Branching out…lets hope this works.

I have decided to open shop on Facebook. If anyone is interested I am attempting to sell some of my wood works. I don’t know how well its going to go, as this is the first time I have tried selling through Facebook (I have typically gone with Ebay, but I get more attention from FB). Even if your not interested in buying, please visit my page or tell others if you think they would be interested.

Fantasy Arms by Paul.jr

Currently in the shop: ‘Mini SOLDIER’ swords!

 

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Ladies, dont burn up your husbands affections.

Was having a deep convo with a friend the other day and he had talked about the fact that because of his wife’s attitude and previous actions earlier in their marriage, he was struggling with keeping affection for her. Oh, he loves her, but his big issue was that, when he hears songs on the radio that SHOULD make him think of his wife, he just cant bring himself to put her in that place. Too much pain is still there, the deep cuts still bleed, and her attitude after all their struggle doesn’t seem to have changed much.

Ladies, don’t burn up your husbands affection towards you. Sometimes its a slow burn caused by disrespect, anger, disobedience, sometimes its a quick flare up when you do something that does catastrophic damage to your marriage – but eventually he will tire. He will still love you, but when he looks at you all he will see in his minds eye is years of struggle, and it will be as a great weight on his shoulders. Actions have consequences.

My history with Final Fantasy, Part 6

We are coming to the end of this series of posts, and, as is typical, some of the best has been saved for last.

The story behind the sexy beast that is Final Fantasy 14 is an incredible one. After the success of FF11 I’m sure Square Enix was ready to tap into the MMO market one more and reap that sweet, sweet lucre, but the bitter taste of FF13 was bad for a lot of people. FF14 needed to be a hit for SE to recover, but that didn’t seem to be in the cards.

Final Fantasy 14 was a game people wanted to love, but couldn’t. There were too many issues with gameplay, with balance and with the system for it to be an enjoyable experience.

 

Set in the world of Hydaelyn, in the realm of Eorzea, players could create a character from one of several races (mostly recurring from FF11, but with different names), then assign them a job class based on their equipped weapon. From there they could join parties with other players and tackle dungeons, quests and Guildleves, special tasks that would garner experience and treasure.

Square Enix says they went wrong by trying to make a game that “just wasn’t FF 11”, instead of trying to make a new experience, and it showed. The players rejected it. Rather than abandon the game altogether, Square Enix did one of the things they know how to do best:

They destroyed the world.

The preceding video may be kind of lengthy, but it shows the dedication SE had to making this game work, and is a prime example of why I will always be a fan of the Final Fantasy series. The developers integrated and end of the world scenario into the game! Players got to witness the moon, Dalamund, be summoned from the heavens by a cult, only to have the great dragon Bahamut break free from its core and rain destruction down on the realm!

All was not lost, however, as the legend says that the four warriors of light were able to help protect the people and, after much time, Eorzea has been reborn. This lends to the games new title – Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn!

This game is a Final Fantasy fanatics dream come true. Everything that was lacking in the old version (1.0) of the game has been redone and made into an incredible system! The story itself is worthy of the FF moniker, and the amount of throwbacks and references to older games in the series cannot be missed, and each one is a welcome surprise! The games mechanics are much more than point and click, many of them require thought and deep interaction with your party members.

Though its not a great quality you can certainly watch my slightly epic battle against the fiend Ifrit:

Everything about this game is very, very good. The visuals are astounding, right down to the scales on armor, the reflections off of water and the soft shadows of the forest trees. The music is incredible and cannot be described, it must be heard! Just listen to the songs that accompany these video clips!

Because this is a currently running game I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that if you are looking for an MMO to get into or even if you are veteran who wants something different, try Final Fantasy 14! Look me up! Takhisis Darkhart on Lamia server!

http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/lodestone/character/2964885/

PS: For those of you who have never played an MMORPG and are wondering why I play a female character remember this: You plan MMO’s from a ‘behind the character’ view. Personally I would rather spend several hours looking at a shapely behind (or worse, a Roegadyn. Or even more worse, a Lalafell….).


Coming up – the much awaited conclusion. What lies in the future for the Final Fantasy series?

My job as a man, Part 4

Love and Affection
God loves us. If He didn’t, we would know it. He provides us with all we need, without us even asking. Many times He gives us MORE than we need. He gives us time for leisure and provisions for things that we enjoy. I don’t need my small collection of Final Fantasy collectables, but (as odd as it sounds), thank God that I have enough that I can eat and have clothing and a home and a car, yet still have a little left over to buy something insignificant and fun.

