ev·o·lu·tion / n. 1. Gradual development. 2. Development of species from earlier forms, as an explanation of origins. 3. Unfolding of events, etc. [L. evolvere roll out; unfold]
It's extremely interesting to watch the engine of the game progress from 1 to the present day. Here's a comprehensive list of the things which were added and taken away to make the gaming experience ever more enjoyable! Items marked with a * contain ideas which are used in subsequent games fairly regularly and still exist in the later games. MQ and Tactics are dealt with after all the numbered ones.
FF1 Innovations: Starting Engine
- *The Job System makes its debut: Four party members can choose from 6 Jobs, which get upgraded halfway through the game.
- *When walking, only the head party member can be seen.
- Press Select to change the order of members.
- When any member is affected with a permanent status problem, he is automatically sent to the back.
- *Towns contain inns (heal all HP and magic use ability, and save game), and stores (for this game, White Magic/Black Magic/Weapon/Armor stores, and Houses of Life (revive dead allies)).
- *Item menu lets you see story items and use healing items. (In this game, only three healing potions exist: Heal, Soft, and Pure (Antidote). Tents, Cabins, and Houses can only be used on the world map. That's it.)
- Magic can be learned by almost any Job and is bought in shops. It's divided into 8 levels, with three spaces per level. You can use a limited amount of magic uses for each level; as you raise levels, your magic use grows. You can only heal magic uses by resting at an Inn or using Tents etc. Black Magic and White Magic aren't very sharp categories, as many Black Magic spells target allies and vice versa. No matter how much magic power you have, magic effects can never reach above a certain level. Magic can only affect one or all allies or enemies (you can't switch between allies and enemies, or one and all).
- Each character can carry four weapons and four armor pieces, although they can only equip one weapon each. That means that you can't have more than 16 weapons and 16 armor pieces at any time. You can drop them if you want, or sell them at stores.
Effect On Society
- *The allies are on the right side and enemies on the left side.
- Allies and enemies are separated by a vertical line. The name and HP of each character is at the far right, aligned vertically; the names of the enemies are at the bottom left.
- *Each ally chooses from a list of five options: Fight (physical attack), Magic (use magic), Item (use one of the weapons or armors in your inventory; certain equipment have special effects); Drink (use a healing potion), or Run from battle. If one person successfully runs, the battle ends.
- If two allies target the same enemy and one of them kills it before the other attacks, the second attack will be ineffective. You have to make the allies target different enemies during battle.
- Enemies will run away from you if your level is too high!
- All status problems (there are five: Poison, Stun, Confuse, Mute, and Critical) make the character kneel. If he's dead he'll keel over.
- Most weapons will hit a random amount of times. The higher the level, the more chance there are of more hits. This applies to enemies as well! (Dumped after FF3)
- *Winning battles gets you gold (Gil) and experience, used in raising levels; raising levels makes your characters stronger.
- Raising levels results in only certain attributes being raised. HP is always raised.
FF was a groundbreaking game. The only real RPG experience hitherto taken was Dragon Warrior, and FF improved in almost every way: far more interaction with characters around you; the ability to control four different characters; the Job system; the graphical capability to see the characters in battle; and a far more in-depth menu system. It allowed a level of role-playing never seen before.
View FF1 Pictures
- There is now grass in some towns which can be walked through.
- World map is slightly more defined.
- The Job System has been scrapped; any character can equip any armor or weapon, as well as two items which can be used in battle.
- *There are now specific places for armor to go: two hands, head, arms, and body.
- There are far more items than before; more status healing items (because there are more status effects), different-level healing potions, battle-specific items like Garlic, and an item (Ether) to heal MP.
- *Weapons and armor are now treated like items; all three (items, weapons, armor) are stored in one inventory screen. There is a limit to how many items you can carry.
- Weapons have now been defined into 6 specific categories, but anyone can equip them.
- Magic can be learned by anyone; it is bought in shops (there's only one type of shop now) and put in the inventory as items; when used on a character, that character learns the magic. There's only one type of every spell (no Bolt 2s) which levels up with use.
- Magic spells can now be found in chests.
- *You can now save whenever you're on the world map. There is more than one save file to choose from (in this case four).
- *Equip screen shows the difference in defense and offense when equipping armor and weapons.
- Any character can equip two weapons.
- *The characters now have face graphics in the menu screen.
- Shops are now real buildings; buying items is done through conversation text boxes instead of completely different screens.
- *Conversations can now go for more than one screen; pressing A advances the text.
- You can learn key words from NPCs which can then be used on other NPCs (a cool feature which was scrapped after 2).
- The characters now have names and personalities; there are three main characters and a fourth variable spot taken up by different people depending on the story.
