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Derek Green
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So far, my review series has consisted of four of the most despicable games that I have ever played. While I fully intend to focus on the dregs of the gaming world, I also do play good games from time to time. I am currently playing Final Fantasy III/VI, which I cannot help but compare to this game, its immediate predecessor (at least in the States). Since I just played and beat this game for the first and probably only time back in April, I figure that there is no time like to present to write a review of the game before the memories fade.

Normally, I do not get into things that are heavily dependent upon fantasy themes. I just don't find ghosts, goblins, and evil wizards to be intimidating in any way. Until I gave this game a whirl, the only RPGs that I had ever really played were the three PSone Final Fantasy games and Final Fantasy X and XII on PlayStation 2. The PSone trilogy was good overall, X was pretty good, and XII strayed from the tried and true combat system and had no story, therefore sucking. Going into this one, I had no idea what to expect. I was too young to really appreciate games with RPG depth during the 16-bit era, so I knew that if this old classic with nostalgia which might lessen the experience.

However, despite my fears that I would find a dinosaur whose only value was paving the path forward to Final Fantasy VII, I was pleasantly surprised. All of the gameplay elements in the Final Fantasy games that I like, such as the easy to manage items list and the nice maps, were completely in place. I found that while the graphics were certainly early SNES, that did not make them bad. Everything was clear enough, enough with the wide screen distortion that I experienced from playing the game on an emulator. The sound is also typical of SNES games, meaning that the music was very clear and distinct, even if the tunes were a bit jaunty at times for my taste. Combat was smooth and full of great options without being overly complicated.

The only problem that I had with the game largely stemmed from the fact that I do not like fantasy-themed games and movies. The story did not strike me as particularly compelling and I never really saw what the great threat was from the wizard Golbez. At several points, I wondered what Cecil's motivation was supposed to be, but I kept playing anyway because there were so many other cool things going on. Cecil is a rather boring hero, by the way. He was basically there just to be a hero. He wasn't stricken by the need to explore endlessly like Locke and he wasn't scarred by his past and worried about the fate of the planet like Cloud, he just had some issues with his best friend and was investigating the planet's problems. It was supposed to be moving when he cast aside his Dark Knight past and to a degree it was, but I was never really taken in by his character. My two favorite characters were actually the young wizard twins who said entertaining things and then sacrificed themselves for the cause. The prince with the flute-thing was whiny, but had a distinct personality and a distinct motivation. I did like the fact that Rosa was not your typical damsel-in-distress and stood by Cecil the entire time instead of stupidly getting herself captured. Edge, the young ninja, was simply an annoying stereotype. The engineer guy is pretty cool and has a nice theme song.

The thing that really kept me going, other than the silky smooth gameplay was the fact that the game had many side quest features where you could learn new things about the very interesting game world and gain new items that would make the main adventure go much more smoothly. I was following an online game guide, so I think that I hit all or nearly all of the side quests. I always find it interesting how in every Final Fantasy installment the summoned creatures are there and their presence is always and invariably explained in a different way. This game placing them in the underworld in a community where they are peaceable creatures unless summoned is the best explanation in any of the games that I have played.

The gaming world was rich and enveloping and mostly makes up for the lack of empathy that I felt towards the characters. The city on the surface governed by women was an interesting community. The Dwarves of the Underworld with their combination of tanks, axes, and the catchphrase "Lolly Ho!" made me laugh. The constant offer from nearly every character in the game to dance for you was kind of weird and I guess must appeal more to a Japanese sense of humor. Even though Edge was a prick, the scene where he speaks with his deceased parents was a genuinely touching scene and certainly much better than the parting scene between the brothers Cecil and Golbez. I laughed pretty hard when I first flew the whale to the moon to meet the Moonites, but that was when the story actually started to get good. FuSa, the uncle of Cecil and Golbez, was himself not too interesting but the idea of there being a semi-divine Moon race watching over the planet in times past was kind of cool. I must admit that I am a bit perplexed by how Cecil and crew were able to just stroll casually on the surface of the Moon without gear, but then again they rode a mechanical whale to get there, so I guess it is an excusable oversight.

One of the appealing elements in any Final Fantasy game is that you are constantly gearing up, collecting items, and leveling up in order to prepare yourself for the next boss fight. Final Fantasy II/IV does that as brilliantly as it has ever been done. I genuinely enjoyed the battle sequences (the battle song is kind of catchy) and finding new and better weapons for my characters. Boss battles in the game were a big deal, but presented a reasonable challenge.

In conclusion, I was impressed and immersed by this game's gameplay and intricate three-level world. The design was brilliant and the execution equally so. My complaint about the characters and some elements of the story stands, but obviously it did not prevent me from having a good time with the game. Golbez and the spirit thing that is the last boss aren't really that menacing, but they do certainly put up a good fight and serve as an adequate plot device. One last gripe: you can't go back to the Mountain of Trials and speak to the spirit of Cecil's alien father again. Wouldn't that have made a great side quest? Not merely did Final Fantasy II/IV pave the way for the technically superior and thematically darker (yes!) III/VI and VII, but it on its own merits constitutes one of the true classics of the SNES library.

