Saturday, February 11, 2006

Final Fantasy Awards

Pentru ca tocmai am terminat FF X (pentru prima oara), ce as putea face mai bine decat sa disec un pic aceasta serie longeviva si absolut fascinanta. Pe categorii. Cu cat mai multe, cu atat mai bine. And no, you don't get to vote (okay, you do if you've played all of them - after all, it's only safe to assume that you didn't :p)
Intervalul va cuprinde jocurile FF V - X (sorry FF IV fans... didn't play that one. Yet.) Orice alt FF va trebui sa astepte editia a II-a (FF X-2, most likely). Pentru necunoscatori, FF5 si 6 au aparut pe Super Nintendo, FF7-9 pe PlayStation (FF7 si 8 si pe PC) si FF10 pe PS2. (If you're puzzled about FF6, the english version bears the name FF III. Anyway, it's the one with TERRA, LOCKE and KEFKA. Oh, and Mag|Tek.)
Categoriile sunt cat mai diverse, si daca vi se pare ca o anumita categorie a fost introdusa special pentru o anumita situatie dintr-un anumit joc, probabil ca asa este ;). Anyway, on with the awards !

Best Main Character - Squall (FF8)
Squall gets the prize over, yes, Cloud (FF7) - after all, he's the more violent natural phenomenon. I really like him because he's extremely verbose, a real social person :p. Now, seriously, he's IMO the coolest main char in a FF, and also the only one I was ever able to identify with.
Famous Quotes: "Whatever." ; "..."

Best Secondary Character - Laguna (FF8)
Laguna is great beyond words, I liked him from the first moment I played him. Every sequence with Laguna was immensely enjoyable, and the only thing I was sorry about was that there wasn't more of him in the game. And his fight music was the best battle piece ever. I personally think he deserves his own game (or at least a movie :D)
Famous Quote: "Nothing cheaper than something free."
(Remember ?... "I think the faeries are here." ; "I brought the wrong map.")

Hottest Babe - Rikku (FF10)
The graphics don't really do justice to characters from older games, otherwise Tifa (FF7) would get the prize. At least she got to appear in a movie.

Most Original Character - Vivi (FF9)
Glowing eyes and you never see his face. Plus, I like the hat.

Least Human Character - Red XIII (FF7)
Hmm, maybe Cait Sith should've taken the prize ?...

Largest Party - Final Fantasy 6
With a grand total of (at least) 12 (twelve !) playable characters.

Smallest Party - Final Fantasy 5
Only 5 (five) characters, and only 4 at any one time (essentially, one character is replaced by another at some point. He even passes on his abilities 'n all)

Lowest Tech - Final Fantasy 5
Steam engines are experimental tech in this classic FF (although it sports a submarine as well as an airship). FF9 cut it pretty close too (but Terra got involved so...)

Highest Tech - Final Fantasy 8
Fast trains, speedboats, ICBMs, flying cities and a country with a fully-fledged space program - not much left to desire.

Best Setting - Final Fantasy 8
Not really a hard choice here, I really like high-tech in my FF's.

Most Original Setting - Final Fantasy 5
Two worlds that were separated long ago, but are reunited during the course of the game - FF5 is way on top of the competition.

Best Transportation - Final Fantasy 5
Now let's see... by foot, chocobo, boat, Hyuryuu (sort of a dragon), steamboat, submarine, blue (flying) chocobo, airship(that could also go on water and later on become a submarine as well !)

Coolest Transportation - Balamb Garden (FF8)
The best way to make sure a bunker is gonna resist those missiles is to make it avoid them. Actively. And thus, you get to fly around in the huge, clumsy and extraordinarily cool Garden.

Best Airship - Ragnarok (FF8)
Not only an Airship, but a Spaceship as well ! Complete with resident monsters ! (at least initially ;) Not to mention the cool guns.
(Remember ?... "Woohoo ! We're flying !" // "Selphie is quite extraordinary, isn't she ?"

Greatest Impact - Final Fantasy 6
I had already played FF7 and 8 before discovering SNES and FF6 - and when I did, I was amazed. It was pure FF, but unlike what I had played before. FF6 completed the mental image I had about FF games, and for that I am most grateful.

