is a little tricky. You get a limited number of them, which only refill by one at the end of a stage, and on top of that, using one will drain your health by four points. And that’s the kicker: this game is hard, designed to do nothing but suck down your quarters like nobody’s business, and unless you’re bringing a full posse, you are inevitably going to spend a few dollars on this game. Forget about going it alone, too. Shawn and I did beat it in the arcade once, with a random third player, and I’m pretty sure by the end of it we were all tapped out of money. The Japanese version is a little more forgiving, with the insertion of health packs and bonus items, but not by much.

Kitty's going to be fine. It's the Master Mold who should be worried!

The game even features some characters not featured in “Pryde of the X-Men,” like Mystique, the Wendigo, the Master Mold, and Bonebreaker of the Reavers.

Of all the characters, Wolverine was of course the best melee character and Colossus had the best mutant power, so people went to play those two first. Cyclops and Nightcrawler were average, and Storm was fine in a pinch, but why does she have to fight with a staff? Nobody wanted to be Dazzler though. Dazzler was lame, they said. Why play as Dazzler? Well, I’m going to shock everyone here and say that Dazzler is an OK character. Sure, she started out as a rollerskating disco queen, and sure, she was basically thrown away after the 1991 X-Men comic reboot, but there is nothing wrong with Dazzler. In fact, in the game, she even has a neat flip throw that gets her out of some situations and her mutant power is not bad when used efficiently. Would the world have preferred Jean Grey, Rogue, or Psylocke? Sure, but they weren’t in “Pryde of the X-Men.” Dazzler is fine.

Alison Blaire is blowing up the charts, her new single is fire

Dazzler’s power is to turn sound into hard light. She can handle herself.

Another thing that I should mention is the sound. Not just the music, which was really good arcade style music, but the voice samples throughout the game are pretty much legendary. The game starts off with a short narration and then after Charles Xavier asks you to “Go and SAVE the CITY!” we are off! Now, it is highly doubtful that any of the voice talent from the “Pryde of the X-Men” were available for the game in the same way that some of the X-Men animated series cast was used for Capcom’s later X-Men: Children of the Atom arcade game, but the voices are pretty great. One of the more fun things to do in the game is to interrupt the level boss as they make their introductory speech. Memories of “Pyro will—ugh!” and “Nothing moves the—” are pretty fresh in my mind and always fun to replicate. Of course, everyone remembers Magneto’s “Welcome to die!” and it always gives us reason to laugh while we punch him in his face. Or, better yet, use Colossus’ mutant power and get him to yell a very satisfying roar. This game was very loud, and since arcade operators were not shy to turn the volume up on the cabinet, all the explosions and yells drove home how epic this game felt.

"Welcome to die?" How about I welcome my fist to your nose, buddy?!

“Welcome to die?” How about I welcome my fist to your nose, buddy?!

X-Men was released at the height of the battle between the Genesis and the SNES and everyone at the time wondered why it never came to consoles. Turtles In Time made a very nice SNES game, so you could imagine that a little work on Konami’s part might make for a decent translation, right? While that could have been possible, the problem came down to the same situation that has mucked up a lot of Marvel’s properties throughout the years: licensing. The X-Men were already licensed for home consoles by Acclaim through its LJN—yes, the same LJN that produced the execrable Marvel’s X-Men on the NES—and Flying Edge labels, and they had just released a terrible game called Spider-Man and the X-Men In Arcade’s Revenge; the next year would see the really good Genesis X-Men game by Sega, and in 1994, Capcom’s X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse would appear on the SNES, leaving no room for Konami to port their title.