This, to me, is proof of Gods love and affection for us as His children. Likewise, as husbands we should give our wives and children both, but I feel we need to better understand the difference between the two. Personally I feel that they are often seen as something interchangeable with one another, but this is not the case. You can love someone, yet withhold affection (which is sometimes necessary), and you can also be affectionate toward someone without loving them.

Love
Do you get up every morning at 5am, trudge into the kitchen for a cup of coffee before you get dressed, then head out before the crack of dawn to your office/field/job site? Despite your sore back, throbbing headache and your jerky boss, do you continue to do this every day? Every. Day. Over and over, just so your family can have a nice house, nice clothes, clean and healthy food and a car to drive around in? Congratulations! You are expressing love! It’s not a difficult thing, and its something men really do excel at. Yes, we may complain sometimes, but, if your anything like me, when you see your family happy and healthy, it doesn’t seem so bad. The majority of men really do love their wife and kids, and would easily sacrifice their own lives to keep them safe. In fact, men DO sacrifice their lives, as the toll of working every day, the mental and physical stress, leads to men dying much earlier than women, and that says nothing of the occupational hazards. I work in an office, which isn’t so bad, but there are greater men than I that face death, dismemberment and danger every day, then turn around the next day and do it all over again. This willingness to sacrifice ones self for the benefit of others is what Jesus called “no greater love”, and though we often attribute it to ones willingness to throw themselves in front of a speeding bullet, the daily sacrifice of a husband is a more than adequate example of that love.

Affection
Affection is a difficult topic for me. Not because I don’t know how to show affection – I believe most men do, but because I personally feel that modern women have an affection addiction, and they often think that how much affection you show them equates to how much love you have for them. Its actually not much different than how your kids think, but its completely wrong.

Affection is a direct result of your emotional state. If you are happy with someone, if they have been good or kind or acted properly, your affection will increase. When they act poorly, mistreat you or are disobedient, your affection will decrease. This is not to be mistaken with love, which is a constant, despite pain and hardship (well, for the most part). When your affection for your wife and children is high you may find yourself buying them gifts, treating them to a night out for ice cream or allowing them privileges they don’t normally receive.  Some would think this is a bad thing, but I tend to see it as a way for those under authority to learn what pleases those whos authority they are under. This behavior is not un-biblical, either, as the Lord promises blessings in return for our obedience in many scriptures:

But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’
‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days maybe long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
When we are disobedient to God, His affections may leave us, but His love never will.
Now, as a man it is important to understand that women greatly desire affection. It, like drama, is like air to them. As a result of this some women may try to get you to believe that the amount of affection you show them is a direct correlation to the amount of love you have for them, but you cannot and must not fall for this sleight of hand trick. If you do you will be expected to shower her with a continuous flow of affectionate gestures, which I assure you will tire you out and likely break your bank account. Modern women and men ascribe to the false statement ‘happy wife, happy life’, and this is not only a lie, but is a direct contradiction to scripture, which says if we base our happiness on the things of this world (including other people) we will be sorely disappointed.  Certainly we see men that allow their children to control the heartstrings of their fathers and we shake our heads in shame, yet these same men would allow their wives the same control and we fall back to the ‘happy wife, happy life’ fallacy.
I have always believed that women have ALWAYS been addicted to affection, but only in the past hundred years or so have men been able to supply them with a constant stream of it. In days long past many men didn’t have the luxury of working jobs that were so close to home. Instead of leaving in the morning and being home by dinner (or visiting for lunch) some men would have to hop on a boat and be gone for months or even years before coming back. I recall just recently watching the movie In the Heart of the Sea (an excellent film, by the way. I highly recommend it) and during the opening scenes one of the main characters indicates to his wife that he will be at sea for two years. TWO. YEARS. I’m sure his wife appreciated every bit of affection she received from him and likely did whatever she could while he was around to stay in his good affections. However, because men nowadays are often gone in the morning and back by dinner it almost seems like there is an excess of affection and, like any drug, when you use too much of it you require more and more doses to get the same buzz. Affection is a good thing, but too much of a good thing turns it into a bad thing. We, as men, must understand that when affection is not being earned, it should be reigned back. To continue to give affection for bad behavior is to train a child, or a wife, to be a spoiled brat.
Up next, the final chapter: Sex

My history with Final Fantasy, Part 5

This, unfortunately, is where things start to fall apart between Square Enix and myself. To me, the last great Final Fantasy game was 8, and the beginning of the end started with Final Fantasy 12.

