The Final Fantasy Project: Week #13

ff3logoI don’t remember particularly caring for Final Fantasy III, but I don’t remember despising it quite like I did FFII, either. It’s a game that I admittedly don’t have much past experience with, largely owing to its relative rarity in the US; although it was released in Japan in 1990, it wasn’t available anywhere else until 2006, when it received a 3D remake on the DS. (Again, as when I differentiated the Final Fantasy II I just completed from the North American FFII—which was actually FFIV—I’m referring here to the actual Final Fantasy III, and not the SNES release with the same name, which was actually FFVI. Is everyone good and confused yet? Silly Square.) Continue reading

The Final Fantasy Project: Week #10-12

ff2alternatetitleI have a very important announcement to make: I have finished Final Fantasy II. This is actually a pretty big deal for me and for the project, as it is (as I have mentioned before) the only one of the series I hadn’t ever finished up until this point. I haven’t started Final Fantasy III yet (I’ll be playing the DS version), but that’s going to happen before my next update (which should go back to being weekly now), so to round off my discussion of FFII, I’d like to revisit some of the things which made its completion so elusive to me, and see whether they’re still problems.

The biggest thing, of course, was the difficulty level, and more specifically, the way it tended to spike to a point where you simply must wander out into the virtual world and find that perfect grinding location (where you will inevitably spend many not-so-happy hours) if you are to have any hope of continuing to progress through the main story. This is still a problem for me, as even in newer JRPGs, I don’t care for pointless grinding—doing so in pursuit of a side quest, or even to find materials for crafting or the like, is fine, but simply running in circles until you’re tough enough? Not so much. This is compounded by the still-atrocious leveling mechanic, which I’ve gone on about at length, as well as the “guest characters” who have a tendency to completely upset the balance of your standard party, for better or worse (and it is usually worse). Continue reading

The Final Fantasy Project: Week #8/9

final_fantasy_ii_fightFirst of all, apologies for missing my update last week; due to personal reasons, I didn’t quite get around to writing a new column. Fear not, though, because the project lives on! And yes, I am still mired in the depths of Final Fantasy II. My party, in fact, became quite literally mired in the depths, as they spent a great deal of time wandering around in the internal organs of a giant sea creature. I wish I could say that’s the only time in the past two weeks that I’ve encountered the digestive tract of a mythological being in a JRPG format, but it isn’t even that! (How many times does one get to write that sentence in a lifetime? I’m guessing it isn’t many, and that I’ve probably already used my life’s allocation.)

Now that I’ve triumphantly overcome the difficulty spike that has, in the past, prevented me from getting anywhere near finishing FFII, I feel that I’m able to step back a bit, put aside my self-imposed leveling paranoia, and take a slightly more objective look at whether or not this is a game worth playing—a “good” game. Continue reading

The Final Fantasy Project: Week #7

laylaOnce again, the siren song of Ni No Kuni has meant that my story progress through Final Fantasy II has been a bit more limited this week than it might otherwise have been. Instead of talking about the plot, then, I’d like to discuss a mechanic that the Final Fantasy series makes fairly frequent use of, and that originated in II: “guest” party members.

For the purposes of this column, when I talk about guest members, what I mean is a character who doesn’t stick with you for the entire game, but instead joins up for only a smaller segment before dying, revealing him/herself as an agent of the “other side,” running off on some other very important errand, or otherwise leaving your merry band. In looking around for some specific examples, I discovered this page, which is….exhaustive, if you’re interested, but I’ll mostly be focusing on the Final Fantasy-related examples (even though it’s extremely tempting to mention Shinjiro from Persona 3, I will, of course, refrain from straying off-topic….of course). Continue reading

The Final Fantasy Project: Week #6

final_fantasy_origins_1This week, a realization struck me quite literally in the middle of the night (I’ve been having off-and-on insomnia issues) that caused me to think long and hard about the reasons I continue having trouble with the early Final Fantasy titles (specifically this one—II—at which I’m still dedicatedly hacking away).

To bring this into context, let me describe the incident which led up to my epiphany. I mentioned last week that I was now officially further along in FFII than I had ever been before, and that as a result, I was heading into brand-new content that I hadn’t seen before. My first major foray into this content was a dungeon which, as the guide I’ve been following informed me, wasn’t mandatory at this particular part of the adventure; it should have been well within reach ability-wise, and could help with leveling characters, gaining new equipment, and otherwise preparing me a bit better for the trials that lay ahead, but story-wise, it wasn’t a place that I needed to go to until much later. I thought it might be a good test to see if my party was able to hang with the crowd in this slightly higher-level area, so I set off in my newly obtained ship, consulted my maps, and found the tiny island in the middle of nowhere where the dungeon was located. Continue reading