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Games Beaten In 2024


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Hi guys,

Wishing all our members and your love ones a Happy New Year. Glad to restart the yearly games beaten thread on Atariage.com once again. :)

Continue on with the great progress you all do to share your achievements on defeating the games you chose tn inspire others to do the same.:) 

 

 

 

Anthony..

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Thanks Charfield - I can get us started in 2024

 

Oh boy, here's one that has been pending for a LONG time.  Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  I had never played this game as a young adult.  I played the original but was never really impressed.  I think as a 10 or 11-year-old, the controls were a bit too complicated and the vulnerability on things like angular stairs combined with a timer (they have a timer right?) and a need to memorize in some sections caused me to drop out entirely.  So, when SOTN came around, it had no impact on me.  I was fully bought into 3d gaming at the time and the thought of revisiting a 2d series that I didn't enjoy in the first place just did not motivate me.

 

Fast forward to 2023 and "metroidvania" is now everyone's favorite indie genre - including me.  I love them, AND I've also discovered in the last 25+ years that I love Super Metroid and am very interested in exploring a game that was directly inspired by it.  So, off I went.

 

I did not look at hints or a walkthrough before exploring about 95% of the castle.  I had no knowledge of the end of the game, and I wanted to experience it first without outside influence.  My journey from 0% exploration to 95% was definitely a great experience.  It was filled with typical if not excellent "metroidvania" moments of exploration and puzzle solving to access new areas and gain new abilities and equipment.  However, something started to flip at this point where the difficulty of the game really dropped.  Playing as me in 2023 with all of my experience in these types of games, I was very methodical about exploring and finding the various hidden items.  At some point, I decided to save money to buy the best armor available, and I think that's where the difficulty really started to drop for me.  Suddenly almost every fight just could be resolved as a slugfest.  Duck and hit, duck and hit.  The extra "health" items started to pile up unused, and as I found more and more equipment (mostly useless) my advantages tipped waaay over and the game became an exercise in simply filling in the map. 

 

So that brings me to the reality that SOTN is really 2.5 games or 2.75 if you play the Saturn version.  The inverted castle . . .  I didn't figure out how to unlock this by myself.  I knew I hadn't explored EVERY area before facing Richter, but I decided to push forward anyway.  After a little more exploration, I found the required items, but lost patience and looked online on how to advance.  [It was at this point that I read about the mechanics of the Sheild Rod which has impact later on the difficulty of the game.]

 

sotn.jpg.d0b734e51f51454a79c301f45d78cb44.jpg

 

The inverted castle seemed like a great idea, but my excitement quickly waned.  The difficulty was still very low.  I don't think I died because of a boss fight for hours and hours.  I can't even remember a difficult boss fight in the inverted castle even without the powers granted by the before-mentioned Sheild Rod.  By the end, I couldn't believe the game wasn't over.  I labored to fill out 200.6% of the map and got through the final boss fight multiple times with multiple different strategies without dying.

 

---Evaluation

I think this is a lesson that newer games have learned, but SOTN could have been excellent if it didn't give the player so many ways to play it.  Finishing it makes me wish I could play a version of the game that restricts equipment to increase the challenge.  It is also REALLY hurt by the fact that all the puzzle-solving and discovery is completely gone when exploring the inverted castle.  With nothing to discover and almost no challenge, the game just dies.  If I hadn't set out specifically to finish it, I wouldn't have pushed through to the best ending.

 

In the end, I can see the quality of this game, but it just can't get out of its way to deliver a consistently fun experience.  I would rate SOTN a disappointing 4 out of 5 and could be convinced to give it a 3.

 

Edit - on a 10-point scale, I voted this game a 6 on VideoGameSage:  Game Debate #97: Castlevania Symphony of the Night - Page 3 - The Gauntlet - Video Game Sage

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@wongojack

Congrats on finishing SOTN!

