Tag: jrpg

More Final Fantasy Thoughts Because Why The Fuck Not

Clearly I have an obsession with the Final Fantasy series, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  They were extremely important to me in my pre-teen and teenage years, and at one point it was the most popular RPG series in the land.  Final Fantasy 7 practically won a console war for Sony.  It’s a bit of a big deal.

What’s interesting to me, though, is that there’s a decent case to be made that every major console that a Final Fantasy game has been on, it hasn’t had the best RPG for that system.

NOTE: This is from an American perspective, so Final Fantasy 2, 3, and 5 aren’t counted here, though I don’t think any of those would have been in any running for “best RPG of X console.”

NES: Final Fantasy 1 was a fantastic game, though I personally feel that it’s not even a top-3 RPG on the system.

  • Dragon Warrior 3 and 4 are the best two RPGs for that system.  They’re longer, have better stories, better characters, and were superior in graphics and audio.  That last part isn’t surprising, since they came out later, but the point still stands.
  • Lesser-known RPG Destiny of an Emperor is an excellent RPG that I feel barely edges out Final Fantasy.  If you haven’t heard of it, give it a try.
  • Ultima: Quest of the Avatar is a brilliant open-ended game with deep strategic combat and a sprawling world to explore.

SNES: Final Fantasy 4 and 6 are extraordinary games.  Final Fantasy 6 is my favorite of the series.  However…

  • Chrono Trigger is a masterpiece.  It’s about as close to a perfect game as most games get.
  • Secret of Mana was revolutionary in its gameplay, specifically in its multiplayer features.
  • Earthbound.  Don’t need any more words than that.

PSX: Final Fantasy 7 needs no introduction.  Final Fantasy is largely considered a misstep, while 9 was a return to form.  I think FF7 is probably the best RPG on the PSX, thus busting up my theory, but some contrarian arguments:

  • Xenogears.
  • XENOGEARS.
  • Breath of Fire 3.
  • MOTHER FUCKING XENOGEARS

PS2: Final Fantasy 10, 10-2 and 12 (we’re not counting the MMO 11) are all great entries into the series.  I think 10 might be the best on the console (horrible voice acting notwithstanding…and I’m playing through 12 now, so this might change).  But there’s a gaggle of other great entries:

  • The entire Shin Migami series
  • Shadow Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts series
  • Xenosaga
  • .hack
  • Tales of Symphonia

PS3/XBox360: Final Fantasy 13 and 13-2 are tepid games at best, both plagued by iffy characters and slow plots.  It’s not hard to find RPGs that could be/are better:

  • Dark Souls
  • Elder Scrolls series
  • Fallout series
  • Dragon Age series
  • Diablo 3
  • Tales series


It’s not to say that the Final Fantasy series is bad, but with the increase of the video games industry as a whole (and the playerbase being far different as a result), things have changed.  Final Fantasy just isn’t the showstopping series it once was.  This is OK.  Hopefully things go in one of two directions:

  • Final Fantasy reinvents itself in new, exciting ways
  • Square-Enix caters to the niche that simply wants more old-school style JRPGs, and works to refresh that formula in new, exciting ways.

As an aside, I feel that FF13 was a step in that “new, exciting way” direction, but the fact that the entire cast of characters were cunts (save for one) hurt that game to a great degree.

 

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Final Fantasy 12: Initial Thoughts

Yeah, so I’m giving initial thoughts on a game that’s 10 years old.  I spend my time very wisely.

Anyways, I’ve put a few hours in, and while there’s a whole lot more game to get to, I have some words.

  • I love the political intrigue.  Some might find all the exposition tiring, but it’s well-presented and makes sense.  Not all Final Fantasy plots achieve that, so I’ll take a barrage of words if it’s effective.
  • The license system feels like the Sphere Grid from FF10, except a big more digestable.  This is a good thing.
  • Combat is actually pretty solid so far.  It was a brave decision to move away from the tried and true “noise, flash, battle screen” format, but the seamless action is welcome and well-executed.  We’ll see if it holds up as things get more complicated (more characters/abilities/etc).
  • Vaan is pretty much anime Aladdin, though a bit less interesting on first blush.  I think I may find him irritating.  Though he can’t be worse than Tidus, right?  Right?
  • The game is very pretty, even at 10 years old.  This should come as no surprise considering Square Enix’s regular commitment to graphics, but it’s worth mentioning that 12 is specifically gorgeous, more so than any other FF.  That is high praise.
  • I adore the sountrack, which makes sense.  It is not done by series stalwart Nobuo Uematsu, but it was done by Final Fantasy Tactics composer Hitoshi Sakimoto.  His style is evident, and is wonderful.
  • One major gripe: the right analog stick is used to look around, and it uses a “flipped” scheme for both directions.  It’s not awkward holding up to look down or down to look up, but holding right to look left and vice versa is awkward.  And you can’t change it.  Normally this is the kind of bullshit that I will simply stop playing a game over, but I’m going to push through because otherwise I’m having a pretty good time.

