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Should I post some other such reviews?
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I really don't care about this kind of stuff
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msw188




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:39 pm    Post subject: Discuss famous games if you're interested Reply with quote

Hello. We have some (seemingly) newer members hanging out a bit, and so I thought to try and strike up some discussion on RPGs and what different people like and don't like involving them. This here post (very long) is a review for Final Fantast III (VI) that I wrote some time ago, and considered putting on the gamefaqs website. I never ended up making an account there, but I thought I might share it here and see if anyone has any comments or different feelings about it. I wrote some reviews for a few other RPGs too, but this one seems to be the most famous, so I'm posting this. It's just for general discussion, that's why its in the journals. Any comments/agreements/disagreements are quite welcome, of course.

Final Fantasy III Review AKA Treatise on both good and bad aspects of RPGs

First of all, a point in this game's favor. It is huge. It tries to do so much in terms of everything that has come to define RPGs - backstory, plot, characters, graphics, music, items, skills, statistics, battle effects, plenty more - that I have no problem giving my review such a pretentious title. I feel that a lot of what is attempted is good, but by no means all. Oh, one note before I begin. I pretty much stopped playing new RPGs fairly soon after this and Chrono Trigger, so I am mostly comparing this to games that came before it. This was the final Final Fantasy game in the series that I played.

Okay, I'd like to begin by getting the aesthetics out of the way, as this least affects my enjoyment with RPGs. The graphics are really good overall. This may be my favorite graphical RPG. The battle backgrounds are especially beautiful. Towns and castles are nice; caves are a little more monotonous, as they should be. The overworld has an interesting perspective that isn't seen too often, and it works for the most part. One sore spot here is the mountains in the overworld: they attempt to remain 2-dimensional drawings in a pseudo-3d perspective. This isn't too bad when you are walking around, but when flying in the airship with vertical motion allowed this looks especially strange. Still, this does not detract from the game. Characters are pretty good, focusing on facial expressions but still somehow bordering on realism. The important thing is that the graphics consistently make sense - nothing ever looks out of place (except for a few bad enemies, perhaps).

The music is also really good overall. Most of the songs establish their moods well, and there are distinct songs for a variety of locales. Most of the melodies are fairly memorable, and few of the dramatic songs feel cheesy. The regular battle theme is probably the weakest tune here, as it makes fighting sound more like a pointless exercise than a dangerous affair, but perhaps that is quite fitting, as I'll get into later. Overall, I'd say that the aesthetics of this game were quite strong, and if we restrict by genre, Final Fantasy III is probably the most aesthetically pleasing RPG I've ever played as a whole.

I would like to discuss the story-related aspects of the game next. To begin with, most of the plot is initially pretty enjoyable. There are several of the small, simple plot-twists that we have come to expect in RPGs, and they work well (the best example might be discovering that you had been allowed to open the Sealed Gate purposely, one of the few times in the game that the Emperor makes his presence felt strongly). Most of the direct plot occurs in the first half of the game, but the story is really just as good in the second half. It is not as direct, but nearly everything you see in the second half of the game contributes to the real plot, that is the struggle to save your world from a madman who wishes to "build a monument to non-existence". And a good deal of what you do involves fleshing out backstories of your main characters, which is usually a good thing.

But only usually. The main characters in this game, for me, constitute a highly mixed bag. One thing that shines through is personality. Nearly every main character in the game has a distinct personality that is maintained throughout the game, usually very well. Only a few of these personalities seem well-rounded, but that doesn't really bother me. In fact, it might be better so. The problems seem to occur when we are asked to sympathize with characters' inner pains, as if they are real people. They are not. NONE of them are characterized well enough to be thought of as actual thinking, round characters with real feelings in my opinion. This leads to what I feel is the main difference between stories in 'old' RPGs and stories in 'new' ones. In 'older' RPGs this problem is overlookable because the characters' feelings are rarely focused on. In 'newer' RPGs, the problem becomes almost unbearable because the games feature scenes EMPHASIZING the characters' feelings and inner trauma. This is especially bad when these feelings are inconsistent with the inevitable fact that the player is going to be controlling this character and using him or her to kick some serious ass. Terra in the first half of this game is rediculous. She is so unsure of herself, but as the player I have no problem using her to smash Kefka at Narshe. This would not be much of a problem if the characterization was subtle or in the background, but the game constantly reminds us of her inner turmoil and uncertainty. Half the time she sounds like some kind of whiny teenager. Contrast her with Setzer, whose inner pains are brought to the surface only for an instant, and he doesn't whine. In my opinion, keeping emotional scenes to a minimum not only eliminates rediculous inconsistencies between the character and the player, it makes those scenes that much more powerful, especially if they are handled well as I feel Setzer's is (I'm talking about acquiring the second airship).

