The Great Final Fantasy Retrospective - Let's Mosey

Drathnoxis

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I don't think there's necessarily a direction they need to focus on, they just need to make more game.

He says "We’re now at a point where we receive a wide variety of requests regarding the direction of our game design. To be honest, it’d be impossible to satisfy all those requests with a single title. My current impression is that all we can really do is create multiple games, and continue creating the best that we can at any given time."

And I think that's whats important, FF15 tried to be everything all at once and failed at most of these. Instead they need to go back to a new game every 2-3 years and try something interesting with all of them and tolerate the occasional failure because they'll also have success. Like I don't particularly like FF8 but I appreciate they tried to do new stuff and I didn't really mind because FF7 came out not too long ago and 9 was out a year later.
But to do that they'd need to dial back the scope and graphical fidelity to reasonable levels rather than "we want to make the most photorealistic movie game ever made" and that's something Squeenix will never do.
 

sXeth

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I mean, for the FF series to struggle it has to actually be a series, which has been a questionable statement since 6, if not earlier. (previously to that you at least had the ongoing themes with the Crystals, which could theoretically even indicate all the worlds were millenia apart the same)


"Final Fantasy" at this juncture doesn't actually mean anything, other then a vague reference to an anime style and maybe a party based strategic combat system (except those handful of action entries).


Assassins Creed or MArio or Resident Evil might splatter across genres, but the worlds and characters are consistent. Total War or Dynasty Warriors or whatever might splatter across different worlds and characters, but maintain unified gameplay.
 

Drathnoxis

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*mutters about how often that scene is totally taken out of context as an example of bad voice acting when the laughter was supposed to sound bad, and you hear actual good laughter literally right afterwards when the characters start laughing at themselves*
It's still cringingly annoying and unpleasant to listen to, even though intentional.
 

Dalisclock

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If anybody is interested in a little extracurricular reading, here's a novel length write-up I thought was really good going over each game in the Final Fantasy series.

http://socksmakepeoplesexy.net/index.php?a=patff
Their take on FF2 is my favorite of all time.

"Final Fantasy II starts off with Frioniel and friends locked in a hopeless struggle against an imperial death squad. There is no way to win. No matter what you do, your team gets the mortal shit kicked out of it. This is a perfectly appropriate introduction, inasmuch as it sets the mood for everything else to come. Kawazu's brainchild is a games that does everything it can to break you down and wither your spirit. And when I write "you," I am not referring to your in-game player characters. I'm talking about you, the player.

Final Fantasy II is a pair of simultaneous battles on two separate planes. The first is the fictional struggle of Frioniel and the rebel forces against the might of the Palamecian Empire. The second is the very real battle between you, the player, and Final Fantasy II in which the game attempts to foil your efforts and demoralize you from ever playing again. As you try to beat Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy II tries to beat you.

....

Okay. Here's how an early chunk of Final Fantasy II plays out:

Goes through 14 steps of wild goose chases and crisscrossing the map for hours and hours.

STEP FIFTEEN: If your will somehow remains unbroken and the game is still turned on at this point, Final Fantasy II will begin administering electrical shocks through the controller."

And damned if playing the game didn't live up to that a lot.
 

CriticalGaming

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Listen to my story. This probably wont be the last time, as there are more games to talk about. Another generation is here and as a result the next Final Fantasy game takes huge steps forward and backward at the same time. It's time to laugh awkwardly because the next game is....

Final Fantasy X -

So fun fact FFX was the first game I got on the Playstation 2, and it was also the first PS2 game I rushed back to Gamestop for something else. Impatient little fucker I was, I was not used to voice acting in games, at least not 100% of the dialog being voice acted. As a result of that it annoyed be the sheer amount of talking in the first few hours of FFX. What a fucking dickhead I was.

Anyway about a year later I matured (sort of) and played the game again and had one of the best FF experiences ever made. Final Fantasy X is the first game in the series to be voiced, and it is also the first game since FF3 to be completely turn based. The visuals and sound took a huge step forward for the time, but the combat felt like a step back. At least at first, but ultimately the return to pure turn-based really helps FFX because it's the first game in which you have access to all your characters almost all the time. So at anytime you can swap who is in battle DURING the battle, and as a bonus it doesn't even cost a turn to do.

FFX also doesn't feel like it has a gimmicky system the same way 7-9 felt to me. You level up and move your characters along a giant sphere grid, unlocking nodes along the way for more power. While it's flashy and very overblown, functionally it doesn't do anything really differently from any other leveling system. As you move along the grid there is the illusion of choice, but really you progress along a linear path and unlock all the nodes along the way because there is absolutely ZERO reason to not do that. The only character with any choice in development is Kimari which doesn't count because there is a little known fact about Kimari and that is, no matter what direction you take Kimari's levels in he will always suck.

