WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

The worst thing that ever happened to Japanese RPGs was Final Fantasy VII. In 1997, Square had grown weary of Nintendo's bold and crappy experiment with chunky cartridge-based entertainment and jumped the Nintendo ship to land the next game in their enormously popular franchise in the calm, welcoming Sony port-of-call. For those of us who cut our teeth on RPGs with the Final Fantasy franchise, this move seemed like the ultimate betrayal...for about three seconds until we saw the screen-shots and any allegiances we may have had went careening off a cliff on a snowboard.

It had three-dimensional graphics! The game spanned like seventeen discs! There was a black guy in it, and he cursed! Final Fantasy VII wiped clean our preconceived notions of what an RPG was supposed to be. Until then, they were 2D, top-down dungeon crawlers with battles taking place on a mostly static screen with animation limited to a sword slicing or some sparkling pixels (the sparkling pixels meant magic). But it wasn't just the graphical leap that captured our stupid imaginations, it was a whole new convoluted storyline with a twist right there at the end of disc one. You know, the part when Aeris dies. (THE PRECEDING SENTENCE MAY HAVE CONTAINED SPOILERS).

The unintended consequence of that story-telling decision was to create a world in which many gamers point to the Aeris-dying moment as the moment some gamers point to as the moment when a game was able to make them cry. For those of you not "in the know," a game making you cry is a very important event for gaming. You see, if a game can draw from its player the same sort of emotion that a book or a movie can, then games will finally be art. This is extremely important, for some reason, that games be considered art, and so those people who cried when Aeris died consider FFVII to be the moment when games crossed the threshold from electronic distraction to high-art. Have you ever been on a gaming message board ? There's going to be a Sephiroth variant among the users. Sometimes, more than one

"I can't believe we're having this conversation AGAIN."


Final Fantasy "6" was the last of the 2D Final Fantasy games. I put the number "6" in quotation marks because despite it being the sixth title in Japan, for those of us in the United States it was actually Final Fantasy III. Hence the release title, "Final Fantasy III." I refuse to retcon my childhood by referring to it as anything but FFIII, and if I do, I make sure to reference the fact that the nerds won in referring to it as Final Fantasy "6," but it's not the good kind of nerd-winning, like at the end of a Hollywood movie where the nerd catches a touchdown pass, or punches the bully, or founds the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It's where nerds themselves become the bullies and force everyone else to succumb to their nerdish nit-pickery. Well it's Final Fantasy III to me and as far as Virtual Console is concerned, it's Final Fantasy III to them, too. Ha ha, nerds! That's straight from the top!

So why is FFVII the worst thing that happened to JRPGs? Because it defined what JRPGs would be for the next...forever. Ridiculous costumes, over-wrought story line, seemingly impenetrable system for spell casting. Oh yeah, and racial stereotypes.

There is a legion of hopeless fans who will argue until their dying breath that Final Fantasy VII is the greatest game of all time. There are more fans who will argue that is among the finest pieces of art ever created by human beings. But it just doesn't hold up. Go back and play it again, with a critical eye. The graphics...there's no consistency there. Sometimes they're hyper-realistic. Sometimes they're hyper-deformed.


"They're just shoulders. No one will notice."


I don't want to seem like one of those kids who's too cool for school. I really loved FFVII when it came out. It was a game changer, no question. I still carry with me fond memories of it, but I can also see its flaws. I honestly couldn't play through it again. The summon animations alone, while initially impressive, grew pretty tiring near the end of the game, especially if you spent the time to collect the Knights of the Round. And the in the PSN version, the summons are still unskippable.

Final Fantasy "6," on the other hand, holds up. The simpler, colorful 16-bit graphics exude a charm that used to be included in every box of delicious JRPGs. The limitations of the system meant that every pixel, every blip and bloop and beep, had to be dug forth from the CPU of the SNES with deliberate effort. Think of an old blues guitarist playing some licks. Those looks on his face, when he plucks a note? He plucked that note from deep within the very essence of his soul. That's what the best 16-bit games do. Games with higher graphical fidelity flex their muscles by doing all sorts of cool tricks, but 16-bit games had to fight for every kilobyte of memory and the results are, when properly executed, more thought-out, more soulful, than any wiz-bang polygonal tom-foolery.

It's not just the charming graphics, it's the characters and the story. Where FFVII's story seems often convoluted, the story in FF"6" feels...well, it's kind of convoluted, too, but it lacks that "shocking" moment FFVII has in Aeris' death, and that makes it, at the very least, seem like it genuinely evokes an emotional connection to its many characters. FFVII just killed off Aeris because no one really expected it. It was supposed to show how bad of a dude Sephiroth is, but come on. It was a cheap moment in story-telling, the sort of trick you're taught in an intro to screenwriting class.

