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World of Final Fantasy Part 11

Maxima Content Part 1: The Final Xover
Initial Stream: 12/1/20

00:00 – We start this video with a short video of its own called “What I did on my Thanksgiving Vacation”. Long story short: you can unlock a bunch of stuff by beating the final boss after completing all intervention questions (and I still had one undone when we did that on the previous stream), and I sorted much of that new content while nobody was looking. There were three whole dungeons featuring reused assets (complete with recolored bosses) that were tackled and defeated between streams. That unlocks a fourth “reused” dungeon, and we pick things up at the culmination of that quest. And our final boss for that area is…

6:00 – Mr. Xenogears, aka XG. A full discussion on the Xeno franchise’s ownership and its plots naturally follows. I consider myself something of an expert on the subject.

Also, since I didn’t actually wind up summoning XG during the stream, here’s the lil’ big guy in action. I have to assume that “Little Walking Head” XG was originally designed to be a more present part of the plot. Either that or someone really wanted to toss a headmaster in here.

22:00 – So XG is the final “secret” boss of the original content for World of Final Fantasy. The Maxima upgrade offers some new content, and that’s going to be the majority of these last four parts. There’s a full explanation of that here (in the video), but, long story short, there was a mobile World of Final Fantasy game, Meli-Melo, and, while it appears to have been a failure (it was discontinued almost exactly a year after launch), my understanding is that a lot of the “new” assets from that game got recycled into the Maxima upgrade. Never waste a pixel, Square-Enix! So we’re going to see the new, Maxima-based intervention quests, starting with Cecil trying to cure a friend of desert fever. It’s not the friend you think!

32:00 – Zack time. I guess he died? If you check his in-game biography, it distinctly notes that he is basically a zombie reanimated by mako in this world. Don’t worry, he’ll get better. This is a happy dimension.

40:00 – See? He’s better now. And Serah, sister of Lightning, fights Shiva while we play with wikis. fanboymaster, I just checked, and apparently your edit will only be preserved on this video.

45:00 – Discussion of the upcoming Saga Frontier remake. TLDL: they better do something about the overt implication that a blood transfusion can give you immortality/gay.

What actually happened in the plot:

At the culmination of the “first” ending (maybe second?) Wynne is appointed the new guardian of the world, while Lann and Reynn are sucked into another dimension. Now, the “extra” ending reveals that Wynne receives two “twin mirages” from Enna Kros (god), which allows her to summon little duplicates of her adopted twin siblings. Thus, all post-game content is apparently Wynne having adventures with Lann/Reynn golems. It’s not weird at all!

• XG (Xenogears) is defeated in a presumably non-canon bonus battle (or maybe it’s in another dimension).

• Cecil secures a restorative flower for a sick Kain by defeating Yojimbo.

• Zack reawakens in Castle Figaro’s basement as a berserker, and, after fighting the heroes, flies off with Bahamut (who was coincidentally trying to take a nap in that same basement).

• Serah fights Shiva-Ixion, her fiancee’s summon-cycle, for the right to decorate her for Snow’s birthday (seriously). Zack is dropped off nearby by Bahamut, who cured Zack of his mako poisoning (possibly accidentally). Wynne followed Bahamut/Zack here, and identifies Serah as having some unknown, but super important destiny. Zack asks out Serah. Zack with a C does not play Serah with an H’s favorite song.

Maxima Content Part 2: This is Why I didn’t Stream the Other Dungeons
Initial Stream: 12/1/20

1:00 – The rules of the Ultimate Dungeon suck! Apparently there are distinct warps that occasionally take you back to the start of the place, and random floors may have random rules that severely limit your options. And, of course, this dungeon is going to be nothing but reused assets. Bah! Let’s just discuss a Playstation Superman game and collectors being annoying.

8:30 – I don’t know east from west. I’m going to blame Shantae for this.

14:50 – “Nobody fucks with Dr. Brainshit.”

20:00 – Kary/Marilith is our first boss of the area while we talk about Amalgam comics. I too miss Lobo the Duck.

30:00 – Time to refuel after a discussion of Devil May Cry 3, and then on to part two (of four) of the dungeon.

49:20 – “I envy your optimism”… by the way, this dungeon takes forever. We’re not even a full third of the way done with this nonsense yet.

50:00 – CaliScrub arrives… he missed the best, giant-robot based part.

54:00 – The Kraken Boss fight. We already did this one, as two of the ol’ Final Fantasy 1 fiends already appear as part of the mandatory plot. This Kraken is like forty levels more powerful, though, so at least it isn’t as easy as before. Wee?

56:00 – Minecraft human trafficking is described as we wrap up this section.

What actually happened in the plot: Nothing. Wynne is venturing through The Ultimate Dungeon toward whatever is down there. We’re about 40% through that.

Maxima Content Part 3: The Ultimate Slog
Initial Stream: 12/1/20

00:00 – I couldn’t remember the details on the stream, but here’s the full rundown on the economy of what was apparently Planet Zoo. I will never look at warthogs the same way again.

7:00 – Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is discussed, which I believe means we have successfully gone full circle on discussing a separate game during the World of Final Fantasy Stream. Long story short, everyone in Hyrule should already have fish.

Also, this bit occurs during a “no item floor” in the dungeon proper. These dungeon rules are truly random (they’re not tied to particular floors, and may change between dungeon visits), and losing the ability to use potions between battles in a game where you can’t even cast cure outside of a fight is a little… terrible. This means that “no item floors” make a little more of an impact than, say, “extra damage” or literally any other random effect.

15:00 – Lich appears. You can’t use Raise/Phoenix Down on an opponent, but you can use an elixir. Guess how Lich goes down.