 

My history with this game is quite different from yours.  Castlevania was one of my favorite series of games growing up; I absolutely loved all the NES games, as well as Super Castlevania IV on the SNES.  I remember getting Castlevania 64 on the N64 and being very disappointed indeed (I've come to really like that game, though).  So I was very excited back in 1997 when SOTN was released to see another 2D game that seemed similar to the older games in the series.  The fact that it was sort of similar to Super Metroid just made it better for me... it seemed like the natural progression of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.  Back then, I would have rated SOTN 5/5 for sure.

 

Now, let me try to convince you why SOTN deserves no more than a 3/5 rating. :)

 

I agree with your criticisms 100%, but I think these are actually bigger problems if you really think about them.  The game is just way too easy, even if you try to challenge yourself... during my last time playing through the game, I just used what I could find, and restricted myself to using only dagger/knife weapons, and it was still a cakewalk.  The game gives you so many ways to play it, but there is no depth imo.  You basically master the game halfway through it (maybe even earlier).

 

The inverted castle is even worse on a replay.  The castle was clearly not designed with this twist in mind, and it's annoying how often you have to rely on the bat or mist just to navigate the inverted castle.  It feels like filler, as though they finished the game, realized you could finish it in just a few hours, and then did the easiest thing they could think of to roughly double its length.

 

The actual design of the castle, screen by screen, is really quite poor.  You spend a good portion of the game mindlessly jumping up platforms in vertical sections, and there is hardly any platforming in the mostly flat horizontal sections.  The enemy placement is generally uninteresting, and many of the bosses are just "spectacle" bosses that look cool but mostly just stand there as you wail on them.

 

It's certainly not a bad game at all, and it feels great to play, but in hindsight I don't think it's anywhere close in quality to similar games like Super Metroid or Demon's Crest.

Edited by newtmonkey
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5 hours ago, newtmonkey said:

@wongojack

Congrats on finishing SOTN!

 

My history with this game is quite different from yours.  Castlevania was one of my favorite series of games growing up; I absolutely loved all the NES games, as well as Super Castlevania IV on the SNES.  I remember getting Castlevania 64 on the N64 and being very disappointed indeed (I've come to really like that game, though).  So I was very excited back in 1997 when SOTN was released to see another 2D game that seemed similar to the older games in the series.  The fact that it was sort of similar to Super Metroid just made it better for me... it seemed like the natural progression of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.  Back then, I would have rated SOTN 5/5 for sure.

 

Now, let me try to convince you why SOTN deserves no more than a 3/5 rating. :)

 

I agree with your criticisms 100%, but I think these are actually bigger problems if you really think about them.  The game is just way too easy, even if you try to challenge yourself... during my last time playing through the game, I just used what I could find, and restricted myself to using only dagger/knife weapons, and it was still a cakewalk.  The game gives you so many ways to play it, but there is no depth imo.  You basically master the game halfway through it (maybe even earlier).

 

The inverted castle is even worse on a replay.  The castle was clearly not designed with this twist in mind, and it's annoying how often you have to rely on the bat or mist just to navigate the inverted castle.  It feels like filler, as though they finished the game, realized you could finish it in just a few hours, and then did the easiest thing they could think of to roughly double its length.

 

The actual design of the castle, screen by screen, is really quite poor.  You spend a good portion of the game mindlessly jumping up platforms in vertical sections, and there is hardly any platforming in the mostly flat horizontal sections.  The enemy placement is generally uninteresting, and many of the bosses are just "spectacle" bosses that look cool but mostly just stand there as you wail on them.

 

It's certainly not a bad game at all, and it feels great to play, but in hindsight I don't think it's anywhere close in quality to similar games like Super Metroid or Demon's Crest.

I go back and forth on 3 out of 5 or 4 out of 5.  On a scale of 10, would the game be a 5, 6, 7?  I think 7 is probably the right score.  There is a lot to like here, but they just didn't tune it enough.  I certainly never want to play it again.  There are so many subsequent games in the series to play that I think I will stick with those for a while.

