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Added by Jossa on 4 May 2010 07:10
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Gameplay of the numbered Final Fantasies

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People who added this item 261 Average listal rating (150 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
Final Fantasy - Famicom and NES
Final Fantasy Ranking: 11 of 12

Intro:

As the title indicates this is the first in the numbered series and the flagship game of final fantasy. It was made during Square's downfall in which they were headed for bankruptcy believe it or not. In fact, its been said that the name Final Fantasy came about because Square was going to put out one "Final" game before it closed its door and it was to be a fantasy game. Final Fantasy was Square's winning lottery ticket and the rest is history.

In FF 1 you select 4 characters and their classes at the beginning of the game and are stuck with them for the duration. Characters and monsters are separated into two menus, monsters on the left and characters on the right(opposed to a first person view for the first time), during battle. Healing and damage points are reflected in a third window when they happen. Also, in FF 1 the characters HP window is located vertically on the right edge of the screen behind the characters.

The characters you choose are passive pieces in the story. In other words, the story is the same no matter which characters you choose for your party. Your choice only provides for different abilities to use along the way.

The classes may be "upgraded" later in the game. For example: the Class warrior later becomes Knight who can use the most powerful weapons and even some white magic. In the original famicon game a party of 4 monks that have become masters and left barehanded can beat the final boss in under two rounds. As you might guess this game is turn based.

Magic can be bought from either white or black magic shops. The spells can only be assigned to those characters whose occupation allows it. The spells are classified into 8 levels and there are 4 white and black spells per level. One catch is a character can only learn 3 spells per level and except for white and black mages, who can potentially learn all of their respective spells, the other classes can only learn the lower leveled spells.

Pro's:

You'll notice that the lists of pro's and con's gets larger as the list goes on. The reason for this is they are pro's and con's for the changes for the most part and in the first game there aren't any changes. Its a fun game that has lost a lot of its playability after being spoiled by the subsequent titles. Anybody who didn't grow up on these games, isn't a purist, or has no desire to learn this stellar series' origins won't want to play this. If nothing else this game is worth playing simply to be astounded at how far this series has come since the mid 80's.

Con's:

Of course there is no flexibility once the game starts. The only options you have are what you choose your characters to be at the start of the game and the "upgrade class" they receive later in the game.

Conclusion:

Excellent game merely for all the future games that were spawned by this company saving title. Play it but forget graphics, gameplay options, customization, and changing parties cause it isn't there. What is there is a gem of a game that brought this beloved company Squaresoft from the brink of bankruptcy to the giant that eventually took over its rival Enix. The FF series is also probably responsible for the rise and success of the Playstation.
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Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition - PlayStation Portable
Final Fantasy Ranking: 12 of 12

Review based on Playstation 1 re-release not PSP

Intro:

In FF II unlike FF 1 there is no Job Class System. It is recognized as being one of the first story intensive RPG released for a console system. It is unique game as one of the first to not use an experience based advancement system but where a characters statistics are increased based on how much a certain skill was required and/or used. For example: if a player dodges an attack agility is "required" and might get a boost or when "using" a sword it might receive a boost. In the GBA version you receive regular HP bonuses outside of those gained during battle.

In this games turn based battle system the player inputs the commands for all four characters at once. With this system until you select the action for the final character you may "back up" and change the action of any or all of the characters.

You may only have up to four characters in your party but only the first three are fixed. The fourth position is a revolving door for other characters that join and leave your party. FF II was the first game to offer players the option of sticking characters in the back row. In this back row players are actually immune to most physical attacks but could still be hit by bows and magic.

Enemies of FF II are arranged in up to 4 rows of 2 monsters with 8 being the maximum amount of monsters fought at one time. Only the first two rows can be physically attacked. If the first row is eliminated the 2nd and 3rd rows can be accessed with physical attacks and so on. Magic spells are assigned through the item menu and along with bows may attack any row of monsters.

Monsters and characters are no longer separated into two windows in the battle screen and the HP window is located at the bottom of the screen horizontally unlike FF 1. You may also use less than 4 characters if you desire in this game which wasn't possible in FF 1.

This version of an experience system had a number of unintended consequences allowing players to trick the game into rewarding experience. Players could attack each other physically or magically repeatedly and potentially receive weapon, defense, HP, and MP bonuses. Also when selecting commands for the first 3 characters and then canceling could still result in a bonus for the action canceled.

Pro's:

Without an ATB system you select all 4 characters actions at the same time and with this are allowed to back track and change actions as long as you do not select an action for the fourth character. Combining the monsters and characters into the same screen and having the HP window at the bottom make the game a little more recognizable to late bloomers.

Con's:

With the job class system gone there is even less flexibility than in FF 1. Not being able to customize the characters is a real downer. Seems like the player is along for the ride instead of commanding the action.

Conclusion:

This game is one of the worst of the series in my opinion. I am a fan of micro managing, customization, and flexibility which this game is basically a tutorial in the opposite. It plays decent with an ok story if you can get past the rest of its downfalls. A must play for any Final Fantasy enthusiast, but if not, play another installment of the series first so this game doesn't turn you off from Final Fantasy completely.
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Final Fantasy III - Nintendo DS
Final Fantasy Ranking: 9 of 12

Review based on Playstation 1 re-release not Nintendo DS

Intro:

FF III takes one of the initial leaps in technology for the Final Fantasy series. Unlike FF 1 where you picked a "job" and were stuck with it and FF II where there weren't any specific job classes this game introduces the "Job System" to the numbered series of Final Fantasy. Healing and damage are now shown on/near the character instead of in a captioned window for the first time.

Auto targeting makes an appearance in this game allowing the character to physically attack a different monster if the originally targeted monster is dispatched before the characters turn. Magic on the other hand does not benefit from auto targeting though. The experience system of FF 1 makes a return after its absence in FF II.