25:00 – There is just so much Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity discussion here. We will never stream that game.

31:00 – Tiamat, and we already beat her, too. Kind of a wet fart of a way to finish the first 80% of this dungeon.

37:00 – The ultimate section of the ultimate dungeon begins as fanboymaster explains the name switch between Kary/Marilith.

42:00 – Please enjoy watching me engage in ice Sliding dumbassery for five pointless minutes.

50:00 – Florida leadership is discussed on the way to the ultimate boss of this ultimate area… but we stop just shy of the battle itself. Sorry!

What actually happened in the plot: Still nothing. We’re about 95% of the way through this dungeon as of this update. Incidentally, it is noted in the in-game encyclopedia that these adventures are technically canon for Wynne… just we’re well past the actual “end” of the game, so it’s pretty safe to claim none of this will ever be referenced by anything.

Maxima Content Part 4: The End
Initial Stream: 12/1/20 (mostly)

00:00 – Starting off by taking the bold stance that Hitler was not right as we finally approach the final boss of this area. The boss fight is partially expected, partially a surprise. It’s a battle against Garland (Chaos or Garland would be anticipated after the four fiends), but also all four of the fiends simultaneously. Given each of those fiends was an individual (and not easy) boss battle on the way here, this could get dicey.

9:00 – Playstation 4/5 Spider-Man says “defund the police”.

13:00 – Game Over! I had a choice between healing one stack or reviving the other, and I chose wrong, as a powerful, party-wide attack was apparently coming. I came surprisingly close to winning this fight… but nope.

15:00 – Rather than bang my head against that wall again, we try the next secret boss battle, a fight with Enna Kros. As I learn here, it sucks because this trio of bosses can revive themselves repeatedly. And ol’ Enna doesn’t really have any combat animations, so this is the most… lazy of the new Maxima content (and I’m saying that after two hours of a recycled dungeon).

29:00 – Game over again! Same exact reason, too! I have learned nothing!

31:00 – Super Boss #3 requires an airship-based scavenger hunt. And it’s clear right off that this “hunt” is going to take forever, so we pretty much sizzle out with our final World of Final Fantasy stream.

35:00 – And now I avenge myself upon my losses. This section of the video is just highlights of me playing by myself, narrated by myself, because I wasn’t going to drag the stream team through another series of fights that could potentially take forever. I’m not that cruel!

Immortal Dark Dragon is first, and he’s from the anime movie that was produced to promote that mobile game. He’s apparently on the same inter-dimensional team as this game’s main antagonist, but is otherwise wholly new to this title. Fighting him necessitates finding switches across the world, then standing up to a dude that patterns his attacks after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game’s Shredder

38:00 – Garland and the gang all over again. The secret to my success this time is to kill Lich, use water to take out Tiamat and Kary/Marilith simultaneously, and then focus on dropping Kraken. Sorry, can’t kill Kary last. Garland has a bunch of elemental weaknesses after all his buddies are down, so, once again, I was really close to winning the last time.

41:00 – Enna Kros is a pain, with nine extra lives, and still those cheap animations. I’m not certain if this fight would be easier if you focus on exclusively killing one opponent nine times, or spread the death around. Regardless, at the very least you can game the “weakness aiming” by unstacking whenever targeted, so there is a bit of a trick to the battle. However, even if you know what to do, this battle takes forever, and took me personally about forty minutes with the internal speed up feature.

43:00 – And defeating all of those super bosses unlocks the right to fight a super hard version of the original final boss of Final Fantasy Maxima. It’s the same fight, just with absurd attack/HP stats. Beat that final-final boss, and you get to see the all new, secret “teaser” ending for World of Final Fantasy/ Presumptive Trailer for World of Final Fantasy 2. Or, considering how much this whole setup/content is biting on Kingdom Hearts, let’s say World of Final Fantasy 2/418 Days: A Missing Piece 1.8.

46:00 – Oh yeah, you can fish with Final Fantasy 15’s Noctis. Thanks for watching!

What actually happened in the plot: Wynne conquered Garland, an “Anti-Champion” created at the same time as Warrior of Light, deep in the Ultimate Dungeon. She also repelled Immortal Dark Dragon, a threat from another dimension (again, DLC super bosses or not, in-game datalogs confirm these events as canon). After that, a version of Diablos from another dimension attacks her world, but she defeats him with the aid of Tama and Odin. However, more interesting than the fight is that that Diablos seems to be linked to a mysterious figure in a cloak bearing two Mirage-keeper gauntlets and an odd preoccupation with searching for his “sis”. What does it all mean? Guess we’ll find out some day…

Next time on World of Final Fantasy: A sober look at a funny game.

Year in Review: 2019

Disappointment of the Year: Super Mario Maker 2

It's a-me!Said it before, and I’ll say it again: disappointment of the year does not under any circumstances mean that a game is bad. In fact, in this situation, I am talking about a game that is extremely good. I played a lot of Super Mario Maker 2 when it was initially released, as its new “story mode” and Nintendo officially created nonsense was like sweet honey to the bee that is me. However, after earning all the new doodads and slopes and blocks I could ever ask for, I fell off Super Mario Maker 2 hard. Maybe the “amateur” Mario Maker stages designed by others didn’t compare to the official challenges. Maybe all the Super Hard Mode level creators had already cut their teeth on the previous Mario Maker, and the toughest of the toughies were just too tough from literally day one. Or maybe it was a simple matter of I had already created all the Mario stages I ever wanted to create with the previous Mario Maker, and adding an angry sun or floating goomba wasn’t going to make enough of a difference in my design philosophies. Whatever the case, I lost interest in Mario Maker 2 within about a month of its release, and never really got on that horse again. And that sucks! I played the original Mario Maker for literally years! … And maybe that’s all the problem there needs to be. I was already burned out on Mario Maker 2 thanks to its obvious similarities to its forbearer, and, here I sit, mad at a videogame that dared to be exactly what I wanted. Actually, I’m not mad, just… disappointed.

