The Final Fantasy Project: Week #14

ff3jobsI’ve put enough time into FFIII this week to make it to my third block of jobs (as with many job system-based games, particularly earlier ones, the jobs to which you have access are tied to specific story points; conveniently enough, in FFIII, it’s finding the elemental crystals which serve as magical MacGuffins in most of the early titles), and I’m still finding myself with not much in the way of strong feelings for the game one way or the other.

There are things I like, for sure: as I mentioned last week, the guest characters are handled much better (even if they have, at this point, basically been on a revolving-door system into my party), and there are actual, honest-to-goodness experience points tracking your progress rather than some seemingly-arbitrary measure of how tough your characters are based on how many times they’ve gotten thwacked with pointy sticks. The further I progress, though, the more I find things that bother me *just* a bit about the game. In general, they aren’t things that make me rage, contemplate giving up the game entirely, or question my devotion to this project; they’re simply…things I don’t really like. Continue reading

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