Final Fantasy Marathon Journals - Playing them all, from start to finish...



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Blackdrazon

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For the past five or six years now, my friend Kyle and I have been attempting an insurmountable challenge. Having already toppled a few other game franchises in what we called "The Marathon," he challenged me that we should play the Final Fantasy games. "All of them?" I said. "All of them," he said. It would be new to me: besides the not-actually-Final-Fantasy "Legends" subseries, my experience with the franchise had been minimal, and even Kyle only knew the PSX trilogy and X.

And I, inspired by some of my favourite internet writers, saw fit to chronologue our attempts, complete with every wry observation and crank joke we made as we went along. Not quite a Let's Play, not quite a review, more of a comprehensive break-down by one ex-programmer and game developer (myself) and one lifelong tabletop gamer and LARPer. The gaming gods help us, we've been at these Marathons for seven years, and there's no reason to stop now.

The entries are being polished up from their original drafts on my old blog, and are being posted one at a time, on Sundays and Thursdays (we're caught up through FFVI!), so feel free to read along as we relive the early days of our eternal, stupid quest! Feel welcome to comment here or on the blog!


You may also be interested in my long-form Kingdom Hearts Retrospective!
 
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Blackdrazon

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Yesterday's post wraps up FFII and Soul of Rebirth, so Thursday, we're going to get started with the first Game Boy game, The Final Fantasy Legend! Not actually a Final Fantasy game in Japan, SaGa 1 is the first game in the Marathon that I had played in the past, but Kyle had not! It's an unusual game, not yet fully formed (though more so than FFII), and full of as many interesting ideas as it is dirty, dirty lies.

In real life, we got together to make some Marathon progress just yesterday, if by "progress" you mean "grinding in two separate games for almost six hours." Exhausting. I joked to Kyle after the fact that the only progress we really made was that "we" killed General Fungus from Final Fantasy Unlimited while eating dinner.
 

Blackdrazon

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Starting with Final Fantasy III in this entry, specifically the 3D version, of which I am... less than fond. One of these days I really need to go back and play the Famicom original. But for the time being, here's this mess! It's the only version in English.

After FFIII, we're come to a wobbly area on the timeline where the next game is either FFLII or FFIV, depending on which release date(s) you choose to recognize. Either way is going to be a minor problem, as World of Longplays doesn't have longplays for Final Fantasy Legend II, Final Fantasy Legend III, or FFIV: The After Years (or the Interlude, for that matter). I'm trying to contact some Let's Players and speedrunners but no luck so far - if you could put me in touch with anyone, that would be appreciated! The 3D remakes of SaGa 2 and 3 or TAY are just as good as the 2D originals.
 

Blackdrazon

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kuraudoVII

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Final Fantasy IV Part 4: The Great Morbid Death Clock said:
Tellah had actually recovered some of his “forgotten” spells at this point in the game, as well as some pieces of equipment we had filched off of him in desperation to get through the first dungeon. This made us realize that everyone who left the party when the Leviathan attacked was never getting their equipment back, as the game must delete their old equipment to replace it with the new. And the game does this without warning? Shit, now I see why people find this game frustrating.
And thus, you now understand the pain many of us experienced on our first playthroughs. Later games are a little better about this, though.

Final Fantasy IV Part 4: The Great Morbid Death Clock said:
Kyle and I were discussing this later and as much as we liked the twins, this event was more “annoying” than “upsetting.” Why annoying? Well, we lost thousands in equipment, for starters. Second, we’ve been treating Tellah as a ticking time bomb since he rejoined us. Eventually, he’s going to see Golbez, cast Meteor, and either die of a heart attack or get hit by Meteor himself, failing to kill Golbez entirely. It’s down-right inevitable. We were expecting him to die next. In fact, we stripped him of most of his gear before the fight with Cagnazzo (since we figured it was just a cutscene, considering we had just fought Baigan). Now we’ve lost two party members and we still have to deal with his erratic fuse. When will he pop and take his equipment with him? Who knows!
[in his best Smeagol/Gollum voice] "You'll see. Oh yes, you'll see..."
 

Blackdrazon

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Sorry for missing the comment! I'm going to set up a notification so I don't do it again.

Losing party memebers in FFIV was part of its unique challenge but it's a thing I find hard not to criticize. But now that I know when they're lost, I feel ready to play the 3D version with its augments! I may post about that at some point in the future.

Poor Tellah. [takes away all his equipment] Poor... poor Tellah.


I'm also posting here to say that 1) I'm back from the weekend and the hardlinks should be properly updated, and 2) if anyone hasn't seen it yet, the posts for the FFIV: Interlude are up! I know many players haven't had a chance to experience the mini-midquel, so this could be interesting to you!
 

Blackdrazon

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FFIV: The After Years begins today! I like TAY quite a bit. While its central plot is more than a little bogus, its character focus is refreshing, one of the only character-focused game in the Marathon to date (alongside FFLII and early-Marathon game Trauma Team). I love watching the rough SNES-era character sketches grow up into their own, especially the former child characters (Rydia, Palom, Porom) and the new characters, who are frankly doing far more interesting things with their lives than the adults.

You can start reading here!
 

Blackdrazon

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After a long run, the FFIV series is now behind us, so that means it's time to rewind and go back to Square's actual first "Final Fantasy" of the 90s: Final Fantasy Legend II / SaGa 2.

Legend II is something else - often considered the best of the trilogy. While it does sacrifice some of the mythic quality of the original, it fills it in with more refined (and honest) mechanics and a tighter, more intimate plot that keeps up with and even outstrips many of the RPGs of the early 90s - Square's included. Plus, this time around I'm providing my own screenshots! Yup! My own... legitimate... screenshots.

Start here!
 

Blackdrazon

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I've been using the games' main threads for the past few posts, but I figured I would bump the Marathon thread for the debut of SNES-era black sheep Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. I grew up with Mystic Quest, so the first post has a few of my thoughts on its reputation and execution, and I think the piece as a whole is one of my better ones, up there with the FFA journal. But that's just a matter of personal opinion. Decide for yourself!

This is also the very last of the archived posts from my old blog (I will probably be rewriting the journals for Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light and for the Megami Tensei novels, which were the two stragglers). After this, it's on to FFVI!
 
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