Virtual Sports Illustrated News Update, Vol. 2

Today’s top stories from the world of virtual sports:

NBA IN MOURNING AFTER TRAGIC DEATH OF SHAWN KEMP

The NBA and its fans are still in shock following yesterday’s sudden death of Seattle Supersonics power forward Shawn Kemp. During the third quarter of last night’s game versus Atlanta, Kemp spontaneously combusted in a ball of flames, writhing in agony on the court as the blaze engulfed his entire body. Paramedics at the scene extinguished the fire and attempted to resuscitate the fallen superstar, but his injuries were too severe. Kemp was pronounced dead en route to hospital.

RIP Shawn Kemp: 1969 - 1994

RIP Shawn Kemp: 1969 - 1994

Sources from inside the Seattle locker room claim that Kemp had spoken to trainers during halftime with complaints that he was “heating up”. It has been reported that the trainers brushed him off, however, believing that the “Reign Man” was instead referring to the elevated stature of his game that night, having registered an incredible 42 points at the half.

Understandably, Kemp’s teammates are devastated by the sudden passing of the team’s franchise player. “I still can’t believe he’s gone,” said a teary-eyed Detlef Schrempf. “I mean, he was playing so well. You always hear about a player being ‘on fire’, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that it could, you know, actually happen. I can’t even put into words how I feel at the moment.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued the following statement: “The National Basketball Association expresses its deepest condolences to the entire Kemp family, both legitimate and illegitimate. This is a very sad day for the remaining basketball fans across this great country. Please, MJ, with Kemp out of the picture we need you back more than ever. Come on, we both know this baseball thing isn’t gonna work out. Just come back home. Daddy needs you.”

DOPING SCANDAL ROCKS KARTING WORLD

Racing fans across the world were stunned by the news that fan favourite kart racer Yoshi has tested positive for illegal performance-enhancing steroids. As a result of the positive test, Yoshi will forfeit all points earned during this season’s Mario Kart Grand Prix and will be suspended for the entirety of next season. Yoshi had been in second place in the overall GP standings with 24 points, just behind Luigi, who had 36 points.

Alleged doper and disgrace to kart racing.

Alleged doper and disgrace to kart racing.

Mario Kart officials first became suspicious of Yoshi’s conduct following a string of unbelievable second place finishes, including last month’s race on Koopa Beach. At the time, the entire racing community was buzzing about its incredible finish, which saw Yoshi knocked into the last place with only a half-lap to go courtesy of a well-placed Luigi green shell, only to storm back and finish in second place — just milliseconds behind the winner, Luigi.

“I think we all knew, in the back of our minds, that something wasn’t right about the way Yoshi performed on the track”, said fellow kart racer Toad. “You always heard rumours of the rubber bands in his engine, but in the end, I guess his skills were too good to be true, I suppose.”

Others were less forgiving, including his chief rival, Luigi. “Yoshi is a dope fiend and should be banished from this great sport,” he said.

While Yoshi himself declined to comment, his representative issued the following statement on his behalf: “Yoshi! Yoshi yoshi yoshi! Bowowowowow! Yoshi! Brrrrrap! Dum dum dum dum. Yoshi!”

GRETZKY SETS NHL SCORING RECORD AS KINGS BURY HABS

It was a night to remember for #99, as “The Great One” scored 38 goals during the last night’s 61 – 0 romp over the Montreal Canadiens. The Kings got to Patrick Roy early and often, seemingly scoring at will against one of the league’s best netminders.

Los Angeles ran up the score by continuously lobbing the puck on goal from the middle of the ice just outside the Montreal blue line. Time and time again, the puck would sail in a perfect arc up and over Roy, who just stood there at the lip of the crease, seemingly frozen by the ridiculousness of the half-shot / half-dump.

“I don’t know what happened. I just can’t explain it,” said Roy following the game. “Maybe the lights got in my eyes or something. Yeah, that’s it. The lights.”

Patrick Roy fishes yet another puck out of the net.

Patrick Roy fishes yet another puck out of the net.