With 23 jobs flexibility is offered in FF III as there are 279,841 possible combinations when using 4 characters in the party. All 4 characters start out as onion knights or freelancers depending on which version of the game you are playing. Characters are provided more jobs to equip as more crystals are found and various side quests completed.

FF III is the first game of the series to feature special commands, such as steal or jump, other than magic. These new skills are available through the use of job classes. It is also the first of the series to feature the summon command that would be a staple of future installments of the series. All job classes are accessible to all party members but switching jobs consumes "capacity points" which are rewarded much like gil after winning a battle. The longer a character remains with a job will increase their proficiency in that job and thus requires less capacity points when switching to it.

Instead of allowing certain people to use certain weapons, like most in the series do, the weapons and equipment a character can use are determined by the job class they are currently using. Different jobs also feature innate abilities unassociated with battle such a thieves ability to access passages without the key it would normally require.

Pro's:

This is a good game that introduces or revamp's a few good components. The Job System is reintroduced from FF 1 which was neglected in FF II. Also, the auto targeting function of physical attacks is first present in the numbered series here. The ability to equip weapons and equipment by job instead of by character is a nice change. Finally, the new option of special commands like steal or jump which are associated with different jobs is introduced. The introduction of the summon command was presented in FF III as well.

Con's:

Not being able to save in a dungeon sucks. Thinking about it I can't think of many issues i have with this game for it's era, memory, and technology available. I will have to replay this game to comment further on its con's.

Conclusion:

Another step up in RPG gaming by Square. With the auto targeting, summon, job system, and reintroduction of experience points are all major advances for RPG's. This game is pretty good and worth the play but definitely feels like an old FF which were, in my opinion, all trial and errors until FF VI when everything finally came together.
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Final Fantasy IV - Super famicom and SNES
Final Fantasy Ranking: 10 of 12

Intro:

This is the first Final Fantasy game in the series that really grabbed my attention. This isn't surprising as it was one of the first of the series to be released stateside. This has the typical class system with character specific abilities received upon attaining fixed experience levels. Also the classes of the characters are locked in and there is no job jumping.

Final Fantasy IV introduced the ATB system(invented by Hiroyuki Ito) in which both monsters and players act simultaneously in battle. FF IV is thought to have pioneered the idea of dramatic storytelling in an RPG.

In this installment you can control up to 5 characters in your party. Magic users, which make up 8 of the 12 playable characters, learn spells at fixed levels or at fixed story events. Magic spells have been given an enhancement in FF IV due to employment of the SNES Mode 7 Technology. This technology also enhances airship travel making it more dramatic by tilting the ground for a birds eye view.

Originally FF IV was slated for release on the NES but do financial and scheduling restraints was eventually released on the SNES. Initially Hiromichi Tanaka, the main designer for FF III, was involved in the development of this game but he wanted to create a seamless battle system with no separate screen and was not menu driven(i.e. FF XII well before it's time) and square was not prepared to go down that road yet. Instead he went to work with a different development team on a little project called Secret of Mana.

Pro's:

For those who hate to micro manage yet still like RPG's this is more of a game for them. The story is good, the game play is good, and all spells/abilities are earned through predetermined experience levels gained or at fixed story events.

Con's:

For those of us who love to micro manage this game has little to none of it. FF IV has all the classic elements of an RPG but the flexibility in this game is virtually non existent. The only real way to try to gain an edge is to wander around the world map and gain enough levels to maybe get a spell that was given at a level that the game didn't think you'd get to at a certain part of the story.

Conclusion:

With little to no flexibility in the games skill and battle system this game plays surprisingly well. Many aspects of the game ended up feeling neglected. This may not be the fault of the game at all as it was the due to lack of available memory of cartridge games at the time and FF IV was reduced to 1/4 of its original size to fit. This logic doesn't seem to coincide with the statement made that FF IV was originally slated to be released on the NES which has considerably less memory than that of the SNES cartridges. All in all FF IV is fun to play with a good story and likable characters even if its fairly cookie cutter with its lack of options.
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Final Fantasy V - Super famicom and SNES
Final Fantasy Ranking: 8 of 12

Intro:

A return to the Job Class System from Final Fantasy 1 but this one has more options available. With 22 classes available to choose from(26 on the GBA) there is a decent bit of flexibility to this system. Unlike FF 1 and III, in FF V you can select a Sub Job Class which allows you to use abilities from more than one job. This is really handy when in certain situations a white mage's lack of strength and HP won't cut it fighting but you could really need the cure ability as well.

The characters start out as Freelancers as their initial class. Like FF III you can switch classes mid game but unlike FF III a few of the abilities learned from the various classes can be retained when switching.

For the second time in the numbered series Active Time Battle(ATB) system is present. In this version of the ATB the player can visually see which character will be up next for the first time. This is possible by the addition of the ATB bar which fills up faster the more speed a character has and indicates which player may take action next. This ATB system would be featured in nearly every subsequent Final Fantasy. Also, there is the first instance of a reoccurring mini boss, like Ultros of FF VI, named Gilgamesh.

Pro's:

The implementation of the sub job option is a serious improvement to the previous FF Skill Acquisition Systems(SAS) in my opinion. This rather unassuming game, that didn't even warrant release in the states apparently, was in my opinion the biggest stepping stone leading to FF's eventual popularity. Although it wasn't released in the states until a rehash on the PS1 it is at least responsible for its one day success, through the improvements made, in the USA in my opinion.

Con's:

Apart from being unoriginal and just expanding on a previous system the small tweaks this game offered would turn out to be revolutionary. While the job/sub job option offers significantly more customization to each character in your party the game as a whole is pretty forgettable. The classes don't really take on a life of their own like say the dress sphere's form X-2. Making a stronger attempt to distinguish the classes from each other would have added some much needed depth to them.

