March 23, 2011

Games for Gameless Situations: Final Fantasy 1–6

As you all have hope­ful­ly seen, CABXYZ is doing a lit­tle “Japan Week” thing about awe­some stuff that’s come out of Japan,  as a sort of emo­tion­al boost (and slight mon­e­tary boost if you buy any of the games men­tioned) to those hurt by the giant earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reac­tor prob­lems in Japan. I like to throw my two cents in about every­thing (You’ve prob­a­bly seen this by now.), so I’ll chip in to the Japan Week with some of my own favorite games from the far east.

^Except this one. I already talked about this one.
Quick! Name a clas­sic con­sole RPG series! I’ll bet five bucks that the first thing that popped into your head was “Final Fan­ta­sy”, unless of course you obsess over JRPG’s, in which case I dare not view your brows­er his­to­ry. Final Fan­ta­sy is one of the most estab­lished and suc­cess­ful RPG fran­chis­es ever, and for good rea­son. They were good. They were great. They were some of the most epic damn games of all time. How­ev­er, by now you’ve prob­a­bly noticed I’m speak­ing in the past tense. These new Final Fan­ta­sy games are falling into the sub-par area, espe­cial­ly the DS releas­es. The sto­ry­lines seem kind of half-baked, and when you’re play­ing Final Fan­ta­sy, that’s the first thing you notice. If it does­n’t have a good sto­ry, why have you been walk­ing around on the over­world for three hours to lev­el up? How­ev­er, there have been sev­er­al re-releas­es of my favorite Final Fan­ta­sy games, num­bers 1–6. I’ll briefly go through each one, and score ’em as a whole.
Final Fan­ta­sy 1 and 2 were re-released a while back in a dou­ble-fea­ture on the Game­boy Advance. This game pak, enti­tled “Dawn of Souls”, threw sev­er­al new dun­geons into Final Fan­ta­sy 1 (In which you fight boss­es from the oth­er Final Fan­ta­sy games), and threw an entire epi­logue game for Final Fan­ta­sy 2 in which you play through the after­life of four char­ac­ters who died dur­ing the main sto­ry. A revamped Bes­tiary sys­tem and total­ly redone graph­ics made this one of the best GBA games I’ve ever owned. The clas­sic pwnage of Final Fan­ta­sy 1 mixed in with a whole bunch of new awe­some­ness made for an epic remake, and Final Fan­ta­sy 2’s amaz­ing sto­ry­line was new to many (who did not speak Japan­ese). Out of all the remakes, this is def­i­nite­ly my favorite.

^Do you smell the nos­tal­gia yet?
Final Fan­ta­sy 3 got a DS remake lat­er on. FF3 is the odd bird of the ear­ly games, with an entire slew of class­es to pick from, but four dis­tinct char­ac­ters that par­tic­i­pate in the sto­ry­line. The DS made this one look real­ly pret­ty in 3D, but it still feels more old-school and less PlaySta­tioney. The one thing I dis­like about this game more than the oth­ers is the “Pow­er fac­tor”, oth­er­wise known as the fact that you need either an inter­net con­nec­tion or a Nin­ten­do Pow­er walk­through to get past cer­tain parts. Hid­den door­ways, boss­es that are near­ly unbeat­able with­out some sort of mag­ic secret, and a bunch of oth­er BS make this a hard game to play at times. Over­all, it’s real­ly good, but it encroach­es upon your gamer-macho when you have to get help.

^3d? Yes. Still ridicu­lous­ly out-of-pro­por­tion? I am taller than a moun­tain.
Final Fan­ta­sy 4 got a dou­ble-dose of remake, both on GBA and DS. I’ve not played the DS ver­sion, but it looks a lot like the fore­men­tioned FF3, so just use your imag­i­na­tion. I’ll talk about the GBA ver­sion, as it seems to be the true-er remake. First off, you’ll either notice or remem­ber that this was the first Final Fan­ta­sy game with an ATB sys­tem. Tim­ing became impor­tant, as char­ac­ters had to recharge, and ene­mies would attack on a timescale, rather than tak­ing turns. You also had a few new options as far as com­bat went, and each char­ac­ter had a set-in-stone class. This whole game just piss­es excel­lence, and you’re real­ly miss­ing out if you’ve not played it.

^Holy, just before anoth­er box pops up that says “SH*T WE ARE FIGHTING SKELETON DINOSAURS ON THE MOON”
Final Fan­ta­sy 5, anoth­er “new-if-you-aren’t Japan­ese” game, also struck GBA gold. You choose class­es in this one, but I don’t think it real­ly detracts from the game­play too much. This one’s sto­ry­line does­n’t pack quite as much punch as 2, 4, or 6, but maybe that’s just me. Either way, it’s a hell of a lot bet­ter than most oth­er GBA games.