Final Fantasy 12 was a game closely tied to another game, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which appeared on the Nintendo Gameboy. FFTA, in turn, was spawned from the excellent Final Fantasy Tactics, which appeared on the Sony PlayStation (PS1). I cannot sing the praises of the original FF Tactics enough! At times very, very difficult, it was, indeed, a tactical game. If you can find a copy I would highly recommend purchasing it or, if it is downloadable from the PlayStation store, get it. Even better, if you own a PS Vita, see if the revised version, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, is still available for purchase.

Enough about that – back to the task at hand.

Final Fantasy 12 shared the same races and settings as FFTA and it was quite a departure from the normal setting of the previous games. The world of Ivalice is set in a more Middle Eastern environment, with sprawling cities inhabited by different vendors, desert wastelands that go on for miles – like I said, quite a different setting.

FF12 centers around a young man name Vaan, who lives on the streets of Rabanastre as a bit of a vagrant, but who dreams of becoming a sky pirate. Running the streets with him is his best friend, Panelo, a young girl orphaned when her parents died during the war. While pilfering goods from the royal palace Vaan comes across the goddess magicite, a treasure apparently wanted by a number of people, as, nearly immediate after swiping it, he is met by two others who want it, the pirate Baltheir and his sidekick, Fran (a cute bunny-girl known as a viera). From there they meet other party members and partake in a quest to save the world (pretty typical, eh). I almost beat this game, but wasn’t able to before my old PS2 memory card was destroyed and I lost the saved game.

FF12 had some really good things going for it, but I think some of the choices made by SE caused some problems. A short list of good/bad things:

  • No more random battles! FF12 used the Active Dimension Battle (ADB) system, a system very much modelled after FF11 with a few improvements. This meant that monsters could be seen on the landscape and you had a choice in whether to engage them or not (well, unless they were blocking your path).  Battle lines would now tell you what monsters were attacking who and who your party members were attacking. By default the system was semi-automated. Your party would automatically deliver weapon attacks, but you could, at any time, issue commands for them to take certain actions. You could also issue them Gambits, which were preset rules for certain actions. For example you could assign a party member the rule to use a Potion item whenever anyone in the party had hit points less than 50%. It was unique, but unfortunately led the way for later problems (coming up later).
  • Back to the three party member limit, but you are able to swap other party members in and out during combat, including those who have been KO’d. All party members must be KO’d to get a game over.
  • You can get more experience and items if you kill chains of enemies (Battle Chain). Defeating many monsters of the same type quickly creates a battle chain that progressively garners you more stuff. Taking too long to defeat the next monster in the chain, or killing a different type of monster, will break it.
  • Characters gain experience points from defeating monsters, but defeating bosses gain you License Points (LP). LP could be used to move your character around the License Board. The board looked like a chess board and every square has a different something attached to it: an ability, a license to use a piece of armor or a weapon, a stat bonus, etc. Moving a character on the board would unlock the contents of a square.
  • Summons (called Espers in this game) were gained by defeating them or obtaining them from the license board. I recall that they weren’t very powerful. In previous games using a summoned monster on a pack of random monsters most certainly meant their death, but not so in this case.
  • Unfortunately powerful monsters would seem to single out and target one of your party members, meaning you often had to have someone on standby just to keep curing/healing them, which made play really disruptive. I didn’t like that at all.

Although I never beat the game I really wanted to. Being the second FF game on the PlayStation 2 it really did look absolutely incredible. The sound was good and some locations were works of art! Dozens of people walking around, lots of movement and tons of conversations going on amongst the people, really cool stuff.

FF12 spawned a sequel for the Nintendo DS called FF12: Revenant Wings


Ugh….this is where the Doom Train starts to derail (a little FF humor there).

Final Fantasy 13….I don’t even really know where to begin with this. As of this moment I am actually playing through FF13 on my PC, the game having been ported by SE quite a while ago. Let me tell you, it is a chore, to say the least. Though the foundation of Final Fantasy started to shake back with FF12, FF13 is the game that has been that same foundation crumbling. Personally I feel the game has done more harm than good to the series overall.

The game takes place on Cocoon, a place hovering above the world of Gran Pulse, essentially cut off entirely.  Both Cocoon and Pulse are ruled over by large beings known as Fal’cie (pronounced fall-see). Cocoon is deathly afraid of Pulse and any exposure to a Pulse Fal’cie will result in a person being purged, ie: killed. Fal’cie can select a human and, by branding them with a special mark, can turn them into L’cie (pronounced luh-see), which grants them enhanced powers and abilities, including magic. Once branded a L’cie will be given a Focus. Failure to complete ones focus turns them into a Ciet’h (see-th), a mindless monster doomed to wander forever. Completing ones focus, however, transforms them into a crystal, with the promise of eternal life.

