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Scotty Plays Every Final Fantasy Game*

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Scotty Plays Every Final Fantasy Game*

Post by ScottyMcGee » Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:36 pm

*Okay, all the main games except 11 and 14 since they are online crap.

**Also no spinoffs or sequels

***Also saving XV for last

THE INTRODUCTION:

Well, it’s almost here – I’m close to finishing every Final Fantasy game. As I’m writing this, I only have to finish Final Fantasy XII. I planned on releasing this on my blog and stuff but screw it - I'm excited to share my thoughts. I'm releasing it first on here because VGF is cool and special.

Years ago, I already had in mind to finish every Final Fantasy game. After they finally announced XV, I had hoped to finish all the main games before playing XV. Of course, that didn’t quite pan out, but I’m close enough.

My early memories of Final Fantasy are rather muddled. My very first game was Final Fantasy X, and it remains one of my favorites. Being a sci-fi/fantasy writer, I found that Final Fantasy became fertile ground for inspiration. The series spans a multitude of genre-bending stories – sci-fi, fantasy, some steampunk, modern fantasy, space, traditional fantasy with knights in armor – and a whole lot of crystals.

I wrote these reviews as if you have no idea what Final Fantasy is – whether you are a gamer or non-gamer. I start out first with a general introduction, but even if you are a die-hard fan already, there’s some critiques that I hope you'll find interesting.


What is Final Fantasy?

Final Fantasy is a roleplay video game series that started back in 1987. The first game was reminiscent of Dungeons and Dragons, where you could choose one of six roles for a team of four: White Mage, Black Mage, Red Mage, Thief, Monk and Warrior.

Square, now known as Square Enix, developed the game. A legendary rumor about the title “Final Fantasy” comes from the story that they were on the verge of bankruptcy. They only had money for one more game, a fantasy game. They dubbed it “Final Fantasy.” This apocryphal story is nowhere near true.

Square had made games before and they didn’t do well, but the company itself wasn’t on the verge of bankruptcy. What happened was that the developer, Hironobu Sakaguchi, had planned to retire. He didn’t see any foreseeable future in video gaming with Square’s mediocre performance. He wanted to make a fantasy game and dubbed it “Final Fantasy”, since it was to be his personal last work. He also wanted the game to be abbreviated as “FF” – they originally had “Fighting Fantasy” in mind but that name was already trademarked by a board game.

Final Fantasy initially sold 400,000 copies in Japan and became and instant hit. Nintendo of America approached Square to release a localized version for the states. Final Fantasy became far from Sakaguchi’s last game.

What’s Final Fantasy about?

Every main Final Fantasy game has a new story with new characters and even new gameplay. Some games have direct sequels and are recognizable with a subtitle, or an additional number following a dash. For example, there is Final Fantasy VII, and the direct sequel to that is Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. There's a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X titled Final Fantasy X-2.

But even though each Final Fantasy game is different, there are still central elements that make them a Final Fantasy game. You can’t just write up a random story and slap the Final Fantasy name on it. The following elements are what make a Final Fantasy game. Some are obvious while others are elements I critiqued.

Chocobos:
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Chocobos were introduced in Final Fantasy II, and have been present ever since. They are cute, large birds that the characters often ride across fields or sometimes call into battle. They have practically become the mascot of the series.


Moogles, Cactuars and Tonberries – oh my!
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The above characters are like lesser mascots of the series. Moogles are telepathic creatures that help the players, or sometimes they can be a playable character. They debuted in Final Fantasy III. Cactuars and Tonberries are cute, unassuming enemies that are actually highly dangerous, killing you in one shot if you are not careful or fast enough. The former debuted in Final Fantasy VI while the latter debuted in Final Fantasy V.

Summons:
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Sometimes they go by eidolons or espers or other names in the game. Summons are massive, fantastic beasts that you can call upon to aide you in battle to fight the enemy. Summons became a staple ever since Final Fantasy III. In some games, they are merely there to call into battle, while in other games they are central to the story.

Airships:
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Airships have been present since the first game. They are massive boat-looking airplanes. In the more recent games, airships look almost like spaceships.

Cid:
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With the exception of the original Final Fantasy (except in later remakes), every game has a character named Cid. Cid is typically the character who owns an airship.

Items and Magic Spells:
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Each games shares virtually all the same items and magic spells. Antidotes. Eye drops. Maiden's Kisses. Holy waters. Phoenix Down is well-known for reviving knocked out characters in battle. The spells follow a hierarchy of levels. For example, Cure is the basic spell to heal somebody. The second level spell for healing is Cura. Then Curaga. Then finally Curaja. Most other spells follow the same format. The same high-level spells also frequently appear throughout the games, such as Holy and Flare.


The Prelude Motif:

At some point, this music plays.
[MEDIA=youtube]b3SuYFYPe4Y[/MEDIA]

The Final Fantasy Main Theme:

And this one too.

The Final Fantasy Fanfare:

And lastly, this one.


(I have to cut the intro into two parts since it doesn't like me posting more than 11 photos)
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Post by ScottyMcGee » Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:39 pm

Crystals:
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With a few exceptions, crystals appear throughout the series. They often serve as plot devices, whether they be the force that protects the planet or powerful objects coveted by the enemy. They also oftentimes have a consciousness of their own, communicating with the characters and calling them to their destiny.

Mythological References:
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Final Fantasy is riddled with mythological references and interpretations. Many summons and creatures take the names of mythological creatures or figures, such as Shiva, Bahamut, Leviathan, Behemoth, Odin, and Ifrit. Certain villains share the names of mythological figures or they are derived from certain mythological concepts, such as Gilgamesh and Sephiroth. Many of the games have legendary weapons you can find near the end of the journey. These are typically named after legendary Japanese figures, such as Masamune and Yoichi, or other mythologies, such as Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.

Saving the World:
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Unlike Mario or Zelda games, Final Fantasy isn’t about saving a particular princess, or person for that matter. The ultimate goal is to save the world as a whole. Evil spreads in certain ways, such as a sealed darkness trying to break free, empires with ambitious goals and with villainous subordinates who pull the strings, or empires polluting the environment.

Existential Crisis:
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By the time you reach the third act of a Final Fantasy game, some startling revelation forces the characters to question their very existence. A villain is revealed to be a hero’s family member, a main character realizes they're a clone, another realizes that they cannot live without magic, etc. Typically, the main character questions the nature of their soul, if they die like regular beings and become part of some greater life force, or blink out into oblivion. Whatever the revelation may be – it serves as a final crisis that the characters have to overcome.

The Descent into Hell:
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Every third act of a Final Fantasy game ends with what I like to call a “descent into hell”. The final dungeon is always some kind of bizarre world. In Final Fantasy II, you literally reach hell to fight the Emperor. Throughout the series, hell is more metaphorical. The final dungeons is typically a strange world that appears to have no rhyme or reason. Sometimes I'm reminded of M.C. Escher’s work, Relativity, or sometimes it reminds me of some cosmic horror featured in the Cthulhu Mythos. These final dungeons can be inter-dimensional rifts between space and times, pockets in reality, subterranean depths, insane worlds that the villain created, and worlds of darkness.
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(Final Fantasy IX's Memoria)
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(M.C. Escher's Relativity)

These stylistic approaches for the final dungeon represent the incoming battle with the forces of chaos.

Fighting God:
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After venturing through the wild, horrific, or strange final dungeon, you face the main villain. The main villain always achieves godlike status or the characters actually have to defeat a god in order to save the world from its oppressive reign. Many stories appear to throw in a last minute ultimate god who was pulling the strings of the plot the entire time. The purpose of dealing with gods and goddesses represents the characters’ desire to control their own fate and alter their destiny. Most of these bosses are strange and grotesque, definitely getting a Cthulhu vibe from them. I looked at them and thought, "Christ, what the hell is THAT supposed to be?"