Best Music - Final Fantasy 8
Truth be told, Nobuo Uematsu did godly work with all of the FF's, but in FF8 even the battle music was enjoyable (after the hundreth battle I mean), plus it had the best "action" tracks of the series (I was really sorry whenever a battle interupted them and sometimes would just stand still for minutes on end listening to the music - at least before I got Encounters-None).

Best Graphics (relative) - Final Fantasy 6
Amazing quality for that resolution. The range of emotions that could be expressed by the characters was just as large as that of any later game. Besides, polygons are so boring...

Best Graphics (absolute) - Final Fantasy 10

Best Romance - Squall and Rinoa (FF8)
The whole "FF8 is a love story" thing was kinda' pushed in our faces IMO, but nevertheles the truth is that they simply crush the competition (sorry Tidus and Yuna...). Honorable mention to Zidane and, er, Dagger ("I want to be your canary").

Best Mini-game - Chocobo Treasure Hunt (FF9)
It was fun, quick, not to mention rewarding. Blitzball (FF10), although hyped, became rather boring after a point.
Hint: go for the Lagoon in the late game... much easier to pull off chains.

Best Mini-mini-mini-game - Bitchslappin' (FF7)
Go Tifa ! Boo Scarlet ! (Not to mention - a most notable sequence)

Best Magic System - Materia-based (FF7)
Yeah, I'm a sucker for pretty colors. GO GO Materia !!!

Best Skill System - Job-based (FF5)
Very original idea, and with good gameplay value.

Best Combat System - CTB (FF10)
The change in the combat system is really welcome. Not only is combat less chaotic in FF10, it is faster as well. Plus, the ability to freely switch between your characters is good for both gameplay and flavor.

Best Summon System - Aeons (FF10)
They have somewhat of a personality (more than the Eidolons from FF9), and also stats, abilities and overdrives to go with the new control system. Plus, there are a couple of them (Yojimbo and the Magus Sisters) that change the rules in a very interesting way...

Best Limit System - Overdrives (FF10)
Nothing we haven't seen before if we look at the moves, but the ability to set certain conditions for going into overdrive was novel.

Best Advancement System - Sphere Grid (FF10)
Finally, we have some control over our characters' advancement paths ! (FF5 was the other game in which you did)

Best/Worst Magic/Abilities/Advancement System - Junction System (FF8)
A rather controversial prize. Many people seem to hate the fact that there is actually a possibility that you can get worse by levelling up (not absolutely... relatively to the monsters), BUT the system does have a huge advantage: if you're adept at using the junction system, you can pretty much max everything you want by a very low level (~20, even), and since the Enc-None ability is easy to get, afterwards you can skip every random battle if you choose so (which IMO is something to be desired in any FF)

Best Villain - Sephiroth (FF7)
If I really have to explain to you the greatness of Sephiroth... actually, I shall not. Play the game. Or watch the movie. Or both. (Ok, the game option is a few times better. You should also watch a little animation film called "The Last Order". But only after you've played FF7. You've been warned.)

Lamest Villain - Kuja (FF9)
What does this guy actually WANT ? Also gets a prize for "most undecided villain".

Best Final Boss - Ultimecia (FF8)
Nice abilities, not extremely overpowered, and a few surprises (like killing your GF's instantly). Plus that in this battle, when your characters would die, they were replaced with those you had in reserve. Nice.

Worst Final Boss - Necron (FF9)
Erm... surely this is a mistake. Who is this guy ? And why does he connect in no way whatsoever to the story ? Oh well... it's not like FF9 is the best FF ever, anyway. (Also, he might be overpowered from what I'm reading over the net right now. I don't really remember the fight... only played FF9 once - and a quarter :p)

Best Turning Point - The Continent Split (FF6)
Did anyone actually EXPECT that ? I was thinking I'd finish the game when I faced Kefka...

Best Weapons - Gunblades (FF8)
Are they cool or what ? I so wanted one at the time... (well, I still do, I just don't think it's possible anymore ;)

Best Masochistic Potential - Final Fantasy 10
With a huge number of special bosses available at the Arena, plus the Dark Aeons, the Omega Weapon and possibly more that I don't remember right now, FF10 really had a lot to offer in the way of defeat for those so inclined. I'm talking about optional fights here in case you didn't get it already. Most of them could wipe out a regular party in one hit or three. My personal favourite was Catastrophe... cool name & looks.

