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Author Topic: Final Fantasy  (Read 6071 times)

Koopaslaya

  • Kansas
« on: August 11, 2015, 08:09:04 PM »
Hi Friends!

Recently I've been getting into some casual gaming again. I've always wanted to start playing games in the Final Fantasy series, but I am at a bit of a loss. Where to start? Which game is actually the first? Is every game standalone (like the Zelda series, more or less) or need I to have played FF I, for instance, in order to understand FF Tactics,?

And so, TMKers, what is the best way to get into the Final Fantasy series without being completely lost?
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 09:14:37 PM by Koopaslaya »
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2015, 09:03:29 PM »
I've only played the DS remakes of III and IV, both of which are easy to get into and completely unrelated to further instalments in the series as far as I'm aware.

DQ > FF
YYur  waYur n beYur you Yur plusYur instYur an Yur Yur whaYur

The Chef

  • Simon Cowell
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2015, 09:50:04 PM »
Final Fantasy games tend to feature recurring creatures (Chocobo, Moogle, Cactuar, Bomb, etc.) and concepts (Phoenix Down, Black Magic, White Magic, spell names ending in -ra or -ga, airships, the job system, at least one guy in the cast named Cid, four elemental crystals as the central McGuffin), but each game is a contained story with its own unique hooks.

Here's a brief explanation of each major game in the series:

Final Fantasy: Released on the Famicom in 1987 and NES in 1990. Here, you make a customizable party of four using the six jobs (Warrior, Monk, Thief, Black Mage, White Mage, Red Mage). Notable in that it borrows pretty heavily from D&D (a lot of the monsters are taken straight out of it, and the spells don't have an MP pool but a number of charges that can only be restored by a night's rest). It's been ported a lot, but none of the ports are as frustrating as the original FC/NES release.

Final Fantasy II: Released on the Famicom in 1988. Was almost fully localized but didn't actually make it to the NES. Notable for being the first game in the series to feature a party of named characters who leave and join you as the story progresses. Also notable for the unorthodox stat system: Instead of Exp. grinding, you increase each stat by doing a different thing (e.g. fight a lot to increase Attack, cast spells a lot to increase Magic, take damage to increase HP, etc.). Has also been ported a lot, but none of the ports have the bug that let you increase your stats quickly.

Final Fantasy III: Released on the Famicom in 1990. Didn't make it to the NES. Features an improved job system with many more jobs and the option to change your party members to any job at will. Has been remade for Nintendo DS, now with names attached to the previously generic party members.

Final Fantasy IV: Released on the Super Famicom in 1991. Released on the SNES as "Final Fantasy II", since Square skipped the previous two games. This one features a party of (pretty memorable!) named characters and is considered a classic by many. It's also the source of the infamous localized line "You spoony bard!". It's been remade a few times, but personally I think the SNES release has the most charm.

Final Fantasy V: Released on the Super Famicom in 1992. Didn't make it to the SNES. Features four named characters who can utilize the job system, which has been improved even further. Notable for being the first RPG to be fully translated by fans, and is probably the most famous fan translation ever. Has also been remade for the PS1 and GBA.

Final Fantasy VI: Released on the Super Famicom in 1994. Released on the SNES as "Final Fantasy III" since Square skipped the last game. Stars a party of named characters. This is where FF began to veer away from straight medieval fantasy and transition into grittier urban fantasy with a dash of steampunk. Considered to be one of the best games on the SNES. You probably won't need any of the remakes. Notably features a 2-player mode where a friend can pick up the second controller and command one of your party members.

Final Fantasy VII: Released on the Playstation in 1997. Whether you love this game or hate it, it's impossible to deny the sheer impact it had on the industry and gamers everywhere. For a lot of young players, this is the first time anybody bore witness to a game that tried to be this level of serious. For years on end it was considered one of the best games ever made, much like 'Ocarina of Time'. It's now known for being milked to death by Square, with a number of direct sequels and spin-offs that bear the FF7 name. Recently a full-budget remake was announced for PS4. Heads understandably rolled. Gameplay-wise it features little thingies you can equip called 'Materia' which enable you to customize your party's abilities to your liking.

Final Fantasy VIII: Released on the Playstation in 1999. This is another one of those weird stat system revamps, wherein each party member is assigned a summon monster that lets them physically suck magic out of an enemy and use that to change their stats and commands around. Story-wise it's set in something considerably more science fiction-oriented than any of the previous games. A few years ago it was known for being reviewed by then-popular Internet comedian 'Spoony'. I think he may have single-handedly turned swarths of people against this game. :P

Final Fantasy IX: Released on the Playstation in 2000. It's an adorable lighthearted throwback to FF4, and probably the most stylistically cartoony game in the main series. It's also my personal favorite. Sadly, Square pays no attention to it whatsoever. Go figure.