Conclusion:

FF I-IV all had pretty mundane SAS' and here in FF V we see the start of a trend in mainstream RPG's where customization is vital. When seeing how adding a simple sub class increased options and flexibility the fan's were able to personalize the characters and, in case of character specific dialogue, the game itself in multiple ways. When discussing with friends it could turn into an argument about why one class is better than the other.

Often, when something is discovered, 90% of it is known in the first 10% of the time spent exploring it. This is evident from my previous statement and in FF VI's SAS. FF V is the Stone Mason/Mayan/or Atlantian of the FF series. Before it everything was pretty much the same and after it everything was considerably more advanced. FF V offered only minimal flexibility but compared to its predecessors it was a slinky to their rock.

The Class/Sub Class idea was revolutionary as it gave the characters a deeper sort of identity and allowed players to "raise" their favorite characters. This revelation led to the characters giving the "class" an identity unlike in FF VI where the "class" gave the character an identity. That being said FF V was the stepping stone to the Final Fantasy series taking off in the States if nothing else. Case in point: If we just take into account the numbered series only FF 1 and IV, less than half, were released in the USA. After V came out, also not initially released in the USA, every single numbered Final Fantasy has been released in the states. Many will argue its because of FF VI's success, which is fairly accurate and FF VI is easily a better game, I would argue that FF VI never would've been a success if it hadn't been for the revelations brought upon by FF V.
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Final Fantasy VI - PlayStation
Final Fantasy Ranking: 1 of 12

Review based on the SNES original release and not PS1

Intro:

All spells and Summoned Espers are acquired, learned, and/or summoned from Magicite. Magicite is the concentrated essence of an Esper that is produced when an Esper becomes deceased. Some Espers will voluntarily give up their magicite, some make you fight them to prove your worthiness, and others are found, bought, given, or otherwise acquired. Celes and Terra each start with a few spells which can be learned later in the game from magicite. Each Magicite allows the person equipped with it to learn 1-5 different spells, summon that Esper, and most give a stat bonus at level up. Espers are ready to use once the magicite is equipped for a decent chunk of MP but the spells have to be learned. To learn a spell, lets say fire, you must be equipped with an Esper that teaches fire and fight some monsters. After winning a battle you receive AP which is experience points for spells. Each spell requires a number of AP according to its ratio. These ratios range from 1:1 (1 AP= 1%, need 100 AP to learn) to 1:20 (1 AP= 20%, need 5 AP to learn).

Some characters learn skills through the standard way of leveling up such as Sabin and his Blitz's and Cyan with his Bushido. Others learn abilities from monsters like Strato learning some abilities he is attacked by and Gau learning by jumping on an enemy in the veldt and fighting a couple fights there until he returns to the party having learned the monsters ability. An interesting lesser known fact is that the secret character Mimic can actually use any of the abilities of the other characters you have such as Sabin's Blitz's or Edgar's Tool's through a semi hidden option in his status menu.

Pro's:

Since the Espers are given to you at certain intervals in the game the ratio's of AP needed to learn certain spells varies from Esper to Esper. For example: in the earlier part of the game Cure is learned from Kirin at a ratio of 1:5 and later can be learned from Sraphim at a ration of 1:20 showing consideration for characters only available later in the game allowing them to "catch up" in regards to spells.

Unlike most Skill Acquisition Systems(SAS) every character can learn every spell and use every Esper and even has a character like Mimic who is a doppelganger and can not only learn every spell but can also use any skill of any character you have. This allows you to be extremely flexible when selecting a party where you end up picking by skills since you don't have to waste 2 spots on a white and black mage.

Con's:

I really have no cons for this system. One thing I might suggest to make it even better would be to have emphasized the skills more. Other than when you initially get a character and there is usually a little demo on that persons skills they don't even sit in the backseat....they're in the trunk. Most of the time you learn them while trying to level up, learn spells, or earn money...point being when your hitting the 'A' button as fast as you can after battles and you don't even know you've learned it. There are only a few people that have skills that level up this way so this is why its a suggestion and not a con. Two that come to mind are Sabin's Blitz and Cyan's Bushido techniques.

Conclusion:

Far and away one of the best SAS' out there. With the flexibility of everyone being able to use white and black magic, therefore not having to waste two party slots on white and black mages, outweighing its inherent lack of variety. This allows for a party based on personal preference to the characters and or skills they possess instead of the magic they can wield. This often overlooked fact of FF 6's flexibility is why this game has one of the best SAS' out there not to mention its about 15 years old.
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Final Fantasy VII - PlayStation
Final Fantasy Ranking: 7 of 12

Intro:

First of all I absolutely hate this game. It was 3D but just barely and characters didn't even have fingers, noses, or mouths. I honestly don't know what people see in this game. Even with emulation now days I still wont play this game as it is utter shit. That being said FF VII still deserves the respect that all RPG's with Final Fantasy, that wasn't used solely for marketing, in their name deserves. I'm about to say the word dare not said in my FF circle,.....Materia.

Materia is the basis for FF VII's Skill Acquisition System(SAS). Each piece of equipment has 1 or multiple slots to equip materia which is acquired throughout the game. Different types of materia allow you to use different spells and abilities. Certain materia can be linked to other materia like "All Materia" which changes a spells effectiveness from one member to all members. An interesting note is that if you have two of the same weapon one might only have one materia slot while another of the exact same weapon might have two. A decent bit of micro managing is needed with this system but as a whole is fairly academic with not too much attention to details needed.

Pro's:

The SAS is very innovative. It has a FF VI feel to it in that everyone can pretty much learn any spell by equipping the materia. This means the characters are type cast into the familiar warrior, mage, thief, etc... but can be taught skills not of that class. One of the most important parts in a game and especially the SAS is to have flexibility to mix and match whichever characters you feel most fondly about if you so desire and not be pigeon holed into selecting party members based on attributes that are beneficial but only available to certain character. The materia system was a good idea that was put in the backseat, like a number of aspects of this game, due to emphasis on utilizing the abilities of the new 32-Bit Sony Playstation had to offer.

