Tag Archives: Final Fantasy

Why play a Zelda or a Final Fantasy game?

Today I got an interesting question from Vipp in the GameGavel/RetroGaming Roundup Forum…

I am listening to the Stalking The Retro Podcast and you were referring to RPG games again so I wanted to ask you a question. My Fiancée is determined that I am a fan of RPG games because I have 100% on Fallout 1 and 2 including both add-on packs also the same goes for the epic Skyrim, I love these games and play them (even past me 100 percent-ing them all) however I just can’t play or be entertained by Zelda and Final Fantasy or games like these.

What exactly is the difference between these types of games? I really can’t play Zelda and such titles even after trying to invest good time into them. Shinning Force on the Sega Mega Drive is the only title that I found the storyline to be good enough to keep me entertained long enough to fight a few battles but I had my ass handed to me by a set of flying goblins so my playing that title was short lived. Can you write a blog on this issue? Does everyone see Fallout style games in the same way they see the ‘underwhelming’ Final Fantasy Series and so on?
OK Mister Vipp, Challenge accepted!

You see, back in my Childhood days, all I would play are Mario games, and not a lot of anything else, …well I did have some Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles games, but those were franchises that I had already known from TV. I knew about other Nintendo games from my Friends, magazines and what they showed on TV, but I wasn’t hassling my parents to get those games, I wanted the all the Mario titles on my Game Boy and NES.

However, in my pre teen days, I started to have a curiosity about the other Nintendo Franchises. I was about 11, and I remember that I had saved up some money from my Birthday, and had kept it for a while, and back in these days, Mail order games were in the “in-thing”, and I remember seeing an advert in the Nintendo Magazine System for a mail order service, and they had “Zelda: Link’s Awakening” listed as one of the many GameBoy games they had, and I asked my Mother that if I gave her the money would she order it for me. So a cheque was sent in the post, and a week later I received my new game…

This was the version I got, the Nintendo Classics edition with it’s trade mark red border.

For me, this was delving into something that had mystery and uncertain concisenesses as I hardly played a Zelda game before, however I was in for a treat!

The game begins with an introduction with Link being caught at sea in a storm, and a lightening bolt hits him followed with an awesome musical score that got me pumping within seconds of turning the game on.
The game is pretty much like any other Zelda game, you collect items and weapons, sometimes dungeons might possess items or weapons that will progress you in the dungeon. But there are two major factors that made this game different to the others. It was the first Zelda game on a portable, and it was the first Zelda game where Zelda herself is no where to be seen…  …well there’s a girl who looks like Zelda, but her name is Marin. Plus, it’s the first Zelda game not to take place in Hyrule, the kingdom that Zelda games are typically based in. In The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, you find yourself on a deserted land called Kohlint Island with a great big giant egg perched on the top of a mountain.

What I enjoyed about the playing a Zelda Game for the first time was the great amount of puzzle, action, and exploration in the game. Before I even played a Zelda game, I did get a chance to play a Final Fantasy game, Mystic Quest on the SNES. Having now played a Zelda and a Final Fantasy game, I really had an appreciation for the Zelda franchise as I didn’t like the turn based battle system in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. I preferred being able to swing my sword instantly with a press of a button rather than stacking up a list of commands in a Final Fantasy. It felt like I was being Link, rather than being a person commanding battle tactics in Final Fantasy, I was the personally the protagonist, it’s story made you felt like you are Link and that your actions were your actions rather than just a sprite on a screen.

It took me a while before I started to enjoy a turn based battle system…

With the Final Fantasy games, it took me a while to really enjoy these kind of games, as I preferred the Zelda games more real time action approach to gameplay. The way I began to appreciate the Final Fantasy games was their stories and the on going progression that you make in the game as you slowly become stronger and stronger in the game. Sure it can feel like a choir, grinding to level up, but it has a simple life message behind it, working hard provides great results, and that’s what Final Fantasy and other turn based role playing games do.