Montreal coach Jacques Demers took some of the blame for the loss. “I should have recognized the situation and made adjustments on the fly,” he said. “Unfortunately, there was no option in the pause menu to configure my defensive strategy, so really, I was powerless to do anything to affect the outcome of the game.”

BOXING MATCH CANCELLED DUE TO UNRULY FANS

Irate boxing fans are asking for their money back after veteran WVBA referee Mario Mario called off yesterday’s main event at the Iowa State Fair between Glass Joe and Don Flamenco halfway through the second round.

Is Don Flamenco more concerned about his hair than his career?

Is Don Flamenco more concerned about his hair than his career?

The two boxers, both looking to avoid a loss that would send them tumbling down the WVBA rankings, both employed an extremely defensive strategy for the fight — in fact, the first punch wasn’t thrown until approximately 40 seconds into the opening round. Flamenco spent the majority of the round taunting his opponent and asking to be hit, while Glass Joe simply stood his ground, perhaps mesmerized by Flamenco’s world-famous hair. What punches were thrown during the first round were nothing but weak hooks and were few and far between, prompting the fans to boo the two pugilists mercilessly.

When the lack of action spilled into the second round, the fans soon started throwing debris into the ring. With the canvas littered with pop bottles and popcorn bags, Mario had no choice but to call the fight.

“It was-a for the safety of the fighters,” said Mario. “The fans, they were going-a crazy. They wanted blood.”

When reached for comment about the fight, Flamenco simply said: “People like my hair. Don’t mess my hair!”

WVBA officials have not yet decided if the fight will be rescheduled for a later date.

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Virtual Sports Illustrated News Update, Vol. 1

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world of virtual sports this week:

TORONTO COACH FINED FOR OFFICIATING REMARKS

Toronto Head Coach Pat Schwinn has been fined $5,000 for comments made following last night’s 4-2 loss to Chicago. During the post-game media scrum, Schwinn ripped into the referees as he lamented the numerous “blown calls” he witnessed throughout the game.

“I don’t know if they’re blind as bats or what, but when our guy is coming out of the zone and gets punched in the face by the Chicago player, who then goes and takes the puck up for a breakaway, that’s gotta be called, no questions asked,” Schwinn said. “I understand these are rookie referees, but these sort of non-calls have been happening far too frequently against us. Like that time the other team instigated a fight, but our guy was the only one sent to the box. It’s a joke, I tell ya. A big, fat joke.”

When asked about the fine during this morning’s practice, Schwinn had no comment.

Is it time to crackdown on fighting and roughing?

Is it time to crackdown on fighting and roughing?

HOCKEY CANADA, IIHF REACH AGREEMENT ON UNIFORMS

For months, Hockey Canada and the IIHF have been trying to find a compromise to “Jerseygate” and the use of Hockey Canada logos on team equipment, including the sweater itself. At a joint press conference today, the two sides announced that a compromise had been reached and Team Canada will take to the ice for the upcoming World Championships in a brand new uniform — in a colour that might take some Canadian hockey fans by surprise.

Team Canada's shocking new colours.

Team Canada's shocking new colours.

Gone are the days of the red, white, and black. Instead, the new sweaters will be predominantly green with slight black trim, and in a shocking twist, completely void of any Hockey Canada logos. When asked about the bold new colours, Hockey Canada issued the following statement:

“The Russians had dibs on red for whatever reason, and white would have blended in with the ice. So, we put a bunch of colours into a hat and pulled out green. Could have been worse, though. Fuchsia was one of the options.”

TEAM CANADA SELECTS ROSTER FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Team Canada is an early favourite.

Stacked with Fat Guys, Team Canada is considered an early favourite.

After weeks of speculation, Team Canada management has announced its final roster for the upcoming World Championships. Featuring three Fat Guys and one Skinny Guy, this year’s edition of Team Canada will be strong up front, not afraid to take the body, and boasts a bevy of blistering shots from the blue line.

