For the Love of the Game: Final Fantasy
So I’ve played Final Fantasy for a long time. My parents bought me the first one for the NES so long ago they might even have still been married. I was only barely old enough to understand 90% of what was going on and much of the game was simply beyond me. I bought and read the guides, I played the game and eventually beat it. As young as I was this was an incredible accomplishment. Keeping the focus to grind away, figuring out the game systems enough to actually beat the various levels, cutting through thousands of enemies and finally solving the “clues” in the game to bring down Chaos. I still love this game and have re-purchased it several times. The characters are bland, with no lines and no personality as the party is highly variable, and the NPCs are scarcely more developed but the game was fun, with interesting puzzles and challenges and I still love it.
FF XIV Callback: This is the toughest one. A four fiends dungeon might be fun. Warmech Primal fight could be a truly epic battle. Unfortunately by modern standards this game is kind of thin.
The next game I got to play “originally” was FF IV on the SNES. This game was a horse of a different color for sure. The story was far more advanced, with characters who came and went as the story demanded, who had personalities and abilities and motivations that differed from each other. This game included some of the great characters, with Kain, Cecil, Palom, Porom and Tellah all being amazing, the ubiquitous Cid had one of his better appearances and while the ladies weren’t up to their later qualities they were at least interesting characters. This is another game that was very easy to enjoy and that I thoroughly relished beating and playing over again.
FF XIV Callback: This game also should have the next iteration of the Crystal Tower in the Tower of Zot. Seriously squenix. MAKE THIS HAPPEN. And yes I know Demon Wall was already in FF XIV. TOWER OF ZOOOOOOOT!
Final Fantasy VI was the next to grace our chores and it’s my favorite of the series. Goodness what a game. Terra and Locke share a spotlight that has a lot of work to do to cover the best overall cast of any FF game. The real star of the game, though, is Kefka, the kind of guy that gives nihilism a bad name. Kefka takes this game from being a top tier game in a great series to being the defining game in the series. From his appearance to his theme to his mad laugh, Kefka came to personify everything you hated in a villain. Oh and he treated you with such utter contempt. WOW did he piss me off. One of the longest games for me to beat but OHHHHHH so satisfying.
FF XIV Callback: The part of this I’d love to see in XIV would have to be the Phantom Train. Yes I know WoW JUST did a train dungeon. Fuck it. Let’s show these folks how it’s done.
Final Fantasy VII is my third favorite. Yes it fell that low. It’s NOT a bad game at all. It’s a great game and it added a lot without betraying the core of Final Fantasy. Cloud is a great hero who stands tall even when his world comes apart at the seams. The rest of the party is a lot of fun, my problem is with Sephiroth. The giant emo bastard just pisses me off the wrong way. It’s like he wants your approval at the same time as he’s stabbing Aeris in the back. He’s not a villain, he’s a bully. He just rubbed me the wrong way and the lack of an awesome hero combined with a villain who didn’t do it for me knocks the game down even though the gameplay, the graphics, the cast, and the story were fantastic.
FF XIV Callback: We just got the gold saucer, maybe not what I’d have picked but certainly a worthy callback for this game.
Final Fantasy VIII was my first real disappointment in the series. From Cloud, who manned up after finding out terrible terrible things about his own life, to Squall who had his greatness handed to him and WHINES about it like a little baby. Yeah he eventually gets his shit together but it finally happens in the most lazy, grudging, and painful way possible. Finishing this game was a godsend. There were good sequences and some of the changes were interesting but my GOD Squall was a whiny bastard. I’ve never rooted for the villains as much as I did in this game.
FF XIV Callback: You know what,I’m good stopping at triple triad. I’m sure there’s some dungeon, some event that I missed but… fuckit I’m good calling it a day.
Final Fantasy IX was a breath of fresh air. It was old school final fantasy, it was young, energetic, filled with laughter and brilliance. It also features the absolute best and bravest hero in the series. Vivi is the MAN. Faced with a lifespan better measured in months than years, racism and hostility, and a rain of bad news sufficient to make Noah look for lumber; he tightens his belt, steps up to the plate and does what needs doing. Zidane is great, Garnet is good, Freya is good, the whole party is fun but Vivi makes the game. There’s no comparison between him and Cloud or Squall or even Cecil. He’s on another level and quickly becomes a beloved character. The gameplay is classic ATB, the summons are fun, and the atmosphere is fantastic. It easily earns it’s spot as the 2nd best game in the series.
FF XIV Callback: This one kind of screams for Hildibrand. I mean they could do something with the Lifa tree, but Hildibrand seems like he’d like “I want to be your canary”.
Final Fantasy X is a really interesting game. There’s a lot to be said positive and negative. It’s a tearjerker for sure, and Tidus is an interesting hero. He might be the only guy in the world who whines MORE than Squall… but Squall is a volunteer special forces soldier whereas Tidus is a sports superstar who finds himself in the middle of the most awful war he could imagine. And then things get worse. The difference is Tidus mans up fast and Squall is still whining. This game had a brilliant cast of people who interacted like you would imagine real people would in these situations, villains you love to hate, a story that drives you to binge-play like mad and and ending that just yanks the rug out from under you.
FF XIV Callback: Can we make it so I can kill Seymour Guado a lot? I mean like a lot. I mean like low level dungeon trash? FINE but Anima HAS to be a Primal fight. And I want to kill Seymour.
FF XII is next. I’m not doing the MMOs. Ugh. What a bland game. You give up a ton of control and eventually figure out the best way to play the battles is to come up with a good script and walk away. Then you do the same for the rest of the game. The story is interesting but not urgent, the characters are bland and I just couldn’t make myself finish it.
FF XIV Callback: Honestly I don’t know. There’s a lot I still don’t know about this game.
FF XIII I did manage to finish. The tutorial on how to do the credits was a nice touch, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. This game suffered by alternating between leading you by the hand and murdering you with bosses whose abilities had suddenly escalated by an order of magnitude. It’s a weird game with a lot of systems I liked but I couldn’t get attached to the characters and the voice acting was just painful to listen to. It really really was.
FF XIV Callback: I loved the huge flying fal’Cie. Running raids through one of these (active or fallen) could be one hell of a lot of fun.