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First I would like to establish that I loved both final fantasy 7 and 8, to death. I actually played FF7 for 12 hours straight because I heard that if Aeris got to level 80 before the 'death scene' she wouldn't die. hah hah, joke's on me. That having been said, this is not a FF7/8 basher.
This editorial has to do with individuality in the final fantasy series. Both FF4/6 and 7/8 have two different ways that they establish individuals. In 7/8 you have characters that are interwoven into the story (with a couple exceptions, such has 'hidden' characters), and the story cannot survive with/out them (Such as Aeris' death). This allows writers to write a story from beginning to end, letting the player play out the story that has been laid out for them. Now, don't get me wrong, FF4/6 have a pre-made story, but it's not X character falls in love with Y character has has Z reaction with another.
The problem (IMO) with this kind of RPG is that it takes away the OTHER types of individuality of characters, the most prominent of these being the magic system. Any character can have any spell at any time (the worse offender of the two would be 7), which makes you care about the characters individual story even less (more on this later). I _liked_ that I had to plan out which character I wanted to use for which situation in FF4/6, and I _liked_ the hours and hours I spent in FF6 getting everyone all the spells that there were.
I prefer FF6 (if you haven't figured it out by now) because there wasn't just the main story to go along, and not only because there was a seperate story for each character (just about), but you CARED about them. I _cared_ about the fate of South Figaro; I _cared_ about Locke's lost love; I _cared_ about Terra's sanity and her origin. Not only because you had to use each character to build up their magic (which stayed with them), but because each had their own special skills (Blitz, Tool, etc.) In final fantasy (7 more then 8) the characters lost their sense of individuality because it didn't matter if one character was in your party or another .. you just switched materia. Whee.
One final note, on special skills. Bring them back! Limit Breaks just aren't cutting it. I -loved- FF6's skill system. Sometimes it was better to 'fight' or 'magic' or '<skill>'. In FF8 it's all summon, summon, summon, summon (because it's free).
Bring back the individuality!!
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