Tag Archives: tonberry

World of Final Fantasy Part 06

Chapter 18: March of the Tsundere
Initial Stream: 10/20/20

-3:00:00 – Eagle-eyed viewers may notice a different setup for our heroes’ stacks and timer and such. The reason? I spent about three hours battling through the coliseum to see if anything interesting was there. Was there? Nope! Only “plot” that happened was that Shiva and Ifrit revealed their opposite sex counterparts are out wreaking havoc somewhere in the world. That’s it! Other than that, it was just three hours of fighting the same monsters that have been seen elsewhere. I did add Gilgamesh to the team, though.

8:00 – Anyway, back to actually playing the game on video. Let’s talk about when World of Final Fantasy actually tries to be visually inventive before we board the Galaxy Express.

13:00 – Welcome to Not Really Besaid. Way to merge one of the most unique places in the Final Fantasy franchise (at least for Final Fantasy, those dudes rarely get to stop by a tropical paradise) with one of the most generic towns from OG Final Fantasy.

20:00 – Shantotto is here from Final Fantasy 11. Anyone with MMORPG experience want to fill in the blanks on what we don’t know about this character? Which is everything? I mean, we know she rhymes, and she’s already funko-sized in her original appearance, but if it ain’t in Dissidia, we’re out of ideas on her.

24:00 – Thank you, Shantotto, for being responsible for our fourth mandatory death. Let’s go drown.

30:00 – Tidus arrives, tosses us into the ocean, swims with us for a little bit, and then leaves. Class act, all the way. Let’s hit the real dungeon for this update.

43:00 – This is a long dungeon (and we haven’t seen anything yet) so fanboymaster explains Assassin’s Creed’s overarching plot. It is bonkers, and I recommend it. But to talk about the dungeon for a moment: many of the World of Final Fantasy dungeons have been pretty damn boring, with their usual “two branches, one has rewards, one doesn’t” structure and graphically nice, but conceptually mundane landscapes (the world doesn’t need another volcano or generic mountain dungeon). That said, this underwater dungeon with walls that can be scaled and “twisting” geography is pretty neat!… but the layout doesn’t really ever do anything with it. This and the Train Graveyard from the last update are pretty cool, but I guess we’re just not going to get a remarkable dungeon arrangement out of World of Final Fantasy.

53:00 – Final Fantasy’s Zoids return as our first murkrift victory. Spoilers: I’m going to go destroy all the other murkrifts throughout the other dungeons between updates this time. Not spoilers: They’re just as boring and irrelevant as the coliseum battles.

1:00:00 – Gearing up for the boss, talking about Johnny Cage’s terrible website, and then it’s time for the tsundere penguin queen. Looking it up afterwards, apparently the Quacho penguin creatures are based on Pavlov from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. So, yes, the featured characters from this chapter originate from a side character from a game that is so obscure, you can’t even buy it anymore, anywhere. I don’t know if I should be insulted or impressed by that kind of deep cut.

1:13:00 – Tonberry King! He’s so regal… and is that the point? Check out Tiny Gilgamesh using his best sword for the job.

And we end shortly thereafter because this chapter is long as hell. There are technically a few minutes left in this chapter, but they flow better into Chapter 19’s revelations. If you’ve come this far, you’re going to watch that anyway!

What actually happened in the plot: In an effort to find the final, water-themed key, the twins sought out Shantotto, who “cursed” them with the ability to breathe underwater. Tidus then guided the gang to an undersea temple, where Lann and Reynn eventually encountered the Quacho Queen. She had the key, but emphasis on “had”, as the local tonberry gang stole it. However, our party defeats the Tonberry King, reclaims the key, and bids the underwater world adieu. Also, it looks like some gigantic, clawed monster awoke underwater while no one was looking.

Chapter 19: Deadly Tower
Initial Stream: 10/20/20


00:00 – Starting off exactly where the previous chapter ended with talk of Outlaw Star, anime censorship, and maybe some gundams.

2:17 – Yuna becomes our first “returning” Final Funko cameo, and she is immediately kidnapped for her dedication. And then the four elemental keys we’ve been collecting unlock a crystal staircase. Stuff is happening! Don’t get used to it!

