Now Playing October 2017

Beaten

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionares’ Conspiracyreview here.

Chrono Trigger – read some ramblings here.

Ongoing

Yakuza 0 – When The Last Guardian didn’t grab me, I turned to the game for which I bought my PS4. That is an exaggeration, but this game, along with the remake Yakuza Kiwami and the upcoming Yakuza 6, were big factors in me finally moving to this generation of consoles. I am roughly a third of the way through this game and it is just as good as the previous game in the series, which was one of my favorites. It has condensed things down to just two playable characters, but it has kept the variety by giving each character multiple fighting styles. I love this series, and I am loving this game.

Etrian Odyssey V – I am in the tank for this series, and there is a lot of new stuff that I like, but I am in that early game section, about floor 4 to 5, when I still don’t know what my team is and the game feels like kind of a slog. I has the same problem with the first game, so much that I sold it back to gamestop, a move I would quickly regret. I know better now, but I haven’t yet broken through with this one and figured out what my team is and how it works. The game is great, though.

Terranigma – I am still in the introductory area, but I think I am going to like this. I loved Illusion of Gaia when I played that, and this is like that game with more solid mechanics.

Upcoming

River City Rival Showdown – With my limited time, it seems unlikely that I will even get to this game, but I can’t not get a remake of River City Ransom. Maybe if I am still being as stymied by Etrian Odyssey V when this game hits as I am now.

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Far Away Times

I recently moved out of my hometown to attend law school. It was a pretty big upheaval in my normally boring life, packing up and relocating three hundred miles away.  I don’t like change.  Eager to embrace something familiar, I started up a play through of a comforting old game on my 3DS to unwind. The choice of game was an obvious one: Chrono Trigger. It is not only one of my all-time favorite games, but it is the perfect sort of breezy fun I was looking for. Plus, I know the game inside and out, having made a point of beating it every year for over a decade.  Why, then, do I find myself wanting to burst into tears each time I flip open my 3DS and hear that sublime music?

all pics taken from vgmuseum.com

I first played Chrono Trigger back around 1997 or so. It wasn’t a new game at that point, though at that time I had little context for what was new or old.  I was still looking for Final Fantasy 2 when I saw my friend playing Final Fantasy 3. Before I bought the system, all of my knowledge of SNES games came from what I saw at that friend’s house. As I was still uncovering the mysteries of the original Final Fantasy, he showed me the path those games had taken in the next generation. We dabbled in Final Fantasy 3 and Earthbound and Breath of Fire in his tiny gaming room. Unfortunately, most of those games take too long to beat in a few sittings, but I still learned how much I wanted to experience them.

Once I finally bought an SNES, I still had to get the games.  I can remember my younger brother and me pooling our money on the family’s rare trips to the city, begging our parents to take us to the game store that just happened to be next to our usual shoe store.  They had the games on my list, those mentioned about, but at a dear price. For a used, unboxed copy of Chrono Trigger, my brother and I paid almost $70.  And we were glad to do it, based only on playing the opening.

My brother and I did a lot together.  He is barely a year younger than me and though I would never have called him such, he was probably my best friend growing up.  We were close in age and shared a lot of interests, with SNES rpgs definitely among them.  To make room for younger siblings in our always too small house, our bedroom was moved to basement.  The concrete floored, concrete walled, spider filled basement.  We each had a bed, we had a beaten down old couch and we had a TV.  Together we spent a lot of blistering summer days hiding in that basement getting as much 16-bit goodness as we could.  Together we plumbed the depths that Chrono Trigger had to offer.

We didn’t just take turns playing; we wanted to know everything about that game.  And there is a lot to explore there.  We would bike to the library to use their dial-up internet, limited to one hour a day, to find and print FAQs and Guides. Pages of those guides are still at my parents’ house, crumpled and well read.  That summer we spent a couple weeks in Indiana visiting relatives.  We brought the SNES and Chrono Trigger.  That is not to say that is the only game we devoted our time to.  We also had Mega Man X and Final Fantasy 3 and Super Mario World. But as good as all of those games are, they weren’t THE game.