“We feel we have a real strong team this year,” says General Manager Jacques Poutine. “With the players we selected, we’re confident that we match up extremely well against the likes of URS and TCH.”

One puzzling omission from this year’s squad is Medium Guy, who has enjoyed a breakout season.

“Although Medium Guy had a solid year, he just hasn’t shown the skating or face-off skills that Skinny Guy can bring to the table,” Poutine said. “In a tournament this short you need specialists, not generalists, and we believe we have that in spades.”

With such a high level of talent, many are considering this year’s edition Team Canada to be the early favourites to bring home the gold.

SURVEY: UTAH JAZZ DECLARED “UNSTOPPABLE”

They're heating up!

They're heating up!

A recent poll of NBA coaches and general managers has come to one conclusion: the combination of Karl Malone and John Stockton is practically unstoppable.

With Malone’s “monster jams” and Stockton’s uncanny ability to nail three-pointers “from downtown”, the Utah Jazz are a force to be reckoned with and have definitely raised eyebrows around the league.

“Those two guys work so well together,” said one GM. “When they really get clicking and using their strengths to their advantage, they’re unstoppable. They’re on fire.”

The poll, which asked coaches and GMs to name the most-feared one-two punch in the league, saw Malone and Stockton take top honours, followed by Olajuwon and Horry of the Houston Rockets.

BLUE JAYS SLUGGER PLACED ON 15-DAY DL

The Toronto Blue Jays will have to find a way to win without the big bat of W. Jack, who has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with contusions to the knee and thigh. The incident, which occurred during the second inning of yesterday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, saw Jack violently shatter his bat over his knee after being struck out on three consecutive pitches by Boston ace S. Heat. Jack limped back to the dugout and proceeded directly to the dressing room, where he was evaluated by team medical staff.

This has been a troubling season for Jack. In addition to slumping in the batter box, he continues to fight allegations that his name is actually a pseudonym and that his true identity is “Joe Carter”.

Team doctors are still removing the splinters.

Team doctors are still removing the splinters.

Punch-Out: The Rise and Fall of the World Video Boxing Association

There once was a time when boxing was considered the sport of kings … the sweet science … the merry art of fisticuffery. To the disappointment of many, that time has long since passed, as boxing has been marred for several years by shady promoters, criminal pugilists, and downright boring fights.

If you want to pinpoint the exact moment of boxing’s decline, you’d have to start with the arrival of an upstart organization known as the World Video Boxing Association (WVBA) — because that’s when everything started going to hell.

There’s nothing wrong with a new league trying to establish itself in the market and competing with the bigs. In fact, the more professional organizations, the more opportunities there are to make a living in combat sports. A win-win situation for everybody, right? Unfortunately, the WVBA made a complete and utter mockery of the sport of boxing, to the point where it still hasn’t — and probably never will — recover.

Are you a hopeless drunk? Welcome to the WVBA!

Can't stop drinking? Then you've got what it takes to be a contender!

The Early Years

The problem started with the types of boxers that the WVBA attracted to its organization. The promoters didn’t try to emulate the WHA of the 1970s, which successfully picked off numerous NHL superstars with insane contract offers. No, the WVBA pinched its pennies by hiring a bunch of scrubs and tomato cans from around the globe — the cast-away boxers that either couldn’t draw in the bigs or simply couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag.

I'm pretty sure disappearing isn't allowed by the Athletic Commission.

I'm pretty sure that disappearing is against the Commission's rules.

It didn’t matter if you were grossly overweight, had a raging substance abuse problem, a history of concussions, a 99-fight losing streak, or were a comically insensitive racial stereotype — the WVBA hired you on the spot. Indeed, with sad-sacks such as Glass Joe, Von Kaiser, and Don Flamenco filling out its roster, in addition to rampant allegations of cheating by fighters such as Great Tiger (all of which were conveniently ignored by league officials), the WVBA was home to the most pathetic collection of professional boxers in recent memory.

