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guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

Jenner posted:

The game suffered for it, it really was not good and if you think it [FF7] was you are wrong.

Final Fantasy 7 is good though and if you disagree you're wrong

Final Fantasy 6 on the other hand is in fact kinda bad, as is Final Fantasy 9, whereas Tactics is probably the high point of the entire franchise

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guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

FF6 is overrated and cited because it builds credibility to say it's the best or a personal favorite. Graphics don't matter and the score is pretty good, but the cast is unwieldy and boring and bad, the gameplay lacks FF5's crazy customization options in terms of character classing and is generally boring and bad, the writing is overwrought and boring and bad, the central antagonist is little more than a meme (and is boring and bad) - basically FF6 is kinda boring, and kinda bad. It's not the worst game in the series, but most

Super No Vacancy posted:

finals fantasy

Finals Fantasy are pretty bad themselves and so FF6 has a relatively low bar to clear. FF7 is not without problems, but nine out of ten times, if someone is talking about how great 6 is while decrying how bad 7 is, they're being contrarians for the sake of appearing more enlightened than the brainless masses that consumed 7 in such volumes. If only those cretins could appreciate ~true art~ like the opera house scene, then maybe videogames would be better

FF7 actually holds up pretty well, warts and all, and is both dramatically more fun to play with the Materia and Limit Break systems and is able to focus more on the characters, some of whom are really great.

Here's a quick list of Finals Fantasy you should like if you want to like good Finals Fantasy and good video games writ large:
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy V

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

cool so I guess I'll effortpost

What makes Final Fantasy VII good is that it's the first game in the series that can withstand any level of scrutiny without immediately falling apart; previous entries in the series are either too simple to withstand any serious critical assessment or too actively bad, and while VII doesn't hold up well under scrutiny, it does hold up. Here's the greatest hits version of this dumb argument.

Final Fantasy VII is actually about something
Previous entries in the series have no subtext whatsoever; they're just games about saving the world, and the star of the series is supposedly the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, which is exactly like a turn-based system except you get to watch meters fill up while you wait to take your turn. The surface reading of the plot is the only reading of the plot in almost every installment of Final Fantasy, and because jRPGs are so story- and/or character-driven, this has historically lead to the complaints that follow the subgenre around even today - that they're boring, that there's really no player agency, that they'd be better served being movies, etc.

In popular Western RPGs the emphasis is on making choices and owning the narrative yourself - Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, even The Witcher present themselves as open-world games where you just do as you will. The emphasis is on choice and exploration and, usually, the powerset available to you. They're usually kinda action-y, with combat done in real time, and they're usually a little simple in terms of plot. Get a medallion to save the land. Shout at a dragon to save the land. Kill some wizards to save the land. Final Fantasy VII has very, very little of those elements. The ATB system is still firmly in place, with a party of three squaring off against enemies and you, the player, waiting for your time gauges to fill up so you can take your turn. Exploration is rewarding in the sense that you know there are places you can go that you have not yet been to, but dungeons and caves are designed to be fairly linear and the overworld map is incredibly small. Content is gated in very deliberate ways to prevent you from undertaking any serious sequence-breaking without really bending/breaking the game's rules.

So what makes VII good? Because the developers don't have to account for things like "what if the player just straight up never even goes to <place> before <time>?" they can more tightly control when things happen, and tell a more fully-realized story. That story is, on a surface reading, kinda bad. Spiky-haired anime teenager must save the world from, first, an evil energy conglomerate, and then later from his childhood idol; hijinks occur, but he eventually wins; The End. What makes VII good narratively is that the game is not really about that at all - the central plot is almost window dressing to the subtext of the game, and what's there isn't spectacular but it's pretty good.