The use of Materia and having different grades of the same weapon/armor is a fairly ingenious idea. If you need one extra materia slot it is possible to simply buy or steal another one of the same weapons that has an additional slot as materia slots vary between not only different weapons but the same weapons as well. This SAS, while one of the worst functioning I've ever seen, is very unique and was a step in the right direction as far as flexibility and customization goes. Materia offered the ability to micro manage characters and make them however you want which had become the mainstay of any good RPG and was founded upon the success of the almost sand box flexibility in customization of characters seen in FF VI.

Con's:

I am admittedly biased against this game so I'm gonna take it easy here as, while all of this list is my opinion, I have tried to keep it as impersonal as possible.

This SAS had real potential but never received the attention, as well as other aspects of the game, it deserved. The feeling I got after playing it upon initial release date and attempting to play it a few other times is that it was either rushed, transition from SNES to PS1 was harder than anticipated, not enough talent in a few developmental departments, or a combination of the three.

I would have preferred a block palm with an attached square with lines for fingers much more than the baseballs the characters have for hands. While this isn't important at all as far as gameplay or even really graphics it's an eyesore that is present twice for every character. Also the character have no mouths or noses. If you didn't know better you'd think you were playing Super Bomberman RPG. These minor flaws are more annoying than they actually degrade for the game and the only reason these things really bother me is due to the immense praise this title gets.

Conclusion:

I thank the FF VII fanatics for allowing Final Fantasy to prosper as it was a desperately needed boost upon entering the 32-Bit scene. When looking back on the FF line encompassing FF VII it is actually a setback as far as graphics(just visually) and Skill Acquisition System(SAS) go in my opinion. The story, battle mode, and the innovative puzzles are Final Fantasy quality and my problems with the game are fairly superficial. While these problems are minuscule, you can overlook a girl being chubby if she's a sweetheart but can't overlook a gorgeous girl with toes for fingers. Point is, while she still has "fingers"(FF VII having graphics and a SAS) it doesn't mean they work properly or are pleasing to look at and if you don't pay them any attention the rest of the package is so outstanding you can deal with it.
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Final Fantasy VIII - PlayStation
Final Fantasy Ranking: 3 of 12

Intro:

Similar to FF VI, where you equip Espers, in this one you equip GF's or Guardian Forces which actually learn the abilities that the person equipped with that GF can utilize. Any character can equip all or none of the GF's. The GF's also learn abilities that refine items, objects, tools, and cards into other items, objects, tools, and cards. This makes playing the card game very helpful and acquiring the character and other rare cards can add some very luxurious items to your inventory. In FF VIII the GF's take time to be summoned based upon the relationship between character and GF(basically length of time equipped increases relationship).

The second part of this system involves a great deal of micro managing, my favorite, for substantial stat bonuses. Unlike other FF's this one encourages you to hoard your spells. In FF VIII there is no MP and you must "Draw" spells from enemies mostly, and some draw points around the world. The draw points are essentially infinite but they only replenish after a certain amount of time has passed. You can draw an infinite amount from an enemy and often when you find a spell you want you'll spend 15 minutes fighting one guy stealing 100 of the spell for each of your party members. You can also draw GF's from certain bosses. Certain spells drastically increases stats by junctioning them to strength, HP, vigor, etc...or adding status effect to attack and defense.

GF's can learn the ability boost which can increase their attack power up to 250% but its random and can actually decrease power to 75% if unlucky. Only 3 GF's need to be acquired to complete the game and the others are completely optional. In order to use battle commands other than to attack you must be equipped with a GF that has learned that command and equip it via the ability menu. Abilities must be equipped to use them and ability slots are few. Certain GF's can learn abilities such as Ability x4 which increases the available ability slots.

The experience system in FF VIII is unique in that each character only needs 1,000 experience points to go from level 1 to 2 or from 49 to 50, etc... The other games require progressively increasing experience points per level. Enemies and bosses are on a sliding scale meaning they level up with you. If you return to an earlier area of the game the types of monsters will be the same but stronger. This also means that they might have new magic to draw from them.

Limit breaks have received a tweak in FF VIII as well. Instead of having a meter that increases when attacked, like most limit break systems, this one allows for limit breaks only when HP drops to critical, except for the spell Aura which initiates limit break at any HP. Each character has a limit break that is representative of the characters style. It is said that when performed properly Irvine's "Shot" and Zell's "Duel" are amongst the most powerful limit breaks in the entire series.

Pro's:

This system allows for a lot of flexibility where the GF's actually learn the abilities and can be switched from character to character and the stat bonuses come from junctioned spells which can be transferred from one character. This allows you to basically interchange characters for the most part. It can be a lot of fun tracking down new monsters to draw 100 of each new spell and checking out how well it works for different stats. Constant micro managing of which spells are junctioned to which ability can make this game a lot easier.

Con's:

Constantly paying attention to new spells to draw, which ones are the best for which stats, and taking the time to draw a full compliment for all characters can seem endless at times. The most depressing part is while doing this you gain no experience and neither does your GF as far as abilities go. Just sitting there selecting Draw..Draw..Draw.. is mind numbing but worth it...

