The Final Fantasy games are some of the most profitable video games you can find. Years ago, Square Enix remade the very first two games of the series for the Playstation. One considered a remake in both Japan and America and the other released for the very first time in the latter.
Since time began, four orbs controlled the elements of fire, water, wind and earth. Now, those orbs fell to the power of darkness. Only four warriors of light, each carrying a crystal, can restore power to the orbs and banish darkness once and for all.
That’s right, the very first game of a plot driven series has little to none of what made the series great in the first place. You never find out anything about the warriors you control, such as how they met or how they came across the crystals in the first place. Every town you drop in has just as much amount of plot and character development. The webcomic, 8-bit Theater, spoofs the very flaws you find in this game. I can’t really fault the writer for that, since everyone involved thought this would be their final game (hence why they called it Final Fantasy).
What the game lacks in story it more than makes up for in gameplay. In the beginning, you name four characters and choose a class for each one. Choose wisely, because, until you get class changes, you’re stuck with these four characters for the rest of the game. You travel the overworld map fighting battles to gain experience points. You also go through dungeons to bring power to the orbs and collect quest items. During your journey, you can visit towns to upgrade your equipment, purchase spells for your mages and resurrect dead characters. In this game, the only way for resurrection is either life spells or visiting the temple and paying the person to revive them. You can also rest at the inn and save your game. The only other saves you can do are memo saves, which is more of a safety mechanism than anything else.
This game is simplistic yet addictive. I give it 6 out of 10; a mediocre plot with fun game play.
For those of you who have been living under a rock, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or, as it’s known in every other country, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is the book that started the cash cow known as the Harry Potter series. When the movie first came out, games were made to tie in with it for obvious reasons. Despite these games all having the same title, each version differs in a very unique way. It is because of this that I’ve decided to separate each version by section.
Lately I have been in a Harry Potter mood so I decided to replay all my old games again starting with this one. While the game does follow the main story line, it also gives you a feel of actually being a student at Hogwarts. Not only do you learn new spells, you also have to make sure you arrive to class on time or lose points for Gryffindor. Unfortunately the game is not as awesome as you would think it is, but it is still a fun game.
According to Amazon.com this is “less of a game than a tour through Potter’s magical world.” I have to say that I agree with that sentiment. Not only does it let you explore the castle, you also get to attend lessons and learn magic. One part that I really liked was the obstacle course before each class. If you failed to pass it in a certain amount of time, you lose points for tardiness. It made me feel like a student when there’s a chance of being late, though if you have to go through an obstacle course to get to every class at Hogwarts, I can’t imagine many students showing up on time, some of them might have even missed the class completely. The only class you don’t have to run through an obstacle course to get to is Potions, which kind of makes Fred and George’s warning about not showing up late kind of pointless. It’s also ironic, because in the PC version, that’s the only class you show up late to.
Speaking of Potions, the game does a decent job with Professor Snape. While he is still the same snarky bastard we all know and love, or loathe depending on what kind of fan you are, I felt that the game tried too hard to pin the attempted theft of the Sorcerer’s Stone on him. When he sends you to collect fireflies, a mysterious hooded man activates a trap to send you far down into the dungeon. When you come back, Snape is surprised to see you and says that he wasn’t expecting you back so soon. While I can overlook that, there is one scene I cannot get my head around. After Harry gets his invisibility cloak, he decides to snoop around the third floor corridor only to run into Snape talking to Filch. Filch tells him that there’s someone snooping around and Snape reveals that “(he’s) had (his) eye on (the Sorcerer’s Stone) for some time.” So, basically, your way of making us suspect Snape was by making him practically confess that he’s out to steal the stone and then having us fight Quirrel in the end? That’s like making a Chamber of Secrets game where you have Draco Malfoy announce that he’s the heir of Slytherin only to go down to the Chamber of Secrets to find Ginny possessed by Tom Riddle. I get that you’re trying to mislead us, but if you’re going to have Snape say something like that without giving a rational explanation as to why he would say it, you might as well have changed the plot to have Snape steal the Sorcerer’s Stone instead of Quirrell. For those very few of you who have probably not so much as seen the movie, I’m sorry for the spoiler, but if you haven’t at least seen the movie, then it’s your own fault for not catching up with the times.
