Final Fantasy San Francisco
Today Jen and I had the chance to visit the Sony Metreon in San Francisco for a Square-Enix event that was announced a few weeks ago, celebrating 20 years since the release of the first Final Fantasy for the NES. It turned out to be more of an event to get your money than an event to celebrate the legacy of Final Fantasy, but as blind fans, we had to at least see what the "crystal hooha" was all about. Below is a retelling of today's story. (I would have had this up earlier, but my battery died right after we left the venue.)
I would have loved to live blog this, but I think that San Francisco Wi-Fi deal with Google fell through. It would have came in mighty handy right about now. Well, we got here late. Well, later than we had hoped. Stupid traffic. Anyway, we got a shot of the line at the Metreon while looking for a parking spot and found that it wrapped around the wall facing Mission Street. Unfortunately, any hope of us being one of the first 100 quickly faded. I guess we're definitely not hardcore enough. Speaking of hardcore, I found it funny that within 30 seconds of finding the end of the line, we overheard a few guys talking about Metal Gear cosplay. One of the guys was a bit outspoken, holding his PSP close to his heart. The three soon talked about how much shorter the line would be if the people "with crappy DSes" weren't around. Hey, I have a "crappy DS" you jerk. sigh I know it's a Final Fantasy event being held at a SONY property, but I guess that's teenagers for you. There are a few restless individuals who have been coming up and down our end of the line saying that the line to the other side of the building was the better one, and that there were TWO lines. Um... logic would say when a line wraps around a building with a main entrance at the corner, then yes, they'd split the line so happy customers don't run into angsty teens.
A guy just came back cursing a bunch of people saying that the employees wouldn't tell him anything about what was being given. There are about 50 people on the near side of the Playstation store, and we're sitting right at about 110 according to a rough count by the F-bomber. A Playstation store rep just came around to tell us the usual "no cameras, no recording, Squeenix doesn't like that, you'll be kicked out,etc."
Taking a rough survey of the crowd, there's the guy with the PSP, and another person with a "crappy DS." I would have taken out my DS, but I'm having more fun watching these aZn's complain about the apparent sausage fest. (It is pride week guys.) F-bomb count is about 60. An Academy of Art bus just passed by, and a lady asked the sausage fest of angsty teens what we were doing here, responses such as "gangbang" and "Star Wars" came from the crowd, before finally giving the ultimate response of "video games." Two of the aZns are discussing the exploit in Lumines. Homebrew++, except for the fact that a guy that owns a PSP doesn't know what Lumines is. That's like owning a DS and not knowing who Mario is... sort of.
FIRST COSPLAYER SPOTTED! I see a Squall. Looks like he just got out of bed, complete with the wooden gunblade. The line behind us just grew by another 25 people and two more DSes have been revealed. Apparently the guys from before are getting a kick out of the fact that you could use a turbo controller for the part of Metal Gear Solid where you're getting tourtured by Ocelot, even though he says he'll know. "Hella funny," and I quote. At least we'll have our memories, Ocelot, they'll never be ruined. Wait, I thought this was a Squeenix event. -_-;
Some event staff just passed by with a bunch of laniards. They're speaking to the crowd and giving out said laniards, after answering a quiz question. Looks like those people will be getting the free things inside. My hope has come back! Obviously they're all about Final Fantasy. First one was a question related to Garland of FF9 fame and the date when Final Fantasy I first came out in the US (1990). Now he's asking a question to all Final Fantasy XI players, actually, calling them all out - "The best person to do the taru taru panic will get a laniard" followed quickly by "you're a bigger loser..." from the friends of the guy who won the laniard. The next question about who composed "Eyes on Me", since we didn't hear the question, we obviously said "Faye Wong", but no, it was Uematsu. Apparently the guy who cosplayed Squall got it. D: They've moved on past us, but hopefully they come back... otherwise... I call shananagins. :( Although, I'm beginning to question the knowledge of the apparent "Final Fantasy" fans around us.
Really hoping they come back. :( Back of the line has extended at least another 25 people. This is going to be one crowded Playstation store, and I remember the place not being that large. Alright... the Squall has a California license plate with "SQUALL" on it. I'll try to get a picture.
They've come back with the laniards, but considerably less. AND they've gone to the back of the line. Nope they ran out. I call shanagins. That was lame. :/
Looks like there are TWO PSPs at this event. Go Sony pride go! You know I love you Sony, I just can't afford your stuff. Is that necessarily my fault?
It's been pretty quiet. Except for the fact that the goons to our left have doubled. -__-; And my day's complete, I've heard man-Tifa mentioned.
Looks like the laniards were just that, laniards... nothing special. God, somebody had to dance for a laniard? I'd feel sorry for the guy if he wasn't completely obnoxious to begin with. Gangbang count is at about 30, as that's the standard answer to tell people on the street, that or Transformers. And, it seems like people are being let in.
