da série Final Fantasy
It's extremely interesting to watch the engine of the
game progress from 1 to the present day. Here's a comprehensive list of the
things which were added and taken away to make the gaming experience ever more
enjoyable! Items marked with a * contain ideas which are used in subsequent
games fairly regularly and still exist in the later games. MQ and Tactics are
dealt with after all the numbered ones.
FF1 Innovations: Starting Engine
- *The Job System makes its debut: Four party members
can choose from 6 Jobs, which get upgraded halfway through the game.
- *When walking, only the head party member can be
- Press Select to change the order of members.
- When any member is affected with a permanent status
problem, he is automatically sent to the back.
- *Towns contain inns (heal all HP and magic use
ability, and save game), and stores (for this game, White Magic/Black
Magic/Weapon/Armor stores, and Houses of Life (revive dead allies)).
- *Item menu lets you see story items and use healing
items. (In this game, only three healing potions exist: Heal, Soft, and Pure
(Antidote). Tents, Cabins, and Houses can only be used on the world map.
- Magic can be learned by almost any Job and is bought
in shops. It's divided into 8 levels, with three spaces per level. You can
use a limited amount of magic uses for each level; as you raise levels, your
magic use grows. You can only heal magic uses by resting at an Inn or using
Tents etc. Black Magic and White Magic aren't very sharp categories, as many
Black Magic spells target allies and vice versa. No matter how much magic
power you have, magic effects can never reach above a certain level. Magic
can only affect one or all allies or enemies (you can't switch between
allies and enemies, or one and all).
- Each character can carry four weapons and four armor
pieces, although they can only equip one weapon each. That means that you
can't have more than 16 weapons and 16 armor pieces at any time. You can
drop them if you want, or sell them at stores.Battle
Effect On Society
- *The allies are on the right side and enemies on the
- Allies and enemies are separated by a vertical line.
The name and HP of each character is at the far right, aligned vertically;
the names of the enemies are at the bottom left.
- *Each ally chooses from a list of five options:
Fight (physical attack), Magic (use magic), Item (use one of the weapons or
armors in your inventory; certain equipment have special effects); Drink
(use a healing potion), or Run from battle. If one person successfully runs,
the battle ends.
- If two allies target the same enemy and one of them
kills it before the other attacks, the second attack will be ineffective.
You have to make the allies target different enemies during battle.
- Enemies will run away from you if your level is too
- All status problems (there are five: Poison, Stun,
Confuse, Mute, and Critical) make the character kneel. If he's dead he'll
- Most weapons will hit a random amount of times. The
higher the level, the more chance there are of more hits. This applies to
enemies as well! (Dumped after FF3)
- *Winning battles gets you gold (Gil) and experience,
used in raising levels; raising levels makes your characters stronger.
- Raising levels results in only certain attributes
being raised. HP is always raised.
FF was a groundbreaking game. The only real RPG
experience hitherto taken was Dragon Warrior, and FF improved in almost every
way: far more interaction with characters around you; the ability to control
four different characters; the Job system; the graphical capability to see the
characters in battle; and a far more in-depth menu system. It allowed a level of
role-playing never seen before.
- There is now grass in some towns which can be walked
- World map is slightly more defined.
- The Job System has been scrapped; any character can
equip any armor or weapon, as well as two items which can be used in battle.
- *There are now specific places for armor to go: two
hands, head, arms, and body.
- There are far more items than before; more status
healing items (because there are more status effects), different-level
healing potions, battle-specific items like Garlic, and an item (Ether) to
- *Weapons and armor are now treated like items; all
three (items, weapons, armor) are stored in one inventory screen. There is a
limit to how many items you can carry.
- Weapons have now been defined into 6 specific
categories, but anyone can equip them.
- Magic can be learned by anyone; it is bought in
shops (there's only one type of shop now) and put in the inventory as items;
when used on a character, that character learns the magic. There's only one
type of every spell (no Bolt 2s) which levels up with use.
- Magic spells can now be found in chests.
- *You can now save whenever you're on the world map.
There is more than one save file to choose from (in this case four).
- *Equip screen shows the difference in defense and
offense when equipping armor and weapons.
- Any character can equip two weapons.