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This leads into the last common thread:


It always feels like THE final fantasy:

Each game, no matter what happens or how it happens, feels like the be-all-end-all of its story – its fictional universe. Direct sequels were unheard of until Final Fantasy X-2, which while fun, was wildly different in tone from the original game, and critics pointed out that it ruined the finality of Final Fantasy X. This is one reason why I think direct sequels to Final Fantasy games fail – what else could the main characters possibly face that is more dangerous than the one they just encountered? Anything else would feel like child’s play to them.


Notable People

Aside from the characters, stories and games themselves, the people behind the series have achieved legendary status.

Nobuo Uematsu:

The original composer of Final Fantasy. Uematsu single-handedly scored the first 9 Final Fantasy games. Uematsu surprisingly never had any formal training in music – a trait that would ostracize any composer, such as Danny Elfman. I find that the those who haven't had any formal training usually break the mold with music. Uematsu started working for Square at around 25 for the first Final Fantasy game, starting out with nothing and never suspecting his job would lead him where he is now. His music is unique for incorporating elements of classic and progressive rock, specifically in the battle themes. Uematsu’s themes for each game have achieved instant recognition in the gaming world, as recognizable as the theme to Star Wars or James Bond.

Tetsuya Nomura:

Tetsuya Nomura is a video game designer and director who started at Square in 1990. He rose to prominence when he was given full control of designing the characters for Final Fantasy VII – arguably the most popular Final Fantasy game to date because of its characters: Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, Vincent Valentine and Sephiroth. Nomura went on to create more legendary characters for Final Fantasy VIII, X and XIII.

Yoshi-taka Amano: (I had to add a dash in there because VGF registered it as a curse word LOL)

Amano is the artist whose work is most known now in Final Fantasy. He has done concept art and design for every game in the series. His style is instantly recognizable. He has also drawn for many anime shows, comics and mangas, such as Vampire Hunter D and Sandman: The Dream Hunters.

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And that’s that. So without further ado, let’s get started with the original Final Fantasy. . .
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Post by ScottyMcGee » Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:48 pm

Final Fantasy I Review
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Year: 1987

Original Platform: Famicom

Also available on: Nintendo (NES), MSX, GameBoy Advance (Final Fantasy I &II: Dawn of Souls), PlayStation One (Final Fantasy Origins), PSP (Anniversary Edition), Android, iOS

Wii/3DS/Wii U Virtual Consoles and WonderSwan Color releases are only in Japan.

Version I played: PSP

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Synopsis:
The world is in danger. Four monstrous fiends, each corresponding to an element of nature, have wreaked havoc on the world, causing each of the four elemental orbs (in later remakes, crystals) to turn dark. Four Heroes of Light, each holding their own orb, meet and band together to take on these fiends and restore nature to its proper balance.

Gameplay:
The original game introduced the job system. The six jobs are Black Mage, White Mage, Red Mage, Thief, Monk and Warrior. Each have their own stats. You are free to name each of your heroes. Later on the game, each job can be upgraded.

We are introduced to a classic setup of turn-based combat. Final Fantasy was notable for being the first video game RPG to show your characters on the right and the enemies on the left; all previous video game RPGs had a first-person view with the enemy in front of you.
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You choose your action between Fight, Magic, Drink, Item or Run. Then the enemy takes their turn. It’s a simple system that at the time was already well-known. It was really the Job System that intrigued players. Black Mages perform destructive magic, White Mages heal and restore, Warriors are the powerhouses, Monks deal damage without weapons, and Thieves can run from battles successfully (they cannot steal, as later games would introduce that).

The game can be quite difficult on the original Famicom and NES. It was made at a time when video games were for a niche audience who treated video gaming as a hobby. There’s a gaming term that I’ll be using in many of these Final Fantasy reviews called “grinding”. Grinding is when you end up having to run around and fight monsters for the sake of leveling up your characters. There is a lot of that in this game, as well as the early Final Fantasy games in general.

Unlike games today, the direction isn’t fully laid out. You are thrown into the world and wander about from town to town to figure out where to go next. Instead of games like today where other non-playable characters (NPCs for short) tell you what to do in cutscenes and whatever, you actually have to approach the NPCs and find out the information. The overall effect is more open-world. You walk across fields and oceans and deserts. There are caves and other secret places to find more items.

From a modern gamer’s perspective, the exploring can be quite bare and – for lack of better word – boring. The remakes, like the PSP version that I played, brightened it up with updated graphics. They also added several extra dungeons. I actually spent time in those extra dungeons believing they were part of the story, appalled by how difficult they were, when I later found out they were extras put in for the PSP version. That has happened a lot to me with remakes of old RPGs (Chrono Trigger for the DS, another example). A little more obvious sign would have helped to make me realize that I didn’t need to finish those extra dungeons.

The pace is definitely slower than the other Final Fantasy games. Most of your time is spent leveling up – which is known as “grinding.” Grinding can sometimes be a wary word when talking about RPGs. If an RPG is too boring or tedious, grinding is the last thing you want to hear. But even when an RPG is fun, grinding means that you need to spend time on battling and that means hopefully you don’t have a huge backlog of other video games. It's probably why I never got around to finishing the original NES version on an emulator. Once and a while I'd be pumped up about going through with it and then as I played I just. . .got distracted by other games that I wanted to finish. You definitely need time and patience.

The most aggravating thing about the original version (Famicom/NES) is that if your character is set to attack an enemy but another one of your characters defeats it first, that character attacks nothing but air when it's their turn. It was a very annoying issue that they fixed in all subsequent remakes.

When comparing the original to any other version, the original always is the best way to experience the game. It can also be the hardest and most time-consuming. You would need to pay attention to this game entirely and not be distracted by anything else. The PSP version is a watered down version. I found it infinitely easier than the NES version. I actually played them side-by-side to figure out at what point the difficulty branched off. Right away when you venture to save Princess Sara, I realized that the PSP version gives more XP per battle than the NES version. Hence, you have to grind more in the original version.

Graphics:

Everybody loves some 8-bits, but let’s be honest here – there’s a whole lot of black empty space going on when you battle. But hey, that was due to the limitations at the time. The tediousness can arise due to the lack of detail to catch your eye. Like I mentioned earlier above, Final Fantasy broke new ground in the battles by actually showing your characters on one side and the enemies on the other. While giving a new look, it presented an issue with showing so much vast, empty space between the characters. Video game RPGs from before always had you face the enemy from a first-person perspective, so that could have allowed developers to create more detail.

The later remakes added a floor or ground where appropriate. The PSP remake did a good job of giving a facelift to the original. The best part was the background to the final battle. The opening FMV sequence is ripped from the Playstation One remake. That didn’t age well. It’s awkward as hell. They should have created a new opening FMV sequence.


Story:
The first several minutes of the game acts as a prologue. The Four Heroes of Light save a princess - Sara - and then the King of Coneria allows a bridge to be built for them to enter the world and save it. It’s not until that bridge is built that the game truly starts and the title screen actually displays – much like a late opening title in a movie.

In retrospect, saving a princess probably seemed like the most common trope in video games throughout the '80's. Gamers would have been used to it by then. That short prologue acts like a trope-breaker. The average gamer would have probably expected the game to be like Mario or Zelda. Oh yeah, save the princess from some evil fiend, okay, got it. They would have then maybe been perked with interest when they "defeated" Garland so quickly, and then when the King of Coneria lets them pass into the world and the title screen opens up with the theme song, they maybe were like, "Ooooh. NOW it starts." Final Fantasy then plunged them into a wide open world.

