The Final Fantasy series has underwent an insane amount of evolution across the years and generations in every possible direction. This new series of articles aims to tackle just how they have evolved, and how this evolution has impacted the series, and the genre as a whole.
This first article will speak about the evolution of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games (Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II, and Final Fantasy III) in relation to their game play and features, so let’s get started shall we!
Final Fantasy was first published in Japan in 1987, and features rather standard game play, of which there are three general categories. The over world, the field, and battle. Controls in the over world and the field are the same, the only subtle difference being how the area looks.
Also, in the over world, you eventually gain access to alternate forms of transportation such as a canoe, a ship, and an airship. In battle however, turn based menu game play is featured. The options available to your characters are: Fight, Magic, Drink, Item, and Run. Levels are gained in a normal experience points based fashion. Furthermore, there are several classes available that you are able to choose from at the beginning of the game, such as Fighter, Black Mage, White Mage, Black Belt, etc. Also, as opposed to similar games at the time, spells are bought rather than learned, and there is no “MP Gauge” that all spells share. Rather, every level of spell has a certain number of uses.
Final Fantasy II featured a rather drastic change in some of its features. As opposed to the first Final Fantasy, the second one had a more “realistic” (for it’s time) leveling system. Namely, using spells and magic made them stronger, while being hit led to higher HP. The idea being that as you use a spell more, you get used to it and are able to make it stronger, and the more that you are hit, the tougher you get. However, this led to a rather masochistic exploit in which you would get hit on purpose in order to get stronger. Moreover, there is a bigger emphasis on dialogue and interacting with NPCs, with the ability to ‘learn’ and slightly control character speech which was not available at all in the first Final Fantasy. Also, it introduces a large cast, with characters leaving and joining the party, and allowed more flexible characters instead of the job system. For example, a healer + swordsman.
Final Fantasy III brought back some old features from the first iteration of the series, while evolving others. For example, it features the return of the traditional leveling system. However, it also introduces the now well known Job system, in which characters can change their classes (or jobs) whenever they like. New jobs are obtained after every crystal is secured, and there are some bonus jobs that can be obtained form bonus dungeons. Furthermore, jobs themselves also have levels that gain experience depending on how many turns they are used in battle, and every job grows differently. Another addition to the ever evolving game play is that if a targeted monster/enemy dies, the system auto targets another enemy for you, instead of just having your attack miss. A further addition is that this is the first Final Fantasy to feature special job specific commands such as a Dragoon’s “Jump” for example. It is also the game in which summons make their debut.
That’s it for the first segment, let us know what you guys think in the comments below!
To be continued…