Ask a million Final Fantasy fans what their "Perfect Final Fantasy" is, and you would get a million different responses. It would have to have Gambits, say, or Sephiroth, or Cecil, or the music from Final Fantasy VI. Everyone has their sentimental favorite game in the series.
But pretty much every game in the series has at least one element that really stands out, and in cobbling together a "Perfect Final Fantasy," these are the elements that are worth highlighting. So with that, here's a list of the features that I would lift from each Final Fantasy if I were to craft my own perfect entry in the series, with the following caveats:
1. No Final Fantasy II, III, or XIV: I don't think Final Fantasy II or III are all that good. There's a reason no one really talks about them. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has been getting positive buzz, but it's still too new to know what to nick from it.
2. No pseudo-sequels or spinoffs: The less said about Final Fantasy X-2, the better.
Alright! Those are the ground rules. Let's jump right in. If your perfect Final Fantasy formula looks different, leave a comment below laying out what your dream game might look like.
Man, I love the Four Fiends. They're big, they're scary, and above all, they're hard. The Lich in paricular utterly ruined me the first time I fought him, resisting my physical attacks and keeping me off-balance with status effects like Sleep. Besides Chaos, and of course the Warriors of Light, the Four Fiends are the high point of the original Final Fantasy, and they have to be in our Perfect Final Fantasy, soundtrack included.
The Lunar Whale is pretty much the embodiment of Final Fantasy's appeal. On the one hand, you have this traditional fantasy world, with swords, sorcery, and goblins. On the other, you have giant mechanical statues, hovercrafts, and a whale that takes you to the moon. The Lunar Whale would feel completely random in any other game, but in Final Fantasy, it makes a strange sort of sense. After dealing with time travel in the original game, why wouldn't you travel to the moon to fight an unholy terror from beyond the stars? And besides, it's a giant space whale. When choosing the best airship, the Lunar Whale should be the only option.
My first encounter with Gilgamesh was in Final Fantasy VIII, it was only later that I realized his origins were in Final Fantasy V. A sort of sympathetic antagonist, he is eventually banished to the Interdimensional Rift, apparently doomed to wander through Final Fantasy for all time. He's a coward with a heart of gold -- the Shaggy Rogers of Final Fantasy. Whenever I see Gilgamesh in a Final Fantasy, I feel like I've come home.
Great music is Final Fantasy's calling card. It's been so good for so long that Square Enix was able to make a whole game out of it, and even then, there were some notable omissions. We can all agree that Final Fantasy VI has the best soundtrack though, right? It has the best character theme (Terra), the best villain theme (Kefka), the best final boss theme (Dancing Mad)... I could go on. If "Atma Weapon" and "The Fierce Battle" were simply lifted and dropped straight into our Perfect Final Fantasy, you certainly wouldn't hear me complaining.
The Golden Chocobo was the stuff of legend when I was in high school. You simply hadn't finished Final Fantasy VII until you had successfuly bred a Golden Chocobo and found the Knights of the Round -- the ultimate summon that is instrumental in defeating Emerald and Ruby Weapon. I'll be honest though, I don't actually care about the Knights of the Round all that much. I just like breeding Chocobos like Pokemon. How has this not been in every Final Fantasy since?
Whenever I sit down to replay Final Fantasy VIII I immediately get sucked into Triple Triad. It looks simple at first, but as the rules get more complex, so does the gameplay. It's a sidequest that activates my "gotta catch 'em all" gene, prompting me to crisscross the world looking for players with unique cards, all the while sharing new rules with Galbadia, Esther, and the Moon. Blitzball comes close, but you'll never find a deeper or more entertaining RPG sidequest than Triple Triad.
Final Fantasy IX's secret weapon is its sense of humor. Vivi and Steiner alone are able to draw more affectionate laughs between them than pretty much every other Final Fantasy combined. One reason the humor works so well is the optional vignettes sprinkled throughout the story, which shows what other characters are up to when off-camera. Whether depicting Steiner doing chores for a girl at a local pub, or Garnet's vain attempts to fit in with society, they manage to be both illuminating and charming. This sort of whimsy is sorely missed in the later games.
It feels almost sacrilegious to leave the venerable Active Time Battle system out of this list, but when I think of great combat in Final Fantasy, I invariably go back to Final Fantasy X. Its pacing is just about perfect -- a turn-based system that somehow manages to feel fast and fluid. Particularly interesting is the fact that it's possible to switch party members into battle at will. There's an argument to be made, I suppose, that it makes Final Fantasy X too easy, but I like that it includes everyone, not just the three or four random characters you happen to pick. Shame there hasn't been anything like it since.
If you were wondering how long it would take me to mention the Job System, well, here we are. The Job System has been a Final Fantasy staple going all the way back to Final Fantasy III, but I particularly like the expression it finds in Final Fantasy XI, the series' first MMO. As before, it's possible to pick a primary class and a secondary class from a pool that includes the Warrior, Black Mage, and Fighter, as well as more esoteric jobs like the Puppetmaster. But Final Fantasy XI also includes a wide variety of races, all of whom have their own traits and stats, which adds another layer of depth to the customization. Properly balanced, it's the system that offers the best mix of accessibility, depth, and tradition for our Perfect Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy XII's characters, combat, and overall sense of maturity all get plenty of love from diehard fans, but the one thing binding all of these strengths together is Ivalice. Having been formed by multiple appearances across Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII, it's easily the most interesting of all of Final Fantasy's myriad settings (though I have a soft spot in my heart for the steampunk world of Midgar). Its just fantastic enough to justify the existence of, say, a Lunar Whale or Chocobo Breeding, but also grounded enough that it feels like a living, breathing world. And apart from all that, it's absolutely huge, making exploration a joy. For those reasons, if we're to make a Perfect Final Fantasy, then setting it in Ivalice feels like a given.
I know Lightning gets all of the attention from Square Enix, but c'mon, we all know that the real heart and soul of Final Fantasy XIII is Sazh Katzroy. In a cast of anime archetypes that mostly speak in heroic platitudes, Sazh is the only sane man, a guy who really only wants to find his son. He brings a refreshing dash of humanity to an otherwise sterile story, and in the process, he establishes himself as one of the most likable Final Fantasy characters ever. Every Final Fantay needs a Sazh.
Kat Bailey is a freelance Pokemon Master. You can follow her on Twitter at @The_Katbot.
Source : ign[dot]com