- *The characters now have face graphics in the menu
- Shops are now real buildings; buying items is done
through conversation text boxes instead of completely different screens.
- *Conversations can now go for more than one screen;
pressing A advances the text.
- You can learn key words from NPCs which can then be
used on other NPCs (a cool feature which was scrapped after 2).
- The characters now have names and personalities;
there are three main characters and a fourth variable spot taken up by
different people depending on the story.
- Characters cannot switch positions (front to back of
the party) but they can switch rows (see Battle Innovations).
- You can heal any dead characters for free at special
- *You can pay to use other transportation (ferries,
airships) than your own vehicles.
- Story items like the Canoe take up a spot in the
- *The Chocobos make their debut here; you can ride
one if you find a Chocobo Forest. The Chocobo will return to its forest as
soon as you get off.
Effect On Society
- *The vertical line has been removed; now there can
be far more interactive battles. You can now attack friends as well as
enemies, and cure enemies as well as friends (both options are useful at
- *There is now a front and back row, for both enemies
and allies. Back row allies cannot attack or be attacked physically (unless
the enemy has a long-range attack like a bow). Likewise, you cannot attack
the back row of enemies, nor can they attack you. However, if the front row
has been wiped out, the back row is switched to the front row.
- *Magic can now be switched between single and
multiple targets! Some magic can still only be used on a single target, and
some only on all targets. However, affecting all targets means that the
effects will be lessened.
- *The "Drink" and "Item" commands
have been condensed into one. You can only use an item you're equipped with
(you can have two items like Potions per person).
- *Items which can't be used won't let you use them (unlike
1 which just said "Ineffective" and made you waste a turn).
- *Status problems now have their own animations (bubbles
for poison, etc.)
- Characters do not gain levels any more; just certain
attributes go up (or down!) after a battle. (Ditched after 2)
- Characters can specialize in weapons; the more you
use a weapon, the better you get at it. Ditto for magic; both weapons and
magic gain levels with use. (Ditched after 2)
- The magic level system (every magic belonging to a
spell level, with each level having its own MP) has been dropped in favor of
an MP (Magic Point) system; any spell uses MP. The higher level a spell is,
the more MP it will use (from 1 to 7 depending on the level). To gain higher
MP, use magic in battle.
- Gil winnings seem to be almost completely random. (Ditched
- *Enemies can now drop items after battle; a screen
which includes all of your items, the items dropped, and a Trash can appears
after battle where you can switch between one and the other.
- *Boss battles now have their own music.
- After winning a battle, the characters run offscreen
to the left (Ditched after 2).
FF2 was the first game which featured real characters;
you played through a twisting story as specific characters within that
storyline, as opposed to a generic "hero". The twists and depth of the
story made FF2 stand out, although it never had as much fame as its big
- The Job System has been re-implemented, but with far
more Jobs available.
- You can now change Jobs on the status screen
whenever you wish, as long as you have that Job. Changing Jobs requires
using Capacity points, which are gained after battles. The more you use one
Job, the less Capacity points you will need to change into it.
- *The menu system used is more or less the standard
for the subsequent games: the characters are lined up vertically on the left,
the menu commands are on the right, and the Gil and Capacity are at the
- *The Row menu has been added to the main menu (as
opposed to being a separate menu).
- The lead character (the one shown) is not
necessarily the one in front; press Select to switch.
- Certain "helpers" will join the party from
time to time. These helpers trail after the main character. They don't join
in battle, but you can talk to them by pressing B.
- *The "dead" status has been changed to
"Wounded"; you can now heal this by resting at an inn.
- You no longer have to throw away excess items; you
can store them with a Chubby Chocobo if you use a Carrot in a Chocobo
- *You can now store up to 99 of any item while only
taking up a single item space. (Before, every item took up its own space.)
- *Shops are now back in their own space (as opposed
to conversation windows), but their inventory is much greater, and there are
icons of the characters to the right to indicate (by animation) which ones
can equip the item indicated. You can also buy more than one item at a time.
- When armor or weapons give status changes, the game
will tell you when you equip it.
- *Weapons are Job-dependent; not everyone can equip
any weapon. The weapon/armor equip screen will have an "X" over
the item's icon if it can't be equipped.
- *There is a "remove" option to remove all
armor and weapons at a time (you can't change your job if you don't remove
all armor and weapons).