The other main characters vary between these two extremes. For one thing, I feel that Terra is handled much better in the second half of the game. Cyan is the opposite - the initial family death is handled pretty well, but bringing it back up again in the second half as if he has been tortured by it all this time is horrible. Inter-character relationships seem okay. Edgar and Sabin's relationship is subtle in a good way. Celes and Locke border on cheesy on occasion, but usually pull through. The other characters do not offer much emotion (except maybe Shadow), although a few have interesting and even moving backstories (Gau comes to mind). Some have almost none at all (Mog, Strago, Relm is questionable unless you've seen more dreams than I).

There's less to say about the non-playable characters. The few who seem like they could have been interesting all either die (Banon, Leo, Gestahl) or become less interesting as the game goes on (Banon before he dies, Cid). Kefka, as the main villain, is an exception. I feel he is an excellent antagonist. By the end of the game he has come to symbolize death, or perhaps 'anti-life', itself, and it is through him (or against him) that the second half of the game comes to focus on the struggle for survival. Notice how A)he is usually in the background, and B)there is no attempt to make his emotions seem rounded, or even human, although C)any time he does come to the foreground he does so in a big way. This is part of what keeps him a good villian, in my opinion.

Besides these people, there are very few characters in the game, and most serve only as minor plot devices for a short time (Vargas, Duncan, Ultros, Owzer, Vicks & Wedge, Gungho). Very few of them seem to exist in the world outside of their relation to the main characters. Which brings me to what may be my main complaint about the game, which may sound paradoxical at first, but here goes: The world of Final Fantasy III is SMALL.

I don't mean physically small (although that is also true). I mean that it feels much too small and specific. There is no culture. There are a handful of towns and regions that seem different at first, but only Zozo and maybe (MAYBE) Thamasa actually feel different. The rest are either afraid of the Empire or already a part of it. None of these feel like towns or countries in their own right (except MAYBE Narshe). Townspeople have little to say because wherever you go, there are only two items of news: 1. The Empire (or Kefka) is bad; 2. Whatever your main characters have to do with the area at hand. Rarely if ever do I get the feeling of exploring a new unknown country that I love so much in other RPGs. The second half of the game is a little better about this. The Ancient Castle under Figaro is a good example, but only because it cannot have any link to you or your characters (it was destroyed centuries ago). Nearly everything and everybody else feel as though they exist only in relation to your characters and the Empire/Kefka. I am probably exaggerating here, but the cultural world of Final Fantasy III is one of the smallest, most disappointing ones I have ever seen in an RPG.

On a more positive note, I would like to begin discussing the gameplay. One of the greatest aspects of Final Fantasy III is the sheer massiveness of its battle system. I am not aware of any other game with this much variety in terms of battle mechanics that maintains this level of ease of play. The first layer above the basic statistics are the elements. There are a lot of them, and they ALL work intuitively (once you learn to equate Pearl with 'decimate undead'). Most of them can be taken advantage of quite easily. Status effects are next, and again there are a LOT of them. Most of them work pretty intuitively, and have the potential to drastically change how a battle plays out. It is harder to take advantage of these unless you know what you are doing, but it is not hard to learn. The variety of equipment in the game is staggering, and having two slots for relics is wonderful. The variety of actions that can occur in battle is even more amazing. Every one of your characters has a special skill in battle, and each has its own quirks. Remember, there are 12 main characters. Enemy variety is also impressive. Part of what makes all of this have such a big impact is that it is nearly all available to you. The vast amount of equipment assures that you can use elements defensively as well as offensively, and the existence of Gau means that all of the variety involved with enemies and their inherent attributes is potentially at your command as well. Simply amazing. Offering such a variety of battle actions (as in hundreds) is one thing that only really works in an RPG, and Final Fantasy III shows us more possibilities than any other.

