On my walk to the train station this morning, I was thinking about a chart I saw yesterday that displayed Bioware games and all their repetitive stories. I got to the link through a conversation on TVtropes called something like “Bioware Stories Blow.” Generally speaking, I agree. The team whose story-telling rocked (they’ve worked on several disparate projects) was responsible for Fallout, Arcanum, and Planescape: Torment.

Thinking about how Bioware games generally fail brought me to another company that tends to fail in the storytelling category, despite being lauded by fans and critics: SquareEnix. Specifically, the Final Fantasy series (and by extension, Kingdom Hearts). There was a time when I was a fan of both series, and the fun I had with Kingdom Hearts is still fresh enough in my memory that I have a hard time lumping it in with the rest.

It seems to me that the primary way that the Final Fantasy games fail is in trying to deliver more game than they have story for. I’m not even going to touch on character because the games don’t have any. They have stories in places that happen to people, but those people by and large don’t matter. Each entry since Final Fantasy 6 has had its gameplay padded with unnecessary combat, side-quests, and mini-games.