The story centers on a female soldier named Lightning. Through a series of events revealed as the story progresses Lightning’s younger sister, Serah, has been turned into a L’cie by a Fal’cie that ended up in their home town. Afraid to tell Lightning, Serah instead tells her fiancé, Snow, about the problem first. Unfortunately when the military shows up to purge the area, Serah gets taken up into the Fal’cie (they are very large) and both Lightning and Snow follow after to save her. Along the way they pick up a couple of extra people who all have stories of their own that are tied into the mysterious appearance of the Pulse Fal’cie. Serah completes her focus and is turned into a crystal, and, in a fit of rage, both Lightning and Snow attempt to kill the Pulse Fal;cie only to be branded as L’cie themselves, along with all in their party. From there they must find their focus and complete it before they turn into monsters, but along the way they find out that being turned into a crystal doesn’t mean death, and that L’cie who have completed their focus may be able to come back. Uncertain of what their focus is, they opt to destroy the government of Cocoon, the Sanctum, and the story goes on from there.

Its not as confusing as it sounds, but the game engine itself has some inherent problems. These problems, combined with actually storyline problems, make the game difficult to play:

  • None of the characters are likeable, as it seems everyone is whiny and mean. Lightning has a witch of an attitude, Snow seems like he has a better attitude but at times he whines like a girl, Sahz is mopey and angry, Hope is angry and weak (though he tries to do better, but still comes off as weak), Fang is very masculine for a woman (her attitude, not her body) and Vanille is very annoying (she is supposed to come of as kind of innocent I guess, but she doesn’t). Not one of the characters is really likeable! Compare this to Final Fantasy 6 where every character had different personalities, some dark and brooding, some light hearted and care free, some wise. It’s depressing!
  • The combat system is not fun. FF13 combat puts you in control of a single character, with the other two characters controlled by the computer. Each character has a Role that pretty much tells them what to do. These roles can be changed by using a Paradigm Shift. Unlike FF12 you cannot issue commands to anyone but the character you are controlling (the party leader), and even that is painstakingly slow. The best thing you can do is issue a command to auto-combat which makes the party leader select actions based on what’s best at the moment for their role. Not only that, but characters can perform so many actions on their turn based on how full their action bar is, but at the end of their turn the bar is mostly empty and it takes quite a long time to fill back up.
  • Performing a Paradigm Shift causes all your characters to go into an animation during the change, but the animation does not stop enemies from attacking while you wait. The first shift you go through shows each individual character animated in separate scenes, which takes up a lot of time in the middle of combat. Subsequent shifts show everyone going through their animations at once, which is helpful, but still annoying.
  • Since you only control the party leader your main concern is to keep them alive! If the party leader goes down its GAME OVER! Even if the other two party members are still alive and untouched! I have no idea why they did this after the method in FF12 working out well!? It’s extremely annoying!
  • Enemies will target a single ally and smash them! Weaker allies are targeted often and their ability to sustain damage is very low. As a result you spend a lot of time trying to keep THEM alive instead of trying to keep your party leader alive! It is not uncommon to see a magic using ally with full HP get dropped to the floor by a single attack. If they are in a non-healing role and you have to perform a Paradigm Shift to get them into a healing role you are pretty much hosed, as the animation disruption will leave them completely open to attack until the shift is complete!
  • Summons (called Eidolons in this game) are weak! I have had situations where I summoned an Eidolon and had it beat the crap out of just regular monsters, go into Gestalt mode for more, STRONGER attacks, then finish with their finishing attack ONLY TO HAVE THE ENEMIES STILL STANDING! And summoning isn’t cheap either, as it can only be done with Technical Points, which are replenished after combat. The better you do in combat (finish faster, score more damage points per second, etc.) the faster they replenish. But you can only have a maximum of 5 at a time, with summoning taking 3! You will likely not be able to summon two battles in a row.
  • Stagger: the majority of larger enemies don’t take much damage until you hit them enough to put them into Stagger. This causes them to take more damage and enables you to use certain abilities during combat (such as Launch). The problem is that it can sometimes take a lot of work to get an enemy there and once they are staggered there is a time limit on how long they will stay that way. If you don’t do enough damage in time they will exit stagger mode and you will have to work to get them back there again. They still take damage when they are not staggered, but it isn’t often enough to make much of a difference.
  • Weapons and accessories can be upgraded, but require materials to do so. Simple materials will add points towards the next level, and will eventually add a point bonus. Advanced materials will greatly increase the points towards the next level, and are best used AFTER basic materials to take advantage of the bonus. However, FINDING either type of material is hit and miss because you don’t always get spoils from enemies. You can buy materials in the shopping module, but money (Gil) is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO COME BY! During my current run through the game I have found the easiest way to get cash is by selling needed items like Phoenix Downs (these revive a fallen ally, and are critical to have on hand) or to sell items that drop only from human type enemies (namely Credit Chips and Incentive Chips), but you don’t often fight these types of enemies, so it still becomes very difficult to advance your equipment. In fact, during my run through the game I found a spot where I can run back and forth, fighting soldiers over and over again. I have spent well over ten hours in this one spot, gathering chips and selling them, then using the money to immediately buy materials and upgrade my equipment. My current weapon for Lightning, the Axis Blade has been upgraded to well past level 20, and it is STILL UPGRADEABLE. This has come at a great cost to me. In fact, in ten hours time I have not was not able to upgrade all my characters equipment to a sufficient level because I got tired of spending all my time in one area.
  • The game seems EXTREMLY LONG. I have played FF13 once before, long ago on my PS3 and I know that I am not even to the point that I have left the world of Cocoon and headed down to the surface of Pulse, which is another entirely different section of the story, yet I have been playing for hours and hours and hours and hours. The game seems to move far too slow! Ten minutes of combat, twenty minutes of cut scene. Ten minutes of combat, ten minutes of cut scene. It is painful!

