Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So Japanese! featuring Final Fantasy V

Final Fantasy 5

The Dragon Quest V remake had removed a stigma for me. It had made me see the appeal of Japanese RPGs. And so my eyes turned to that other Japanese Juggernaut: Final Fantasy. I never played the old classics from the NES and SNES era, but the PlayStation Games (FF VII and up) turned me off to the series. Whenever I hear an otaku bemoan the loss of Aeris I look the other way and pretend it doesn't exist. It doesn't stop there though. Metro-sexual underage protagonists? Melodrama and teen angst? Huge swords, gunblades, keyblades, beyblades, all wielded by children on a quest to save the world? I'll stick with Dungeons And Dragons, thank you very much. Let me make my own characters and choices. But then I heard the original Final Fantasy was actually based on Dungeons And Dragons. Aw shucks! Japan often adopts a concept and evolves it in it's own unique way. That, to my mind, is a positive thing. So I picked up the Final Fantasy V remake, at an outrageous price I might add, the original dates back to 1992, for Gameboy Advance and had a go at it.

The game is none to shy about its system. And in fact that's about all there is to it. It's atypical to JRPGs in that sense. There's almost no story to speak of. Of course there is one, but it's mainly there to nudge you along the areas, open up new classes and progress you towards the ending (though I'm not actually sure there is one). Even the Dialogues have been kept to a minimum even though the script knows a few funny lines. It's almost as if the game isn't taking itself very serious. This game is all about its class based combat system. Kind of a big deal. In short: There's a huge variety of classes. You gain job levels through combat. Job levels earn you job skills. You can change classes at any time and you can equip one (two in one case) learned job skill at any time. You get four Characters to play with. Mix and match as you please. Reminiscent to D&D and Guild Wars' ability to dual class, this system introduces a level of strategy and depth that is lacking in games like Dragon Quest V. It also gives the player a lot more incentive to grind away as new job skills are never far off. The game will throw a boss at you from time to time, and I always have a lot of fun figuring out what combinations of skills and classes will work against it. The downside to all this is the grind I mentioned before takes some time. With different motivations it's different from Dragon Quest's grind though; progressing your characters and gaining a strategic advantage in stead of progressing a story. But overall I think that in the current day and age these type of games would do well to speed up the leveling process.

In all though, FFV replaced DQV as my handheld game of the moment. A moment that's been lasting for a couple of months now. In between, I regularly bemoan the loss of Galuf on various message boards. In fact. I'm typing up a touching poem right now.

From the moment I met you there,
Oh Galuf, sage old man, yet proud and free,
alone and forgetting 'why' you were,
I spend so long for you to get XP,
hammered you into something fierce I do decree,
despite old age yet still you died,
and were replaced with Krile,
with a sprite so top heavy I could barely cope,
why a woman! a blonde cliche and why so dope,
now here I am, on message boards,
where all I do is type and mope.

1 comment:

vdeogmer said...

I'm still giggling up about how Bartz was originally called Butz in the Japanese release.