- Characters cannot switch positions (front to back of the party) but they can switch rows (see Battle Innovations).
- You can heal any dead characters for free at special Statues.
- *You can pay to use other transportation (ferries, airships) than your own vehicles.
- Story items like the Canoe take up a spot in the item inventory.
- The cost for staying at an Inn depends on how healthy your party members are.
- *The Chocobos make their debut here; you can ride one if you find a Chocobo Forest. The Chocobo will return to its forest as soon as you get off.
Effect On Society
- *The vertical line has been removed; now there can be far more interactive battles. You can now attack friends as well as enemies, and cure enemies as well as friends (both options are useful at times).
- *There is now a front and back row, for both enemies and allies. Back row allies cannot attack or be attacked physically (unless the enemy has a long-range attack like a bow). Likewise, you cannot attack the back row of enemies, nor can they attack you. However, if the front row has been wiped out, the back row is switched to the front row.
- *Magic can now be switched between single and multiple targets! Some magic can still only be used on a single target, and some only on all targets. However, affecting all targets means that the effects will be lessened.
- *The "Drink" and "Item" commands have been condensed into one. You can only use an item you're equipped with (you can have two items like Potions per person).
- *Items which can't be used won't let you use them (unlike 1 which just said "Ineffective" and made you waste a turn).
- *Status problems now have their own animations (bubbles for poison, etc.)
- Characters do not gain levels any more; just certain attributes go up (or down!) after a battle. (Ditched after 2)
- Characters can specialize in weapons; the more you use a weapon, the better you get at it. Ditto for magic; both weapons and magic gain levels with use. (Ditched after 2)
- The magic level system (every magic belonging to a spell level, with each level having its own MP) has been dropped in favor of an MP (Magic Point) system; any spell uses MP. The higher level a spell is, the more MP it will use (from 1 to 7 depending on the level). To gain higher MP, use magic in battle.
- Gil winnings seem to be almost completely random. (Ditched after 2)
- *Enemies can now drop items after battle; a screen which includes all of your items, the items dropped, and a Trash can appears after battle where you can switch between one and the other.
- *Boss battles now have their own music.
- After winning a battle, the characters run offscreen to the left (Ditched after 2).
FF2 was the first game which featured real characters; you played through a twisting story as specific characters within that storyline, as opposed to a generic "hero". The twists and depth of the story made FF2 stand out, although it never had as much fame as its big brothers. Most of FF2's innovative game designs were deemed unpopular and scrapped for the rest of the series, although many of them, like the individual stat growth, Inn cost, etc. were adopted for Squaresoft's new SaGa series.
View FF2 Pictures
- The Job System has been re-implemented, but with far more Jobs available.
- You can now change Jobs on the status screen whenever you wish, as long as you have that Job. Changing Jobs requires using Capacity points, which are gained after battles. The more you use one Job, the less Capacity points you will need to change into it.
- *The menu system used is more or less the standard for the subsequent games: the characters are lined up vertically on the left, the menu commands are on the right, and the Gil and Capacity are at the bottom right.
- *The Row menu has been added to the main menu (as opposed to being a separate menu).
- The lead character (the one shown) is not necessarily the one in front; press Select to switch.
- Certain "helpers" will join the party from time to time. These helpers trail after the main character. They don't join in battle, but you can talk to them by pressing B.
- *The "dead" status has been changed to "Wounded"; you can now heal this by resting at an inn.
- You no longer have to throw away excess items; you can store them with a Chubby Chocobo if you use a Carrot in a Chocobo Forest.
- *You can now store up to 99 of any item while only taking up a single item space. (Before, every item took up its own space.)
- *Shops are now back in their own space (as opposed to conversation windows), but their inventory is much greater, and there are icons of the characters to the right to indicate (by animation) which ones can equip the item indicated. You can also buy more than one item at a time.
- When armor or weapons give status changes, the game will tell you when you equip it.
- *Weapons are Job-dependent; not everyone can equip any weapon. The weapon/armor equip screen will have an "X" over the item's icon if it can't be equipped.
- *There is a "remove" option to remove all armor and weapons at a time (you can't change your job if you don't remove all armor and weapons).
- The magic system is back to the one from 1: every magic has its own level. However, magic can only be used by magic classes.
- *There is a new type of magic: Summon magic, which usually can only be gotten by defeating the monster to be summoned. During summons, the party disappears and is replaced by the monster for a quick attack. Magic no longer raises levels; you must use Bolt 2 etc.
- *Now there are secret passages in dungeons leading to treasure; just walk through the walls!
- *You can now rest in beds, even if you're not at an inn.
- Character face graphics have been ditched for this game.
