Final Fantasy Games-Which is Best?
By Jeffton Bopeton III
Although I've never been a serious video gamer, Square's Final Fantasy series has always held a certain attraction for me. The game series has an enormous fan base, but it has come to my attention that the discussion is always about the latest title in the series-fans never look back on the legacy of this great series. For example, did any Final Fantasy player besides me notice that Garland from Final Fantasy 9 and his four chaoses are stolen almost directly from the very original Final Fantasy game? Did anybody notice that one of the creatures you can summon in Final Fantasy 7 is actually Chupon, Ultros's consort in Final Fantasy 6? Who else knows that the idea for Mog's Dance ability in Final Fantasy 6 is a combination of the abilities of a Geomancer and a Dancer, archetypes that stretch far into the Final Fantasy series' past?
Most reviewers talk about graphics, controls, cinema scenes, and overall storyline, but any generic video game player can do that. As a self-proclaimed Final Fantasy lore master, I believe I am most qualified to talk about what really matters in a Final Fantasy game, and so I have reviewed the five most recent titles in that series that were released in America. (Yeah, I know that a whole bunch of them were released on the GameBoy, and there was Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy Tactics, Mystic Quest, etc., but I'm only counting real Final Fantasy games.)
But wait, FF4 and FF6 weren't released in America, you may think. When I refer to FF4, I'm talking about what is called Final Fantasy 2 in America, for the Super Nintendo. In Japan, this corresponds to Final Fantasy 4 Easy Version (The Japanese made two versions of the game, hard and easy. They decided that the stupid American kids couldn't handle the hard version, and released the easy one in our country.) As for FF6, that's Final Fantasy 3 in America, also for Super Nintendo. Don't ask me why they didn't release the fifth installment of the series in America; it's a very good game.
Every Final Fantasy game that I'm covering has a character named Cid. In some of the games, he is wimpy and boring, and only named Cid because the writers needed somebody to name that in order to continue the tradition. In others he is a badass, and in two of the games he even joins your team. Here is my list of the various Cids, ranked from pussy to badass.
#5.) FF8-- In FF8, Cid was a fatass pussy headmaster. A title like "headmaster" can only mean one thing: he likes to suck dick.
#4.) FF6-- In FF6, Cid was just a wimpy scientist in a bright yellow raincoat. Although he wasn't especially brave or powerful, he did stand up to Kefka at one point.
#3.) FF9-- In FF9, Cid is a heroic airship builder and captain, like he should be. Not only does he perpetrate a few terrorist acts on the empire that took over his kingdom while in the shape of a frog, he later takes his airship up against a swarm of powerful Silver Dragons.
#2.) FF7-- The Cid in FF7 pilots everything from a falling-apart biplane to a rocket (which he then smashes into the meteor that is threatening to destroy the earth.) At one point Cid shouts "Who do you think I am!?" to someone who doubts his ability as an airship pilot, and this should be a pre-requisite for having the name Cid. Cid likes to take dynamite out of his jacket, light the wick with his ever-present cigarette, and then throw it at the enemy. That's pretty badass even for Clint Eastwood.
#1.) FF4-- Cid's favorite weapon in FF4 is a hammer, and that alone is pretty badass. He is also the first to shout "Who do you think I am!?" to someone who expresses doubt that he can make an insane maneuver with his airship. But nothing can possibly be as badass as strapping dynamite to yourself, then jumping from an airship down into the Underworld in order to blow the gateway shut... and surviving.
Sexy Female Characters
There's no such thing as an ugly female Final Fantasy character (except maybe Freya… unless you're into that sort of thing) and the main female character is usually the hottest. Some however, are pretty, and others are worth taking along into the fight just so you can look at them. (Note: In FF8, the Scan spell is very impressive and allows you to get a good look at the 3-D models of the enemies. You can rotate the monster in all directions and zoom in and out, and the battle even stops to allow you as much time as you want to do this. After noticing this, I used Scan on Squall, and achieved the same effect. Suddenly I realized that by being able to rotate the characters however I wanted, I could look up the skirts of the female characters. The programmers had more foresight than I thought, though, and female characters are the only things that you can't rotate around the horizontal axes. Clever.) Here are the leading ladies, ranked from least sexy to hottest.