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Commodore 64 - Miner 2049er

I didn't play this one much as a kid; I think I tried it out because someone said it was like Jumpman (my favorite game) but one of the best things about Jumpman is that you don't need perfect jumps, you can miss by a little and climb up to the top of the platform. That is definitely not the case with Miner so it can be really frustrating at times. This time I used save states after finishing each level so I effectively gave myself infinite lives but I still needed to solve each level (level 7 is a real doozy that took dozens of attempts). Finally making it through all 10 levels, I was disappointed though not surprised to see that it just starts over at level 1 with no final screen or even an increase in difficulty. I continued playing without save states and only made it to level 5.

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Another childhood opponent bites the dust as I mopped the court with the highest level opponent in Tennis for the NES.  I beat him twice (for the cup), and to win required some pretty cheap and repetitive gameplay.  There's really only one reliable way to score on him which is to hit the ball as wide as possible to the right side of the court and then approach the net.  If you approach as the computer is also approaching after his return then you can hit a winner to the left side of the court either overhand or via a backhand.  He still gets quite a bit of shots you don't quite place correctly, and you are likely to hit a bunch of shots out, but it is still the only strategy I found that worked.  I would also score occasionally on aces, but those seemed controlled somehow by the computer.  Maybe if I had experimented more moving along the baseline, I could have gotten more aces, but I could never really do it consistently.  The computer also double faults 4-6 times a match, but other than those mentioned above, the only other way you are going to score is if he has a random mishit into the net while changing depths, or you miraculously hit it right where the computer sometimes can't return.  All of those things are totally unreliable except for the hit right, approach, slam left strategy.  There's no reason for anyone to play this game unless you have some nostalgia for it, but in general, there's nothing wrong with it.  There's simply better options now.  I give Tennis a generous 3 out of 5.

 

Tennis.thumb.jpg.875edf378907695f4d2a3b321c6e6e4f.jpg

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Phantasy Star III (Mega Drive)

     I recently completed Phantasy Star II, so I decided to go ahead and play through its sequel.  I knew of its reputation, and was expecting a mediocre experience... but still ended up completely disappointed with the game.

     It's graphically a step down from PSII (and even the first game), with an ugly drab color palette, monsters that are barely animated and often look completely ridiculous, and a serious lack of environment variety.  The combat screen is ugly and surreal, with the ground continuously scrolling horizontally for some reason.  It makes it looks like you're watching the battle from the side door window of a moving car, with the enemies hovering menacingly beside your car.  It looks bizarre, and they wisely removed this from the US version!

     The game world is tiny and barren.  The "generations" system, where at the end of each chapter you choose one of two women for your character to marry, and then play the next chapter as the son, is cool in theory but actually just makes it even more obvious how small yet empty the world is, since you're forced to trek slowly over these barren lands over and over each chapter.  There's nothing to explore or find, and the game is extremely linear.  What's even worse is that the way the scenario unfolds is mostly nonsensical, with the plot advanced mostly by stumbling upon some guy in a cave who gives you a rock or something to open some other cave.

     The balance is all out of whack.  It starts out somewhat difficult since you have a tiny party and few resources, but gets easier and easier by the minute after the first few hours.  The difficulty also drops down significantly each chapter, since you keep your android party members (with all their stats and equipment).  By the final chapter, your party is full of lethal killing machines that cannot be stopped.

     The game is also simply joyless to play.  They seemingly designed it to be as annoying as possible.  Many enemies early on will 100% poison you if they hit.  If you're poisoned, you cannot be healed and the game also hides your current HP.  You can cure poison with a cheap item, or with a spell... but the spell has a significant failure rate.  At one point the cure spell failed five times in a row, using up all of my spell points and still leaving me with poisoned character.  The towns all look alike (several even have the same exact layout), but of course all the shops are spread all over the place.

     It does have good music though.

Edited by newtmonkey
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A month ago, I beat Castlevania: Harmony Of Dissonance.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castlevania%3A_Harmony_of_Dissonance

 

One of the last 2d games in the series that I completed. As convoluted as the maps are, the rest of the game is really fun. And IMHO the movement is a lot better than *shudders* Circle Of The Moon.

 

The graphics, while trippy, have some beautiful moments (ignoring juste's animations).