Conclusion:

This SAS is my favorite one to date. It is mind numbing at times but well worth it when you find a good spell that doubles you HP. I love to micro manage and in FF VIII it is essential when junctioning. All the refine commands provide so many options its hard to keep up at times. Unlike FF IX where the card game is basically pointless in FF VIII it is an easy way to gain an edge by refining various cards into some high end equipment or items. You don't spend a lot of time using magic as all the best spells are best used by junctioning. The GF's learn some pretty cool abilities, specifically the refine skills. I would love to see a re-installment of these refine skills. Very innovative and a lot of fun.
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Final Fantasy IX - PlayStation
Final Fantasy Ranking: 2 of 12

Intro:

All spells and abilities are learned from equipment worn and fought battles in. When equipping weapons, armor, and accessories stat enhancements are not the only consideration to take into account. This is FF IX's System of Acquiring Skills(SAS). When highlighting equipment to equip the various stat enhancements are shown as well as up to 3 spells/abilities they can learn from it. Only certain equipment can be worn by certain people and only certain people can learn certain spells taught by those items. Therefore just because a character can equip an item that teaches cure doesn't mean they can necessarily learn cure. That being said each character has a life of their own because they are the only ones that can learn certain abilities. Zidane can steal, Garnet and Eiko are the white mages, Vivi is a black mage, Quinna eats weak enemies and then can use their abilities, Freya jumps, etc...

The Limit Breaks are replaced by trance and are learned by leveling up. Trance is automatically initiated when the trance gauge reaches capacity. Trance received very little attention and I only knew when I'd gotten a new one when the trance gauge filled up and a new one was on the list. The problem is you have no control over it until it automatically happens. Once trance is initiated every action taken by that character reduces the trance bar until it's depleted. After the trance bar is depleted or the battle is over the character reverts to normal, potentially not getting to use it at all.

The Spells/Abilities are learned from items at different ratio's that are constant throughout the game on different items. Therefore, if an armor and an accessory both teach cure they will both teach cure at the same rate. One quirk to this is that if you equip an armor and an accessory that both teach cure you will receive double the AP (1x AP for each item that you can learn it from). Also, you can learn the ability 'Ability Up' which doubles the amount of AP earned during battles which would quadruple the amount of AP under the previous armor/accessory scenario.

Each character has a certain number of AP which is used for equipping abilities. Abilities can be utilized as soon as you equip an item that teaches it but unless it's learned (earned the required amount of AP to learn the spell) your ability to use it will vanish once you unequip that item if it hasn't been completely learned. To equip an ability such as Locomotion (prevents status effect: Stop) you have to enter the ability screen, have 4 AP available and select it. Gaining more ability points for equipping abilities is as easy as leveling up.

Pro's:

This system is one of my favorites but that's because I love to micro manage and explore every nook and cranny. That is very beneficial in this Skill Acquisition System(SAS) since the items found in hidden treasure chests or from doing side quests are typically rare and the very things that teach you spells/abilities. It's possible to beat the game without getting the best spells, eidelons, and abilities, but if you're reading this list that isn't you I'm guessing. Micro managing by constantly checking equipment to make sure those AP are going to good use can be overwhelming to some but is a plus for me. Having to use AP points to equip abilities is a nice way to encourage leveling up and, besides Zidane, characters are never usually more than a few AP from being able to equip everything they can so it works well.

Con's:

Not much flexibility as party selection goes in this game. Eiko and Garnett are the only ones that get white magic. Quinna gets the ability white wind but is only useable in battle and Freya gets a regen spell but that's about it as far as others with white magic. Therefore, you'll probably need to have either Eiko or Garnett in your party. There's one slot. Stealing weapons and armor from bosses is essential as they often carry rare or better stuff so you need to have Zidane. This isn't a big deal as he is the main character and often can't be exchanged but none the less it handcuffs you as far as party selection. That's two spots. If you want to use black magic, which is the only way to beat some monsters and is really nice when coming across a monster that uses vanish on itself, you have to have Vivi. That's 3 spots. This leaves one real spot for your choice. This is about the usual but it also kinda sucks...

Conclusion:

I really enjoy this system and game. If you take the time to learn all the abilities as soon as they become available to you your characters will have no problems at all in any boss battles (besides any that actually require a strategy to beat them other than brute force which is few) because you will level up plenty in the process. The fact that this game is geared towards micro managing/explore every nook and cranny people like myself allows me to overlook the problems i stated with party selection handcuffing. My style of play is rewarded in this game by rare items and efficient spell/ability learning which is why I rank it so high. This game doesn't get near the hype of FF VII or even VIII gets and other than the card game being worthless is superior in every aspect, except maybe junctioning, to both combined if you ask me. The characters are given well thought out and implemented histories. I can't say this about a lot of the FF games but you begin to feel sort of connected to the characters which drives you to complete the next task to help them. It also helps that this games sense of humor is half way in the gutter dropping a few curse words along the way.
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Final Fantasy X - PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy Ranking: 4 of 12

Intro:

This instillation of Final Fantasy introduces the Grid system to the FF world. The grid system is fairly straight forward and the world of equipment, skills, and magic is defined by it. There are also empty nodes that can be turned into bonuses from items received during the game. Each character starts out in his own spot spread throughout the grid with locks influencing which direction he or she goes. Without using keys to open the locks you basically learn the characters given skill set as well as receive stat bonuses to shape them into the type of character they're designed to be. For example: magically inclined people will receive MP and Magic Power bonuses while the physical brutes will receive Strength and HP bonuses.

While playing the game you get key's from defeating monsters, treasure chest's, and are given some. These keys are essential to character customization. The Grid is setup to give certain characters certain abilities by guiding them via locks. These keys allow you to enter another characters "area" and learn their various skills they are guided towards. Key's aren't easily found and they also are the only way to unlock special skills so its often more beneficial to save them for the special spells/skills rather than try to turn everyone into Auron.

This game marks the first installment to transition from entirely pre-rendered backgrounds to fully 3-dimensional areas and also the first to use voice acting. Unlike previous FF's this one is the first in the series to spawn a direct sequel in X-2. The towns and world map of this game have been fully integrated with terrain outside of town built to scale. There is still a transition to a battle screen when randomly encountered though.

