Of course this series is becoming way to JP for my tastes and SE needs to work on their Westernization...
I just want a Final Fantasy to feel like FF6 again, where I have my pick of 15 unique characters to save the world with. Eh.
Woah, hey, you know FFVI and FFVII were released back in a day when SE games were so Japanese that they barely even had
a translation department. Today, the company releases games (e.g., FFXIV) whose voice acting, bafflingly, is only
in English! If anything, it has been SE's persistently misguided attempts to "Westernize" their games that have made them so bad as of late. As you say at the end of your post, you don't want a reinvented SE, you don't want a reinvented Final Fantasy, you want it go back to its roots - and the games' roots are, fundamentally, traditional Japanese
games that didn't cater to the perceived spectre of "Westernization."
I'd guess to counter (or agree, I don't know anymore) that the updated graphics have made SE's JP soul even clearer. In the 90's SE couldn't make sprites turn into one of Michael Bay's Transformers, but now they can, so they do. I see it as a blatant rip off.
And when I say Westernization, I guess primarily mean translation and art design.
XII was a great example of a good translated game. The game was well written (for a Final Fantasy) and that sort of quality was the least I expected out of XIII. (OT, Don't even get me started on Catherine...)
And in the past there was Amano's artwork and sprites, and our imagination filled in the rest.
Another mistake I made last year when XIII came out was play the ultra-western Mass Effect 2 that I loved. The two games seemed as opposite as could be. In some ways ME felt more like FF than FF did.
Lastly I don't mind reinvention, it just has to work. And to me not only did XIII not work, it was bad game and the demo makes great strides (albeit a bit heavyhanded) to show, "Hey! We're still the Final Fantasy you used to love!" Eh.
When I say go back to 'the old days' I primarily mean the story, it's pacing, and the characters. Selzer had character, Balthier had character, Auron had character. And I felt like a bad @$$ when they were on my team.
Also about the linearity, I've said this time and again, it's about the illusion. Just walking around in the demo and interacting with seemingly innocuous things, creates space, pacing, a relationship to your characters. It does wonders for the game.
I want to go back to a Final Fantasy that is unexpected with varied gameplay, that makes me wonder what the next disk will hold. This demo shows a glimmer of that, but I think they have a long way to go.