In lieu of my usual Backlogged post for the week (and because I haven’t really been doing much other than playing WoW obsessively), I’ve decided to return to my Final Fantasy rankings for the next installment. I really wasn’t expecting the outpouring of support that X-2 got, but I still won’t be including it in the main list; perhaps it’ll get its own special section next time around, though. For now, I return to the list at spot #7…
7. Final Fantasy XII– There was a pretty long wait between X, the first Final Fantasy on the PS2, and this one, which came out in 2006. This was a time at which I was still really uncomfortable with real-time combat, which put me in an awkward position regarding the game. It was Final Fantasy. I had been waiting a long time. But it wasn’t really turn-based. What was I to do? Well, what I did was pick up the game anyway, of course. Even after playing the demo (which was initially included with Dragon Quest VIII, a game that I didn’t like at all–but that’s a story for another time), I still wasn’t sure, but I was determined to persevere for the good of my fandom. It did, admittedly, take me a while to get into XII, but it did eventually happen. In fact, it happened so well that I spent close to a hundred hours diving into side quests and tracking down elusive Espers. I liked the License Board system, although many of my characters ended up with essentially the exact same configuration of skills; my biggest problem with the skill progression, though, was that if a character isn’t in a battle, he or she gains no experience, meaning that if you neglect someone (in my case, it was most frequently Penelo, who can die in a fire), and then are forced to use them, say, if the rest of your party dies in battle, then you’re just well and truly fucked. In order to give yourself the best chance possible, you really do need to switch out party members so that they stay, if not level with each other, at least functional. I hated that. I prefer to get into a comfortable routine with a party that I like, and stick with it, so I fought that feature for a while. It didn’t work out too well. It is nice, though, that you aren’t forced to keep any particular character in your party at any one time, so instead of dealing with Vaan the Giant Vagina, I generally kept Ashe as my leader. My Ashe was a raging badass.
6. Final Fantasy VI– It’s probably my own fault that I don’t have more of an appreciation for the SNES era FF installments; since I never had a Nintendo console until the N64, I didn’t really get to play them at all until later ports came out, and by that time the flashier 3D versions had captured my attention more effectively. That said, it’s hard to ignore a game with a story as good as VI’s. I find it fascinating when series like this take a facet of their particular mythology and actually bring it into the spotlight, which is what this game does with the Espers; instead of merely serving as battle bitches who c0me out and lay the smack down when called, they’re actually an integral part of the storyline, which I found really neat. Plus, you know, there’s political intrigue, forbidden love, betrayal, and ninjas! Who doesn’t love ninjas?
5. Final Fantasy IV– I know I’m not alone when I note that I relatively recently replayed IV upon its rerelease on the DS, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it would probably have been higher up on the list if there wasn’t so damn much grinding involved to make it through. I know it’s kind of a non-unique complaint with these games, particularly the older titles, but it just seems to stick out more in my memory with this one. Remember the Moon? Remember how TERRIBLE the Moon is? Yeah. The Moon doesn’t fuck around. For serious. However, the awesomeness of the characters makes up for it, along with some seriously unforgettable plot moments. Cecil’s conversion from Dark Knight to Paladin on the mountain has got to be one of the coolest, best-told vignettes in video game storytelling that I can remember, and I’d wager many who have played the game would agree with me. Sure, there are some more contrived elements, like the weak little girl who magically transforms into a summoning badass, but overall, I’d say IV just barely edges out VI on my list.
4. Final Fantasy V– Yeah, yeah, I know. How could I put this above the beloved classics on the list? Two words for you, my friend. Job system. I’m a sucker for ‘em, and it was this game that really made me into one. I can take or leave the story; in fact, I confess that I had to hit up Wikipedia for a refresher on what exactly the story was (give me a break, it’s been a while), but the insane level of customization that the job system in this game gives you for your party is enough to catapult it this high on my list. I *wanted* to level grind, because every battle got me that much closer to giving my characters the mastery of the skills that I wanted them to have. I’ve been wanting to play this again for a while… maybe I’ll get into that. Samurai are awesome.
So, that’s the second portion of my list… only three left! Once again, I want to hear your thoughts, and look for the top of the list soon….