Final Fantasy VII is about experiencing and coping with profound loss. Every major character has had their innermost needs and desires taken away from them, or has given up on them, and each major character deals with this trauma in a distinctly different way. Cloud lost his hometown and failed to become a hero, so he literally adopted someone else's identity to hide from his own failures. Tifa wanted to have a knight in shining armor rescue her from her mundane life, and instead had that life and any hope of a stalwart hero taken away from her, so she buries her feelings and accepts the fragments of the broken dream she feels she deserves. Barret watched any hope of a prosperous Corel get literally burned away before his eyes, and now seeks violent revenge against those responsible, collateral damage be damned. Every member of the party, even the secret characters who otherwise have very little characterization, have experienced this crippling loss, and they don't all handle it very well. (Nobody handles it well.) What makes VII good is that the narrative never tries to get you to sympathize with a poor coping mechanism or a bad way of handling grief - Cloud is outright pitiful very frequently and he's the main character. What's more, through completing the main quest of the game, the party doesn't miraculously all get their dreams back - some do, but most don't, and the message of the game remains the same. "Sometimes, really bad poo poo will take away what is very important to you, but you can't just give up, roll over, and die." It's a simple message but at least it's there, and helps to alleviate the normal burdens of a Final Fantasy plot, where you have to save the world for nebulous reasons until you get attacked at the very end by a final boss who seemingly exists outside the context of the game. (Exdeath, Zeromus, even Necron - like, what the gently caress.)

Final Fantasy VII has the Materia system and Limit Breaks
The Materia system, for those of you who have somehow never played Final Fantasy VII, is basically the best. You have essentially three kinds of Materia, which are orbs that you can slot into weapons and armor (which all have varying amounts of slots, linked or unlinked, with which to hold Materia, and varying rates of growth for the Materia slotted into them): you have Materia that adds commands to a character's menu in battle, Materia that modifies the previous type of Materia, and Materia that awards passive effects like increasing your hit points or adding a percent chance to counterattack when struck.

For a more concrete example, consider the following.
1) Cloud's weapon at the outset is the Buster Sword, which has two Materia slots that are linked, and a Materia growth rate of Normal.
2) Cloud begins the game with two Materia slotted into his weapon - a Lightning Materia and an Ice Materia. At their starting levels, these Materia provide Cloud with the magic spells Bolt and Ice.
3) During battles, Cloud has access to the Magic command in his menu pane when it is his turn to act, and can cast either Bolt or Ice.

It seems easy, but soon you get a blue-colored Materia called "All" which, if slotted by itself, does nothing. However...
1) Cloud's Buster Sword has two linked Materia slots, so we'll put the "All" Materia in one, and the "Lightning" Materia in the other. The Ice Materia goes into our inventory.
2) During battles, Cloud still has access to the Magic command in his menu pane when it is his turn to act, and can cast only Lightning - except now he can cast it against the entire enemy team.

There are five colors of Materia - green, blue, red, yellow, and purple - but they all generally fall into the three categories of "adds commands, modifies other Materia, adds passive benefits" laid out earlier. Materia are inventory items that can be freely hotswapped at any time that you aren't already in a battle, and you're encouraged to experiment; moreover, it adds layers of depth to choosing your weapons and armor, as some will have superior stats but a worse set of Materia slots to work with, and you will have to choose what's more important to you. Even Materia that isn't of the "passive buffs" variety impacts your character's stats, too - load down a character with a lot of Magic (green) Materia and they'll see a boost to their MP and magic attack stats, but lose some HP and physical attack.

It's an incredibly simple system to pick up and really, really fun to play with and master. For my money, Materia is the only thing that makes the ATB-era FFs even playable, because otherwise you're stuck with boring Esper-based FF6 or the downright broken hilarity of FF8 or the boredom of FF9's equipment-based skill system. In a lot of ways Materia is closest to the License Board from FF12 - if you want your Cloud to be a magic-oriented wizard man or a steroid-fueled physical attacker, he can be either one of those things or both - it all depends on your Materia loadout and choice of equipment. Because Materia can be changed at any time between battles, if you decide wizard Cloud isn't your bag, you can just slot him up with a different set of Materia and presto-chango now he's a berserker. It's great.

Limit Breaks offer less to talk about because they're just super moves, but they add an element of fun to the proceedings, which are otherwise just "watch bars fill up and then do moves." They're flashy and cool and some of them even have neat gimmicks attached to them, like Tifa, Cait Sith, and Vincent. Adding them gives the characters a level of individuality you might otherwise lose given how flexible the Materia system is, so it's neat to think that you're choosing characters for more than just whatever weapon is available to them at the present moment - they might have a Limit Break you like a lot or is very powerful, and that's great.