8.5/10
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Joe Wasserman
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I don't think he would like that.
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As part of my Dictator of the Week festivities, I've awarded you an additional 4 and mb (well, I've previously given you the microbadge...) for this review. Thank you for your review and your contributions to VGG! thumbsup

I really enjoyed this review. I'd previously written off pretty much the entire Final Fantasy series for some reason... but I think if this one were ported to iPhone, I'd give it a shot. I like exploring worlds and learning about them, so I think I might like it!

It's a little hard to believe you finally reviewed a game you actually like. I hope you do more in the future!
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Twinge
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Mymil wrote:
I'd previously written off pretty much the entire Final Fantasy series for some reason... but I think if this one were ported to iPhone, I'd give it a shot.


They're not all bad. 4, 7, and especially 6 are definitely worth checking out. (Others like 9 and 1 have positive aspects, but aren't as noteworthy overall.)
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James Lowry
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I would say IV, VI, VII, IX, and X are all worth a real look. Those are the ones with the most coherent plots. Personally, I'd say IX and X are my favorites (though I haven't actually gone through IV, so I don't know where it stack up for me). I think the world hangs together especially well in X.

And then, getting off of the main series, FFT is just as good as people say. It is my favorite console game of all time.
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Derek Green
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Mymil, I will be sure to submit more reviews in the future. I generally decide what game I'm going to review on the same day that I write the review, so I don't know what's next yet.

Twinge, I noticed that you are a big fan of VI. Do you know how to equip Runics to use the summoned creatures? I haven't figured it out yet even though I already have three of them to choose from.

Rindis, is there anyway to get Tactics to run without having an original PSone? I saw a copy at a used game store this past week at a great price, but I didn't get it because I wasn't sure about compatibility. My old PlayStation is sitting at my mom's house broken down, so that isn't an option for me.
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James Lowry
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Well, a PS2 will play PS1 games. There's also a version that came out for the PSP, and if you had a choice between the platforms, I'd say to go for the PSP version, as I understand the translation was cleaned up over the original (which was often painful; thank you Sony).

Of course, I originally played it on the PC, thanks to Connectix Virtual GameStation. But that won't even attempt to install on a Win NT system (the installer has a check that will refuse when it sees an NT-based system). I know there's been other equivalent emulators done, and I've been thinking about checking into them again, but haven't done so yet. (Hmm. I just found a bunch of screenshots of FFT I took with VGC back in the day. I should submit some of them here.)
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Ian Kelly
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thucydides2004 wrote:
Twinge, I noticed that you are a big fan of VI. Do you know how to equip Runics to use the summoned creatures? I haven't figured it out yet even though I already have three of them to choose from.


You mean equipping Espers? In the menu, go to "Skills", choose the character you want to equip, go to Espers, and choose the esper to equip.

To actually summon the Esper in battle, select Magic, then press Up to get to the equipped Esper (the same way you would press Up to get to your equipped weapon and shield from the Item menu), and select it.
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Ian Kelly
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thucydides2004 wrote:
All of the gameplay elements in the Final Fantasy games that I like, such as the easy to manage items list and the nice maps, were completely in place.


Funny, I found that IV had one of the most annoying item lists out of all the FF games. I don't know whether you're playing the HardType or EasyType version (the official western release on the SNES was EasyType), but in HardType there was so much item variety that you were pretty much forced to use the Big Chocobo for extra storage space, lest you run out of inventory space. In EasyType there were far fewer items, making the Big Chocobo more of a curiosity than anything.

My other annoyance with the item list was that they put the Sort and Trash commands all the way down at the bottom of the list. Fortunately they were movable, and the first thing I did in a new game would be to move them up to the top where they belong.

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At several points, I wondered what Cecil's motivation was supposed to be, but I kept playing anyway because there were so many other cool things going on. Cecil is a rather boring hero, by the way. He was basically there just to be a hero. He wasn't stricken by the need to explore endlessly like Locke and he wasn't scarred by his past and worried about the fate of the planet like Cloud, he just had some issues with his best friend and was investigating the planet's problems. It was supposed to be moving when he cast aside his Dark Knight past and to a degree it was, but I was never really taken in by his character.


His motivation at the start of the game is the conflict between his loyalty to Baron and the guilt he feels for his involvement in plundering Mysidia. He doesn't want to do that any more, but neither is he able to say no when the king orders him to go to Mist. When Rosa gets sick with desert fever, his goal becomes to heal her. Along the way, he learns that Golbez is using Baron to gather the crystals, and so his loyalty drives him to find his way back in order to liberate Baron. Then Rosa gets kidnapped, so now he needs to free Baron and rescue Rosa. And by the time he succeeds in that, he's so invested in the fight against Golbez that he just keeps on going.

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I always find it interesting how in every Final Fantasy installment the summoned creatures are there and their presence is always and invariably explained in a different way.


Every installment since the third one, actually. The first game did feature Bahamut, but only as an NPC.