#5.) Rinoa (FF8)-- It's true that Rinoa is quite pretty, but her hyper-realism takes something away from her hotness as a Final Fantasy character.
#4.) Rydia (FF4)-- Rydia is a hot teenager when she comes back from the Land of the Monsters, where time supposedly moves faster (although when the other characters visit, no matter how long you leave your Super Nintendo sitting with the power on, the characters do not age). There's nothing like a chick that faces apocalyptic monsters wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Also, green hair.
#3.) Dagger (FF9)-- Dagger is just barely deformed enough with her oversized head to be a likeable Final Fantasy lady. Her orange spandex pants are almost as cool as Rydia's bathing suit, but the coolest part about her is that when she goes into "Eidolon" mode, she changes into Rydia's outfit. More importantly, her hair turns green.
#2.) Terra (FF6)-- Not only does Terra have all the great qualities of Rydia including her outfit and hair color, but when Terra does her "Morph" (the early form of Dagger's "Eidolon") she discards ALL her clothes to become a naked, glowing white being with superpowers. I don't know about you, but I never stop wishing MY girlfriend could do that.
#1.) Aeris (FF7)-- Admittedly, Aeris's hair isn't green and she is fully clothed, but she fits nicely into the anime schoolgirl fantasy that every fanboy has had at least once.
Feature: Stupid expletives
Before swear words were invented, video game writers had to think of some pretty crappy insults for their characters to yell at each other. Here are two of the ones that stand out in my memory.
"You spoony bard!" (FF4)-- Tellah says this to Edward in FF4 just before he kicks Golbez's ass all by himself. This game has a great deal of funny lines, though, caused by the poor quality of its translation into English. ("Tower of Bab-il?")
"Son of a submariner!" (FF6)-- Kefka shouts this at Edgar, Terra, and Locke after Figaro castle sinks into the sand and the three ride away on Chocobos, leaving him in the dust.
Every Final Fantasy game has a super, ultimate, scariest-guy-ever that the main characters must deal with. There is never an opposing team of equally powerful anti-heroes, but always one controlling villain. This is always the guy you must kill in the last battle (actually many of the Final Fantasy games have another enemy that pops up after you kill the scariest-guy-ever who turns out to be the really, really scariest-guy-ever. I'm not counting those guys.) and whose death brings peace and happiness to the world. Some of them, though, you wonder why someone else hasn't already kicked his ass by the time you wander through his insanely maze-like house and get to him. Here is my list of villains listed from pussy to kickass.
#5.) Golbez (FF4)-- What a wuss. Not only do you thrash him repeatedly throughout the game, but Tellah kicks his ass alone at one point.
#4.) Seifer (FF8)--Seifer is exactly as badass as Squall, and although that's pretty badass, it's not nearly badass enough to be the ultimate villain of the universe.
#3.) Kuja (FF9)-- Alright, so the leather speedos are kinda fruity, and the monkey tail isn't much better. Kuja, however, is responsible for the heartless black mage factory, wasting a city with Bahamut, and he uses Ultima to destroy Terra (The planet, not the girl from FF6). That's pretty evil and scary, if you ask me.
#2.) Kefka (FF6)-- Kefka is a complete dick. He burns Figaro ("Welcome to my barbecue!"), poisons the people of Doma, kills both General Leo and the Emperor, and brings about the end of the world by mis-aligning the Statues. All-in-all, not a very nice guy. He's also the first to have an insanely long super-spell that is actually hilariously weak. ("The End Comes. Beyond Chaos.")