The only reason the league was even able to scrape out a niche for itself was the explosive brutality of its champion, Mike Tyson. This man was a killer, a heavyweight boxer with knock-out power second to none. And when this man was shockingly upset by a scrawny kid in a pink tracksuit by the name of Little Mac, the WVBA promoters collectively shit their trousers, as they had lost their one and only meal ticket. Without Tyson, they had no star attraction — after all, who in their right mind would want to pay to see jerks like Piston Honda and King Hippo fight for a shot of Little Mac’s title? Nobody, that’s who.

The precise moment when boxing was ruined forever.

The precise moment when boxing was ruined forever.

The Next Generation — “Boxing’s Greatest Sideshow”

With attendance plummeting and the organization leaking money, the promoters had to figure out some way to put more butts in the seats. And so, in the mid 1990s, the WVBA dropped any notion of professionalism and opened its doors to any chump who knew somebody with a pair of boxing gloves. Lumberjacks? Clowns? Lucha libre wrestlers? Actors? Old geezers? Welcome to the WVBA!

To accommodate these less-than-stellar athletes, it no longer mattered if you actually knew how to box. In fact, the boxing rulebook was tossed out completely, with fighters actively encouraged to use headbutts, flying kicks, wooden sticks, juggling balls, and a variety of other weapons and illegal tactics. Boxing purists were outraged, but the fans absolutely loved it. The WVBA was back in business!

The new generation of WVBA "boxers".

The new wave of WVBA "boxers".

The WVBA’s new business model was to put on the craziest, zaniest, most extreme boxing show on the planet. Even though boxing insiders and sports commentators deemed it a “laughing stock”, the revitalized WVBA routinely sold out arenas across the country, as everybody wanted to know what sort of freak show would step inside the ring on any given night. As a result, the league’s promoters often found themselves sleeping on top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies.

All natural, baby.

All natural, baby.

But it wouldn’t last forever.

Fresh off of its crackdown of Vince McMahon and the WWF, the United States government came down hard on the World Video Boxing Association — not for match-fixing, gambling, or even its profane mockery of the once-great sport, but for its unchecked steroid usage. The evidence was quite damning — just one look at top attractions such as the Bruiser Bros. or Super Machoman and you could practically see the bull shark testosterone and HGH oozing from their pores.

Even the league’s champion and all-around good guy Little Mac had been on the juice, directly supplied to him by WVBA officials. Indeed, millions of children wept openly as their hero confessed to his years of steroid abuse in a federal courthouse. Boxing’s one true shining light — the one-in-a-million shot from Brooklyn, the kid with a heart of gold and determination of a lion — had been extinguished.

Before and After. Note the roid-rage induced glint of insanity in his eyes.

Note the roid-rage glint of insanity in the eyes of the "After" shot.

Devastated by the scandal and financially ruined by tremendous legal fees, the WVBA was forced to shut its doors in the late 1990s. By then, however, the damage was irreparable. Boxing was now seen in the eyes of the public as a fraud and a joke (a froke, perhaps), no longer worthy of its time or attention.

As the years went by, the WVBA became an afterthought in the world of combat sports, remembered only be a few lonely souls on the Internet basking in the nostalgia of larger-than-life characters like Bear Hugger and Mad Clown.

That is, until recently …

The Revival

Over the past few weeks, rumours have been swirling like crazy that the WVBA is being resurrected by an unknown group of foreign investors. If this is true, all sorts of questions need to be answered.

First, what sort of fighters will we see in the revived World Video Boxing Association — the broken down has-beens of the early years, or the cartoon characters of the mid-90s? Is the public ready to forgive Little Mac, who has reportedly pledged his support to the new WVBA? What is the target market that the promoters are going after? And finally, can a revitalized WVBA bring boxing back to the top of the sporting landscape?

Little Mac and Glass Joe fight again.

Can Little Mac reclaim his lost glory and bring the WVBA back into the spotlight?

Time will tell, friends. Time will tell.