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I must admit that I am a bit perplexed by how Cecil and crew were able to just stroll casually on the surface of the Moon without gear, but then again they rode a mechanical whale to get there, so I guess it is an excusable oversight.


It's actually identified as the other moon, so I always just understood it to have an atmosphere. That doesn't explain why it's so heavily cratered, but then as a recently constructed planetoid it hasn't existed long enough to accumulate all those craters anyway, so go figure.
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Derek Green
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Funny, I found that IV had one of the most annoying item lists out of all the FF games. I don't know whether you're playing the HardType or EasyType version (the official western release on the SNES was EasyType), but in HardType there was so much item variety that you were pretty much forced to use the Big Chocobo for extra storage space, lest you run out of inventory space. In EasyType there were far fewer items, making the Big Chocobo more of a curiosity than anything.

My other annoyance with the item list was that they put the Sort and Trash commands all the way down at the bottom of the list. Fortunately they were movable, and the first thing I did in a new game would be to move them up to the top where they belong.


I must have had the EasyType variant based on what you are telling me here, but I did find the Big Chocobo somewhat useful for storing things that I no longer had need of. I remember going back to him several times to retrieve things, but for the most part I was able to carry everything that I needed with my party.

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His motivation at the start of the game is the conflict between his loyalty to Baron and the guilt he feels for his involvement in plundering Mysidia. He doesn't want to do that any more, but neither is he able to say no when the king orders him to go to Mist. When Rosa gets sick with desert fever, his goal becomes to heal her. Along the way, he learns that Golbez is using Baron to gather the crystals, and so his loyalty drives him to find his way back in order to liberate Baron. Then Rosa gets kidnapped, so now he needs to free Baron and rescue Rosa. And by the time he succeeds in that, he's so invested in the fight against Golbez that he just keeps on going.


I remember those events now that you bring them up. It wasn't a bad structure so much as it was somewhat unconvincing. Ultimately though the fact that those events occurred so early in the game and were followed up by so many subsequent hours of gameplay without further motivations not only made me lose sight of why Cecil was involved in the first place, but why the game didn't throw a few other twists in there to develop his character and show some sort of development. By comparison, Cloud in FFVII goes from not caring to slowly getting wrapped up in a cause which starts to intertwine with his own troubled past. His growing love triangle and his new-found sense of purpose cause him to subtly change how he behaves and speaks throughout the game, thus making him a great lead character since you view the events of the game through his eyes and your perception of events can never exceed his. Cecil to me seems more straightforward in that while he may have been a Dark Knight he was never comfortable with doing dark deeds and was always a good man at heart. Aside from the Mysidia incident he never did anything else that was questionable, nor really considered it. His loyalty to his creed and sense of a duty that went beyond merely serving the person of his king gave him a certain nobility but it didn't make him as complex and multi-faceted as I would have liked. Cecil seems like he would have made a superb second man in a game, but he just doesn't quite get the good done in the driver's seat, at least for me. That being said, it is a relatively minor quibble but something which does annoy me simply because I feel like it could have really been a masterpiece if he and Rosa had been more interesting and conflicted.

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Every installment since the third one, actually. The first game did feature Bahamut, but only as an NPC.


I haven't played the first three games, so I am actually surprised by that. When I think Final Fantasy, I think of Shiva and Ifrit.

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It's actually identified as the other moon, so I always just understood it to have an atmosphere. That doesn't explain why it's so heavily cratered, but then as a recently constructed planetoid it hasn't existed long enough to accumulate all those craters anyway, so go figure.


That is a good point. Something that heavily cratered couldn't possibly have an atmosphere but yet apparently it must have or otherwise there would be no air to breathe. The other scientific puzzle that I never solved was how the Dwarves lived in the underworld if it was hot enough to sustain a standing ocean of magma.


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Still playing through this one, on iOS specifically. I beat the SNES version a decade ago. I have a huge backlog of games, so the nostalgia was truly a luxury at the time. However, the game was half off at $8 instead of the usual $16, and I noticed that it wasn't just a straight port... there were other new features...
-3D engine
-FMV cutscenes, with full voiceovers
-beastiary
-auto-mapping features (especially nice since the 3d engine can throw off your standard perception and orientation of level layouts)
-AFAIK, there are extra dungeon features?
-other features

... so I bit. So far, enjoying it. Difficult level really is noticeably harder, as I remember coasting through the SNES version. Then again, it's not quite an apples to apples comparison, as I remember leveling up more, but I've had quite a few bosses already where I needed to repeat due to... well, dying (currenltly on the Dark Elf, in the "magnetic cave"). So far, I'm glad I spent the $$ (although admittedly, only at half price). The touch controls are a lot less precise than the cross-key joystick and physical controller, but you get used to it.

Oh, not sure in the DS version since you have hard controls, but here, you can run around in 8-directions, walk/run depending on how hard you press in a direction on the virtual analog stick, and an exclamation point appears whenever something's worth interacting with (ie. shopkeeper, conversation with NPC, treasure chest, or a hidden item)
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