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APFFRT 4 Round 1: (10) Final Fantasy X-2 vs. (23) Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
I've played one Paper Mario game before, but it wasn't this one. I think it was for the Wii? As for FFX-2, it was a game I enjoyed but haven't played for a very long time. I do remember it having a wacky, fun intro, though. I wonder how it will hold up with these categories.

Game 1: Visuals
Paper Mario has an excellent visual style. I don't remember being this fond of the whole 2D paper thing the last time I played a Paper Mario game - the turning animation still seems a bit much, but everything else is great. The sprites look great, but it's the effects and screen transitions I was really impressed with. Like when you enter a building and it tears down the foreground like a sheet of paper. Also it doesn't hurt that the Gamecube supports progressive scan, so the game actually looks good in HD. All in all, a shockingly pretty game.

FFX-2 looks pretty good for a PS2 game, even in HD. The character designs are interesting so far, as are the various dressphere (job) outfits. The only real knock is that it's basically exactly the same as FFX. FFX looks good, so that's not so bad, it's just... unremarkable.

FFX-2 looks good, even now, but Paper Mario's visual style is superlative. I mean, 3D games approximating humanity are a dime a dozen, while games that execute a very different visual style and do so well are much less common.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door leads 1-0

Game 2: Audio
Mario games these days tend to have more atmospheric music than they once did, and to be honest I don't really remember much of the music in Paper Mario. The sound effects are good, and Mario's voice is always great, I just wish there was more of it. What the game lacks in quantity of noteworthy audio, it somewhat makes up for with delivery. The audio really goes very well with the visual style.

FFX-2 starts off with a pop song, complete with vocals. It's not egregiously bad - although I know plenty of people who've never made it past this scene - but it's not really my thing. The in-cutscene voice acting is also awkward and stilted, to match the actions of the characters. However, once the intro is over, things change for the better. (Well, maybe not the music - there are no more vocals, but it does remain pretty poppy.) The out-of-cutscene voice acting is great, especially all the little quips during battle. The best part is that there are a ton and they react to several situations - such as Yuna's "this is embarrassing..." while dancing or Rikku's reaction to snakes. (Side note: snakes with gatling guns for heads and bullet belts for tails are great.)

This one is no contest - FFX-2 is such a pleasure to listen to, especially in combat, that it's one of a few games I wouldn't want to listen to a podcast while playing. There always seems to be something new and funny to notice. And I didn't even mention how much I love the voice acting of the Leblanc Syndicate.
Series tied 1-1

Game 3: Combat
Combat in Paper Mario has been pretty straightforward so far, although it has gotten complex quickly. I've always enjoyed button timing combat systems, even if they are a bit gimmicky. The minigames are a nice touch, too, but I was kind of blown away by the idea of an audience. I'm not even sure what that's thematically trying to convey, but it's very cool. There's not a ton of depth (er, no pun intended) yet, but the system seems like it will be quite a bit of fun.

FFX-2 might be the last FF game that just throws you into combat without a dozen hours of tutorials. It's surprising, too, because there's a lot going on right away and it gets more complex fast. You start off with four jobs, and everyone knows one ability from each, but you quickly learn more - even in the middle of a fight! You can also freely switch jobs mid-fight in a precursor to FFXIII's combat system. Things are fast-paced and most of your moves are quite powerful, so you'll be switching things up quite a lot right from the first real fight. The intro also has a very high boss-fight-to-normal-fight ratio, which helps keep things interesting.

Paper Mario's combat is very good, some of the best I've seen for the first half-hour of a game - but FFX-2's is probably the best. The action is fast, frantic, and still strategic, plus it's both visually and audibly interesting. There's not much more you can ask for from combat.
Final Fantasy X-2 leads 2-1

Game 4: Advancement
I haven't leveled yet, but I have gotten a new ability, a partner, and a "badge" which I initially thought would be equipment but actually appears to be more like a spell. This game has as many types of points as some of the crazier Final Fantasy games - HP, FP, SP, whatever the experience is called. There's definitely a lot of room for both adding to character complexity, and customizing your guys somewhat.

As I mentioned, you gain new job abilities immediately in combat, and can use them right away as well. You learn job abilities fast, no doubt because there are so many jobs and each character is learning them separately. I gained a few levels, but I was more impressed by the number of accessories I found, especially by stealing. FFX-2 doesn't have normal gear, since it wouldn't make much sense with the dressphere system, so accessories are your route to customization and they are all over the place.

I can customize my FFX-2 characters more in half an hour than you can in some entire Final Fantasy games, and I haven't even unlocked a number of systems yet. If there is any downside to FFX-2's advancement system, it's that there's too much of it, and that's a good problem to have. I actually think Paper Mario's system was really great, it just got paired against a juggernaut in this matchup.
Final Fantasy X-2 leads 3-1

Game 5: Characters
Mario is, as ever, a blank slate, although his stereotypically Italian voice really gives him all the character he needs. Goombella manages to be endearing despite being so blatantly the cliched spunky girl, and her professor is pretty great too. What it comes down to is the writing - Nintendo has had excellent localizations for a very long time, though they don't do as many text-heavy games as some other companies. The only real character question I have so far is why Princess Peach is sending me treasure maps and looking for treasure on her own. I assume there's something else up, but it doesn't actually sound like it so far.

I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the main characters in FFX-2. Yuna is fine, but she's a bit too passive. Rikku is probably my favorite of the three, just because she overreacts to everything. Paine is such a Square-Enix stereotype. She was female Cloud before Lightning got there, and that's not really a good thing. However, the peripheral characters are great. Brother now speaks some English (or whatever language we're speaking in-game), and has a kind of hilarious crush on Yuna. And I love Leblanc's henchmen to death, even if Leblanc herself kind of comes off as a wackier version of Cruella DeVille with way more cleavage showing.

Again, Paper Mario hardly did a bad job in the character department, but FFX-2 has established 7 major characters already, at least three of which are great. FFX-2 is not a very serious game, and it does a great job with the comedy early on, which is what led it to victory here.
Final Fantasy X-2 wins 4-1

I have to be honest, after playing Paper Mario and the first 10 minutes of FFX-2, I thought this was going to be a sweep - for Paper Mario. FFX-2's intro is pretty weak, although it is at least eye-catchingly silly, but the game bunkers down into "this is actually really fun" territory pretty quickly after that. Hell, I wasted 7 minutes wandering around the airship wondering what the game wanted me to do (rest, as it turns out) and I still got far enough to see a ton of great content. FFX-2 is a pretty good game, it seems.

Next Game: (15) Final Fantasy vs. (18) Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
This was a pretty good match, but you what will be a better match? Kingdom Hearts VS FFX-2. I'm liking KH's chances on that one. My only worries here is that FFX-2 has the most action-y standard RPG combat system (which I'm going to guess Dowd will like more than straight up action combat), and a way more robust leveling system than KH does. But I think KH could at least potentially take the rest.

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