#1.) Sephiroth (FF7)-- Sephiroth is the ultimate Final Fantasy Villain. Nobody has played FF7 and not been impressed by Sephiroth's performance early in the game when Cloud is inflicting 200 damage on enemies, and Sephiroth smashes them by dealing over 3000 points of damage. Later, he destroys the hottest Final Fantasy chick by running her through with his 20 foot long sword and summons a gigantic meteor to smash the earth. He also has the coolest final battle sequence (even though it is just a slightly evolved version of Kefka's), with a chorus singing his praises in Latin and a spell that destroys half the planets and the Sun in the process of being cast. If you know anybody more kickass than that, I don't want to meet him.
Importance of character Class
The Final Fantasy games differ greatly in the way that the differences between the characters are emphasized. In some of them, the characters are basically all the same, and only differ in a few details, and in others the characters are so different it could spell defeat if you choose the wrong ones for a certain battle. I believe that having widely varying characters is a great way to add variety and an extra level of strategy to the game. In the ones like FF7 and FF8, all the characters can be made basically equivalent by trading magic stones (Espers, Materia, GF's… whatever they are named), and this seems pretty pointless to me since it destroys some of the characters' uniqueness. This is my list of the games, ranked from characters exactly alike to characters totally different.
#5.) FF8-- This is by far the worst offender. Every character is an accomplished summoner and every character is a powerful magic user. In fact, when I went through this game, I didn't even look to see whose turn it was most of the time, I just chose "GF" and picked the most suitable esper for the occasion.
#4.) FF7-- FF7 is almost as bad as FF8 in that most of the game is spent either casting magic spells or doing a Limit Break.
#3.) FF6-- FF6 is much better than the first two in that some characters are better off doing their thing than casting magic. Although nearly every character can learn magic, some, like Sabin, are remarkably bad at it. Given the choice between Fire3 and a well-timed Bum Rush, the choice is obvious. (Fun Fact: in the Japanese version of FF6, Sabin was named Mash, which if you ask me is a cooler name.)
#2.) FF4-- This is how a Final Fantasy game should be. Only the magic users can use magic, only the summoner can summon monsters, and each character has a totally unique special ability or two.
#1.) FF9-- The #1 slot is really a tossup between FF4 and FF9, but I chose 9 over 4 for several reasons. For one, in 4 you never really have a choice as to which characters to bring along, so although they are unique, it doesn't really factor into the decisions of the player. Secondly, FF9 has Trance, which further modifies the abilities of each character beyond the standard.
Moogles are cute little creatures with white fur and slanty eyes. They resemble teddy bears, but with tiny pink wings, and each has a little pink ball that appears to be floating above his head (the technical name for the ball is "pompom." I strongly suspect it has a sexual function or is at least somewhat erogenous.). Since they were invented (their invention post-dates the creation of FF4, and thus I have left it off the following list out of fairness), they have played in important role in Final Fantasy lore. I have ranked the games in order from worst representation of moogles to best.
#4.) FF8-- What, no moogles? There's no excuse for this, as moogles have been around since that prequel to Secret of Mana for the GameBoy. (Ok, there's a Moogle summon if you mess with Chocobo World, and a little bit of other stuff, but I couldn't stand FF8 long enough to mess much with this.)
#3.) FF7-- Moogles play a very strange role in this game. They are portrayed as imaginary creatures and are usually used to denote a strange or exotic situation. Not only that, but they have the wrong name! It is blasphemy to call them "Mogs." True, Cait Sith, one of the main characters, is one such "Mog," but keep in mind that he's robotic-- not a real moogle.
#2.) FF6-- The Moogles in FF6 are rare creatures, but they save Locke's and Terra's asses from the Empire early in the game. Also, if you chase Lone Wolf away, Mog the moogle will join your team and defeat enemies by break dancing. It's hard to get cooler than that.
