I have just finished Final Fantasy 12. When I say I've just finished it, I don't mean to say that I have just completed my third play-through or that I have finally achieved the completest game or downed Yiazmat...I have literally just finished the main story. This particular game has taken me over two years.
It got me to thinking about how I felt about Final Fantasy games in general. I have long been a devotee of Square and later SquareEnix, but it's a devotion that comes hand in hand with a certain amount of frustration and ire. They are long, involved and convoluted, everything I both appreciate and condemn about them. I like the stories that are told through these games, but feel much is lost 'in translation' both culturally and linguistically. Much of this is my own fault, I still don't think I could accurately explain, for example, what exactly the deal is with Cloud and Zack, or the flashbacks that Squall and his friends suffer. Perhaps that's due to a lack of attention to detail, or absentmindedly working my way through Garnet's escape from the castle without really reading the text on screen.
I want to experience these games again, while actually paying attention to what's going on, gleaning as much as I can from the experience as possible.
While finishing the cutscene-heavy final minutes of FFXII it occurred to me that while graphics are appreciated and certainly in the later games rich and beautifully designed, they were not what the success of the franchise was built on. In order to examine exactly what is, and why I happily commit hours of my life to them, I will take this project back from the beginning. Starting with the earliest game I can reasonably play (without emulators and so on) and not including the Nintendo revamps for the DS. Starting with FFIV as released for the PS1 in the anthology I will play through every core numbered Final Fantasy game that is not an MMORPG. I make the list: 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12 and 13. Because I own IV and V as this anthology, this review will need to be in two parts.
I've very nearly completed Final Fantasy IV, under it's Japanese number, rather than the American release calling it Final Fantasy II. I'm playing the version that was released for the Playstation as an anthology together with FFV. As a side note, for some reason most sellers of the anthology list the collection as containing FFV and FFVI, even Amazon.co.uk. This would be the case in the US, where the two later games were released together I believe, but the European version of the 'anthology' contains IV and V.
It seems strange to me that these games have always suffered a certain amount of regional controversy. I can't fathom the logic behind making two different anthologies for the US and Europe. I can, perhaps see a certain selfish justification in making games like FFVII: Before Crisis available only in Japan, but it makes tracking down the correct references to games quite a task. I was to learn, for example, that the translations of the script for FFIV for the SNES, the PS1 anthology (Europe) the DS remake and the 'complete collection' version all differ from each other, sometimes quite significantly.
Let's take the line "You Spoony Bard!" - An infamous insult from very early on in the game, which has consequently been spoofed many times over and even been ported in it's original translation into the DS remake. I went looking for the history of the quote and found some of the literal translations. - So far in FFIV I am largely unimpressed by the script. I am beginning to realise this may be due to the translations rather than the writing. I am having the same reaction to it as I do when I watch anime in English dub. For some reason American writers/translators seem to underestimate the intelligence and sensitivity of their audience. We are treated to recaps of things we have just watched unfold and extensive explanations of context that are simply not necessary. It puts me in mind of the original Thundercats, it wasn't a translation issue, but the writing suffered the same flaws. Mark and I recently attempted to watch it, thinking some nostalgia would be fun. We found ourselves constantly addressing the characters on screen. "Thank's for that recap Cheetara, without your input I would never have understood that Lion-O was being attacked by those Lizardmen!"
"Spoony Bard", as it turns out is an apt description of Edward's state of mind, a lovesick and sentimental fool. The FFWiki points out quite rightly, given Tellah's anger, it's unlikely that's the choice phrase he would have used, therefore it jars quite badly with the rest of the admittedly poor script. With such better writing (take FF9, FFX and FFXII) later on in the series proving it is at least possible to write games well, its a wonder we put up with it in the first place. Xenogears didn't have this problem.
Giving your own characters credit however, seems to be low on the priority list here, I found myself wondering, as Cecil returns from his mission in the opening scenes, why Cid sees fit to threaten Cecil after welcoming him home. He's worried about his daughter's feelings, I get that, but it's the equivalent of my Mother greeting Mark at the door with "Hi Mark, glad you made the drive here safely....if you ever make Alice cry I'll gut you and feed you to the dogs!"
Rosa offers to 'visit' Cecil after this encounter, since he's on his way to bed, I can only raise an eyebrow. Turns out she's just worried about him and wants to let him know, I wouldn't be, the man sleeps with his helmet on...