In closing FF7 is twenty years old and came from Japan, so there's a ton of poo poo in it that sucks or is insensitive or seems weird now, but before Squeenix disappeared up their own rear end with the ~Compilation of FF7~ expanded universe horseshit, FF7 was a good game about losing what was important to you and finding the strength to go on anyway. Also the Materia system was the best character customization system they ever devised outside of FFT's take on the Job system. Also Limit Breaks are cool and now considered a series standard and 7 was the game that codified them.

Final Fantasy VII is good and hopefully the remake is based purely on the base game instead of the flanderized nonsense that the mini-franchise of FF7 eventually became

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

g0lbez posted:

what the gently caress do people see in 9 that game put me to sleep by disc 2

FF9 is super boring and bad and trades in nostalgia that a lot of Westerners don't even actually have

One of the most baffling things -- okay so I'm dating myself here but whatever, I'm almost 30 for context. People used to do this thing called "going on AOL on purpose to chat in chatrooms about video games" and it was really sad and pathetic and I did it as a kid, like a middle schooler, like a lot.

And so you'd have a lot of people (even some still my age) who called themselves "old school" gamers, this was a thing that was taken very seriously on Ye Olde AOL and GameFAQs and poo poo - being old school was viewed as being more authentic, more real, less consumerist and more hobbyist. Old school gamers liked Metal Gear on MSX but not Metal Gear Solid. Old school gamers liked Final Fantasy VI but not Final Fantasy VII. Old school gamers liked CastleVania IV but not CastleVania: Symphony of the Night. Basically if it was from a current-gen console it was garbage, and all the ~good~ video games had been made already, and chances are you didn't know anything about ~real~ video games because you're too young/weren't into the hobby back then/are an idiot. If a system wasn't made by Nintendo it was exploitative poo poo made by predatory electronics companies who weren't ~real game companies for gamers.~

Final Fantasy IX was amazingly popular with this crowd because it had the trappings of a modern game while ostensibly being made "for the fans." It recreates the sensation of playing the Finals Fantasy of yesteryear and serves as a mild repudiation of the cyber-punk and teen angst elements present in both FF7 and FF8; so naturally it was the game that posers would immediately claim is the best one in a long time, oh thank God we're going back to ~FF6 and art in games,~ etc.

Like, a relatively large part of why I dislike Final Fantasy is because of the fanbase and how absolutely insufferable it is, and a lot of that is owed to people who seem to be posturing more than actually expressing genuine opinions. Final Fantasy VI isn't even very good. It just isn't. It's a boring mess with too many boring characters. Kefka is a meme with no depth. If "the bad guy wins!!!" is all it takes for you to think a narrative is deep or complex, you need to expose yourself to more narratives. It isn't complete garbage, and there are characters and vignettes that FF6 does quite well, but one of the things you see repeated so often that it's nearly taken for fact is that 6 is good and 7 isn't, that 7 is overrated and 6 is the masterwork of the series, and it's... I mean, no. Just no. This is the opinion of an old-school credibility poseur. Final Fantasy IX is practically custom-made for these people.

Final Fantasy IX has a bad skill learning system, a boring method of implementing the Limit Break system (which really was the best in 7), characters who range from lifeless and dull (Zidane, Dagger, Amaranth) to pointless and outright annoying (Quina, Eiko), a plot that exists more to metareference other games (remember crystals, you guys???) than to tell its own story, and a villain who is a metareference to a really stupid and bad thing from prior Finals Fantasy (the outside-context villain who appears from nowhere that you must kill because....)

Full disclosure: my favorite FF games are Tactics, XII, V, and VII, in some order, so I'm obviously going to give answers biased towards those titles, but it's less that I think FF6 and FF9 are horrible and more that FF6 is largely overrated and that FF9 is disingenuous, unwilling to provide the audience with its own identity and instead content to remind you of other things you maybe liked about your past in both gaming and Finals Fantasy.

