Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins is wonderfully cringe-worthy

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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 story of one of the longest running video game series.

The studio has an unusual knack for making great, trashy, and sometimes terribly trashy games. Let’s review its most recent release. 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 for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, a high definition entry in its cheesecake sports franchise that has scantily clad women playing beach games for the player’s enjoyment. A year later he was released Nioh 2a 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 from Heaven: Final Fantasy Origin, the studio has happily decimated assumptions about how a Final Fantasy game should behave. You play as Jack, the bluntly-named ox, who wears Bluetooth headphones, listens to Limp Bizkit, and likes to cut the bad guys off whenever they monologue too long about their evil master plan. Or to put it another way, “Jack is the most angry Barbie in the world”.

If that sounds like a parody of mid-2000s video games, well yes, we feel it too. Is this camp? To be honest, we can’t say for sure, but if any studio can hit the 7-10 split of serious, snappy JRPGs, it’s Team Ninja.


This week on YouTube | Have you heard the rumor that FromSoftware, the makers of Ring of Elden, work hard to resurrect… ARMED CORE? Wait, step back. Have you ever heard of Armored Core? Because it’s an awesome, weird, classic, and challenging FromSoft series that spans 17 entries! So let Clayton Ashley catch you up on what the show is before Armored Core 6 maybe maybe will come out. One day.


Four stories to read

Photo collage of images from the Halo TV show

Image illustration: James Bareham/Polygon

The story behind the Halo TV show | Microsoft struggled to adapt Halo for nearly two decades. How Master Chief finally made its way to TV screens, and will the show be Paramount Plus’ answer to game of thrones?

The First Live-Action Batman Adaptation Was Pure Political Propaganda | In 1942 Columbia Pictures released the first live-action portrayal of Bruce Wayne, its thin plot glued with a racist message meant to help justify the atrocities of World War II.

turn redTeen Lust’s version is refreshingly weird | “Being turned on for the first time is confusing and overwhelming, and turn redThe frankness and exaggerated lust of captures this moment in life with hilarious finesse.

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked | A list that will make you scream “Kachow!” Or maybe, “Kachow???”


Four things to watch out for

Ben Affleck stares sadly through a window, glass in hand

Image: 20th Century Studios

deep waters on Hulu | Director Adriane Lynne has built her career on sexy movies like Fatal attraction and Unfaithful. But after producing seven major films in two decades, Lynne remained silent for the next 20 years. deep waters brings the filmmaker back to the erotic thriller genre, pairing Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck as a married couple who try to spice up their sex life with infidelity. Murderous infidelity.

you are from the west X in theaters | After years of mainstream cinema avoiding torpor, we get two erotic movies in one week. X is a goopy mix of slasher horror and sex comedy. A group of budding young filmmakers shoot porn on a Texas farm owned by an elderly couple with secrets. Killer Secrets.

The unbearable weight of massive talent in theaters | Nic Cage plays Nic Cage in a movie starring the guy who plays the Mandalorian in The Mandalorian.

Hell has no fury on Hulu | A 90-minute action movie about the Nazi gold hunt? Yes please.

More, everything new in streaming: Spider-Man is swinging on your TV!


Three games to play

The Tunic fox raises his sword

Image: Andrew Shouldice/Finji

Tunic | This independent adventure made largely by a single developer is a hodgepodge of The Legend of Zelda and He did, featuring an adorable little fox. The game received a surprise launch day release on Xbox Game Pass. If you need more convincing (and even if you don’t), be sure to read Polygon’s hand-illustrated review! Available on Windows PC, macOS, Xbox One, Xbox Series X.

WWE 2K22 | The WWE video game franchise went on hiatus last year, after an excruciatingly messy 2020 release. WWE 2K22 is like a professional high jumper jumping over a limbo bar. Is this the wrestling game that casual fans have been looking for since the N64 era? The answer is not so simple. Available on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X.

Auto grand theft 5 ”expanded and improved” | An Xbox 360-era game upgraded for the Xbox One has now been upgraded for the Xbox Series X-age. Its loathsome worldview and superficial attempts at satire feel particularly dated, but the open world remains one of video games’ most impressive technical feats. PSA: the update is not free. Available on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.


Free Game of the Week

A young woman walks on a train filled with the spirits of her ancestors in A Taste of the Past.

Image: Survey Studio

A taste of the past | Earlier this month, Sondering Studio released this cute half-hour thumbnail. Mei, a Chinese-American high school student, mourns the death of her mother when she inexplicably finds herself on an ethereal train crowded with the spirits of her ancestors. His task: to learn the origin of a cherished family recipe. Available on To smoke, Itch.io and browser.


The best of the rest

Twilight and Anya from the anime Spy x Family

Image: WIT/Clover works

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