Chrono Trigger is a perfect game. There aren’t many games I would make that claim about. Even games I love, like Super Mario Galaxy and Mega Man 3, have identifiable flaws.  Super Mario Galaxy has some awkward motion control stages and occasionally its weird physics force some weirdness with the camera, though that is less frequent than awe-inspiring joy.  Mega Man 3 has noticeable s l o w d o w n and the Doc Robot stages are better in theory than execution.  However, I can think of nothing about Chrono Trigger that could be improved.  I honestly believe that. The music is excellent, no SNES game looks better, it moves at a snappy pace and is perfectly balanced.  It does everything right.  I have loved it since I first played it.

All those memories of enjoying this game over the years simply bring sharply to mind how long ago those days actually are.

My brother and I are still close; though not geographically close now that I have moved.  Before the move we saw each other at least once a week.  And we were always there if wanted to do more.  The days where the two of us would bunker down on a ratty couch for three or four hours of time traveling adventures are long past.  They have been for some time and it is just dawning on me now that those times will never come again. And that is okay.  He’s married and has two kids.  Not too long ago he asked me to get some game from PSN for him to play with his older son on our old PSP.  Among the games he wanted was Chrono Trigger.  Quibbles about the quality of the PS1 port aside, I thought it was the best thing.  My brother and I may never sit side by side on a couch, playing a game together into the small hours of the night, but we might find time to do that with our children and then they will have those experiences too.

Layton’s Mystery Journey

I’ve played all the Professor Layton games, and reviewed several of them on this blog.  In the abstract I think really highly of this series, but as I was putting together my thoughts on this one, I went back and read what I had written about the last three games in the series, including Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright, I realized that I had similar complaints about those games to the ones I have with this game.

I still don’t like the split between tapping the bottom screen and the cursor on the top screen, the game feels padded out, with puzzles spread far too thin, and I don’t think those puzzles are as good as the used to be.  The new complaint with Layton’s Mystery Journey is that now the story is purely episodic and of the game’s 12 episodes, only about three of them feel like they really matter. While I mostly enjoyed my time with the game, when I finished I was really ready to be done with it.  After a few days to cool off, I feel a little more fondness for the game, though I think that this is the first time my annoyances finally outweighed my enjoyment.

I’ve complained about my problems with the cursor before and I still have them.  It is makes me a little nauseous managing that split between top and bottom screens. I’ve complained about the length before.  I’ll have to go back and check the DS games, but this feels like a 12 hour game stretched out to take nearly 20.  With Layton v Wright, I complained about the puzzles, but I thought it was just because that game was a spin off. The puzzles here feel imprecise.  They aren’t perfectly crafted to make you think or mess with you assumptions, these just feel imprecise.  Sometimes the wording is so vague it nearly impossible to tell what the puzzle is.  There are still plenty of good puzzles, but there are way too many weak or simply bad ones.

The story is the other big problem.  The structure fails this game utterly.  If there was an initial mystery that lead to all the other cases it would have felt like a real story, but instead it just introduces a bunch of characters before moving to a toothless epic final showdown.  It does start with a pair of mysteries, one involving the disappearance of Professor Layton and the other having to do with Sherl, the talking dog that shows up at new protagonist Katrielle’s shop.  Those mysteries are not dealt with at all.  Professor Layton is gone, as are all the characters from the previous 6 games, and Katrielle has a talking dog. Instead of dealing with either of them, you spend most of the game solving non-mysteries for the police, with a few good ones mixed.

I don’t really have a problem with change in cast, it was time for a refresh, but other than changing out the cast, the only change this made to the series was a downgrade in puzzle quality. This is still largely the same game as the last few in the series, but the returns are really diminishing now. I hope the next game gets things back on track.

Persona 5

I don’t feel like I’m being fair to Persona 5.  It is a great game.  In terms of mechanics and aesthetics there is nothing it doesn’t do better than its predecessors, which should be expected with nearly a decade between releases.  But my thought immediately after finishing it was that it was no Persona 4. What I’ve been forced to realize over the two months it took me to play this game is that that realization is as much about me as it is about the game itself.