After playing Mystic Quest, I had a chance to play a bit of Final Fantasy: Legend II on the GameBoy.
In the UK and Europe, the NES Final Fantasy games were not available, and the only Final Fantasy game we got on the SNES was Mystic Quest. However we did get the GameBoy games. I didn’t get to own these games until I started to get a job and get paid, but I used to baby sit a kid who owned Final Fantasy Legend II, and I would play it when he went to bed. This game is meant to be the better of the Final Fantasy Legend games, however I discovered later on that these Final Fantasy games aren’t based in the Final Fantasy Lore, rather they’re actually a different game all together as it’s called the SaGa Series in Japan. So Technically the only “Real” Final Fantasy game us Brits could play was Mystic Quest.
However…
…we did receive Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation!

I first played this game when I was in my Teens, just before it’s sequel, Final Fantasy VIII, was about to come out. At first I didn’t care too much about the game, but it was really a case of playing the game that got me into this.

Now granted… Final Fantasy VII is the most overrated and over-spoken version of the game, but it was the game that actually got me into the series, and finally made me like the turn based battle system. Not only that, but it was the first turn based role playing game whereby it had the Active Battle System in it. ABS was actually introduced in Final Fantasy IV, but us Brits didn’t get a chance to purchase this game. It was released in the US under the name Final Fantasy II, as the US missed Final Fantasy II and III on the NES, which would cause a huge continuity error in the future. But keeping to the subject, the ABS made turn based battling much more interesting as it kept a flow in combat that made it faster and more frantic than before, forcing you to make good decisions at quick speeds, because there’s a chance for the enemies to take two turns as you’re trying to make a decision on what kind of attack to make next.
Not only did the Active Battle System make turn based fighting batter, but Final Fantasy VII had a lot of world map exploration, that reminded me a lot of the Zelda series. But the biggest thing I liked about Final Fantasy VII is it’s bang to the buck! When I got this game in my possession, I actually got the PC version of it, I managed to clock about 60 hours into it until I beat the game. I don’t think I ever played a game for that amount of time before, proving that the game had A LOT to do in it. If it was breeding Gold Chocobos so that you can get the best Summon-able creature, looking for better weapons, working out combining magic to get the best results. It got you in and playing it for hours and hours. It’s a shame that these days I don’t play a single game for that amount of time.
But before I end this blog, I’ll write up a little about the main differences between the two games…

Continuity and Story

As the Legend of Zelda games always play the role of Link, Link himself might actually be of a different generation than the one in previous games, there can be hundreds of years between Zelda games, but the characters will appear again and again, as if there are many comings of these characters. The series itself has a little bit of a continuity issue, as games after Zelda 2: Link’s Adventure, never have a number, and made it hard to know where to put the games in a time line. In the book, Hyrule Historia, the Zelda time line was finally announced after many people and sites had their own ideas on what order the Zelda games come in. Before Hyrule Historia, people believed in something called “The Split time line”, where the time line would split into two lines after Ocarina of Time, and then different games would appear in each time line. However Hyrule Historia describes that there’s actually three splits after the Ocarina of time. It’s a little tough to explain this to someone who’s barely played a Zelda game before, but it’s worth playing them to understand how all the games are connected to each other.
In Final Fantasy, the continuity between games is hard because each game has a different story and world based on it. However some themes, characters and monsters are shared between them. Between Final Fantasy VI and IX there has been a pair of guards called Biggs and Wedge, these names were taken from the pilots in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. From the Japanese Final Fantasy II, a character called Cid, often seen as a captain piloting an air ship, has been seen in every Final Fantasy game since, but he’s been portrayed in different ways, such as age, attitude, and alignment, being either, good, bad or neutral.

