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by Chief Ug
Let me tell you about a friend I have. Years ago, he played FF2a through, many times, and enjoyed it. Later in his life, he picked up FF3a. He played it through, several times, always enjoying it as much. Then, one beautiful day, came FF7. He saw some reviews of it. He saw it being played. He decided he was not interested in FF7.
Sounds familiar, so far? Good, let me continue. I'll give you a guess as to why he is not interested in FF7. So what do you think?.......... You're wrong. He is not a self-proclaimed "old-schooler". Once he explained to me why he disliked FF7, it made me think a bit. The reason is, in his words:
"FF7 is just the same as FF2a and FF3a."
Surprised? You shouldn't be. We are always comparing different Final Fantasy games, how one is better than the other. Never once does it come up that all Final Fantasy games are quite similar to each other. And, in some people's opinions, too similar. Think about it. We have Cecil, an ex-soldier who ends up fighting the kingdom he was part of, with the help of a few allies he finds on the way, all while trying to come to terms with his true self. We have Terra, a former imperial pawn who ends up fighting the empire she was part of, with the help of a few allies she finds on the way, all while trying to come to terms with her true identity. We have Cloud, and ex-Soldier who ends up fighting the corporation he was part of, with the help of a few allies he find on the way, all while trying to come to terms with his true self. Why, you might even begin to see a trend here.
Sure, the stories are similar. What about other parts of these games? The most visible part, which was the great turn-off for my friend, is of course gameplay. Now, what could possibly be similar in the gameplay of FF2a, FF3a, and FF7? In every single game, you walk around towns and castles, talking to people, and advancing the plot. You walk on the world map, encountering some nameless monsters whose only purpose in life is to harass you with pitiful attempts at hurting you. You have the dungeons, you have the forests, you have every single element that you could expect from a game that calls itself an "RPG". What about the fights itself? Let's see, your characters are grouped on one side of the screen, pounding on the enemies who stand on the other side of the screen. A character selects his/her action, and is done with it. A simple look at these three games, and you can tell that in the gameplay department they have absolutely nothing in common with each other. Or do they?
It is usually accepted that Final Fantasy games, no matter the number that accompanies the letters FF, are all true gems, made like only Squaresoft can make them. However, can too much of the same thing, no matter how good, end up being bad? According to my friend whom I mentioned in the beginning, that is the case. Saving the world in an adventure of epic dimensions can only be enjoyable for a limited amount of games. No matter how great each Final Fantasy game is in its own right, sooner or later even the most hardcore fans will get tired of the same formula. Some people loudly criticize every single thing that is changed, as some things are "sacred and must remain untouched". Try to keep everything in a game sacred and untouched, and it will get old rather quickly. Had FF7 been a large-scale change, totally different from any previous Final Fantasy game, some hardcore series fans might have been turned off by it. However, who can say how many more people would have ended u!p buying FF7, since it would have offered many new experiences, rather than reliving the old?
Some of you might deny it, some of you might scream outrageously at it. The word "change" may be a curse to some, but it is what keeps games alive. Some people will get tired of a series after 2 games. Other people take longer, but no one will last forever. Change is what keeps people interested in games. Change keeps you coming back to a game after you are tired of its predecessor. Change is Good.
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