Persona 5 is much like the previous two entries in the series.  It follows the same structure with mostly the same battle system.  It isn’t identical, P5 adds demon negotiation and some different damage types, but the bones are the same.  You still try to hit weaknesses to get extra turns.  The best new addition to the battle system is the baton pass, which allows you to pass the turn to another party member after you down an enemy.  That lets the player spread attacks around, adding another layer of strategy on an already robust battle system.  The Shin Megami Tensei super-series got that battle system mostly right as far back as 2004’s SMT: Nocturne.  The tweaks we got with Persona 5 are a small evolution, not a great shaking of the foundations. But when the system is as good as this one is there is no real problem with sticking with what works. Final Fantasy has got a lot of good miles out of that ATB.

The game also keeps the calendar based structure.  You play a year in the life of a Japanese high schooler, making friends and solving a supernatural mystery.  Each day has a rhythm and a purpose.  There are confidants, the new name for S. Link where the protagonist builds his relationships with the other party members, as well as a handful of classmates and acquaintances. While the main story goes on, that is how you get each character’s individual story.  It is all mostly like the previous two games in the series.

Though I still liked it this time, Persona 5 did not grab me like 3 and especially 4 did.  I don’t think that is on the game.  The battle system is definitely improved.  There are just generally a lot of little fixes that makes it a smoother experience.  While I don’t think the localization was quite as impressive this time as Atlus’s work has been in the past, otherwise it was a better game, at least mechanically.  I think it flails a little story wise, but only because its ambition is so much greater than Persona 4’s.  In that game, the party was solving a local murder mystery.  The body count rose, but it was very limited in scope. Persona 5 has the cast trying to reform all of society.  Their goals and scope are so much greater that it is hardly a surprise that it starts to break down a little at its edges.

I just didn’t connect with the cast, at least not until past the midway point, and in a game that is as much about the story as this one, not connecting with the cast makes it hard to connect with the game Was that because they are not as strong of characters as the gang from Persona 4? I would say they are not, but I think the reason I didn’t connect with them is that when Persona 4 game out, I was in my early 20s and just a few years removed from high school and still in college.  The tribulations of these high school students were relatable and felt real to me.  Now I am in my early 30s and I just don’t find these high schoolers relatable.  I was less inclined to like them, and the game had to work that much harder to get me on board.

There is one thing that I think Persona 4 absolutely did better, which was to make the characters really seem like friends.  Even without the supernatural goings on, most of that cast would have been friends anyway.  Maybe not hiding pop star Rise or famous detective Naoto, but the rest seem likely.  Throughout the game I got the impression that these characters liked each other and would hang out as friends anyway.  Other than Ryuji and the protagonist, I didn’t get the feeling that Persona 5’s cast particularly cared for each other.  They seemed pretty disconnected from each other.

Still, I really enjoyed the game, it just isn’t a game that will come to mind when I think of my favorites like Persona 4 does.  Realizing that it never could is the hardest part to swallow.  I still want experiences like Persona 4 or Lunar 2 or the like, but I fear that even were I to find them I wouldn’t be able to appreciate them. Maybe that is a good thing, why should I like the same things at 20 that I like at 30. Or maybe I’m overreacting. Persona 5 was a lot of fun and I liked it.  Maybe the previous game in the series was just exceptional and this one was merely really good.

Now Playing September 2017

Beaten

Persona 5 – post coming soon

Metroid: Samus Returns – post coming soon, probably.  I don’t know how much I have to say.  This is pretty good.  I think the counter system is really fiddly and fighting in general in this game is tedious, but exploring alien worlds never gets old.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst –

I kind of bounced over to this as I finished Metroid and blew through the parts I had left, which was most of the game, in two nights.  This is the game that I think people wanted Mighty No 9 to be.  It is a very solidly made Mega Man clone.  It is also nothing more than a Mega Man clone. It does have the somewhat interesting customizable weapons, but the mechanics of it seem to exist only to force players to continually replay levels.  That isn’t really a bad thing, but it makes for some front loaded difficulty.  But other than that one wrinkle, it is just Mega Man.  Again, that really isn’t a bad thing; the NES Mega Man games are all excellent.  But I felt that Mighty No 9, flaws aside, was trying to be something a little more.  Just a little.  It was an evolution of Mega Man, while Mighty Gunvolt Burst is a bit of a reversion.  That doesn’t change the fact that Burst is a more enjoyable game to play.  It is well worth the price of admission.