As time went on, people took it as a given that the only way to play Konami’s X-Men was to emulate it through MAME, but in the unlikely year of 2010, it finally reached home consoles via the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. It even saw a release on the iOS and Android! Ported by Backbone Entertainment, the game featured internet multiplayer (only four players though!), the usual graphical options for emulation, and the inclusion of the Japanese version just in case you wanted to experience some of those power-ups they took out of the American version. It was pretty good, but by 2010, gamers who had decided action fighters were long past their sell-by date wrote it off (and many of these same people wax nostalgic about the Simpsons arcade game, also made by Konami, which is something I don’t understand at all). At some point, between Konami’s retreat from the gaming sphere and Marvel’s insane licensing situations, it was delisted from all services, and as of 2017 it leaves MAME, once again, as the only place to play it.

You left Jean Grey for who???

Ten years after this game, these two would hook up.

Is Konami’s X-Men dated? Yes, of course. But is it still fun? Yes, there’s lots of fun you can have with it. Bring some friends together; it’s not actually a terribly long game and you’ll be immensely satisfied once you beat the stuffing out of Magneto. Or better yet, find a young kid who’s just getting into superheroes and have them experience it. They’ll love it.

And stop hating on Dazzler.

Shawn’s Note: Sure enough, it still pleased the nephews back at Christmas. It’s colorful and kinetic enough that even without knowing who the X-Men are they were having fun. At one point they unexpectedly got into a fight over who could put in the most credits though. Explaining arcade games might be the hardest part about playing it with them.

Marvel Games Retrospective 2: Captain America And The Avengers

This is the second in my series of reminiscing on Marvel games of the past and present, and this time I present to you a game from 1991 and a title featuring heroes who have in recent years become the flagship of the public’s Marvel consciousness: Captain America and the Avengers!

Captain America and the Avengers

The Avengers!

As the 16-bit generation and the power of comic book licenses started to kick into full gear, Japanese arcade game publisher Data East released Captain America and the Avengers in the arcades. At that point, the Avengers were not a household name with an all-star line-up; Iron Man was B-list, Hawkeye was well lower on the totem pole, and who the heck was Vision? In fact, it was just as likely that as many people associated the Avengers with the British TV series (which spawned a notoriously awful film) than the comic books, or just as likely that neither one was in anyone’s mind. They needed a headliner, and fortunately, Captain America was the perfect candidate.

Firstly, the background visuals are outstanding. Even to this day, the lush pastel and incredible detail is something special to behold. The characters maybe don’t live up to the same standard as the backgrounds, but they do have a kind of look to them which feels particularly anime and that, in my opinion, is actually kind of cool for its time.

avengers2

Hey, Juggernaut, why are you wearing the Gem of Cyttorak on your face? Why are you even in this game? Ooof!

It also mixes it up by placing a few horizontal shooting scenes in between the action fighting core. While you can’t expect an R-Type or a Thunder Force IV here, it’s nice to break the monotony and the only couple of times you will see Wasp in the game.

avengers3

As a kid, I did not know that the word “tako” meant “octopus” in Japanese. Neither did the translators, it seems. So, we all were puzzled why they called it a Mech. Taco.

There are more than a couple of problems in the whole of the game though. The control isn’t really that good; hits don’t connect, certain attacks come at random, and the power attack is a two button press that doesn’t need to be. This also extends to the shooting part of the game, which is much more forgiving but nonetheless less than stellar.

The game is also brutally difficult. The characters lose health like crazy, and Quicksilver only shows up every once in a great while to throw a health pickup and even then it’s not enough. The way to expand your energy most effectively is also the most awful: you pump in more quarters. Now, keep in mind, this was in the era where machines were mostly 25 cents a play, although 50 cent machines did exist, but it was still the perfect way for an arcade owner to pick clean a kid’s weekly allowance. It’s not robbery, more like gambling where the only thing you win is the satisfaction of punching in the Red Skull’s teeth. Still, the combination of the health system and the difficulty made it far more of a candidate of console conversion than not.

avengers4

A visual comparison of the three versions, arcade, Genesis, and SNES. Porting to consoles? Why should it goes well?