- The Mini and Toad statuses, new to this game, are also integral to the story at some points; you have to change into pygmies or frogs to continue the story! (Unfortunately ditched after 3)
- Addition of a total of three airships, two submarines, and a ship. The final airship is massive and shoots cannonballs before battle!
- Commands are now Job-dependent; you only have four. Some Jobs can't run, some can't Defend; others can't use magic.
- *The back row no longer receives NO damage during battle; damage is instead halved. As well, characters in the back row can stay there for the entire battle. Any character can now change rows during battle by pressing Left or Right on the control pad.
- *(Finally!) If you target an enemy and he dies, your attack will now go to the next enemy.
- *You can attack any enemy onscreen, but the damage will be lessened if the enemy or you are in the back row (unless you have a bow).
- *Any item in the inventory can now be used in battle by anyone with the Item command.
- *There is now the additional possibility of "Back Attacks" - you can start with your back turned; the first attack on an ally will give double damage. In this position, the characters are on the left and the enemies on the right.
- *There are now items to simulate spells directly (like NorthWind, simulating an Ice2 spell).
- *Healing items can now be used on another party member (unlike 2 which only let you use it on yourself).
- *You can now switch armor and weapons during battle! (Ditched after 6)
- *Dropped items will only trigger a switch screen like in 2 if there's no more room in your inventory.
- *Damage points now appear directly onscreen in little bouncy red or green numbers, as opposed to being shown in a text box below the battle.
- Enemies can now be trapped when they try to run, just like you can! (Ditched after 3)
Effects On Society
FF3 expanded the Job system, making it amazingly customizable. Although no one piece of the game stood out, it consolidated the system and set in place many of the solid game-play elements which would continue to entertain for years afterwards.
View FF3 Pictures
- Graphical clarity and detail much improved on the Super Nintendo!
- *World map now uses "Mode 7" technique; if you use an airship, the map gets closer or farther away depending on your height.
- Addition of a hovercraft: a ground vehicle which stops enemy attacks! Also used: Two airships and a Magical Ship (spaceship).
- Every character is well-defined and has his/her own Job defining what skills they can use and what they can equip. (Ditched after 6)
- *Magic is now back to the MP version from 2; however, some characters cannot use magic. Magic types are still Black, White, and Summon. This MP system is kept until 8.
- Magic is only learned by raising character levels; it can't be bought any more. The only exception is Summon spells, which can be learned by defeating Summons or using special items dropped by one of four enemies. Since there's only one Summoner (Rydia), the items can only be used when she's in the party and their only target is her.
- *The party is completely variable and only Cecil stays there the entire time.
- *Addition of a Configuration menu which allows you to change speed of messages, window colors, and more.
- The party now has five people (ditched after 4). The five possible positions are either 2 front and 3 back, or 3 front and 2 back (you can't have everyone in front or back).
- *There are now items to permanently raise HP and MP.
- Usually when you receive a new item it resides in its own spot; to put all the items together, you must Sort them. The exception is when you receive items in battle.
- *There are now save points within dungeons on which you can use Tents and Cottages, and save your game.
- *Some chests now hold monsters which guard the items.
- This is one of only two games with healing Summons.
- There are three different worlds to explore at your leisure.
- There are three different types of Chocobos now: Yellow to ride, white to completely heal all MP in the party, and Black to fly (they can only land in forests).
- *The ATB (Active Time Battle) has been implemented! Every character and every enemy has his/her/its own invisible time bar; once it's full, the character/enemy can move. After the move, the time bar begins to fill up again. Warning: while choosing commands, the time bars will continue to fill, but while in menu screens (like choosing which magic or item to use) the time bars can be stopped (if the Wait option in Config was chosen). The active character will flash when his/her menu comes up.
- *Every character can use the Row (switch rows) and Defense commands.
- *The entire battle is now graphical, with a background (unlike the NES games which only had graphics at the top of the screen; the rest was black).
- *Weapons only hit once now, as opposed to a random number of times. Or rather, there still is a multiplier stat in the status screen, but it's not shown in battles.
- *"Run" is no longer a command; rather, just hold L and R to try continuously to run. You can run and fight at the same time!
- Only two characters (Yang and Edge) can equip two weapons; the rest can either equip only a weapon, a weapon and a shield, or a bow and arrows (takes up two hands).
- Many battle commands (like Rosa's Pray and Palom's Boast) were "dummied out" of the Easytype FF4 (the one which was translated to American FF2), and can only be accessed by using Game Genie codes.
- Running away from battle sometimes causes you to drop Gil in the amount of 1/4 what you would have won had you stayed. (Ditched after 4)
- *Enemies (besides for specific ones) no longer try to run from you!
