Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 28, 2014

Email: Replaying Final Fantasy on the NES and the future of the series

Hello Master Malstrom,

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I recently got the Retro gaming bug, and purchased an NES from Disc Replay and made sure everything is working correctly! I have bought many games, including Final Fantasy. I started playing the series on the Playstation as VII was my first game and loved it. Then I started to play its classic games with IV and VI (FF2, and 3 on the SNES). I notice how different the series has changed since Square transitioned from supporting Nintendo with the Franchise to Sony, and to be honest, I don’t like where the series is heading. I have played all Playstation FF’s and VIII being praised as the best FF ever from the fanboys has me a different view as it was the start of the down turn of the series.
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FFVIII was the start of Square now more catering to the Japanese market, with so many J-Pop themes and high school love story. Sakaguichi started to believe he was competent on making movies due to the cutscenes and making the entire franchise more like a cinematic simulator.
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Fastforward today, this is Final Fantasy XV
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What has happened to the Series? This new group of characters look like a generic boy band! The Japanese influence is strong and I have no doubt that this game will cripple Square Enix in cash as it taking 9 plus years to make.
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What has happened to Final Fantasy? Why do you ask such questions? You might as well ask ‘How high is the sky?’ or ‘How deep is the ocean’ or ‘Who is Sean Malstrom?’
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I think a better question is to ask what made Final Fantasy so epic in the first place. I love, love, love the first game (as well as the SNES titles). I ought to play Final Fantasy III using a language patched emulated version.
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I’ll give you one clue why I love the early FF games (I, IV, VI) aside from good fundamentals, etc. The games do an AMAZING job of contextualizing.
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Examples in Final Fantasy I:
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The ‘game’ is about killing Garland and saving the princess. You do that and cross the bridge. Only THEN does the intro credits begin. The game was trying to say, “Ahh, you thought the game was over. But the truth is that the game has just begun!” I really like how you slowly go through the world. I like how you go to a town conquered by pirates, kill the pirates to save the town, then you get a boat! I love the ancient technology in the game such as flying castles and shit up in the north where ‘civilization has crumbled’. Quite ominous!
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Final Fantasy succeeds when it is mythical. Mythical means the further back in time, the greater the technology (the opposite of modernity where future is where better technology is).
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Examples in Final Fantasy IV:
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The plot twists are crazy fun. Oh, a little girl. Girl casts Titan. Giant Earthquake! hahahaha I love how the characters join and leave your character at will. But there is always that contextual shift. OH LOOK! THERE IS THE UNDERWORLD! And you thought you were done! But that isn’t enough. OH LOOK! THERE IS THE MOON! The game seems huge by lowering your expectations of what the world size is early on.
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Examples in Final Fantasy VI:
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OH LOOK! WE BLEW UP THE WORLD AND EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! That’s pretty cool. If you want an experience like Final Fantasy VI, I suggest Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle (but do play Part I first). VI didn’t use technology as the mythological greater past but magic itself. At the end of the game, all your characters are casting Ultima and watching shit die to 9999 damage. So overpowered! So fun!
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I need to replay Final Fantasy I…. again. I usually go with the Fighter, Ninja, Black W, White W vanilla combo. I have done the 4 White W thing which is so not fun. With 4 White W, you just run from everything in the dungeon over and over and over skipping all chests (because they can’t equip anything anyway). I’d like the try the Red Mage but BW/WW magic is soooo good.

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