Combat

As mentioned above, the Zelda and the Final Fantasy games have very different forms of combat, however combat does change and evolve in each successor. For example, the SNES “Link to the Past”, Link now has a curved swing on his sword rather than his basic thrust seen in the NES game. This is so that you can attack enemies coming at you from your diagonals. In the latest Zelda game, Skyward Sword, the Wii Motion Plus is used to achieve one-to-one sword combat that works very well, and introduces gameplay mechanics such as which way do you swing your sword to certain enemies and understanding attack patterns. 
In Final Fantasy, the ABS system was kept from Final Fantasy IV to Final Fantasy IX. In Final Fantasy X, they got rid of ABS, and went more for a traditional look on turn based combat like the first three Final Fantasy games on the NES/Famicom. However there’s a list on the upper right hand corner of the screen showing you a list of who’s turn is coming up, and this list might change due to different commands you make, they might take longer for you, or might cause the enemy to miss a turn, you could see this happen in the list. Final Fantasy XII had something called the Gambit System, where each Gambit you collected in the game aloud you to “program” the other characters in the game. In Final Fantasy XII, you had no direct control on other allies, however you would “program” them using these Gambits that gave them commands that would be performed under certain conditions. For example you can have “When Leader attacks an Enemy, then attacks Enemy“, where there’s a verb or noun in that command, you have a Gambit, and they would build up different commands you can build for other allies in the game.
So there you have it, there’s Zelda and Final Fantasy in a nutshell…  Sort of…
Vipp being a Shining Force and Fallout fan, I need to keep up with other Role Playing games myself. I did enjoy Fallout 3 a lot, though Fallout 1, 2, and Tactics are different games compared to 3. I actually own the original Fallout games, so I better try and get into them, I’ve only played about thirty minutes of Fallout 1 and 2, so I better give myself more time to play these classics in Vipp’s eyes. Plus I need to get into the Shining series too. I possess Shining in the Darkness and Shining Force, on the Mega Drive, PC and XBox 360 through the Ultimate Mega Drive Collection. I really should get myself to play those too!
I better start questing!

Update!

Whoops, I post this blog up and forgetting something! What games I should recommend to Vipp and other Zelda and Final Fantasy Virgins out there!
In the Zelda Series I would recommend Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time, and Skyward sword as good for newbies to get into the series.
I pick Link’s Awakening as it’s my introduction to the series, Ocarina of Time as it’s the most popular in the series, and Skyward Sword as it’s now the earliest game in the series’ history, not only that but uses motion control very well, possibly the best motion control in any game.
In the Final Fantasy Series I would recommend Mystic Quest, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy XIII.
 
I pick Mystic Quest, because it’s the best for Turn base combat newbies, as Mystic quest is an Entry level Role Playing game, good to learn turn based mechanics and rules. Final Fantasy VI as it’s my favourite Final Fantasy game with the best story in the series. Final Fantasy VII as it was the game that got me into Final Fantasy, it simplifies a lot of things such as not restricting magic to certain classes and characters, meaning any character could do almost everything, it was only the weapons and armour that was restricted. And I finally pick Final Fantasy XIII as it has a very different kind of battle system where you actively switch between different formations to achieve different results such as all out assault, healing, or a mixture of the two. A lot of people shit on the game for being too linear, but I actually liked the game, sure it’s not as good as VI, but it’s still a descent game in my opinion.

What made this Nintendo fan-boy broaden his horizons?

As a kid in the nineties, Super Mario was my hero, and Nintendo is where you played Mario games. My first experience with Sega and Sonic wasn’t a great one as I thought it was too fast and too hard for my 7 year old mind. So through out the nineties I was a big supporter and fan of Nintendo, disliking Sega, and eventually disliking Sony due to the PlayStation’s “slow” loading discs. But by the turn of the Millennium, my tastes in video games were going to grow a lot, but how did this once Nintendo Fan boy buy himself a PlayStation in 2001 you ask?!

Dance Dance Revolution and Dancing Stage…

Yup, it’s a little embarrassing to admit it, but when I went to the Millennium Dome in London back in 1999, there was a tiny arcade inside, and one of the few machines inside, with a couple of Pinball machines and crane games was a Dancing Stage. For those outside Europe, Dancing Stage was the name to Dance Dance Revolution in Europe, no idea why, hunting on Google and Wikipedia didn’t give any results either, but regardless to the name change, it was the same game by Konami with a couple of licensed tracks thrown in. I popped in a £1 coin and began to play the game. As to anyone playing a dance machine for the first time, I was terrible at it, but at least I got to my third and final round before failing. There was a lady in this tiny booth watching me play the game. And when I had finished she walked out and pulled out a plush toy from one of the crane games and had told me that I was the only person who had gotten to the third round since the Millennium Dome was opened. I was kinda chuffed, accepted the toy, and began to think on how to could get that game home.