Final Fantasy X: Released on the Playstation 2 in 2001. Known for being the first game in the series to be fully-voiced, and also the first game to get a direct sequel outside the main series ('Final Fantasy X-2'). The traditional stat system has been eschewed for this thing where you pick your stat bonuses and abilities by moving around a grid putting spheres into holes. 'Spoony' also ripped this one to shreds, I think producing an Internet meme in the process. Or maybe that was around before he covered it. I forget.

Final Fantasy XI: Released on the Playstation 2 in 2002. This one's not just an RPG, it's an MMORPG. That alone should tell you how this one compares to the rest. If you want to get into an FF-themed MMO, this is the game for you. From what I understand, it's still running even to this day.

Final Fantasy XII: Released on the Playstation 2 in 2006. It's set in a specific world called Ivalice, which is also the setting of the FF Tactics games and a few others bearing the FF12 name. By now the battle system has slowly begun to morph into something more real time rather than turn-based, and there's yet another stat system revamp where you have to earn "licenses" for each spell and ability when you level up.

Final Fantasy XIII: Released for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. All I ever used to hear from people is how much this game sucked, citing its linearity as a major negative point. Apparently you can't control your two fellow party members in battle either.

Final Fantasy XIV: The most recent game in the series, it was released for Windows in 2010. It's another MMO! Notable for its incredibly negative reception after it was released, so much so that Square-Enix had to shut the game down in 2012,  revamp it, then relaunch it in 2013 as "A Realm Reborn".

For "beginner's guide" of sorts, your best bet is 'Final Fantasy I + II' for the GBA. It's a pair of enhanced remakes of the original ''Final Fantasy' and 'Final Fantasy II' (the one for the Famicom). They're much easier and more graphically pleasing than the originals. In a later post I'll discuss some of the various side games and spin-offs. I'm kinda tired right now.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 02:01:53 PM by The Chef »

Turtlekid1

  • Tortuga
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2015, 10:42:33 PM »
Final Fantasy IV is a JRPG's JRPG.  It's one of the few I've played enough to vouch for its being solid.  Plenty of cool characters, a decent story, and easy to pick up.

XIII does get a lot of flack, but if you go into it expecting something more akin to a visual novel that happens to contain battle sequences, I would argue it's just fine.  If you want precise control over the battle system and tedious dungeon crawling and grinding, look elsewhere.
"It'll say life is sacred and so is death
but death is life and so we move on"

WarpRattler

  • Paid by the word
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 07:47:05 AM »
Final Fantasy XIII is a good JRPG that wouldn't have garnered nearly as much hate if it hadn't borne the Final Fantasy name. I don't recommend it as an entry point to the series, mainly because the story has relatively little in the way of traditional Final Fantasy concepts, but also because it has two direct sequels.

Final Fantasy XII is a really interesting game, but it doesn't get truly good unless you play Final Fantasy XII International: Zodiac Job System, which revamps several of the core gameplay systems, adds extra content, and most importantly, adds a job system in the form of additional license boards. This isn't available officially in English, of course, but if you can emulate PS2 games (shouldn't be too hard if you have an Intel processor made in the past five years or so) or have a modded or softmodded PS2, you can use a translation patch. I don't recommend this one as a starting point either; the gameplay is incredibly different from anything else in the series, and isn't a good indicator of whether or not you'd like Final Fantasy games. Also, as The Chef said, it's set in Ivalice, the world of Final Fantasy Tactics, and specifically set during the earlier part of the timeline with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 (which features FF12 player characters Vaan and Penelo), so if you wanted the context of the world, you might want to play FFTA first, though it's certainly not necessary.

Final Fantasy X is a very easy starting point for the series and for JRPGs in general. The sphere grid's complexity builds slowly and eases you into full character customization, and the removal of the Active Time Battle system used throughout the SNES and PSX games means you have all the time in the world to figure out what you're going to do with its priority-based combat. The core plot is a love story between a traveling priestess and a time-traveling sportsball player, both of which are dealing with living up to the incredible legacies of their fathers, and the infamous laughing scene makes a lot more sense in context. It's also readily available on multiple platforms (all PlayStation, though), and not particularly expensive; you could pick up the PS3 version of Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster, which includes the game and its incredibly divisive sequel in their optimal International Version forms, on PSN this week for $15, and from what I've seen, used copies on PS2 tend to stay in the $10 range.

Final Fantasy IX is...a game I need to play more.

Final Fantasy VIII has weird combat and stats systems, a main character you seemingly aren't supposed to like, and a card game you can easily spend more time with than the actual game. Not recommended as a starting point.