 

 

 

You probably find better examples online:

Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance (USA)-0.png

Castlevania - Harmony of Dissonance (USA)-1.png

 

The chiptune music works suprisingly well for the most part. This particular song slaps:

 

Edited by DetectiveOnTheHunt
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This thread has gone quiet, so I'll post that I recently beat Ghostbusters for both the SMS and the new Ultimate Edition homebrew for the Intellivision.

 

Ghostbusters UE for the Intellivision is a masterwork of taking a truly classic property, putting (almost) everything that could have been in it back then into a new game and releasing it as a homebrew.  The game will use Intellivoice and the ECS (if you have them) to play voice overs and enhanced music.  It has more scenes from the movie, more music from the movie and adds more challenge than the classic versions did by making a few smart updates to the item selection and the debt system.  They did stick to the early release endgame and omitted the stair climbing and vertical shooting level found in the NES and the SMS version, but the game is more streamlined and possibly better for it.  I appreciated that it ended up actually being kind of hard to catch the ghosts in this version.  Even with multiple strategies, I still miss a few here and there which adds to the replayability and challenge of what was such an impressive gaming sequence when the title released on the C64 all those years ago. 

 

On the other hand, what this version really does is show you the shortcomings of the original game.  Once you've gotten used to the ups and downs of ghost extermination (and know how to use bait to stop a Marshmallow attack) you'll find a game on default settings remarkably easy.  I mention that bit about the bait because when I played this game as a kid, I never knew I could reach over and press 'B' to stop the marshmallow man.  It wasn't until years later that I finally read the manual and finished the C64 version of the game.

 

As a huge Ghostbusters fan who has massive nostalgia for the original game, I am very happy with this.  I'm working to win with all of the cars which is proving to be a satisfying challenge because when you continue from a previous game, you must always finish with more money than you started.  So, if you buy the sports car, you've got to catch enough ghosts to pay it back before the city's PKE level reaches the critical state.  I give Ghostbusters UE a 4 out 5.  Without nostalgia, I might drop it down to a 3 due to the somewhat simple game loop and lack of true difficulty options, but I am still excited to keep playing it, and the little touches added make me smile whenever I catch a few ghosts.

 

gbue19.jpg.3d9b5da324e35c3d5bdac4ba7c72e767.jpg

 

Ghostbusters for the SMS is a game that I've been meaning to really sit down and play for years.  I got my vintage hardware out and even discovered that I'd acquired 2 physical copies of the game - overprepared.  The game makes some interesting choices in the beginning section, giving you more options to purchase equipment some of which I believe is unique to this version.  You are also given the chance to upgrade your equipment by stopping at a store on the map during gameplay.  This is really cool and opens up some differences in the game, but as I played with this equipment, I discovered that it just made the game easier.  It is an easy game to begin with and there are no difficulty options or post game difficulty increases, so carrying over money from a previous game makes me feel like the Monopoly man who just buys his way to victory. 

 

In the actual ghost catching sequences, the "streams" of the ghostbusters' proton packs are now pointed straight up, which means there's no way to cross the streams.  It also means that it is pretty hard for the ghosts to actually escape you once you've gotten them between your laser throwing ghost cowboys. Conservative shootin Tex.  Catching them in a trap rarely fails and the $$ just piles up faster than you can say I feel so funky.  Which reminds me that while the music is excellent there is no speech in this version.  That doesn't seem like a big deal, but as a fan of the old C64 version, I really missed the occasional computer voice encouraging me onward.  The 2 sections added to the game see you climbing a staircase while shooting at/avoiding ghosts and then shooting vertically towards Gozer (misspelled in the manual and the game as Gorza).  The staircase is remarkably difficult and the shooting sequence after it a little easier than expected.  Since the ghostbusters didn't actually shoot lasers at Gozer  to defeat him/her to end the movie, this definitely feels like an add-on.  However, it does give the player a nice variety of gameplay and makes ending the game feel like more of an accomplishment than the versions released for less powerful platforms.

