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Attention all RPGer's in the U.S., it is time to rejoice. Square has brought two of their best Final Fantasy games from yesteryear over to the Playstation game console. Get ready to experience (or re-experience) two classic RPG's - Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI.
Both of these games made their debut on the SNES and have been brought over to the Playstation virtually untouched as far as the gameplay, sound and in game graphics go.
Here is your chance to play through two of the best-scripted games in the Final Fantasy universe that Square has ever created.
Sound and Vision:
Considering the fact that Final Fantasy V & VI are direct ports from the Super Nintendo system, the graphics are not going to be up to the standards that people have become accustomed to on the Playstation console. That being said, the graphics certainly don't suck and actually manage to portray the characters and scenes in a most creative way.
Everything on the screen is sprite based and 2D, but it's interesting to see that Square was pushing consoles to their limits even back then. Final Fantasy V appears to use a 64-color scheme with rather simplistic character and environment designs. What it lacks in complexity though, it more than makes up for in originality. Here we have these cute little onscreen characters that somehow manage to portray their actions with a reasonable amount of emotion and conviction.
For FFVI, the color palette is obviously increased (256 color?) and the portrayal of the environments and landscapes look decidedly better. The SNES Mode 7 feature gets used quite frequently to scroll the landscape and it's obvious to see that Square has gotten more comfortable with the console. Characters are larger and better animated and the scenery is much more lush and vibrant comparatively speaking of course.
I liked the fact that you had the ability to customize the colors of your menu display in both games and the menu wallpaper background in FFVI.
The graphics, while certainly not cutting edge by any stretch of the imagination, are quite functional and have a certain appeal all their own. I would certainly not worry about the graphics taking away from the gameplay in fact they actually give the titles a nice nostalgic touch.
Oh, I should also mention that fully blown CG sequences have been added to enhance the stories in each game. I really liked this addition as it gave me a feel for how the artists actually visualized the main characters and the worlds in which they live.
As far as the sound goes, Final Fantasy fans will be in heaven. Composer Nobuo Uematsu must have been hitting his stride with these two outings as the musical score for both games is incredible. The trademark "end-battle" theme is present in slight variations from each game, but the distinctive tune is there and quite apparent. It's surprising just how good the Nintendo sound chip was for that time, as it is capable of producing some really good music.
Where the limitations of the chip begin to show up is in the reproduction of actual in game sound effects. While the PSX sound chip normally duplicates sound effects as you would expect them to be heard in real life, the SNES had a rather muddy sound for things like dogs barking or swords clanging for instance. It's apparent that the full range of sound was just not available from the chip.
The package also includes a third CD with the audio soundtracks from each title now this is a bargain if there ever was one!
Whoa boy the good old days of RPGing. Super-deformed low-res sprite based characters wondering the world without analog control we have gotten pretty darn spoiled with the most recent RPG's that have been released, especially the newer ones from Square.
When I first started playing these two games I immediately became frustrated at the antiquated control. I had all but forgotten how it felt to play older RPG's where character movement consisted of up/down, right/left digital controls. Diagonal movement in this game is not allowed so it becomes a chore walking through caves and other areas that have twisting landscapes. The method is take one step forward, jog left or right, take another few steps forward and repeat the process to venture ahead. Errrrr.
I also missed the luxury of being able to fully rotate the view 360 degrees in either direction when traveling the overworld. Instead gamers are locked in a top down viewing mode, this isn't so terrible but I still would like to have had the option of customizing my view a bit.
Okay, now that I have gotten the bad stuff out of the way, I can now begin to concentrate on the good and boy there is a LOT of good in here! Gamers are being treated here with two of the very best Final Fantasy games ever created. Final Fantasy V is getting it's US premier with this release. Until now it has only been available in Japan and unless you know Japanese, importing a title with this much text was virtually meaningless. Final Fantasy VI, which was originally released for the SNES in the US as FFIII brings with it a brilliantly conceived storyline and a unique and involving battle system.
