Usually, in a typical Final Fantasy, NPCs will say the same thing over and over. One guy would always tell you where you were. But why?
It may have something to do with Japanese marketing. In Kotaku’s article Japan: It’s Not Funny Anymore Tim Rogers recalls of his experiences in a Japanese jean stores:
When I first came to Japan, and learned that “irasshaimase” meant “come [into the store]!” I expressed a certain amount of confusion to the dude who was playing the part of my tour guide. We were in a Jeansmate — a Japanese jeans store that is inexplicably open twenty-four hours a day, even in towns where (as in ours) the only god damn supermarket closes at eight in the PM. I was looking at jeans, and an employee, standing nearby, was repeatedly yelling “Irrashaimase” at my roommate and I. “That’s just how they do things.” He must have yelled it maybe a hundred times. We were the only customers in the store. “Why is he telling us to come into the store if we’re already in the store?” “Beats me, man,” was my roommate’s response.
Sound familiar? It’s very much like the store clerks in Final Fantasy. They repeat the script. They tell you to look around at their products, even if you were just browsing a minute ago. Later, Rogers’ girlfriend told him:
“Irasshaimase is a greeting that dates back hundreds of years, when shops were traditionally stalls in a marketplace. In such cases, the word indicated to customers that they should come closer to the stall, that they should buy their little dried fishes at your stall, and not the stall next to you, which sells the same things.”
What’s to do in towns? Talk and spend money. Only, competition doesn’t exist within the towns in Final Fantasy. It exists between towns.
When you enter the town, the townspeople may chit chat with you about light topics. But they don’t care about you. They care about your money. They don’t have to know who you are. If you came to their town, you must have traveled far. The outside is full of dangerous monsters, so if you survived you must have killed monsters. If you ran away, it’s still in a business’ best interest to assume all foreigners carry gil. And you’re going to need the gil to buy more weapons, armor, and items. But you’ve been killing monsters all this time. You have been racking up a ton of gil. They want your money to help benefit their town.
Now let’s consider Final Fantasy XIII. You’re a criminal, so you wouldn’t want to stop in a town to just talk (much less buy). Your characters are utilizing common sense. No one in town wants trouble, so no one’s going to sell to you. But notice when you get close enough to a townsperson in Final Fantasy XIII, their conversation is much more meaningful. They speak rumors, but now they are talking more freely (with the snippets that you actually hear).
In previous games, you weren’t getting a discussion. How could you have? A discussion doesn’t involve walking up to someone, pressing X, waiting for them to talk. You were getting chit-chat at best. Useless, time-wasting chit chat meant to prolong the game or give you hints.
The townspeople knew you were mostly just passing by, so why not make a buck from you? “Oh yeah, you need to go someplace? In a few short sentences, this is where you’ll need to go. But it’s dangerous out there, so why not stock up at the town store?”
But in Final Fantasy XIII, the concept seems a bit different. They have towns and stores. But you have to buy from an online black market. And if you want to listen to what citizens have to say, you have to eavesdrop. I hate to admit it, but this is far more realistic.
Final Fantasy XIII exposes how much you were actually missing about how conversations really work.
Consumerism blinds us to more fulfilling conversations.