4:00 – The chapter for-real begins. Did I need to cut the other one early for the sake of four minutes? Whatever, let’s discuss Final Fantasy plot swerves. World of Final Fantasy is living up to its legacy, and, in that department, it’s only going to escalate.

8:14 – An ominous tower is growing out of a weird replication of Nine Wood Hills. And we’ve got Terra! Hey, this is a Final Fantasy Cameo fight that isn’t a mandatory loss! Also: Maduin visually sucks, and always has. Hang your entire backstory on a more exciting esper, Final Fantasy 6!

14:30 – Our dungeon officially begins. It’s an endless crystal-esque tower that is just staircase after staircase. We get bored with this almost immediately, which is not great, as the remainder of this update is just the tower.

18:00 – It’s time to talk about Family Matters. This is now the Let’s Watch Family Matters LP.

25:00 –


35:00 – What 80’s TV show would you like to write for? Live action or animated? Give me something to talk about, World of Final Fantasy, and we’ll talk about you again.

50:00 – This is a long-ass dungeon. Please enjoy Scooby Doo discussion.

1:01:00 – I want to thank 2001-2010 Adult Swim for existing and apparently inspiring a great breadth of this stream.

1:04:00 – Okay, we’re at the top, break time. We’re going to save the final boss(es) of this area for the next update, because that dungeon was exhausting and life-draining. Check back next time for the thrilling conclusion (of this dungeon we all hate)!

What actually happened in the plot: After being cured of their “can breathe water” curse, Yuna finally tells everyone about the other summoners being kidnapped… before being kidnapped herself. Thanks for the exposition! The lead bad guy (who we technically haven’t seen, in, like, fifteen hours) ominously states “The two worlds will be joined again!” as the twins use the four keys to produce a crystal staircase. A Mysterious Masked Woman appears and claims the twins have to climb the Crystal Tower to find their mom. Reynn thinks something is up, something that is deeply meta, but Lann… doesn’t care? Whatever. The staircase leads to the Nonary Region, which appears to be a ruined version of Nine Wood Hills, the twins’ home dimension. Terra, riding Magitek Armor, says we must not proceed, and attacks with the assistance of Maduin. We knock her unconscious, and proceed. Terra is menaced by Man in the Golden Mask after the “heroes” leave, so now four summoners have been kidnapped (and two in just this update!). At the top of a giant tower, a big door sits, sealed by the four elements. Reynn somehow remembers the place… but doesn’t know how.

Next time on World of Final Fantasy: Robots ruin everything.

World of Final Fantasy Part 02

Chapter 4: The Fight to End all Funkos
Initial Stream: 9/22/20

1:14 – Thus begins Night 2. I have hacked every item into World of Final Fantasy, and that should make things go smoother. Reference is made to my Wild Arms 2 Let’s Play when I had to restart the entire adventure thanks to similar shenanigans… but I’ve learned nothing, so here we are.

5:00 – The terrible pathfinding of our Tails-like compatriot is discussed. Also, I didn’t take ten minutes to repeat the entirety of this dungeon because I forgot what I was doing, I was just getting reacquainted with the game. Yeah… that’s the ticket.

11:00 – I have to mess with a few menus before getting going, and then officially Chapter 4 begins… So let’s discuss mobile game advertising, my lord.

16:00 – The Captain of the Guard appears here. He will be relevant in like twenty minutes. I also want to state for the record that I like dogs, they just get in the way of things on occasion. Anyone that has ever had to shove a collie out of the kitchen knows what I’m talking about. I’m not a monster!

18:00 – Our next “dungeon” is a massive battlefield featuring a fight between Cornerian forces and the invading Bahamutian army. Unfortunately, it’s one of those deals where there’s a tiny “path” (viewable on the minimap), and you can’t explore anything remotely outside of the path. Boo.

22:00 – Persona 5 is discussed. One day I’ll make it through Persona 5 Royal, but, in the meanwhile, please enjoy this referenced Gogglebob discussion/interview about how it’s pretty damn misogynistic.

28:00 – Dungeon continues unabated, so let’s discuss everyone’s first Playstation game after some Bioshock “hacking”.

35:00 – The Warrior of Light of kinda Final Fantasy 1 and definitely Final Fantasy Dissidia appears! So let’s have a boss battle against a particularly large goblin.