- The magic system is back to the one from 1: every
magic has its own level. However, magic can only be used by magic classes.
- *There is a new type of magic: Summon magic, which
usually can only be gotten by defeating the monster to be summoned. During
summons, the party disappears and is replaced by the monster for a quick
attack. Magic no longer raises levels; you must use Bolt 2 etc.
- *Now there are secret passages in dungeons leading
to treasure; just walk through the walls!
- *You can now rest in beds, even if you're not at an
- Character face graphics have been ditched for this
- The Mini and Toad statuses, new to this game, are
also integral to the story at some points; you have to change into pygmies
or frogs to continue the story! (Unfortunately ditched after 3)
- Addition of a total of three airships, two
submarines, and a ship. The final airship is massive and shoots cannonballs
- Commands are now Job-dependent; you only have four.
Some Jobs can't run, some can't Defend; others can't use magic.
- *The back row no longer receives NO damage during
battle; damage is instead halved. As well, characters in the back row can
stay there for the entire battle. Any character can now change rows during
battle by pressing Left or Right on the control pad.
- *(Finally!) If you target an enemy and he dies, your
attack will now go to the next enemy.
- *You can attack any enemy onscreen, but the damage
will be lessened if the enemy or you are in the back row (unless you have a
- *Any item in the inventory can now be used in battle
by anyone with the Item command.
- *There is now the additional possibility of
"Back Attacks" - you can start with your back turned; the first
attack on an ally will give double damage. In this position, the characters
are on the left and the enemies on the right.
- *There are now items to simulate spells directly (like
NorthWind, simulating an Ice2 spell).
- *Healing items can now be used on another party
member (unlike 2 which only let you use it on yourself).
- *You can now switch armor and weapons during battle!
(Ditched after 6)
- *Dropped items will only trigger a switch screen
like in 2 if there's no more room in your inventory.
- *Damage points now appear directly onscreen in
little bouncy red or green numbers, as opposed to being shown in a text box
below the battle.
- Enemies can now be trapped when they try to run,
just like you can! (Ditched after 3)
Effects On Society
FF3 expanded the Job system, making it amazingly
customizable. Although no one piece of the game stood out, it consolidated the
system and set in place many of the solid game-play elements which would
continue to entertain for years afterwards.
- Graphical clarity and detail much improved on the
- *World map now uses "Mode 7" technique; if
you use an airship, the map gets closer or farther away depending on your
- Addition of a hovercraft: a ground vehicle which
stops enemy attacks! Also used: Two airships and a Magical Ship (spaceship).
- Every character is well-defined and has his/her own
Job defining what skills they can use and what they can equip. (Ditched
- *Magic is now back to the MP version from 2; however,
some characters cannot use magic. Magic types are still Black, White, and
Summon. This MP system is kept until 8.
- Magic is only learned by raising character levels;
it can't be bought any more. The only exception is Summon spells, which can
be learned by defeating Summons or using special items dropped by one of
four enemies. Since there's only one Summoner (Rydia), the items can only be
used when she's in the party and their only target is her.
- *The party is completely variable and only Cecil
stays there the entire time.
- *Addition of a Configuration menu which allows you
to change speed of messages, window colors, and more.
- The party now has five people (ditched after 4). The
five possible positions are either 2 front and 3 back, or 3 front and 2 back
(you can't have everyone in front or back).
- *There are now items to permanently raise HP and MP.
- Usually when you receive a new item it resides in
its own spot; to put all the items together, you must Sort them. The
exception is when you receive items in battle.
- *There are now save points within dungeons on which
you can use Tents and Cottages, and save your game.
- *Some chests now hold monsters which guard the
- This is one of only two games with healing Summons.
- There are three different worlds to explore at your
- There are three different types of Chocobos now:
Yellow to ride, white to completely heal all MP in the party, and Black to
fly (they can only land in forests).
- *The ATB (Active Time Battle) has been implemented!
Every character and every enemy has his/her/its own invisible time bar; once
it's full, the character/enemy can move. After the move, the time bar begins
to fill up again. Warning: while choosing commands, the time bars will
continue to fill, but while in menu screens (like choosing which magic or
item to use) the time bars can be stopped (if the Wait option in Config was
chosen). The active character will flash when his/her menu comes up.