 

I was pleased with this version of Ghostbusters and appreciated the extra levels at the end to give me some variety and a challenging ending to overcome.  However, I spent most of my time playing as a hyper-efficient ghost catching team who could essentially upgrade my abilities at will.  Extra money just made the longest section of the game borderline boring.  I still enjoyed my time with the game, but I give it a somewhat disappointed 3 out of 5.  In a direct comparison of both of these games, the SMS certainly has more variety and all the advantages of its hardware, but if I'm going back in for more, I'd rather play the Intellivision version.

 

Ghostbusters.thumb.png.2ab92ed9f0634a0325caed8d2fc8674b.png

 

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Posted (edited)

Dragon Quest IV (Famicom)

image.thumb.jpeg.faea45fc8c9705a0c95936fec0b40169.jpeg

With this, I've now completed the first four games in this series: DW and DWII on NES, and DQIII and DQIV on Famicom.

 

DQIV differs from previous games in the series in two major ways.  First, the game is broken down into five chapters; the first four are linear mini quests starring each of the playable characters, while the final chapter has you playing as the hero gathering all the other characters while exploring the somewhat open world.  Second, every character other than the main hero is controlled by AI during the final chapter.

 

DWII and DQIII are two of my favorite games (easily in my personal top 10).  What I like most about them is that they take place in mostly open worlds in which most of the game is a nonlinear search for information and artifacts, somewhat similar to the Ultima games.  I also really like the combat, as it's often quite tactical due to all the options you have with spells and items.  Unfortunately, DQIV takes much longer for the game to open up (and once it does, there's really not much left to do), and while the AI system actually works pretty decently it also means that most of the combat is on autopilot with little input from you.

 

The problem is that DQIV doesn't really offer anything special to make up for gutting what I really like about the series.  The characters are all very likeable and interesting, but the game completely stops developing their stories and characters once you reach chapter 5.  The story is a bit more interesting than the previous games, but it's not anything special, honestly.

 

Having said that, it's still a good game, and the dungeons are excellent; very unique with fun gimmicks and plenty to find in them.

 

My ranking of the series: DQIII > DWII > DQIV > DW

Edited by newtmonkey
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2 hours ago, newtmonkey said:

Dragon Quest IV (Famicom)

image.thumb.jpeg.faea45fc8c9705a0c95936fec0b40169.jpeg

With this, I've now completed the first four games in this series: DW and DWII on NES, and DQIII and DQIV on Famicom.

 

DQIV differs from previous games in the series in two major ways.  First, the game is broken down into five chapters; the first four are linear mini quests starring each of the playable characters, while the final chapter has you playing as the hero gathering all the other characters while exploring the somewhat open world.  Second, every character other than the main hero is controlled by AI during the final chapter.

 

DWII and DQIII are two of my favorite games (easily in my personal top 10).  What I like most about them is that they take place in mostly open worlds in which most of the game is a nonlinear search for information and artifacts, somewhat similar to the Ultima games.  I also really like the combat, as it's often quite tactical due to all the options you have with spells and items.  Unfortunately, DQIV takes much longer for the game to open up (and once it does, there's really not much left to do), and while the AI system actually works pretty decently it also means that most of the combat is on autopilot with little input from you.

 

The problem is that DQIV doesn't really offer anything special to make up for gutting what I really like about the series.  The characters are all very likeable and interesting, but the game completely stops developing their stories and characters once you reach chapter 5.  The story is a bit more interesting than the previous games, but it's not anything special, honestly.

 

Having said that, it's still a good game, and the dungeons are excellent; very unique with fun gimmicks and plenty to find in them.

 

My ranking of the series: DQIII > DWII > DQIV > DW

Nice writeup - Despite playing DW when it was new, the only game in this series that I have ever finished is III.  I might quit while I am ahead.

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21 minutes ago, wongojack said:

Nice writeup - Despite playing DW when it was new, the only game in this series that I have ever finished is III.  I might quit while I am ahead.

I suggest playing 8, then you can quit "while ahead"    On PS2 it's darn near perfect.  I've heard it took a few steps backwards on 3DS and mobile ports, but I haven't personally played those (though I do own it on 3DS)

 

 

I've finished all the main series (except 10 since it wasn't released here and they did some MMO type of thing with it) and am quite the fan, but none of them are close 8, in my opinion.   