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Pokémon Go Trips

Let's a-go art!This will surprise absolutely no one, but I’m still playing Pokémon Go. There’s no sin in playing a fun little videogame that requires very little effort and can be fired up while walking around the neighborhood or standing in line at the theatre (that is, incidentally, a pokémon gym). However, I’m starting to think there might be an issue when you travel hundreds of miles to catch unique Pokémon in officially Niantic-sponsored events. 2019 was the year I drove to Canada and Washington DC to pick up a Tropius and Relincanth (respectively), and flew to Chicago (all things go, all things go) to earn a Pachirisu. I do not regret these trips, as it was a fine excuse to see new and exciting locales (and catch Pokémon), but I’m somehow officially at the point in my life where I’m planning vacations around a videogame. And there’s likely going to be a trip to Germany in 2020, so it’s clear I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house or anywhere near a plane.

Compilation of the Year: Castlevania Anniversary Collection

Castle!There’s usually a rerelease of Mega Man in this slot, but I can’t say no to Simon Belmont once in a while (and maybe, one year, there will be a Kid Icarus collection to laud, Captain N). This compilation couldn’t go too wrong, as it already includes at least three of my favorite games (Castlevania 2, Super Castlevania IV, and the venerable Castlevania 3), but it goes the extra mile by preserving Castlevania: Bloodlines for generations that maybe don’t have a Sega Genesis hiding in the crevasses of their entertainment center. And there’s Kid Dracula, a game never released in the states (mostly, as the Gameboy port is pretty damn similar). Couple this all with the Japanese version of Castlevania 3 (and the other games, I guess), and we’ve got an amazing collection of remarkable games with enough bells and whistles to make it interesting for the people that have already memorized Death’s every pattern. And I, let me assure you, am a man familiar with Death.

Remake of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

Froggy!I feel like I already spoke of this game in great detail a few weeks back, but just to reiterate: if ever a game needed a remake, it was Link’s Awakening. The original LA is amazing, but its cramped and humble origins are simultaneously its greatest strength and most glaring weakness. The small, tight dungeons of LA are astounding… but it sure would be nice if you could dash, jump, and slash all without having to open a pause menu. The LA remake went ahead and saved the precise dimensions of the original world, but granted it a refreshing coat of paint and a control scheme that can finally control all of Link’s abilities. And the addition of a weird dungeon/puzzle mode that is safely segregated off in the optional section is welcome, too. Marin’s return may be bittersweet, but everything else about Link’s Awakening for the Switch is right on target.

Title of the Year: SaGa: Scarlet Grace

25 years of waiting, and they still can’t come up with a title that makes a damn lick of sense. Oh well, not like anyone would have been enticed by a more accurately localized title like Impregnable JRPG: Anniversary Edition.

DLC of the Year: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Smash it!First of all, fun fact, if I had gotten off my duff and written this “year in a review” for 2018, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would have won game of the year. It may have only been released in December, but, man, what a December of only playing one game over and over again because, dang, here’s everything I ever wanted from a videogame. But it’s not 2018 anymore! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is old news, and now we’re all expected to move on with our Bloodstaineds and Pokémon Shields and whatever. But, luckily, every one of the four DLC packs that have been released for Smash Bros. has been an event unto itself, and I anxiously await future Nintendo Directs informing me of new spirit challenges, stages, and fighters. Sure, Anime High School BoyWW #10 Persona 5 or That Hat Dude might not be my first choice, but it’s hard to argue with the sheer level of excitement that accompanies each new release. Literally every other fighting game (or “fighting game”) could learn a thing or two from this hype train.

System of the Year: Nintendo Switch

Switch it upCan I just link to my reasoning for this from 2017? The Nintendo Switch feels like a big-boy system like its console brethren, but it is also portable as hell. How portable? I can play the latest Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Pokémon, and Super Mario titles all on one system without switching a game disc (cartridge, whatever). I can play entire retro compilations of Mega Man, Mega Man X, Castlevania, Contra, and, now for some reason, Breath of Fire. And, on top of it all, now we’ve got Super Metroid. It literally has it all! Except Chrono Trigger! Somebody work on that!

Game of the Year: Kingdom Hearts 3

Okay, I haven’t really talked about this much at all, but here’s the history of the last two years or so of the site.

Have a heartSince the site’s inception, I was very consistently updating the FGC three times a week. This was doable because, as of about two months in, I would write one or two articles a week, but then I would throw in the occasionally “easy” article (like something that was mainly picture based or involved a videogame I could blather on about for literally years), and, Bob’s your uncle, I had a significant backlog and “collection” of articles ready to go. This came to a close around March/April of 2018, when some professional and social opportunities started popping up at the same time, and I simply didn’t have a second to, on top of everything else, slice up screenshots and write about three videogames a week. My backlog of available articles diminished, and, eventually, I just plain had to take a break to figure out my new normal. I returned to one article a week in October… but I fell off that trolley again in December when the previously mentioned Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released. I literally did not want to play or think about any other videogames, thank you. Please have a nice day.

But the site has returned to one article a week stability since April. Why? Well, it’s mostly thanks to Kingdom Hearts 3.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is, as the franchise has always been, bonkers. It is balls to the wall crazy. It is a story that hangs its “to be continued” on a random dude from the mobile game that is, incidentally, wearing a unicorn mask. A jerk that has died three times over the course of the franchise is somehow revealed to be another, different immortal than the cyclopean immortal that has been skulking around for the last six games. There’s a kid that wields a key like an axe even though that iconography has been moot since the first adventure. It is crazy.

