Congratulations to Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin for easily landing a spot in the top 10 most baffling moments in E3 history. Team Ninja's debut trailer for its Final Fantasy spin off hits like a lucid dream and gets weirder as it goes. Make sure to watch it above and take a couple minutes to hug your knees or call a loved one because it's a stilted, ugly, odd thing.
Beware, though, because now we're hopelessly obsessed with its generic tough guy protagonist and empty castle setting that looks straight out of a lost RPG from the early '00s. We're here to kill chaos, and also here to kill chaos, and while we're at it, we're going to find and kill chaos. Let's talk about it.
Tim: I try not to be too harsh about anything that a lot of people have clearly invested their time and creativity into but come the fuck on, what the hell was that?! It was like SNL doing a Japanese ARPG parody. But unintentionally funnier than anything SNL has done in years. I must kill CHAOS! Okay mate, calm down. Midway through I honestly thought I was having a psychotic break and had been transported by my addled brain back to the E3s of the early PS3 era at which point this sort of game still wouldn't have been acceptable. An instant E3 hall of infamy trailer.
Wes: Let's let it sink in for a moment that we've just witnessed the funniest E3 moment in at least half a decade—maybe 10 years. That was Konami press conference bad; Wii music bad. That was a trainwreck, if a train was howling "I need to kill Chaos!" as it burst from the tracks.
James: I cried. My eyes are still puffy and wet as I write this. I haven't felt this much joy in weeks. I feel like making love.
Tim: I'm mostly concerned for Steven, who towards the end whispered (well, typed in Slack) "wait… is this a Final Fantasy game?" Honestly, I'll probably have to take his belt and shoelaces off him.
Steven: I am despondent. There are no words to describe the emotional rollercoaster that trailer put me on. Going from "Huh, Team Ninja's new game?" to "Wait, what the hell is this?" to the dark revelation that this was Square Enix's big moment, the epic finale to their mediocre E3 showcase? For months I've been anticipating the next big look at Final Fantasy 16, and then to find out that FF16 wouldn't be at the show but this would be shown in its stead? I can endure only so many anime betrayals at one time.
Wes: It's not just that that trailer was awful, but like—the entire premise of this game is terrible, right? If you want to take old Final Fantasy lore and build an action game out of it, sure, go ahead, but who the hell thought it would be a good idea to take the paper-thin plot of Final Fantasy 1, whose final boss is named Chaos because that was as sophisticated as JRPGs got in 1987, and turn it into a melodrama?
I'll answer my own question: Tetsuya Nomura. Tetsuya Nomura thought it would be a good idea (and the writer of Advent Children, who's apparently in charge of this game's story).
Steven: This is the equivalent of Nintendo making a gritty reboot of the arcade version of Donkey Kong.
James: Did anyone count how many times we heard chaos in the trailer? Be right back. Eight, eight times.
Steven: Yup. One "Chaos!" every 18.75 seconds.
Wes: The last time Square Enix stepped on its own dick this hard was when it announced Final Fantasy 7 coming to the PS4 in 2014, setting up the audience to think they were about to unveil a remake (that took another year). I'm surprised Shinji Hashimoto made it off that stage alive after that betrayal. Imagine how this trailer would've gone over with a live audience!
Steven: That's the core issue here, right? The combat itself looks cool and I'm totally okay with Final Fantasy spin-offs, but positioning this as your big show stopper reveal and doing it with arguably the worst E3 trailer in years is just nuts to me.
Wes: I think the core issue is the entire aesthetic is garbage. I mean, this thing reeks of 'bad nu-metal music video circa 2004,' right?
James: It is as if Korn chose to kill chaos instead of channel chaos through music. A much darker timeline.
Steven: I actually think Korn is too metal for Final Fantasy Origin. This reeks of P.O.D. Christian nu metal. I'm half expecting the final boss to be set to School of Hard Knocks. That said, my instinct is to defend this game for some reason, which I think is all the evidence you need to prove that I am deeply compromised by what's just happened. I'm in denial, and so my subconscious is trying to invent reasons why this will actually be pretty good when it most definitely won't.
Wes: Imagine if this game looked like Yoshitaka Amano's art for the original Fantasy Fantasy brought to life, like an ethereal Ni No Kuni or Okami. Now look at these guys.
Steven: I love how the protagonist's two cohorts have unique armor sets and this guy rolled out of bed and put on a Uniqlo crew neck and thought "Let's kill Chaos."
Wes: I'll put aside my disdain for a second to agree that this game may well be pretty fun. Team Ninja's really reasserted itself as a good action game developer with Nioh and Nioh 2, and I've heard their hack-and-slack Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors are good fun, too. But even if the combat here is amazing, I don't know if I could bear to listen to any of the dialogue.
Steven: Yeah, this definitely feels like bad Devil May Cry fanfiction. It's going to be hard to separate my feelings on the game itself from my feelings on this trailer that is just so laughably terrible. I'm interested to see what other features or systems are supposed to be included, because right now this trailer makes it seem as though the entire game is based around climbing a tower to kill Chaos. If that's all there is then this will be another baffling Final Fantasy spin-off in a long line of baffling Final Fantasy spin-offs. Maybe the trailer just struck a very bad tone?
James: Everything about this rules. I'm not sure what the problem is. Can't wait to kill chaos.
Steven: I keep oscillating between anger and laughing at this. I'm very conflicted. I do think in time I might be able to find the humor in this whole thing, and I'm hoping the game has a self awareness for how dumb it looks. It's just so hard to tell if this is earnest or taking the piss.