Final Fantasy XV is coming. Are you excited? You should be. Have you seen the Kingsglaive movie yet? You should.
It’s epic. And if this is anything to go by Final Fantasy XV, the first on the PS4, will be breathtaking. Watching Kingsglaive got me even more excited for XV and has me reminiscing about all the great moments I have experienced with the Final Fantasy series of games since I was young. I’ve played them all and remember them all fondly. And with XV on the way it got me thinking, “Which one is my favourite?” Depending on when you ask me my answer may change which doesn’t really answer the question, does it? So I’ve been replaying some of them again in bits and pieces to re-experience certain things and it made me realize just how much I love this series and how much I enjoy talking about it. Yet, for reasons unknown, I haven’t written much here on my own site about this thing I enjoy so much.
Thus, I have decided that I will write about them, not only in a generic overview of a game or series, but instead I will review each game and hopefully be able to determine which of them is best. Note I wrote which is best and not which is my favourite. They are all my favourite.
I was discussing this project with my good Gunpla and gaming friend, ASM, over a few drinks last weekend. Okay, maybe more than a few. And we both got quite excited talking about specific moments found in certain games and I thought, ‘Hey. Wait a moment. Why don’t we carry on this conversation on my site when reviewing the games?’, and thus ASM found himself involved.
I’m going to caveat this right here and say that we will only be discussing the games on the disk-reading consoles, the machines that allowed us to have CGI cut-scenes. Yes, that does mean we are starting at VII and going through to XIII, but it is difficult to compare I through VI with VII through present so I’ve decided to split it up. Hey, you have to start somewhere. Sure I first played the first Final Fantasy when I was thirteen years old after saving up my paper-route money. It was my first major purchase at the time and I didn’t realize that there would be a sequel. So many of them. Nor did I realize that it would influence my life in such a way.
Here’s a shot of some of my ‘materials’ as I call them. I collected the games, guides, and some figures while I lived in Canada. Not long after I moved to Japan Final Fantasy XII was released which saw me buy the Japanese version of the game and sit in my tiny apartment with kanji dictionaries trying to make sense of the story while thoroughly enjoying myself. From there I was able to collect all kinds of Japanese FF materials including art books, more figures, accessories, sports drinks and so many other things. Japan knows how to do merchandise. I had so much stuff that I couldn’t transport it all to Japan when I moved here so some was left behind. Then when I moved house within Japan some of it got put away.
That is a lot of stuff. ASM knows how to collect, let me tell you. Or, if you prefer to ask him, I’m sure he won’t mind talking Final Fantasy himself.
Hey everyone, ASM here, alive and well, despite my pretty much defunct site. What can I say? I keep up with the news, but between family, work, and multiple transfers over the years, I just don’t have the time to actually sit down and build gunpla. With that said though, when I do find the time to do something, I end up spending it playing Final Fantasy XIV.
Dropping a meteor because I can
Yes, probably the thing I love most in the world is Final Fantasy. A lot of what makes me who I am comes from my gaming history, starting with my Atari, then Nintendo when it came out in 1985 in the US. Fast forward five years to 1990, and with the influence of Nintendo Power advertising, I begged for and got the original Final Fantasy for the NES. At the tender age of 11, my mind was blown. I can still remember getting to the final dungeon, and beating chaos now. It was a tough game, and I’ve only beat the original once. But the real hook, the game that got me into FF, and RPGs as a whole, is Final Fantasy IV, or 2 as it was known in the US. On the new SNES, the graphics had jumped forward, the ATB system, and the story, as cliché as it is today, is still one that stood out as Fantasy, true Fantasy that dug its hooks in, and has remained with me today. But most importantly, it was the music that has stood the test of time for me. I remember hooking up my SNES outputs to my stereo so I could listen to the bombastic beats of the Red Wings, or Within the Giant. I still have multiple versions of these tracks on my iPod even today.