For all that I am wishing for a more believable group of characters I am finding myself enjoying the world and it's inhabitants. I was charmed by the lady in Kaipo who was very interested in showing me her synchronised swimming dance. Lovely. The same could arguably said for the monk in Fabul who wanted to do the same but lured me in by dressing as a woman, only to leap out of the dress and dance around in his monkish garb...startling. The graphics are charmingly retro (I can't believe I just said that) without being clunky, although it's funny to see NPCs who are stationary walking on the spot, making it look like this is a world inhabited by ADHD sufferers.
Being an RPG though, I am struck with the irresistible desire to explore every nook and cranny of the map. EVERY ONE! it takes far too long and does me no good, no ultimate equipment is every found that way and as in every other FF game I play I know that I will likely ignore items almost entirely by the time I hit level 20-40 or so as my HP outstrips the capabilities of potions or hi-potions (I'm looking at you FFXII). I always seem to end up by the last boss fight with an inventory stuffed to bursting with pointless dark motes, x-potions, softs and whathaveyou.
As part of this play-through I've been considering the issue of grinding. From what I can remember, and it's been a while I admit, I never had to do much grinding for the main story line or regular boss in later FF games. The notable exception being my first encounter with Seymour Flux on Mount Gagazet in FFX; that fight's a real doozy. I noticed however, that each new area of FFIV is significantly harder than the last and I suffered what feels like an unusual number of party wipes. It's possible there's a setting I missed out but I checked everyone's equipment and all seemed fine. There just seems to be huge steps of challenge rather than a gentle curve. I'm starting to think that's something they ironed out in later games.
There was a distinct lack of forced grinding, for which I am grateful. The situations where the writers knew there was a boss coming up and rather than trust you to have been taking the game slowly for a bit they insert an area you have to inch your way through, random battles hitting so thick and fast you get dizzy. (Highbridge and Mount Nibel, I'm looking at you.) The dungeons in FFIV seem well paced and a good length, although the dungeon crawling element far outweighs the rest of the game. There's not much extra story progression here, just small vital speech screens between dungeons. There's a distinct lack of convoluted sidequesting going on, which I'm choosing to take a blessing in disguise, considering my dislike of the script.
Is the existence of grinding in games like these simply an effort to 'pad' out the game? Do you really get your money's worth when you spend x amount of hours walking backwards and forwards across a world map looking for random encounters to beef up xp/gil/items? It's a 'perform task, get reward' cycle that rings too close to Pavlovian for me. That doesn't stop me doing it though, I know I'm just ringing a bell to get a treat...but I like treats. In an MMORPG environment, WoW or FFXI I actually find it relaxing. 'catch 15 fish get a point in fishing skill' is superficially satisfying, especially when accompanied by a flashy little animation and a cheer. It's one reason why facebook games are so popular. You add the chance to catch a rare mount or something worth a lot of cash and it becomes a little like gambling, effort and time vs the chance to catch something cool, with tiny payouts along the way.
The difference between the MMORPG grind and the grind in a single player RPG however is one I find quite distinct. If I get bored fishing in Azeroth (MMO) I can always go grind one of a hundred other things or play PVP/instances but if I'm bored of fighting mist-monsters and I haven't yet collected the gold I need to buy that mithril plate for everyone, I'm still not going to survive the next boss.
In FFIV, so early on in the series the variation of monsters and areas in which to grind are limited, so there's not even a change of scenery to be had. In this respect, I'm looking forward to the later games where both the need to grind has been absorbed into the story and there's a much greater aesthetic variation to be had.
I would still recommend the game as a piece of gaming history. It seems to have stood the test of time very well. Square were very clever in recycling the music from this game into it's beloved and revered FFVII as I'm getting flashbacks to parts of that game when I play this one, even though I played FFIV first! It creates a powerful reaction, and while the plot is very fairytale-esque and the script is terrible, its still a great game. Although to be honest, if you want to play it, you'd do yourself no disservice by playing the DS remake, it's practically the same but with more monster variation, improved dialogue (mostly) and no 16-bit graphics.
What a fantastic idea to re-release final fantasy 4,5, and 6, on to the playstation from the old snes. I bought both when they came out and they kept me entertained for 50+ hours each, Square are genious. I started off with 6, which was the first one that I got, I thought that it was excellent, (now you know where they got all the monsters and music from for 7,8,and 9) The graphics are that from the snes but who cares...its still ace, this one track. (the one that Celes sings in Opera) stuck in my head for several weeks and the rest of the music is very good as well. Story is fantastic, love the fact that they include all the Espers ever created (summon monsters). *I chose not to include any spoilers here* Final Fantasy 4 was next. This is one of the easiest games I ever played in this series (give them credit as it was one of the first ones ever made) And here you see the real begining (on the ones released over here) But when you get to the end, even with leveling up, on average you are level 55-60, I find that they went wrong here (the only fault I can find) they expect you to be level 90+ to defeat the end boss, because he just wipes you out otherwise! It does get boring levelling up as the mosters are not worth much experience. ( I got there in the end and I was happy!). Finally Final Fantasy 5. Yet again a good game but a unique game in this series with the "jobs" you have to assign characters to a job to complete the skills, sop you decide there strengths and weaknesses, I found this quite good but I didn't like the way they had no unique skills, but No more complaints...a good game and very entertaining. Brilliant...recommend all of the final fantasy games to anyone but as with all RPG's they require time and pacients, if you played 7,8, or 9; 4,5, or 6 would be any welcomed addition.