- *Every character can use the Row (switch rows) and
- *The entire battle is now graphical, with a
background (unlike the NES games which only had graphics at the top of the
screen; the rest was black).
- *Weapons only hit once now, as opposed to a random
number of times.
- *"Run" is no longer a command; rather,
just hold L and R to try continuously to run. You can run and fight at the
- Only two characters (Yang and Edge) can equip two
weapons; the rest can either equip only a weapon, a weapon and a shield, or
a bow and arrows (takes up two hands).
- Many battle commands (like Rosa's Pray and Palom's
Boast) were "dummied out" of the Easytype FF4 (the one which was
translated to American FF2), and can only be accessed by using Game Genie
- Running away from battle sometimes causes you to
drop Gil in the amount of 1/4 what you would have won had you stayed. (Ditched
- *Enemies (besides for specific ones) no longer try
to run from you!
- *The Reflect status is a mainstay after this; it
causes magic to be reflected off the character, but it can't block certain
spells like Meteor, and it can't block a spell that's already been reflected
off the enemy.
Effects On Society
FF4 was the first major graphical RPG; as opposed to
being mostly text-oriented, with the graphics just so you wouldn't get bored,
the visuals in this game add to the story; characters' positions and movements
tell the tale as well (and, in the case of the American translation, better)
than their words. It's also the first game which introduces the idea that
different characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, which affect
gameplay. The idea of characters entering and leaving the party as the story
dictates is also introduced in this groundbreaking game.
- The Job System has been re-implemented, with
innovations: The "Normal" class can now equip any weapons and
armor. You can choose one class, as well as another ability learned from
another class! The Normal class can choose two abilities, and the Mimic
class can choose three (Item is not automatic).
- Abilities are learned by gaining ABP (Ability
Points), which are received after battle. After a certain amount of ABP is
gained, the class Level will go up and a new ability will be learned. Once a
class is mastered, the Normal ability will inherit the characteristics of
that class (counterattacks, equipping two weapons, etc.) Classes are
mastered by raising it to a certain Level (required AP amounts and levels
are different for every class).
- Magic is now learned by the party; any spell learned
will be known automatically by every member of the party. Magic can be
learned by finding it, buying it, receiving it through events, or defeating
Summons. There are now five types of Magic: White, Black, Dimension (effects),
Blue (monster spells), and Summon (Summon spells). Bard's Songs are also
learned by the party. Sword magic consists of magic from the first three
categories and is learned automatically when those spells are learned.
- *Equip menu screens now show every stat and how they
are affected by the desired item. Only items which can be equipped by that
class are shown. There's also an "Optimum" option, which
automatically equips the weapons and armor which give the best attack and
defense. Also, the "arm" equip space has been changed to
"relic"; this means that you can equip a ring, a shoe, a claw,
etc. in this space.
- You keep the same four characters throughout the
game (the fourth one is replaced by a fifth one halfway through, who keeps
all of the original's powers).
- The face graphics have been dumped for this game.
- *Characters can now occupy any position (top through
bottom) and either front or back row.
- You can now run (finally!) when inside dungeons or
towns, but only if you have a Thief or the Dash ability in your party; hold
B to run when you have this.
- *There are now timed events; you must finish an
event by reaching a certain area within the allotted time. Time ticks by
even during battles. If time runs out, game's over.
- Transportation includes an airship which changes
into a ship and a submarine, a Hiryuu (dragon), a Chocobo and a black
Chocobo (who don't disappear when you're done with them; this is the only
game where this is true).
- *You can now see the World Map by pressing Y. Your
position, that of major points, and the positions of your vehicles are shown.
- *The Chubby Chocobo is no more; the item inventory
is large enough to hold every item in the game. As well, every new item is
now put together with its kin (all the Potions together, all the HiPotions
together); no more Sorting is necessary! Also, this means that all items can
fit in inventory so switching items after winning a battle is unnecessary.
- *There is now a special item screen for rare items
Effects On Society
- *The time bar for allies is now visible in battle.
- Battle graphics looks quite a bit better, with more
- The active character is now indicated by two square
brackets instead of flashing.
- *Certain enemy skills can now be learned in battle
by a Blue Mage.