The slow-motion means it's DRAMATIC, you guys.



Bottom line, if you feel nostalgic you can get Final Fantasy VII on PSN for a mere $9.99, or you can get Final Fantasy III (as it should be) on Wii Virtual Console for 800 Wii Points, or about eight bucks. I recommend you go with FFIII, as it holds up better than its sequel.

Seth Macy writes fun stuff and co-hosts on the F List Podcast, which you should check out right now. Which FF game is the least overwrought and annoying to you? Let us know in the comments!

 

zetec


quality posts: 0 Private Messages zetec

Bad troll is bad.

vichussmith


quality posts: 0 Private Messages vichussmith

This weird, way too late-to-the-conversation semi-trollish old man nonsense deserves nothing.

Who's left to even argue this? We've been arguing this since FF VII came out. Who cares about your, my, or any opinion on this anymore? It's all good, it's all bad, 3D ruined everything, 3D is great.

Stop buying FF Games. Play another RPG series. Go away.

"The art style is inconsistent..." You think it just SLIPPED the developers minds? It's a cutscene. I thought WOOT was supposed to be funny. I guess that was supposed to be mosquitoic humor, but I guess it flew over my freakin' head.

I am me.

jeffathomp


quality posts: 1 Private Messages jeffathomp

Off Course, FF VII had terrible quality control.

FFIX is my Final Fantasy.

sethorama


quality posts: 2 Private Messages sethorama
jeffathomp wrote:Off Course, FF VII had terrible quality control.

FFIX is my Final Fantasy.



This is the correct answer.

sethorama


quality posts: 2 Private Messages sethorama
vichussmith wrote:
"The art style is inconsistent..." You think it just SLIPPED the developers minds? It's a cutscene.



The art style between the cutscenes was inconsistent.

itsumademootaku


quality posts: 1 Private Messages itsumademootaku
sethorama wrote:[FFIX is the best] This is the correct answer.




I have a lot of friends who say this. I have a hard time agreeing.

Unlike many of you olds, my first Final Fantasy was VII. After VII and VIII (YES, I LOVED VIII, And X, and X-2 LIVE WITH IT) IX was kind of... meh. I couldn't get into it. The characters were difficult to feel a connection with and the story felt a bit predictable, even anti-climactic.

(Full disclosure: At the time, I didn't know what GameFAQs was, so I was pretty pissed off about the use-this-code-online strategy guide...)

Maybe it's because I've never been much for the whole fantasy genre. To me the whole princess-magic-lute-playing thing gets very cookie-cutter. I guess in the end I'm just hoping for something that is different, something that digs deeper, something that makes you forget how repetitive some of the elements of RPG playing are.

And I think it's a personality types thing. I know people who get all twisted up with things change. Me? I think change should be embraced even when it doesn't work. At least they tried.

Vaelin


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Vaelin

I'd agree with the recommendation to pick up FF6 over FFVII if you're looking to go back and play one for nostalgia purposes.

While both are good games in their own right, there are better 3D RPGs out there these days than FFVII, as others have pointed out. FFVII was the beginning of incorporating 3-D cut-scenes and graphics into the storytelling/gameplay of RPGs. It was a starting point for integrating the new technology into the RPG game space. It doesn't seem to have aged as well because there are more mature modern equivalents that do this better. Now, this is a gameplay and storytelling observation, some may find the actual story of FFVII more compelling then alternatives.

FFIII (FF6) is one of the best of the 16-bit RPGs (Chrono Trigger is another good example). The storytelling and gameplay mechanics for that game format using 16-bit sprites was very mature at the time. Square really should port them to Android or iOS and sell them to the mobile market.

dukeofwulf


quality posts: 7 Private Messages dukeofwulf

Trolling at its finest.

Or, at least, I hope it's trolling. If not, this article was awful.

If you're interested, the link below is a long but worth-it discussion between a long-time FF7 fan and someone who has heard lots about it but is playing it as they write the article series. Reading these articles is like playing the game again with new eyes.

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2011/03/the-final-fantasy-vii-letters-part-1-welcome-to-mi.html

mikejenkins


quality posts: 0 Private Messages mikejenkins

Final Fantasy III (or VI if you're Japanese) was alright, but there were much better 16 bit RPGs. Phantasy Star IV and Chrono Trigger immediately come to mind.

Listen2Reason


quality posts: 4 Private Messages Listen2Reason

What, no love for Final Fantasy IV/2? If you want to know what Joseph Campbell was talking about with the Hero's Journey, don't bother with Star Wars, play Final Fantasy IV.

cappo


quality posts: 29 Private Messages cappo

I never played a Final Fantasy game past the SNES III.

