Published on April 13th, 2013 | by Mat Lezama2
A Personal Journey: What Final Fantasy Did Right
To this writer, the Final Fantasy series holds many old exhibits that are always waiting for a due jaunt. For me, that has been close to one Final Fantasy game a year, for the past ten years. But the honesty of that statement came as a shock while playing TheaterRythmn. When listening to all the music I began to think about how- and when I played each game. Some I have yet to play still, and others I’m likely to never to play. None of which have ever been repeated either. These games were all once benchmarks in the narrative, musical, and graphical prowess in games. Diving head first into titles like these begets a fulfillment mixed with the thrills as strolling through a museum. And has served me as a proper vehicle of gaming triumph with quiet understanding.
Final Fantasy VIII
The first Final Fantasy I played when I was still in middle school, well into the PS2 era. I got this game from the same friend whom a week before showed me GTA Vice City shortly after its release. Cameron, while he did enjoy a lot of games this one didn’t strike a chord, so he let me and my twin brother have it for free.
This game had the especially long Guardian Force cut-scenes in battle that was entertaining and strangely practical with the boost feature. Other notables include having a salary based on your early game performance and consistency. Along with one of the hardest boss fights in the series: Omega Weapon, its second appearance since FFVI. Lastly, a huge cast of Guardian Summons that span many cultural ideologies and the Final Fantasy lore alike.
This entry is also the only game I know of that my older sister Melissa has ever beaten before me or my brother Mike when we were younger. I congratulate her a lot. But it’s because I enjoyed watching and cooperating with her that I never finished it myself. See has a lot of merchandise from this game including the full soundtrack, a pillow of Squall’s face, and his necklace accompanied with Rinoa’s ring.
Somewhere on disk three, a healthy 60 hours into the game, my party fell, and I realized I forgot to save some two or three hours back. I looked at the file select screen and though about how much of the game was left. And how none of it was new. That was the last time I played.
Final Fantasy VII
The second title I picked up in the series at the GameStop almost a year later. The stark, polygon bodies and the large box screen in battle mode took time getting used to. But I found the Materia system faster to learn than the draw and GF systems of FF8. The Chocobo hunts and non-human party members also gave me a kick. I was already familiar with Sephiroth from playing Kingdom Hearts, which was my first meet with this incredibly popular villan.
The entire cast is a more varied. And all around truer to the old-school games in style and uniqueness than FF8. All together I thought the game was surprisingly short compared to the latter. After I beat the game I did play the final boss fight over, and over again when I wasn’t doing the Chocobo races. I never tried the extra bosses.
Final Fantasy I
My third title. I played this game on the, “Final Fantasy I & II Dawn of Souls” remake for the Game Boy Advance. I remember reading the 8 Bit-Theater comics around the time and my interest grew with the remake. I beat the game in about three weeks like I did with any other GBA game I had then. This game is also way shorter than the two PS1 titles I knew before. But I had so much fun, and I was so happy to finally say I played the first one!
Besides that, this adventure was ultimately washed away by the excitement of Fire Emblem,FF Tactics,Golden Sun,and Advanced Wars. My RPG appetite was already full with more complex experiences. Nonetheless I think I paid my respect to the series.
Final Fantasy II
I started soon after playing Final Fantasy I with pie eyed dreams of another adventure after the original investment on the Dawn of Souls cartridge. Needless to say I found this game hard to play at every turn. The weapon/ hands skill system was too difficult. Also, the use of ridiculously stronger enemies to prevent world exploration made the beginning of the game a serious chore. My frustration kept me disengaged from the music and the level designs. What I kept was the permanent death of party members to help strengthen the narrative force of this title.
Still eager to finish strong, my party trekked through KO after KO, and save after save to the last dungeon in the game. I had the choice to either level up my characters all day or go into the next room with even tougher characters and try my luck there. It all seemed hokey and unreliable. I never finished this one either.
Final Fantasy III
Random encounters I hoped for now were unfortunately rare, in my spare time I still kept away from the anchoring console games, and my PC was less than satisfactory for any honest effort to gaming. So I picked up this title for the DS maybe a full year after FF2.
The music completely swept me away when I first played. The dramatic melodies of the boss battle music has become one of my favorites in the series. The job change system was nifty, and allowing more jobs as the player progressed was a fair achievement throughout the game. Although the events that unlocked more jobs seems arbitrary in my memory, it was still way easier to learn the unique systems of FFII, VII, or VIII. I logged a ritualistic 60-70 hours before I stopped playing. I originally bought this game as a distraction for the long plane flight to London our family was taking to vacation, but I beat it before the flight, so my brother got the joy of doing so while I listened to music.