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

Heaven Spacey posted:

I HAVE A BROKEN BRAIN TIER:
11

TIER:
5, 7, T, 9, 12

GOOD TIER:

1, 8, 10, 10-2, 13-3, 14

I DON'T REALLY THINK THEY'RE BAD BUT DON'T ENJOY THEM MUCH IN COMPARISON TO THE REST OF THE SERIES TIER:

4, 6, 13

DIDN'T PLAY TIER:
2, 3, 13-2

This is a pretty good list - I don't like 11 because I don't like MMOs, and I don't like 9 for reasons I've mostly already explicated, but otherwise this is pretty close to my own

Better Than Good
Tactics, XII, VII, V

Good
I, X, XIV2.0

Middling
X-2, XIII-3, VI, VIII, III

Less Good
IX, XI, XIV1.0, IV, II

Significantly Worse Than Good
XIII, XIII-2

If Bravely Default games count as FFs, put Bravely 1st next to FFV and Bravely 2nd next to XIV2.0 and that's that

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

Heaven Spacey posted:

Guts, I really strongly disagree with your classification of FF9's characters as lifeless. While it's true that the game doesn't do enough with Freya and Amarant, the game world as well as the characters have a great deal of love and characterization put into them. While the story is a fairy tale and lacks depth, it is brimming with charm and detail. How can you not love Vivi and Steiner? Other than that, the last boss basically being The Concept of Death Out of Nowhere is dumb, but the actual villains have fine motivations for their actions.

I actually do love Vivi and Steiner, and they're the unquestionable high point of the game for me. Freya is more compelling than the rest, making her basically the best of the worst, but otherwise FF9's characters are kinda lifeless and trade in nostalgia more than offering anything for you to engage with on the level. Vivi is the heart and soul of the game. If you took him out of it, FF9 would probably rank among the worst games in the series for me.

Kuja and Garland are uninspired but inoffensive; the decision to bring back the Outside Context Villain in Necron was baffling and frankly kinda insulting. One of the only things about Sephiroth that remains compelling on a replay of 7 is how integral he feels to the plot from an early point, specifically when you see the Midgar Zolom he murders. It's a moment with some gravity to it, considering the Midgar Zolom annihilates you on your first play through the game if you try to fight it. Having the final boss also be the guy you've been pitted against from the jump is rewarding and cool, and even though much of Sephiroth doesn't stand the test of time per se, that element holds up very well.

Necron is loving stupid.

edit: And it should also be said that I'm fully willing to concede that some of my dislike of FF9 is rooted to how it was received by people I did not respect at the time. I have since replayed it several times, and I should also be clear in stating that I don't think FF9 has nothing good about it. I just think it frequently gets touted as the best of the series when it's almost not even its own game, and relies so heavily on metareferencing others that it doesn't function effectively on its own.

guts and bolts fucked around with this message at Nov 16, 2016 around 20:15

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

g0lbez posted:

Thanks now I remember why I always get to the iifa tree boss and give up out of boredom and despair

You give up on FF9 because the game is mechanically lifeless and has nothing fun about it whatsoever except watching Vivi turn colors in Trance mode


Jenner posted:

Okay first of all no it's not. The game literally starts with you joining a terrorist organization to oppose an evil corporation to save the planet. And ultimately ends with you defeating the big bad (who I agree, does not come out of nowhere) to save the planet.

Second I fail to see how FF7 is more about something than FF4, which is about opposing an evil empire and seeking redemption from your sins before ultimately becoming about saving the world from a big bad that comes out of nowhere. Or FF5 where you are sent off right away to protect the orbs/crystals to keep the world safe ultimately leading to a battle with a big bad that came out of nowhere to save the planet. Literally the only difference between these two and FF7 is that you know who Sephiroth is before you fight him.

So again, FF6. Which is about opposing an evil empire and finding out about yourself and ultimately leads to you liberating a post-apocalypse world from a mad god because you failed to stop him and he won. loving phenomenal.

So no, FF7 is not more about something in comparison to many other FFs.