40:00 – Shadowy villains lurk in the shadows, and they have shadowy lips… sometimes.

What actually happened in the plot: The twins distinctly remember bits of their childhood and their mom, which seems significant. Also, anonymous NPCs can become “champions” like the Warrior of Light according to legends of mediums. The Bahamutian Army is apparently being led by evil knights that are actually just empty armor, but maybe the real villains just awoke thanks to our heroes?

Chapter 5: Go Climb a Tree
Initial Stream: 9/22/20



00:00- Picking up immediately where the previous chapter ended, BEAT attempts to hold me accountable with my own words. I think he does a pretty good impersonation of yours truly.

3:00 – We’re going to Soronia (original appearance: Final Fantasy 3[J]) opposite spam comments in the stream. Apparently we have to venture through Final Fantasy 10’s Pyreglow Forest (there is no spam there).

8:00 – My dedicated spam bot is reported as we venture through a forest. Or up a giant tree? Directions are a pain.

20:00 – You try catching a baby behemoth that eventually dies anyway while talking about zodiac signs! It’s not easy!

29:00 – Special thanks to whoever was responsible for writing World of Final Fantasy’s monster descriptions, as some entries, like this rap-battling lizard, are the bee’s knees.

33:00 – Moogles apparently need to be healed to be captured, and it doesn’t seem like scan/libra provides that information. BEAT helpfully looks it up, and then talks about Save Toby, a website dedicated to maybe eating a rabbit.

38:00 – While fanboymaster plays Mario 64 I capture a Magic Jar. I am not certain if this is some kind of sequence breaking or something, but I don’t think I scored one here on my initial playthrough.

45:00 – Discussion of Aqua Teen Hunger Force is interrupted by Yuna. Looks like it’s time to fight a summoner.

51:00 – Yuna offers some revelations about mom… but let’s talk about Dethklok instead.

58:00 – Closing this one out as notable villain James Woods is discussed opposite the appearance of fictional villain, Plumed Knight.

What actually happened in the plot: Princess Sarah believes the only way to defeat the Bahamutian Army is to ally with the mysterious League of S, so the twins set off to do just that on behalf of Corneria. They’re heading toward Soronia for more info, but Yuna is a roadblock, because she believes Jiants once destroyed the world. After a battle, Yuna reveals that Lussa Farna was a heroine 100 years back that sealed the Demon Dyad within the Ultima Gate. Lussa Farna’s fate was lost to time, but one of her three allies, Brandelis, is now a general in the Bahamutian Army. And, oh yeah, the twins recall that Lussa Farna was their mom’s name.

Chapter 6: Chilling with the Fam
Initial Stream: 9/22/20



1:00 – Icicle Inn! And a discussion of Final Fantasy 7 Remake inevitably unfolds.

3:45 – Sherlotta is the proprietor of this inn. And she’s also a 2,000 year old catgirl from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. And I’m sure she has nothing to do with the unidentified cat that appears near the end of the update. Refia also appears (and temporarily joins that party). She is the tomboy blacksmith’s apprentice that replaces an anonymous onion kid in Final Fantasy 3 DS.

10:00 – Let’s blind some bats for fun and profit. After moogle healing last time, this is where the game really kicks into gear on “conditions” and the many ways you can capture monsters.

20:00 – It’s an icy, slidey area, which reminds us all of the glories of Alundra, a game I recently played because quarantine was causing no small amount of anxiety. It’s a great game for depression (as in, it will inflict depression upon you).

35:00 – After five minutes of juggling stat stuff, we talk about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time speed run strategies while a boss attacks.

42:00 – Techincally Chapter 7 starts here, but we’re too busy talking about Narnia to notice. We’ve made it to Saronia Harbor, and wrapping things up when…

45:00 – A door has appeared! So we have to look at it, meeting Girl Who Forgot Her Name, which leads to a discussion of BEAT: Secret Origins.

48:00 – Quests are available! Maybe we’ll get there eventually! We’re also introduced to Champion Medals, Arma Gems, and Champion Points. This is all just a long tutorial on “you can summon things”.

52:00 – I can Summon Warrior of Light, Sephiroth, and Balthier thanks to DLC. And now for more explanations of everything. I just want to go to bed!

58:00 – After a discussion about Golden Sun, we’re at the coliseum. Please ignore the friendly tonberry that apparently isn’t going to stab anyone.