- *The Reflect status is a mainstay after this; it causes magic to be reflected off the character, but it can't block certain spells like Meteor, and it can't block a spell that's already been reflected off the enemy.
Effects On Society
FF4 was the first major graphical RPG; as opposed to being mostly text-oriented, with the graphics just so you wouldn't get bored, the visuals in this game add to the story; characters' positions and movements tell the tale as well (and, in the case of the American translation, better) than their words. It's also the first game which introduces the idea that different characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, which affect gameplay. The idea of characters entering and leaving the party as the story dictates is also introduced in this groundbreaking game.
View FF4 Pictures
- The Job System has been re-implemented, with innovations: The "Normal" class can now equip any weapons and armor. You can choose one class, as well as another ability learned from another class! The Normal class can choose two abilities, and the Mimic class can choose three (Item is not automatic).
- Abilities are learned by gaining ABP (Ability Points), which are received after battle. After a certain amount of ABP is gained, the class Level will go up and a new ability will be learned. Once a class is mastered, the Normal ability will inherit the characteristics of that class (counterattacks, equipping two weapons, etc.) Classes are mastered by raising it to a certain Level (required AP amounts and levels are different for every class).
- Magic is now learned by the party; any spell learned will be known automatically by every member of the party. Magic can be learned by finding it, buying it, receiving it through events, or defeating Summons. There are now five types of Magic: White, Black, Dimension (effects), Blue (monster spells), and Summon (Summon spells). Bard's Songs are also learned by the party. Sword magic consists of magic from the first three categories and is learned automatically when those spells are learned.
- *Equip menu screens now show every stat and how they are affected by the desired item. Only items which can be equipped by that class are shown. There's also an "Optimum" option, which automatically equips the weapons and armor which give the best attack and defense. Also, the "arm" equip space has been changed to "relic"; this means that you can equip a ring, a shoe, a claw, etc. in this space.
- You keep the same four characters throughout the game (the fourth one is replaced by a fifth one halfway through, who keeps all of the original's powers).
- The face graphics have been dumped for this game.
- *Characters can now occupy any position (top through bottom) and either front or back row.
- You can now run (finally!) when inside dungeons or towns, but only if you have a Thief or the Dash ability in your party; hold B to run when you have this.
- *There are now timed events; you must finish an event by reaching a certain area within the allotted time. Time ticks by even during battles. If time runs out, game's over.
- Transportation includes an airship which changes into a ship and a submarine, a Hiryuu (dragon), a Chocobo and a black Chocobo (who don't disappear when you're done with them; this is the only game where this is true).
- *You can now see the World Map by pressing Y. Your position, that of major points, and the positions of your vehicles are shown.
- *The Chubby Chocobo is no more; the item inventory is large enough to hold every item in the game. As well, every new item is now put together with its kin (all the Potions together, all the HiPotions together); no more Sorting is necessary! Also, this means that all items can fit in inventory so switching items after winning a battle is unnecessary.
- *There is now a special item screen for rare items (story items).
Effects On Society
- *The time bar for allies is now visible in battle.
- Battle graphics looks quite a bit better, with more animations.
- The active character is now indicated by two square brackets instead of flashing.
- *Certain enemy skills can now be learned in battle by a Blue Mage.
- The Megalixir item has been nixed for this game.
The best part of FF5, as anyone will tell you, is the gameplay. The Job system has been honed to perfection, allowing fully customizable characters. Strategy plays a much greater part in this game than any of the numbered games after this. This game also starts the introduction of Nobuo Uematsu's best musical work, with far more realistic instruments and much more catchy tunes.
View FF5 Pictures
- The Job system has been cut down majorly: every character has his/her own Job which is the same for the entire game, as in 4.
- The face graphics are back again.
- For the first time, the sprites used in battle are identical to the ones on the world map and in dungeons/towns. This means that they look better and more realistically proportioned, and there are WAY more animations for them. For one thing, they can turn around and face down or up in battle, and scenes can play out while in battle.
- Graphics are much more lush and intensive.
- The music is completely astounding; every character has his/her own theme.
- *You eventually get a large amount of different characters to choose from; you can mix and match your current party as you see fit. There are times when the "main character" is not in your party.
- *Magic is no longer split up into Black, White and Dimension; every character can learn any magic. However, for the sake of arrangement, the magic is divided into Attack, Curative, and Effect (which are basically the same as before).
- Magic is now only learned by Espers. Espers are gained through story elements by picking up Magicite shards. Espers are then equipped on a character. After battle, Magic Points will be received. Every Esper teaches 1 to 6 spells at a certain percent rate. If you gain one Magic Point after battle, a spell taught at 5% will go up by 5 and a spell taught at 1% will go up by 1. Once a spell is at 100, that spell will be learned by that character. Espers also give bonuses when characters level up. Terra and Celes will learn a few spells by themselves.