Unfortunately, the console conversions do not do this game justice, for one reason or another. The SNES version was completely outsourced; Mindscape, the developer of that version, had to build the game from the ground up. The only thing that remained were the voice samples. Everything else was redrawn, or even re-written. The visuals as a result take a big hit, and the control of the game isn’t so great, although they managed to add a third action button for the power attacks.

Despite the arcade version’s flaws, it ended up being a fun game to play with friends, even if you ended up having to pump five dollars worth of quarters into it in order to get much anywhere. It doesn’t hold up these days to the games that have come after it, but at the time, it was a good time to be had if you really, really wanted to play as an Avenger. And believe me, I did.

Marvel Games Retrospective 1: Marvel’s X-Men

This is a first in a series where I reminisce on Marvel games that I have played throughout the years, and maybe even a few that I just recently had a chance to encounter all over again.  This installment features my first Marvel game, and the most notorious of them all:  Marvel’s X-Men, produced by LJN Games.

Cyclops, with his mouth open wide.

The title screen for Marvel’s X-Men, which features this lovely portrait of Cyclops.

As one of the few human beings on earth actually spent the time to defeat this monstrosity of a game, I felt that I should at least give a few words upon how utterly and irredeemably bad this game is. I have to admit that when I first heard about the game, I was very excited as a child. Uncanny X-Men was one of my favorite comic books at the time, and so I couldn’t think of anything better than to play a game that let me be one of the X-Men.  What I didn’t anticipate, however, was a strange isometric maze game with some slight shooting elements and a completely laughable melee combat system.  Have you ever felt the need to hump your enemies as a superhero? Well, this is your perfect opportunity to do so!

Mxmen_002

At least they let you practice! And they don’t call it the Danger Room. Just practice.

There are many flaws in this game and paramount above them is the design. They chose to go isometric instead of just making a simple platform for God knows what reason, yet whoever designed and programmed this game wasn’t competent enough to create an isometric style game.  (And I know– some people will say, “but the game is supposed to be top down!”  Not with the skewed angles it’s not!)  The game is completely geared towards whoever can shoot the most. Cyclops can shoot, Iceman can shoot, and Storm can shoot, but the remaining X-Men that are in the game have no capability to do that whatsoever.  In order to attack the enemies, Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler have no choice but to punch the enemies which of course does not look like punching, looks more like the aforementioned humping motion.  It’s partly due to completely to technical limitation, but also because you know, why bother making a better game? You have all this money from licensing from Marvel, why bother make anything actually good? It’s worse if you realize that there are three frames of walking animation and only two frames of fighting for the melee fighters.

Mxmen_003

The visuals of the game basically look as if the game had glitched up, and everyone in the art department just threw up their arms and went with it.

So, to the disappointment of children like me everywhere, this game turned out to be horrifically terrible. The enemies are for the most part blocks, snakes, and circles, the bosses are both hard and easy to beat, there are too many places where there are walking hazards, and the fact that they try to force two players in a one player game while the AI is almost nonexistent is too ridiculous for words.  I would say that it’s unplayable, but somehow, someway, when I was a kid, I beat the game.

 

The way you realize you beat the game is to press start and select a lot. Because the game is full screen, and no one wanted to mess with that, the health, item, and score markers are all on the pause screen. It proves more frustrating with the knowledge that the health evaporates quickly, and that keys and disks have to be collected. Select is also an important button because the player switches between characters this way; and while that is not bad in itself, the scripting for the second character is rudimentary and awful (don’t call it AI; there’s no intelligence whatsoever).

 

On top of all of that, there’s a certain trick that you have to use in order to beat the game. The last level is not immediately accessible. Not only do you have to beat the four previous chapters, but you have to pay attention to the red text whenever you actually beat a level, and you don’t even get the red text all the time.  If you look on the label of the cartridge itself (which is impossible if you’re just playing the ROM of the game) you find out that the method in order to get the last level is printed at the bottom of the copyright.