We haven't moved yet. Don't know what's going on. They're probably bringing people in a few at a time to check out the PSP goodies. There HAS to be more than just PSP versions of Final Fantasy I and II here, I guess we'll find out soon. There's a film crew here, nothing too special. But it seems like Squall is getting his time in the limelight, expect a meme soon.
We've moved five feet! Final Fantasy goodness is at hand! Ahh, the guys giving out laniards and filming are from Gamestop. Damn, should I really be live blogging this then? They probably have mobile network cards and stuff like that. But I don't care, power to the independents!
We've moved again. Caught sight of what looked like the tip of a buster sword, so a Cloud cosplayer is here. I see a sign for free wi-fi, but it doesn't look like it's reaching me. Finally on the other side of the building... only 30 minutes later than expected. And we've received our second no picture warning from the lovely Playstation store folks.
Cloud is actually Auron. Not a bad Auron at that, not that I'm an expert judge at cosplay or anything, but definitely better than the photos I saw on digg a while ago. We're about 50 feet from the door. I expect to be in at 7. Local homeless have started to make their move on the crowd.
Getting a glimpse through the windows of the Playstation store. There are pretty cool Final Fantasy PSP t-shirts being worn by the staff, but as to how many people they're letting in at a time, it's not a lot. There's a lot of room still left in there! Squeenix, we're freezing out here! o_O! Two of the event staff are conversing with Squall. To be honest, I did expect more cosplayers.
Getting the feeling that the free item was the t-shirt. Just saw a lot more people inside wearing it. You think the power-that-be at the store would have at least had Final Fantasy on all the monitors, but I just saw a commercial for NBA 07. Come on Sony, I KNOW you can throw better parties than that.
About 25 feet to go. Had about 3 more homeless guys try to ask me for money, and one was going nuts over the fact that I had a laptop. I'll finally be able to see what's inside soon. Sorry this whole thing has been about the actual line experience. o_o; Getting another look inside, flashes are going off, they're taking pictures of people to be placed on a special 20th anniversary print. Hope you don't have to pay for it.
Been waiting in the same place for a while now. One of the event staff told us that the store had reached capacity and that they're trying to usher people out to get us in. How long? She asked for the information and didn't get it. Surprised? No.
A guy just came by and said that a lot of people from the end of the line left. Looks like it is nothing more than just demos and the opportunity to buy Final Fantasy. We'll see... again. Just got a ticket from one of the staff for a raffle for some free stuff when the North American Squeenix store opens, since they just ran out of t-shirts, damn. Hopefully I win something, I should have asked for an extra ticket. :P Meanwhile, looks like the pictures aren't for us, but for the employees. Instead of actually running the store, they're all huddling in front of the green screen they have set up. :/ Oh wait, nevermind. Looks like they're letting more of us in for pictures. Looks like the employees were just passing the time instead of... running the event.
WOOHOO! Finally in! We were quickly filed into the Playstation store where an employee promptly held a photo in our face asking us if we wanted one (the whole green screen thing from before). I almost lost my raffle ticket, but after defeating my absent mindedness, we took our picture. Nice momenteo, too bad it was the only one.
Where is everything? FMVs are on the main screens and there's a Sony Bravia behind us, but that's all. They're both playing the same footage of what I later found to be Dawn of Souls, since one, they were playing off of PS2s (showing off the cover to Dawn of Souls no less) and two, the FMV characters had the same blank stare that the Final Fantasy Anthology (IV & VI) had. I hate that blank stare and can see it from a mile away.
Ah, the demo units. Consisting of 6 PSPs. Come on Sony, nothing extra for this celebration? I guess not. There are people looking into the store from the outside, to be honest, I should have done THAT first, rather than waiting. Things are definitely hitting rock bottom. I went to get my hands on one of the demo units, with Final Fantasy I on it, I didn't see any Final Fantasy II units, but I guess they were on the PSPs to the right of me. After we checked out the rest of the store and decided not to buy anything (although Alterier Iris looks pretty good), we decided to leave.
So all in all, it was a flop. A MAJOR flop. I love you Squeenix, but I think you have a problem with the word celebration. Remember the party you held for the Japanese? Yeah, that's something that we Americans (who apparently love everything big) would have loved. But no, you give us a picture, old FMV footage and 6 PSP demo stations after waiting in the windy city of the west for well over two hours (even more than that for the people who got there first). Sure it was a launch party for the PSP version of Final Fantasy, but if you're going to use the 20th Anniversary Celebration in the title of the event, then I for one think that there should have been a little more than goofy Playstation store employees jumping over each other in front of a green screen.
Anyway, as I said, we were both extremely underwhelmed, close to the point of regret. But we're Final Fantasy fans, and always will be. We'll buy your games, just hesitate to come to your celebrations.