#1.) FF9-- Not only has their correct name come back after the sacrilegious FF7, but moogles are everywhere now. There is at least one in every dungeon and town, and they all can talk. Not only that, but they are the most useful creatures in the game since they double as save points. (Interesting FF9 Moogle facts to remember: 1.Mog is a female moogle in this game that lives inside the dress of a little girl 2. Blowing the flute repeatedly on the world map to summon Moguo and then instantly sending him away without asking for anything useful is funny. After 20 or so times, he starts threatening you: "I'm sharpening my knife, kupo." It only gets more interesting from there... remember the chickens in Zelda3?)
Feature: Cool Abilities
Some of the special moves and spells in the Final Fantasy series just kick ass. I haven't tried to rank these in any way, so they're just in the order that I thought of them.
Eat (FF9)-- That's right, Eat. Quina in FF9 can eat monsters to gain an ability from them-- it's like a combination between Gau's Leap and Strago's way of learning Blue magic (real blue magic-- not that crap in FF8)
Shock (FF6, FF9)-- The special ability of choice for generals who plan to defect to the good guy team, it seems. This awesome power is possessed by General Leo of FF6 and General Beatrix of FF9.
Ultima (FF6, FF7, FF8, FF9)-- The most powerful spell in the Final Fantasy universe really didn't get what it deserved if FF7 and FF8, but the world-shattering Ultima cast by Kuja in FF9 makes up for it.
Jump (FF4, FF6, [Not FF7; Cid's a fake Dragoon.], FF9)-- This is a cool ability for Dragoons like Kain and Freya because once it's used, the character is off the screen and immune to anything the enemy could possibly to do him or her. Not only that, but when she comes back down, it's spear-first. On the enemy's head.
Quick (FF6)-- This spell only seems to exist in FF6 and in Final Fantasy Tactics, but it kicks more ass than anything. Once someone has Quick cast on them, it's basically always their turn. With this spell and the Gem Box, Terra can dispatch any enemy by using Ultima about 12 times before the enemy gets a turn.
Do we really want the fate of the world to rest on the shoulders of someone named "Cecil?" Maybe, if he's carrying Excalibur and has a really cool cape. This is my list of main characters, from gayest to most badass.
#5.) Zidane (FF9)-- When I first saw the cover of FF9, I thought Zidane was a girl. In fact, I didn't realize he was a male until someone in the game referred to him in the masculine form. The tail is also really faggy.
#4.) Terra (FF6)-- It's true that Terra is hot and that she is half-esper, but she spends more time trying to learn the true meaning of love than she does kicking ass. (FF6 doesn't have a "main" character in the same way as the others, in that he has to always be on the team. I picked Terra because she seems to be the main-est.)
#3.) Cecil (FF4)-- Cecil is a gay name, but I, for one, wouldn't say that to his face.
#2.) Cloud (FF7)-- Cloud is the most badass anybody can possibly look dressed entirely in purple. He may seem pretty scrawny, but his insanely enormous sword speaks for itself.
#1.) Squall (FF8)-- One of the few things the creators of FF8 got right is Squall's character design. He's rouge-ish but heroic, stylish but intimidating. Also, his Gunblade has to be one of the coolest weapons in video game history.
So which Final Fantasy game (out of the ones I covered) is best? Let's look at the numbers, based on these factors. I'll assign 5 points for each first place award, 4 points for second place, etc. (in the Moogles category, only 1-4 points will be given)
Final Fantasy 4: 17 (2 free points for coming out before moogles were invented)
Final Fantasy 6: 19
Final Fantasy 7: 22
Final Fantasy 8: 11 <-- Sucks.
Final Fantasy 9: 19
So, based solely on these categories, FF7 is the best. But these categories be damned, because FF9 is my favorite by far. There you have it.
Look here for more Final Fantasy lore in the future. Feel free to suggest additions to the lists or to discuss my rankings, but don't feel free to ask me for game advice. I'm not a fucking game counselor.
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