Of course there is some advanced shit with the grid at end game in which you warp characters around and put stats into nodes that there previously blank. However all of that is exceptionally unnessecary for the main story and is really just a completionist grind, one I will never do again. I didn't it once on Steam when the game first came to PC and never again thanks.

The bright side is that this system allows the characters to feel fairly unique, on top of some other gameplay systems that make each playable character stand out in battle until you hit about the mid-point of the story where it stops mattering as much. But the attempt to make every character except Kimari matter is well done for the most part.

Battles, as I mentioned, are completely turn-based with the addition of a turn order meter on screen which will tell you where everyone including the enemies turns are going to line up. However this can be manipulated with certain skills and spells like Haste or Slow and whatnot. Additionally Summons in this game work in an interesting way in that when Yuna summons a monster that beast replaces everyone in battle and fights with it's own set of attacks and hp bar. This allows for great tactical use for harder fights in the game because if you know a 1-hit kill attack is coming you can have yuna summon a Eidlon and it can eat that attack for the party instead of having to suffer a gameover or deal with nasty after effects. And actually there are a lot of tactics you can use on with this "modernized" turn-based system. While it might technically be a step backwards from where FF games have been going, it's use is fantastic here.

The other key system at work here is that weapons and armor do not give stats like in other RPG's instead they merely grant passive effects like more fire damage or reduced MP cost, or whatever. Though there are some really good effect later like Breaking Damage limit which allows you to deal 10X more damage than the normal 9999 cap from a single hit. Or Triple AP (aka exp) which can be abused to gain 100's of levels in a single battle. These effects need to be crafted and put on specfic weapons that have blank slots for them. Which means usually ultimate weapons which means......mini games.

Like FF7, Final Fantasy X has a shit load of mini games and all of them suck. The biggest mini game is famous Blitzball, which is a strange underwater version of football and it sucks. Most of the game is auto-piloted and you have to get lucky, or overwhelm the other team with higher stats which requires a guide and some grinding. Then you have things like dodge 200 lightning strikes in a row on the thuderplains and it's just as annoying as it sounds. Or someone win a chocobo race with a time of 0.0? How do you win a race with no time on the clock? I dunno never did it, never will, fuck these mini games in the ear.

Now another thing that FFX does as a first for the series is that you do not control the "main" character. Yes Tidus is very much a focus of the story, but the journey you go on is not his, it belongs to Yuna. She's the main character, it's her fight, her journy, her struggle. But Tidus is used as the focus because he is an outsider to the world so through him the exposition and big reveals in the plot make sense. Not that Tidus doesn't have his own nightmares.

The story begins in a big city called Zanarkin where Tidus is a star Blitzball player. During a game the city is attacked by some sort of monster and Tidus is transported to another place via the monster's uh...butthole? Anyway Tidus finds himself in waterlogged ruins ready to die when some treasure hunters break into the ruins and reluctantly save him. They take him onto their ship, where he learns that somehow he has been sent 1000 years into the future. The monster attacks again and Tidua wakes up on Basaid island where he meets the main cast of the game. Here is learns of Yuna a summoner going around the world to complete trials which will grant her the power to defeat the monster called Sin.

That's all Tidus getsfor quite a while minus a couple of revelations that sort of come and go throughout the story. Sin is believed to be a manifestation of mankind's Sin due to the use of machines. So even when a summoner defeats it, it always returns. Usually they get 10 years of peace before it returns, this period of time is called The Calm.

What makes the story of FFx so great is that it sets you up with a solid premise and a good world. Then continously twists with revelations of truth around that world. And just when you think it doesn't have any more twists, it has more twists. But each twist manages to not come out of nowhere or make no sense, they all work and fit. Spira is the best world building a FF game has had since 7. Which makes FFX another incredibly good stand out for the series.

FFX easily sits in the top 5 imo.

Next I will NOT be doing FF11 because aint nobody got time for that shit.

So FF12 is next on the chopping block.
 

Drathnoxis

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More extra curricular reading, Shamus Young's novel analysis of FFX. If you read, pay particular attention to the comments by The Rocketeer, which are pretty much articles in themselves.


Did you plan on doing FF9 or did I miss it somewhere along the way?

Not asking because FF9 is my personal favorite, BTW.
 

Dalisclock

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More extra curricular reading, Shamus Young's novel analysis of FFX. If you read, pay particular attention to the comments by The Rocketeer, which are pretty much articles in themselves.



AM I fucking blind or something? I swear I went back and looked for that. Anyway, thanks.

