Hey everyone! You know how I said I was going to have a Persona 4 Arena review out by the end of this week? Well that’s not going to happen, ha ha… Yeah, I sadly just don’t feel like writing up a review for that game. In my opinion there wasn’t enough interesting material to justify the time it would take to write and edit it. So to make up for that I’m going to write up some of my random thoughts on the once illustrious Final Fantasy series. After all, I have recently been playing through Final Fantasy IX, and I figured it would be pretty easy for me to splurge my opinions about the series into a post. Now before we start, I’d like to warn you that it’s been quite a while since I’ve written about a video game topic, so if this post is a little messy that’s why.
Anyways, my roots with the Final Fantasy franchise begin with the second worst game in the series, Final Fantasy XIII. It’s weird to think that years ago I loved the first two Final Fantasy XIII games with a strange passion, going so far as to actively get angry at the many people who bashed the game. I must admit this is partially because Final Fantasy XIII was not only my first “RPG,” but also because it was one of the first games I completed in general. Of course now I realize Final Fantasy XIII and its sequel XIII-2 are complete messes, which both epically miss the point of not only what Final Fantasy games are like, but how RPG’s work in the first place. The games replace all the series’ likable elements with drawn out cinematic cut scenes, under explained narratives, and characters with potential but bad execution.
Not to mention the game pretty much plays itself. Sure you could make argument that juggling around the paradigms later in the game is a somewhat challenging experience, but in reality it’s just a test to see how quickly you can use the same strategy over and over again. Every battle plays out the same, you start with a Ravager, Ravager, Commando combo to raise your enemies stagger gauge, switch to a Medic, Medic, Sential paradigm when you need to heal, and then once your enemy staggered switch to an all out assault paradigm for max damage. Near the end of the game you might occasionally open up boss battles with buffs and debuffs, but otherwise nothing changes from the beginning to the end of the game. And all the unique elements, like the stagger and paradigm system are ruined by a lack of interactivity with your characters thanks to the awful auto-battle system. Yes, there is an option to turn auto-battle off, but selecting your moves individually is so slow and badly interfaced that auto-battling pretty much becomes a requirement.
That’s enough talk about Final Fantasy XIII’s many problems though because, at the end of the day, I still actually can’t help but like the game. I hate to say it but the game introduced me to RPG’s, and if it weren’t for it I wouldn’t have considered playing the Persona or Suikoden games. So while I definitely don’t think the game is any good, I can’t deny it holds a special place in my heart, and that I will never forget it because of that.
After playing that game, I started to try out the other Final Fantasy games, to the point where I now have a majority of them in my library. Thanks to Final Fantasy XIII, I now own Final Fantasy III, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XII in various forms, but that also means I haven’t actually beat them all yet. Yeah, despite the fact I was obsessed with getting these games I haven’t really made any progress in them for various reasons. In fact the only game I’ve actually finished from that line up is Final Fantasy X! I think this, in combination with my inevitable discovery that Final Fantasy XIII was actually really bad, made me abandon the franchise, and I haven’t thought about trying out it’s games again until recently.
This is because I’ve recently started playing Final Fantasy IX, and I’m absolutely loving it! The characters are complex and multi-faceted, each containing their own central motivation for being on the quest. From Vivi’s desire to discover how he’s related to the lifeless Black Mage dolls, to Freya’s desire to avenge and protect her fallen Burmecia kingdom, no member of the cast is left just tagging along for the sake of the adventure (Cough cough, Vaan). Not to mention the conflict between the nations is actually three dimensional and makes sense, which is something I absolutely adore in storytelling. Queen Brahne isn’t just taking over these kingdoms because she’s greedy, she’s also doing it because she’s been corrupted by Kuja who also has a nice back-story to make the audience understand his actions.
The gameplay is also a lot of fun. Oh sure, it’s not as complex as Final Fantasy XII, or as strategic as Final Fantasy X, but it offers a enjoyable, somewhat fast paced experience that teaches you to react quickly and strategically. Sure, the random encounters can get annoying, but exploring the world map and fighting monsters is fun and intriguing. This game also features an, as usual, amazing soundtrack from Nobuo Uematsu, who brings his A-game with some of these tracks. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that beautiful overworld theme, or those brilliant orchestral pieces in the FMV’s.
Final Fantasy IX is the type of game that reminds me why I love RPG’s, and it also seems to the game that’s reminding me of why I once looked forward to getting games from the Final Fantasy franchise. It’s story is intriguing, it’s gameplay is simple but strategic, and overall it’s a very investing experience. I’m only on the second disc, but I can already see myself continuing toward the finish line, and I definitely won’t be leaving the game anytime soon. Simply put, Final Fantasy IX is the kind of game I like to invest 40-60 hours into, and it might be my favorite Final Fantasy game now because of that.
It’s been a while, but I think I might want to restart some of the games in this franchise, and maybe reevaluate my opinions on the series as a whole. For a while I’ve been wondering if Final Fantasy is really a praise worthy franchise, but Final Fantasy IX is starting to dissuade those thoughts. I guess I’ll start with Final Fantasy XII, hopefully I’ll be better at using its battle system this time!
In fact, I’m also pretty excited to hear news about the upcoming Final Fantasy XV because, while it doesn’t really seem like a Final Fantasy game, it still holds a lot of potential. I’m also interested mostly because I want to see this franchise get out of its miserable slump. For the past few entries the series has been confused about what it wants to do, sure I liked what I played in Final Fantasy XII, but it along with Final Fantasy XIII and XIV feature massive flaws that can’t be ignored. At the end of the day, they just need to finally make a solid game, and I have hopes that Final Fantasy XV will deliver on that front, even if it doesn’t really feel like it belongs in the franchise. Either way I think it will be hard to create a game as bad as the first version of Final Fantasy XIV. Now that is a true failure of a creation.
Anyways, that’s all for today, but later on down the line I might do a full review of Final Fantasy IX. I still have so much to say about that wonderful game, and who knows maybe I’ll do more stuff like this post once I start playing other new games (Well at least games that are new to me). We’ll see, but until then have a wonderful day!