Welcome to a new chapter for Gogglebob.com! Welcome to the marginally different Smash Bros Challenge!
So here’s what happened.
I started the Fustian Gaming Challenge in June of 2015 (Jesus Christ). My stated and personal goal was to play some of the many videogames I had collected over the years, and “get something out of them”. I have collected videogames going way back to my childhood (my copy of Mega Man 2 is still one that I first played when I was… six?), but, give or take a few luminaries (like the previously mentioned Mega Man 2), I am unlikely to play the vast majority of those videogames ever again. Ecco the Dolphin? Might give it a whirl out of curiosity. But Super Nintendo platformer Dino City (featuring Tim)? Never again. There are only so many hours in the day, and have you seen my backlog of new, good games? I haven’t even gotten to the latest Sonic game yet! I am not going to replay Battle Monsters in this tumultuous era!
But, as time went on, I realized… time went on. It happens! There were always articles or “theme weeks” I wanted to try when the FGC project started, and, over a lot of articles, I eventually got through a number of them. For instance, Wankery Week was something that was always planned, but I didn’t get there until 2017. And that was intended as a “one off” week! It came back nearly every year! But, as the years stretched on, I got it in my head to “complete” the project, and make sure every game I ever wanted to talk about was addressed…
And you can guess what happened there. I failed.
I reviewed Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for the NES at some point, but I never got around to…
- A Robot Named Fight
- Alice Madness Returns
- Beavis & Butthead
- Beyond Good and Evil
- Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure
- Bucky O’Hare
- Card Fighters Clash
- DragonBall Fusions
- Fantastic Dizzy
- Fat Princess
- Jak & Daxter (any of them)
- Legend of Mana
- Lost Odyssey
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Silent Hill 2
- Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Crossroads of Time
- Super Exploding Zoo
- The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince
- Time and Eternity
- Toejam and Earl 3
- Tokyo Jungle
- Untitled Goose Game
- Yono the Celestial Elephant
And why can I list these so easily? Because I have a friggen’ Excel spreadsheet list of “do these games”. And there are more! There are so many more!
But, at a certain point in any project, you must acknowledge what you can and cannot do. When I first started the FGC, my plan was to make it up to #255, claim that Random ROB could tolerate no further bytes, and that was that. When I did hit that milestone, I felt like I was just getting started (particularly bolstered in this case by the complete Kid Icarus rundown), so I didn’t even acknowledge my initial goal other than by including a few number-themed entries. Then after the #400 Nierstravaganza, I told myself I was going to stop at #555, and clearly that would be more than enough entries to cover anything I could ever say about videogames. Yet, here we are, looking at #656 in the rearview, and, inevitably, there could be another hundred articles…
So we’re going to do another hundred articles about something else that is exactly the same.
I am going to claim that my issue is “scope”. That list of games that were all potential articles? A number of them got pushed off because a new game was released. It happens! When I made my little gaming to-do list, the likes of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin or Pocky & Rocky Reshrined did not even exist. And while those may have been completely unforeseen, just factoring in new games is ignoring how many amazing rerelease/upgrades we see in a year. Chrono Cross! Radical Dreamers! Been waiting for those for decades! How could I write about some divine pachyderm when Lynx could be on the menu? And there are only so many hours in the day! It is all well and good to say I can write about any of the thousands of games out there, but without any sort of focus, I am going to get burned. It happens! It has happened to this “site” a couple of times! I need to focus on something more concrete…
So welcome to the Smash Brothers Challenge.
Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, by its ultimate version, featured 89 (mostly) unique characters. These individuals were meant to represent the history of gaming through the lens of Nintendo, and we will likely never again see such a complete look at the various epochs of digital entertainment. Smash Bros is an amazing game that somehow doubles as an encyclopedia of the last thirty years of my favorite hobby. And that makes it a pretty great stepping stone for looking at some “focused” games.
So here’s the deal: once a week, we are going to look at a game featuring a particular Smash Brother (or Sister). The only rules involved are that we cannot look at a game already covered by the FGC, and the “featured character” must be recognizably involved in some way (and already by next week’s article, we are going to push the limits of “in some way”). And that should lead to a good 89 or so articles about these random dudes and ladies.
And a significant inspiration for this direction? Today’s game, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line.