Unfortunately, it almost universally fails at taking advantage of them. This is because of the downright horrible balancing of random battles. First of all, this game uses a random encounter system, and in my opinion this is usually a good thing. It forces resource management in all areas, and penalizes wrong turns in a dungeon. It makes the player want to do things both in and out of battle as efficiently as possible, not just to reduce playing time, but to survive. But in this game, neither the resource management nor the survival comes into play. This is because random enemies are WEAK and most players' battle skills are FREE. The latter in particular is rediculous, and is present nearly from the start of the game. Notice how in Mt. Kolts there is usually a choice to be made concerning Terra. Does she attack for moderate (but free) single damage, or cast magic for more damage (at a cost)? Maybe she should save that MP for healing? The sheer existence of this choice implies the need to equip properly to maximize attack and defense. Not to survive single battles, but to conserve supplies. Now bring in Edgar, and this very concept is destroyed. Not only is his special ability free, it is categorically better than his attack in every possible way. It is so powerful that healing supplies are barely needed, as his enemies will get to attack him at most twice, and rarely that. This issue lasts throughout the ENTIRE game.

These things are readily apparent when one asks oneself the following question: "How often in the game was I actually fearing for my life?" Occasional boss battles perhaps, but areas? Did this thought ever occur to you: "I might run out of supplies/MP/the ability to win battles, and then I'm screwed"? The only places where I feared the random battles were the Floating Continent (before reaching the second savepoint), the Phoenix Cave, and Kefka's Tower.

Now all of this means that the game is easy, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the game "fails at taking advantage" of the many unique battle quirks available. It would just mean that they are not needed by the casual player. If these things still gave meaningful advantages in battle, this could still be a very fun battle system. But alas, all of these interesting things become quickly overshadowed by the other major balancing issue, the Espers. A lot has been said about this, so I will try to be short (this review is long enough as is). The fact that any main character can learn to use every magic spell available, coupled with the fact that these spells end up grossly overpowering everything else available to you, destroys whatever balance could have hoped to exist in the game. It effectively destroys character individuality, and makes all of the interesting quirks of the battle system nearly meaningless. Of the three good areas I mentioned earlier, only the Floating Continent actually felt well-balanced, probably because at that point the more powerful magic is not yet available (and I did not know that I would have to use Shadow, so I did not purchase things to augment his fighting abilities, forcing resource management through lack of knowledge). The Phoenix Cave was the first place I was forced to use characters that were under-developed magically, and Kefka's Tower only felt difficult because enemies there were cheap. They used skills that ignored statistics (automatic kills, automatic HP goes to 1, etc.). This can be interesting if used sparingly, but as the final area's only trick, it feels like a terribly hackneyed attempt to restore balance in random battles.

To summarize all of this, let me reiterate just how incredible the variety of battle effects is. There is so much, it really is amazing. However, due to the ease of random battles, these effects are not needed. This isn't necessarily bad, because some might not want to take the time to learn how to use them. Much worse is the fact that, because of the existence of Espers, they are not even beneficial for those who might want to take that time.

There is one final area of gameplay that I would like to discuss, and that is the map design. The castles and towns in Final Fantasy III are designed well. They are small enough that it doesn't take long to get what you need out of them, and yet large enough to feel like physical towns and not service centers (despite the lack of culture discussed above). The dungeons are mostly well-designed. Some of them are great and challenging (the Floating Continent), and most are at least interesting. There are usually enough turnings to force occasional backtracking, but very few places feel frustratingly maze-like. If there is any general complaint, it may be that many dungeons feel too short to be challenging (although given the ease of random enemies, length may not really be the issue here). There are lots of interesting quirks to these places that make a lot of the dungeons feel more unique than the towns do.

The world map is a separate issue however. It is physically small, which is odd for an epic game such as this, but that is a minor quibble. The real problem is that you are allowed to save anywhere on this map, and worse still, you are allowed to use tents. If you don't know, a tent is an item that refills all characters' HP and MP, but can only be used at save points. The merit of this decision is a matter of taste in dungeons, as tents take the focus away from clever resource management but allow for intense, full-power boss fights. However, they effectively make the world map POINTLESS from a gameplay perspective. With the ability to heal up right outside of the dungeon, the world map adds NOTHING to the challenge at all. Battles fought here are both unavoidable and essentially pointless. At best, they force you to use a few more GP for one extra tent. This might work if tents were rare, or at least incredibly expensive, but they are not. It doesn't help that the only times you are forced to walk decent distances on the world map(Sabin's scenario, beginning of the World of Ruin), the random enemies are even easier than usual. Strangely, many of the best balanced random enemies ARE on the world map, but only AFTER you acquire the second (and final) airship that nullifies the world map altogether. At that point there is never a reason to walk to anywhere on the world map, because you can fly. I honestly believe that out of all the RPGs I've played, Final Fantasy III has the absolute worst world map from a gameplay perspective.