- Depending on the character, skills are learned in different ways. Blitz and SwordTech are learned by gaining experience levels; Dances are learned by fighting in different backgrounds; Rages are learned by Leaping on the Veldt; and Lores (Blue Magic) are learned if the enemy uses them in battle.
- The "relics" from 5 now have their own equip screen; every character can equip up to 2 relics.
- *Items can now be sorted by type (all healing items together, all swords together, etc.)
- *Rare item descriptions can now be viewed.
- You can now choose from 8 different window patterns to work with.
- You can choose to have two different controllers working during battles for multiplayer gaming (mainly ditched after 6, but also in 9).
- Running can now be accomplished by wearing the Sprint Shoes relic.
- There's a relic to completely stop random attacks, the Moogle Charm.
- You can view all the equipment in the party by selecting Equip and pressing left.
- Certain characters will join the party for a very short time; they can be controlled, but you can't de-equip them.
- There are 14 main characters by the end of the game, more than any other game! This includes two completely optional secret characters! Characters can only be switched at special places (usually the airship); there is an option to de-equip all characters not in the current party.
- Chocobos are now only yellow and can only be ridden if you rent one out from Chocobo pens. There are also two airships to ride, both of which are fairly extensive!
- *Airships can now move up and down as well as two-dimensionally! The Mode 7 graphics engine is much improved.
- *You can now switch between characters in equip, status etc. screens without going back to the main screen! Just press L or R to cycle between characters.
- *There are times when you must split your party into two or more parties. You can switch between the two using the Y button.
- Tents will give a different graphic depending on the lead character.
- *You can finally switch between active characters, choosing what order they act in.
- Time bars fill up even during attacks and animations.
- *Addition of Limits! Every character who is in a critical state has a chance of loosing a powerful attack if they choose the Fight command. The attack is different for every character.
- The characters are now aligned diagonally to the lower right, allowing for taller characters.
- Many backgrounds are now animated.
- Magical effects like Slow and Reflect are indicated by different color glows (in my opinion the best indication, which they should have kept in later games).
- This is one of only two games with healing Summons.
- Espers can only be summoned once per battle.
- Now running is accomplished by each person; if one person escapes, the other three still have to fight. However, even if the other 3 die, the game still continues with the person who ran still alive.
- If you get the Game Over screen, starting back from a previous save point lets you keep all your experience; treasures, gold, spells learnt, and level-up bonuses are lost, however. (Dumped after 6)
- Even characters not in your party gain part of the experience gained by the active characters, but don't learn spells or skills. (Dumped after 7)
- *The active party member is indicated by an arrow. This designation is kept straight through 8.
- Equippable items (like Thunder Shield) can now be used even if you don't have them equipped.
- There is now the possibility of Pincer attacks, where the enemy surrounds the party, or vice versa. In the first case, even attacks which hit all enemies will only hit one side of the battlefield, and likewise for enemy attacks in the second case.
- Items are now received without a special screen; they're just another info box after battle. (Ditched after 6)
FF6 was the game which made North America prick up its ears and pay attention. The depth of story is unlike any other game, and rivals most contemporary games as well. The graphics were astounding for its time, featuring artistic, detailed monsters and a huge amount of character poses and expressions. The special story sections like the Magitek Factory and Opera House split up the action into attention-grabbing story plots. And many people consider this game to have the best soundtrack of any video game, ever. The ending is over half an hour long and incorporates a separate theme for each of the 14 characters. This is truly a great epic of a game.
View FF6 Pictures
- Completely new graphic engine: characters are polygonal and the backgrounds are rendered graphics.
- *The menu screen now has a line of text indicating your exact location.
- Most armor has been nixed; there's only one piece of armor and one relic which can be equipped. Also, any given weapon can only be equipped by exactly one character. The weapons are basically upgraded versions of each other, with slight differences as regards materia slots.
- The Materia System is used here: every weapon and armor has slots for materia (gem-like objects). Without materia, you can only use the Fight and Item commands in battle. There are 5 types of materia: Command, which gives new commands in battle (there's no limit to the amount of commands you can have), Magic, which allows use of Magic in battle, Summon, which calls Summons in battle; Independent, which causes various effects, and Support, which affects the materia it's linked to in the slot. Materia can be switched between characters fairly easily.
- Materia raises levels in battle by gaining AP, which is received after battle. A higher level Magic materia learns more spells; Summon materia allows you to call the monster more than once during battle; the rest just get more effective. Once a materia has learned a spell, anyone can equip that materia and thus use that spell.
- Save points now give you a text message when you step on them (also used in 8). Save points are now on memory card and so there are 15 slots instead of 3 or 4.