- The Megalixir item has been nixed for this game.
The best part of FF5, as anyone will tell you, is the
gameplay. The Job system has been honed to perfection, allowing fully
customizable characters. Strategy plays a much greater part in this game than
any of the numbered games after this. This game also starts the introduction of
Nobuo Uematsu's best musical work, with far more realistic instruments and much
more catchy tunes.
- The Job system has been cut down majorly: every
character has his/her own Job which is the same for the entire game, as in
- The face graphics are back again.
- For the first time, the sprites used in battle are
identical to the ones on the world map and in dungeons/towns. This means
that they look better and more realistically proportioned, and there are WAY
more animations for them. For one thing, they can turn around and face down
or up in battle, and scenes can play out while in battle.
- Graphics are much more lush and intensive.
- The music is completely astounding; every character
has his/her own theme.
- *You eventually get a large amount of different
characters to choose from; you can mix and match your current party as you
see fit. There are times when the "main character" is not in your
- *Magic is no longer split up into Black, White and
Dimension; every character can learn any magic. However, for the sake of
arrangement, the magic is divided into Attack, Curative, and Effect (which
are basically the same as before).
- Magic is now only learned by Espers. Espers are
gained through story elements by picking up Magicite shards. Espers are then
equipped on a character. After battle, Magic Points will be received. Every
Esper teaches 1 to 6 spells at a certain percent rate. If you gain one Magic
Point after battle, a spell taught at 5% will go up by 5 and a spell taught
at 1% will go up by 1. Once a spell is at 100, that spell will be learned by
that character. Espers also give bonuses when characters level up. Terra and
Celes will learn a few spells by themselves.
- Depending on the character, skills are learned in
different ways. Blitz and SwordTech are learned by gaining experience
levels; Dances are learned by fighting in different backgrounds; Rages are
learned by Leaping on the Veldt; and Lores (Blue Magic) are learned if the
enemy uses them in battle.
- The "relics" from 5 now have their own
equip screen; every character can equip up to 2 relics.
- *Items can now be sorted by type (all healing items
together, all swords together, etc.)
- *Rare item descriptions can now be viewed.
- You can now choose from 8 different window patterns
to work with.
- You can choose to have two different controllers
working during battles for multiplayer gaming (ditched after 6).
- Running can now be accomplished by wearing the
Sprint Shoes relic.
- There's a relic to completely stop random attacks,
the Moogle Charm.
- You can view all the equipment in the party by
selecting Equip and pressing left.
- Certain characters will join the party for a very
short time; they can be controlled, but you can't de-equip them.
- There are 14 main characters by the end of the game,
more than any other game! This includes two completely optional secret
characters! Characters can only be switched at special places (usually the
airship); there is an option to de-equip all characters not in the current
- Chocobos are now only yellow and can only be ridden
if you rent one out from Chocobo pens. There are also two airships to ride,
both of which are fairly extensive!
- *Airships can now move up and down as well as
two-dimensionally! The Mode 7 graphics engine is much improved.
- *You can now switch between characters in equip,
status etc. screens without going back to the main screen! Just press L or R
to cycle between characters.
- *There are times when you must split your party into
two or more parties. You can switch between the two using the Y button.
- Tents will give a different graphic depending on the
- *You can finally switch between active characters,
choosing what order they act in.
- Time bars fill up even during attacks and animations.
- *Addition of Limits! Every character who is in a
critical state has a chance of loosing a powerful attack if they choose the
Fight command. The attack is different for every character.
- The characters are now aligned diagonally to the
lower right, allowing for taller characters.
- Many backgrounds are now animated.
- Magical effects like Slow and Reflect are indicated
by different color glows (in my opinion the best indication, which they
should have kept in later games).
- This is one of only two games with healing Summons.
- Espers can only be summoned once per battle.
- Now running is accomplished by each person; if one
person escapes, the other three still have to fight. However, even if the
other 3 die, the game still continues with the person who ran still alive.
- If you get the Game Over screen, starting back from
a previous save point lets you keep all your experience; treasures, gold,
spells learnt, and level-up bonuses are lost, however. (Dumped after 6)
- Even characters not in your party gain part of the
experience gained by the active characters, but don't learn spells or
skills. (Dumped after 7)
- *The active party member is indicated by an arrow.
