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The brilliance of the FFVI opera scene and why Final Fantasy has lost its way

In the middle of your trek to save the world from an evil empire suddenly you're stopped at an Opera house of all places. Is there a dragon that's threatening to burn it down? No. Is the owner extorting money from the poor? No. It just so happens that a member in your party looks like a prima donna and you decide to use her as a decoy to lure a playboy with an airship, before you can say "But I'm supposed to be saving the world!" The lights go off and


BAM! You're in a freaking Opera

With overture and everything. You have to take your character on an admittedly simple memorization test to sing an aria about love and longing.

After that a dance scene begins but it doesn't end at that. No, a giant purple octopus decides to wreck the Opera for some reason. After racing through the rafters to catch him before he can drop the weight on the stage the characters and the octopus fall to the stage and a fight ensues



After defeating the octopus your decoy is taken to the airship and the scene ends with the impressario promising more adventure in the next scene.

I realize that there's no shortage of love for this scene. But really when you think about it it's just brilliant. "We'll have them play an Opera! And we'll bring back that purple octopus from earlier! Why? Because it'll be fun damn it!"

FFIV had the dancers, FFV had piano lessons, FFVII had its cross dressing scene and the golden saucer, VIII had triple triad and the concert, IX had the opening scene. To a lesser extent FFX had blitzball. Yes, final fantasy is broken for many reasons (non-nonsensical stories, unlikeable characters, linearality) but one that consistently gets overlooked is that it just takes itself too seriously. It seems they're so busy trying to create "epic" that they've forgotten the humor and fun that was in the series. And this goes beyond simply putting in mini-games. It's the ability to laugh at itself, which in many ways Final Fantasy just has failed to do largely. Sure FFXII was deadly serious but that was a different kind of game and it wouldn't have worked well there (though the hunts were great).

I just don't see Square having the guts to do something like this scene anymore. Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps it's there in FFXIII and I've missed it (it could be FFXIII-2 I stopped after two hours). But I'd like for Square to be brave enough to be like "You know what? You're in an opera now. And you're going to have to fight a purple octopus because it'll be good for you." again.
 

Wario64

works for Gamestop (lol)
Jun 6, 2004
74,323
3
0
who the hell is tim, indy, matt


Also, this is my favorite part of VI
 

Dylan

Member
Jul 20, 2011
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625
In FF13 there was that weird scene with AfroMan chasing the yellow chicken thing.
 

mr. puppy

Banned
Jul 19, 2010
3,668
0
0
oh look another thread about how square and final fantasy and jrpgs suck now and used to be awesome.
 
Aug 22, 2012
1,029
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I am in complete agreement that FF takes itself way too seriously nowadays. I suspect the reason for a decline in humor has to do with technological advance. Back when they were using sprites, they were quite limited in the range of emotions they could portray graphically with any given character, so exaggerated expressions were typically the norm in order to convey what the character was feeling. In such a context, humorous expressions with accompanying in-game humor makes sense.
 

timetokill

Banned
Oct 19, 2004
32,839
0
0
Los Angeles, CA
Why spend your time doing opera scenes when you can focus on making unrealistic hair "realistically" blow in the wind while a girl holds cupped hands to her chest while she looks down with her eyes closed?
 

orioto

Good Art™
Mar 10, 2005
12,012
309
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39
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Nice op!

Actually, the worst is that while FFVI HAS that humor and burlesque feeling, doesn't take itself too seriously and has that cute naive feel of 16 bit games, it's also the saddest and more mature FF ever.

And THAT'S precisely what FF and video game lost. The possibility of that contrast.
 

Manmademan

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Nov 3, 2006
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945
Why spend your time doing opera scenes when you can focus on making unrealistic hair "realistically" blow in the wind while a girl holds cupped hands to her chest while she looks down with her eyes closed?
no reason you can't do both. OP's argument is completely destroyed by the existence of FFX-2. That game is full of nothing BUT moments like that.
 
Sazh has a baby chocobo in his hair your argument is invalid.
I think it takes more than humorous character design to create humor. Otherwise Kingdom Hearts would be the funniest series ever.

oh look another thread about how square and final fantasy and jrpgs suck now and used to be awesome.


no reason you can't do both. OP's argument is completely destroyed by the existence of FFX-2. That game is full of nothing BUT moments like that.
And that was 10 years ago. And i love that game because it's full of stuff like this. Can you imagine Lightning giving out balloons?
 

Dylan

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Jul 20, 2011
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625
Seriously though I agree that this scene was brilliant at the time but not because it was "random".

The main story of FF6 is itself, very much an opera. This little comedic aside is (I always assumed) meant to be juxtaposed against the events going on outside the opera house.