There are more things I can list that are wrong with the game, but I have gone on long enough. FF13 spawned two sequels, FF13-2 and Lightning Returns. I am hoping, beyond hope, that these two games will pull everything together and redeem the time spent investing in the characters (story-wise, I mean). I am currently playing 13 more as an effort to  be able to finally beat ALL the Final Fantasy games (I have many to go, as I have not beaten some of the older ones), but I certainly would never recommend 13 as a game for a new RPG player to cut their teeth on. I have not played either sequel, but have purchased them for my PC.

Interestingly enough, the fashion company Louis Vuitton has recently acquired Lightning as one of their models. A virtual model, yes, but a model nonetheless. Kind of odd, but I guess someone out there really likes her.


Wow, that was brutal. Take a deep breath and relax – redemption is coming. The next post will be about one of the greatest Final Fantasy games since 6, FF14!

My job as a man, Part 3.5

Discipline
No one really likes to talk about discipline. I mean, even though the one BEING discipline suffers the most, the one administering the discipline suffers a little as well, whether its a parent/child or a criminal/society (through the proxy of a officer of the law). The suffering, however, does not exempt the one with the authority from delivery discipline where it is needed, and this is the problem with many Christian men.

As a Christian man God has given me authority over those in my home, both wife and children. With that authority comes the responsibility of disciplining those in my home, both wife and children. Most Christian men will work hard to discipline their children with the full understanding that discipline helps to shape them into adults who understand respect and consequences. Most Christian men, however, will not discipline their wives where it is required. Now calm down and refrain from striking your computer screen. Yes, I did say that husbands should discipline their wives as well as their children, though the form of discipline should be very different. Why should we discipline our wives, you ask? Well because there is a little curse in the bible that says that women will desire to rule over their husbands, but their husbands will rule over them (Genesis 3:16). According to the word of God wives will act rebelliously at some point (attempting to rule over their husbands). Though the extent of that rebellion will vary from woman to woman, it WILL happen. When it finally does, we, as men, have one of two choices: “Deal with it” or “Don’t deal with it”.

The modern church and society will tell you to pick the second choice and feed you story after story about why you shouldn’t deal with it. The church will tell you that, as a husband, you don’t have the authority to deal with a wayward wife, while society will tell you that your sexist and probably call you an abuser. Not dealing with it can seem like a good solution for a moment but you will end up paying dearly in the end. Women, like children, will test the waters of authority to see what they can get away with, what it takes to make a man cave. She will test every weapon in her arsenal from a wry, sexy smile to rivers of tears. The ones that work she will continue to use where applicable while the ones that don’t will be shelved for the time being, but will be tested again for effectiveness. I know this sounds horrible, and indeed it is, but it DOES happen. Many men are blind to it, fully aware of their wives behavior, but unable to come to terms that she could consciously do this. Other women, sure, but not MY wife! Failure to recognize and stop these tests can be disastrous, as they will only lead to a degradation of your God given authority. Recognizing these tests and failing to acknowledge and stop them is even worse, as you are consciously allowing your wife to usurp your authority with your full knowledge! Read the last post in this series for a reminder of what God things of those who shirk their authority and responsibility.