And it’s my kind of crazy.

Double tech!And even more than that, it’s messy. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might be a perfect game, but I can’t shake the feeling that that is entirely by some kind of insidious design. SSBU operates almost exactly like a free-to-play mobile game: there is a steady drip of content and rewards that keeps you playing just when you think it’s time to put down the controller. And, while SSBU isn’t selling you anything in particular (other than a season pass), it’s very easy to believe that this was meticulously designed to keep the player playing through every spirit and challenge block. Kingdom Hearts 3? There’s a game where, for reasons that will forever elude me, your hero stands around and watches the most famous three minutes from Disney’s most famous recent release, and literally nothing of any consequence happens. Did you want to watch your hero react to a Frozen music video? Of course you didn’t. No one did. But here it is, it’s happening, so sit back and watch, because it’s not like you can quit in the middle of a cutscene.

And that kind of nonsense? That’s something I can work with.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is a glorious mess, and that’s something I enjoy writing about. That’s something that gets me thinking about other unreasonable messes, like the current state of copyright law. That’s the kind of thing that inspires a series of articles about forgotten games. To put it simply, that’s the kind of thing that inspires me.

Raiden is pissedAnd then Mortal Kombat 11 was released, and, man, now I’m spoiled for splendid jumbles.

So it very much was not the “best” game of the year, but Kingdom Hearts 3 basically inspired me… nay… required me to write about videogames again. Beat that, Sekiro.

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Too many to count

I just want to use this space to note that the odds of me ever playing Death Stranding are very, very low. Every review I’ve read seems to shout “you will not enjoy this”, and I’m just going to go with my gut on this one. I have a hard enough time carrying my groceries in real life!

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2019

I’m pretty sure I covered that in the previous paragraph. What’s important is that I still plan on doing 550 or so FGC entries, and we’re currently about a hundred shy of that goal. At one a week, we should be wrapping this all up in two years. That sounds pretty alright to me. Let’s see what 2020 will bring!

Oh, and here are some favorite articles from the year:

And that’s just a random smattering of what I enjoyed writing (and reading). What are your favorites? Gimme an answer (MMM, I am speaking directly to my only commentator).

What’s next? Just in time for 2020, the next two games are going to be my games for the decade. They’ve earned this station for two totally different reasons, but, for me, they encapsulate the last ten years of gaming. What are they? Well, guess you’ll find out. As ever, please look forward it!

FGC #460 Final Fantasy Legend 3

Stay dampHow the hell do you screw up friggin’ time travel!?

Okay, to be clear, we’re not talking about how do you screw up while time traveling. A healthy 80% of all time travel fiction is based entirely on this concept, and, give or take a Time Cop, that’s always a good time. It’s the human condition, right? You go back in time with your intricate future knowledge of how you’re going to make everything better, make a few changes here and there, and Bob’s your uncle, Hitler is president. Whoops! I think we all learned a valuable lesson about not messing with the natural order of things (and I would seriously like to speak to whichever time traveler is responsible for our current political situation).

No, what we’re focusing on today is how you mess up a story that involves time travel. After all, time travel is one of the best tropes in all of storytelling. Want to change the past? Duh! We all do! But changing the past (and hopefully avoiding Hitler) isn’t the only option available with time travel. Want to see the future? Or drop that text book, and experience the past like a tourist? Or how about traveling through time to prevent a “bad future”? Did anyone order a child from an alternate timeline? Hell, let’s go nuts, screw up the timeline, and see an alternate reality where bad is good and good is wearing ill-fitting leather. Time travel opens the door to any number of wonderful tropes and stories! And leather!

FIGHT!And let me tell you a secret about time travel stories: don’t ever try to figure them out. Time travel is always, always going to be a complete mishmash of conflicting ideas and contradictions with the very concept of cause and effect. And that’s fine! It’s time travel! It breaks all the physical rules of the universe, it may as well also cause a broken brain. So don’t bother trying to figure out how there can be more than one Trunks at one time, or how you can’t wrap a gun in beef shank and bring it to the past, or why the hell bringing a teenager on a time travel expedition would ever make sense. It’s all just nonsense from the moment someone goes back to the future, and you’re expected to not think too hard about how Bruce Banner accidentally invented the fountain of youth while trying to quantum leap. You can’t ruin time travel by not properly following the rules for a fictional event. Time travel is the Wild West of storytelling, and you’re perfectly justified in claiming that if two time travelers kiss, they instantly become horny lizards or something. It’s cool! That’s just how time travel works in this universe, and they’re going to have a wonderful little reptilian family. Be happy for the lizards!

And time travel can be amazing in videogames. Videogame narratives by their very nature must be linear. You can have a flashback in Lost, Breaking Bad, or [please insert name of show that premiered in the last decade], but that simply doesn’t work in a videogame. If Mega Man has a “flashback level” to before the adventure started, he’ll lose all his sweet robot master weapons and extra lives. And that just wouldn’t do! It’s even worse in JRPGs, where experience is key, and your character must start at level zero. A flashback in a JRPG would never fly, because your hero has to start as a blank slate, or, at the very least, an inexperienced townie. Seeing some “ten years earlier” with a child that somehow knows Ultima is not even a possibility.