 

Well, I dunno, maybe 11 got close.  😁

 

 

 

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I have not had much time for gaming this year, but I found myself testing my CRT TV after degaussing/color correction over the weekend, and I had to run through one of my favorites. 

Contra: NES

PQB9Nael.jpg

I didn't intend on running through it, but I did. This one is like video game comfort food for me; I will play through it as a mood-changer and mind reset. Always makes me feel better afterwards. I almost got through it without dying this time; I think I died once in the Energy Zone from one of the laser traps. No Konami code needed here. 

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Genso Suikoden (PSX)

image.thumb.jpeg.c0c064bf08a5b9797ba568d62265af04.jpeg

This is a pretty traditional RPG in most respects with a linear story, turn-based combat, and random encounters.  What sets it apart is the story, in which you, the son of a highly revered general in the imperial army, ultimately lead a rebellion against the empire, kill you own father in combat, and take down the empire.  It's a refreshingly mature take on the subject, as most of the "villains" are not actually bad people at all, and there are times where you (as the player) will probably question whether you're actually doing the right thing.  There are actually a lot of heroic and likeable characters on the other side, including one commander who surrenders once he realizes how impossible victory would be, and simply asks that you let his men live.

 

Outside of the story, what makes the game most unique is that you have 108 characters to recruit all over the world.  As you gain power as the leader of the rebellion, word of your deeds spreads throughout the land, and people start becoming attracted to your cause.  Although the main quest is very linear, recruiting these characters adds some nonlinearity; you have to do a lot of exploring outside of the main quest to find all these people, and you can actually permanently miss out on some of them if you don't do things just right.  Most of the characters just sit around your base, though some do provide various services such as shops and whatnot... but a decent portion of them are actually playable characters you can add to your party.  You have room for six, though the story often dictates at least half of those slots.  Still, all the characters are quite unique in play, as they have different effective ranges (short, medium, long), affinity for either melee/ranged combat or spells, and sometimes even unique abilities inside and outside combat.

 

Having said that, the game almost ruins it all by being so damned easy.  You can take just about any party through the game without thinking, and easily get through it.  I just chose characters that looked cool, and at one point realized that if you include Kai (the main character's martial arts teacher) in the party, you unlock a free ability where Kai and the main character basically do 2x their individual damage to every enemy on the screen, every round.  So of course I kept Kai in the party.  This is not some secret hidden character, but someone you just find naturally, and it completely trivializes all random encounters for the entire game.

 

Even so, not every game has to be a challenge.  Sometimes you just want to build a super powerful party and steamroll the game to the end.  It also helps that Genso Suikoden has a great story, wonderful characters, and a legendary soundtrack.  A fine game.

Edited by newtmonkey
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Tonight I finished a play through of OG Resident Evil 1 with Jill. I hadn't played the original in so long that I forgot the differences between it and Director's Cut and REmake. It was a very fun blast from the past.

 

This was all courtesy of GOG dropping a bombshell recently with the surprise release ( 2+3 also on the way). I had zero issues using a PS4 controller and no problems on Windows 11.

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Final Fantasy IX (PSX)

image.thumb.jpeg.86fd390e752f342a2bcfa05d7535dc96.jpeg

 

FFIX is about a plucky thief who becomes a hero, a princess who becomes a queen, an awkward royal bodyguard who becomes a total badass, and a spell-slinging golem who also becomes a total badass.  The queen of Alexandria goes mad with power and begins invading and obliterating neighboring kingdoms, and it's up to our four heroes (and their weird companions that are very one-dimensional and annoying) to put a stop to it.

 

FFIX plays a lot like the previous two games in the series, with polygonal characters on rendered backgrounds during exploration and fully polygonal battles, but pushes the hardware to the max with impressively detailed polygonal characters and a return to a four-character party.  The rendered backgrounds are a bit hit and miss this time, though.  Many look gorgeous, but a lot also look somewhat messy due to the artists trying to fit too much detail into such a low resolution.