 

 

Ongoing

The Last Guardian – I played this for about 10 minutes. I have nothing to say yet, but I expect to finish it before too long.

Legend of Legacy

This is a blip, but the announcement that The Alliance Alive would be making it stateside prompted me to allow myself to be convinced to give this another go. I abandoned it two years ago because the game is inscrutable.  It is still inscrutable.  Level ups happen at random.  Skills are learned at random. It is all random.  The game goes out of its way to not tell how things work. I might stick it out, see if at some point it clicks, but so far it is just a neat experiment in negative space bullshit; that instead of filling a game with bullshit, it creates bullshit by absence of anything else.  At least it looks and sounds nice.

Upcoming

Yakuza 0 – I promised my brother I would get through The Last Guardian as fast as possible, so I started that back up after finishing Persona 5.  As soon as it is done, this goes back in.

Terranigma – I didn’t start this in September.  Honestly, other than spending one weekend getting through the rest of Persona 5 and about half an hour before bed each night playing Metroid I barely played any games.  I’ve got a fall break coming in October and will likely have some time to get to a game or two, with Terranigma near the top of my list.

Etrian Odyssey V – Its coming.  The demo was great, every preceding game was great. This will likely be my obsession for the rest of the year.

Lady Layton – I hope I can beat this in the 10 or so days between its release and EO5.  I’ve never not got right on a Layton game, this will be the same. But I really don’t have the time these days.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

I intended to write about Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age when I was about halfway through it, but that didn’t happen.  Instead, the game completely took control of me in a way that few games do.  It is very similar to the weeks I spent enthralled by Breath of the Wild earlier this year. That doesn’t happen to me often, for it to happen twice in the same year is unusual.

 

Especially since I have already played Final Fantasy XII. It got me like this all the way back when it first came out.  I went to a midnight launch of the game at a Gamestop and played it pretty much nonstop until I beat it.  This remaster is largely the same game; very little of the content is changed.  The biggest changes are in the license board character growth system, since The Zodiac Age is based on the International special edition of the game that introduced job specific license boards instead of one identical one.  It’s a change I feared going in, thinking that it would upset the game balance by limiting the characters. While it does limit them, it also makes for more specialization. They are better at the few things they can do.  It takes for some adjusting, but all it really takes it knowing what abilities you have at your disposal.

 

Some of the game’s flaws are still there.  A lot of abilities are hidden in randomly spawning chests in dungeons.  That makes it really hard to make full use of your abilities when the best ones are hidden three quarters of the way through the game.  Some really great strategies are just impossible until you have the right skills, which even if you unlock them on the board you might never have.  I don’t know why they did it that way, but it is a very extent annoyance.

Still, I burned through The Zodiac Age in about a week of play.  In my head, FFXII turned into a slog about halfway through and dragged on way too long, like a lot of PS2 games did.  I did not find that to be the case this time.  I cleared the game in about 40 hours, which is about how long I like JRPGs to take.  I don’t mind the occasional 80 hour super-epic, but I prefer the Chrono Triggerian focused 25 experience.  FFXII fits right in between the two of them.  It is just about perfect.

The story does take a back seat after an action packed opening, but the world it task the player with exploring is the best.  I stopped caring that my task got kind of lost, because I was having too much fun exploring the caves and plains and beaches of Ivalice. There is just so much there, enough to keep anyone busy for at least as long again as playing through the story takes.  The world is the star of this game.