The bulk of the story is mostly incidental, small stories. You know what would be a great adaptation of this game? A Netflix series. It’s very episodic. First you deal with these pirates led by Bikke, then get a ship to sail across the land and go on a sort of delivery quest for a crown, a crystal eye, an herb, a magic key, until the main story picks up with defeating the Four Fiends and bringing light to the darkened orbs.

There's no real huge spoilers other than the time travel paradox at the end, which had me wracking my head a bit. It's quite admirable that a game this early in video game console history produced a higher concept plot involving time travel.

Music:

Composer Nobuo Uematsu created a legendary score that immediately became on par with the Mario and Zelda theme songs. The Prelude/Crystal theme – the harp-like scale that we are all familiar with – was actually composed last. Uematsu had complete the score when Sakaguchi approached him at the last minute realizing they needed music for the game’s introduction. None of them had any idea that the theme would become a staple for Final Fantasy.

Due to the technical limitations at the time, you can imagine that the soundtrack is limited but it’s still quite expansive for its time. There are several individual tunes for dungeons, for sailing your ship and for flying your airship. The map theme will have you humming it without realizing it. Uematsu drew his inspiration from two sources – classic rock and living in Shikoku, an island off Japan. The melodic world map theme in Final Fantasy (and the rest of the series) derives from the picturesque memories he has of the island. The town theme is reminiscent of the sleepy villages – as he was never a city person. Meanwhile, the battle theme has undertones of rock music. There’s only one battle theme, even when fighting bosses and the final boss, but the amazing thing is that it never gets old. Final Fantasy games are known for their great battle songs. The opening bassline always gets you in the groove to fight. You’re fighting but want to sing at the same time. Maybe that’s the brilliance of Uematsu; because of the fact that you need to grind many times in these old Final Fantasy games, he created a tune that you wouldn’t get tired of because it’s not so serious or mundane. Not to crap on other great games, but the video game RPGs at the time of Final Fantasy didn’t quite have memorable battle music. Just look up the battle theme to the first Dragon Quest game (released before Final Fantasy). You can imagine how that simple tune could get old really quick. I could be pulling this out of my ass, but after Final Fantasy, it seemed that battle music in video game RPGs suddenly got better. If you listen to the Dragon Quest IV battle theme, there is a portion that sounds similar to the battle theme of Final Fantasy. Unfortunately, there’s always another end to the spectrum; there are some video game RPGs now whose battle themes are so lively that they sound inappropriate.

The PSP version adds more tracks, specifically to the boss battles, and I like how they incorporate the original battle motif thrown into the new battle songs. The original battle theme has a guitar and drums added, which is the style that Final Fantasy battle music was known for by then.

There is one last thing to note about the score that I found very interesting for its day and age. You see, in a movie score, you have themes and motifs, just like a video game score. But in a movie score, other tracks reference those themes and motifs. For example, you have The Raider’s March in the Indiana Jones films; that’s the theme for the character Indiana Jones. Then in the movie, whenever Indy does something badass, you hear his theme blare in that instance. Obviously the entire theme doesn’t play, but it is incorporated in snippets throughout.

Uematsu actually does this with the Town Theme. He incorporates it at the ending music in the epilogue. It took me a while to try to understand why. Then it hit me. The epilogue mentions the heroes becoming legends as people talk about them. Legends are told and spread in towns.

It’s a very small detail. It’s such a small detail that it could be nothing but if it is what I think it is, then it’s cool that he was already in the mindset of passing on themes and motifs throughout the game, treating it like a movie. If not, he certainly treats the scores like movie scores in later games anyway.


Notable Theme:

I already posted the main themes in the introduction, but here’s the original battle theme:


Verdict:

A strong debut to the Final Fantasy series. To a modern gamer though, you may be spoiled by the fast-paced, eye-catching games of today. When console games first hit the market, developers had to create games that took longer than the average arcade game to finish, or else kids would get bored with their games in minutes and gee, wouldn’t that be a waste since they paid way more than a quarter? Thus, that’s another reason why old games are harder. Given the technical limitations at the time, developers couldn’t expand much on the game, so there’s a lot of leveling up and grinding because what else could you do? You know? Ultimately, playing a video game back then was all about honing your skill with that game.

Ideally, you could play through every Final Fantasy game in order of their release, and that would give you a greater sense of the evolution of the gameplay and the series as a whole. However, most people reading this (and me) are probably more modern gamers – and as such, our perspective is biased on what feels exciting and remarkable. This could feel boring and tedious to you now, but if you put it in the context of when it was made, this was entertainment for hours on end. This is basically like watching one of those silent adventure films starring Douglas Fairbanks. Yeah, you’ve been spoiled with more amazing stuff like The Matrix and Star Wars, but golly – this stuff blew people’s minds back in the day.

Direct Sequel?

No. However, there have been multiple remakes, which I have already listed above.
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Post by ScottyMcGee » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:11 am

Final Fantasy II Review

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Year: 1988

Original Platform: Famicom

Also Available on: GameBoy Advance (Final Fantasy I &II: Dawn of Souls), PlayStation One (Final Fantasy I &II: Dawn of Souls), PSP (Anniversary Edition), Android, iOS.

Wii/3DS/Wii U Virtual Consoles and WonderSwan Color releases are only in Japan.

Version I Played: PSP
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Synopsis:
Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon are recent orphans from Emperor Palamecia’s attack on the city of Fynn. They are picked up by Minwu, an agent of the rebellion against the Emperor led by Princess Hilda. The orphans wish to join the fight against the Emperor, and so Minwu helps them on missions to foil the Emperor’s plans.

Background:
So, here's where the history gets a little choppy. Final Fantasy II was not released in the US, nor outside Japan for that matter. The reason was because the US localization was taking too long and the Super Nintendo was already being developed and on the verge of released. The same thing happened with Final Fantasy III. The US localization for both games were trashed in favor of working on Final Fantasy IV. Square released Final Fantasy IV as Final Fantasy II for Western audiences, so they wouldn't get confused. Final Fantasy V was also unreleased outside of Japan for other reasons, and so Final Fantasy VI became known to Western audiences as Final Fantasy III. Then when Final Fantasy VII came around they said "**** it" and left it labeled like that for Western audiences too.

The real Final Fantasy II wasn't released to Western audiences until 2003 with Final Fantasy Origins for the Playstation One. The real Final Fantasy III wasn't released to Western audiences until 2006 for the Nintendo DS. Final Fantasy V was first released outside Japan as part of the collection in Final Fantasy Anthology for Playstation One.

Gameplay:
Final Fantasy II is the black sheep of the series. Even though it sold well on its first release, it’s the lowest selling Final Fantasy game to date. This is in part to the gameplay, which sounds great on paper but doesn’t work out well in execution.

Instead of conventional leveling up - meaning you gain experience points (XP) and your stats rise - you raise your skills and stats based on how often you use them. Everybody has the ability to use any weapon or magic spell. But the more you use one certain weapon or certain spell, the more you level it up. For example, I could have Firion use a sword. The more often I make him use a sword, the greater his skill with a sword. If I give him an ax, he will start with a level 1 ax ability, and not deal as much damage as he would with a sword.

The problems arise in matters of defense and HP. By that logic, the more you get hit, the more your HP grows. This is pretty infuriating because if you want to grind to raise your HP, you fall in danger of dying. To raise defense, you have to equip a shield and get hit. It also really sucks late in the game if you neglect one particular stat that becomes important.