WORM!But time travel? That’s how you meet the past. Swing on back, take your time in a special dungeon or town, and meet all the villains before they became corrupted by malevolent fog. Or use time travel in new and interesting ways, like by changing subtle items in the past to greatly influence the future. Plant some beans. Break some walls. Distract the guy building the wall. Time travel opens all sorts of avenues. And in your better games, time travel offers entire worlds. Here’s the craptastic present, an even more rotten future, and a glorious past that you can restore with a little elbow grease (and giant swords). But at least there are lasers in the future! That should help you save the day. Just remember to take your time and explore every nook and cranny to discover the difference between these disparate time periods!

Final Fantasy Legend 3 seems to present itself as such. Right from the start, you are introduced to our quartet of heroes, three of which hail from a future approximately fifteen years ahead. Our fourth warrior is a woman from the present, where the rest of the gang has been raised and trained after being smuggled back with the aid of a mutant professor and his time machine. Everyone is informed that the world is being flooded by a nebulous evil god/master (pick your translation), and it is now their job to travel between the past, present, and future to find enough pieces of that time machine to lift off and launch a missile right into this damp god’s face. And that’s a great excuse for an adventure! It promises three different time periods (and thus three different worlds) all in the midst of this forever flood. And, bonus, as the game progresses, we’re also granted the ability to dive beneath the waves, so there’s a full trio of underwater “worlds”, too. Let’s see how that coral reef has developed over thirty years!

So it’s kind of a shame when it all turns out to be bullshit.

Painful!Here’s the basic flow of Final Fantasy Legend 3: You start in the Present, and venture through a tower. This grants you the ability to go back in time. Now you can participate in a rescue mission in the Past that guarantees an old lady and a young girl will be alive in the future (present). Back to the Present, and it’s time to waddle around another tower or two. This allows travel to the Future, where some helpful future townsfolk grant the ability to access a floating continent. The floating continent, you’re told, does not have “time”, so it is an area that does not have a past, present, or future. Then it’s off to Heaven (Pureland) and Hell (Underworld), which are under similar time restrictions. These three areas (Floatland, Pureland, and Underworld) contain a healthy 60%-75% of the dungeons in the game, and, as part of the finale, they’re going to be the largest/longest dungeons as well.

Did you see what happened there? This is a story that introduces a time machine from the first moment, and then doesn’t even use the damn thing for at least half the game!

That’s how you screw up a time travel story, dear readers. If you’ve got a time machine, and you’re not using it, you’re doing something wrong. Use all the toys in your toy chest, and never turn your time machine into a glorified airship. Final Fantasy Legend 3 dropped the ball, but you don’t have to.

But if you do mess up, just go back in time and try again. At least it would make a good story.

FGC #460 Final Fantasy Legend 3

  • System: Gameboy. There were actually two different versions, one published by Square in 1993, and another rereleased by Sunsoft in 1998 (because a certain game made Final Fantasy a tweak more popular). Both versions are exactly the same, give or take some terrible cartridge art.
  • Number of players: Four party members, one consistent guest character, but only one player.
  • So mysticMaybe actually talk about the game for a second: Disappointing plot aside, Final Fantasy Legend 3 is easily the most accessible of the Final Fantasy Legend titles. This makes sense, as this is right about when this “version” of SaGa branched off to form Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, and SaGa continued on in a different form on the Playstation 1. Or at least that’s how I remember it. Regardless, this is the rare SaGa/FFL game that doesn’t require a friggen chart to map out character progression, so it’s fun for a girl or a boy.
  • But the equipment system still sucks, right? Oh my yes. I might cheat my way into perfect stats just so I never have to manage the inventory ever again.
  • Favorite… form? You have a lot of options for character customization. No, wait, scratch that. You have a lot of options for whether you would like your party to devour gears and cogs to become robots. Or you can eat a hunk of meat and become a man-bat. You’ve got options. Regardless, the worm is the best choice, as he’s a friendly looking lil’ dude. For a monster.
  • Did you know? There was a DS remake of FFL3, and it never made its way over to Western shores. But some dedicated fans translated SaGa 3 Jiku no Hasha: Shadow or Light, and now you can play the dang thing in English. Hooray for our side! Literally!
  • Would I play again: I want to say there is a JRPG from the 90’s that uses time travel a little more effectively, so I’ll pass on this legendary adventure.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Space Harrier for the 32X! That’s going to be a mammoth of a good time. Please look forward to it!


FGC #050 Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

9 Reasons Final Fantasy Fans Should Love Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is a Super Nintendo game from 1992 with a box that reads “Entry Level Role-Playing Adventure”. In the whole history of desire, nobody has ever wanted something that can be described as “entry level”. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest may as well have been marketed as “Final Fantasy 4 Babiez”, or perhaps, “Final Fantasy: If You Can Read This, You’re Too Old For This Shit”. As a result of its childish position as a gaijin gaiden game for goobers, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has been ignored by its parent franchise for decades, only finally receiving the smallest bit of recognition in Final Fantasy Theatrhythm Curtain Call, a game that was already prepared to stoop to the lows of recognizing other black sheep like Live A Live and Nier.

But Final Fantasy Mystic Quest had some genuinely good ideas that the rest of the franchise could have stood to adopt back in ‘92. Eventually, shock, Final Fantasy did learn a few Mystic Quest lessons, it just took far too many years.

For instance…

#9 Weapons and Armor Are a Straight Progression

There are four types of weapons used by the hero, Benjamin, in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Swords, Axes, Bombs, and Claws. Ben can cycle through these weapons at any time, and choose a weapon that is most appropriate for the monster at hand. This is important, because, like most Final Fantasy games, different monsters are weak to different weapons. You wouldn’t download a car, and you wouldn’t use a sword on a tree. Weapon switching is a pretty common ability in most games, not just Final Fantasy (it really makes Mega Man’s day), but what’s different here is that your strongest weapon of any class is always equipped, and the older weapons are ignored. Yes, it’s important to have choice when there’s an actual difference between Bubble Lead and Metal Blade, but the difference between a +2 Sword and a +4 Sword is simply how long it takes for that evil knight to fall down, so why would you ever “choose” the longer method? And why would you want to ever waste time sorting through a nigh-endless list of all the axes you’ve forgotten to sell since town one? Squire, fetch me my finest sword every time, and waste no time on the worn blade of years past.