VI Awesome Things About Final Fantasy III

While I recently declared Chrono Trigger to be the superior Super Nintendo RPG experience, that doesn’t mean I think Final Fantasy III is a steaming pile of triceratops shit. Far from it, in fact. It truly is a fantastic game with a multitude of memorable moments, and just to show that there is no ill-will from Camp Chrono, the following are six reasons why FF3 is one of the greatest games ever:

Yes, this man is the last boss. And it's awesome.

Yes, this man is the last boss. And it's awesome.

Kefka

Kefka is great. His sinister yet playful theme and his wicked 16-bit laughter are the stuff of legends. While a demented court jester / soldier / flamboyant underling of the Emperor may be an odd choice for a main villain, Kefka pulls it off nicely without all of the pretentious of later Final Fantasy villains.

The Lete River Loop

While it does suck some of the fun out of the game, overlevelling your party while on the Lete River is an awesome exploit that practically everybody has used at least once while playing FF3. It’s simple — set the battle memory so Edgar always uses Auto-Crossbow and Banon always uses Heal, use a penny and a rubber band to keep the ‘B’ button pressed down, and then go to bed . Waking up the next morning to find Terra knowing Fire 3? Priceless. Consider it the “New Game +” of Final Fantasy III.

Genji Glove + Offering + Atma Weapon = Epic Win

This combination, especially late in the game with an overlevelled party, is brutally unfair, yet sadistically amusing. Feel like killing Kefka in a single turn? Well, here ya go.

Quotable Quotes

Chalk it up to a shitty translation if you want, but Final Fantasy III definitely has some awesome and memorable lines:

  • Son of a submariner!
  • Run, run, or you’ll be well done!
  • You can’t escape … nowhere to run … nowhere to hide …
Don't mess with the Phantom Train.

Don't mess with the Phantom Train.

Hell, I still use some of these quotes with my friends, and if I see somebody running down the street, I can help but think that are desperately avoiding becoming well done.

The Opera House

Out of all of the scenarios in the game, this one is perhaps the most memorable, simply because it’s so different than the rest of the game. Read the script, get your lines right, and save the day. Doesn’t hurt that the music is pretty nice, too.

Leafers

Assholes.

Pure evil.

Quite simply the most fearsome and demonic enemy ever found in an RPG. Just look at those glowing red eyes …

All other monsters in the history of video games bow down the might of the powerful Leafer.

Oh yes, they are most powerful. So powerful, in fact, the Leafers never utilize their awesome might, because doing so would completely destroy the universe. That’s why they just sit there on a bunch of lettuce. Doing anything else would cause mass levels of extinction.

And there you have it. Six great things about a truly great game. But Chrono Trigger is still better …

The Final Verdict: Chrono Trigger vs. Final Fantasy III

Since the dawn of time, mankind has sought to answer one simple question: “Which classic Super Nintendo RPG reigns supreme — Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy III?”

Families have been torn apart trying to answer this very question. Best friends have turned against one another, sending each other to the hospital — or worse — when heated debates turn ugly. Indeed, nations have been forced to the brink of civil war by opposing factions arguing the merits and virtues of their Squaresoftian  champion.

And now I dare to step into the fray? Yes. Yes I dare.

Chrono or FF3 ... only one can be victorious.

Chrono or FF3 ... only one can be victorious.

Before we begin, I must state that both Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III (and don’t give me none of this VI bullshit … the cartridge I played on back in seventh grade was labelled “Final Fantasy III”, so that’s what the game is called) rate among my favourite games of all-time. But clearly, only one game can be superior. Only one cartridge can be the king of 16-bit Japanese role-playing awesomeness. But which one?

Well, back in 1995, I would have told you that FF3 was the greatest game ever made … or at the very least, ranked somewhat higher than Chrono Trigger (and other top contenders such as Earthbound and Secret of Mana). But as the years go by, my video gaming pallet has become more sophisticated and refined, and I have come to realize — and wholeheartedly accept — that Chrono Trigger is the undisputed champion of SNES RPGs.

There is simply no arguing this fact. If you think FF3 is a superior game to Chrono Trigger, you’re wrong. End of story. Now, I don’t fault you for thinking that way, but trust me, you’re mistaken.