1:03:00 – And after all that, it turns out I can’t summon right now. Dammit! Maybe next time. We’ll pick back up the “real” Chapter 7 on the next update, as “Night 3” begins.

What actually happened in the plot: After meeting Sherlotta, Refia joined the party, and this trio ventured through the contractually mandated ice dungeon. There was a wolf ambush, but nothing much else of interest happened on the way to Saronia.

Back in the twins’ home dimension, Girl Who Forgot Her Name appeared, and she has the power to impart the ability to summon Final Fantasy luminaries for sidequests and attacks. Otherwise, she’s just a weird girl that drinks tea in a formless void. Also, a tonberry invited us to a coliseum for bloodshed aplenty.

FGC #503 Final Fantasy 5

Not very finalLet’s talk about why you think the end of the world is a good idea.

Final Fantasy 5 has become one of the most enduring Final Fantasy titles. No, it has not yet warranted a direct sequel, nor is it receiving a high-definition remake featuring ring wraiths that really should have better things to do with their un-lives. Unfortunately, from a Square-Enix perspective, Final Fantasy 5 has been little more than a piddly JRPG that occasionally gets rereleased on cell phones. But the Final Fantasy fan community has been milking Final Fantasy 5 in new and interesting ways practically since its inception. Back in the day, thanks to FF5 never reaching Western shores, it was one of the first games that encouraged a generation to learn how to patch a rom to experience Final Fantasy Extreme. From there, fans continued to support this 1992 release well into the future with online competitions to see who could hate their life the most thanks to a twitter-based robot prescribing the use of berserker after berserker. Recently (well, relatively recently in the lifespan of FF5, as we’re talking about a game that is old enough to realize it has done nothing with its life, oh God, it can’t even think about having kids right now) fans seem to have come full circle, as there was the “Ancient Cave” mod for FF5, which itself needed a new English translation patch. This “whole new way to play” essentially turns Final Fantasy 5 into a rogue-like, using the already amazing backbone of FF5 gameplay and transcending genres. Not bad for a game that was released the same year as Night Trap!

Let's kick itBut if you’ve never played Final Fantasy 5, you may be asking why exactly this title is so enduring even among its luminous peers. Final Fantasy 6 or Final Fantasy 12 may be widely regarded as amazing, but you don’t see anyone saddling up with Ultrosbot for an annual online competition. Final Fantasy 11 or Final Fantasy 14 may have servers that will keep going until a meteor strikes the planet, but neither title has had the kind of fan support that has endured from day one to day 10,000. There’s a Final Fantasy 7 Remake, not a Final Fantasy 7 Ancient Cave. And why is that? Because Final Fantasy 5 is the perfect intersection of simple and complex. Final Fantasy 5 can be completed in a scant few hours (well, by JRPG standards), but there are 500 different ways to complete the game. And why? It’s the fabulous job system of Final Fantasy 5. This system has been seen before in the franchise, and would certainly be seen again, but here in FF5 it is somehow at its most pure. It is to the point that you could legitimately complete all of Final Fantasy 5’s challenges as your favorite combo of fighters, or with an entire party of Geomancers (which, to be clear, is no one’s favorite). Under the hood, FF5 is an incredibly well-balanced experience, and it is all thanks to a gameplay system that is immediately understandable and unerringly complex. You can be a Knight that just smacks things with swords, or memorize the Periodic Table of Elements to master the powers of the Chemist class. Both are worthy options! This is no mere advertising bullet point: you really can play Final Fantasy 5 a different way every time.

The enduring love of this Final Fantasy Fandom is all because of this amazing job system. And how do you get a job in Final Fantasy 5? Why, you simply watch the world fall to pieces.

And, don’t worry, it’s exactly as bad as that sounds.