Honestly, though, I am a big fan of the story of this game as well.  It has one of my favorite casts.  Basch, Balthier and Ashe are all great characters.  A lot of people really don’t like Vaan and Penelo, but I find them inordinately charming.  Vaan positioning as the protagonist, even though he is not even close to the driving figure of the story, can be annoying, but the character himself is a lot fun.  His youthful exuberance is the perfect antidote to the often closed and jaded characters like Basch.  It takes more than a few cues from Star Wars, but Vaan is not the Luke of this story, he’s more like the R2D2.  A vital part of the team, but not really a driving force of plot. (the others match like this Balthier = Han, Fran = Chewie, Basch = Luke/Obi Wan, Ashe = Leia and Penelo = C-3PO) It gets a little lost in the middle, mostly because the story is split by vast stretches of land, it honestly holds together a lot better than I remembered.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is FFXII just like you remember it, much in the same way that the 3DS remakes of the N64 Zeldas are just like you remember them.  They are not as the game’s actually were, but they are close and everything that is different just removes annoyances to let you get at the great game that has always been underneath.  This remake is the rose tinted version of the game, minus a bunch of small complaints that didn’t even occur to players at the time.  I put up my Final Fantasy rankings a month or so ago and I stand by XII’s placement on the list. This game is one of the greats.

Now Playing August 2017

Beaten

Lufia 2: The Fortress of Doom – I didn’t beat it, but I am done with it. I am sorry, I am going write up my experiences with the first half or so of the game.  One day I will get back to this, like I intend to go back to the original Lufia and several other SNES rpgs.  It just isn’t clicking with me right now and I don’t feel like dragging my 25 SNES project out any longer.  I will try to play Terranigma sometime in the next month or so, but my free time is severely constrained.

Ongoing

Persona 5

I started this up right after its release, but I really only got invested in it in the last few weeks. Right now, I don’t like it as much as I liked Persona 3, let alone Persona 4.  It isn’t bad, but it just isn’t captivating me the same way either of those two games did. That is likely as much on me as anything in the game.  Persona 4 came out nearly a decade ago.  I was a different person then, in a different stage of my life.  I had the time to spent full days doing nothing but playing those games, now I really don’t. I am also less investing in the travails of high schoolers.  Ten years ago I was only a few years out of high school, those problems and considerations were much more relatable.  I don’t think the game should change, those high schoolers should have games that speak to them like Persona 4 spoke to me.  It just means that I connect with it a little less now.  At least the gameplay is still great.

Chrono Trigger – I’ve got a big post coming about this game, but recently I had the strong desire to replay one of my all time favorites. CT is still great.  No matter how many times I play it, I always want to play it again.  This might be my absolute favorite.

Sword Coast Legends – It was cheap on PSN and I still have affection for the old Infinity Engine games.  I beat the prologue.  There are problems, like reading tiny dialogue on the TV and ‘reading’ the screen in general because it is clearly designed for the PC with the players face inches instead of feet from the screen, or its extensive loading times, but I am still getting some enjoyment out of it. Enough to be worth the less than $5 I payed for it.

Upcoming

Yakuza 0/Kiwami – One of these is up next once I finish with or wander away from Persona 5.  They are starting to stack up on me now that Sega is actually committed to localizing them.  I will get to them, while I am considering spending a significant portion of my gaming budget on the special edition of Yakuza 6.  I love this series.

Monster Hunter Stories – It’s coming from Amazon. I might actually loan it to my brother while I play the next game on this list and finish Chrono Trigger.

Metroid: Samus Returns – Also coming from Amazon. This is the only Metroid game I haven’t beaten.

Terranigma – Now that I am done with Lufia 2 for the foreseeable future, I am eager to finally get to this last game on my list.  I will at least start in September.

Mario Games – I am having problems with my Wii and don’t have access to my WiiU, which means all the remaining games aside from 3D Land and New Super Mario Bros 2 are currently inaccessible to me. I will get back to this, but it could be a little while.  I will certainly not finish before Super Mario Odyssey comes out, which I will not get to play because I still don’t own a Switch.  But I do intend to finish this series.

Now Playing July 2017

Finished

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age – Read about it here.