 

So with full knowledge of all the limitations, controls, and secret button combinations in mind, and me somehow, someway, having beaten the all the previous levels of the game at some point, I actually had beaten the game about a year after owning it.  There is more curveball, after beating Magneto –which is a task about as easy as beating any of the other bosses– a timebomb which forces you to run to the start of the game as quickly as possible. The best way to beat the game is to use Nightcrawler (since his teleport is essentially no clipping mode), hump Magneto to death, and then run through every single obstacle you can, collecting every single health item you can in order to do that, and then reach the beginning of the level all over again without the time running out.  It’s not an easy feat, mostly due to the fact that the game is so bad, but for some miraculous reason, I was able to do that a couple of times. Of course I was also able to beat the game as Wolverine, but my memories are hazy as to how I was able to do that.  And here is the first mention of the fact that it is utterly ridiculous of an idea to beat Magneto with Wolverine.

Mxmen_005

The “Battle Inside Of A Living Starship,” which aims to be gross with all of its living pustules and intestines and whatnot.

Now, in the later years, there’s been quite a few Marvel games that have successfully used that isometric perspective.  Two of them have even been X-Men games.  But this game, either through laziness or incompetence, is only worth the footnote of being one of the first console games to feature the X-Men.  These days, it’s pretty much only worth to play the game for 30 seconds to realize how bad it is, and then put it down forever, and realizing that the Konami X-Men game was released around the same time.  This is not me bashing on the NES, but rather bashing the abilities of LJN programmers, or Acclaim as they actually were, that didn’t really put any effort into making the game enjoyable for kids who wanted to play as their favorite X-Men.

 

But, the past is the past, it’s not really worth being bitter about how bad this game was. There were actually worse games out there, and like I said, I was able to beat it more than once. So for what it was worth, at least it existed.

 

Hunting for “junk” games in Akihabara.

An introduction: I moved to Tokyo in July of last year and other than being in love with the country of Japan, it lets me sometimes indulge in my nerdier instincts. When I first moved to Tokyo, I made a point out of coming to Akihabara. It is definitely the nerd capital of the world. Akihabara is actually smaller than you think it is – it is a several block radius surrounding Chuo-dori, a main street in the Chiyoda city district, and just down the street from Ueno – but there’s a lot packed into it.

In Akihabara, the Sega logo still features prominently.

Akihabara!

Something that I do often is trawl the video game stores of Akihabara for their cheapest titles, often called “junk games,” because there’s a reasonable chance the games might not work — and for anyone who remembers the glory days of Funcoland and GameStop, these are usually cartridge based games with no box, no instructions, and often with stickers or some other kind of indication that someone at some point owned it. In Japan, that often means finding a Super Famicom game with some kid’s name on it, and there’s a high chance that he probably works at a company somewhere having long forgotten about the game that he used to play. In addition to Super Famicom, the most common junk games include titles playable on Famicom (original NES), Mega Drive (Sega Genesis), PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16 or Duo), Game Boy, GB Advance, and DS. Of course, super old PlayStation and Sega Saturn titles abound as well, some Dreamcast games, and in some places, you’ll even find WonderSwan, 3DO, Neo-Geo, and Atari Jaguar games. There are lots of non-junk games without instructions or boxes as well, some of them even the same games but marked up much more considerably, but I’ll be focusing on the junk games here.

Most of the time in the junk games section, they really are junk; copies of horse racing games, substandard baseball games, soccer games, or really obscure RPGs that only deep hardcore nerds have ever played litter the bins. They are usually around 100 yen, making the risk minimal, and if you end up finding a gem that works, it makes the search worth it. Of course, you also run into the risk that the games plain don’t work, which is a fair assumption because most of the cartridge games are over 20 years old at this point, and it’s reasonable to assume that age has taken its toll. Even then, a good cleaning of the contacts with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab usually gets them up and running again, though in Japan, rubbing alcohol is weirdly expensive and not easy to find compared to America where a large bottle will usually run you a buck. I’ve needed to do that twice; once for a copy of Fatal Fury for the Super Famicom –which is a bad port, so don’t buy it—and once for Super Mario World, which of course, you should already own if you don’t already.

