Final Fantasy 2

Final Fantasy 2 took a lot of risks, that much is clear. For a game released in 1988, it had a lot of ideas that even today aren’t used often. The most obvious of which is that it is a skill-based game, not a level-based game.

As a general rule, I prefer skill-based for my Video Game RPGs. I feel it is more natural and offers some variations that level based can’t really touch. I was pretty excited by the idea of a skill-based Final Fantasy, however, the implementation is rough to say the least. So if you aren’t familiar with the base idea… if you use it, you get better at what you use. I only played the game a little bit (more on that later), but for the most part it seems ok. You don’t get like a point for each use, instead, I believe you get a greater chance of getting a point for each use. So as an example, using made up numbers, if you use a sword once in a fight you have a 5% chance of gaining a skillpoint. If you use a sword 5 times you have a 25% chance of gaining a skill point. 100 skill points and you get a level in the skill. And obviously as you level up a skill it gets increasingly more difficult to get skill points. The system is OK. the percentage chance means there are a lot of fights that you don’t get points for even if you use a skill… I find this weird. Each weapon type and spell is considered its own skill. In addition, HP and MP are use based as well… only way to get a higher max HP is to keep getting hit. But again it is percentage based on how much HP vs your max HP got hit. Even if you use most your HP in a fight… you aren’t guaranteed to gain more max HP.

The system is a bit grindy, this not abnormal for JRPGs, or even CRPGs, so is not a huge deal. The problem comes in the most natural way to grind… which is to attack yourself. I spent a couple hours in the newbie area just doing nothing but entering fights and attacking my friends. And each fight took an extreme amount of time. It was a really boring experience. I like the idea though. I have heard that Final Fantasy X returned to a skill based system and I would like to try it at some point to see if they  fixed some of the flaws from 2.

Final Fantasy 2 had a number of innovations for the series that would follow it on to today. Chocobos and the Chocobo forest were added, and really this was one of the first true unique beings within the Final Fantasy  Universe. They also introduced a rotating cast of characters. You start the game with 4 characters to name, 1 of which doesn’t play with you for much of the early game. This was really unique. They  basically set the stage for you to know from the get go that they were doing things differently here, much like in Final Fantasy 1 how saving the princess was only the beginning. Even worse, they chose the second character you named as the one to get rid of from the get go… well this was odd as I named my characters 0,1,2, and 3 because it was a Japanese game and I didn’t read Japanese and I wanted to be able to recognize my character names somewhat. Well my game went into 0, 2, 3 as my character names! Not a big deal, but kind of funny.

You then would have new party members coming and going throughout the story as required by the story  which was interesting and something they obviously decided to keep doing in future games of the series. The problem in this particular series is that many of the characters had no starting experience in any of their skills so you almost dreaded a new character being added because you would need to grind that character or just leave him be useless. Another weird thing is there was a glitch that counted each selection of an item/enemy as a use in the above system. So you would select a character to fight, back out over and over to gain extra uses in a fight. This didn’t work for the last character in the party (selecting him to fight would start the fighting round!), so grinding the last character in the party was a chore. All the new characters that got added were always the last character in your party, and unlike Final Fantasy 1, you had no ability to move people around. Oh well.

You did have the ability to move characters from the front row to the back. This is another feature that kind of continues in the series. This one in particular was more difficult though. If you put someone in the back row, it was a double edged sword. Enemies couldn’t touch them without magic or ranged weapons… but neither could you touch enemies. (And enemies had rows as well!) Was a cool feature, not a ton bad especially in a use based system. I could see this sort of restriction being a bigger deal if your person in the back row had no ranged weapons.

So as I previously stated, I was playing the japanese version of the game so I couldn’t really understand what was going on without reading guides. And so I had to trust what they told me to do and use. I can sort of read Japanese letters, but I don’t often know what the words mean. At some point the game I was supposed to take an item and throw it into an airship engine to make the airship explode… except the item the guide I was following told me to use didn’t work. I can only imagine that I either read it wrong or the guide gave it to me wrong. I looked up the word in other guides and it was spelled differently in the one other guide I could find. And I figure I must have accidentally deleted the item while trying to clean out my inventory earlier in the game. This sucked. I had no way of figuring out what exactly I was missing or if I actually missed picking up the item in the first place (which I don’t think i did).