Final Fantasy VII is massively overrated. It's also incredibly difficult to approach today, because early PSX graphics look like butt. If you can get past the visuals, it'll make a decent starting point, but it's certainly not the best game in the series by any means. (Also, while Final Fantasy VII is certainly the most milked Final Fantasy entry, it's mostly through cameo appearances in other games, like Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring.)

Final Fantasy VI is a game I don't care to play any time soon, and as such, I'm not qualified to speak on its qualities as a starting point for the series. I'd disregard the recommendation to play the SNES version, though! It's full of bugs that were fixed in later releases. The GBA version is probably your best bet.

Final Fantasy V is wonderful. In-depth job system, great cast, fun plot, and the introduction of recurring boss Gilgamesh - what's not to like?

Final Fantasy IV is a clear formative point for the series, and makes a great starting point as a result. I've cooled on it a bit, though, and don't recommend it as strongly as I might have if you asked me about it in 2012, when I first played it (via the stellar PSP remake, which I'd recommend over the DS remake).

Final Fantasy III is a bad game. Don't bother. (I'll get some flak for saying that, but really, it's like playing the original Street Fighter instead of Super Street Fighter II Turbo. If you want job-based Final Fantasy, play Final Fantasy V instead.)

Final Fantasy II is BP's favorite. He can speak more for why it's a good game than I can.

By modern standards, the original Final Fantasy is weird and difficult, seemingly for all the wrong reasons, but its remakes commit a far greater sin by removing any personality from the gameplay, leaving an incredibly generic JRPG. If you're going to play this one (which is an argument I'm not going to get into), do it right by playing the NES version.

Overall I'd recommend Final Fantasy X or Final Fantasy IV as a straightforward starting point, or Final Fantasy V if you want something that shows a bit more of the experimental side of the series.

Final Fantasy spinoffs are a much stranger beast, and could fill their own thread.

« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2015, 11:24:01 AM »
I wouldn't call FFIII bad per se, but rather not well-aged compared to most.
YYur  waYur n beYur you Yur plusYur instYur an Yur Yur whaYur

Koopaslaya

  • Kansas
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2015, 11:50:08 AM »
The help so far has been beyond expectation! The Chef & Warp -- you both have given me a solid starting point to begin some research of my own and decide where to start.
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BP

  • Beside Pacific
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2015, 03:46:45 PM »
2 is completely silly. Everybody hates it because of its leveling system. Any character can pick up any skill. Their stats are predisposed to certain setups, for sure, but if you really want to, you can make Maria dual-wield heavy axes. You can teach the muscular, speech-impaired, raised by beavers Guy any magic spell, or make him proficient with knives. Firion, the leader, looks the part of a generic swordsman, but if you like, why not make him a master of staves, or lances, or archery, or black magic? The more you use a type of weapon or spell, the more it levels up, and everything levels from 1 (near useless) to 16 (kills everything). This also goes for stats for defending the character. Take a lot of damage, your HP rises. Get hit by a lot of magic that causes status problems, your resistance to them rises. So the most efficient way to level grind (if you ever have to) is to have your party members attack each other, so the attacker's offensive stats increase while the victim's defensive ones do.

Besides that you can do any kind of build you want on any character, it's absurd because the very first thing you do in the game is travel to Fynn, a town taken over by the empire, where you better not talk to any of the soldiers patrolling around, or else they'll destroy you. When you get back to the home base, a white wizard named Minwu joins your party, and he has the spell Teleport. In battle, Teleport is essentially an instant-kill, which you're not supposed to be able to obtain or train this early in the game. Minwu has it because he's a crutch character who will leave the party. With a little bit of grinding Teleport will be able to take care of the guards patrolling Fynn. They have a moderate chance to drop Toad tomes, so you can teach the three core party members to turn enemies into frogs, ANOTHER variant of an instant-kill spell, and the funniest. The animation for using it to target all enemies has to be seen. It'll take some leveling for it to be reliable and effective, but if you use it as much as possible on your way to and through the first dungeon it will start working and can be used the entire game, except against certain bosses.

You may have noticed that that sounds awesome, against my opening with "everybody hates it." The fact is, everybody is dumb

But I've only played 1 & 2 on GBA, enough of 3 to notice "hey this is hella boring," and about half of 6. I stopped playing 6 when I started playing Chrono Trigger and never went back. And I've played Chrono Trigger through, again, several times since then. I hate to be that guy who is asked "which of these is good" and says "none of them because they're garbage and this different thing is gold" but if you haven't played it already and are going to commit any time to any Square Enix RPGs, Chrono Trigger deserves to be looked at.
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WarpRattler

  • Paid by the word
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2015, 06:00:17 PM »
Square Enix's RPG catalogue outside of Final Fantasy contains some absolutely amazing, imaginative, and just plain cool games, far moreso than the Final Fantasy series itself could ever provide. Outside of the context of this thread, I'd recommend titles like Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, several Dragon Quest games, EVO: The Search for Eden, Chrono Trigger, Parasite Eve, The 3rd Birthday, NieR, and The Last Remnant without a second thought.