And the armor just keeps getting better, too.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

Seven years later, with Final Fantasy 8. Squall had one gunblade, and it improved linearly, only getting better with upgrades. Sure, it may have just been a workaround for avoiding having to model a bunch of different weapons, but it was a boon for gameplay that already necessitated about 700 windows for customizing a three person party. Final Fantasy 8 seemed to be designed with an eye on not having to micromanage each individual character, so it only made sense that you wouldn’t have to spend time every new town scouring a weapons shop for Selphie’s latest jump rope to make sure she’s ready for a possible party switch.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. Final Fantasy 12 was very interested in finding new and annoying ways to upgrade your equipment while keeping the old junk around, and Final Fantasy 9 based its entire magic and ability system on lousy weapons, so if you needed a spell from “early” in the game, get ready to waste time against a monster or hundred because you’re stuck with a measly +1 Staff while your +10,000 Staff sits unused.

And speaking of magic…

#8. Magic Upgrades with You

Let’s be real here: we’re all playing Final Fantasy to see numbers go up, and to watch a group of plucky adventurers go from weak and scrappy underdogs to invincible god slayers. Part of that is watching magic go from a plinking, wet-spark of a Fire spell to a blazing inferno of destruction that is Firaja. However, like the weapons issue, we run into a problem, as all those week, early game Fire/Ice/Lit spells are still lingering around the inventory, never to be used again. It vaguely “mattered” in the old days of spell charges (ala Final Fantasy I), when an extra 25 Fire spells to possible 3 uses of Firaga was important for dungeon crawling, but I literally cannot remember the last time I ran out of MP in a modern Final Fantasy game, or, to be more accurate, I cannot remember the last time I ran out of MP and didn’t have seventy elixirs on hand.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has one fire spell, one ice spell, one air spell, and one earth spell. Period, full stop. No, Ice doesn’t lose its effectiveness as the game progresses, because, like every Final Fantasy game, the hero’s level is always increasing, so his magic power is always increasing, so Ice is always increasing in attack power. There’s no need for an additional Ice spell to tackle later bosses, because you’re using a “later” Benjamin. It is a poor mage who blames his tools.

All nice and straightforward.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

Technically, Final Fantasy still hasn’t learned this one, though its basic concept seems to be used in Final Fantasy 13, a game that was released seventeen years after FFMQ. Yes, FF13 still has the crazy spell progression of its ancestors, but the way the battle system “works” precludes the usage of old, ineffective magic for the more robust, better spells, so it works effectively the same way as in Mystic Quest.
Guys, I know we all like our crazy, thirty minute Bahamut summon animations, but there’s no reason the Chocobo can’t just level up to a more vigorous designation/animation all on its own. Unless you want to tell me some of you have beaten Sephiroth using only a Fire spell… What am I saying? Of course someone has done that. This is the internet, after all. But maybe the rest of us aren’t fond of scrolling through a menu of useless junk for that one useful spell.

“Face the cleansing power of White…
Wait, that came out wrong.”

#7 You Always Know What Works

Quick! You’re fighting the Fire Dragon, so what spell do you use? Ice, right? Ice always beats fire. Except in those games where there’s a water elemental spell, in which case ice might be completely useless against fire, and you just wasted an entire turned while your party was flambéed. Now consider the fact that not everyone has a working knowledge of all JRPG conventions at all times, and the best indicator that you’re using a move that is powerful against a particular enemy may simply be a better numerical damage indicator. But wait a minute, did you just use something that was advantageous, or was it merely a critical hit? Or did the monster stealthily drop his defenses for that turn for some reason? Or was it just a random stroke of whatever RNG is controlling damage output?

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest takes the guess work out of monster slaying. Bombs are effective against beholders, and you’ll be reminded of that every time you blast one of those giant eyeballs and a message relays, “Beholder is weak against bomb attack.” It might get old seeing that message every time, but it’s great for people for whom JRPGS do not come naturally. Hell, I bet you could found an entire empire of JRPGs for children on the simple concept of continually noting “Super Effective” attacks.

Ah, yes, you can’t paralyze the dead.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

I want to say it wasn’t until Final Fantasy 10, released in 2001, that we got clear, obvious indicators for every last attack and ability. Yes, older games would generally note if something worked or didn’t work, but that precious “immune” message in Final Fantasy 10 would clearly indicate whether or not that Stone spell just missed or was never going to work. Also, its emphasis on piercing beats armor, speed beats lizards, balls beat flying, etc. was very similar to some of the “weapon elements” of Mystic Quest, which allowed you to make more informed movements during battle, as opposed to simply choosing Fight over and over again forever.

And speaking of making appropriate choices…

#6 You Can See Monsters (And Make Decisions)

Some might claim that Final Fantasy Mystic Quests’ greatest strength is that, in a time when random encounters were the norm across platforms, it stuck every last monster sprite on the screen, and completely bypassed the tension of being randomly attacked. I’m inclined to agree with that line of thinking, but I do understand how some may find JRPG random encounters to have their merits. However, merits aside, random encounters are inherently… random, and thus remove any and all choice from the player, which is something I never support. And, yes, I can see the comments now: “Oh ho ho, weren’t you just advocating removing weapon and spell choices?” Yes, I support choice when you’re making a relevant choice, not just choosing between small and large in a world where large is always the right answer. Onscreen encounters in FFMQ allow the player to make choices, thus creating more “game”. Like take the screenshot below:


Benjamin is surrounded monsters, but you can choose which monsters to fight. Those worm guys? They’re weak to axes, and the axe is one of the strongest weapons in your inventory at that point, so that’s a good choice. The bird creatures are weak to Tristam’s ninja stars, though, so if you’re comfortable with using one of his limited shuriken, that’s probably the path you want. Here you have a choice to make, but in a game with random encounters, this room would just be… a room.