Super Mario World for SFC!

A junk bin copy of Super Mario World, bought for 250 yen, only needed TLC to get working fine!

However, if you do find any interesting rarities, you’d better snap them up quick. What may be there one day won’t be there the next. There are maybe a thousand other game hunters looking for the exact thing and they are not in Japan to hesitate on some gem.

There are lots of places where you can hunt for used games. The largest chain is Book-Off; this is a general media second hand store that often has some surprising things in their bins, but it’s a difficult place to shop and the main Akiba store’s junk bin is located next to their AKB48 section, and given the fanbase of that obscenely large JPop group, you might have to do some bobbing and weaving to do any looking. (Protip: if you don’t know any Japanese, the most handy word you can learn is sumimasen, which means both “excuse me” and “I’m sorry.”) Super Potato is the legendary one, the one all nerds lust over, but their junk bin is limited and often doesn’t have anything interesting, though I did get a Minimoni party game there. Trader has many, many locations throughout Tokyo –and even three locations down Chuo-dori– but you have to be careful, because if you go up too many stairs, you’ll find yourself wading in porn. That aside, Trader has an outstanding selection and usually has some of the more obscure titles in fairly good condition – and plenty of new copies of recently released Dreamcast games! One I like is Retro Game Camp, but it’s very small, very cramped, and their junk bins are usually outside, exposed to the elements. Sofmap is also very large, but their junk bins so big, going through them is too much of a chore, and again, going up too many levels smacks you straight into porn. Mulan and Lammtarra are two others I’ll briefly mention, but I don’t really recommend those places to anyone but the brave, as Mulan’s junk bin is also outside and exposed to the elements, and Lammtarra specializes in porn and JPop idol memorabilia, so unless that’s a thing you’re specifically into, you can skip it entirely.

Two places you shouldn’t look for used games are Yodobashi Camera and Don Quijote. Yodobashi is a wonderful place but it doesn’t sell used games, and Don Quijote,  a discount goods store with an AKB48 theater on its top floor  in the Akiba location and three floors with some amazing arcade games , has a forgettable section not worth browsing. You should totally visit those places anyway, though.

If you need older consoles to play the games, I recommend either Super Potato, Retro Game Camp, or Trader2 (there are four Traders in Akiba, but Trader2 has the best selection and largest store, located a few meters away from the Belle Salle building). I bought my PC Engine at Super Potato, but they have a bunch of semi-obscure consoles and loads of the usual suspects, including a bunch of Neo-Geo CD consoles and even an MSX or two. Retro Game Camp comes close, and I’ve even seen a Mega Drive in its original, Sega Master System style box. Trader2 also has a good selection, and also has a hilariously large selection of original Xbox consoles – if that’s any indication how poorly the original Xbox did in Japan. They also have Retron-style emulator consoles and handhelds.

Sometimes these stores are intimidating to shop; the aisles are small compared to American shops, there can sometimes be a lot of people coming through at any given time, and in the case of cartridges, there’s a lot of fishing and guessing unless you already know what you’re looking for. But picking up Philosoma, the entire Ridge Racer series on PlayStationor Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special for 100 yen? Totally worth the effort.

An Ode To Lightning, or The History of My Love for Final Fantasy XIII.