I know that guyFinal Fantasy 5 is generally regarded as one of the more cheery Final Fantasy adventures. There aren’t any child suicides, the main protagonist is unerringly optimistic and not a sullen dork, and your prerequisite dead party member is an old man that already had his time to shine, not a 20-something young lady who still had so many folding chairs to master. However, over the course of your adventure, the winds cease and stagnate, fire loses its warmth, and the very Earth begins to lose its life. An ancient forest is burned to the ground (with some medium-well fire), kingdoms fall to monsters, and cartographers hurl themselves off towers thanks to unprecedented, instantaneous continental drift. The sun might still be shining, and everyone might be smiling, but, right up until the world is ultimately saved, roughly a third of the world’s population has been sucked into a black hole. By pretty much any rubric, that’s a bad time for everybody. And what is the cause of all of this devastation? The life-sustaining crystals representing the four primal elements are gradually shattered over the course of our heroes’ adventure, and the world is increasingly worse for it. Every time a crystal breaks to pieces, everyone suffers more and more.

Well, except the Light Warriors. They’re only getting more and more power from each broken crystal.

The job system that so perfectly defines Final Fantasy 5 is only expanded thanks to the power of the crystals. Each new crystal shattering is a disaster for the world, but it is also the only time your heroes receive new jobs. And, since you, the player, wants to have as many jobs (and possibilities!) as possible, you’ll be happy every time a crystal explodes. An entire kingdom has gone up in flames? That’s rough, but you just gained the ability to become a ninja! Score! Cheer up, peasant, Bartz is gonna dual-wield over the ashy remnants of your former life!

This is great!And, for the player, advancement through misery isn’t limited to just the jobs system. “Cool stuff” in Final Fantasy 5 is continually gated behind outright tragedy. The ancient, ultimate weapons are under glass until the big villain can get through about 80% of his apocalyptic plan. Two high level summons are only possible after killing beloved pets and companions. Stella. STEEEEEEELLA! (“Cool trauma, bro, you get a new song.”) Final Fantasy 5’s plot leans heavily on the concept that much of the misery across its world is thanks to the sins of the previous generation, regardless of whether they were well meaning heroes or older societies attempting to drain extra power from the crystals; but did they all have to pay for their sins with death? And did that death have to refill your HP for the final battle? Can there be a single catastrophe in this universe that doesn’t directly benefit the player?

And, while this may be a particularly egregious example of this trope, it is by no means the only videogame where this is the norm. Mega Man X hates killing his fellow reploids, but boy do you sure love getting shiny new weapons. Sad dads are continually sad about being sad dads that are forced to make sad choices, but you better believe you enjoy soaking in the tangible trophies of their sad carnage. And some games can’t even get going until an apocalypse has already happened! It would be downright psychotic to shoot congregating shoppers at the mall, but if they’re an army of infected zombies, you don’t even stop to reload. The message to your average videogame player is clear: once things go to absolute $^#%, that’s when you’re really going to shine. After the end of the world, that’s when you are rewarded.

And it’s important to note that that is some very dangerous thinking.

I know those guysFor future generations that may be reading this blog entry in the east wing of the Goggle Bob Museum of Stuff Goggle Bob Liked So He Got a Museum Museum, this entry is being written in the middle of a global pandemic. It has changed practically everything about our daily lives, and has killed literally thousands and thousands of people. It would not be a stretch to call this a sort of apocalypse, and it would be very much correct to designate this entire situation as a disaster. One way or another, it is a time when, for one reason or another, absolutely everyone needs all the help they can get. And what help would that be? Well, some people need readily accessible food, some people need other people to stay home so they can do their life-saving jobs, and some people just need the kind of emotional support that becomes necessary when you spend days and months isolated from human contact. And do you know what is zero help at all? People that know Rapid Fire, how to summon meteors, or anyone whose job could be listed as “Samurai”. Despite the terms “hero”, “war”, and “invisible enemy” being tossed around, the last thing this situation needs is people who think they can solve a problem by hitting it. The heroes of Final Fantasy 5? And the heroes of every videogame? They’d all be completely useless in this situation (save maybe Dr. Mario). We’re dealing with a global catastrophe on a scale worthy of Exdeath, but the idea that some Light Warriors could come and save everyone is ludicrous.

And it sounds obvious to say such a thing out loud, but it’s important to remember this information for… lesser disasters. Not everything is a global calamity. Sometimes bad things happen, and you don’t so much as get a crystal shard for your troubles. Videogames (and so much of fiction in general) runs on the concept that every cloud has a silver lining, and a tragic death in act two just means that a friendly ghost is going to help everyone in act three. That is not reality. He bitesSometimes you just lose. Sometimes you have to live with pain and suffering, and the best you can hope for is the mental fortitude to not dwell on it for the next twenty years. PTSD does not grant a level up bonus. Yes, it’s easy to nod and agree with this notion when reading it from the relative comfort of the internet, but your subconscious has been soaking up the hidden morals of Final Fantasy 5 and its ilk for decades. The world is falling apart! I hope I get a legendary sword out of the deal!