By the time I reached the third act of this game, I was frankly fed up. I just had the sole purpose in mind of finishing the game. The frequent random encounters near the end infuriated me. Not that they were hard, but they used up my resources and I really wanted to end it once and for all.

However, the game has a nice feature where you can learn key terms and words when talking with people. This helps you remember what to do and where to go next. That part was cool.

Graphics:
Little had changed between the first and second game.

The same is true for the PSP Anniversary Editions. The graphics are exactly the same as that of Final Fantasy PSP Anniversary Edition. As such, they feel homogeneous and somewhat uninspired. Once again, they rip the opening FMV sequence from the Playstation One version. Why do they do that? Just give a little extra effort to make it unique. Just a little.

Story:
Final Fantasy II was the first story-driven RPG for the series. It introduced a lot of the trademark elements that the series is known for, like Cid and Chocobos, and so it’s a shame that it wasn't memorable.

Gamers bash the story because they compare it to Star Wars from 1977. The plot is similar in that there is a rebellion against an empire and a princess who gets imprisoned inside the empire’s secret weapon of mass destruction. The Emperor even has a right-hand man clad head to toe in armor with a SECRET IDENTITY. While there is no Death Star in Final Fantasy II, there is a massive airship that the Emperor builds to crush the rebellion - the Dreadnought - and Princess Hilda, just like Leia, is taken prisoner there.

But in my opinion, plot parallels should really be the least of your worries. I think the story is a tad bit underrated. Just a tad. Well, the main characters are bland. Firion is a cool name. Other than that, there's nothing to say about them. They are less fleshed out than the secondary characters, which is ironic. I was more interested in any other character than the main cast. Guy (or Gus in some versions) is a stereotypical friendly giant, only saying short phrases or one-word answers. Firion and Maria don't really do much except want to fight for the rebellion. Leon has a story arc that's too quick and convenient.

The secondary characters that you run into are much more interesting – Josef, Minwu, Gordon, Ricard, Leila and Scott. They come and go during certain events and they all have even the slightest ounce of backstory more than the main characters.

The story tapers off after you rescue Princess Hilda. While I won’t spoil anything (though I doubt you’d care but still), there are stupid moments when the Emperor could have easily crushed the rebellion but instead chose a different route. Ultima, the ultimate spell, becomes an important plot device that the heroes seek – and yet it doesn’t end up being effective for the final battle nor is it mentioned again in the story. Overall, Final Fantasy II appears to be the Final Fantasy game with the most plotholes. The strongest part of the story lies in its secondary characters. The game left me wanting more of them instead of playing a group of stereotypical orphans without any personality.

Even though Final Fantasy II has an actual storyline, its predecessor feels much more original despite the fact that it’s more like a series of episodic events. Whether Star Wars was an intentional inspiration or not, it makes sense as a first jab at creating a storyline. It’s simple and tropey.


Music:
Despite Final Fantasy II lurking in the shadows for years, it has good music. The Rebel Army theme is great, especially when you hear it orchestrated in Final Fantasy medleys and the Distant Worlds concert. The final battle with the Emperor has the first true final battle music in the series, and it’s awesome. You can tell Uematsu had fun expanding his repertoire.
Like before, the PSP version adds more tracks and gives a more orchestrated feel.


Notable Theme:
As the chocobos debuted in this game, so did their theme song, which was quite irritatingly repetitive here. In later games, Uematsu added another line of music.


[MEDIA=youtube]qFRgjCa8kLQ[/MEDIA]


Verdict:
The worst of the Final Fantasy games – but not as horrible as you would think. You’re not missing much if you never play it. It strikes a jarring note in both gameplay and story, like when you play the piano and keep hitting the wrong key.

The PSP version is probably slightly more interesting. Still, I wish they added more to the remake – more in terms of story. They could have buffed up the entire story. Screw it. Nobody would cry if Square altered it somehow. Why not remake the entire game? Keep your basic elements just make the story, you know, not boring and stupid.

Direct Sequel?

Yes. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls introduced a second part to the story called Soul of Rebirth. The PSP version also has it. It's dumb. I tried it and for whatever reason it’s very difficult right away and I lost interest entirely.
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Post by ScottyMcGee » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:07 am

Final Fantasy III Review
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Year: 1990

Original Platform: Famicom

Also Available on: Nintendo DS, iOS (DS port), Android (iOS port), Ouya (Android port), Steam (Android port), PSP (iOS port)

Wii/3DS/Wii U Virtual Consoles and Nintendo Classic Edition releases are only in Japan.

Version I Played: DS
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Synopsis:
Four orphans fall into a crevice after a sudden earthquake. There, a mysterious crystal warns them about the oncoming darkness that will engulf the world. The four orphans must band together to restore the balance between light and dark.

Gameplay:
ARE YOU READY TO GET YOUR ASS BEAT? YOUR BALLS ROCKED?

I’m warning you – this is the most difficult Final Fantasy game to date.

One reason right off the bat is that there are no ethers - only elixirs, which you should definitely reserve for the hardest battles. Also, phoenix downs cannot be found in stores - only in treasure chests and as dropped or stolen items from enemies.

The gameplay returns to that of the original Final Fantasy – turn-based combat and the job system, only this time the job system is greatly expanded. Vikings and Geomancers and Bards and Dragoons and the list goes on. Summons are introduced to the series via the Evoker job, which later gets upgraded to Summoner.

This game is notable for the Onion Knight. In the beginning of the original game, the default job is Onion Knight. If you continue playing as an Onion Knight, your stats remain relatively low. However, if you dare to play the entire game as an Onion Knight and reach level 99 – the Onion Knight suddenly turns into the most powerful job in the game.

The DS remake does things a little differently. Instead of the Onion Knight, you start out as a Freelancer – a new job that has a little bit of everything. However, the longer you use the Freelancer job, the weaker you become. This is a good way to have players naturally explore other jobs. The unfortunate part of the DS remake though is that the Onion Knight is ONLY available after performing sidequests that require contacting other friends with the same game on the DS via wireless. This is impossible to do now since the wireless features for the original Nintendo DS (and also the Wii) have been discontinued in favor for the 3DS and Wii U.

This game is notorious for its high difficulty. The trick mostly lies in constantly switching between jobs and finding the right balance for the right moment. However, changing jobs requires you to level up that job. This means grinding – lots and lots of grinding. Insane amounts of grinding. This is Final Fantasy: Grind City.

In retrospect, Final Fantasy II was hard as well, yes, but more in a stupid way. Leveling up there was annoying but people could find tricks around it like finding weaker enemies and purposely hitting yourself and healing yourself to raise your HP or defense stats. Final Fantasy III is difficult but it hurt so good. This game turned me into a masochist. There's two types of video game rage - the good and the bad kind. The bad kind is usually because the game's mechanics are irritating or virtually unplayable. The good kind is cursing out loud but then saying, "I'LL GET YOU NEXT TIME!" and actually being pumped about trying again because you see it as a challenge.

The game has an explosively difficult finale. The finale takes place in the Crystal Tower, which is surrounded by Ancient’s Maze. You have to walk through the maze, then through the tower, then fight multiple bosses through other events which I won’t spoil here. The entire ordeal can pretty well take up an entire hour. At least (in the DS version, idk about Famicom) you can save before entering the Crystal Tower. But if you ever need to venture out into the world map again to get something you forgot, you have to go through the Ancient’s Maze. Once you enter the Crystal Tower, you cannot save the game. It’s one long shot to the final of final bosses. In the Crystal Tower, you get to walk around seemingly endless and maze-like floors such as this:

Image

Yay!