Clearest Goal - Killing Sin (FF10)
(not necessarily a good prize)
Ok, so you get about ten minutes in the beginning of the game when you don't yet know about Sin, and you should be grateful for them. After that, it's all Sin this and Sin that, I'm a cool summoner and I'm going to beat Sin, no wait we are beating Sin using this nasty machina, no you don't, oops we don't, damn that Sin. But then you find out that she's gonna die if she beats Sin, so what, I wanna beat Sin, I'm a cool summoner goddamit, no wait there must be another way to beat Sin, hooray there is, let's beat Sin using the new way. And then you beat Sin. And that Yevon guy, whatever. Yawn. Sin Sin Sin...

Most Convoluted Goal - ??? (FF8)
(not necessarily a good prize, either :p)
Ok, so first there was Timber, and you thought you were going to get the President, but that sorceress got in the way. What sorceress ? What is a sorceress ? What, you didn't know ? They're like super important, here, let me explain... Ok, so we gotta get the sorceress now I suppose. Let's get her. But we failed, and now we're escaping from prison. Good for us, except for those missiles, let's stop those. Well, we failed but it's okay, 'cause the Garden can fly. So what now ? Dunno, let's see if the sorceress still hates our guts. Oh, she has her own flying Garden and she's attacking us, great, let's fight. We beat her but Rinoa got in trouble. Gotta get her to Esthar. What do you mean, what's Esthar ? It's like, this ancient hidden super important country, let me explain... Oh and the sorceress is on our side now, she's gonna help us. Nice. Ok, so we got to Esthar and they are so cool, they have space ships and everything, and they also have their own sorceress, but they keep her on orbit 'cause she is so evil, too bad we let her escape. So now we have to fight her as well, great, ok it's done. Hey, come to think a bit, this must be the doing of that other sorceress, the one from the future, what was her name, Ultimecia or something like that, and she's going to do Time Compression. What do you mean, what's Time Compression ? It's like, this really nasty super important thingy, let me explain... Ok, so let's go to the future and get that Ultimecia, we fight, we win, hooray. What did we do all this for, exactly ? Dunno, but it was one hell of a game.
(Actually, it all comes together if you play the game two or three times. Honestly. But the first time around, it really looks like this.)

Best Beginning - Final Fantasy 7
Solid, fast-paced beginning for FF7, and we also get introduced to Aeris (although we don't know it yet). And FF7 was getting low on prizes...

Best Ending - Final Fantasy 9
FF9 gets the prize for actually having an element of suspense in the ending... but I'm not going to spoil it (Oh, what the heck. Zidane survived :p). Anyway, it was a very nice and romantic ending ("I want to be your canary" strikes back).

Best Movie - no one
I've eventually decided against giving a prize for Best Movie. It would take too many hours of research to do it with any reasonable amount of objectivity.

Best Intro Movie - Final Fantasy 8
...but I DO have to give a prize for this movie, since I've watched it almost every time I've started the game. Great music, gunblade fight, game sequences, and romance. Sugoi.

Most Emotional Moment - The Death Of Aeris (FF7)
...I might have cried. Ok, not really, but I was pretty close to. Honestly >:).

Most Memorable Moment - Cloud Remembers What Really Happened (FF7)
You know the one... down in the Lifestream... who is Zack ?... I still get shivers when I think about that part.
(the other one that got close was Cloud Giving The Black Materia To Sephiroth, so either way FF7 was getting this prize)

Best FF Title - Final Fantasy 7
Ok, now that I've played FF10, there is no reason to hold back the truth: FF7 is the best FF ever made, and it's highly unlikely that any future title will ever come close.

Least Prizes (erm, not counting this one) - Final Fantasy 6
Four prizes (but a better game than other FF's, my third favourite so far).

Most Prizes - Final Fantasy 8
Twelve (!) prizes. But FF7 is still best.

Amazingly, I'm done. I'm not really in the mood to write anything lenghty at this point. Maybe this article will help you decide which FF game you should play next. Or not. Anyway, bye.