Monday, 30 May 2011

Final Fantasy: I'll take a risk! I'll choose the average!

My PSP recently broke on me. We’ll, it was quite a while a when I think about it. Maybe even 6 months…time flies… Anyway, I bought a replacement for Christmas. It was necessary; I have a bunch of games and many that I have yet to finish. Some of which, I have yet to even play. But the PSP isn’t my focus, it’s the game that I’m looking to pick back up again. I’m going to play Final Fantasy.

I started a game on Final Fantasy almost a year ago. It was possibly even longer, likely even longer in fact. I do this kind of thing a lot.

My intention was to start a new; new characters, new experience. I got into the party select screen and pondered over who to choose. It’s a tough choice. For a game so primitive, it certainly knows how to get the gears turning even before the get go.

At first, I couldn’t see past choosing Warrior, Thief, Black Mage, White Mage. I considered the Monk, but I just couldn’t see his worth. The Red Mage is a different kind of beast though. This guy has plenty to offer on top of his snappy dress sense. So I pulled together a team of Warrior, Thief, Red Mage, Black Mage. I dropped the White Mage because although useful, they are boring in comparison.

As the story started to roll, I just kinda sunk inside myself. I couldn’t be bothered. I really didn’t want to start again. I was really pumped up before too. Even writing this I feel pumped to have a Red Mage on my team. But the reality is, is that I don’t think I have the motivation to start. I don’t believe that this is the fault of the game though, it’s purely me. I rarely replay stuff. And because of this, it really makes me believe in the value of multiplayer. I have played many multiplayer games over and over, but single player games are limited to a handful.

Even though my motivation took a hit, I still did want to play. I wanted to get back into it. It deserves it. The game is solid. So rather than ditch my entire plan, I just boot up my previous save. A save that has a team of Warrior, Thief, Black Mage, White Mage… I’m so boring.

I’m not too far in. My Warriors of Light are at level 28 and this is actually a smidge higher than what is needed. I didn’t do any leveling up thought. It’s all due to the Earth Cave. Now, this place isn’t tough, it’s just big and dull. It lasts forever, and it’s just a bore to navigate through. I hate any map that uses a spotlight of sorts, and this does just that. So it’s insult to injury, a big long injury.

I can’t complain too much though. This is an old game. To moan like that would make me a tool. But this game got me thinking back to the Legend of Zelda. That game, like Final Fantasy is just horrible. They’re good games, but they aren’t friendly at all. The narrative is near non-existent so it’s easy to get lost or stuck. If something like this was released now days, it wouldn’t be well received. Players get told how to move now. They get told, how to move.

These aren’t insights. I think they are well known. It’s just this characteristic actually became a benefit. Why? Well, usually a long layoff from playing a game means that it’s hard to pick up the story. Who does what, where do I go now and why. With this, it’s not the case. There isn’t really a story. I know I need to get Crystals. It even shows this in the menu screen. So this means that I can jump back in. There’s little to lose, so there’s little to have to pick up. It’s an odd positive.

Back to the actual game, and I find myself on the bottom floor of the cave. I was closer to finishing this area than I thought. Good!

I walked into a room or is it cave? Can it be a cave if it’s already in a cave? Is it a cavern? I’ll call it a room. RPG’s have rooms. The have chests and potions even though their actual names may differ from game to game. So room is fine for now. I walked into a room, and there was the Crystal and the Boss of the Earth Cave, the Lich. I was a little intimidated. I hadn’t played. I wasn’t sure how well I would cope. I didn’t know if my team would have the stones to see it through. Only time would tell, and not much time either.

The Lich does look like a real test. He’s about 7 times your size (as in mass…mass in a 2D sense…) and has a bare skull as its face. So no skin on his face. Or just no face. Or you could say skull like. He has some swirls of what I assume is magic around his person and he is draped in a long black cloak. Yeah, he’s not original. He looks like Death as he appears in, well, everything I guess. But regardless of his menacing appearance, I made light work of him. My team may have just been a tier too strong, but in 8 turns he was done. A combo of slashes and fire spells dropped him in no time. He didn’t pose a threat. No one was harmed.

After the battle, a minor cutscene plays and the Crystal is restored. Nice. And even nicer is the fact that there is a warp. One that means I do not have to walk through the cave.

Back on the surface and a whole new challenge presented itself; where did I leave my boat? I saved the game and started to wander around. I was thinking if there was a map screen. I’m sure there was. Perhaps I was confusing it with something else. I tried a few button combos but there was no map. What I did find though, is that I was able to be smart enough to press the reset combination even though I knew that’s what those buttons would do. Genius.

Luckily, I had just saved. If I hadn’t, I would likely have never played the game again. It would have been forever shelved. Shelved meaning crushed by my bare hands. Well, back to looking for my boat.

I did find it, but this wasn’t the end of the wandering. Now I needed to remember what to do next. As this wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, I just sailed around with the hopes of coming across where to go next. The layout was bringing back some memories and I popped into any villages that I came across in the hope of finding my goal.

Finally, I land the ship in an area that looks a little unwelcoming. There are trees almost immediately as you disembark. After the first couple of bouts, I knew that this was more like it. The bad guys were tougher. Perhaps I’m going the right way. I was.

After a sprawling forest, there was a small village. Inside the village is where I could find the sages. These old boys are the ones that can help me on my way. Speaking to them reminded me a little of what had happened before. And then I spoke to the trigger who mentioned of the awaking of the Fire Spirit. I can’t remember if it was Spirit, but it’s something like that. I was congratulated for my returning of the Earth Crystal and hinted towards having to kill the Fire Mistress. Convenient really.

So, I know where to go now. Well I don’t, but I at least know what to do. I have to kill someone. It’s not a novel goal in game terms, but it’s an honest one. Oh, and I now have a canoe!

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