A quick note: Some church goers will admit to a mans authority in marriage, yet deny that he has the authority to discipline his wife. In every authority God has created on this earth He has given the ability to discipline those underneath it. Why would they think that the authority of a husband over his wife is exempt from this? There is nothing in the bible indicating that, in this case, marriage is exempt. Marriage is held out as something different than any other relationship on earth, but the authority of a husband over his wife is not questioned or denied.

Going with the first option can, and probably will, have equally devastating effects on your marriage, with the only saving grace being that you will be fulfilling Gods will by properly maintaining your authority. Again, discipline for ones wife is not the same as discipline for ones child. The bible says

Proverbs 23:13

“Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.”

This pretty much clears the way for corporal punishment, but nowhere does it say anything about “beating your wife”.  Biblical Gender Roles has a great post on what disciplining your wife should (or could) look like, so I will refer you there rather than write anything about it here. I will say, however, that before taking on this endeavor, if it becomes necessary, spend some time in prayer for wisdom and strength.

The best thing that can happen is your wife will see the error of her ways and change her attitude. The worst that can happen is she will hate and divorce you – a very real possibility in this modern age of no-fault divorce. Even if she is a ‘christian’ woman don’t doubt for a moment that the possibility is real. There are plenty of ‘christian’ women who have already divorced for unbiblical reasons and your wife undoubtedly knows at least one or two. Add that to the already poisoning effect of modern Christo-feminism and you could be looking at a lot of trouble.  Be prepared, mentally, but most of all, spiritually.


It has taken me forever to get this article posted, and even now I don’t know if I have fully explained this issue very well, as I know what I think in my head, but have trouble putting it down in written form. I may revise this post some time later.

I don’t think I will have a whole lot of posts left in this series, but I know I have at least one more: Love and Affection. Keep an eye out.

My history with Final Fantasy, Part 4

The next couple of posts are going to go by quickly, and you will see why once you start getting into them.

A quick word on my previous post: Final Fantasy 7 really was a great game, and it succeeded in doing something that no RPG video game before it had done – it make RPGs more popular in the West. You see, these types of games were a big thing in Japan, and some of that spilled over into the West, but RPGs had never really gotten a very good foothold on American shores. FF7 tore that veil wide open by becoming a technological powerhouse on the PS1 system, and something that everyone had to have. If you were to ask me I would say that FF7 is single-handedly responsible for the growth of MMO RPGs due to the fact that it, finally, drew so many people who had never played that type of game before into the fold.

Final Fantasy 7 is going through a ‘remake’ of sorts for the current generation of systems, and, although it looks great, it looks like more of a ‘reimagining’ than an actual remake. I am still a little leery of this, and this post will help you understand why.


 

Squaresoft, the company that created Final Fantasy games, was a big deal in Japan. An even bigger deal, however, was Enix, the company that developed the Dragon Quest series of games. As big as Final Fantasy was back in the day, DQ was bigger and held in higher regard. (this is all based on what I remember hearing at the turn of the century).

movie posterNow by 2003 Squaresoft had suffered some pretty hefty setbacks financially. By 2001 they had put together their own movie studio and created the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a high budget film at 137 million dollars and the first attempt to bring a fully computer animated, photo realistically rendered film to the theaters. Despite it’s big budget and big name cast (Ming Na, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland, James Woods – some heavy hitters in Hollywood at the time) it was a financial flop, pulling in only around 85 million dollars. Squaresoft was devastated and immediately shut their studio down.

Personally I liked the film and I would highly recommend watching it just as a history piece of what the very first realistic computer generated film looked like. To this day I think Professor Cid is an incredibly realistic looking character, even when put up against some of the modern realistic models in games and movies. Overall it was a good sci-fi film, though I can see where some people might get confused when dealing with the plot.

As an aside you can also watch the collection of animated shorts ‘The Animatrix’, a tie in to The Matrix movies to see some of Squaresofts additional work. The short titled ‘The Last Flight of the Osiris’ was rendered by Squaresoft using some of the Spirits Within models.

I don’t know if this failure had anything to do with the next step of the Squaresoft saga, but I soon caught word that RPG giant Enix was poised to buy them out and merge the two together. As a fan I had concerns from the get go. Two big companies merging, one of them with an already greatly established series of games – I felt that one of the two was going to suffer, and was certain that Enix would never do anything to harm the Dragon Quest series. In the end I felt Final Fantasy would suffer, but wasn’t sure how long it would take, seeing as how the last FF game was a raging success. Little did I know that the pain was just around the corner.