Ever Oasis Read about it here.

New Super Mario Bros. – Read about it here.

Ongoing

The Last Guardian – I barely played it again, but I feel like I am just a moment or two of being completely captured by this game, like I was with Shadow of the Colossus and Ico.  Right now, it is playing out more like Ico.  I love that game, but I fought with it for a few hours before I started to enjoy it and after that I really enjoyed it.  I feel like I am on the cusp of that with this game.  I guess time will tell.

River City Knights of Justice – For some reason, these River City Ransom follow ups keep deviating from that NES classic in strange ways.  Last year’s Tokyo Rumble was more of a take on Renegade, a game that precisely no one likes, instead of RCR, from which the game mostly just took the look. In this Fantasy RPG themed River City game they for some reason took out all the character building stuff.  I sincerely don’t get it.  There is very little sense of character building, something that both RPGs and River City Ransom are known for. The fighting and the setting are still fun, but the game kind of sets out with little help making sense of what is going on.  I really feel like I need a Nintendo Power guide to figure this out.  Most of the game seems to be completing little nonsense missions.  Though I did just fight a big ass dragon, which was cool.  I guess I am saying I like the game, but not as much as I hoped to like it.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst – From beating about two levels of this it looks like the game that everyone wanted Mighty No 9 to be. It is a essentially an 8-bit Mega Man game with the characters replaced with slightly different characters.  I actually kind of liked MN9, but so far this is a better, if smaller, game.  The bosses do take too many hits to kill, but otherwise I am having a lot fun with. With Inticreates keeping the DLC coming, I expect to have a lot of fun with this before I’m done with it.

Shin Megami Tensei Apocalypse – I’ve tried to get back into this, but for some reason it just isn’t clicking with me.  Which is odd, because I have liked just about every SMT game I’ve played before this one.  I’m about ten hours into this, but I am having trouble finding the desire to move forward.  I might drop this back and pick up another of my unfinished 3DS games. I am not giving up on this game forever.

Lufia 2 – I wouldn’t believe me either.

Upcoming

Persona 5 – It fell out of the rotation thanks to Final Fantasy XII, but I will get back to in the coming month.

Super Mario Sunshine – I finally got my Wii hooked back up and ready to go. I’ll be getting on this soon.

Super Mario Galaxy – As soon as I am done with Sunshine it is on to what I remember as being one of the greatest games of all time, though I haven’t played since shortly after its release.

Ever Oasis

Ever Oasis, the new 3DS action RPG from Grezzo and Nintendo, is a perfect summer game. It is breezy and bright and cheery. It is great for pulling out to play for twenty or thirty minutes before putting it away for the day or even the week. That makes it sound kind of slight and forgettable, but it is really just perfectly bite sized. It is a rather simple game, but that mostly works in its favor, with the games charm resting in its simplicity.

I previously compared it to Dark Cloud 2 and that comparison fits in the broad strokes. They are both action rpgs with some light dungeon puzzles and city building sim elements. But Dark Cloud is a big, meaty, complex game. It has giant dungeons to explore, several deep character building systems and involved town building sections. It does a lot of thing and does them well. While the game never really clicked for me, I am never surprised when someone tells me that it is a favorite. Ever Oasis offers a lot of the same things, but in this game they are simplified to be almost immediately graspable. There is some weapon building, but it is almost entirely linear. You use weaker weapons to forge stronger weapons, there is nothing like the complex weapons trees of Dark Cloud 2. The dungeons are compact, with easily understandable puzzles and most use the same few tools over and over. And the town building is as simple as placing buildings in a line. I could see some people craving more depth than Ever Oasis has to offer, but it gave me a taste of things I love in games without ever overwhelming me.

I don’t know that Dark Cloud was actually that much of an influence here. The same is true of the other PS2 RPG that it brought to mind, Radiata Stories. Ever Oasis feels like those games, but I can see stronger DNA from The Legend of Zelda, Grezzo previously remade the N64 games for the 3DS, and Secret of Mana, whose creator worked on this as well. It really feels like a synthesis of those two games, with some light town building thrown on top.