That’s where it struck me. The only Nintendo versions of Dancing Stage and Dance Dance Revolution were only available in Japan, there was a version on Game Boy Color that came with a mini platform you mounted on top on the portable as you make your fingers do the dancing. I thought that was pretty silly (I say that when most people think stomping your feat on pink and blue glass panels is silly!), there was an actual version of DDR on the N64 in Japan, but it was the Disney Rave Mix, Disney “Rave” Mix? I’d hate to see what happens to Mickey when dropping Es at a rave. In the mean while, I was waiting to go on holiday to the coast to scour the piers and arcades for actual Dance Machines. The waiting and hoping that a version of DDR and Dancing Stage could appear on the N64, Dancing Stage Euro Mix got released in 2001 for the PlayStation. At that point I thought to myself, I can’t play DDR on the N64, I gotta go and get myself one of those “Slow Loading” PlayStations. At the time the PS2 was reaching it’s first year in Europe, and I didn’t care for it then, I wanted to see how cheap I could get a PlayStation 1 just so I could get my DDR fix. Before Christmas of 2001, I managed to buy an original PlayStation 1, not the PSOne, from a bloke at a Market/Car Boot sale for £40 (I still regret paying that price for a second-hand PlayStation) and got myself a copy of Dancing Stage Euro Mix and a dance mat from GAME. So I got what I wanted, a system that I got my DDR fix from. But as time slowly moved on, I would return to the same car boot sale for other PlayStation games that might grab my interest.

Someone bought this for £94.90!? Ouch…

Going with the Rhythm game theme, Europe got Beat Mania, think DJ Hero before DJ Hero existed, and was made by Konami, the same people who made Dancing Stage and DDR. It was a pack that came with a poorly made turn table controller that broke on me. I handed it back to the bloke at the car boot and demanded a refund, but he refused; at around the same time I noticed that GAME were selling off copies of Beat Mania to clear space in their warehouses for a fiver a piece, I bought one, then handed over the one I bought from the Car Boot Sale inside the box that I got from GAME to get my money back.

And into more Rhythm Games, I got a copy of Vib Ribbon. Now this is an interesting game as it never got a US release. Developed by Nana Onsha, the same team behind Parappa the Rapper. Vib Ribbon was a simple game whereby you jump over obstacles of different shapes generated from the sound being made from your music CDs. There are 8 different obstacles, each obstacle had to be jumped over in a different way by pressing a different button on the PlayStation controller; some required you to press two buttons at once. Think of this game like a Canabalt or Temple Run; you play as a wire frame bunny rabbit character who is running to the right (or the left depending on the camera angle) and you jump over holes and walls, it’s a rhythm version of an endless runner game, except it’s not really endless as the level would end at the end of the track.

Something a little different from Rhythm games, Final Fantasy IX. Before I got the PlayStation, I owned the PC version of Final Fantasy VII, and loved the crap out of it. There was a version of Final Fantasy VIII for the PC, but I didn’t know where to find a copy, and Final Fantasy IX never had a PC release. But with my own PlayStation, and a WH Smith £10 book voucher, I got myself a copy of Final Fantasy IX. For the time I had it I enjoyed it, though I didn’t beat it, and by the time the GameCube came out, I traded it in for a copy of Super Smash Bros Melee at a local small Games Shop that I would eventually hate big time.

After this revelation in gaming, this Nintendo Fan Boy was fan boy no more, my taste in games were broaden, and soon after picked myself up a DreamCast, and used eBay and Car Boot sales to pick up other consoles such as the Master System, a Mega Drive, and later on pick up a TurboGrafx and an Atari 2600.

So yeah, DDR made me like other systems, Let’s dance!

Dont ask me why exercising anthropomorphic rabbits and Cotton Eye Joe have in common…  Only Konami knows! lol!