This designation is kept straight through 8.
- Equippable items (like Thunder Shield) can now be
used even if you don't have them equipped.
- There is now the possibility of Pincer attacks,
where the enemy surrounds the party, or vice versa. In the first case, even
attacks which hit all enemies will only hit one side of the battlefield, and
likewise for enemy attacks in the second case.
- Items are now received without a special screen;
they're just another info box after battle. (Ditched after 6)
FF6 was the game which made North America prick up its
ears and pay attention. The depth of story is unlike any other game, and rivals
most contemporary games as well. The graphics were astounding for its time,
featuring artistic, detailed monsters and a huge amount of character poses and
expressions. The special story sections like the Magitek Factory and Opera House
split up the action into attention-grabbing story plots. And many people
consider this game to have the best soundtrack of any video game, ever. The
ending is over half an hour long and incorporates a separate theme for each of
the 14 characters. This is truly a great epic of a game.
- Completely new graphic engine: characters are
polygonal and the backgrounds are rendered graphics.
- *The menu screen now has a line of text indicating
your exact location.
- Most armor has been nixed; there's only one piece of
armor and one relic which can be equipped. Also, any given weapon can only
be equipped by exactly one character. The weapons are basically upgraded
versions of each other, with slight differences as regards materia slots.
- The Materia System is used here: every weapon and
armor has slots for materia (gem-like objects). Without materia, you can
only use the Fight and Item commands in battle. There are 5 types of materia:
Command, which gives new commands in battle (there's no limit to the amount
of commands you can have), Magic, which allows use of Magic in battle,
Summon, which calls Summons in battle; Independent, which causes various
effects, and Support, which affects the materia it's linked to in the slot.
Materia can be switched between characters fairly easily.
- Materia raises levels in battle by gaining AP, which
is received after battle. A higher level Magic materia learns more spells;
Summon materia allows you to call the monster more than once during battle;
the rest just get more effective. Once a materia has learned a spell, anyone
can equip that materia and thus use that spell.
- Save points now give you a text message when you
step on them (also used in 8). Save points are now on memory card and so
there are 15 slots instead of 3 or 4.
- You can only control three characters at once
instead of four (nixed after 8).
- At times throughout the game, FMVs (full-motion
videos) will play, advancing the story. FMVs don't usually concentrate on
characters, but events. When characters are depicted, they're sometimes SD (super-deformed)
like on the main engine, and sometimes they're realistic.
- There are many times when you can choose what to
answer another character; the choice affects a sequence which occurs about a
third of the way through the game. Mostly it's just for fun.
- You can now run at any time in towns/dungeons by
holding the X (same position as B on SNES) button.
- Pressing Select in a town/dungeon brings up a
pointer which shows where you are, red arrows which indicate exits, and
green arrows which indicate ladders. (The graphics are sometimes hard to see
due to the shadows etc., which is why this option was included.)
- World map screen is completely polygonal; towns etc.
are polygon sets on the map.
- *There is now a special menu option (which is only
active at save points and on the world map) which allows you to switch
characters at any time using something called a PHS (Party Hensei System).
In 8 this is just called Switch.
- You can now choose many different ways to arrange
the items you have.
- Transportation includes a ferry (gotta pay), a buggy,
a downed plane which acts as a ship, a submarine, and a futuristic airship.
You also temporarily use a snowboard and a motorcycle. There are also five
colors of Chocobos: Yellow (normal), Blue (walk through rivers), Green (walk
over mountains), Black (rivers and mountains), and Gold (all of the above
- Chocobos can only be caught by finding them in
battle using the Chocobo Lure materia, then defeating all other enemies
before they run away (feed them with Greens to keep them busy while you
fight). You can get your own chocobos by renting out chocobo pens; you can
race them at the Gold Saucer! Your chocobos can even go with you on the
- Battle is now completely 3D, polygonal, and animated;
the character polygon sets used are non-SD (unlike the main engine). The
camera moves around during battle. Summon spells are now longish sequences
wherein the Summon bashes the enemy in some way.
- Pincer attacks have been nixed (also in 8).
- Names of the enemies no longer appear at the bottom
right of the screen.