- You can only control three characters at once instead of four (nixed after 8).
- At times throughout the game, FMVs (full-motion videos) will play, advancing the story. FMVs don't usually concentrate on characters, but events. When characters are depicted, they're sometimes SD (super-deformed) like on the main engine, and sometimes they're realistic.
- There are many times when you can choose what to answer another character; the choice affects a sequence which occurs about a third of the way through the game. Mostly it's just for fun.
- You can now run at any time in towns/dungeons by holding the X (same position as B on SNES) button.
- Pressing Select in a town/dungeon brings up a pointer which shows where you are, red arrows which indicate exits, and green arrows which indicate ladders. (The graphics are sometimes hard to see due to the shadows etc., which is why this option was included.)
- World map screen is completely polygonal; towns etc. are polygon sets on the map.
- *There is now a special menu option (which is only active at save points and on the world map) which allows you to switch characters at any time using something called a PHS (Party Hensei System). In 8 this is just called Switch.
- You can now choose many different ways to arrange the items you have.
- Transportation includes a ferry (gotta pay), a buggy, a downed plane which acts as a ship, a submarine, and a futuristic airship. You also temporarily use a snowboard and a motorcycle. There are also five colors of Chocobos: Yellow (normal), Blue (walk through rivers), Green (walk over mountains), Black (rivers and mountains), and Gold (all of the above plus oceans!).
- Chocobos can only be caught by finding them in battle using the Chocobo Lure materia, then defeating all other enemies before they run away (feed them with Greens to keep them busy while you fight). You can get your own chocobos by renting out chocobo pens; you can race them at the Gold Saucer! Your chocobos can even go with you on the airship!
- Battle is now completely 3D, polygonal, and animated; the character polygon sets used are non-SD (unlike the main engine). The camera moves around during battle. Summon spells are now longish sequences wherein the Summon bashes the enemy in some way.
- Pincer attacks have been nixed (also in 8).
- Names of the enemies no longer appear at the bottom right of the screen.
- Everyone has a Limit gauge now. Every hit the character takes makes it go up a bit (more damage = higher raise in the gauge) until it fills; when it does, a special move can be chosen. Limits are learned by defeating a certain amount of enemies, and by using previous limits a certain amount of times. When a limit is selected, it will be performed before any other move by any battle participant. Only one limit level (maximum two limit options) can be equipped at any time.
- Addition of tiny HP and MP bars under the digits, which indicate how full the HP and MP is. (Nixed after 7)
- Almost all status problems disappear after battle, with the exception of Hyper and Sadness, which affect how quickly the Limit gauge fills up.
- The only way to make a single-target spell (like Fire) affect all targets is by using an "All" support materia. You can turn the "all" effect on and off by pressing one of the L/R buttons (don't remember which one *^_^*).
- Pressing Select during battle opens the Help bar which tells you which enemy you're targeting, and gives descriptions of battle options selected. (Unfortunately dumped for 8)
- Holding Square (Y in SNES configuration) hides the battle options, allowing you to see the names of the characters, which are usually hidden by the battle menu.
FF7 marked a departure for the series, veering away from epic stories and into slightly more sci-fi settings. Yoshitaka Amano has been replaced with a more mainstream artist, Tetsuya Nomura. Square introduced this game to the American market with an unprecedented marketing scheme, and the detailed FMVs shown in the trailers led people who'd never heard the term RPG flocking to buy PlayStations. The game just radiated coolness; the characters were cool, the bosses were cool, the music was cool (if slightly forgettable) and the gameplay was cool, split up into numerous mini-games which looked good enough packaged alone. A torrent of RPGs hit the video game market after the phenomenal success of FF7.
View FF7 Pictures
- Characters are now realistically proportioned; only one polygon set is used for any occasion (as opposed to using one for basic engine, one for maps, one for battle etc.) Because of this, FMVs are far more integrated into the scenes as they happen than they were in 7 (and they're way more realistic, too).
- All three active characters are now onscreen (as opposed to them "stepping out" of the main character when needed).
- *The main character is always running unless the O button is held.
- *The controller can now use Vibration mode.
- *The world map is absolutely HUGE! It's now switchable between small map (view while you walk), large map (for paused viewing), and a globe. In the large map, town names will appear when you move the cursor to them; once you get your spaceship, you can go there automatically using an auto-pilot by pressing X!
- You can now play cards with most NPCs in the game by talking to them using Square instead of X. Cards can be refined into items. Cards can be gotten by beating other players, defeating some enemies, or using an ability called "Card" on an enemy in battle.