So what’s today’s moral? Final Fantasy 5 is an amazing game, but remember it’s only a game. Even after you strip out the talking turtles and magic trees, it’s still not even approaching reality. Keep that in mind as you make decisions in our all-too-real world. There aren’t any Warriors of the Crystals running around, and you’re not going to be granted a new job just because society is falling apart. Be the kind of hero this world really needs, not one that thinks they can solve problems with a “fight” command.

The end of the world isn’t good for anybody.

FGC #503 Final Fantasy 5

  • System: In Japan, originally on the Super Nintendo. In America, we had to wait for the Playstation. Eventually, everybody got it on the Gameboy Advance. And now it’s on a bunch of Playstations and cell phones.
  • Number of players: Final Fantasy 6 was the one with the 2-player, 2-controllers option, right? I think it’s just one this time.
  • BLAMPort-o-Call: Give me the Gameboy Advance version any day of the week, as it seems to have the best translation. And by “best” I mean “the one that contains nonsensical references to early 21st Century internet culture”. That’s all I want from a game! And there’s a bonus dungeon with bonus bosses and bonus jobs, too, I guess.
  • Favorite Monster: The Unknown creatures in the undersea rift are unpleasant to look at, just like a good monster should be. Second runner up is the tonberry, which makes its first appearance here in Final Fantasy 5, but didn’t really come into its own until the great doinkening of Final Fantasy 8.
  • So, what were your jobs: I played fast and loose, game genied my way to every job at the start, and just had some fun seeing if Necromancer is a remotely viable job in the first dungeon. Spoilers: it’s not great. Final Fantasy 5 is a game with such a glut of options, it practically encourages cheating your way into ridiculous, possibly Chemist-based situations. Just have fun with it, and, just in case you slot in a berserker before a sand worm fight, remember to save often.
  • Favorite Job: Blue Magic also appeared for the first time in Final Fantasy 5, and, considering it grants its user a spiffy blue mask, Blue Mage is my favorite job. It doesn’t hurt that a lot of the abilities are overwhelmingly overpowered… but the same can be said for about a quarter of the jobs in Final Fantasy 5, so we’re just going to stick to what is commonly referred to as “the cape factor”.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: I first played this game emulated on a PC that didn’t even have a sound card. Battle on the Big Bridge? More like skirmish on the extremely quiet overpass. But at least I had the good sense to play the game after some nerd fixed all the transparency issues.
  • Axe you a questionDid you know? Each of the characters has default stats that make some slightly better suited for different jobs. Krile, for instance, has the greatest agility, so she’s better suited for… Bah! Who cares!? All that matters is they can all be Dancers, so just let ‘em dance.
  • Would I play again: Yes. Final Fantasy 5: excellent game, bad moral. Don’t go chasing apocalypses, kiddies!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Nintendo Wii. Oh good! I’m going to watch more planets explode. Please look forward to it!

FGC #375 Final Fantasy 12 The Zodiac Age

Where's my intro?So here’s my idea for the next Final Fantasy game.

First, let’s revisit how I played Final Fantasy 12 initially. Overall, I assume my maiden playthrough of Final Fantasy 12 was pretty typical. I was confused by the gambit system at first, but the game very deliberately eases the player into learning how to control a three man band at all times, so it wasn’t so bad. In short order, I was very comfortable with the neophyte system, and, since I still had access to all the old Final Fantasy standards (curaga, blizzaga, fire monster summoning), it was just a matter of adjusting old standards to a fresh title. In a way, that is no different than any other Final Fantasy release, and, whether Tidus is using an If HP <= 60% gambit or not, he’s still swinging around a Masamune. By the end of Final Fantasy 12 (over a hundred hours by my own clock) I had thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and, unlike some other titles (Final Fantasy 15 comes to mind), I did feel like I understood the game, its ins and outs, and why I won battles against so many gods. Final Fantasy 12 was new and different, but, in the end, it was still Final Fantasy.