It's similar to many Shakespearean plays that use the same "play within a play" trick (someone else can probably go into better detail here than I can) .
 

Amir0x

Banned
Oct 27, 2004
103,738
3
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35
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I thought it was also a clever self-aware bit of game design because the opera in general smartly emulated the extreme melodramatic nature of the game's own storyline.

I absolutely adore the game's art direction too; study it still, to this day. It's got the perfect dark otherworldly sense of atmosphere with its steam/magic meld and classic soundtrack. Few if any jRPGs ever matched this particular world atmosphere. It's got a very distinctive voice overall, really. I would love to play a new game with its type of direction... provided the gameplay was sufficiently improved, of course.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
17,232
3
0
I'm so glad that you chose the emphasis the physical comedy and levity of the scene, because the pathos and dramatic elements of the Aria are pretty terrible.

And I think you're correct on your broader suggestion that Final Fantasy benefits from variety. Whether it's in the form of specific story vignettes, mini-games, extra mechanics, or even just in terms of levels and environments, variety is very valuable. Not least because it helps with pacing.
 

clem84

Member
Dec 11, 2011
3,188
166
710
When I played the game back in (1995?) I don't know... I remember being bored with that part of the game. The rest was great though and FF6 is still one of my all time favorite RPG.
 

Verendus

Banned
Nov 16, 2010
8,579
0
0
Games
I realised something about FF games. They don't age well. You're likely to enjoy them still if your first time playing them was close to when they initially released, but it's difficult to get into them now. I didn't play this until a little while back, and I think it's a mediocre game.
 

Aurongel

Member
Sep 27, 2011
9,629
1
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The Opera scene has not aged well. (Heck, the game in general) At the time it was good gaming.
It's aged a hell of a lot better than the PSX era anime bullshit Final Fantasies I feel. Chrono Trigger perhaps a little more so due to the lack of truly random battles.
 

lastflowers

Banned
Mar 21, 2011
10,137
0
0
29
seattle
I recently played FFVI for the first time--and I was incredibly disappointed.

I went 'THIS is the infamous opera scene?!'

So disappointing. Internet hype is horrible.
 

Groof

Junior Member
Jan 19, 2013
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In FF13 there was that weird scene with AfroMan chasing the yellow chicken thing.
For some reason this made me laugh a lot more than I should've.

I'm with OP, though. FF13 had some fun quirks, but nothing to the extent of what we used to get. Never played FF13-2 so I can't comment on that, but I'm still waiting for that back-to-roots game.
 
Seriously though I agree that this scene was brilliant at the time but not because it was "random".

The main story of FF6 is itself, very much an opera. This little comedic aside is (I always assumed) meant to be juxtaposed against the events going on outside the opera house.

It's similar to many Shakespearean plays that use the same "play within a play" trick (someone else can probably go into better detail here than I can) .
Yes I totally agree. If you look at it, it really is an opera within an Opera. The leitmotif throughout and melodrama and archetypes they're all there. It works on many levels.
 

Lionheart1827

Member
Jul 27, 2007
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I remember I had so much trouble getting through the rafters in time when I first played through it, and I screwed up the lyrics a few times. When I was a kid, I took mistakes in games to heart so I genuinely felt I screwed up the performance for real.

I feel like the last time we got something as close to the opera scene was the ballroom dance scene in FF8.
 
D

Deleted member 57681

Unconfirmed Member
Celes is so best. Not because of the opera but yeah.
 

Aeana

Member
Jul 10, 2006
42,062
2
0
I love when Ultros and the party fall onto the stage after the encounter in the rafters.


Oh no, this'll never do! With those two flattened, there's no one to win the girl! How can the story possibly continue!?
Neither Draco nor Ralse will win Celes's hand!
It is I, Locke, the world's premier adventurer, who shall take her as my wife!
Oh, dear... What dreadful acting!
Silence, knave! You stand in the presence of octopus royalty! A lowborn thief like you could never defeat me! I challenge you to a duel!
Hmm... Might as well make the most of this. MUSIC!

 

Kai Dracon

Writing a dinosaur space opera symphony
Jun 7, 2004
19,552
1
0
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Space is the Place
There is an ironic (?) bit in pointing out the opera house scene as an example of needed comedy: the opera house simultaneously functioned to move a romance subplot forward. Two characters who had been repressing their feelings for one another were able to express themselves via acting out the romance in the opera itself - characters coming clean while playing different characters.

In a sense, that's what has been lost as much, if not more: subtle scripting, original and clever plotting. Final Fantasy used to stand out because it was a punk, funky take on fantasy as far as console video games went. It brought in sci-fi and steampunk elements. It played mindfucks on the player and on the characters. Its soundtrack incorporated rock and roll and electronic style music along with stereotypical orchestral scores.