As breezy and charming as I found the game, there are parts that don’t work. The biggest problem is that the puzzle solving skills are tied to specific villagers in your oasis. Since you always have the protagonists in your 3 person party, you better hope you don’t encounter more than two types of puzzles that you need to solve. Yes, you can warp back to the oasis with the press of a button, but that takes time away from exploring. Also, some of the town business can grow tedious having to do it every day, despite how much can be automated.

For the most part, though, the game’s charms shine through. It is helped along by bright, cheery graphics and some solid music. It is just fun to be in the world of this game. The actually fighting and exploring mechanics, while simple, are satisfying. The camera is better than most games of this sort, mostly because it uses fixed perspectives. And the story, while mostly a bright and sunny adventure, makes an excellent turn to bittersweet at the end. It isn’t too heavy or crushing, but it does finally show a little weight.

Ever Oasis isn’t a great game, but it is good enough at a enough things to be worth a look. This is a game destined to show up years from now on underrated and overlooked games lists, much like Radiata Stories and Dark Cloud 2. These sorts of games don’t really come around often enough, and I’m glad Nintendo took a chance on this in the waning days of the 3DS.

Ranking Final Fantasy Games

At one time I had planned a whole series of posts that was nothing but lists, but I never got around to getting it started, leaving me with a handful of lists waiting for me to feel like posting them.  The Dragon Quest one already went up, I have a Mario one waiting for me to finish replaying the series to see how it needs to be adjusted and there are a couple more in various stages of being finished.  Lately I’ve been blitzing through Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age, so today I am tossing up my ranking of the Final Fantasy series. The main series; I also have a list of spin offs and direct sequels, but those are another beast entirely. I thought about swapping in some games to take the place of the not present MMO’s, but decided to just leave them off.  11, 14 and 15 are not the list because I haven’t played them.

12. Final Fantasy 2 – I feel like a bully putting this at the bottom, but while it is interesting, it’s just not good.  It is the only game in the series I’ve never felt compelled to complete.

11. Final Fantasy 3 – There is a lot I like about this game, but I’ve only played the DS version and it is a rough draft of the perfected job system from 5.  Still, even this far down on the list is a game I like.

10. Final Fantasy 13 – I actually like this game a whole lot even if it appears unfinished at times. It plays like a fairly unsuccessful combination of 10 and 12, but I enjoyed it well enough.

09. Final Fantasy – The original has a lot of charm even if options for playing it are either brainlessly simple or annoyingly tedious. For all of its faults, I still prefer the NES version. It is a simple game, but there is a lot to love here.

08. Final Fantasy 4 – My enjoyment of this game mostly came from reading Nintendo Power and wishing I could play it. Once I finally got the chance to play it, FF4 never quite clicked with me the way plenty of other SNES JRPGs did.

07. Final Fantasy 8 – I find the plot of this game to be a mess and the junction system is fiddly and breakable, but I still find the game wholly compelling every time I play it.

06. Final Fantasy 10 – It loses the feeling of exploring a real world, but it has one of the best realized stories in the series and a solid battle system.

05. Final Fantasy 5 – This has my favorite character building system in any game. FFV’s job system is perfection.  The story is nothing, but this is a perfect systems game.

04. Final Fantasy 7 – For a long time I had it out for this game. The love it got seemed to detract from what I felt, and still feel, are superior games in the series, like 6 and 9.  But I can’t let that blind me to the fact that this is a phenomenal game.

03. Final Fantasy 9 – It isn’t the best game from a story or systems point of view, but there is something charming about the setting and characters. It is the perfect synthesis of old and new Final Fantasy.

02. Final Fantasy 12 – Playing the remake has solidified just how much I like this game. The gambit system is brilliant and the world is the best in the series.  This is a game you can get lost in for hours and hours. It also has the most underrated cast in the series.

01. Final Fantasy 6 – Still the best in the series. It has a great cast, a terrific story and pretty great systems.  FF6 isn’t just my favorite FF game; it is one of my favorite games of all time.