Final Fantasy IV
At this point in In my life I was ready to leave high school and continue with the college life I will hopefully soon be retiring too. I completed three out of the five major Final Fantasy games I started since eighth grade. So five games in six years. I purchased to play this one for my DS Lite a few months after Final Fantasy III.
The cut scenes and the semi-familiar graphics I liked, there is a useful implementation of the game map on the touch screen, and even an insight on the characters thoughts at anytime are all nice extras. I noticed this is the first game to use the formally known, “Active Time Battle” system, which took no time getting used to, and the Relics you can give to any character can make for some serious character-ability customization. Still, at the classic, “ Battle of the Four Fiends” on the moon I met I demise.
I specifically remember being unable to defeat Rubicante night after night. The party just wouldn’t survive long enough to kill him. I traded in this game along with FFIII and my DS Lite for credit, and put those funds towards a 3DS months in advance. And that was that. Still, if I haven’t bought that 3DS, I would not be writing today.
Final Fantasy V
I have yet to play Final Fantasy V. But its waiting for me. Like all the other Final Fantasy I’m sure to fork over the dough and play it, probably the PSN download. It will be a nice look at the series on last time before I run out of the 2D, top-down genius retro gaming has to offer. I’ve played enough of them to figure out its nuances quickly, but it will still be fairly new, and certainly fun.
Final Fantasy IX
When I heard a local game store on my way to home from college was going out of business, I stopped in one day to see the bottom-of-the-barrel choices of old sports games and an unsaleable giant Master Chief statue with a $1000 price tag. In the glass case there was Final Fantasy IX, and the Final Fantasy Anthologies Collection. It was between these two titles, and I’m happy with my decision. A GameStop stands there now.
In this game unlike any before I took the liberty in finally naming my characters whatever I wanted to call them. Sometimes it took a while to come up with something that would stick, but that was part of the fun of it. Again, non-human party members and the use of romance in games where the two factors that kept me interested.
I ultimately stopped playing this game when I met my girlfriend Emily, and my excitement to show her the world of gaming made me lose track of this one. My dedication fell between the cracks as if it was never really that important. I even went back to it maybe two months ago and remembered where I need to go to finish. But picking up into the story on disc 3 sounded like too much, I might as well start over.
There is one very clever thing in this game: The player must complete a story of four segments, but are given five passages to work with.The story’s ending, the last passage describing how a hero is judged, can end in two different ways. I’m sure one has a “better” outcome than the other, but the way the designers slowly bait the player into one decision seemed very subtle, and worth the effort.
Final Fantasy VI
The title that I am currently playing,and I expect beating hopefully before the summer. Between the save files on my PS3 and PSP the game hasn’t left my bedside. I was greatly appreciative that there was no tutorial, but actually started using Espers a little later in the game than possible. I probably will not beat all the dragons but rest assured I’m loving every aspect of this game. In-battle cut scenes. The best cast of party members accompanied by another excellent score. For 1995 I am great impressed. Like Sabin’s Blitz command, you can see how Tifa and Zell’s action commands have branched from this Street Fighter-esque party member unique ability. The selectable story branches just after the fight in the raft with Ultros are also new narrative elements new to the series. Still trendy to do to this day.
Final Fantasy X
When I stared to play my first Final Fantasy, this one was the current one to beat. One reason I think my connection to the series is so strong is because I never worried about playing them all, or stressed playing the newest one. Similar to my experience with FFVIII, I watched my brother play this one. Same can be said about FFXII. I wasn’t crazy about the return of the turn based system, so I never quite picked it up. The Sphere Grid did however entice me play. I remember my brother having the guidebook with a huge poster of this grid. It’s very complex and wonderfully colorful once filled. Seeing someone else do that really defeats the purpose of doing it yourself.
I still find it odd. I never feel the hype of a new game when I approach these.And I also don’t feel bad I wont finish these great games either. My time with no game is sure or everlasting . Every time- a long tutorial, random battles and that wonderful fanfare are always expected. All sandwiched between many menu screens. And yet, I have continuously learned to appreciate the work involved to making these seemingly static games. Whose long life as earned much devotion from many gamers for its ingenuity.