- Everyone has a Limit gauge now. Every hit the
character takes makes it go up a bit (more damage = higher raise in the
gauge) until it fills; when it does, a special move can be chosen. Limits
are learned by defeating a certain amount of enemies, and by using previous
limits a certain amount of times. When a limit is selected, it will be
performed before any other move by any battle participant. Only one limit
level (maximum two limit options) can be equipped at any time.
- Addition of tiny HP and MP bars under the digits,
which indicate how full the HP and MP is. (Nixed after 7)
- Almost all status problems disappear after battle,
with the exception of Hyper and Sadness, which affect how quickly the Limit
gauge fills up.
- The only way to make a single-target spell (like
Fire) affect all targets is by using an "All" support materia. You
can turn the "all" effect on and off by pressing one of the L/R
buttons (don't remember which one *^_^*).
- Pressing Select during battle opens the Help bar
which tells you which enemy you're targeting, and gives descriptions of
battle options selected. (Unfortunately dumped for 8)
- Holding Square (Y in SNES configuration) hides the
battle options, allowing you to see the names of the characters, which are
usually hidden by the battle menu.
FF7 marked a departure for the series, veering away
from epic stories and into slightly more sci-fi settings. Yoshitaka Amano has
been replaced with a more mainstream artist, Tetsuya Nomura. Square introduced
this game to the American market with an unprecedented marketing scheme, and the
detailed FMVs shown in the trailers led people who'd never heard the term RPG
flocking to buy PlayStations. The game just radiated coolness; the characters
were cool, the bosses were cool, the music was cool (if slightly forgettable)
and the gameplay was cool, split up into numerous mini-games which looked good
enough packaged alone. A torrent of RPGs hit the video game market after the
phenomenal success of FF7.
- Characters are now realistically proportioned; only
one polygon set is used for any occasion (as opposed to using one for basic
engine, one for maps, one for battle etc.) Because of this, FMVs are far
more integrated into the scenes as they happen than they were in 7 (and they're
way more realistic, too).
- All three active characters are now onscreen (as
opposed to them "stepping out" of the main character when needed).
- *The main character is always running unless the O
button is held.
- *The controller can now use Vibration mode.
- *The world map is absolutely HUGE! It's now
switchable between small map (view while you walk), large map (for paused
viewing), and a globe. In the large map, town names will appear when you
move the cursor to them; once you get your spaceship, you can go there
automatically using an auto-pilot by pressing X!
- You can now play cards with most NPCs in the game by
talking to them using Square instead of X. Cards can be refined into items.
Cards can be gotten by beating other players, defeating some enemies, or
using an ability called "Card" on an enemy in battle.
- Gil is no longer obtained by directly defeating
enemies! Instead, you are given a salary throughout the game; the salary's
rank depends on how many enemies you've defeated. You get your salary after
walking/running a certain amount of steps. Also, some situations raise or
lower your rank depending on how you treat them.
- Armor has been completely nixed; the only way to
raise defense etc. is to Junction them to a stat (see next three items).
Weapons are always the same, but can be upgraded using special items dropped
by enemies and taking them to a junk shop.
- Magic is no longer learned permanently. Instead,
they are treated more like items. You can only get magic by drawing it out
of enemies or special Draw Points located on the map or in towns/dungeons;
you can also refine it from items using special abilities. Magic can be used
in battle (healing magic can be used on the status screen as well), but its
main purpose is to be Junctioned.
- The Junction system makes its debut here. The system
revolves around GFs (the FF8 name for Summons). Without a GF, characters can
only Attack in battle. GFs are Junctioned (equipped) on a character. GFs
have six types of abilities that can be learned: Command (adds command in
battle; even if you have magic, you can't use it unless the Magic command is
equipped! You can only have 4 commands in battle.), GF (raises GF's HP or
attack power), Junction (allows magic to be junctioned to a stat like
Strength, or Elemental or Status defense or attack), Character (adds to
character stats; must be junctioned/equipped to work), Party (affects entire
party; must be junctioned) and Menu Ability (can use from the status screen;
usually means refining items into magic). At the start, a character can
equip only 2 Character/Party abilities, but certain GFs allow to equip 3 or
4. You can equip unlimited GFs.
- GFs can learn up to 22 abilities. First, choose the
ability to learn, then do battle. GFs gain AP (Ability Points) after battle,
but only if they're equipped on an active character. Every ability needs a
certain amount of AP to learn. There are also items to make GFs learn
- You can switch all Junctioned GF and magic to
different characters on the Switch screen. This effectively means that you
can switch all your customization between characters whenever you want!