- Gil is no longer obtained by directly defeating enemies! Instead, you are given a salary throughout the game; the salary's rank depends on how many enemies you've defeated. You get your salary after walking/running a certain amount of steps. Also, some situations raise or lower your rank depending on how you treat them.
- Armor has been completely nixed; the only way to raise defense etc. is to Junction them to a stat (see next three items). Weapons are always the same, but can be upgraded using special items dropped by enemies and taking them to a junk shop.
- Magic is no longer learned permanently. Instead, they are treated more like items. You can only get magic by drawing it out of enemies or special Draw Points located on the map or in towns/dungeons; you can also refine it from items using special abilities. Magic can be used in battle (healing magic can be used on the status screen as well), but its main purpose is to be Junctioned.
- The Junction system makes its debut here. The system revolves around GFs (the FF8 name for Summons). Without a GF, characters can only Attack in battle. GFs are Junctioned (equipped) on a character. GFs have six types of abilities that can be learned: Command (adds command in battle; even if you have magic, you can't use it unless the Magic command is equipped! You can only have 4 commands in battle.), GF (raises GF's HP or attack power), Junction (allows magic to be junctioned to a stat like Strength, or Elemental or Status defense or attack), Character (adds to character stats; must be junctioned/equipped to work), Party (affects entire party; must be junctioned) and Menu Ability (can use from the status screen; usually means refining items into magic). At the start, a character can equip only 2 Character/Party abilities, but certain GFs allow to equip 3 or 4. You can equip unlimited GFs.
- GFs can learn up to 22 abilities. First, choose the ability to learn, then do battle. GFs gain AP (Ability Points) after battle, but only if they're equipped on an active character. Every ability needs a certain amount of AP to learn. There are also items to make GFs learn abilities instantly.
- You can switch all Junctioned GF and magic to different characters on the Switch screen. This effectively means that you can switch all your customization between characters whenever you want!
- New Tutorial in the main menu gives you tons of info on everything in the game, including specific info on GFs, magic spells, abilities, card game rules, etc. Also has some interesting tidbits on characters and places in the game.
- *The menu has finally broken away from the blue-with-white-lines style which has been standard since 2; this menu is grayish with no border.
- Blue Magic is now learned by using items, not by being hit by enemies.
- New limit moves are learned by reading magazines found throughout the world.
- *Vehicles on the world map can now move backwards as well as forwards.
- The game makes use of the PocketStation (which was unfortunately not released in North America) by giving a mini-game called Chocobo World. By leveling up your chocobo in the PocketStation, you can get items and special attacks into the real game!
- Transportation includes several trains, many rentable cars, an entire military school which moves (!), yellow Chocobos, and a spaceship which acts as an airship.
- Cars now use up Fuel, which can be bought at most stores.
- Chocobos can only be obtained by solving one of the 7 puzzles in the Chocobo Forests around the world. Once you've solved a puzzle and gotten a prize, you can return at any time to snag a Chocobo. Chocobos can walk through shallow water.
- The final palace is the ultimate cool!
- Battles are now much more physically oriented; the main character's attack can be made critical by pressing R1 at the right time; many Limits require controller input.
- There is no longer any front or back row.
- Limits now activate whenever your character is at critical status. There's also a status called Aura which makes them activate more often, and one called Curse which stops them from activating.
- *The menu bar, which took up the entire lower section, has been totally nixed; the characters' names, HPs and ATB bar appears at the lower right, and the options (when available) appear at the lower left. To find out info about an option, or to see an enemy's name, press Start.
- Enemies gain levels with your characters. They always give the same amount of experience, and every experience level is at 1000 points. Because the challenge level is always the same, this works quite well. Also, you now gain experience even if you run away, based on the amount of damage you dished out. The character who deals the final blow gets bonus experience.
- The Scan magic now lets you turn an enemy around in 3D, lets you see all its stats (level, HP, MP, weaknesses and strengths, and every stat like Strength and Evade) and gives you a description of it. Scan works on every enemy, even bosses, besides the last one.
- Summoning GFs no longer costs any MP (which doesn't exist). When you choose to summon a GF, your HP will be replaced by its HP. All attacks will hurt the GF during this time. Also, your ATB bar will turn blue and begin going backwards. When it's empty, the GF will appear. Using the "Boost" ability, hold Select and press Square rapidly to increase the power of the summon. GFs cannot be healed in battle (besides summoning MiniMog, which can only be done by playing the PocketStation game). You ca Summon a GF as many times as you like; in fact, the more you summon it, the quicker it'll be to come.
- *The item list now only lists the ones that are usable in battle; no more scrolling through pages of junk to get to the one you want!
- Now, if you mug an enemy, you can't win any items off of it after battle.
- *Bosses no longer give ANY experience.