Here is another grand confession: like many of my generation, I started writing about videogames on the internet with a “Final Fantasy Retrospective” covering all ten of the Final Fantasy games released at the time. As a way of revisiting my “old” writings, I had always planned on covering all of the non-MMORPG Final Fantasy games over the course of the FGC. And, to save you a check on the index page, I never got around to Final Fantasy 2 (j), Final Fantasy 10-2, Final Fantasy 13: Most of the Trilogy, Final Fantasy 15, and Final Fantasy 16 (which really shouldn’t count). And in all of those cases, it was not for a lack of desire to play the games, simply a lack of time. I love these games! If I am going to replay them, I want to give them their due. But I can’t give them my all when my efforts are dedicated to other, stupid tasks like keeping my family fed or making sure the house is not on fire. Can’t I just spend some time alone, locked in a room with Lightning (in a platonic way) like when I was 25?
Luckily, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is deep enough to scratch that itch, but shallow enough that I can make some progress while waiting for my next Batwheels episode to load.
When initially playing this Theatrhythm, I definitely went “grandma mode”. Everyone was talking about ideal builds and best characters and stat raising strats… and I just wanted to sit in my rocking chair and listen to my favorite little ditties. You dearies have fun, I’m going to be listening to Flight of the Red Wings for the 10,000th time. And, while grandma mode persisted through my most favorite Final Fantasy titles’ tunes (no, I will not be naming them. I am trying not to start a war here), when I had already played many of the songs, a certain… shift… occurred…
It is difficult to say if this happened because I had now amassed a virtual army of Funko Fantasy characters, or because I was stuck wading through the unfamiliar Final Fantasy 11 soundtrack, but I finally decided to start paying attention to the various completion challenges. And these various challenges seemed to be focused on some pretty basic goals. Use a lightning spell. Magic damage is minimized, so use as many physical attacks as possible. Physical damage is minimized, so use as many magic attacks as possible. Summon Ifrit like he’s delivering a piping hot pizza. And the best way to accomplish these goals? Know your Final Fantasy characters. If you want to do some magic damage, put half-esper Terra on the frontlines. Looking for a physical powerhouse? Cloud has his buster sword at the ready. And if summons are your bag, Yuna is here to get her dance on. All of this information is available on the handy dandy stat screen for these characters, but since these expies roughly correspond to their “real” game roles, a Final Fantasy expert is already going to know those stats and abilities by heart. You watched Golbez use that meteor spell a thousand times against Zermous. You know he is going to have it here.
And this comes back to the point of this whole damn website: I am experiencing games I love in a whole new way.
Despite the lovely cinematic moments being reproduced in Theatrhythm, jamming to this rhythm game is in no way a substitute for playing any of the games featured. The remarkable character designs have all been flattened out to nondescript mishmashes of hairstyles and armor pieces, the “battles” are little more than hammering two buttons and four directions, and even some of the featured songs are shadows of their former selves (give me my 17 minute Dancing Mad, monsters!). This is replaying a Final Fantasy game in the same way that scarfing down a Big Mac is eating a sirloin. But sometimes you feel like having a Big Mac. Sometimes you acknowledge that you don’t have the 100 hours you need to reexperience the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy (and… uh… the backwards compatible Xbox, too, because this one keeps dodging rereleases), and maybe listening to a collection of tunes and whacking a space pope is good enough. Sometimes you just want to be reminded of greatness in a new and exciting way.
Sometimes you don’t want to fight through days’ worth of monsters and environments to banish Sephiroth. Sometimes you want him right there, right now, and wrap it all up in the length of a song.
So welcome to the Smash Bros. Challenge, ladies and gentlemen. 90 or so articles all about the cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the games that feature them.
Please enjoy these cheeseburgers that remind us all of steaks.
SBC #01: Sephiroth & Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
Sephiroth in Super Smash Bros Ultimate
- He any Good? So since this whole “new” project is based on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we’re going to look at our “featured fighter” with every game article. Today we have Sephiroth, the second Final Fantasy representative that proved Final Fantasy 7 is the only game in the franchise that matters. It is appreciated that Sephiroth is a “non-standard” sword guy, and, while the ol’ Masamune is featured, you can do some major damage with some of those spells. But he is also a glass-cannon, which is… a choice? I have many thoughts on Sephiroth as a character, but “easily tossed around” was never one of them, so it seems odd that he is practically princess-weight in Smash Bros. Though the idea of Sephiroth as a princess is a noble one…
- That final smash work? When the defining feature of an attack is that it is inordinately long, maybe you don’t want to include it in your zippy fighter. Getting smacked with a meteor is a memorable, iconic ability, but Sephiroth going full zantetsuken would have been a bit more… usable.