Seriously - I still found it quite epic and appropriate. If you're going to hit me hard, you might as well go all out. Nothing in this game is held back.

I tried for the longest time to play Final Fantasy III on an emulator but for some bizarre reason, I couldn't save, not even on save states. When I have the time, I definitely want to go back to that, try a different ROM or something, and experience the original. But I played enough of the original to know how hard it is. I died right when I ventured out of the first town.
The DS remake mostly retains the difficulty of the original, which I admired, unlike the watered down PSP Anniversary Editions of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II.

Graphics:

Definitely a lot more going on than the first two Final Fantasy games. Battles are still 90% black space but the rest of the game is 8-bit Heaven.

The DS remake holds up well. They got a chibi thing going on and it works here. It’s cute without being obnoxiously cute. The FMV sequence for the DS is staggering. I also kind of laugh at this one part where two male characters exclusive to the DS remake, Luneth and Ingus, are arguing and it’s the equivalent to a stock photo of two people arguing. I wish they added an ending FMV.

Story:
There’s more to the story than people give credit for. You venture into the world and run into secondary characters who have their own stories, such as Cid, Desh, Princess Sara, Prince Allus, Priestess Aria, and even four imposters of the four heroes of light. You save towns with a variety of problems, from a village cursed by a genie to finding a missing precious stone for the dwarves. Then you discover the truth behind the world you live on, and the World of Darkness that you must ultimately face.

The DS version elaborates on the story by giving the four orphans names: Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus.
Image
It sharpens the story by basically connecting more dots. The DS story starts with Luneth and Arc as childhood friends. They later meet Refia, a runaway who was tired of her guardian's blacksmith trade, and Ingus, a knight of Sasune who protects Princess Sara. The DS version is a wonderful remake of the original. I highly recommend it. The remake's heroes hardly get any recognition in other Final Fantasy media and it’s a shame.

Final Fantasy III is kind of like the original Final Fantasy but on steroids. Like I said, there are tons of more jobs. The story is wider in scope and more epic. The fictional world is much more interesting. There’s extra summons to obtain. The score has a wider repertoire. You fly many different airships. It also begins what I like to call the "Crystal Trilogy." Final Fantasy III, IV and V, as you'll read later, are quite similar in their general plot, which utilizes crystals as important plot devices.

I was disappointed by one rather misleading thing in the DS remake. The opening FMV sequence seemed to imply that Priestess Aria plays a wider role – she doesn’t. That disappointed me.

Music:
The games keep getting bigger and so does the score. Uematsu shone here. He did some unique things for a Japanese composer at the time. An example is the illusion of having chords in the track Crystal Cave.

Final Fantasy III’s soundtrack is twice as long as Final Fantasy II’s. I’d say that out of the entire Famicom/NES era, this game probably has the best soundtrack. It’s so majestic and, as aforementioned, like Final Fantasy but on steroids. The battle theme has a sexy bass with more drums added to it. Eternal Wind, the world map theme, is definitely the greatest map theme in an RPG. Period. It truly gives the feel of wandering around a fantasy world.

The DS version reinvigorates the entire score. I loved every minute of it.

The way Uematsu composed the final of the epilogue is reminiscent of how John Williams does his finales in the credits for Star Wars or Indiana Jones films. In this case, he references the Final Fantasy Main Theme at the end of the credits.

The result is a wholesome feel to the game. Final Fantasy III has a fantastic score that is perfect for closing the 8-bit era of Final Fantasy.


Notable Theme:
I'm split between Eternal Wind and Priestess Aria's Theme.

Fortunately, the DS opening cinematic includes both. It has a great orchestrated rendition of the classic themes.

[MEDIA=youtube]ek8jEw4N6gI[/MEDIA]


Verdict:
The hardest out of all the Final Fantasy games (so far). At the same time, there’s so much to enjoy – but it’s not for everyone. Because of the difficulty, I would save this game for last. There’s something about this game that actually gives me a true “final fantasy” feel. The final stretch is so kick-your-nuts-hard that nothing else in the series can compare to it.

If you go for the DS version, however, that can be a tad bit easier. Just a tad. It’s one remake that I highly recommend. They did a good facelift on both the game itself and the story. The DS version was adapted into Android and then ported into Steam, so you can get it there.

Direct Sequel?
No.
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Post by ScottyMcGee » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:52 pm

Final Fantasy IV Review
Image

Year:
1991

Original Platform: Super Nintendo

Also available on: Nintendo DS, PSP (Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection), GameBoy Advance, Playstation One (Final Fantasy Chronicles)

Version I Played: PSP
Image

Synopsis:
Cecil Harvey is Batman a dark knight, always conflicted, who follows orders from King Baron. The king tasks Cecil and his partner Kain with taking the crystals from each city. Cecil questions his king’s motives, leading to an entanglement in a grand conspiracy. He goes on a quest to right his wrongs.

Gameplay:
The novel aspect for this game was the ATB system – Active Timed Battle. This meant that instead of you and the enemy waiting for your respective turns as a whole, each character takes their turn according their respective speed. While Final Fantasy IV introduced the concept, it did not utilize the ATB gauge in actual battles. The ATB gauge was first seen in Final Fantasy V. Later remakes of Final Fantasy IV showed the ATB gauge. Whenever the ATB gauge filled, you could perform an action. One character may be slower than the other, so their ATB gauge will take longer to fill. Basically, with ATB, if you wait too long to think about what to do on your turn, the enemy can hit you - JUST AS IF YOU WERE REALLY BATTLING IN REAL LIFE YAY. Some configuration options were introduced later to give you the ability to change the battle system to active or wait. Putting it on wait would allow the timed battle to pause while you thought about what to do during your move.

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Final Fantasy IV forsakes the customizable Job System and introduces characters with individual jobs. Kain is a dragoon, who can jump in the air and deal destructive damage. Rydia is a summoner. Yang is a monk. Etc, etc.

The Super Nintendo and PSP versions are more or less on par with each other. The Nintendo DS remake is really hard. Like REALLY hard. Like “throw-your-DS-across-the-room hard”. I own it too and have constantly had trouble finishing it.

Graphics:
I haven’t played the original SNES version of Final Fantasy IV, but judging by the images it appears to be in this limbo state between NES and SNES. Not sure if I like it. The PSP version is eerily reminiscent of the Anniversary Editions of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, but it has its own flair that outshines them. Final Fantasy IV DS is pretty much like Final Fantasy III DS, with an awesome opening FMV. The in-game cutscenes however now have VOICE ACTING.

Now, the PlayStation One version has an FMV sequence that is terabad. It’s so disgusting that it makes me want to vomit. It looks like something from RPG Maker or an animation student’s first project.

Story:
Final Fantasy IV is well known for being the first GOOD story-driven Final Fantasy game. Cecil’s personal journey of redemption rung in the minds and hearts of many gamers. We get a nice balance of focusing on the individuals and also on saving the world.