I probably won’t have any more thoughts until I either finish or stop playing the game.  So far I would bet on me finishing it though, but I wouldn’t underestimate the possibility for bullshit midway through a FF game.  We’ll see.

The Last Final Fantasy Post (Until the Next One)

ff10
this guy.  ugh.

Final Fantasy 10, I’ve found, is probably the most polarizing entry into the series.  There’s a lot of obvious reasons for this.  It’s polarizing because it does a lot right, and a lot not right.  I feel I’ve made my point.

I know it’s cliche, but there’s enough meat on the bone here to do a pros/cons list.

PRO:

  • Sleek battle system that allows for instant character change.  Interesting abilities.  You can control summons.  Repeat: you can control summons.

CON:

  • That same battle system can feel very grindy, and once you discover that a character only gains experience if they perform a battle action, battles devolve into “make sure every character gets a hit in,” which is really annoying.

PRO:

  • The overall presentation is pretty wonderful.  Graphics are great, battle animations are satisfying, the music is top-notch as always, and the dialogue is reasonably written.

CON:

  • The voice acting is pretty terrible.  Lots of awkward pauses, overreactions, deadpan lines; it’s almost a trainwreck.  It gets a slight pass for being one of the first fully voice-acted games, but it’s really brutal at times.

PRO:

  • The Sphere Grid is probably one of the best character leveling systems ever created, only barely edged out by the Materia system in FF7.

CON:

  • The Sphere Grid turns some off with its complexity, and it can bend your brain if you stare at it too long.

PRO:

  • The cast of characters is rather great; Auron is mysterious, Yuna is stubbornly optimistic, Wakka is fun, the list goes on.

CON:

  • Tidus might be the worst main character in a Final Fantasy game, ever.  Honestly, the best way to deal with this is to pretend Yuna is the main character (she sort of is, really), and pretend Tidus is just an idiot that the camera happens to follow.

PRO:

  • The plot is actually pretty great, if a bit convoluted.

CON:

  • It bears repeating: Tidus might be the worst main character in a Final Fantasy game.

PRO:

  • Blitzball is a very interesting diversion within the game.

CON:

  • Whoever thought underwater turn-based soccer was a good idea should probably be punched.  In the heart.

OK, that was long, but that’s the point.  There’s a laundry list of compliments and complaints to give Final Fantasy 10.  I think the positives outweigh the negatives overall, and if you can get past the off-putting awkwardness of the voice acting, it can be a pretty great experience.  Also, the Jecht boss fight music is ridiculous, and totally worth it.

One final thought: not being able to control the airship is blasphemy.


 

ff5
that guy on the left is dumb.

At this point, because this series is weird, I had finally gotten a chance to play Final Fantasy 5.  I had briefly played the PSX port, but then had a Nintendo DS for a while, and played the GBA version on it.  I’ve also since emulated it and played through most of the game.  I can understand why it wasn’t brought over to the USA back in the 90s.

I had high hopes, as I knew FF5 had the acclaimed job system in place, and I enjoyed the hell out of it in Final Fantasy Tactics.  However, I found it a bit clunky and much less interesting when applied to the typical Final Fantasy battle system.  The game in effect had wild difficulty swings without warning, where there were fights that were just plain hard, but others that felt hilariously easy due to a single job choice.

The main character, Bartz (or Butts, or whatever), is largely uninteresting.  The others are rather compelling however, but that doesn’t help a largely cliche story.  It’s the typical fare of elemental crystals, and someone/something trying to disrupt/destroy/conquer the world.  There is a large plot twist in the second half, but I had already experienced a similar twist in FF6 that was frankly far better executed and compelling.

Also, X-Death is probably the series’ worst villain, but in name and in practice.  He seems like a far less interesting Kefka.  Maybe Kefka is just an evolution of X-Death.  In any event, he’s not terribly great.

One final thought on 5: while the graphics and sound appear to be in the middle of 4 and 6 (as one would guess), they don’t appear as polished as either game.  The music is great at points, and strange in others.  Sound effects aren’t bad, but aren’t nice and crisp like the others.  And graphically, it’s “better” than 4, but not as appealing.

I’d still recommend it to series fans, but not as highly as most.  Still a solid game, but not great, and maybe barely good.


 

At this point, I don’t feel I have played enough of any other Final Fantasy game to render a reasonable opinion.  I have tried both 2 and 3, but never got much into them.  I haven’t gotten to 12 yet, but probably will someday soon.  I played through good chunks of 13, but don’t even really care to talk about it, as it was largely underwhelming and slow (oh, so slow).  11 and 14 were MMORPGs, and that’s a totally different genre and discussion.  And I haven’t played any of the “sequels”; FF4: The After Years, FF X-2, or any of the Dissidia games, so I can’t really offer opinions as of yet.  I do plan to play X-2 though, eventually.

What was the point of all this?  Nothing really, just to reflect on an iconic series of games, and their effect on many and mine’s gaming tastes and influences.

Wait, there is one point.  This game is probably better than all of them.  Except Tactics.