But, even after seeing Yiazmat buried beneath an ocean of dragon blood, there was still an unmistakable feeling that I had done something wrong. And it all started with Penelo.

I’m a Final Fantasy veteran, so, even with FF12’s new systems, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of how these things go. I looked at the main cast, and I mistakenly believed that I knew the stats of these characters as well as their personalities. Vaan would obviously have the speed and stamina of a thief, and Basch should be decked out like a knight. It’s so obvious! Now, with the glory of hindsight, we know that Final Fantasy 12 characters all start at about the same stat level, but back when the game was fresh, who the heck had time to look at a bloody menu for longer than seven seconds? Not this guy. And Penelo? I see you there. You’re the obvious white mage of the group. Come on, you have Rosa written all over you.

GrossSo, while I missed the detail of all the characters starting as nigh-blank slates, I did read up on the weapons system of FF12 beforehand. One item class that stood out was the axe, which could deal “variable” damage. This sounded perfect for Penelo! She was going to be a useless white mage, right? So her strength stat was going to be useless, so she may as well carry around an axe that could do random damage. Random means it could easily knock off a thousand HP or just one, right? A white mage barely does any damage with a staff blow normally, so if she’s potentially going to do nearly zero damage anyway, why not give her the option of occasionally scoring a useful critical? An axe-wielding white mage made so much sense in my head, it was practically cheating.

Those of you familiar with how Final Fantasy 12 actually works likely already know the punch line to my Penelo experiment. The license board of Final Fantasy 12, the only real way to advance your character’s abilities and stats, is fairly well designed. If you want to equip the latest axes, you’re also likely to pick up a couple of axe-based stat buffs, like increases in strength or armor weight. Stay on the axe path, and it’s not just about axe proficiency, it’s about becoming a golden axe hurling goddess. So, with Penelo following the way of the woodcutter, before I’d even reached the halfway point of FF12, my main strategy for random monster mobs was to cast berserk on Penelo, point her in the general direction of an enemy, and sit back as she bathed in the blood of my adversaries.

This quickly led to a large gulf between story Penelo, who appeared like this:

Thanks, Penny

And Battle Penelo, whom I would imagine like so:

Thanks, Penny
(The extra axe is in case the first axe breaks)

But that was Vanilla Final Fantasy 12. Final Fantasy 12 the Zodiac Age is a totally different beast with all new features. Now the License Board is separated into different jobs so every character doesn’t wind up homogenized by the time you’re boarding the Bahamut. In other words, it’s very much like Final Fantasy games of old, like Final Fantasy 5 or Final Fantasy 10-2, and you can designate Penelo to actually be a white mage or an axe-maniac. Very big difference between the two, and an endgame Monk-Penelo would be completely different from Mage-Penelo.

Except.

Here’s Monk-Penelo.

Thanks, Penny

And here’s Mage-Penelo.

Thanks, Penny

See the subtle differences? Liar! They’re the same! They’re exactly the same. And that’s a shame, because Final Fantasy has a rich tradition of function dictating form, and Dancer-Yuna is a totally different animal from Gambler-Yuna. Hell, even going back to the original, being blessed by a dragon could dramatically change everything from your hair color to your apparent gender. Penelo doesn’t change a lick whether she’s a warrior or a wizard, and, come on, don’t our jobs impact every facet of our lives? I know I’d be a totally different person if I’d been digging ditches for the last fifteen years (for one thing, I’d probably smell worse. Probably).

So here’s my idea for the next Final Fantasy game.

Cid!Let’s stick to an “old school” four person party, like Final Fantasy 5 or Final Fantasy 15. And, for the heck of it, let’s make ‘em typical FF archetypes, too. They don’t have to be some things in particular, just something recognizable for a Final Fantasy expert. One general wanderer hero, one grizzled old timer (maybe he’s thirty), one princess (royalty of some kind is a must), and a wildcard of some sort, maybe a moogle ghost robot. And the story is basic: there’s a sealed bad guy, some lesser bad guy is trying to release the big bad guy, and maybe there is some random betrayal where an anonymous secondary nerd gets possessed by the biggest bad and turns into Cyber Hitler or whatever. Basic conventional story all around, and the party learns a valuable lesson about (spins the Wheel of Climaxes) proper motorcycle maintenance. Roll credits.