^It’s like Final Fan­ta­sy 3, only with a fleshi­er plot. On a side note, Bartz is gang­ster enough to have a Z in his name.
Last­ly, we have the big one. Final Fan­ta­sy 6, oth­er­wise known as Final Fan­ta­sy 3 on SNES (I’ll explain at the bot­tom of the arti­cle), got the final GBA re-do, as it was the last 16 Bit game in the series. Very lit­tle was changed as far as I can tell, because you don’t screw around with some­thing that good. This may be the best damn game in the entire series. Pret­ty much per­fect in the sto­ry­line depart­ment, actu­al­ly chal­leng­ing in the dun­geons (a rar­i­ty in most oth­er FF games, grind­ing won’t help you as much as pure strat­e­gy will), this game just blows the mind of any­one who picks up the con­troller. If you’ve not played it, get it. Now. If you have to down­load a ROM do so, just send an enve­lope with your life sav­ings to Nin­ten­do (Square Enix does­n’t deserve that mon­ey after their recent… exper­i­ments.).

^Locke used a MASTER BALL.
Sto­ry­line:6/5- Yes. These sto­ry­lines are MORE than per­fect. They’re the best sto­ry­lines on any games I’ve ever seen, with a select few excep­tions. There are parts that might make you actu­al­ly cry. Yes, you, mis­ter “I’m so tough because I slaugh­ter hook­ers in GTA and Nazi Zom­bies in CoD.” You will cry. These are bet­ter than just about any book you will ever read that’s con­sid­ered a lit­er­ary clas­sic by your school. Your mind will be blown and you’ll behave weird­ly for days after you beat them. You don’t play clas­sic Final Fan­ta­sy, you expe­ri­ence it.

Con­trol:4.79/5- That’s a pret­ty weird num­ber, but I can tell you that all the points came out of Final Fan­ta­sy 3’s pig­gy bank. You have to zoom in to see the occa­sion­al “secret” (which sparkles like a Twi­light Gay Vam­pire Orgy), and it just dis­tracts from the rest of the game. If they could set apart the secrets in any oth­er way than sparkles, I’d give them back about half of those points. The oth­er half stems from the move­ment. It’s just weird, and I can’t explain it. You just have to play it and go “wut.” You adjust to it, but it’s not Final Fan­ta­sy Kosher.
Addic­tive­ness:5/5- Side effects may include ocu­lar bleed­ing, inabil­i­ty to sleep, and total detach­ment from “real life”.
Ease to Obtain:3.75/5- This is the one down­side. You’re not gonna find these remakes in stores any­more unless you get real­ly lucky. Buy­ing from Ebay or any oth­er online store should work, but the prob­lem there lies with the fact that not all gamers (espe­cial­ly ones play­ing hand­held con­soles) have access or per­mis­sion to use a cred­it card. How­ev­er, once you get these games, they’re worth the trou­ble.

Bat­tery Life:4.5/5- You can play GBA games on a DS for upwards of ten hours straight. You’ll run out of eye­ball juice faster than you’ll run out of bat­tery. How­ev­er, the GBA SP does­n’t last quite that long, and you end up switch­ing out AA’s on the clas­sic GBA every few hours. How­ev­er, there’s noth­ing quite like an RPG (or Poke­mon) by Worm­Light.
These games are pret­ty much per­fect trav­el­ing com­pan­ions. The remakes give you “quick­save” options for when you have to quick­ly shut off, but you still have to ration your tents and be care­ful with your reg­u­lar saves. The play­time is ridicu­lous. There is no way to fin­ish one of these clas­sic FF games in one sit­ting unless you’re some kind of demon who nev­er sleeps (or a Gay Twi­light Vam­pire).

^This gay.
One more thing that may con­fuse some peo­ple is that not all of the Final Fan­ta­sy games were orig­i­nal­ly released in the US, but to keep con­ti­nu­ity, the ones that did make it over were re-titled. We got Final Fan­ta­sy 1, Final Fan­ta­sy 4 (which was called 2), and Final Fan­ta­sy 6 (which was called 3). The orig­i­nal 2, 3, and 5 did­n’t offi­cial­ly make it to the US until these GBA remakes. Every­thing from FF7 on up is cor­rect­ly num­bered, though.
Well, there you have it. Some of my favorite Japan­ese games ever. Let me know your opin­ions on these down below in the com­ment sec­tion. And if you still hold that FF7 was the great­est, don’t get your panties in a knot. I hear they’re remak­ing it for the PS3.

1 comment

  1. T8 - March 23, 2011 11:04 pm

    oh how i miss FF games. The new ones are shit and the old ones i have played so many times that its too easy.
    Great great, great nos­tal­gia, great write CC.


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