The cast of characters is pretty wide. Like Final Fantasy II, several secondary characters come and go. The only difference is, well – spoiler alert:

[Spoiler]
All the secondary characters in Final Fantasy II die while all of them in Final Fantasy IV live. I wonder if IV was meant to subvert II in that respect.
[/Spoiler]

SIDENOTE:

The most popular quote of the story involves a complicated matter of translation. Western releases of Final Fantasy games (and Japanese games in general) often had awkward translations. “You spoony bard!” is one such awkward translation that originates from this game. The character who spoke this line, Tellah, accuses the bard Edward of ruining his daughter’s life. Edward was in love with Tellah’s daughter but things didn’t turn out quite right. The translation came out at “spoony” due to the Japanese writers believing it was still used today in English. It’s an archaic term meaning “enamored in a silly or sentimental way”. It technically fits, but clearly, nobody uses that word anymore, and players laughed at how nonsensical it seemed. Theories abound as to why the writers had to change the translation as such in the first place. While I don’t want to spoil why Tellah is angry at Edward, the scenario in question is pretty dire, and so something like “idiot” or “moron” wouldn’t quite suffice. The original Japanese word that Tellah uses is “kisama”, which in the given circumstance is akin to telling someone they are a “son of a bitch” or “bastard.” Western releases, especially North American, were very often censored.

I’ve replayed this game multiple times about halfway through. The reason for which is that I first owned the DS remake, only to misplace it for years, then I got the PSP version, only to rediscover my copy of the DS remake, then realized how hard the DS remake was, then returned to the PSP version. The first several hours are pretty ingrained into my head by now.

Like Final Fantasy III, IV includes crystals as an important plot device. This time they hold enormous power that the villain Golbez wishes to obtain for nefarious means.

While the story is infinitely superior in storytelling to Final Fantasy II, there are still some silly moments. I could best describe the bulk of the story as “Cecil and friends are on a race to capture each crystal around the world but something always gets in the way at the last minute.” While for the most part the story is done well, there are seemingly cartoonish moments involving trapdoors and bewitched dolls. One particular moment I found myself thinking, "So you're just going to stand there while he does that?"

But the most admirable thing about the story that I find is how they approach Cecil and Rosa’s romance. While most RPGs, especially today, try to hash in a childish romance subplot, Cecil and Rosa are that rare couple that are already together at the beginning of the game. Their love is tested throughout the story. On the other hand, it reminds me of a 1950’s era movie couple; it’s stereotypical in that manner.

I still have one question about the greater plot involving the Lunarians:

[SPOILER="Lunarians spoiler"]
The Lunarians escaped their home world because it was destroyed. They found Earth to populate but found that humans had not yet evolved. They went to the moon and put themselves to sleep to be awakened when humans evolved.

But why?

What does it matter if the humans were evolved or not evolved?
[/SPOILER]
AND another thing. . .

[SPOILER="About Rydia"]
Lmao she was a kid when you first met her then she got lost in some ******** place where time flowed differently, and so when she returned she was much older - basically with boobs now - and in my head I thought "THEY LITERALLY DID THAT SO SHE COULD BE OF LEGAL AGE."
[/SPOILER]

The entire theme is about redemption and even though some characters were mind controlled, they were susceptible because there was a hint of evil in their hearts and minds, which doesn’t totally excuse them and I like that.


Image

Music:
With the Super Nintendo, Uematsu was able to play with more sounds. The drumming that Uematsu had wanted in his battle themes is more apparent. He also added an accompaniment to the Prelude. The main theme of Final Fantasy IV is scattered throughout the score, just like a motif in a movie score. The main theme is the map theme, and I like how, for example, the theme changes to a different beat when you venture into the underworld. The main theme even pops up in the final battle, which to me is awesome because it illustrates the heroes collectively trying to banish evil.

In one interview with Uematsu, he stated he was a huge fan of Elton John. For some reason, after I read that, I totally see the main theme of Final Fantasy IV having an Elton John vibe, especially in the epilogue with the drums and the bass.

Red Wings, which is the theme for Baron’s elite air force of the same name, is notable for its unorthodox time signature. I swore I read that somewhere years ago but now I can’t find it, so if someone happens to come across it – let me know. The theme for the Red Wings sounds both heroic and sinister, referencing Baron’s underlying motives and Cecil’s dual nature.

Cecil and Rosa’s love theme is actually taught for schoolchildren in Japan as part of their music curriculum.

Uematsu pretty much matured at this point, in my opinion.

Notable Theme:
Auuggghh so many.

But I’m going to put the boss theme. Square also incorporated it their only Super Mario game, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, when pitting the player against Culex.

[MEDIA=youtube]9cJe5v5lLKk[/MEDIA]

Verdict:
The perfect place for a beginner. The gameplay is easy to pick up. Its story is basic compared to the rest of the series but still effective. To those having played the later games, it could seem trite.

Direct Sequel?
Yes. Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection was released on the PSP in 2011. This is the version that I played. Square created two sequels for that collection: Final Fantasy IV: Interlude and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. I haven’t played them myself yet, but there is criticism surrounding their stories, which apparently pale greatly in comparison to Final Fantasy IV.

By the way, the PSP version starts by showing the new CGI opening to Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Not the one shown in Final Fantasy IV DS. That's both spoiler-y and lame. I guess they wanted to distance themselves from Final Fantasy IV DS. Even so, why not just play that opening when you select The After Years?
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Post by Valigarmander » Tue Jun 27, 2017 3:58 pm

Maybe it's because I only got around to it after playing most of the other FFs, and didn't get to experience it when it was brand new and groundbreaking, but I never thought FFIV was that great. The story was kind of dull, and the gameplay was much less polished than in later entries. Give me V or VI over IV any day.

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Post by I am nobody » Tue Jun 27, 2017 5:04 pm

I've considered doing this a few times, but I probably never will because of the first three games and their obsession with grinding. I actually finished III with an Action Replay on DS, and even with OHKOs on and the impossibly low standards I had back then, I couldn't believe anyone ever enjoyed it. The entire game is basically trudging through bland dungeons with random battles every five steps to fight a boss that's just a recolor of three other bosses, and you're probably not ready for unless you spend three hours grinding the recolored enemies in the dungeon first.

Could probably put up with it if it was just XV and XIII (which at least has a few moments), but I can't imagine every suffering through those first three.

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Post by Marilink » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:33 am

[QUOTE="Valigarmander, post: 1634212, member: 30663"]Maybe it's because I only got around to it after playing most of the other FFs, and didn't get to experience it when it was brand new and groundbreaking, [/QUOTE]
I think you nailed it here. A lot of FF fans have IV as their first game, or at the very least saw this insane jump in quality and style from I to IV, since the incremental steps of II and III weren't around. Imagine never having played a JRPG, and you're introduced to the genre with FFI. Then, after enjoying FFI despite its difficulty and grindiness, the sequel comes out and it's FFIV. I'm not surprised it had such an impact on people.

For my part, I just played IV last year in the Gentlemen's Challenge. It was good. It struck me as a prototype for what FF would become, even already by V and VI. I liked Rydia a whole lot--she's probably one of my favorite FF characters now. The game is pretty campy at times, but I found it more endearing than annoying.

Scotty, re: the Lunarians, I think the reason may have just been pure arrogance in not wanting to deal with an unevolved culture. Or maybe to put a positive spin on it, perhaps because communication and collaboration would be severely hindered or impossible until later in history.
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Post by ScottyMcGee » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:10 am

Final Fantasy V Review
Image

Year: 1992

Original Platform: Super Nintendo

Also available on: Playstation One (Final Fantasy Anthology), GameBoy Advance

Version I Played: GameBoy Advance
Image

Synopsis:

Bartz is a drifter, riding across the world with his chocobo – Boko. One day, the wind seems to fall. Lenna’s father, the king of Tycoon, goes off to make sure the Wind Crystal is all right, but doesn’t return. Meanwhile, a meteorite falls. Lenna and Bartz check it out separately, where they find each other and a man named Galuf with amnesia. Together they figure out that the world is falling apart – the crystals that drive wind, fire, earth and water are dying out. They stumble upon a pirate hideout led by Faris, and together they seek to restore the world and uncover the mysterious forces behind the destruction of the crystals.