A new battle system dubbed Conditional Turn Based(CTB) is employed on these discs. Simply put the CTB does not revolve around rounds. Meaning, each character is not assured equal number of actions. Characters with greater speed will get more actions than a slow character simply cause their bar might fill up three times in the time it takes the slower character to fill up twice. Once the CTB meter is full that character is available for an action. During this time action stops switching the focus to strategy and decision making instead of reflexes and instinct.

Each player has a Celestial Weapon that can be acquired through various side quests such as winning a lot of blitz ball for Wakka's Celestial Weapon. Limit breaks are replaced by overdrives in FF X. Most of these overdrives are interactive and require buttons or combinations of buttons to be pressed at certain times to increase effectiveness.

Pro's:

Like most Final Fantasy games this one is geared towards a micro manager to take the best advantage of this Skill Acquisition System(SAS). Knowing where each character is on the grid and where to get the various HP bonuses is a must for flexibility in gameplay. Also knowing where the various essential special abilities can be very handy when utilizing a key. This game offers a lot of flexibility for party creation as all characters can learn all abilities. It's a lot harder to make that happen in this game as opposed to FF 6 but possible.

Con's:

I like the fact that you can only see what the nodes are if your close to them and not able to see them all....but it would go a long way for me if the stat bonuses were visible and the spells/abilities were unknown. More keys would be nice for character customization. What would be even nicer would be a New Game+ that removed all of the locks and revealed all the nodes on the grid. I don't think that's an option on this title. Also, having to waste those hard earned points on being able to equip a wood shield or other crappy piece of equipment gets to be a real downer.

Conclusion:

In theory each player can learn every spell/ability. In reality that would take forever with out sufficiently more keys. Fact is you can learn the ones you want without too much time spent leveling. The grid is a good system but something still seemed missing. Flexibility is good but weapons and armor get neglected fairly easily when you can get a few more points and move to a node that gives you 500 extra HP.
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Final Fantasy X-2 - PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy Ranking: 6 of 12

Intro:

The Skill Acquisition System(SAS) in FF X-2 is an updated version of the class system with outfits called dress spheres. In this edition not only can you change outfits during battle it is encouraged and, once you get a special sphere, rewarded. Different dress spheres can be found throughout the game that each character can equip. Equipping different dress spheres change the characters skill set as well as outfit. Special dress spheres can also be found which you can morph into during battle. Each person can obtain a special dress sphere unique to them which comes in 3 parts. These ones can only be switched into during battle making it more difficult to level special spheres up.

When equipping a sphere there is a default ability selected to learn but you have the option to learn which ever ability you choose. Unlike FF X when an ability is learned the game will automatically select the next ability in line to learn and give the points to it until you select a different ability. While equipped with a dress sphere you earn points from battle to level up the ability selected to learn. Each character can only use the abilities of the sphere equipped but can change sphere's during battle through the use of the Garment Grid System.

The final quirk in this system is the Garment Grid System. Each character can equip a garment grid which gives the character a stat bonus of some sort and is the basis for changing sphere's during battle and accessing special sphere's. Some grids also allow you to cast certain spells. The various garment grids are set up with different amounts of slots open to place dress sphere's in and have different arrangements of paths between them. The paths indicate what sphere you can switch to from the one currently selected. They come in simple patterns like a 2 point straight line(allowing easy access to special spheres) and get more exotic like a 5 point star.

Moving along your selected garment grid is an easy way to have an edge on your opponents. The position of dress sphere's is vital. You don't want to have to waste 3 turns trying to make it to the white mage to heal when you could have placed the white mage sphere next to your current sphere and only spent 1 turn to get there. Same if you want to steal out of the blue and have the thief sphere adjacent in somebodies grid.

Lastly, to access the special dress sphere's you have to make a trip around the grid. This means changing into every sphere on that characters grid and then having the option to change into the special sphere. This is most easily done by using the 2 point straight line grid. Since you can only change into the special sphere's during battle it can be tough to level these sphere's up but they are very powerful, have independent HP, MP, and stats from the character (meaning the party disappears upon using the outfit, outfit dies, party reappears to fight), and well worth it. Once morphed into a special sphere you will still have basically three characters as you will have a main part and two sub parts that you can direct in battle.

Pro's:

This SAS is a nice twist on the class system. The special sphere's can be a pain to level up but those who do are rewarded with some super powerful abilities and since they operate independently with HP and MP its almost like having three extra party members. The ability to change "classes" during battle is the biggest tweak. To allow this, and give switching sphere's a life of its own, you have to use the sphere grids. The grids are a nice touch since they allow the morphing into the special sphere's, transition from available sphere's, allow you to use spells, and give stat bonuses. The amount of side quest and mini-game type stuff to do in this game is impressive. In fact, it is possible to complete the game with only a 45% completion rate making the main story less than half of total completion.

Con's:

I'm not the biggest fan of the class systems because of its lack of flexibility but these tweaks make this SAS interesting and quite entertaining. An all woman party kinda sucks except for the outfits. While the rest of the series may be male heavy on the characters there was always at least one female present. I believe this game has the fewest playable characters in the entire series with three. While this seriously hinders flexibility and is a real buzz kill it allows you to concentrate on these three and not worry about leveling up and equipping unused party members.

Conclusion:

The class system brings back the nostalgia of the 8 and 16 bit eras. While most Final Fantasy games play with an upbeat attitude like Rikku's this one plays like Paine's attitude: dark, dreary, with a touch of gloom. There is an ever present feeling that something horrible just happened which I assume Square meant to do as this game follows the tragedy of Sin. The system itself is pretty fun to play and once you get the special spheres you will become an expert on garment grids if you aren't already. Square did a great job of really making the outfits stand out. They are as, or some might say even more, memorable than the abilities they allow you to use(or maybe cause they look like Mardi Gras negligee on pretty girls).
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Note:

I have not played Final Fantasy XI or XIII so my reviews on these two games are based solely upon speculation, other reviews, walkthroughs, or from friends that have played them. This one I haven't played because its a MMORPG. I've always thought an Elder Scrolls type Final Fantasy would be awesome and here is a platform for that to happen easily. Making FF XI an offline game and substituting NPC's for the PC's would be awesome. It would seem that this would be fairly easy to accomplish for those who know what they're doing and would bring this game to the masses of us who don't care to pay a monthly fee to play a video game.