Luigison

  • Old Person™
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2015, 06:19:36 PM »
I agree with WR and will add Breath of Fire 2 and Mystic Quest to his list. 

The early mainline Final Fantasy games (NES and SNES) are kind of melded together (with other JRPG/Square) in my mind.  Regardless I recall fondly playing or at least watching and giving hints to my step-dad in the SNES days.  No dad, that's a fire creature.  Try water/ice. 

A few years ago I tried FFVI (SNES III) again and become bored soon so I'm not sure which of the early FF games I'd recommend now.  Of the more recent games I recommend X.  Playing X was a very nostalgic experience for me. 

 
“Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know."

The Chef

  • Simon Cowell
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2015, 06:54:34 PM »
But I thought 'Breath of Fire' was produced by Capcom...?

Luigison

  • Old Person™
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2015, 07:37:17 PM »
I believe you are right, but...

For the 1st game:  "The game's English release in August 1994 was a joint effort between Capcom USA and Square Soft, who handled most of the title's localization and promotion in North America due to Capcom's lack of experience with text-heavy role-playing games. Square Soft would feature the game in the fourth issue of its North American newsletter, The Ogopogo Examiner, and would advertise the game as being "from the makers of the Final Fantasy series.""

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breath_of_Fire_(video_game)

For the 2nd game:  "Unlike the original Breath of Fire, which was licensed to Square Soft for its North American release, the English version of Breath of Fire II was localized and published entirely by Capcom USA."

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breath_of_Fire_II

Hmm.  You are right.  As I said before, the early games are melded in my mind. 

===

I know that 7 is highly rated, but I've tried three version of it and could never get into it.  I think this is in part due to the low polygon shapes and more so due to the cinematic style.  I recall on at least two occasions being bored by the Square/FF videos at E3.  I know I may be in the minority, but I prefer games that I can play, instead of simply watch and/or read. 

===

Anyone care to PM me any newer SNES style jRPG games I might enjoy?   
“Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know."

« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2015, 07:57:01 PM »
If you play Final Fantasy VI (probably one of the very best in the series, though I've only played a few games), I'd stick with the SNES version for the charming and funny dialogue, and superior audio. The PS1 version suffers from constant godawful loading times, and the GBA version (and every version after that) has a somewhat less colorful translation, though inconsistencies with other Final Fantasy games with the names of items and spells as well as strange spellings resulting from limited character space ("Atma Weapon", "Fenix Down" instead of "Ultima Weapon, "Phoenix Down") are fixed.
Relics.

Tavros

  • he was hello
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2015, 10:54:14 PM »
I can't reccomend VI, honestly. It's a game that, imo, while fun at first, gradually gets worse and worse. The villain, while funny in the English versions, is worse than Sephiroth at actually having motivation. The music, while not terrible, is definitely the weakest soundtrack prior to X-2. The graphics eventually start to become less "dark and gritty for a dark world" and more "Gawd this is boring can I look at Final Fantasy V please."

As for a starting point, don't play any original Famicom Final Fantasy. Remakes are fine, but the original 8-bit ones will murder you easily.
Really, if you want to see "classic" Final Fantasy, check out V, VII, and IX for ATB, and X and III DS for classic turn-based goodness. I'd recommend VIII after playing one other ATB game, because the junctioning system can catch you off-guard if it's your first.
Really, as long as it isn't II, VI, or VIII, any game before XI is a good starting point.
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BriGuy92

  • Luck of the Irish
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2015, 04:19:00 PM »
I've played the beginnings of a lot of Final Fantasies, and haven't played a single one through to the end. This isn't because I think they're bad or anything, I just end up distracted by other games that are less time-intensive.

HOWEVER.
Final Fantasy XIV (the recent MMO) has sort of overtaken my gaming for about a year or so, now. As far as MMOs go, it's easy to get into, has more interesting dialogue, flavor text, etc than most MMOs I've played, and is, on the whole, a lot of fun. If you're in the market for an MMO, I'd recommend it.

Koopaslaya isn't looking for an MMO, though, he's looking for a Final Fantasy. I'm afraid I'll be a little less helpful there. Try out Bravely Default, I guess? It's a Final Fantasy in everything but name, with the biggest similarity being the Job system of Final Fantasies III and V. Also the music is a real treat.
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