And here’s another one:

Want to risk it?

You want that treasure chest, because of course you do, but a behemoth is barring your progress. Do you ignore the behemoth and the (mystery) contents of that chest, or battle on, and potentially lose more resources than you’ll gain from the battle? Relevant choices!

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

Fourteen years later, Final Fantasy 12 finally brought battle choice into the Final Fantasy equation. Yes, all battles occurred on the map anyway, but the real concept of choice is there, as you can decide whether you’d like to battle a small, puttering cactus creature or a goddamn T-Rex. You can choose your own challenges, and that’s important, because I would not want to fight a dinosaur by accident.

#5 You Can See Monsters (And Make Them Extinct)

The other significant downside to random encounters is that there’s usually no way to turn them off. I don’t care if you’re level one or one hundred, you’re still going to be attacked by roaming goblins outside your hometown, and even though you’ll receive practically nothing for the effort, you still have to go through the motions of battle until they’re good and dead (or you can run, confident in the knowledge that you are an exceptional coward).

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has monsters you can see, but you won’t ever see them respawn. Okay, yes, they’ll return if you leave an area and then double back, but there is literally never a reason to do this at any point in the game. That means that you can defeat every single monster in any given dungeon, and then explore to your heart’s content without fear of reprisal. There’s a reason I still have a poor mental picture of the shape of Final Fantasy’s Marsh Cave while I could show you almost the entirety of FFMQ’s Mine right now. Actually, yeah, here you go:

There, everything you need to see

Dead monsters give the player a simple, intuitive reason to explore every nook and cranny, and revisit potentially dangerous areas with full knowledge that the boss of the area is six feet under and you’re free to unload those spare spell charges. Nobody wants to get bumped off by an errant slime that just happened to pop up when your HP was low.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

Mystic Quest was old enough to drink by the time Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 introduced monster extinction to Final Fantasy proper. Yes, for those of you that missed out on this game because the plot had become a gnarled mess that required eighty hours of prelude, LR:FF13 has a hard cap on every monster’s spawn numbers, so it is possible to kill every Earth Eater in the desert and just wander around unmolested for the rest of the game. Mind you, there is a time limit on the game, so it’s entirely possible you’ll never encounter that condition, but it is nice to spend Lightning’s final days without enemy interruption.

Speaking of killing monsters…

#4 You Can See Monsters’ Health

You might not be able to see a monster’s HP, but you sure can see their general health. Even at super speed, don’t tell me you even have to guess at how this ice golem is faring:

Melt away to nothing!

This is important not only for convenience sake (“How much longer could this battle last?”), but also for just generally knowing how JRPGs work. If you’re reading this far into an article on Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, you’re likely already familiar with a number of JRPG conventions, one of the most prominent being how monsters, particularly boss monsters, have a tendency to throw out “super attacks” when their health is low. However, to someone who is new to the genre, that last ditch effort Nuke spell may just appear to be a random fluke of the RNG that controls most boss behavior, and nothing is learned other than that the player has bad luck. The neophyte player has no idea how much HP any given monster has, so why would someone assume that monster behavior may change with HP loss? Whether it’s a depleting health gauge or a monster’s pose generally looking more defeated, a clear health indicator can only aid the player in not only understanding the battle, but the genre as a whole.

Also, sometimes it’s adorable.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

I want to say Final Fantasy 10 was the first Final Fantasy game that really made a monster’s HP total easily-accessible through auto-scanning materials. Many previous Final Fantasy games had ways to access an enemy’s HP total, but it wasn’t front and center, and shooting off a Scan spell in the middle of a heated battle was a fine way to waste a turn that could otherwise be spent healing. No one should die in the name of gray magic!

Oh, speaking of death…

#3 You Can Instantly Restart

No matter how much finesse and structure is poured into a JRPG, there is always an inherent bit of randomness in every battle. This is the reason one could perform a “no hit” run of Contra, but expecting the same of Final Fantasy is folly. In fact, one of the most popular challenge runs of Final Fantasy I is the “only one character” challenge, which, as you’ll know whether you’ve tried it yourself or just watched a Let’s Play, often hits a brickwall with the army of creatures that know instant death spells in the Ice Cave. No matter how skilled you are, there’s always the chance that the wrong Zoidberg is going to cast the wrong spell, and poof, you’re dead, game over. Back to your last save point, hope it was recent.

Here’s some other monsters with Death spells.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest does not waste anybody’s time. Whether you fought a hard battle to your final hit point, or simply got unlucky and turned to stone in the first round, FFMQ knows these things happen, and will simply ask you “Would you like to try again?” The choice here is important: you can acknowledge your loss, but still fight back, and hope for a better outcome; or you can accept your death and restart from your last save point, like a “normal” RPG. The choice is up to you, but FFMQ isn’t going to force you to complete an entire dungeon all over again just because of a bad roll of the dice.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

Final Fantasy 13, and, boy, let me tell you, I was excited to see it. My first “restart” in that game was thanks to a random mob that had basically gotten the better of me thanks to an incoming phone call, and, at my loss, I was expecting to have to repeat ten minutes of gameplay and like a half hour of cutscenes just because of an inopportune interruption. Imagine my delight when I was actually able to start over exactly from that point, with maybe a mere thirty seconds of my life lost. Wow, it’s like a video game actually respects my time for a change.