It came rather as a surprise to me that I fell in love with Final Fantasy XIII. I’ve played the series since VI, and to me, I really do remember it as VI; I imported the Japanese version and then got stuck at some point because my level of Japanese as a teenager was quite poor (it’s a little better nowadays). However, with subsequent entries in the series, I became less enamored with it. I do not fear the wrath of fanboys when I say I hated Final Fantasy VII, but I did so before it became acceptable to do such a thing. Final Fantasy VIII was almost appalling on a character design level, but it at least had interesting mechanics. I did not play FFIX, but not because I had any antipathy towards it. Final Fantasy X was good, but the silliness of its concepts and some of its characters was often a bit much to bear — and X-2 was far sillier, more intentionally, but certainly to some people’s distaste. I avoided XI and XII for different reasons: XI because I had no interest in MMOs, and XII because it came out around a bad time in my personal life which has long since passed, and I didn’t feel any need to pick it up retroactively.

Then, Final Fantasy XIII made itself known. At first, I feigned indifference. I saw the character designs they allowed known to the public, and I didn’t care that much. Next, came the reveal at the 2009 E3 that FFXIII was going to be available on the 360. It really piqued my interest, but not beyond much. The thing that put me over the top was, believe it or not, Final Fantasy: Advent Children. Don’t mistake me here: Advent Children is terrible, totally not worth anyone’s time except the most hardcore of fanboys, but it looked great. My thought process was that Advent Children was probably a tech demo for what they could do visually in Final Fantasy XIII, which made me hopeful for it.

As a friend and co-worker prodded me further about the game, I ended up buying myself a PlayStation 3 for my birthday and thinking that, yes, eventually I would buy Final Fantasy XIII on PS3 rather than 360, achievement points be damned in favor of not having to change any discs.

When the launch day came closer, I kept telling him that I was going to buy it, but not at launch; maybe a few weeks afterwards. I had myriad games I hadn’t beaten and I wanted to get to them first. It became far more apparent that the peer pressure was starting to get to me, eventually making me relent, and then, like him, I would buy the game at launch. I even tried setting up my first Five Game Backlog Challenge, to at least play some of the games I’d been neglecting for so long in exchange for too much time spent playing Modern Warfare 2 or whatever else had caught my fancy at that time. Unfortunately, I failed it.

Launch day arrived at midnight of 16 March 2010. I came with him to the local (as in not owned by Barnes & Noble) game store and purchased myself a copy of FFXIII. Full price, no trade-ins. I had surely been pre-warned by all the critics: “the game doesn’t get good until hour 20,” they said. “The tutorials are too long; the voice acting is terrible.”

As I started it up, I was looking forward to the experience. When I started playing, it felt like it was holding my hand at first, but the battle system felt really nice. Away from the micro-management of previous Final Fantasies, and more of a tactical, strategic one, I truly appreciated the change from the menu-driven past. Yes, the game was chock full of tutorials, and it staggered out through a long period of time, but it just felt right. Nothing felt extraneous or useless, it was just right.

Over the past 60 hours of playing time and three weeks in real world time (I didn’t play it every waking hour, I’ve not that kind of time to give any game anymore), I just deeply enjoyed my time in the Final Fantasy XIII world. The voice acting was good, though not great, but the casting was utterly brilliant. On top of that, this was the first time since VI that I could remember being interested in the characters, and definitely the first time in any Final Fantasy that I didn’t want to wring any of the characters’ necks for being whiny or self-involved. Lightning may have been closed off, but you can tell it’s because she’s messed up thanks to her parents’ deaths; though, that’s not really explained much unless you read the Datalog. Snow may be cocky, but he truly cares about everyone around him. There’s not much of the preprinted Final Fantasy character here: even plucky Vanille has a lot of emotional conflict, and hurt.

I applaud the Final Fantasy XIII team for making a game that’s really engaging and a story that while not perfect –friends have rightly pointed out plotholes– was definitely the most interesting Final Fantasy story I’ve ever played through. It may be my area of fiction interest, more or less, but I definitely loved that world and I would actually support them making an FFXIII-2 if they chose to go that route.

Now, does this mean I’ll be there day one for Versus XIII and XIII Agito? No, of course not. This one is the one that strikes the perfect balance for me, and I have no qualms about saying that this is easily my favorite Final Fantasy.

Yeah, I said it.