My loyalty wasn't so easily shredded as the author's. ;)


endangereddelicacies


quality posts: 2 Private Messages endangereddelicacies

I don't think it's fair comparing VII to VI (and yes, it's VI to me, b/c I played it in japanese on the Super Famicom).

When Square made VI the SNES was already a mature platform and 2D RPGs were firmly established in gaming. Square itself had already made a half-dozen RPG's for the SNES alone, and were able to push the hardware to the point where the graphics and especially the music still hold up today. They already knew how to make a character look surprised with only a few sprites, what was intuitive in terms of gameplay and mechanics, etc... they just had to perfect it.

Compare that to when they made VII-- the console and the 3d (J)RPG genre were completely new to square (and gaming in general). They didn't know what was important graphically: yes, you can jam FMV after FMV onto these gigantic 700 disks-- how were they to know the interactive graphics were just as important? How do you organize an area so that it's intuitive where you can walk, and where the entrance/exits are? How do you animate things, when you realize that this amazing new console isn't actually powerful enough to render more than a few dozen polygons per character? This made the story and character development secondary for the team.

The games were also different because VII was the first game that was designed with non-Japanese players in mind. (Evidence: Square made FFVII much easier than previous games in the series, much as they made the US version of FFIV/II intentionally easier). And as every Japanese person knows/thinks, Americans and Westerners love soppy stories and dislike traditional Save-the-World-from-Evil-Crazy-Klown and Fight-the-Dragon-and-Save-The-Queen RPG plots. Thus, story lines like VII are born. And made much worse in VIII.

jai151


quality posts: 8 Private Messages jai151

You're all wrong. FF5 is the peak of the series.

sombraala


quality posts: 4 Private Messages sombraala

Why you making me choose between my Final Fantasies? That's like making a parent choose between children.

One of the wonderful things about these games is how much they are different while still being similar.

Both III/VI and VII were fantastic games, games that I don't think we can truly appreciate as much in retrospect now that the things they brought to the table are mainstream. I remember playing each for the first time and thinking "wow"...

Isn't that enough? I mean, sure - if you really want to choose between the to, have at it... but I'm not gonna choose like that.

dignan17


quality posts: 2 Private Messages dignan17

Come on folks, this isn't trolling. The premise for this article was the idea of what holds up, and to do that you need to put some time between you and the things you're talking about.

For me, I'd like to quote every line of the article and follow it with a one word comment: "agreed"

I'll remind Mr Seth Macy that while FFIII didn't have the Aeris moment**, it did have a pretty big emotional moment when Kefka pretty much blows the world up.

Personally, though, I agree with a previous poster, and FFII was my favorite. That's probably just because it was the first one I played, so it probably holds a bigger place in my childhood, if only slightly.

Oh, and it IS FFII and FFIII! There was never an FF4 or FF6 played on my SNES, damnit!


**about the Aeris moment: I totally agree. I never got what the big deal was about that. I remember, even as a little kid, that when she got killed I was like "well, I didn't really know anything about her or understood who the heck she was." So while it was a little sad, I didn't really see the big deal. The ridiculous story got in the way of its own emotional cheap shot.

tdub415


quality posts: 0 Private Messages tdub415

You can get Final Fantasy VI on PSN as well, where they have the 'proper' naming convention.

Bozanimal


quality posts: 6 Private Messages Bozanimal
WootBot wrote:There is a legion of hopeless fans who will argue until their dying breath that Final Fantasy VII is the greatest game of all time.


That's silly; everyone knows that The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time is the greatest game of all time.

saviormachine


quality posts: 0 Private Messages saviormachine

Agreed. FF3 was brilliant and FF7 was bollocks.

clanecks


quality posts: 16 Private Messages clanecks

Eh, while I agree with the bottom line, there are some finer points missed here.

First, character stereotypes ALWAYS existed in JRPGs. The amnesia-stricken protagonist; the villain-transformed-by-tragic-past; the aloof-but-actually-passionate-companion. The klutzy-but-kind girls. Especially the girls. As well, ridiculous costumes always existed too. The only difference is, FF7 brought them to polygonal life with CG cut scenes whereas previously all the over-the-top costumes were conveniently hidden in squashed sprites. And speaking of sprites, Having polygons is not the same as 3D. In fact, the pretenders backgrounds make FF7 simply a difficult-to-navigate 2D mess. It wasn't until PS2 to come along before we finally moved on from the pretenders ridiculousness for good. Ugh.

In the end, what made the difference for me personally is the fact that the story for FF6 was not simply "talk-to-npc-to-go-to-next-town". Every town had a purpose. Even dungeon-crawling was littered with story elements that made references to places and events beyond the immediate setting. For example, Locke's Phoenix cave and Rachel's amnesia; crazy old man who built a colosseum; among others. Whereas in FF7, everything was "dungeon x is uniquely related to town x and nothing more". In that way, everything was highly mechanical and modular.