This has been a very long review. There are lots of other things I could bring up, but most are of little consequence. Play control is fine (it would have to be a terrible menu-based RPG indeed to screw this up). There are a LOT of bugs, but very few have any serious effect on gameplay unless you know about them. The damage algorithms are interesting, but contribute to the over-powering of magic. The specifics of this are a little too technical to delve into here. Let me conclude by pointing out two things. First, as I stated in the beginning, the game's sheer gameplay size is tremendous, and this can only be a good thing. The length of this review is a testament to how much was stuffed into this game. Secondly, the game does have a certain magic to it. Despite its many flaws, the various pieces add up to something that seems larger than the sum of its parts. Somehow, even though the world feels small, the game still manages to feel like an epic experience. I have no idea how or why. I suspect it is partly due to the wonderful graphical and musical qualities, but mostly due to the genius that is Kefka and how his character is managed. You really have to play and finish the game to understand what I mean. Just understand that this game is not the best RPG out there.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good review. You hit on what makes the character development so great in FF6: namely, that you can spend hours developing each character. Gau and Strago in particular beg you to stop playing the main quest and set aside time to give them new attacks. The Veldt is addictive. (And, hey, it's on the world map!)

I get the feeling that you haven't played many other games in the FF series. FF7 and FF8 in particular take the flaws you mention and magnify them. If magic makes everyone feel the same here, then Materia and Junctions respectively make every character in those games carbon copies. (Okay, I just noticed the paragraph that says you haven't played those games. Got it.) I think FF6 does an okay job with this. The characters still feel different enough, largely due to the wide variety of equipment. Setzer is the only one that can use Fixed Dice (and he should!), Mog and Edgar are the only lance users, and only the women can wear the powerful Minerva Bustier or White Veil.

The Advance release improves some of the issues you address simply by adding additional post-game content. FF5 and FF7 both had ultimate baddies in their original releases. FF6 missed the boat, but FF6A turned this around with Kaiser Dragon and Omega Weapon. The 9999 damage you get from Ultima is no longer so impressive; now, you're better off if you can use the Offering (Master's Scroll) to do four attacks per round, as long as you've equipped your characters properly. Economizer/Gem Box (Celestriad/Soul of Thamasa) is still a good combo, but not as broken as it was since it leaves your character poorly defended. Ultima is the only attack magic that doesn't go severely out of style in the endgame, but its prohibitive cost means that you won't go chain-casting it without an Economizer or a lot of Osmose. In short, the increased difficulty makes the game much more interesting.

If you don't have the Advance version, your next best bet is to emulate the SNES version with a Hardtype patch. The difficulty of the patch varies wildly by author; a lot of them restrict magic, too, either by eliminating Espers entirely or by restricting them to the natural magic users (Celes, Terra, and usually Strago and Relm). You spend most of the game in the back row using your characters' secondary attacks that ignore row (e.g. any Blitz, Tool, or Magic, as well as the aforementioned Fixed Dice). The Fight command is refreshingly useless.

You mention that FF6 is "not the best RPG out there." I'd like to hear your thoughts on the ones you think are better (as well as which those might be). As far as traditional menu-driven RPGs go, I think FF6 is pretty high up there.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I played a "no Espers allowed" game a few months ago, and it was a LOT more fun. The game was still breakable by equipment, but as you mention, this highlights character individuality much better.

Of all the RPGs "out there" that I've played, I'd say that FFIII feels the most polished in nearly every aspect except battle balance. Unfortunately, this is the most important technical aspect to me. I definitely enjoy Dragon Warrior IV, V, and VI more than FFIII, despite the relative lack of polish in the V and VI translation patches I have. I've already decided that I shall buy the actual games as soon as they are available, even if I do not yet have a DS, just on principal. I also think that the relatively unpolished Breath of Fire 2 is roughly equal overall, although there are some flaws to that game certainly, and they (BoF2 and FF3) are polar opposites in several regards.