- The background work? We already had a Final Fantasy 7 background from the previous game’s DLC, so we now flipped from the initial area of Midgar to the final area of Northern Cave. And it is accompanied by a five minute FMV! Just like how Final Fantasy 7 was all about watching movies! Or some people thought that! Anywho, I have no idea if this is an insult from Sakurai, or a compliment.
- Classic Mode: Sephiroth fights “The Chosen Ones”, and it is straight up just a boss rush. That is appropriate for a playable final boss. Hey, remember how Sephiroth was released as an “unlockable” DLC boss that had his own mode for about a week? Good times.
- Smash Trivia: We still have a limited number of Final Fantasy songs in Smash Bros (particularly compared to the 10,000 SNK songs we received), but the two original Final Fantasy 7 remixes that appeared with Sephiroth are now part of Theatrhythm Final Bar Line. So they might ultimately wind up better preserved than some of the other DLC tunes.
- Amiibo Corner: They managed to preserve Sephiroth’s unimaginably long sword and his beautiful girl hair without increasing the amiibo’s footprint by too much. That’s impressive! He is also the most leather-clad amiibo, so don’t leave him on your desk if you want to avoid answering uncomfortable questions.
- Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? Aside from this game coming out after Smash Bros? Despite being the most recognizable villain in the Final Fantasy franchise, Sephiroth has not appeared in that many games. This is likely the result of Final Fantasy being vaguely guarded with its cameos, even if Cloud took more than a few field trips to other worlds after his premiere. Regardless, Sephiroth is well represented in his attendant musical games, but Smash Bros doesn’t “reference back” to (earlier) Theatrhythm in any overt ways. I guess we didn’t need another rhythm-based final smash.
Sephiroth in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
- System: Currently available for the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4. This one should be easier to port than the 3DS titles.
- Number of players: There is 2-player co-op! And 4-player versus! Rhythm games have a tendency to be 2 player, but we have more options than usual this time.
- Favorite Song (that I don’t already have playing in my head at all times): Good King Moggle Mog XII is one of the many songs I do not recognize thanks to my aversion to MMORPGs. And, though I hear the chorus of Final Fantasy 14 aficionados lamenting the lack of the “good FF14 songs”, I am very happy with Good King Moggle Mog XIII. Mind you, this is likely just because it sounds like Square Enix got Pumpkin Town as the result of some king of Kingdom Hearts divorce. I have never seen Good King Moggle Mog XIII, but I believe he would be good friends with Jack Skellington.
- Favorite Character (for being useful): I maintain the fact that triggers are exclusively influenced by strength stats is racism against wizards. So I eventually had to pump up someone’s strength stat to 999, and Final Fantasy 15’s Noctis Lucis Caelum was my obvious choice. He has first strike and a boss bomb that works on every boss that ever appears. It doesn’t get more handy than that! My prime mage is Terra of Final Fantasy 6, who I can say I like more “all around”, but she is about as helpful as a pig in a beauty salon if there isn’t one big enemy to trounce.
- Downloadable Content: I ordered the super deluxe version of this game, because I understood the NieR soundtrack would be included at some point. I will pay a whole lot of money for NieR music, and I know it. That said, while I did disparage the idea last time, I would be interested in adding a few more characters to the roster. Why don’t we get a playable Ardyn? Or that space pope? Cid Raines is not an appropriate Final Fantasy 13 delegate.
- So, did you beat it? Despite my initial grandma mode, I did conquer all of the challenges available across Theatrhythm Final Bar Line. Well… not all the challenges, as I still have about 20% of the achievements left to grind out. I completed all the quest-quests, but killing something like ten billion demons is going to take a while.
- Did you know? Sazh and Fang are the only Final Fantasy 13 characters that were playable in their original game, but not playable in this game. This continues the long tradition of Sazh being snubbed by later Final Fantasy 13 materials despite being one of the most interesting characters in the franchise. But the lack of Fang? She’s part of the Final Fantasy 13 logo! And Vanille is lonely! Let her in!
- Would I play again? Yes. I mean, duh. This is videogames as art, as every bit of the music is art, and pressing buttons along to that art must make it, like, double art. So, if only for the preservation of art, I will play this again. … Okay, fine, I just like pressing buttons.
What’s next? Our next smash bros will be… Sheik! And that means we are talking about another recent release… Please look forward to it!
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