The Great Final Fantasy Retrospective - Let's Mosey

CriticalGaming

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After doing six "souls" games back to back to back, I got to thinking about doing another series where I do other franchises. I don't know why I thought to do Final Fantasy because there are a lot of them and each one is much longer than a Souls game (mostly). But it's very clear now that 2021 has blown it's gaming load early and we are in for one hell of a dry spell. So now is as good of a time as any to start another project.

First I have to set a few rules, because there are lots of Final Fantasy games, from spin-offs and Mystic Quests, to MMO's and direct sequels. If I tried to do every single FF game, then I'd just die. So I have to set a path. I'm going to do mainline numbered Final Fantasy games and direct sequels like X-2, etc. Which means no Tactics, no Crystal Chronicles, or anything like that. Also I'll be skipping FF4:After Years since it's basically just FF4 again and from what I can find online everyone says it's not worth playing through if you recently played FF4. Finally I will have to skip FF11 because I really don't have time to dig into that MMO, as it's hardcore and old school to this very day.

Unlike the Souls playthroughs where I tried to get absolutely everything and platinum every game possible, (didn't plat DS3 because....no thanks) I will NOT be platinuming any of these games. The achievements in the FF games are utter grindfesty bullshit for the most part. However i will try to play through all possible content, which means super bosses, extra dungeons, or whatever else the game may have if reasonably possible. But unlocked every node on the sphere grid for every character in FFX? No thanks.

All those rules in place, I actually thought it was going to take me a bit longer before making this thread and talking about the first game in the series.

As it turns out Final Fantasy 1 is kind of short. Not only short but really barebones in almost every aspect. There is a story sort of, and there are a few dungeons to run through which feature some Nintendo-hard levels of nonsense. The best thing that could be said about Final Fantasy 1 is that it was a good proof of concept. The basics are there, but not much else and the game doesn't even have a Final Fantasy flavor yet. There are no Chocobos, no deep story, no leading villain, and a combat system that is basically held together with duct-tape.

For Final Fantasy 1 through 6 I will be playing the brand new Pixel remasters. These remasters are the best way to play these games on modern systems in an easy straightforward way. However FF1 is a bit too true to the remaster part. The pixel remaster doesn't have any of the extra content that previous versions of FF1 had, so there are no extra dungeons to fight, artworks to collect, beastiaries to fill, nothing. It's....well it's FF1 and nothing more. Which I guess is fine for my purposes here. But it does mean that the game is done in about 10 or so hours.

The real challenge with FF1 is building the right party and grinding in the right way. Levels matter a LOT in FF1 as you quickly can overpower the enemies in a given are with just a couple of levels. Things that would give you trouble at level 3, get absolutely destroyed when you're level 5. If you outlevel the badguys by only 1 or 2 levels, then you are golden.

At the begining of the game you pick the jobs your four warriors of light are going to be for your playthrough. Warrior, Monk, Thief, Red made, White Mage, and Black Mage. The white and black mages both specialize in either healing or blowing shit up magics, while the red mage does both but not as good. The thief is a weak warrior but helps the party run away. The warrior is a warrior, and the monk is a naked guy.

Whatever four jobs you pick, you spawn into the world map and you are on your way. Originally there were a lot of bugs in the game that prevented most of the game from working properly. Theives didn't do anything because the flee mechanic was bugged. Mages never got stronger because Intellect was bugged and didn't ever scale. Then there was the infamous pennicula of power which was a very early game area that spawned easy to kill high level monsters allowing you to power level like a beast.

In the pixel Remaster all of that is fixed. So you gotta play the game right and without most exploits. Which means you gotta deal with the bullshit. Yeah this game has some Nintendo bullshit to it, mostly when it comes to dungeon crawling. Every dungeon in the game has something in it that is a pain in the ass to deal with. Sometimes it's status effects that the spammed on your party every fucking fight. Other times the floor is literally lava and moving through the dungeon will gradually and continuously wear your party's hp down. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, just use your white mage to heal or stock up on items to prepare for it.

NO! Can't do that. You see the magic system runs like Dungeons and Dragons, so instead of an MP pool you have spell slots and each level of spell can only be cast a few times before you run out. You can use ether's to restore spell charges but there is a problem there too. You inventory is very limited and ethers are hard and expensive to come by. So you end up having to go into a dungeon, figure out the bullshit inside (like poison, darkness, stone, etc) then you leave the dungeon to go prepare for that dungeon's specific thing. It's not a hard game by any means, but it is a bit tedious which is probably only there for padding to be honest.

The "story" plays out like a string of short D&D adventures. Princess is kidnapped go save her. Now a Witch loss her eye, go find an elf town, find out the prince is asleep, go get wtich's eye, witch gives you a potion to wake the prince, and on and on it goes. None of this really comes with any story either just minor blocks of texts like "Prince has been stuck in a slumber, if only there was a way to wake him." stuff like that.

So it's pretty bare bones, the big goal ends up being restoring the light to the four crystals that power the elements of the lands. Once you do you fight god, because in Final Fantasy games, you always fight god.