I've tried writing a review for Dragon Warrior IV, but it is very difficult to write fairly about a game that I enjoy so much. I honestly have a difficult time picking out any serious flaws in the game, besides the lack of full control in the Fifth chapter. Even there though, the tactics system creates a fairly interesting (and technically impressive) experience, and battle balance is maintained. I have a review for Dragon Quest V, which is my 'guilty pleasure' in the series; I may post it after a little clean-up, if any other people show interest.

I've also tried to begin reviews of Chrono Trigger and Breath of Fire 2, probably the last two RPGs I played before finding those translations only a few years ago. I am having trouble collecting my thoughts, however.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's true. FFVI does have a lot of depth, but the lack of balance makes a lot of the depth only discovered by the truly hardcore. I feel that FFX is the same way, though does have more optional content to test overpowered characters.

Talking about FFX, I think FFX is severely underrated. People hate it mostly because of its storyline and characters, but it is just like FFVI in the sense that it has much depth in gameplay, and a lot of the storyline bosses actually have battle scripting dusted off to create some interesting battles. It too suffers from characters becoming too powerful in the end and requiring optional bosses for a challenge, but at the same time people can play the game in different ways, such as no sphere grid, no customizing, no etc...
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really enjoyed this review. I think it articulated well why I find older RPGs so charming (other than the fact that I'm an old fart). It makes me wonder though, is there any reason why you haven't played some of the newer games? I know your tastes trend more to old-school, but I think you may enjoy, say, FF7. I can never decide if I prefer it or 3/6. The look is pretty different from the SNES days, but the 3d stuff was still pretty much in its infancy then, and the game retains a lot of cartoony charm. The gameplay itself pretty old school too; all turn-based and whatnot. I also like the materia system. It allows for a lot of customization.

With that in mind, you guys seem to dislike that kind of thing because it erases the differences between characters, but I don't really think that's true. In the end (assuming you don't just grind to max them out), the characters will all have different abilities (with either the esper or materia system), it's just a matter of how you've grown them. It doesn't seem much different than a really old school western style RPG, where you allocate points to stats however you want upon leveling. It doesn't erase the differences between characters, it just makes their growth open-ended.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Newbie_Power wrote:
Talking about FFX, I think FFX is severely underrated. People hate it mostly because of its storyline and characters


what

That's the only thing detractors claim to like about FFX (which is one of my favorites).

I like this review, but it seems to assume that all RPGs should follow the example of Dragon Quest, which is simply too limiting. There's no reason the World Map should be a grind to get through when that isn't the point of the game. Final Fantasy games focus a lot more on characters and customization than Dragon Quest, which lead to them being quite a bit easier to beat.

Also, I protest the notion that FF6A is a big improvement. I just finished the bonus dungeon yesterday, oddly enough, and I have to say it was one of the worst things I've ever suffered through in an RPG. Encounter rates are way too high, the bosses are either super-easy or so cheap it's ridiculous, the maze itself is confusing and doesn't make any sense. The new espers are just kind of tacked on. (Why did we need the Flood spell, exactly?) All in all, I think FF6A is a mediocre port, though being portable makes it pretty worthwhile. It also fixes the damned evasion bug, which makes certain equipment shine more/less.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
With that in mind, you guys seem to dislike that kind of thing because it erases the differences between characters, but I don't really think that's true. In the end (assuming you don't just grind to max them out), the characters will all have different abilities (with either the esper or materia system), it's just a matter of how you've grown them. It doesn't seem much different than a really old school western style RPG, where you allocate points to stats however you want upon leveling. It doesn't erase the differences between characters, it just makes their growth open-ended.


That would be true if the growth were specific to the character. It's specific to the materia instead. Switching two characters' materia setups will switch all of their abilities. The only differences between the characters are their stats (which I never paid attention to) and their limit breaks (which are all different ways to "do a lot of damage").

FF5 and FFT are much better examples of what you're talking about.

Quote:
Also, I protest the notion that FF6A is a big improvement. I just finished the bonus dungeon yesterday, oddly enough, and I have to say it was one of the worst things I've ever suffered through in an RPG. Encounter rates are way too high, the bosses are either super-easy or so cheap it's ridiculous, the maze itself is confusing and doesn't make any sense. The new espers are just kind of tacked on. (Why did we need the Flood spell, exactly?) All in all, I think FF6A is a mediocre port, though being portable makes it pretty worthwhile. It also fixes the damned evasion bug, which makes certain equipment shine more/less.