Intro:

Final Fantasy XI was the first cross-platform MMORPG and is currently available for Windows, Playstation 2, and Xbox 360. FF XI differs from all other FF's due to it being a MMORPG and your character being one of about a half million other heroes. The hallmarks of RPG's such as leveling up, exploring, and completing quests/missions are still present but instead of a party of characters in which you control every action your party consists of other players online who wish to join it.

Fights take place in real time, which was emulated in part in FF XII. The world of Vana'diel evolves through the passage of time providing an ever evolving world to explore. Player's are allowed customize their characters through a face editor and a few other options not seen in any other FF's. As in FF XII there is no transition from world map to a battle screen and the battles essentially take place on the world map.

In FF XI there are two new features called "Claim" and "Enmity" that need to be taken into account when confronting monsters. To keep passerby's from interfering a monster is considered claimed once an aggressive action is taken towards it. Enmity is taken into account when in a party. Enmity is often referred to as "Hate" and almost every action taken generates enmity. Whichever character has the highest enmity level amongst the party members will be targeted by the monsters and subsequently attacked.

The class system similar of Final Fantasy III and V is present in FF XI and there are currently 20 jobs available for play. There are 6 standard jobs available at the start of the game and once one of them reaches level 30 the remaining 14 can be obtained upon completing certain quests. Each job has unique abilities that must be equipped in order to take effect. These abilities only last for a certain amount of time and then have cool down period before it can be used again. Each job also has an extraordinary 2hr ability that, like the name states, is not available for 2hrs after its use. There are also passive abilities each job possesses which are constantly in effect.

Similar to the job system from FF V your character is allowed to equip a support job. In this case the support job allows the player to use all skills of the support job up to half the level of the main job. For example: a level 20 warrior can equip ninja as a support job and can use any ability from the ninja class up to level 10(half of the level of your main job warrior).

The maximum level that can be reached is 75, however, in June of 2010 the maximum level will be incrementally increased to level 99. Once the maximum level is achieved experience points turn into limit points which can be redeemed for new abilities, traits, and stats.

There are benefits to playing well with others. FF XI's limit break has been replaced by weapon skills. When giving and receiving physical damage your tactical points bar is filled up to a maximum of 300%. The effect is governed by the % the tactical points bar is at, proficiency with the equipped weapon, and what job class the player is. While battling in a party players can link weapon skills in succession to create a skill chain for additional damage. Also a well timed spell during a skill chain will result in a magic burst which does additional damage.

Pro's:

The best part about MMORPG's is that the world is always evolving, new players are added daily, and all the enemies/friends you meet along your game are actual people you can interact with. That being sad I haven't played this game so I can't comment much in this section.

Con's:

Having to pay a monthly fee to play a video game is ridiculous. Millions of people do it and I don't knock them for it but, as far as myself, I refuse to buy a game and then proceed to rent it monthly in order to play it.

Conclusion:

Hope to see an offline quasi elder scrolls version of this game. It would sell millions of copies just to the hard core FF fans who absolutely hate having this hole in our collections.
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Final Fantasy XII - PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy Ranking: 5 of 12

Intro:

Like Final Fantasy X, FF XII also has a direct sequel which was released for the Nintendo DS titled Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. Experience is gained as normal but instead of AP(Ability Points), LP(License Points) are used to acquire skills, stat bonuses, spells, Esper's, and Quickenings via the License Board.

Similar to FF X's Espers join the fight instead of replacing the party and fighting by itself but instead of being an extra member it replaces everyone but the summoner. An Esper will leave if its summoner or the Esper itself becomes knocked out, it's time limit expires, or it executes it's special attack. In FF XII you do not control the Esper's actions rather it operates independently on hidden gambits.

A new battle system is introduced in this installment called "Active Dimension Battle" or ADB. Basically ADB allows battles to take place on the same screen as world exploration where in past FF's once a battle began you entered a different window specifically for battle. You are allowed to switch characters in and out of the active party at will with an exception if you are currently being targeted by an attack or ability.

Gambits are an interesting idea on how to merge turn based abilities and skills of multiple characters into more of a Zelda like adventure/RPG. The gambits are made of 4 parts: the target(ally or foe), condition(indicated by the gambit), action to take(spell to cast, item to use,etc...), and priority to execute it(manual commands take priority over gambits, the gambits are displayed in a list and the ones on top take priority if conditions are met by multiple gambits. For example: the gambit
"Ally: HP
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Final Fantasy XIII - PlayStation 3
Not included in ranking

Note:

As stated above I have not played FF XI or XIII and my reviews of these two games are based solely upon speculation, manuals, walkthroughs, and friends that have played them. This one I haven't played yet simply cause I really haven't had the time to give it the attention it deserves. It's so easy to half ass through a game not paying much attention now days with the internet there to tell you what to do next. I want to play it through once without cheating and the best way for me to do that is to wait until I have plenty of time and can give it the attention it deserves.

Intro:

FF XIII is the first of the series to appear on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 and is the flagship game of Square-Enix's "Fabula Nova Crystallis Project". The latest battle system this title features is called Command Synergy Battle(CSB) which is being touted as "more tactical than FF X", "faster than X-2", and "almost as seamless as FF XII". As in FF XII monsters are again visible and there are no random encounters.