FF8-LOGOFinal Fantasy 8 was a good game. Centered around a group of kids from the mercenary school, Balamb Garden, who are set upon a mission to destroy a sorceress, we are introduced to the main protagonist, Squall Leonhart. Dark and brooding, I don’t remember if he ever feels personable until the end of the game.

FF8 introduced a couple of different unique items and systems to the FF world. No one who has ever played the game could possibly forget Squalls gunblade weapon. It, too, has become a rather iconic piece in sci-fi/gaming history.

Unlike previous games where magic users would learn spells and consume magic points (MP) to use them, FF8 introduced the draw/junction system. Once equipped with a summoned monster, called a Guardian Force in this instance of the game, players would need to ‘draw’ magic from monsters or magic points on the map and store up spells. It wasn’t well received as the system was kind of counter-intuitive. Characters would gain attribute boosts based on the number of spells in stock, which meant you didn’t really want to start blasting everything with magic because you would be draining your own stats. Also, I think people just got weirded out by not seeing the system the were used to.

FF8 also did not utilize the same experience point/leveling system as previous incarnations did. Previous Final Fantasy games, and most RPGs out there, utilize an experience point system that basically works like this:

  1. Kill monster
  2. Gain x amount of experience based on how powerful the monster is.
  3. Gain a level when your experience gets to x value.
  4. Each new level requires you to collect more experience than the level before.
  5. The farther away you get from the starting point of the game, the stronger the monsters become.

As your characters got stronger weak monsters would be useless for gaining experience, while at weak levels you would never want to face a higher tiered fiend because he would wipe the floor with you in one turn. FF8, however, tossed all that aside. Every level, from 1-99, required only 1000 experience points to achieve. Monsters, however, grew in power the same way you did. In other words, the monsters you were fighting at level 1 would still offer a challenge at level 50 because they would automatically increase in power to match your level. It was a weird system, and some people found ways to take advantage of it by going through the majority of the game without fighting at all until you could take advantage of abilities that would give you better stats when you finally did decide to start leveling up.

Overall it was a good game with greatly improved graphics over FF7, great music and some truly great moments, but overall it fell flat for me. I don’t remember a whole lot of the game.


FF9-final-fantasy-ix-2689108-1280-1024By the time SquareEnix got to working on Final Fantasy 9 there had been a bit of a backlash from their fans about the direction the last two games had taken. Both FF7 and FF8 scored pretty low in the ‘fantasy’ department and seemed more like sci-fi epics than anything resembling the fantasy genre. In an attempt to return the series to it’s fantasy roots a few changes were made:

  • By this time pretty much everyone who was a fan of the series knew about the missing games the U.S. never got from Japan. Our FF2 was their FF4, which means we missed out on the REAL FF2 and FF3, in addition to FF5! The first five games of the series all had a similar element in that the story was somehow centered on elemental crystals (or crystal orbs). Final Fantasy 9 promised to be a ‘return to the crystal’.
  • The previous two incarnations of the game focused on somewhat realistic representations of the characters rather than the ‘super deformed’ characters of games past. Most of this was due to better graphical technology, but FF9 promised to return characters to the much loved style.
  • The previous two games had deviated from the typical four person party of older games (instead using a 3 person party). FF9 promised to return to four person parties.

Final Fantasy 9 did not disappoint, as it was chock full of great ‘fantasy’ elements and did a lot of things right. I have to admit, however, that it is the FF game I remember the least, as I just couldn’t get into it at the time. As I stated before, I believe it was mostly due to the fact that, by this time (the year 2000) I had three kids, all very young and was struggling with work – suffice to say I didn’t have much time to play and when I did, it was typically to advance the storyline as fast as I could.

The story centers around a young thief named Zidane Tribal (who has a tail, btw) who is part of a travelling band of performers called Tantalas. The group has been hired by someone to kidnap the princess of the kingdom of Alexandria. During the kidnapping, however, things don’t go quite as planned as the princess, Garnet, is more than willing to be abducted, her personal bodyguard, the stalwart soldier, Steiner, does his job in trying to protect her and a naïve black mage named Vivi gets sucked into the melee. Add to this the queen mother, angry that the princess has made off with a priceless heirloom and her cronies, the Black Waltzes, who are tasked with finding it and there is plenty of action to go around. This is just the beginning of the story and, in typical Final Fantasy fashion, the party of heroes soon finds themselves involved in a mission to stop an enemy who has their plans set on world domination.