To be fair, I've only started the Dragon's Den. I can't say how the execution is. Regarding the new espers, they're nothing special, aside from their eyebrow-raising stat boosts. (+2 Speed is not to be overlooked.) I think it's a decent enough port, but I wish they'd kept the old translation, since A) there was nothing wrong with it (cp. FF4) and B) it was Woolsey, and this isn't. The game hasn't changed significantly otherwise (besides the evasion bug fix, which I welcome).
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I am very glad that people seem to be responding positively to the review. I was pretty hesitant about posting it at first.

Quote:
In the end (assuming you don't just grind to max them out), the characters will all have different abilities (with either the esper or materia system), it's just a matter of how you've grown them. It doesn't seem much different than a really old school western style RPG, where you allocate points to stats however you want upon leveling.


The loss of character specificity is lamentable to me, but I can understand that it is not a true flaw in and of itself. It isn't the fact that the player can choose his character customization that bothers me the most (even though that does bother me personally), but rather that the choices available to the player are both easy to take advantage of (say what you want, but a couple of hours of grinding is "easy" in my book, and that is all it takes to make a veritable army of Ultima powerhouses in the Miranda desert) and overpowering in practically every way (what enemy can stand or prevent four Ultima's in a row?). MP conservation as a concept is laughable in this game; by the time you have Ultima, you can buy a million tinctures or so, and Osmose the rest (to say nothing of Sleeping Bags and Tents). This is why I call this system a flaw, regardless of my personal feelings on maintaining differences between characters.

I will reply to JSH later (I'm at work right now). We've had the World Map discussion before, and I still stand by my convictions.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but rather that the choices available to the player are both easy to take advantage of (say what you want, but a couple of hours of grinding is "easy" in my book, and that is all it takes to make a veritable army of Ultima powerhouses in the Miranda desert) and overpowering in practically every way (what enemy can stand or prevent four Ultima's in a row?). MP conservation as a concept is laughable in this game; by the time you have Ultima, you can buy a million tinctures or so, and Osmose the rest (to say nothing of Sleeping Bags and Tents). This is why I call this system a flaw, regardless of my personal feelings on maintaining differences between characters.
I remember saying to JSH in IRC that while it is a lot of fun for a player to find secrets and extra items scattered around the world, it's that a lot of these secrets are simply too powerful in FFVI. I remember in DW4 that you could go out of your way to get extras, but they weren't too overpowered.

Also, you will never have to worry about MP again by the time you get Ultima, because you'll be receiving Economizer at around the same time, as well as Gem Box. Just two MP for 19998 damage, and that's not even the most powerful setup in the game.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Also, you will never have to worry about MP again by the time you get Ultima, because you'll be receiving Economizer at around the same time, as well as Gem Box. Just two MP for 19998 damage, and that's not even the most powerful setup in the game.


While this may be true for some, I would admit that Economizers are a fairly difficult secret to come by, and few players will find more than one without aid. But Ultima, Osmose, Tinctures, and Tents are not even secrets by a long stretch. Maybe some would consider the Miranda desert a 'secret', but its not a particularly hidden one, and isn't necessarily even needed to make an Ultima army for even a casual player.

Quote:
I like this review, but it seems to assume that all RPGs should follow the example of Dragon Quest, which is simply too limiting. There's no reason the World Map should be a grind to get through when that isn't the point of the game.


I am sure that there is a little bias coming through, but not enough that I would agree with this statement. The World Map, and everything that happens on it, are part of the game, and should not be exempt from any balancing factors that somehow become important elsewhere. I agree that there is no need for the World Map to add difficulty like in the Dragon Warrior series. But if the World Map is going to have battles at all, these battles' contributions to gameplay need to be considered. The concepts of the Veldt and acquiring dances are both really neat ways to use the World Map battles. But pretty much every other battle fought on the World Map is a failure. These battles contribute to either mindless level-grinding, or ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They add no danger, no risk, no fun, no excitement, nothing. Contrast this with Chrono Trigger, where the World Map is clearly understood to be not part of the challenge, and battles are removed altogether. This, in my opinion, works much better than having lots of pointless battles on the map.