Oh, as many have pointed out, Aeris's death scene has enough cheese for a fondue night for a group of emotional nerds, assume that they are not lactose intolerant. Frankly, I'm surprised that there isn't a Weird Al's version of "When Nerds Cry" a la Prince,

I am not responsible for this post.

lxii


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lxii

VI.

I love IV even more.

omnia mutantur, nihil interit

traviss63


quality posts: 0 Private Messages traviss63

Look out for Seth's blog next week "Walking to school in six feet of snow, uphill both ways"...

This totally seems like an old man rant... "They just don't make em like they used to..." You know why? Cause they used to suck! and in 10 years everything we play now will be classics and Seths kid will have a blog why Call of Duty Black Ops 2 was the worst thing to happen to FPS.

But to those questioning the timing or relevance of this opinion, FFVII was just re-released for PC.

q334r50


quality posts: 2 Private Messages q334r50

Full disclosure, I'm playing FF '6' advance right now, not because of the post, I started a week ago. And I'm not even a Final Fantasy fan, FFVII was the last Final Fantasy I played.

I'm replaying Final Fantasy '6' because it was designed to be replayed. That's probably the biggest difference to me -- one is a ... movie or something, the other is a game, where the point is to wring as much numbers out of every situation as possible. A roguelike even, not in the cannonical definition of the word, but because all such games encourage "rogue-like" (exploitative, min-maxing, opportunistic, cunning etc.) behavior.

For example, for my current ff "6" Low Level game, Setzer's fixed dice -- for certain situations -- goes from being useless to being a ray of hope. A character entirely overlooked suddenly becomes the hero that can save the day. And the formerly inconsequential roll of the dice becomes suddenly important, the difference between victory and defeat.

The consequence is that, like all good games, it's elements -- bitmaps, bits of story, statistics, scenery, music, etc. -- become "chesspeices" that one can rearrange by oneself -- and the story is one that one writes oneself, or rather, assembled together like some awful Frankenstein. Thus, FF "6" allows one -- and this is the charm of "games" as oppposed to "experiences" -- to go from being a consumer to a writer, mostly because of the relative robustness and simplicity of the game world. The big advantage of 2D over 3D is in fact that the latter is less representative but more significant.

saintstryfe


quality posts: 0 Private Messages saintstryfe

FF6 is one of the greatest games ever produced. That said, I fully disagree with your statment FF6 didn't have a "Shock" moment.

It had a long series of shock moments, all mid-game

(the following is spoilers if you haven't played it. If this is so, get thee to an emulator, or at least a PS2 and buy the PS1 version of the game)

Kefka kills the Emperor
Kefka kills General Leo
Kefka kills the Espers
Kefka blows up the world
Celes tries to commit suicide.

Honestly, the first half, the World of Light, is fantastic. THe second half is a little less so:You go around gathering your toons to go to the Kefka raid. It's like proto-World of Warcraft.

But that said, it's still damn near perfect. I can replay it any time.

saintstryfe


quality posts: 0 Private Messages saintstryfe
clanecks wrote:Eh, while I agree with the bottom line, there are some finer points missed here.

First, character stereotypes ALWAYS existed in JRPGs.



I think he's referring to the racial stereotypes - eg how Barrett is portrayed.

ganome


quality posts: 3 Private Messages ganome

6 was the last truly good final fantasy. but overall final fantasy is over rated, there are a ton of better Jrpgs out there

amorphousalias


quality posts: 5 Private Messages amorphousalias

I <3 you so much Woot. So much.

7 was a blight.

HOWEVER Chrono Trigger was, and is, the best Final Fantasy.

sweeeptheleg


quality posts: 0 Private Messages sweeeptheleg
amorphousalias wrote:

HOWEVER Chrono Trigger was, and is, the best Final Fantasy.



even if this is a joke, it still makes me shake my head.

chrono trigger is my vote for favorite rpg of all time, but it's damn near blasphemous (even in jest) to call it a FF

whatever85


quality posts: 0 Private Messages whatever85

I'm glad we're having this discussion, because I much prefer the FF series to any FPS. Let's face it, MMP are awful, shooters are even worse, and at least I can bask in the glow of the Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts series, and not have to turn in my controller in complete disgust. And while I'm at it, I think what game you care most for, has more to do with when you started playing, and your emotional connection to the story than anything else. My first FF was 8, (logging in over 100 hours) and the team that did 8 and 10 was different from the 7, 9 series. All Square fans know that.

wolfdrgyn


quality posts: 0 Private Messages wolfdrgyn

If "6" must needs be III because "That's what it says on my SNES cartridge, consarnit!" then how do you distinguish between "Let's not confuse the Americans who didn't get II, III, or V" III and actual III that we can all play now because it's been ported to the DS and localized for North America?