 

What makes FFIX different from the other PSX FF games is its mostly lighthearted sense of adventure, a return to airships and knights instead of spaceships and military cadets, and the addictive Ability system.  Characters learn abilities through wearing equipment; fight enough battles with a piece of equipment attached, and you learn the ability permanently.  This is brilliant, because it keeps even weaker equipment useful, and it's a ton of fun shopping after arriving at a new town and seeing if you found any new cool abilities to learn.

 

The game does have a couple of major issues holding it back from greatness.

 

First, combat is way too frequent and way too slow.  You spend much of your time in combat watching your action bars slowly filling up so that you can finally take a turn.  Enemies are also HP sponges, and the game loves to stick you with weird parties like a single fighter and two white mages, ensuring that every battle no matter how simple takes minutes to finish.

 

Second, the dialog and story become increasingly corny and childish as the game goes on.  It's all about the power of friendship, staying true to yourself, and doing what's right even if it's hard!  It's made even worse due to the fact that the game is so damned wordy, with every single character in your group commenting on every single thing that happens with their one-dimensional personalities.

 

Having said that, I ended up enjoying this one overall, thanks to the aforementioned sense of adventure, some great dungeons with tons of stuff to find, and the completely addictive Ability system.  The game is also chock full of optional stuff to do and find, and seems like one of those games where you'd end up seeing new things no matter how many times you replay it.

 

---

 

With this, I've completed FF1 through FF9.  Here's my ranking and some quick thoughts:

 

  1. Final Fantasy VI: Great characters, a fascinating world, an awesome villain, and an amazing soundtrack.  Right when you think you're nearing the end of the game, there's a major plot twist, and the game suddenly goes from a strictly linear adventure to a non-linear "open world" where you prepare to take down the last boss.
  2. Final Fantasy I: Being able to assemble your own party at the beginning (and being stuck with it until the end) gives the game a lot of replay value.  This is definitely the most challenging game in the series, but still not too bad at all if you pay attention and learn how the game works.  With its spell slots and enemies taken straight from the Monster Manual, it's basically an unofficial Dungeons and Dragons game.
  3. Final Fantasy VII: This is right up there with FFVI in terms of characters, world, and villain, and I prefer the story in this one.  However, the mandatory minigames are annoying, the game is way too linear, and the Materia system (while interesting) makes all the characters mostly interchangeable.
  4. Final Fantasy V: The Job system in this game is truly amazing, and gives the game a lot of replay value.  Boss enemies tend to have multiple weaknesses, so you have a lot of flexibility in tackling them.  The game suffers greatly from a dull story and boring characters, however.
  5. Final Fantasy IX: A real treat for FF fanatics, as there are so many callbacks to previous games.  It looks and sounds great, and the Ability system is truly addictive... but the game suffers from many annoying characters, an ultimately uninteresting story, tedious combat, and childish dialog.
  6. Final Fantasy III: This introduced the Job system, but it's not very flexible.  Instead, jobs are mostly treated like solutions to get through gimmicky dungeons or defeat puzzle bosses.  FFV just does all of this much better.
  7. Final Fantasy II: This is not really a bad game, despite what the Internet will tell you (most of the walkthroughs out there give really bad advice).  However, it's also not a very interesting game, as it's very linear and focused on story, but the story is dull.
  8. Final Fantasy IV: I loved this game back in 1991, but revisiting it over the years has revealed how shallow it is.  JRPGs tend to be very linear, but this game takes it to the extreme; any two players will have a nearly identical experience from hour to hour.  It does have some of the best characters in the series, charming graphics, and one of the greatest soundtracks of all time going for it, but the story is somewhat childish.
  9. Final Fantasy VIII: The Junction system is actually pretty interesting, but ends up being tedious and feels way too "gamey" in a bad way.  The characters are one-dimensional, mostly unlikeable, and do not develop at all throughout the game.  It does have some of the finest rendered backgrounds and CG FMVs Square has ever done, so it's often nice to look at!
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