Of course, the ultimate way a video game can show its understanding of my life is…

#2 You Can Save Anywhere

Whether you’re chilling at an inn or steps from the final boss, you can save literally anywhere in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. I don’t have to explain this one at all, right? I want to say this is something that is important to adults playing video games, but even when I was a kid, I could never guarantee that I could start or stop a play session according to the length of a dungeon (which, incidentally, would never give any indication of its duration). An inability to save anywhere just generates fear in a player, and while tension can be fun in some games, it seems kind of unnecessary when you’re extensively preparing to enter the Sage’s Cave because, from the outside, it looks just like the Earth Cave.

This looks like a good place to take a break.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

This is another point that goes to Lightning Returns, right? I’m not missing anybody? All of them had lousy save crystals, or some variation on that? I’m sorry, I’m just distracted by recalling that time in Final Fantasy 12 when, after spending hours deftly maneuvering an apocalyptically deadly swamp, the save point decided it had to fiercely battle my party before I was allowed to rest. That wasn’t fun, that was weaponized player-hate.

#1 You Make the World a Better Place

Like a number of JRPGS, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest starts with a world in peril: Four fiends have separated the land by locking transit between areas, and each country is afflicted with different, life-threatening calamities. Trees are dying, oceans have been drained, earthquakes are rampant, and one entire town has been frozen into a Canadian freeze. Benjamin’s battle against evil solves these issues, and by the time he sails towards the final boss, the world is filled with lush greenery and blue oceans. The children play in the streets, fathers and daughters are reunited, and the elderly are getting fat off their massive uptick in healing herb sales.

When you can see a town go from this…

Looking a bit frosty, eh?

To this…

Break out your swimsuit!

You know you’ve done something right.

But Final Fantasy Didn’t Learn Until…

Some franchises never learn. I can understand how it’s another bid to increase tension as you head to the final confrontation, but the finale of a game doesn’t have to be depressing, it can be a victory lap… just not in Final Fantasy. Before the final dungeon of Final Fantasy 9, the world is at its absolute worst. Final Fantasy 10? The good people of Besaid don’t seem to have a clue that the epitome of destruction is just parked in the Calm Lands. Final Fantasy 12 and 13 both end with a world on the brink of destruction (and both finally culminate with fairly pyrrhic victories). Final Fantasy 5, 6, and 7 all have worlds that are significantly worse for wear despite (and in some cases, because) of your endeavors. Final Fantasy 8 is probably the worst of them all: as you venture toward the final challenge, the entire world is trapped in a timeless, deathless purgatory that effectively makes your party the last breathing humans on Earth.

When you’re ready for the final assault in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, there is no question regarding Benjamin’s allegiance or intentions. Benjamin, like his game, made the world a better place. At least people in that world seemed to notice his contributions.

FGC #50 Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

  • System: Super Nintendo, but also available on the Wii.
  • Number of Players: Just one hero for this adventure.
  • So you want to be Cracked now? One time homage. Seemed to fit the subject matter.
  • A turtle does biteHey, no mention of Final Fantasy 11 or 14? MMORPGs are their own genre with their own conventions and requirements. Comparing a JRPG to a MMORPG is like comparing a bird to a velociraptor: there’s a common origin point, but they have wildly different needs and movie deals.
    Favorite Party Member: Reuben has a morning star and a complete lack of magic spells. If you trust the game’s AI to do anything, this is the perfect combination.
  • So, you really like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest? God, no. There’s a lot of parts of this game that are a complete slog, and I’d literally rather play any other Final Fantasy game from that period, up to and including gameboy games that are secretly not really Final Fantasy games. But ya gotta give credit where credit’s due.
  • Did you play through the entire game for this article? Yes. And, no, I didn’t do it in two days. I’ve been staying loyal to the FGC rules of randomly playing video games as determined by a sadistic robot, but that doesn’t mean I always post about a game two days after it is chosen. A game only slots into the “What’s Next?” section if I know I can produce an article on the usual deadline, and some games… require a bit more time. This one has been in the pipeline for a while.
  • Anything else on the agenda you’re not telling anyone about? Oh my yes.
  • Did you know? A lot of the graphics from this game are upscaled revisions of Final Fantasy Legend III (aka Sa Ga 3) assets. Also, there’s a whole host of gameplay features recycled from that game, so maybe I should be writing 3,000 words about that game influencing JRPG mechanics. Then again, I don’t think FFL3 had a grappling hook, so FFMQ is probably the superior game. It could use a time machine, though.
  • Would I play again? Not for a good long while. I have some nostalgic affection for this title, but just because it did a number of things right doesn’t mean it didn’t do even more things wrong. It’s probably a top tier SNES game, but there’s an even higher echelon where Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 3 reside, so good luck getting me to ignore those magnificent games for Benjy’s Quest again.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… to take a week off. I’ve just written fifty Fustian Game Challenge articles in a row, so I need a week to recharge and play a video game or two without mentally logging screenshots and gifs every five seconds. When I do return to the FGC, Random ROB has picked out Super Mario Land, so please look forward to it!

In the meanwhile, I’m definitely posting something next Monday (the last thing to be reposted from the Talking Time archives, and if you’ve been following my writing, you may recall what that is), and I will likely post something next Wednesday and Friday as well, but whatever it will be, it will be different. You’ve been warned.

So you can set your day planners:

  • Week of 10/12: Something Different
  • 10/19: FGC Resumes

See you Monday!