Background:

Once again, this Final Fantasy game was originally unreleased outside of Japan. Unlike II and III, the developers thought that the game was a different tone than the others and the vast job system would be too complicated for Western audiences. The West didn’t experience Final Fantasy V until 1999 with Playstation One’s Final Fantasy Anthology; a compilation of both V and VI. One notable change from the Japanese version is the name Bartz. The original name for Bartz in the Japanese release was translated as Butz, but because Americans are immature and laugh at such a name, they changed it in the localization to Bartz.

Gameplay:

Holy moly, Batman – so many jobs!

Image

Not only that, each jobs have abilities that you can mix and match! Every time you level up a job, you earn a new ability for that job. You can switch those abilities across jobs.

The possibilities are seemingly endless!

I had just recently finished this game so it’s as fresh as a baby’s bottom on my mind. The gameplay is so much fun. It’s the most fun I had with customization in a while. The best part is that the Job System is so rewarding by the time you reach the third act of the game. It gives you such a variety that it allows you to approach battles from many different angles. There’s no one way to be a badass and deal destructive damage.

I had fun unlocking the legendary weapons and hunting down the most powerful summons - this time naturally without looking anything up. I find it interesting to say that I had legit fun hunting down all the extras. Sometimes in other Final Fantasy games I get weary over hunting for some extra, higher powered spells and summons. I sometimes even wonder if I should bother going after them. The vast Job System in Final Fantasy V keeps you occupied for the entire game and more. I finished the game and there are still some jobs that I haven't even touched. Luckily, the GameBoy Advance version adds some extra dungeons after you complete the game.

Graphics:
The sprites in this game looked rough around the edges. They were too small in my opinion. The same is said of the Game Boy Advance version. Regardless, it now looks like an actual SNES game though unlike Final Fantasy IV. I haven’t talked about sounds specifically since there’s not much I care to talk about for every single game, but for some reason, in this game, the battle sound effects were meek. Even when someone had a sword, the attack sounded puny.

The PlayStation One version has an FMV sequence that look awkward and ugly as ****, just like the FMV sequence for the PlayStation One version of Final Fantasy IV. As much as I love **** Amano, trying to transplant his style into 3D is not a good idea.

Story:
Definitely several steps up from Final Fantasy IV. Once again, the world is in danger because the crystals are in danger – this time because humans are misusing their power and breaking them.

Out of all the Final Fantasy games, I had heard the least about what happens in V. Heck – I knew more about II before going into it, mostly because of what people said about the Star Wars parallels. It’s been a long time since I went into a Final Fantasy game completely blind. I kept it that way and was very pleasantly surprised.

I can see what the developers meant by a “change in tone.” V is the funniest of them all. It’s not campy – just humorous. Galuf loves to share puns. Bartz can be a klutz. The characters bicker during their journey. One part actually made me genuinely laugh out loud when you are in a certain underground place searching for clues:

[SPOILER]You find one clue leading you around the room and ultimately running across here and there, only to have the last clue tell you “Made you look! Neener neener nee-ner!” Bartz immediately gets enraged while Lenna and Faris tell him to calm down and read another secret note that’s there.
[/SPOILER]
Everyone has a pretty sensitive, delicate backstory. I cared for Bartz’s personal history with his parents. I worried about whether Lenna’s father would die or not. I wondered what Galuf forgot and who Faris really was. There are dashes of tropes here but none of them are too stretched out or annoying. You have to remember that tropes themselves are not inherently bad – what matters is how you utilize them. There’s no hokey romantic subplot thrown in either, while fans do want to ship certain characters. At the very least, there are implications here and there.

It was so rewarding to go into it blind because there was even a shocking death. After playing IV, I thought maybe it would be all right in the end through some Disney cop out.

No. That person is dead. Dead as a door nail. Never coming back. I also enjoyed the bit where they tried to revive said dead person with spells and phoenix downs. They finally imply that there can be a point where someone can go beyond and it’s too late to bring them back.

Exdeath’s henchman, Gilgamesh, very memorable and loveable. He’s not exactly as evil as you’d imagine at first. He serves as great comic relief.

Image

(He actually literally reminds me of [USER=17381]@Booyakasha[/USER]. No joke. If Boo were to be a FF character, he’d be Gilgamesh. Actual quote from Gilgamesh that could easy come from Boo: "Now we fight like men. ...and women. ...And women who dress like men!")

My only real complaint is that Boko wasn’t really an asset in the story, at least not as much as I assumed he would be.

The story is unfortunately overlooked. I can understand that maybe at the time American and other Western gamers may have found the third act strange – especially after learning about Exdeath’s true nature. Compared to the other Final Fantasy backstories, it’s a little out there, and something tells me it relates to Japanese mythology. But today? You’d be sorry to miss out on it.


Music:
Final Fantasy V’s main theme is somewhat reminiscent of Final Fantasy IV’s main theme. They have this melodic soaring feel with a continuous beat. The Four Warriors of Dawn in V is reminiscent of Red Wings in IV. Meanwhile, the biggest and most interesting display is Battle with Gilgamesh (sometimes titled Clash/Battle on the Big Bridge). The piece opens up with some intense drumming. While the later orchestrations and adaptations of Battle with Gilgamesh are pretty good, nothing seems to capture the tempo and umph of the original.

Dear Friends is probably the most endearing, non-combative tune. It’s played at the end and gives a really bittersweet feel. The Distant Worlds concert version is extremely bittersweet. It has a sweet, gentle guitar, and it reminds me of how Uematsu said another one of his inspirations was Simon and Garfunkel. Dear Friends definitely has that folk tune.

Exdeath’s theme song gives a heavy rock vibe. That heavy rock vibe was last heard in the opening segment of the final boss fight in Final Fantasy IV. The rest of the score has a lot of drumming incorporated, partially due to the fact that pirates are involved in most of the plot. Ultimately, this Final Fantasy score broke out all of Uematsu’s classic and hard rock inspirations – and it’s **** awesome.

Notable Theme:
Battle with Gilgamesh

[MEDIA=youtube]6CMTXyExkeI[/MEDIA]

Verdict:
Definite must-play. It’s the most underrated Final Fantasy game. The job system can be overwhelming, especially if you have never played a Final Fantasy game before. I wouldn’t suggest playing this for beginners – more after you get your hands wet.


Direct Sequel?
Yes. And No.
While not a video game, Final Fantasy V did receive an anime sequel titled Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals. It is set 200 years in the future, with the heroes of the original game having become legend. Critical reception of the miniseries was mixed.

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Post by CaptHayfever » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:17 am

It's implied, if not outright stated, that Ganon's unkillability stems solely from his possession of the Triforce of Power, not his own personal strength. In the games where he does die, the Triforce itself has been weakened by some means related to the decline of Hyrule.

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"

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Post by Booyakasha » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:21 am

^^That's my new sig/title combo, homey.

I really liked the old ones, but I like these way, way more.

You're a real cool guy, Scotty. I like you, and I hope we're pals. Yeah.
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Post by Marilink » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:40 am

Having just started FFV, your post on it has made me all the more excited to go through it.

Unfortunately, I had the death spoiled for me while I was looking for characters' base stats. But I have no idea what happens in the plot or the nature of the death, so I don't mind too much.
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Post by ScottyMcGee » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:59 am

Final Fantasy VI Review
Image

Year: 1994

Original Platform: Super Nintendo

Also available on: Playstation One (Final Fantasy Anthology), GameBoy Advance, Android, iOS, Steam

Version I Played: GameBoy Advance

Image

Synopsis:
Terra is a mysterious slave used for the Gestahl Empire because of her powers. The Gestahl Empire seeks to hunt down espers (summons) and harness their powers too, effectively killing them. Terra escapes their clutches and falls into the hands of the Returners – a small band of rebels hoping to return the world to freedom.