As I said earlier, the game is essentially a glorified tour and that includes Diagon Alley, the very level I have grown to despise. Hagrid’s dragon gets sick, so you have to go to Diagon Alley to get some ingredients for the medicine. Of course, you have to get money from Gringotts first, leading to six mini-games in general and you have to do really well if you want to get three hidden wizard cards. Did I mention that you have to collect paperwork on a very slippery floor and then go through a roller-coaster ride just to get money that’s floating in thin air? That’s right; any idiot who manages to collect the paperwork can get their money just by rolling the mine cart around and who knows, they might accidentally collect some of your money too. If that’s how Gringotts is, no wonder no one tries to rob you, and yes I am very well aware of what happens in book seven, but we’re not talking about the books. Oh, and after you get all that money, you now have three mini-games you have to play to collect the ingredients, one of them being that you have to chase a pissed-off peacock around Ollivander’s storage room hoping to pluck one lousy feather, and don’t even think about using your wand. In all honesty this level wouldn’t be so frustrating if it weren’t for the very fact that none of this played a role in the story. It just seemed like a desperate excuse to put Diagon Alley in the game and the only thing you really get out of it is that peacocks hate having their feathers pulled out, something I already knew. Well, that and wizard cards, but you could have easily stuffed those cards anywhere around Hogwarts. What’s really frightening is all the work Harry now has to make up because of this. Take it from me, it’s better to have to do a little work every day than have to do this huge pile of work in one whole day, and I really need to take my own advice on that one.
Anyone whose familiar with the world of Harry Potter knows about Quidditch, and it’s not only included in this game, there’s also a whole section devoted to playing it. The problem is, since you’re playing as Harry Potter, the only position available to you is Seeker and it seems like a real pain. While there is an opponent Seeker, all he does is fly through the rings never catching the snitch; if that’s how opponent Seekers not in Gryffindor play, no wonder Gryffindor usually wins. Seriously, the only way you can lose is if you get knocked out and even that is close to impossible when you trade beans with Fred and George for Quidditch armor.
Despite how easy the game is, it’s still pretty fun. The only challenge is collecting all the wizard cards and you can easily consult a walkthrough for that. Still, there were some very frustrating parts that did not belong and you never find out what Fred and George want with all the beans you gave them. I give this game a 5 out of 10, fun but not particularly memorable.
When Cloud Strife returns to Midgar, Avalanche pays him to help them destroy a MAKO reactor built by a company called Shinra. Unfortunately, Cloud’s past is starting to catch up with him. Can Avalanche save the Planet from Shinra and help Cloud face the demons from his past?
First things first, for those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in this review. I finally beat this game and it only took me years, literally. When I was younger, I had a short attention span and I had a tendency to start the game over when it became too difficult. The only reason I returned to it is because I wanted to start the whole Kingdom Hearts series from scratch so I decided to watch the Disney movies and play the Final Fantasy games associated with each one. At first, I was just going through the scenes I’ve watched over a hundred times when I was a kid and just completing it for the sake of Kingdom Hearts. Then I got to one powerful scene and I was immediately hooked.
When we first play the game, we’re introduced to Cloud, the man who helps commit an act of terrorism for money. At first, he seems like the kind of guy we imagine ourselves to be, an ex-member of an elite army and a no-nonsense type of guy who can wield a huge sword without breaking a sweat.
Then we continue playing and we discover that Cloud can be summed up in one word, failure. When he was a kid, he bragged about how he was going to be in SOLDIER and instead was turned down because his body didn’t react well to the process. Not only that, but he’s also a clone that the scientists of Shinra labeled as a failure. While this might make Cloud out to be a liar, he actually believed everything he said. What happened was that the cloning process went wrong and his memories were fused with Zack’s, a man who is everything Cloud wanted to be. Even when Cloud and Zack escape, the Shinra guards only kill the latter and leave the former alive because he’s not important. To me, when Cloud started to question his views of reality, that was when I started playing the game not as research for Kingdom Hearts but just to see what would happen later on. Cloud went from being the person we want to be to the one that we actually are. That doesn’t mean that Cloud isn’t a heroic character because in the end he decides that none of that matters and continues to lead the group on the quest.