Visually the game rocks, building, again, off the skills Square Enix learned in the last game. The game also does a lot of things right, but also does a couple of weird things:

  • Active Time Events: ATE’s are interesting little additions that would allow the player to see certain events that are taking place at the same time as the current event on the screen. For example, you may be watching some interaction between the main character, Zidane, but by watching the ATE you might see a scene that is happening, at the same time as the current scene, but involving the black mage Vivi. It’s an interesting, multi-perspective view of events, and since you sometimes had multiple ATE’s to pick from, you might have to play through the game more than once to see them all. This qualifies as ‘a good thing’.
  • Skills: Rather than learning skills and abilities by leveling up but instead gain skills and abilities based upon their current equipment. By equipping a weapon, for example, you would have access to the skill said equipment provided. As you used it in battle you would gain Ability Points and, when you have reached the required AP amount, you could remove the equipped item, but retain the skill. This means that if there was a particular useful skill on a piece of equipment, but you gained new, stronger equipment, you had to leave the older, weaker stuff on until you gained the ability. Too me it seemed like a hold up. Not a ‘good thing’.

I hate to say it, but, overall, FF9 was one of my worst FF experiences, though many regard it as the best game in the series. It has recently been ported to the PC, and I may pick it up and play it again.


Final Fantasy 10 was a graphically spectacular game for its time, being the first FF game on the PS3, but again it is another game I don’t much remember. A few things I do remember, both good and bad:

  • The game takes place in the world of Spira as Blitzball star Tidus (pronounced tee-dus) gets sucked into a battle to destroy the monster known as Sin. Along the way he meets several allies, but falls in love with Yuna, a summoner whos purpose it is to user her powers to defeat the beast.
  • Summoned monsters (called Aeons) would stay in the battle after summoned, like a temporary party member. In previous iterations of the game they would deliver a single attack and then leave, but in FF10 they could be controlled during combat.
  • The typical EXP growth format changed from points per level, with stats increasing at every level increase, to the Sphere Grid. The grid allowed party members to semi-customize their stats and abilities by moving along a path on the grid, with opportunities to change your path every so often. It was an interesting, if somewhat confusing system.
  • FF10 was the first FF game to have full voice acting throughout the entire game.

I have memories of playing 10, but they aren’t spectacular, nor are they bad.

Final Fantasy 10 spawned the games first direct sequel, Final Fantasy 10-2. The game was good, but seems like it was completely created to deliver service to fans of both FF games and the magical girl genre of anime. Two of the original games members return (Yuna and Rikku), along with a new member (Paine). The three girls are Sphere hunters looking for spheres that contain memories. The main draw of the game is there ability to change clothes (job changes) using dress spheres, which, when initiated, perform a fancy, sparkly outfit swap. I don’t think I ever beat the game, though I did like the general format (and FF + magical girls = yes please).


Final Fantasy 11 was the first generation of FF related MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). The servers are still up and running as of this post, with the game having had a lifespan of well over 10 years. In fact, according to the wiki page, FF11 started in 2002, meaning it has been running for nearly 15 years, and is currently scheduled to be re-released on mobile platforms.

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FF11 differed from other FF games in that the player is not the only hero of the story. Naturally the game is filled with other real-world players, each trying to finish the main storyline of the game while interacting with other players to help them finish their main storyline as well as raid dungeons and battle monsters for equipment, weapons and spells. The story is immensely long and takes place in the world of Vana’diel. The world is populated by a number of different races and monsters, with players able to pick from a selection (Hume, Galka, Elvaan, Mithra and Tarutaru). Players also start off with on of several basic job classes (Warrior, Monk, Red Mage, Black Mage, White Mage and Thief), with other job classes being unlocked later in the game. In addition to their main job they could pick any of their other available job classes as a support job that would give them some of the abilities and stats from the selected job, in support (duh) of their main job.

I played this game for a long, long time alongside my brother. Together, along with some other online friends, we had a lot of fun adventuring and generally wasting time trying to obtain rare items that were not real. Overall, its better than sitting and watching TV, as its more interactive, but as with any online game it can get addictive real fast. The game was also pretty rough if you didn’t have a large group of people, called a linkshell to run with, as some of the challenges just couldn’t be faced with a single player.

I never ‘beat’ this game, though you cant really beat a game like this because it just goes on and on, there is always something to do. In addition to the main game there were several expansions that added new jobs, content, items, recipes and monsters. Some of it was very tough. There was a story floating around the internet of a group of players facing a particularly nasty monster (Pandemonium Warden), who played for a full 18 hours (yes, ten + eight) trying to defeat him before they started to succumb to dehydration, lack of sleep, etc.

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Up next, the home stretch, I promise!