Final Fantasy V features a story and gameplay that many believe to be the pinnacle of the Final Fantasy series. In this title gamers take on the role of a drifter that just happens to be in the right place at the wrong time. The game starts off with a nice little intro that has a King flying away on his dragon to visit a place called the Wind Shrine. It seems that something has happened at the Shrine because the wind has died down to a whisper throughout the land. As King Tycoon bids farewell to his daughter, Reina the scene shifts to the story's hero. - Before going on I must mention that I cannot recall the lead characters name because FFV gives players the option of inputting any name you like. In my exuberance to play the game, I simple typed over the old name and put in mine without really taking note of the original name! Yeah I know, I could have just started a new game, but humor me here So, for the sake of clarity we'll just call the character "Sir Tom" hehehe. - During one of his excursions riding about on his trusty Chocobo Boko, Sir Tom just happens to be at a particular location that is the recipient of a meteor crash. After the dust settles Sir Tom meets up with Princess Reina and a strange fellow named Galuf that seems to be suffering from amnesia. Together they decide to journey on to the Wind Shrine to try and find Reina's father. In total, there are four Shrines that you must get to (Wind, Fire, Earth & Water) on a journey that will span 3 worlds.
FFV features a truly innovative character growth system that requires the gamer to assign jobs classes to each individual character. The choices of job classifications is quite large including such jobs as Ninja, Knight (white or black), Mage, Thiefs, Chemists, and Monks (priests). Feeding into this system are the battles. In addition to gaining experience points and gold for winning each fight you also gain Ability points. With ability points you are able to move characters up within the classes and achieve your unique characters. It was one of the few times in recent memory that I actually looked forward to battles so that I could gain more and more ability points and thus further customize my characters. This whole job system was later used to perfection in the Playstation game Final Fantasy Tactics.
In typical fashion, Square ups the ante with FFVI by introducing a new battle and magic system in addition to weaving a whole new story with all new characters. FFVI opens up with a world that has been decimated by the evil powers of magic. After almost complete destruction, it was decided that magic would be banned from use forever. Over time the world began to rediscover technology and machinery and seemed well on its way to making a good start again. Of course, there just happens to be pockets of people that wish to begin using the powers of magic again but will it be for good or evil this time around?
Right from the start of FFVI you can plainly see the graphical improvements of the title when compared to FFV. In typical Square fashion we are treated to an opening sequence that begins to set the story up with two characters named Wedge and Biggs. If you have already enjoyed FFVIII, these two names will be immediately recognizable to you. It seems that they intend to raid the mining town of Narshe to recover Tritoch Esper, which will enable the use of magic for the Imperial Guards. They are also dragging along a mysterious woman named Terra that already has the ability to use magic on her own. With the aid an old man and a treasure hunter named Locke, Terra manages to escape and your adventure is truly set to begin.
The new system used in FFVI is something called Esper magic. Esper is located throughout the world of Final Fantasy VI and once collected will ultimately enable your characters to cast over 90 different spells of both black and white magic. Some of the spells are truly mind-boggling and awesome to watch.
The battles will be familiar to Square gamers. You still have your life bars that need to be full before you can execute an attack on the enemy and you are vulnerable to attack while it is charging. In fact you can even use the summon command in FFV which I thought was rather cool as I didn't know it was developed so long ago. Ifrit is one of the forces that once defeated can be summoned! There is also a unique element to the battles in FFVI that I truly enjoyed and that is the fact that you can control multiple squads at a time. There are certain scenarios that will require you to break up teams and control them individually in order to succeed. This added an additional strategic element to the battles as it often become very important to where you set your teams up and where you confronted and attacked your enemies. Sweet!
Both games also include a brilliantly executed tutorial mode to help gamers get answers to how the battle systems work, how to ride Chocobo's, how to assign jobs, etc. These tutorials are accessed by entering training or beginners houses and also by prompts that occasionally come up during gameplay.
So to wrap things up here, while both FFV and FFVI may show their age in terms of graphical capabilities their well scripted stories remain timeless and infinitely enjoyable. The fact that you can bare witness to Squares evolution in the RPG environment is also a real treat. The optional side quests are present especially in FFVI so gamers will have tons of stuff to find and do. Hell the package is worth the price of admission just to get a chance to play FFV. The reality that it is also bundled with FFVI and a bonus audio CD is just icing on the cake.
This is a Three disk set for 1 Player. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the dual shock (analog) joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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