I purchased this game on release date after seeing it advertised on the official squaresoft website and also on online game websites such as gameplay. Final Fantasy Anthology (FFA) is two games in one, FF4 and FF5. These games are PSX releases of FF1 and FF2 for NES and SNES. The game features many extras that the old versions did not, including the bonus feature obtained for completing the game and the special FMV scenes that have been added in. The graphics. For the time they would have been good, the graphics for the cut scenes are still pretty good but they seem crap if, like me, you were used to the super smooth graphics of FF9. I now have all the FF series from FF4 to FF9, and alternating between smooth 3-D graphics to the 2-D graphics of 4, 5 and 6 is really weird, altough the gameplay more than makes up for it. FFA takes gamers back to the roots of RPG games. This game introduced many features that have been present in all other RPG games, including mini quests, summon monsters and of course, The ATB (active time battle) system. It has all the things that you would expect from an RPG, including weapons, magic spells and special skills. FF4 has 12 characters. The main characters are Cecil, a dark knight who is the commander of the Red Wings, a fleet of military airships, and Rosa, a white mage who is a childhood friend of Cecils. Each character has a different skill which can be used in battle. These include stealing, throwing items and summoning monsters to aid the party and cause considerable damage to enemies. The game will take you through 6 kingdoms, each with its own cultures, customs and type of people who live there. The game will take a long time to complete, as with all FF games, but to fully complete the game with level 100 characters and all mini quests completed will take almost double the time. Set aside a few months for this one. And another thing. Its not an easy games. You will often
find that you are often resetting as your party has been annihalated. But what would be the point if it was easy? FF5 has loads of cool features in the game. Various modes of transport, including hovercrafts and airships, and it also has chocobos. Different types allow you to do different things, including flying, swimming and even running over mountains. There are 4 characters in FF5. Faris, a pirate, Galuf, a soldier, Reina, a girl searching for her father and Bartz, a wandering traveller. They are all brought together after a catastrophic event. Then again, which final fantasy doesn't involve a catastrophic event at some time or another? A great feature about FF5 is the ability to change your characters 'job'. This will allow you to learn different skills and be better equipped to take on different situations. The controls are easy to get used to, but you may find yourself pressing the wrong button at a crucial time, especially if, like me, you are stepping back from FF7, 8 and 9. At the end of the day though, they are just the same as normal FF controls and wont take much getting used to. FFA is a great value for money game, as you are getting at least 50 hours gameplay for each title, and all for under £20. This is probably the best value for money title released on the PSX to date and is definitely worth buying. Fans of the FF series will purchase this game immediately, and even if you aren't a FF fan, buy it anyway. You'll be glad you did.
