In early 2010, Final Fantasy XIII art director Isamu Kamikokuryou was doing an interview for Dengeki Magazine (or Famitsu, no one seems to be able to track it down for sure), and was talking about some of the things that were left on the cutting room floor. Among other things, he talked about Lightning's house, NORA's headquarters, and a zoo in Bodhum; all of these had been rendered in-game and were explorable, they just never made the final cut for the master copy. That on its own is not surprising - all games leave some material behind, and with XIII's long and drawn out development cycle, it would hardly come as a shock that it has a bit more than most games. In fact, in his own words, there were enough art assets for "a whole other game."
Fast forward a year to January 2011, and Square-Enix registers a trademark for Final Fantasy XIII-2. Well that's awfully funny, isn't it? Producer Yoshinori Kitase was quick to deny that they had made use of these cut assets, but... Well, I suppose you'll see for yourself.
Release in January 2012, XIII-2 is a very, very reactionary game. The bulk of the changes between XIII and XIII-2 are addressing the complaints of the former with various levels of success - people complained about how linear XIII was, and XIII-2 is...well, still pretty linear, but much more open. In the wake of Mass Effect and Dragon Age, there are now dialogue choices every now and then, and absolutely none of them matter. Combat has been tweaked so that you no longer get a game over if your leader dies, and you can swap which character you're controlling on the fly. The plot has gone from "incomprehensibly stupid" to merely "painfully stupid". I could go on, but you get the gist of things.
On the other hand, actual new features include a complete lack of a difficulty curve, a framerate that's lucky to get out of the low 20's, platforming and literal computer science homework puzzles, and being the most blatant bait-and-switch this side of Metal Gear Solid 2.
See, Lightning was and still is very popular in Japan. So one would assume that XIII-2 would be another round of Lightning and Friends. I mean, she's on the box art and all the marketing material, and she has a spiffy new outfit! Then you play the first 15 minutes and suddenly you get slammed with these two chucklefucks - a Kingdom Hearts reject, and a recovering ice cube.
Okay, so despite what I've written above, I actually don't hate this game. It's my least favorite of the trilogy by far, but it does have quite a bit going for it and I don't begrudge anyone who prefers it. We will be as fair as we can in the videos, but frankly neither of us like it very much, and we wouldn't be doing it at all if it wasn't required setup for Lightning Returns. So yeah, full disclosure.
Table of Contents
- Update 1: Where do I even start with this?
- Update 2: Shooting Star Surfer
- Update 3: Gentlemen, Start Your Retcons
- Update 4: lyrics.mp3
- Update 5: Can I give you a hand?
- Update 6: That's not a Charmander
- Update 7: Attack on Atlas
- Update 8: An Extremely Important Diversion
- Update 9: Metal Gear Stupid
- Update 10: Hope's Funniest Home Videos
- Update 11: Enter Caius
- Update 12: Fashion Statements
- Update 13: Shut the fuck up, Noel
- Update 14: Step Into the Rainbow (Again)
- Update 15: Why did we come here, again?
- Update 16: The Hunters' Test
- Update 17: Chocobo Cannibalism
- Update 18: Trans-Dimensional Bowels
- Update 19: FUCK Academia 400
- Update 20: PARADOX.EXE
- Update 21: The Grammar of Time Travel
- Update 22: Forbidden - Learning; Recommended - Puzzles
- Update 23: Yelling Into the Digital Abyss
- Update 24: A Trivial Matter
- Update 25: FUCK Clock Puzzles
- Update 26: Crazy...Flan?
- Update 27: The Beginning of the End
- Update 28: Game Over, Caius Wins
- Update 29: An Eternity of Snow
- Update 30: Donald Trump presents: The Monster Hunter
- Update 31: A Shocking Reveal
- Update 32: ...L-Lightning-senpai?
- Update 33: Mog's Big Payday
- Update 34: The Puppy Who Ruined the Timeline
- Update 35: The Soothing Sounds of the Ochu
- Update 36: Connecting the Dots
- Update 37: The Legacy of Lightning
- Update 38: Mog's Welcome Home Cakes
- Update 39: I Will Protect You...
- Update 40: ...Until the End of Time
- Update 41: Welcome to the Chocobo Rodeo
- Update 42: A Quantum Conundrum
- Update 43: Back to the Punching Ground
- Update 44: The Don is In
- Update 45: Toilet Paper Hell
- Update 46: The Fanservice Episode
- Update 47: Taking Out the Trash
- Update 48: Picking a Fight With Death
- Update 49: Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Prepare to Die Edition
- Update 50: Please Buy Lightning Returns