Two other characters are Tifa and Aeris, both possible love interests for Cloud. Tifa is the bartender with a skill for martial arts and an optimistic attitude yet has trouble admitting her feelings for Cloud. Aeris is the flirtatious flower girl with a strong spirit and the last surviving member of a race called The Ancients. When I was a kid, I was constantly getting into fights with a friend on Quizilla about who was better between Aeris and Tifa. She argued Aeris because she’s strong-willed and determined to beat Sephiroth. I argued Tifa because she can kick the bad guys’ asses. I also hated that the childhood friend was ignored while the new girl came out of nowhere. Now that I play the game, I see that it wasn’t that Cloud didn’t notice Tifa, he just wasn’t sure she liked him while Aeris he was absolutely sure about. Not to mention that while Tifa might know martial arts, she has a seriously co-dependent personality regarding Cloud. She wants him to live up to a promise he made years ago and is more concerned about his well-being than she is about the group. While Aeris does like Cloud, she puts the regard of The Planet above him and is willing to put her life on the line to save it. Though her death wasn’t very powerful for me because I had a habit of looking ahead to see spoilers and I knew it was coming.
Plus, I never really got past Disc 1 when I was a kid.
I’ve mentioned Avalanche destroying MAKO reactors that Shinra creates but I haven’t really explained why. According to Barrett, their leader, MAKO is the energy used by Shinra and it’s killing The Planet. So his group blows them up to save it. This is an act of environmental terrorism and the game admits this in the form of Cait Sith, who calls Barrett out on this at the end of the game. It turns out Barrett’s reasons were solely for revenge and saying that he’s saving The Planet was his way of justifying all the innocent lives he’s taken.
Speaking of Cait Sith, when he first appeared I’ll admit that I didn’t really like him. I thought the whole concept of a robotic cat on a stuffed moogle while the owner is safely at Shinra Headquarters was absolutely ridiculous. They even got to the scene where he has to recite the spell to turn the Ancient’s Temple into Black Materia and everyone acts like it’s some heroic sacrifice while all that’s getting crushed is a glorified cell phone that could easily be replaced. It wasn’t until he calls Barrett out on his terrorism that I actually started to see Cait Sith as part of the cast.
Another character I thought was ridiculous at first was Red XIII, though he didn’t take as long to grow on me. When we’re introduced to him, he’s a big four-legged cat and one of the Shinra scientist’s, Hojo’s, project. At first, he seems like something to show how sick Hojo is by trying to force Red XIII and Aeris to mate on the grounds that they are both endangered species. At first, they only show Aeris’s disgust but when Red XIII knocks Hojo out, he’s just as much of a victim because he doesn’t like humanoid species, well not in that way. Then we go to his hometown and discover the origin of his species. So I didn’t really think of him as a talking animal as much as I did an alien race.
Just like in every Final Fantasy game since the second one, this one also has an appearance by the famous Cid. Only in this one, he’s a playable character with his own hopes and dreams. He wants to go into space and his dream was destroyed by Shinra. He blames a worker of his for destroying his dream due to the fact that she stayed behind to continue the repairs. It’s not until near the end that he has to acknowledge that she was right.
In addition to these characters, you can also unlock two secret ones named Yuffie and Vincent. The former being a materia hunting ninja and the latter being a former member of Shinra. Both of them come with side quests that help you discover more about their pasts.
Of course, no story is complete without a great villain and this one is no exception.
The main one is not Shinra but a former member of SOLDIER named Sephiroth. At first, he seems like the standard villain but as you get deeper and deeper into the game you realize that he is another experiment of Hojo’s gone wrong. When he learned the truth behind his origins, he hates Shinra and the rest of The Planet. Some of Sephiroth’s appeal is that he has a long black cape and comes with his own theme song.
The game play is every bit as amazing as the story. You travel throughout the world going to various locations in order to complete the game. During this, you unlock random battles with a system where you can attack when the bar for each character fills up.
You can equip your characters with the best weapons and armor available for them and can also fill the slots on your equipment with materia. Materia is an item that gives you special abilities for each character, such as magic and summoning spells. As you complete each battle, you can level up your characters. There is another bar for each character that fills up depending on how much damage you take. When the bar’s full, you can use a special attack that allows you to make your battles easier. You can also visit towns in order to buy items, equipment and materia to suit your needs. Oh, and you can also rest up at an inn and save your game at the world map and at a save point. Also, the game is so long that they had to separate it into three discs.
As I said earlier, this game does come with side quests. Some help you delve further into the story, others allow you to obtain the most powerful limit breaks for your characters and the rest are just there for bragging rights. Two of my favorite side quests are the chocobo breeding and the battle square. At first, I wasn’t going to participate in the latter but I decided to get Cloud’s final limit break, which I’m glad I did.
The chocobo one I just like because of my fondness for animals and having something that could travel anywhere with no limits whatsoever seemed pretty cool.
This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 9 out of 10; an oldie but goodie.