And just like that the game is over. Final Fantasy is a simple game that is pretty easy so long as you are buying equipment and spells at each new town and also leveling up your party here and there. If any enemies feel tough, just grind a level or two and you'll breeze through it.

It is also worth mentioning that halfway through the game you can meet Bahaumut and he will evolve your jobs like pokemon. Warrior becomes Knight, Mages becomes Wizards, Thieves don't matter, and Monks become....better monks? These beef your party up a bit for the end game but don't do anything else interesting except grant access to more gear and spells.

FF1 also has a super boss in the final tower there is a Warmech you can encounter as just a normal enemy. Which is bullshit, because if you aren't prepared to fight this thing, you die. However if you are leveled enough and properly equiped, it's a pushover. So it's basic, but it is nice to see super bosses have always been a FF staple.

All that being said, I probably wouldn't recommend anyone bother playing this game unless you are already a super FF fan, in which case you've already have.

EDIT: Playtime 11.5 hours. Character levels 44
 
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sXeth

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Contextually, FF1 is more barebones then maybe they'd like it to be because it was basically a hail mary before the creator (and Squaresoft as a hole IIRC) gave up. (Whereas even in #2 you get something resembling actual characters and an attempt at a story, moreso then the bog standard excuse plot).


So they by and large copied some homework from CRPGs at the time (Ultima, Wizardry, and Might and Magic as obvious references), and grabbed a hodgepodge of random mythology references to fill up the world with monsters.

Somewhat fortunately for them, Final Fantasy did take off, and also helped to spur a significant, though lesser amount of interest in the previous years Dragon Quest (Which was released by Enix, which would become very relevant to Square later).


I'd also agree its prettymuch disposable. It may have been the most popular thing called an RPG on NES as a historical note, but even the Ultimas and so on (And others that were also console based like Faxanadu) generally had a better job at the same era, if not as successful on a console level.


If one were a completionist, it is technically sequelizied in FF9, but you definitely don't need the FF1 to follow it at all.
 
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CriticalGaming

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Contextually, FF1 is more barebones then maybe they'd like it to be because it was basically a hail mary before the creator (and Squaresoft as a hole IIRC) gave up.
This is a conflicting story. I don't know which is true, but there are wiki's that say the game was called Final Fantasy because they wanted the game to have aliteration in the game and it was originally going to be called "fighting fantasy" but that name was already taken, so they went with Final Fantasy. It supposedly had nothing to do with the state of the company. There was a developer at Square that was thinking of leaving the game''s industry if FF didn't work, and I think people have exaggerated the story to being the whole company.

Not 100% on that because obviously both stories are out there.
 

immortalfrieza

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I'd recommend avoiding FF2 and FF12. They are easily the worst games in the franchise bar none. FF2 for being incredibly grindy even for a turned based RPG thanks to it's "use something to increase stats" system that is also really exploitable. FF12 for it's slooooooow prodding gameplay that acts like a cross between a turned based RPG and an action RPG and is terrible at being either with an awful Gambit system that forces you to micromanage your party's actions for every encounter because they couldn't just make decent party A.I.

Maybe you'll get the Crisis Core Remake at the end of this project.
 

Drathnoxis

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But it's very clear now that 2021 has blown it's gaming load early and we are in for one hell of a dry spell. So now is as good of a time as any to start another project.
Rather I'd say it's blown it's load kind of late.
 
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BrawlMan

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But it's very clear now that 2021 has blown it's gaming load early and we are in for one hell of a dry spell. So now is as good of a time as any to start another project.
In the AAA space, yes. Everywhere else is Viva Las Vegas!
 

BrawlMan

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I still say the best version of Final Fantasy I is the GBA version. While easier, it rebounds how the MP system works, and there was a lot more bonus dungeons and bosses you could do. A lot of these were optional too, so they weren't mandatory. It was definitely some of the most fun I had with an RPG when I was still in high school. My starting group was Warrior, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage. Great times. I still have the Final Fantasy I & II cartridge.
 

meiam

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I'd recommend avoiding FF2 and FF12. They are easily the worst games in the franchise bar none. FF2 for being incredibly grindy even for a turned based RPG thanks to it's "use something to increase stats" system that is also really exploitable. FF12 for it's slooooooow prodding gameplay that acts like a cross between a turned based RPG and an action RPG and is terrible at being either with an awful Gambit system that forces you to micromanage your party's actions for every encounter because they couldn't just make decent party A.I.

Maybe you'll get the Crisis Core Remake at the end of this project.
I think the point of retrospective is to go trough all of them and analyze them in context, avoiding some of them defeat the main purpose.

I'd classify the FF franchise as "the bad, the good and the ugly". 1-3 are really so-so, their product of their time but replaying them today is not so great. 4-10 are all genuenly great (with lots of caveat for every game, especially you 8). 12/13/15 are just wtf happened at SE? Did they repaint their entire office with lead paint while they were working on the games?
 

hanselthecaretaker

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I think the point of retrospective is to go trough all of them and analyze them in context, avoiding some of them defeat the main purpose.