FF7 is "about" more than its surface-reading of the plot because it can actually withstand that level of analysis, and there is a lot of evidence to lend credibility to that interpretation (that 7 is about loss and coping with loss more than it is about saving the Planet). Obviously the text of the game is "pick up a sword and cut everything with it until your numbers are big enough to cut the biggest bad guy" - and that text is trite. FF4 is a good example of this - the game is just about a redemption arc, basically. There's not a lot of room allowed for subtext, and we get the dumb Outside Context Villain here with Zeromus, which robs the story of its own effective climax. It's hard to argue that FF4 is about anything other than what it explicitly tells you it is about.

FF7, on the other hand, handles its themes of loss and trauma with (only marginal amounts of ) subtlety. The game never states in text THIS WHOLE THING IS REALLY ABOUT COPING WITH THE DEATHS OF YOUR DREAMS, but that's the gist of it. Cloud can't function until he's made peace with his past traumas and accepted that his ideals and dreams failed him and were failed by him; he literally leaves the party until you/Tifa find a way to fix his broken coping mechanisms. Everyone in the cast is suffering as a result of having lost what was most precious to them - their dreams of spaceflight, their cultural identity, the desire to be a hero, their goal of making their town prosperous, whatever - and it is only this shared sense of loss that unites the party in the first place. In a weird way, saving the world almost comes secondary to the mission of finding closure by facing Sephiroth - at least to Cloud it does. It makes him an interesting protagonist in ways that a lot of other FF mainguys are boring.


quote:

First off, I give mad props to FF7 for not giving everyone a happy ending. Because it's true, they didn't and that takes some loving balls.

But the characters in FF7 are not the only ones who dealt with profound loss. Rydia (FF4) dealt with profound loss, Cyan, Mog, Locke, Edgar, Sabin and Setzer (FF6) dealt with profound loss and later, everyone, all 14 characters (well, maybe not Gogo) deal with profound loss that they are responsible for when Kefka burns the world. In short profound loss is not special not unique to FF7.

The only thing that really sets the suffering characters in FF7 apart from the suffering characters in other FFs is thst the characters in FF7 handle their angst poorly, which is cool--flawed characters are cool. This is a point in FF7's favor, not that they deal with loss but that they suck at it. It's good.

It's more that loss is what the entire game is actually about. Other characters in the franchise obviously handle grievous losses, often more maturely but sometimes in even worse manners than those in FF7 do, but only in FF7 is loss the sole driving force of the narrative. It is loss that motivates every character. It is loss that informs the decisions they make. It is loss that explains why they do things that are otherwise baffling. The sense of profound loss permeates FF7 in a way that just doesn't happen in most jRPGs, and especially in many Finals Fantasy.

It's especially poignant given how things do not just fix themselves at the end. Cloud didn't get Nibelheim back. Aerith wasn't miraculously resurrected. Tifa doesn't really have her romantic shining knight - probably. Barret's home is still hosed and Dyne is still dead. Wutai is still a tourist trap and Lucretia is still frozen in a crystal. Sephiroth's dead and disaster is averted, but instead of solving your problems by eliminating them, FF7 forces the characters to deal with their problems by seeking closure and coping with them instead.

quote:


Though I hated needing to junction the all materia to be able to hit multiple targets.


Super fun and their [Limits] mainstreaming into the full series meant I got to shoot a dog at my enemies in the next game. 🖒

I think that was all of them? Having a couple good things does not make a game good. Metal Gear Solid 4 had fun stealth and custom armor and fun guns and it was real bad. The good things about FF7 are good but the game is, on a whole, not good.

FF7 is good because the plot is pretty good, the characters are good, the Materia system is amazing, and Limit Breaks are good. Good narrative elements + great mechanical elements = a good game, generally, but 7 also has a really good score and had, at the time, groundbreaking graphics. It's a Good Game™

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

Eej posted:

Bravely Default isn't a good game though so it's kind of a stretch to call it awesome

I really liked Bravely Default and I am thoroughly enjoying Bravely Second, although I'm almost done with it (and don't like it as much as BD)

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

LITERALLY MY FETISH posted:

I don't think you guys really remember what ff7's combat was like, though, because it was pretty much the same poo poo.