Modern Final Fantasy does have humor and comedy, is the thing. The problem is that it's not very good. Rather than being self-aware, it seems to be a bunch of second rate shonen manga humor, as the characters evolved more and more into anime and manga stereotypes. To be fair though, I honestly think FFXIII is the worst offender of this by far - all previous "new world" FF games (Playstation era onward) still managed to retain a mix of what FF had become vs some of its most appealing traits from the past. It's XIII that turned more or less into a full blown, and very cliche, "shonen adventure troupe" complete with regular motivational speeches.
 
Aug 22, 2012
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I recently played FFVI for the first time--and I was incredibly disappointed.

I went 'THIS is the infamous opera scene?!'

So disappointing. Internet hype is horrible.
What were you expecting? A FMV cutscene with ridiculous action movie-like theatrics set against mostly horrendous voice acting?
 

TheExodu5

Banned
Nov 27, 2007
38,096
2
0
Ottawa, Canada
I love when Ultros and the party fall onto the stage after the encounter in the rafters.


Oh no, this'll never do! With those two flattened, there's no one to win the girl! How can the story possibly continue!?
Neither Draco nor Ralse will win Celes's hand!
It is I, Locke, the world's premier adventurer, who shall take her as my wife!
Oh, dear... What dreadful acting!
Silence, knave! You stand in the presence of octopus royalty! A lowborn thief like you could never defeat me! I challenge you to a duel!
Hmm... Might as well make the most of this. MUSIC!

You've made my day. :D
 

Cmerrill

You don't need to be empathetic towards me.
Feb 23, 2013
3,072
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540
Nova Scotia
If the opera scene was in a modern day FF it would made fun of and laughed at by all gamers saying the same thing "square has lost thier way" I don't see why the scene is so loved, i find it annoying really and is not a part of the game I think of when FF 6 comes to mind.

FF 6 was brilliant, but just because gametrailers and others say the scene was/is great doesn't make it so.
 
Feb 28, 2009
39,127
2
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Saw it live during Distant Worlds. Was pretty awesome.

Anyway, I disagree. There's still a lot of humor in the series even if some scenes are a bit melodramatic.
 

Diablos54

Member
Feb 12, 2007
6,397
0
0
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I love when Ultros and the party fall onto the stage after the encounter in the rafters.


Oh no, this'll never do! With those two flattened, there's no one to win the girl! How can the story possibly continue!?
Neither Draco nor Ralse will win Celes's hand!
It is I, Locke, the world's premier adventurer, who shall take her as my wife!
Oh, dear... What dreadful acting!
Silence, knave! You stand in the presence of octopus royalty! A lowborn thief like you could never defeat me! I challenge you to a duel!
Hmm... Might as well make the most of this. MUSIC!

So good, and you even linked the song!
 

Aurongel

Member
Sep 27, 2011
9,629
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...The problem is that it's not very good. Rather than being self-aware, it seems to be a bunch of second rate shonen manga humor, as the characters evolved more and more into anime and manga stereotypes...

You're absolutely correct
 

Ninjimbo

Member
Nov 11, 2010
6,190
0
0
I recently played FFVI for the first time--and I was incredibly disappointed.

I went 'THIS is the infamous opera scene?!'

So disappointing. Internet hype is horrible.
That's how I felt when I first played it. Nostalgia makes people act all goofy.
 
Aug 22, 2012
1,029
0
0
I love when Ultros and the party fall onto the stage after the encounter in the rafters.


Oh no, this'll never do! With those two flattened, there's no one to win the girl! How can the story possibly continue!?
Neither Draco nor Ralse will win Celes's hand!
It is I, Locke, the world's premier adventurer, who shall take her as my wife!
Oh, dear... What dreadful acting!
Silence, knave! You stand in the presence of octopus royalty! A lowborn thief like you could never defeat me! I challenge you to a duel!
Hmm... Might as well make the most of this. MUSIC!

Well, there goes my productivity. Time to watch this scene again!
 

Manmademan

Member
Nov 3, 2006
30,707
0
945
And that was 10 years ago. And i love that game because it's full of stuff like this. Can you imagine Lightning giving out balloons?
Lightning? no, but good thing FFXIII wasn't about her. It's a moot point anyway- The existence of FFX-2 proves that square didn't "forget" how to make things like the opera scene in VI, they just chose not to. Has the staff that made X-2 suddenly abandoned square? As far as I know, they're all still there.

Each game has it's own themes and tones, and screwball humor isn't needed in every single entry.