Also, Shamus's Long form Essays are a fun read. He's nitpicky but he also notices a lot of shit I probably would never have.
 
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meiam

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FFX is my go to example for "twist can work but the writer need to put in the work to make it work". The great thing about the twist is that its properly setup but its not in your face about it at all, there's a ton of little awkward moment like when Titus talk about how they should totally come back to some area after they kill Sin and everyone stays awkwardly silent. But on first playtrough you don't really notice it because Titus is kinda awkard as a character. This is a bit of a double edge sword, because while it really help makes the story and twists much better, it makes Titus not that likable as a character. But here the game has a secret weapon, Yuna is a wonderful main character who can carry the game without issue. And so the two work really well together. And while I wouldn't hang out with Titus as a person, I do like his character arc. He's so angry at everyone when he find out that Yuna will die if they kill Sin. Yet later on when he's told he'll die if they really kill Sin, he doesn't tell anyone about it, not even Yuna. There's a lot of nice little touch in Titus story that makes it great to see him evolve, I wish Squall has receive even 1/10 of that character development. Speaking of first game to have voice acting, the game let you name Titus, so because of that nobody ever mention his name in the entire game, its kinda awkward...

The story biggest weakness is it lack of a good antagonist, Sin is more like a natural disaster to really work. Yu Yevon isn't introduce until way late in the story. And then there's Seymour, the game cleverly let you control him for a boss fight early in the game, where he can easily wipe the floor with the boss. But then 5 hours later you kill the dude and its hard to take him seriously after that... To compensate that the game give him the toughest boss fight of the game, but its pretty gimmicky and mostly annoying because if you die you have to watch the same cut scene over and over again. Also the game made him look super fucking evil and always play this evil theme whenever he shows up, which makes it really hard to act surprised when he turn out evil. A bit of subtlety would have gone a long way here.

Gameplay wise I quite like the turn base system and being able to switch character on the fly, it also gives a fun little challenge where I usually try to use every character in every fight. The summon are great in combat, which is nice considering summoning is such a big part of the story. Only issue is the game is overall too easy outside of a few select fight. Also a lot of character severely fall back as the game progress, magic is almost entirely worthless in end game and summoner don't tend to work anymore in tough fight. Combine that with the fact that there's a couple of fight you have to do with the character who can swim (only 3 of them) and it usually means you'll only use those three character for all of the end game.

The sphere grid is a good idea, poorly executed. In theory its a really cool way of letting you customize your character, think of every path as a "class" and by letting the character cross over into other character path you have a very nice system to let player multi class. Plus you could have split path, which would make really nice "sub class". But the game doesn't do any of that, its just a linear path, there's also no passive ability on the sphere grid, limiting how interesting the path are. Once you finish the path you have a little part of the game where its actually interesting and you can have your character go down other character path, except that at that time you get a bunch of item that let you teleport anywhere on the grid, and so you just grab a few import abilities and then gather every at the same location and just use item that let you change the node to stats+4 node. It's pretty disappointing. I wished they tried the system one more time and improved on it, but they never did sadly.

I won't get into all the mini game, some are good, some are bad and some are ugly. Blitzball is pretty massive and has the potential to be interesting, but stats are way too big of a factor and pretty quickly you can score goal the moment a character touch the ball no matter where they are. Credit where credit due, the game keeps saying Titus is a blitzball star and its not fucking kidding, you literally start with the best character in blitzball and he can easily carry you to victory. With just a few tweaks blitzball could have been great, but it just miss the goal. As a fun side aspect the game let you recruit a bunch of player into your team, including all the opponent, and all the other team will also change player once in awhile, it pretty fun to see the weird combination the game will come up. Like the Al Bhed team having no Al Bhed in them (I didn't touch on Al Bhed in story but suffice to say, if you want the player to feel symphathetic toward a minority, maybe don't make them massive asshole the entire game).

I didn't mention music in any of my post cause pretty much all of them have excellent soundtrack and it gets repetitive, but FFX is probably my favorite of them all. It has amazing range and is just perfect to highlight certain scene mood.

So I talked about 2 aspects in FFX that where very close to working really well but didn't quite. Shame FF don't do direct sequel, would have been the perfect occasion to polish those system. Wait, what's that? There's a direct FFX sequel! Omg I can't wait to see how... Oh no!!

 

CriticalGaming

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So I talked about 2 aspects in FFX that where very close to working really well but didn't quite. Shame FF don't do direct sequel, would have been the perfect occasion to polish those system. Wait, what's that? There's a direct FFX sequel! Omg I can't wait to see how... Oh no!!
You know something, I really fuckiing like that intro song.

Fuck it FF12 can wait, I'm gonna do FFX-2!