Okay, that's my rant on that. Let's keep this going! Where are some of the new folk?[/quote]
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Newbie_Power




Joined: 04 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I am sure that there is a little bias coming through, but not enough that I would agree with this statement. The World Map, and everything that happens on it, are part of the game, and should not be exempt from any balancing factors that somehow become important elsewhere. I agree that there is no need for the World Map to add difficulty like in the Dragon Warrior series. But if the World Map is going to have battles at all, these battles' contributions to gameplay need to be considered. The concepts of the Veldt and acquiring dances are both really neat ways to use the World Map battles. But pretty much every other battle fought on the World Map is a failure. These battles contribute to either mindless level-grinding, or ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They add no danger, no risk, no fun, no excitement, nothing. Contrast this with Chrono Trigger, where the World Map is clearly understood to be not part of the challenge, and battles are removed altogether. This, in my opinion, works much better than having lots of pointless battles on the map.
I wasn't talking about the world map itself, I was talking about locations scattered across it, and the items you receive from said locations.

The items I talk about, Economizer, Paladin Shield (which teaches Ultima), Gem Box, Offering, etc... While they are supposed to reward doing side quests, they are just a tad too good.
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Moogle1
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the portion of the game you're forced to walk it, the WoR world map is challenging (while you only have one or two characters). The game then recognizes it as obsolete and gives you an airship.
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msw188




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Newbie Power:
I'm sorry, I was answering JSH's comments about the World Map, not really your comments about finding things in different parts of the map. Actually, as I think back to Dragon Warrior IV, there weren't too many extra things to do. The only things that stick out in memory are the quest for the Metal Babble Sword (which felt like a well-balanced reward - very strong, but not overpoweringly so) and the Small Medal King (another well-balanced reward system, in my opinion). The casino could be put here too, but I never had the patience to go for broke at the casino, and never touched a Metal Babble Shield before emulating the game. When I replay the game now, I do not use the casino much.

To Moogle1:
I disagree. I'm sorry, maybe its just my playstyle, but I have never had any trouble with the beginning of the World of Ruin; on the contrary, it seems to be one of the most boring parts of the game for me. I slap an Atma Weapon on Celes and mow things down in one hit. As my only character, she gets the best equipment possible (including a Ribbon), and no enemy is able to damage her enough to be of any consequence. Maybe I would worry if I couldn't SAVE ANYWHERE and couldn't USE TENTS ANYWHERE.

To Camdog:
I'm sorry, I realized I never replied concerning "later games". I gave FF7 an admittedly half-assed attempt, but was turned off almost immediately by the atmosphere alone. The characters did not seem charming at all to me. But it was the gameplay (battles) that really did it in for me. Graphical charm doesn't really mean a whole lot to me. I mean, if Dragon Warrior IV was redone in rediculously over-stylized, dark, overdramatic 3d anime it would kind of turn me off at first, but the gameplay would still win me over.

I've also thought more about this whole character customization thing. Have any of you played the translation of Dragon Quest VI? There is a game that allows a great deal of customization for your characters. But this does not break the balance of the game. For one thing, it takes a truly EXHAUSTIVE effort to 'maximize' your characters. Secondly, this is not really needed, because the skills are balanced properly. Some are more useful than others in certain circumstances, but there are enough spread throughout the classes that a character that masters two is just as useful as one that masters all the rest in many cases. Furthermore, none of the skills are capable of anything like Ultima in FF3, except perhaps a few of the Hero skills, which are very rarely cost-effective.

And here is the important point. In Dragon Quest games, COST-EFFECTIVENESS is key. It can be okay to have an RPG where this is not the focus, but for such a game to have a super-powerful skill available to EVERYONE relatively easily, without cost-effectiveness to balance it out, is a glaring gameplay flaw. At least, it is to me.
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Newbie_Power




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Actually, as I think back to Dragon Warrior IV, there weren't too many extra things to do. The only things that stick out in memory are the quest for the Metal Babble Sword (which felt like a well-balanced reward - very strong, but not overpoweringly so) and the Small Medal King (another well-balanced reward system, in my opinion).
I see what you mean, but it is this balance that I highly appreciate, even if the quantity isn't much. I wouldn't mind if there were more side quests, just as long as the rewards are balanced. I think it's just that in DW4 you get a lot of your most interesting items through the main quest anyway, which is fine since you explore many places. They did a good job in that respect.
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msw188




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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Newbie Power:
I agree entirely.
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