I'd classify the FF franchise as "the bad, the good and the ugly". 1-3 are really so-so, their product of their time but replaying them today is not so great. 4-10 are all genuenly great (with lots of caveat for every game, especially you 8). 12/13/15 are just wtf happened at SE? Did they repaint their entire office with lead paint while they were working on the games?

I've only played 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and tried a couple times to play X. Currently playing V, but won't get back to it til after Elden Ring, Witcher 3, and Kingdom Come: Deliverance.

I enjoyed all the PS games more than the earlier ones, if that means anything. I think that's when they peaked as the design and progression was just right, Nobuo Uematsu made his best work, and it complimented the FMV sequences perfectly. I never could get used to the series introducing VA's.
 
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Silvanus

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I'd recommend avoiding FF2 and FF12. They are easily the worst games in the franchise bar none.
I haven't played FF2 yet, but it's a strong disagree from me on FF12. I loved it; some beautiful art design, and a distinct/tactical style of combat which can get pretty damn deep if you put the thought into it.

I rate 12 easily higher than 5, 13, or 15.
 

immortalfrieza

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I think the point of retrospective is to go trough all of them and analyze them in context, avoiding some of them defeat the main purpose.

I'd classify the FF franchise as "the bad, the good and the ugly". 1-3 are really so-so, their product of their time but replaying them today is not so great. 4-10 are all genuenly great (with lots of caveat for every game, especially you 8). 12/13/15 are just wtf happened at SE? Did they repaint their entire office with lead paint while they were working on the games?
8 had a very very bad advancement system but it's story was good enough to carry it. 12 was terrible in both gameplay and story. The 13 series was good. Not exceptional, but good. FF15 was a return to form with excellent gameplay and story, which only got better with the DLCs and I'm glad to see that the FF7 remakes are continuing along the same lines since that means they probably will continue to do so in the future. The combat in particular is a VAST improvement and I hope the rest of the series eventually gets remade along the same lines.

I haven't played FF2 yet, but it's a strong disagree from me on FF12. I loved it; some beautiful art design, and a distinct/tactical style of combat which can get pretty damn deep if you put the thought into it.

I rate 12 easily higher than 5, 13, or 15.
I strongly disagree. The game looks decent enough, but the combat is only distinct and tactical in the sense that you have to micromanage everything all of your characters do in any significant fight through an unnecessarily complicated Gambit system. A system that essentially forces you to run the game's party A.I. personally if you want to win when Square could have easily just... made good party A.I. that's effective on it's own in nearly all situations with a few slight adjusting factors like the Tales series of games... or Final Fantasy 15 incidentally. On top of that combat is painfully and obviously slow and with very few exceptions lacks the flashiness to make you not notice how slow it is. Combat in FF12 is incredibly boring and tedious.
 

Silvanus

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I strongly disagree. The game looks decent enough, but the combat is only distinct and tactical in the sense that you have to micromanage everything all of your characters do in any significant fight through an unnecessarily complicated Gambit system. A system that essentially forces you to run the game's party A.I. personally if you want to win when Square could have easily just... made good party A.I. that's effective on it's own in nearly all situations with a few slight adjusting factors like the Tales series of games... or Final Fantasy 15 incidentally.
If you've planned the gambits well, you don't need to micromanage throughout the fights themselves; only step in from time to time for specific situations or emergencies.

FF is best as a party-based series, giving you a broad choice of how you want to play it. Having the game fully control all your other party members' builds and actions is the opposite of that.

On top of that combat is painfully and obviously slow and with very few exceptions lacks the flashiness to make you not notice how slow it is. Combat in FF12 is incredibly boring and tedious.
Fights in 12 are, on average, quicker than a lot of other FF games.
 
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Drathnoxis

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If you've planned the gambits well, you don't need to micromanage throughout the fights themselves; only step in from time to time for specific situations or emergencies.
The main thing I hate about video games is having to play them. Distacts me from watching cutscenes.
 
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meiam

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FF12 gambit was a cool idea, but the combat system isn't complex enough to warrant it, so you'd just need to setup very simple gambit (Heal when hp below 25%, cure negative status, etc...) and you'd easily go trough the entire game. At that point it just felt like you were just a deliver guy move the party from fight to fight. The story is hot garbage that makes no sense, which is an incredible shame considering its really trying to be FFT and there's a couple of trace of that, but your group of main character is completely irrelevant to the game.

I guess I'll wait 3 year till criticalgaming gets there to go over in details, but 13 is in my list of worst video game. There are technically plenty of worst game, but 13 budget was probably high enough to make 50 AAA games and they managed to make one mediocre game, just pathetic. And the story is flat out insulting, the group of main character literally do exactly what the bad guys want them to do to kill humanity, but its okay because literal deus ex.

15 has plenty of good moment, but gameplay is pretty bad and the story just goes from bad to worse, especially considering most of it isn't even in the game. I still laugh when I think about the tragic "Aerith death" moment in the game, except with a character that's been in the game maybe 3 minutes, ultimatly accomplish nothing and kills thousands of people in the process.