The mechanical aspect of "choose an action from a menu" is always boring, but FF7's Materia system and the way it handles Limit Breaks makes the ATB system at least mildly more palatable, although it is actually still slightly faster barring Summon animations - things just happen quicker and there's less downtime overall. Battles get to the menu faster, they resolve faster, there's not five camera cuts when you cast a spell, etc.

ATB is ATB is ATB, which is part of my argument - the only way to make ATB "fun" is to give the player discretion over what options pop up in the menus for their characters, or make it so that sometimes the options change. FF7 does both of these with Materia and with Limits, so it's the best of the bunch.

Like, if you want a really good battle system mechanically, you're talking about poo poo like Legend of Dragoon's Additions system or if you like real-time you'd probably enjoy Star Ocean Till The End of Time. ATB is just always gonna be picking poo poo from menus, it's just that at least FF7 had the decency to try to make that fun.

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

I should clarify my point about "profound loss" - I do not personally find FF7's story profound and its surface reading is super bad, but the losses that the characters experience are profound in the sense that they are "very great or intense." Also I'm not sure there's anything else I could add about Final Fantasy VII that I haven't already said or that someone else hasn't succinctly summarized - it's a good game with some serious flaws that prevent it from being an unassailable classic. That describes basically every good game in the franchise barring Final Fantasy Tactics, which actually is an unassailable classic and I'll fight you to the death if you breathe otherwise.

Actually, w/r/t FF7 - I've really only glanced off the surface of non-mechanical, non-narrative things to say about it, but the score is genuinely really good. The battle themes are appropriately high octane, the opening theme and in medias res presentation are great, and the soundtrack does a really good job setting the stage and mood of a given scene. The JENOVA battle music is probably some of the best in the franchise, and it makes me sad that more of the game isn't fundamentally about JENOVA and exactly what the hell it is and how it functions.

It's also really cool that every character in FF7 is immediately identifiable basically by silhouette. Their designs really are radically different from each other both in terms of Nomura's character art and their models in-game. The FMVs are obviously super-dated now, but at the time they were pretty breath-taking, especially when you first catch a glimpse of the Highwind in Junon. FF7 is traditionally associated with amping up the spectacle elements in Finals Fantasy, and there's certainly a lot of spectacle here. It'd be great if you could skip summoning animations for things like Bahamut ZERO and Knights of Round, but again, at the time, that poo poo was pretty incredible to see put in motion.

FF7 is a good game.

FF13 is not a good game, but it is bad not just because it's a linear corridor filled with cutscenes and boring battles, and not just because the Paradigm Shift system was reductive and boring, and not just because the cast was probably the worst in the franchise, and not just because the mainline plot was incomprehensible and forced you to read codex entries to suss out even a basic understanding of what was happening, and not just because the music was largely forgettable at best. It is a bad game because it is and has all of those things in confluence. FF10 has the linearity but the plot offered an effective reason for it, and Blitzball offered reprieve from the endless slog of fighting new random encounters at any given save point, and the game also somehow features a more elegant implementation of the Sphere Grid than 13 does. FF12 has a battle system that can effectively play itself, but it's slightly less linear, emphasizes a plot I personally found refreshing, and has an antagonist I personally found to be among the best in any RPG, let alone Finals Fantasy, in Gabranth. FF8 has a plot that is so full of holes as to be almost incomprehensible once you get past Disc 1, but the score and cast are better, and the battle system and character management systems are better even if they're wildly broken - at least they're the fun kind of insane.

Basically a lot of Finals Fantasy have one or more of the problems that 13 does, but none of them have all of the problems 13 does, and not to the same degree. To this day I've finished 13 once, and I've beaten almost every game in the series at least three times. I cannot bring myself to play it again.

guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

Here are some jRPGs you should play, because they're really good:

Final Fantasy XII
Valkyrie Profile
Front Mission 3
Skies of Arcadia
The Legend of Dragoon
Star Ocean 2
Persona 3
Arc the Lad (there's a Working Designs collection that exists somewhere out there I think???)

It's a good smorgasboard of offerings with different play styles, different plot styles, and different mechanics. If you haven't played these games you really should.

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guts and bolts
May 16, 2015

Have you heard the Good News?

Tales of the Abyss is pretty good, but I couldn't get into Xillia. What I played of Vesperia was neat.

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