FF8 was an even greater departure from the epic than FF7. The characters here not only look realistic, they act realistic. They react to things the way you expect real people to do so, and their feelings and emotions are not part of a grand love story or heroic poem, but those of everyday humans. The quality of the FMV in this game is nothing less of unbelievable. The Triple Triad card game keeps a fresh, challengin side quest aspect. However, despite all this, the game made less of a ripple than its predecessor, partly because the characters and story just weren't as appealing as the more gaudy, anime-themed predecessors.
View FF8 Pictures
- Back to four characters in a party!
- The artistic style, by Yoshitaka Amano, is the slightly deformed style of the earlier games as opposed to the "tallish" style of FF7 and 8.
- The classic style is back: the regular MP system, full equipping (weapon, glove, armor, helmet, and accessory), back and front rows, and winning Gil from enemies. Enemies no longer level up with you.
- Characters have well-defined roles instead of the "make-your-own-fighter" systems of 7 and 8.
- Instead of interacting with random objects in the background and searching around, you'll know when you've hit something when a bubble with a "!" or "?" appears over the character's head. The "here" icon from FF7 makes a return as well.
- When talking to certain people about game tips, or when viewing your key items, a yellow exclamation mark appears next to options or items you haven't seen yet.
- You again only control one character at once; however, instead of the characters "walking out" of the main one when they're needed, there's just a full fade in/out effect and the other character is there. Much more believable.
- Pressing "Select" toggles the Moogle Help Window on/off - this guy has a comment on EVERYTHING.
- New Ability system: Every piece of equipment has certain abilities which you can use as soon as you equip the item. (Different abilities are available for different characters.) However, if you leave the item on for long enough and gain AP by winning battles, you'll learn the ability permanently.
- Abilities are divided into two types: Action abilities usually cost MP and can be used in battle; Support abilities require "magic stones" to be equipped and occur automatically (they have uses like protecting from status effects, raising strength of other abilities, automatically casting Reflect or Haste, etc.). The amount of stones a character has raises as he/she raises levels.
- The Triple Triad game of FF8 has been resurrected as Tetra Master. The rules are different, and so is the point - you can get through almost the whole game without having to play at all (besides for one point in the game) - and frankly, it's nowhere near as addictive as its predecessor.
- There's no "switch" or "save" option in the main menu. To save, you have to talk to a moogle. To switch characters, you have to be inside your ship or airship.
- Fancy intro text pops up whenever you enter a location for the first time.
- Transportation includes a ship, two airships, and a chocobo which (through a gigantic side quest) can be upgraded to travel through rivers (light blue), mountains (red), oceans (dark blue), and even fly (gold)! Other side quests include sending letters back and forth between moogles and catching frogs with Quina.
- There are tons of references to earlier FFs in this game!
Effects On Society
- The "Trance" system has replaced the Limit system. As your character takes damage, his/her Trance meter fills up. When it's full, he/she is in a Trance for several rounds; all stats are increased, and some characters have new commands they can use.
- Basically all status problems (which include new ones like Trouble, Heat, Frozen, Venom, and Virus) are shown as little icons around the character, which makes it much easier to figure out the situation.
- Steiner can pair up with Vivi for a special Magic Sword technique, but that's the only "combo" in the game. Vivi loses no MP or turns for a Magic Sword move.
- Many items can only be used in battle, particularly the gems found throughout the world. They can also be equipped as accessoris, but the different colors restore different amounts of HP. There's no Megalixir item, so battles are tougher.
- Eidolons (this game's version of Summons) are now like normal spells, except that sometimes (usually in normal battles) their animations are thankfully truncated to a fraction of the previous length.
- You can now steal up to four different items from the same enemy in one battle, and the same enemy can drop up to four items at once, plus a Tetra Master card.
- Most spells can again be targeted against all characters/enemies by pressing the L1 or R1 button.
- You can now bring up a targeting window at the lower left which lets you pick enemies by text, not by switching around the ones on the screen.
FF9 is a regression in the trend towards more realism and darker themes, but that's in no way a step backwards. It takes much of the new and a lot of the old and mixes them together almost flawlessly, with exceptional humor and light-heartedness. References to earlier FFs, particularly FF1 and 4 (both of which were similarly trailblazers of their times) abound in the game, and the final sequence sounds very much like Squaresoft is saying goodbye to its longtime fans. Does this mean we'll never see another deformed hero or four-character battle? Time will tell...
View FF9 Pictures
The remaining games are far more revolutionary than evolutionary, with each game in the series espousing its own unique systems. For all intents and purposes, then, FF9 was the pinnacle of the old-school FF game system, and everything else is a new frontier.
The Uncanny X-Men #129 - Save Us From the Knights of Hellfire
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