Allow me to explain:

ROUND 1: BATTLE SYSTEM

While it definitely works, there’s absolutely no denying that the battle system in Final Fantasy III is rather conventional, and some might say antiquated, even by 1994’s gaming standards (as it’s basically a refinement of all of the previous FF games that came before it). Fight, Magic, Item, Defend, plus each character’s unique ability. That’s about it. Sure, there were some Espers thrown in here and there, but for the most part, the battle system was pretty dull and no different than scores of other RPGs.

Assholes.

Assholes.

And you can’t forget about the random battles — the bane of any sane RPG player.

Seriously, my party just wants to take a nice walk in the field during a sunny day on the outskirts of Narshe, but nooooooo, those pesky Lobos and Leafers won’t back the fuck off.

Chrono Trigger, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air. For starters, no random battles! Even better, no more warping to a separate battle screen! The enemies are right there in the dungeon — if you bump into them, you fight them. What a concept! Even when the battles forced are upon you (such as baddies jumping out from behind trees and whatnot), it never feels as tedious or grinding as the battles in the Final Fantasy games.

Sure, while Chrono has its fare share of “scripted battles” that are completely unavoidable, they aren’t “random”, and that’s a big thumbs up in my book (my book is actually just a collection of thumbs oriented in various directions, by the way. Quite grotesque, now that I think about it).

Triple Tech! And boom goes the dynamite.

Triple Tech! And boom goes the dynamite.

Once a battle is initiated, of course, there’s Chrono Trigger’s amazingly kickass battle system, which allows different characters to combine their skills into face-shattering Dual and Triple Techs. Unlike FF3, your party is not simply a collection of individuals bashing their weapons in turn against the monsters’ skulls (Auto-Crossbow, Aurabolt, rinse, repeat). Instead, your party can (and must) work together, with each character’s skills complementing another in a variety of ways.

It all comes together to keep battles fresh and interesting (and not to mention visually stimulating .. the simple act of seeing Chrono actually leap towards the enemy and slash at it is much more engaging than watching Cyan simply wave his sword in the general direction of the bad guy).

Winner: Chrono Trigger

ROUND 2: AUDIO-VISUAL STIMULATION

For its time, FF3 was an impressive looking game, but it certainly does not hold up to the ravages of time as well as Chrono Trigger. I think the main thing that really gets me about FF3 is the blockiness of the characters. It’s as if all of the characters were shoved in to a tiny box at birth and forced to grow into that shape in the same way that Chinese women bind their feet.

A little known fact ... Terra and Locke are made out of Lego.

A little known fact ... Terra and Locke are actually made out of Lego.

Chrono Trigger completely blows FF3 out of the water in this area. While there’s no denying the fact that many of the characters look like Dragon Ball rejects (unsurprising given Toriyama’s involvement in the game), the anime-inspired sprites in Chrono Trigger simply have more personality than FF3’s Lego-men.

When it comes to audio-visual stimulation, however, the real champion is the music of Chrono Trigger. Magus’ theme, the Tyrano Lair, Frog’s theme, Zeal, the Boss themes … all true classics. Sure, Final Fantasy III has the opera house scene, and the final battle with Kefka, and many other great  pieces of music, but as a whole Chrono Trigger’s score contains more well-crafted and memorable pieces than FF3.

Winner: Chrono Trigger

ROUND 3: CHARACTERS

Final Fantasy III has a pretty solid cast — Terra, Locke, Edgar, Sabin, Cyan, Seles, and Shadow are all great characters with well-rounded back stories (Mog, Gau, Relm, Strago, Umaro, Gogo … well, they suck anyway, so who cares about them).

The black wind begins to howl ...

The black wind begins to howl ...

In fact, some proponents for FF3 tout this is an advantage of Chrono Trigger, stating that Chrono’s characters are one-dimensional and boring. And yes, this might true of Chrono (a generic deaf-mute), Ayla (a generic cavewoman), and Robo (a generic robot), but I counter with the almighty trump card — Magus.

