Final Fantasy vs Tales (Then and Now)
[Continued] Page 2
A Beginning Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy fared much better than its rival series due to the intricate narratives it told, the various ways of play through systems revolving around the combat, and its unparalleled visual production values. While it could be said that the loyalty or nostalgia is why the Final Fantasy franchise is so beloved, the games are no pushovers even in today’s times. What’s more is that the experience that comes from playing them, most notably the beautifully woven stories, is something that even captivates gamers of all ages.
Just like the Tales franchise, the games relied on a mythical and fantastical setting prior to the existence of technology (or at least a lack of access). Using nature as a focal point and the connection that it held with Crystals, powerful sources of energy, nearly every Final Fantasy revolved around using the Crystals to save the world from whatever damning evil was threatening it. Crystals were almost a quintessential element in creating the narrative for the franchise as each title involved some thematic message concerning these jewels.
Unlike Tales games which focused heavily on character interaction and their individual developments, Final Fantasy varied in the narrative style sometimes focusing on being a parody, a modern journey of a hero to save the world, or preventing an ancient evil from returning. Regardless of what it was, one phrase comes to mind when describing the overarching narrative of most of the Final Fantasy titles: epic journey. These stories involved traveling the world in pursuit of accomplishing tasks to avert some sort of disaster or vanquishing an evil. Each challenge that the heroes undertook only made the journey harder but it would strengthen their resolve to bring peace back to the world.
However, the excellence of the game’s story doesn’t mean that the cast in each game wasn’t memorable. In fact, the heroes are memorable due to their distinguishing characteristics, trauma, or feats achieved. For instance, Galuf’s sacrifice in Final Fantasy V is one of the most memorable moments in the game and greatly contributed to being one of the recognizable members in the large cast of characters in the Final Fantasy mythos. These characters didn’t exist just for the sake of saving the world but were largely motivated by their desire to save the world and uncover the secrets that it hid. Being dumb plot points wasn’t what they were. These characters carved an emotional experience due to the amazing dynamic and chemistry that each cast held in each game by their realism or eccentric behaviors.
Beyond its heroes, perhaps the villains were even more memorable and amazing. Some of the series’, or even genre’s, defining villains come from Final Fantasy. Kefka and Sephiroth are some of the notable villains in the industry today. The former was just an insane whackjob that closely resembled the Joker, except he was a power hungry jester seeking pure destruction. The latter was a traumatized war hero that took a 180 when his past and his origin was revealed resulting in his descent into madness. These villains are not only cool but are remembered as fantastic villains for the dynamic, chilling, and personality oozing performances they put on throughout the entirety of the game.
While not as great as the narrative, the combat in Final Fantasy is still revered as some of the best in the genre even though it is a turn-based game. Despite its boring and relatively passive facade, the franchise houses a myriad of customization features that work to enhance and bolster the battles into an engaging experience. Final Fantasy V brought a deep job system allowing any of the party members to be any type of fighter whether it be a white mage, monk, black mage, warrior, ninja, and more. Not only this but characters could learn abilities and traits of the jobs allowing people to mix and match the various abilities of each jobs. Final Fantasy VII introduced Materia, a glowing orb that housed abilities. Each orb contained a different ability and by equipping these abilities on characters they were able to access them in battle. The job system that was in the fifth installment was expanded upon and diversified to give birth to what exists in Final Fantasy VII, albeit differently. Depth is an understatement when describing the way one can fiddle with combat and customization options in Final Fantasy.