FFXIII-2 was a good deal more lighthearted than it's predecessor as well. Could I see Noel and serah handing out balloons? probably- and some of those paradox endings (like the one where they dress up as monsters) are just as silly as anything in X-2. edit: how did I forget? ultros is even IN XIII-2 as a weird ass optional boss.
 
Aug 22, 2012
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Lightning? no, but good thing FFXIII wasn't about her. It's a moot point anyway- The existence of FFX-2 proves that square didn't "forget" how to make things like the opera scene in VI, they just chose not to. Has the staff that made X-2 suddenly abandoned square? As far as I know, they're all still there.

Each game has it's own themes and tones, and screwball humor isn't needed in every single entry.

FFXIII-2 was a good deal more lighthearted than it's predecessor as well. Could I see Noel and serah handing out balloons? probably- and some of those paradox endings (like the one where they dress up as monsters) are just as silly as anything in X-2.
I might be biased against it, but X-2 goes down as the most unnecessary video game sequel of all time in my book. The ending of X was perfect. And then they ruined it.

Seriously. Why on earth they made X-2 is beyond me, even if for no other reason than to go screwball with it comedically.
 
Feb 22, 2010
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I totally agree, I loved this part so much - the music, the whimsical tone, the twists, the sense of urgency, the character development, and the plot payoff was wonderful.

That feeling I got from this part of FFVI, I never felt again in FF, yet I felt it throughout the entirety of Persona 4. It kind of bums me out :/
 

Manmademan

Member
Nov 3, 2006
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I might be biased against it, but X-2 goes down as the most unnecessary video game sequel of all time in my book. The ending of X was perfect. And then they ruined it.

Seriously. Why on earth they made X-2 is beyond me, even if for no other reason than to go screwball with it comedically.
the primary reason was probably money. X-2 let them re-use a ridiculous amount of assets, and XII had serious issues with production that delayed the hell out of it.

the lesser reason is probably the thing OP is complaining about- just an exercise in creating a lighthearted "fun" game for the fanbase after the unusually downbeat and sort of depressing FFX.
 

CorvoSol

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Jan 11, 2012
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oh look another thread about how square and final fantasy and jrpgs suck now and used to be awesome.
Wouldn't be so many if it wasn't true. Have you SEEN the Chocolina DLC? People paid money to find out about that, man.

I'm so glad that you chose the emphasis the physical comedy and levity of the scene, because the pathos and dramatic elements of the Aria are pretty terrible.

And I think you're correct on your broader suggestion that Final Fantasy benefits from variety. Whether it's in the form of specific story vignettes, mini-games, extra mechanics, or even just in terms of levels and environments, variety is very valuable. Not least because it helps with pacing.
I don't know if anybody would say that the dramatic elements of the Opera matter, but the SCORE man, the SCORE.
 

Aeana

Member
Jul 10, 2006
42,062
2
0
I might be biased against it, but X-2 goes down as the most unnecessary video game sequel of all time in my book. The ending of X was perfect. And then they ruined it.

Seriously. Why on earth they made X-2 is beyond me, even if for no other reason than to go screwball with it comedically.
the primary reason was probably money. X-2 let them re-use a ridiculous amount of assets, and XII had serious issues with production that delayed the hell out of it.

the lesser reason is probably the thing OP is complaining about- just an exercise in creating a lighthearted "fun" game for the fanbase after the unusually downbeat and sort of depressing FFX.
And although it was unnecessary, it's a pretty interesting concept. It's not often that you get to explore the way a society heals after the kind of thing that they go through in these types of RPGs. FF10-2 is all about how the people of Spira come to grips with life out from underneath the oppressive cycle of Sin.
 

Weltall Zero

Member
Mar 11, 2012
10,279
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Final Fantasy VI is my favorite game of all time (well, tied with Dark Souls). Thanks for bringing back the memories. :)
You are a person of discerning taste. Yeah, they're up there for me too. Bonus points for the L avatar. :)

It seems they're so busy trying to create "epic" that they've forgotten the humor and fun that was in the series.
You know what's the most fun of it all? In a sense, the opera house (possibly my favorite part of FFVI) was one of the most epic memories I have of the SNES era (and that's saying a bit!).

Edit: and this is why:

There is an ironic (?) bit in pointing out the opera house scene as an example of needed comedy: the opera house simultaneously functioned to move a romance subplot forward. Two characters who had been repressing their feelings for one another were able to express themselves via acting out the romance in the opera itself - characters coming clean while playing different characters.

In a sense, that's what has been lost as much, if not more: subtle scripting, original and clever plotting. Final Fantasy used to stand out because it was a punk, funky take on fantasy as far as console video games went. It brought in sci-fi and steampunk elements. It played mindfucks on the player and on the characters. Its soundtrack incorporated rock and roll and electronic style music along with stereotypical orchestral scores.