Background:
Okay so originally this was released as Final Fantasy III in the West because---ugh—you know what---f*** it---just read on.

Gameplay:
Final Fantasy VI doesn’t exactly add anything super-new to the gameplay unlike its predecessors. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong or boring with it. It has an ATB sytem and the characters, like in IV, specialize in certain jobs.

You can easily split the game into two parts, which I won't spoil why, because there's a huge pivotal point in the story that changes everything. The first half is a typical story-driven RPG. The second half is actually more open world. With the huge cast of characters, you are not required to end the game with all of them; you can hunt them down if you'd really like.

Graphics:
The SNES in its prime. Shadow looked weird though. Sometimes you had to squint to discern what his face actually looked like. Other than that, the sights are wonderful. This was the first SNES-era Final Fantasy game that I played. I found it funny that the human bosses look so buff and huge compared to the tiny sprites. IV and V did that, and it’s prevalent in all the remakes. It just looks funny, maybe awkward at times. They probably couldn’t fit so many detailed characters at one time so they only bothered to detail the bosses.

The PlayStation One version again has a disgusting FMV sequence. Okay, maybe it’s a tad bit better, but not by much at all.

Story:
One of the biggest debates in recent Final Fantasy fandom is asking whether VI or VII is better. While I won’t get into VII much now, it was always the most popular. It seems that in recent years, gamers have retroactively judged VI as the best Final Fantasy game of all time.

What do I think?

Yeah – it is.

I was going to save it for the end but no – screw it. Final Fantasy VI is the best.

The funny thing is, I wish I had appreciated more. Once I finish every Final Fantasy game, this is the first one I will replay all the way through. When I first played it as a stupid pre-teen, I actually despised it. I was much more critical about stuff and I also wasn’t used to Final Fantasy games by then. For whatever reason, I didn't think the world building was coherent.

I finished VI about three years ago now. And this time I was taken by it. I became enlightened and completely changed my opinion of it from sour to sweet. I wish I could erase my memory on playing it only so that I could experience it for the first time and appreciate it for the first time. I had already known most about what happened in the story, and I really wish I could experience the shock and awe of it brand new. VI does things with its story that no other Final Fantasy game has done.

First off – there are so many playable characters.

Image

While the official creators say that there isn’t a main character, I still say Terra is – if not she’s at least the most important. She propels the plot forward. She’s one of those rare great female protagonists in a video game RPG. Each character has their own story – no matter how small or big. They’ve all lost loved ones, and the central theme about the entire game is grief and dealing with it even in the face of nihilism. Nihilism comes in the form of Kefka - Emperor Gestahl's subordinate. Kefka did the whole nihilistic evil clown thing before Heath Ledger's Joker. Kefka seemed to retroactively rise to popularity, knocking off longtime favorite villain Sepiroth, from VII, as the best Final Fantasy villain.

Like V, VI also has a villainous goofball - Ultros.

Image

I only have one huge unanswered question:

[SPOILER]
What the hell happened to Bannon? The leader of the Returners? Is he simply presumed dead after Kefka destroys the world?
[/SPOILER]


VI references Star Wars with two side-characters, Biggs and Wedge. They show up every now and then in later Final Fantasy games, but not to the extent that Cid does.

VI deals with heavy topics. I was shocked that it even dared to show a scene of attempted suicide. Things get dark. Really dark. It’s the darkest story of all the Final Fantasy games. But VI deals the darkness with such elegance. I admire its ability to treat such material for basically children. It’s Philosophy 101 in video game RPG form.

Music:
Another legendary score. Given the tone and atmosphere of the story, the score reflects something darker. Right away, the opening titles before you begin is accompanied by foreboding music. With the exception of battle themes, the story demanded that Uematsu put away most of his drumming and rock undertones for a more conventional, instrumental score with pathos. It sounds most like the score to an actual fantasy movie, very operatic, Wagner-like.

Shadow’s theme sounds inspired by typical Western movie fare, being that he is a drifter. In fact, Final Fantasy VI’s score is diverse in tones with its character themes, which is obvious once you think about where all the characters come from. Cyan’s theme has an Asian touch. The theme for the Veldt, a stretch of wilderness, has a jungle beat. The opera house scene even has an actual opera. Many Final Fantasy concerts, such as Distant Worlds, play the opera about the fictional characters Draco and Maria. Kekfa, the villain, has a jovial but sinister theme scattered throughout. Terra’s theme is practically the main theme of the game, and it too is referenced throughout.

The end credits song is a whopping 21 minutes and 36 seconds. It goes through every single character’s theme and more. The entire soundtrack is 3 hours long. I don’t think any other game at the time had a soundtrack that long.


Notable Theme:
DANCING MAD

To me, Dancing Mad is Nobuo Uematsu's magnum opus. It is a sprawling 10-minute epic for the final battle. Well, not exactly 10 minutes since it repeats sections in the official soundtrack. If you put together each segment and play them once it's about 10 minutes. The time mark at 11:50 below is when it gets obscenely good.

[MEDIA=youtube]JbXVNKtmWnc[/MEDIA]


Verdict:
A must-play. Any RPG fan will love this game. There’s nothing obnoxious or vainglorious here. Every subsequent Final Fantasy game tried to live up to its drama and scope, all of them falling short, ever so slightly.

Direct Sequel?
No. Thank God.
SUPER FIGHTING ROBOT

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Post by Marilink » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:20 am

VI is as close to perfection as the series ever got.

I'll say more when I'm not on mobile, but suffice it to say: VI is amazing.
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Post by Valigarmander » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:15 pm

Nostalgia plays a big part, but VI is by far my favorite game in the franchise, and possibly my favorite game period. I've replayed it over a dozen times and I find something new to love about it each playthrough.

V is another fantastic game. We should all do a Four Job Fiesta run sometime.

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Post by Marilink » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:06 pm

[QUOTE="Valigarmander, post: 1634552, member: 30663"]Nostalgia plays a big part, but VI is by far my favorite game in the franchise, and possibly my favorite game period. I've replayed it over a dozen times and I find something new to love about it each playthrough.

V is another fantastic game. We should all do a Four Job Fiesta run sometime.[/QUOTE]
^I could just Google it, but I'd rather hear from you. Four Job Fiesta? is that like a randomized job selection run?
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Post by Valigarmander » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:39 pm

Yeah, you get a random job assigned from each crystal that you have to use once acquired. It helps mix things up since there are so many different jobs in the game.

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Post by I am nobody » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:50 pm

Best for me is a fight between VI and X, although that's with the caveat that I've only finished X/VIII/III and nearly finished IV/VI/XIII. As great as IV and VI were, they still hadn't completely escaped the series' early love of grinding, and I've never been able to make myself sit down and get over that last stat barrier for the final dungeons.

Really need to play V for more than 10 seconds someday.

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Post by Booyakasha » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:40 pm

I've never played VI, just like I've never played Chrono Trigger.

VI looks pretty rad.

A few years back DawnSomewhere did a letsplay of the stupid-ass ponified romhack of VI. I watched all 37 episodes, multiple times over. Partly because DawnSomewhere is the best letsplay channel of all time. Partly because I'm probably really, really sick. And partly, I presume, because FFVI is good.

DawnSomewhere tore Pony Fantasy VI to shreds, but even that looked pretty rad. Presumably the game proper is way betterer than some dumb pony romhack.
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