Seeing the Maestro Uematsu-san live in concert
To me, FF has always been a series that has always moved forward with the times, and has been a symbol of adapting to new mediums as the environment has changed. The jump from IV and V to VI, then VI to VII on the PS1, to the refinement you saw in IX. Then the jump to PS2 with X, and again refined with XII. Then again the jump to XIII on the PS3. Currently now with XIV on the PS4 and PC. And now we have XV coming out in less than 2 months.
Yes, FF has become “mainstream” for better or worse, but regardless of what people think now of FF, it has certainly been influential for many people, both the players, the developers, the industry, and so forth. So, why am I qualified? Well, part of the reason that I actually decided to study Japanese is mainly due to Final Fantasy. Back when the PS1 could be modded to play imports, I made the huge decision to import FFVIII, as I couldn’t stand the wait for the translation. I self-taught myself hiragana and katakana in order to be able to read spells, and items, and so on, and amazingly managed to beat VIII. The first step in deciding to learn Japanese to play FF would lead me on a road that would end in Japan.
Final Fantasy XII and related swag, on release day in Japan
To be honest, I could keep writing and writing about FF, so I will cut this short here with the important specs. I have played and beaten all numbered main FFs, including X-2, and XIII-2 (still haven’t gotten around to Lightning Returns, but eventually!). I have also played XI for about 3 years when it was released in the US in 2003, and when I ended I had a level 75 WHM and BLM back when 75 was the cap. As I mentioned before, I am a very devoted XIV player on the server Durandal, along with GaiGun, who is currently on break.
I have played a variety of the spin-offs. I even have a limited edition Final Fantasy WonderSwan (now that is niche!) So, I think I can speak a bit about FF. At the end of the day, we all have our reasons for loving FF, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with everyone, as we get ready for the newest console FF.
As you can see, I feel the two of us are more than qualified to review and evaluate each of these games. Those out there who haven’t played any or all of these game should find these reviews, hopefully, enlightening and useful. Those FF fans who happen also to be Gunpla fans and are currently reading this post, I hope this series gives you the warm fuzzies you felt when you played each of these games that first time.
We’ll be reviewing the main games in the series while leaving aside any of the sequels aside for now. That means that we won’t be reviewing X-2 or XIII-2 or Lighting returns, though I think we’ll find a way to talk a little bit about Crisis Core (gets tissues ready). We’ll also leave out XI but will probably find time to talk about XIV as we have probably put in over a thousand hours into that game between us. I’m a Bard and Dragoon and ASM is everything.
Gai-Gun and ASM
We’ll review them in order but for now here is a quick refresher for these games. (I’m going with the NTSC box art because that’s what I am familiar with. You could do a whole post on box art alone.)
Final Fantasy VII
Released for Playstation in 1997.
Final Fantasy VIII
Released for Playstation in 1999.
Final Fantasy IX
Released for Playstation in 2000.
Final Fantasy X
Released for Playstation 2 in 2001.
Final Fantasy XII
Released for Playstation 2 in 2006.
Final Fantasy XIII
Released for Playstation 3 in 2009.
The plan is to have all games reviewed by the launch of XV on November 29th so ASM and I have our work cut out for us. I’m sure he’s reconsidering his involvement after finding out the details of what I plan to do. We plan to evaluate and compare the games on a variety of criteria. The list so far looks like this:
Story and setting
Character Leveling System
Mini-Games and extras
We’ll be sharing our most memorable moments and discussing our experiences with each game. We’ll share a lot of similar opinions, I’m sure, but the differences may be more telling.
Each of us will give a rank in each category which we will total up at the bottom to show my score and ASM’s. However, we won’t rate the game based on graphics. Graphically each game was better than the one prior and pushed the consoles to their limits. Final Fantasy has always had amazing graphics so rather than giving each game an A-plus in this category, we’ll leave it out and evaluate the categories where we know we will have differences of opinion. In the end, we will have an average score to compare overall against the other games.
It will be informative. It will be entertaining. It will keep me busy while we wait two months for XV and provide an outlet for all this FF energy I had planned to unleash in September but has been delayed. Most importantly, it will be fun.
Are you with us?