In fact, I believe that Magus is actually the true main character of Chrono Trigger. Chrono is just some dude who happened to be in the right place at the right time, but Magus is central to all of the major story events and his presence is felt throughout the entire game (in particular, the Frog / Cyrus storyline, as well as pretty much everything to do with the Kingdom of Zeal). Plus, going from a mysterious Fiendlord threatening Guardia’s safety to a sympathetic figure looking to avenge his homeland and family makes him a truly awesome and memorable character. The fact that he becomes a playable character is just the icing on the cake.

Winner: Magus (I mean, Chrono Trigger)

ROUND 4: REPLAYABILITY

As a general rule, RPGs usually suffer from rather low replayability. For starters, the games take dozens of hours to complete, so the notion of slogging through the entire game again can often be disheartening. Combined with the fact that the core game experience won’t change drastically with each playthrough, most people won’t pick up the controller again for quite some time after the final monster has been defeated.

Chrono Trigger breaks the mould by allowing you to defeat the final boss at pretty much any point over the course of the game. In addition, it offers the always welcome New Game + option, allowing you to smash your way through the entire game with beefed up characters and weapons in order see more than a dozen different endings (or just to see how quickly you can complete the entire game, I suppose).

You're useless, Gau. Go away.

Usless.

FF3, on the other hand, offers the same experience time and time again. While it’s a solid game and I’ve played through it numerous times, it usually comes down to using Terra, Edgar, Sabin, and some other character to plow through the game. Only the sick and twisted would subject themselves to using Relm or Gau in their main party, and while I suppose trying to beat the game with various combinations of shitty characters is a form of replayability, it’s also a form of torture — meaning it gets no points from me in this category.

Winner: Chrono Trigger

ROUND 5: FINAL BOSS

No matter how awesome the rest of the game is, if the final boss sucks,  your perspective of the entire game will have changed considerably (and probably for the worse). Luckily, both Chrono and FF3 offer extraordinary climactic showdowns.

Kefka's final form. Watch out for "Fallen One"!

Kefka's final form. Watch out for "Fallen One"!

The last battle in Final Fantasy III is quite epic, no doubt about it. The initial battle up the tower of monster corpse things, the extremely bitchin’ music, and of course, Kefka’s final angel form … all truly awesome, but in the end, it feels rather empty. After all, Kefka’s already kicked the world in the balls — what’s beating him really going to do? Not a whole lot, really. No more lasers from the sky, I suppose, but the world’s still in the shitter, with or without Kefka in charge.

Seriously ... WTF is this supposed to be?

Seriously ... WTF is this supposed to be?

The last battle in Chrono Trigger, however, provides a real sense of finality and a culmination of everything you’ve achieved up to that point. During Lavos’ first form, you have to fight all of the major bosses throughout the game once more. While many other games have done this (the Zelda series, for example, among others), the combination of the epic (yet somehow haunting) music, and the fact that Lavos is emulating the bosses (instead of your party fighting boss clones or what-have-you), makes for an interesting and impressionable last battle experience.

Yes, once inside the Lavos shell, things fall apart somewhat as you end up fighting some goofy looking alien thing with ill-defined evil intentions, but hey, the music is cool, the changing backdrops are sweet, and the swerve job of making one of the tiny pods the true last boss is an interesting touch that really throws you for the loop the first time through.

Winner: A Draw, I Guess

THE FINAL VERDICT

Without question, each game has a plethora of good things going for it, and just so it doesn’t leave with hurt feelings, I intend to write a post outlining many of the cool things about FF3 that make it one of the top games of all-time (but just not better than Chrono Trigger).

But in the end, the engaging battle system, the lush graphics, the beautiful score, the memorable characters, and the sheer replayability of the game all lead to one decision — the true champion of SNES RPGs is and forever will be Chrono Trigger!

Chrono Trigger is victorious. Fuck you, Heckran!

Chrono Trigger is victorious. Fuck you, Heckran!