Something I will have to experience to understand is that apparently you can only control one character at a time and later in the game can be switched out. The game also states that the other party members' actions can, however, be affected by a system called "Paradigm Shift". Paradigm's are referred to as "stances" or "classes" that are temporarily utilized during battles and define the abilities they can use. A paradigm is a combination of three roles and cannot be changed per character but must be changed for the entire party. Paradigm's, however, are more strict than job classes. For example: a character with the healer's role equipped can do nothing but heal while someone in the attacker's role can only attack with physical and magical attacks.

Eidolon's return in FF XIII and are linked with a race called l'Cie. They are given the power to change shape. Each character has only one Eidolon and when summoned replaces the party similar to FF X-2 but in FF XIII the summoner remains and can still participate in battle alongside the Eidolon. Eidolon's are summoned by the use of Technical Points which are won after battles. Instead of HP Eidolon's have Summon Points(SP) to indicate their health. The Summon Points are slowly depleted until gone and then the Eidolon disappears and the party returns. Eidolon's and their summoner can also be morphed into one which is called "Gestalt Mode" where combat is more action oriented. This mode will last as long as the Gestalt Gauge is not empty. The Gestalt Gauge is filled as the summoner builds attack chains with their Eidolon's.

It seems like the battle system took a step back(the right direction in my opinion) and sounds like its a return to the turn based system in some fashion. FF XIII lacks a staple to RPG's by not receiving experience points for defeating monsters. Instead the characters grow in power in a system similar to the sphere grid of FF X which is called "Crystarium System".
"Crystogen Points" are received from battle and are used like License Points from FF XII to purchase stat boosts, spells, and other abilities on a circular chart. After selecting a skill paths open to new ones. The abilities you select effect the other abilities that will become available to you. For example: learning fire opens up a path to fira and other spells.

The Active Time Battle(ATB) returns in FF XIII but is now divided into sections. Now each command has a numerical value associated with it which is referred to as "ATB Cost". The numerical value refers to how many sections a command will take. Therefore not only does your speed/agility govern how fast you can act now so do the actions taken. For example: when using an action that only costs 1 ATB your next turn will be considerably faster than taking an action that costs 3 ATB as the ATB bar does not need to fill up all the way, only from the point it was drained to by the action. Due to this ATB cost FF XIII has no MP, and since magic is unavailable outside of battle your parties HP is fully replenished after every battle.

There are no Limit Breaks in this installment due to the unique summoning powers. There is also no way to run from battles(not that I ever flee from battle but no option to runaway?? WTF?!?) once the battles are initiated. There are still items that can be used to avoid battles though. An interesting feature of FF XIII is the option to replay the battle instead of resuming from last save point if defeated. This is a pretty nice feature if your caught off guard by something and sometimes those save points are before a lengthy diatribe that being able to avoid will be greatly appreciated. Save points have a shop option now to buy or sell items from which will come in handy in dungeons or what not that have a save point just before the boss which now can be used to pick up some much needed potions or remedies or whatever. Also leveling up should be much easier considering there is no need for tents or ethers when HP is restored after every battle for free and MP is nonexistent.

The Chain Gauge is a new element added to battle as well. It is specific to each enemy and depletes as the player performs attack combos marked by percentages. If the combos continue "Stagger Mode" is entered where increased damage is possible. After the battle a victory screen pops up and rates the battle from 1-5 stars and provides a breakdown of fight statistics. These numbers are linked to the PS3 and Xbox 360 Trophy and Achievements.

Another oddity, like no experience or MP, is the fact that you cannot win gil. Instead it must be found in spheres or acquired by selling items.

Anticipated Pro's:

This game sounds like it has a lot of potential. It sounds like the turn based battle system is in at least some fashion back. While I know one day the turn based era will be dead it won't happen until a better system is found. Maybe this will be the one. Having not played this game I have no clue whether all the new systems will function well, be effective, and engaging so I will reserve judgment until I have actually played it.

Anticipated Con's:

No experience, can't win gil, no MP, can't use magic outside of battle, having HP restored after battle, and the statement that only one character can be controlled are all recipe's for disaster if you ask me. Once again having not played this game I'll reserve judgment until having played it. Who knows, maybe it all works perfectly and its the best system ever.....

Tentative Conclusion:

There are quite a number of changes that all seem fairly original, at least to the Final Fantasy series. The grid system of this game sounds interesting and emphasis on timed button chaining sounds engaging. One of the worst parts of RPG's is how mundane leveling up can be. Having the option of paying attention and timing button presses will give the player something to practice/do while grinding out a few levels. All in all I am very excited about this game. With all the tweaks and innovations it will be an experience if nothing else.
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This list was originally titles "Variety of Skill Acquisition Systems of Final Fantasy" but I soon found myself rambling too much about other aspects to call it that. This list is lengthy, repetitive, and a hell of a dry read if you aren't a Final Fantasy Fanatic(F^3). I really enjoyed making it and it is accurate to the best of my knowledge and/or memory. I will admit that towards the end of making this list it was hard to stay focused and on task but it was probably cause I made the list in only about 12 hours. That includes a ton of fact checking and some actual game time. This is actually my 2nd list but the first I did in about 30min to kill time so I'm considering this to be my 1st. I doubt anyone will read much of it and reading the whole thing in a lifetime might not be possible, haha. Anyways, I had a lot of fun making this list and if anyone gets anything out of it, it will have been worth the effort. Constructive criticism is definitely appreciated but cut me a little slack since I'm basically a Listal virgin. Depending on the comments I receive, if any, I might do another list but for now it was a fun way to remember all the classic and future classics of the epic Final Fantasy Series.

Note:

I wrote notes and then made the list from them so some of it reads like a series of facts instead of like a story which I intended. I would've held off on releasing it until I fixed that but it's gonna take some time to reword and I figure if anyone points anything out to me I can fix it at the same time. I will be updating this list over time to make it an easier read and use any suggestions that make sense to me. Yes, my comma button is getting a little wore out, haha!

Thanks to the Wiki for a refresher course on FF XI, FF XIII, and those ancient 8-bit titles.....

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