But! Here’s what I want to see: a jobs system, and a jobs system that impacts the story. Basically, incorporate a WRPG-style morality system (or whatever we’re calling the basis of Fallout right now), but base it entirely on choices made in the job system. No, you don’t get an option between save baby and eat baby, but you do choose if your main dude is a fighter or mage-r. That princess character? By the finale she can be a demure white mage that is all about helping her teammates and her country, or a blood thirsty dark knight that is beating back the big bad because it looked at her funny. The veteran might be back in action exclusively to feel the joy of battle again, or be slowly sliding into his own retirement as a spoony bard. Is the hero a worldly blue mage, or a barely-verbal berserker? And, for that matter, your job choices could impact other, more traditional bits of a typical FF experience. A whole party of thieves might not see a lot of cooperation from the local merchants, and stick to a party of berserkers for too long, and you won’t even be able to understand the dialogue. Bartz smash!

And, to be clear, this game wouldn’t permanently lock a character into one job for plot purposes; however it would “remember” your choices, so, while switching from Geomancer to Fighter might be painless on the mechanics side, your hero might still miss his floppy hat for a few towns.

Dance to deathIn my heart of hearts, I feel like this was always the intended future of job-based games like Final Fantasy 5, but the technology wasn’t available at the time. From the first moment of Final Fantasy 1, you’re choosing your heroes and their vocations, and it’s obvious that Fighter is not the same “person” as Black Mage, even if they’re working toward the same goal. Obviously, there couldn’t be 126 different plot configurations to fit Final Fantasy 1’s multiple choice parties, but that technology is here now. If a game can remember you pissed off a random merchant in the first town, it can certainly remember you were a blue mage for ten minutes. And, for that matter, if we get voice acting that can react to every damn thing Shepherd ever said for an entire trilogy, we’re definitely entitled to someone reacting to the fact that the princess is wearing a cat costume for some reason.

So, there, that’s my idea for the next Final Fantasy game. Expand the job system to encompass everything, and let Nu-Penelo be whatever she wants to be. Or whatever I want her to be. Or just give me a few more axe-wielding maniacs, Square, and then we’ll talk.

FGC #375 Final Fantasy 12 The Zodiac Age

  • System: Playstation 4 exclusive… Until the PC version drops, at least. Obviously, any other Final Fantasy 12 versions are available on… what was the modern system of ten years ago?… probably the NES.
  • Number of players: Multiple players are for other genres.
  • Hey, what about modern job-based games like Lightning Returns or Bravely Default: Lightning is still Lightning when she’s wearing a bunny costume, and Tiz is still Tiz when he’s decked out like a monk. I want more.
  • Nerds!Favorite Zodiac Age Feature: Gosh, you get past the job system implementation (which, to be honest, doesn’t thrill me), and I can barely tell what’s been changed here. Fast forward is great, but it’s very finicky with the context-sensitive menu vs. exclamation point X-button problem, and having all the gambits available at the start from any given shop is… daunting. Oh! I know! The Zodiac Spear is no longer based on the most opaque treasure hiding ever, so that’s a plus.
  • Most Missed: Where my Pirate’s Den, Square? I heard it was supposed to be part of a patch, but guess what, I don’t got no patch!
  • How about Penelo: Playing through the plot more rapidly than my initial playthrough, I noticed that Penelo seems to be the only character that gives a damn about Fran having allergic reactions to magic/mist-rich locations. Vaan is an idiot, so he gets a pass, and Ashe and Basche have their heads so far up their asses that they barely notice there’s a party at all, but it really seems like Balthier should show a little concern once in a while. What’s the matter, sky pirate? Caring isn’t cool enough for ya?
  • Did you know? Larsa does not have his infinite supply of potions in Zodiac Age, and all “fourth player” buddies really have no excuse not to join your party permanently. I don’t care if some of these characters are supposed to die! That never stopped the cast of Final Fantasy 4!
  • Would I play again: I want to play my new Final Fantasy game, but maybe I’ll give this old one another try in a decade or so. I think I’ve killed enough Owl Man Creatures at this point.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Ghostbusters for the NES! Will busting make me feel good? Let’s find out! Please look forward to it!

Cry about it