My choice was simple. Restart or end it. The thought of going through hours of really  boring grinding did not sound great so I decided to end it. So my end story  that I cam up with for my  adventure is this…

My friends and I lived in a small town that started being attacked by  the imperial army with t heir giant flying warship. They began attacking all the neighboring towns as well. So we underwent a mission in which we snuck onto their airship, started throwing random shit into the engine in hopes of it blowing up. After this failed, we shrugged our shoulders and swore our fealty to the empire!

Hopefully Final Fantasy 3 works out better!

Final Fantasy Month

Last year in December there were a couple of streamers on Twitch playing through Final Fantasy. This was followed by Games Done Quick in January and sooner than I realized, I had a hankering to play Final Fantasy 1 and found myself even trying to learn how to speed run the game.

After a few days into mucking around with it, I thought to myself how cool it would be to go and play through all the Final Fantasy games. I didn’t own all of them, and haven’t played any game in the series since it left Nintendo consoles after 6. But I thought it would be fun to do as the older games in the series were some of my favorite RPGs on console of all time. So I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if in December I go and play through them all?

Why December? Well because in December, I traditionally have a decent amount of time off from work and often find myself playing more video games during this time frame. This year is no different as I will be taking off between Christmas and New Years. I generally have my daughter for an extended period during this time and do some family stuff as well, but will still find myself with some extra time. So a few days into December. I thought to myself… Oh Shit it’s Final Fantasy month! And while I was a little late going into it. I headed forward through the Final Fantasy titles.

So obviously you start with the first in the series. Final Fantasy I long credit with my addiction to Video Games and my love to RPGs. I remember as a child going out and renting Final Fantasy 1 for the standard 2 or 3 day time, and bringing it back 2 or 3 weeks later having thoroughly played through the game and emptied my pocket with late fees. Many games give me nostalgia joy, Final Fantasy 1 is #1 on that list. Nothing beats it.

I decided not to speed run and just to play like a normal person. Not overly optimized either. I ran with a warrior, black belt, red mage and white mage. I will say that though the BB is really weak in the first few levels, they are pretty awesome the further you get with them and I totally want to try an all black belt group at some point just because they are so awesome. Still, it was a fun group.

Final Fantasy isn’t the longest game in the world, took me about a week to run through it with casual play time. Given that I spent a week on FF1, chances of getting through what 17 or 18 games in the series seems very unlikely in a months time. I still hope to at least get to through the NES games, if not the SNES games as well.

The story is pretty basic as well, though honestly, it is also extremely interesting. Bad guy travels back in time 2000 years, creates 4 fiends that in 2000 years sends bad guy back in time again and destroys the world. Process repeats over and over again. Doesn’t seem to be any real motive as to why or anything. And unfortunately most of the story line isn’t really given to you until you defeat the bad guy. Most the game, you walk around doing what you need to do with little idea as to why other than you are supposed to and if you do you will save the world. You get this really long dialog at the end explaining what was going on the whole time and then explaining how the 4 heroes aren’t the real heroes, you are! Ugh. That was hokey. Again, FF1 was a very simplistic game but they were doing some new things and it was a more simple time as well. Shouldn’t count that against the game. I still love the game in all its simplicity.

I plan on updating my progress through the series as I continue to play the games. As of this writing I am currently undertaking Final Fantasy 2… the Japanese version. I did originally want to record or stream my playthroughs, but I still don’t really have the capability of recording console games so not this year, maybe I will have the set up to be able to do that next  year. And I really want to play the original versions. Even in its most truest form, Square likes to muck with their games when they re-release. An example is in FF1, they usually make it so that your heroes attack the next enemy if the one you told them to attack is already dead. I like the strategy involved in how that works in the original, so poo on that.