Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins is wonderfully cringe

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins is wonderfully cringe

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How the hell did we get a Final Fantasy game this weird? Praise (or blame) Team Ninja, the studio responsible for this chaotic revisionist history to one of gaming’s longest running series.

The studio has an unusual knack for creating games that are terrific, trashy, and sometime terrifically trashy. Let’s review its most recent output. In 2018, the studio contributed to the relatively family-friendly Nintendo action game Fire Emblem Warriors. Then in 2019, Team Ninja produced a substantial update to Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, a hi-def entry in its cheesecake sports franchise that has scantily clad women play beach games for the player’s pleasure. A year later, it released Nioh 2, a yōkai-infused riff on the Dark Souls formula, trading the color and playfulness of the studio’s previous games for darkness and difficulty.

With Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, the studio has joyfully decimated the assumptions of how a Final Fantasy game should comport itself. You play as the bluntly named beefcake Jack, who wears a Bluetooth headset, listens to Limp Bizkit, and loves to cut off villains whenever they monologue for too long about their evil master plan. Or to put it another way, “Jack is the world’s angriest Barbie.”

If this sounds like a parody of mid-’00s video games, well yeah, we’re sensing that too. Is this camp? To be honest, we can’t quite say for certain, but if any studio can hit the 7-10 split of self-serious JRPG and winky chucklefest, it’s Team Ninja.