This is the history of the game and how it was developed: The basic concept was really a mythical idea of how the Earth came into being, with fire and water representing everything on Earth. I represented those elements into a crystal and that essentially became sort of the core theme of Final Fantasy," explains Hironobu Sakaguchi, executive producer of the Final Fantasy series since its introduction in Japan way back in 1987. It is now the unchallenged worldwide leader among interactive role-playing games, with the most recent instalments in the series, Final Fantasy VII and VIII, selling record numbers on the PlayStation format and achieving number one chart positions all over the world. The first Final Fantasy game had offered what were, for the time, hugely impressive graphics and massive gameplay on a 2 MB NES cartridge. It was an immediate success in Japan, shifting 520,000 units (and an additional 780,000 when it was released in the United States in 1990). And despite the long-running nature of the series, number IX was still able to take Japan by storm on its NTSC release in July 2000 and whetting European anticipation for the PAL conversion. Of course, one of the remarkable aspects of the Final Fantasy series is the fact that most of the titles are not true sequels, but actually stand-alone games with varying characters, storylines and time periods. But what they share is an epic approach to role-playing adventure, similar themes and rich gameplay. Such games are big business in Japan, but don’t always translate to other international markets. Indeed, several of the Final Fantasy titles were only initially released in Japan (although were always popular import titles). In the early days of the series, the titles appeared on Nintendo’s NES and Super NES systems (FFIV was the first RPG to appear on the new SNES in 1991) – but when Squaresoft released its three-years-in-the-making Final Fantasy
VII in 1997, it wasn’t on the N64, but the CD-based Sony PlayStation. The massive three-disk adventure became a huge international hit, and has been widely acclaimed as the finest RPG on the PlayStation (but not the best in the series, according to stalwart fans). Doubly annoying to Nintendo fans, both it and the equally huge Final Fantasy VIII were also released on the PC. The Final Fantasy series reaches yet another level in the year 2001 – not only is the tenth game, set in a wholly real-time 3D world, scheduled for the PS2 (with or without online capabilities), but a feature-length CGI animated movie, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, was released across America and Europe in the summer of 2001. FINAL FANTASY IX The latest release takes players through an immersive storyline with numerous subplots as they play with eight unique characters and a variety of weapons and magic in a quest for good over evil. The game centres on a greedy queen's desire to dominate the world. Brahne, the Queen of Alexandria, has begun using highly advanced magical weapons to terrorise neighbouring kingdoms. Players follow a group made up of bandits, knights and magicians lead by a skilled thief, Zidane, who all must team up to try to stop the Queen. Soon after embarking on their quest, they discover that the Queen's threats merely cover a far more sinister plot. For the sake of mankind, Zidane and company must put an end to the Queen's reign before she and the evil forces that accompany her can carry out the deadly plan. The story begins with Zidane, a member of the bandit group Tantalus, travelling to the town of Alexandria to perform a play in front of Queen Brahne and her daughter Princess Garnet. The group's real aim, however, is to kidnap the princess. Zidane's scheme is disrupted by Steiner, the loyal knight of Alexandria. During the process, their group is joined by the tiny black mage, Vivi. Zidane a
nd company manage to escape the city with Princess Garnet, with Steiner following to protect her, but the Queen soon discovers them, and their airship is destroyed. The trouble does not end there: the party is pursued constantly by the Queen's men, some possessing incredible magical powers. Disturbed by what they have seen, Zidane, Garnet, Vivi and Steiner decide to team up to solve the mystery behind the Queen's evil troops. They discover eventually that the Queen is being assisted by the mysterious figure, Kuja, whose real purpose is unknown... Final Fantasy IX features eight playable characters, with up to four taking part in each battle. The characters have unique profiles affecting skills, abilities and weapon types. The intuitive menu system allows for customisation of character attributes, enabling the player to select the appropriate strategy for the myriad monsters and bosses which will be encountered on the adventure, set in a fantastic world of medieval cities and uncharted territories. Spread over four disks and boasting around 80 hours of gameplay, this, like previous instalments, is not a game to approach lightly - while non-RPG fans will find themselves bored, those who are familiar with the genre will probably devote endless hours and days of their lives to exploring and completing the adventure. A detailed strategy guide will also be available to help them do it, while in addition Square Europe's website will reveal extra secrets.
Classic Final fantasy good or bad? I say it’s brilliant, sure it’s got old Snes graphics, but game play is the most important part of a game. Final fantasy 5 is a very good game, you have this special job system, you can chose what your going to train to be, say a knight for example, but if you get board learning all of a knights skill’s you can train to be a mage. Once you have learnt how to cast some magic, then you can use some knight’s skills to combine to your mage, so you could be a mage who can have the true knight skill. The plot isn’t that good but not bad, a creator hit’s the Earth and the wind starts to stop, then you go to explore the wind crystal it shatters, then you Bartz, Galuf, Reina and Faris are chosen as warriors to protect the world. Final Fantasy 6 is probably as good as Final fantasy 7 and 8 it’s Excellent! To start off with your characters start off with their own skills. E.g. Edgar is good at mechanics so he has a special skill called tools, this is ware he can equip special weapons. To start hardly anyone can cast magic, but as the game progresses you get Espers, these are summons basically, you can then equip an Esper then learn magic, e.g. if you equip Shiva you can learn ice skills. The plot is good in this game, but I can’t give too much away. Basically the 1000 years ago there was a war and it decimated the world and put back technology 1000 years, now everything has been reinvented. Now the Empire is trying to rule the world with magic. Sounds simple but like every other Final fantasy it gets better. In both games you have 4 slots to equip weapons and armour your hands were you can equip weapons and shields, then you have your head and body for armour. Also in both games there is added FMV for the Playstation version, but only at the start and the end. This game is only out in America but it’s worth getting if you’re a Final fantasy fan,
but not worth getting if your fussy on graphics.