- New Tutorial in the main menu gives you tons of info
on everything in the game, including specific info on GFs, magic spells,
abilities, card game rules, etc. Also has some interesting tidbits on
characters and places in the game.
- *The menu has finally broken away from the
blue-with-white-lines style which has been standard since 2; this menu is
grayish with no border.
- Blue Magic is now learned by using items, not by
being hit by enemies.
- New limit moves are learned by reading magazines
found throughout the world.
- *Vehicles on the world map can now move backwards as
well as forwards.
- The game makes use of the PocketStation (which was
unfortunately not released in North America) by giving a mini-game called
Chocobo World. By leveling up your chocobo in the PocketStation, you can get
items and special attacks into the real game!
- Transportation includes several trains, many
rentable cars, an entire military school which moves (!), yellow Chocobos,
and a spaceship which acts as an airship.
- Cars now use up Fuel, which can be bought at most
- Chocobos can only be obtained by solving one of the
7 puzzles in the Chocobo Forests around the world. Once you've solved a
puzzle and gotten a prize, you can return at any time to snag a Chocobo.
Chocobos can walk through shallow water.
- The final palace is the ultimate cool!
- Battles are now much more physically oriented; the
main character's attack can be made critical by pressing R1 at the right
time; many Limits require controller input.
- There is no longer any front or back row.
- Limits now activate whenever your character is at
critical status. There's also a status called Aura which makes them activate
more often, and one called Curse which stops them from activating.
- *The menu bar, which took up the entire lower
section, has been totally nixed; the characters' names, HPs and ATB bar
appears at the lower right, and the options (when available) appear at the
lower left. To find out info about an option, or to see an enemy's name,
- Enemies gain levels with your characters. They
always give the same amount of experience, and every experience level is at
1000 points. Because the challenge level is always the same, this works
quite well. Also, you now gain experience even if you run away, based on the
amount of damage you dished out. The character who deals the final blow gets
- The Scan magic now lets you turn an enemy around in
3D, lets you see all its stats (level, HP, MP, weaknesses and strengths, and
every stat like Strength and Evade) and gives you a description of it. Scan
works on every enemy, even bosses, besides the last one.
- Summoning GFs no longer costs any MP (which doesn't
exist). When you choose to summon a GF, your HP will be replaced by its HP.
All attacks will hurt the GF during this time. Also, your ATB bar will turn
blue and begin going backwards. When it's empty, the GF will appear. Using
the "Boost" ability, hold Select and press Square rapidly to
increase the power of the summon. GFs cannot be healed in battle (besides
summoning MiniMog, which can only be done by playing the PocketStation
game). You ca Summon a GF as many times as you like; in fact, the more you
summon it, the quicker it'll be to come.
- *The item list now only lists the ones that are
usable in battle; no more scrolling through pages of junk to get to the one
- Now, if you mug an enemy, you can't win any items
off of it after battle.
- *Bosses no longer give ANY experience.
FF8 was an even greater departure from the epic than
FF7. The characters here not only look realistic, they act realistic. They react
to things the way you expect real people to do so, and their feelings and
emotions are not part of a grand love story or heroic poem, but those of
everyday humans. The quality of the FMV in this game is nothing less of
unbelievable. The Triple Triad card game keeps a fresh, challengin side quest
aspect. However, despite all this, the game made less of a ripple than its
predecessor, partly because the characters and story just weren't as appealing
as the more gaudy, anime-themed predecessors.
- Back to four characters in a party!
- The artistic style, by Yoshitaka Amano, is the
slightly deformed style of the earlier games as opposed to the "tallish"
style of FF7 and 8.
- The classic style is back: the regular MP system,
full equipping (weapon, glove, armor, helmet, and accessory), back and front
rows, and winning Gil from enemies. Enemies no longer level up with you.
- Characters have well-defined roles instead of the
"make-your-own-fighter" systems of 7 and 8.
- Instead of interacting with random objects in the
background and searching around, you'll know when you've hit something when
a bubble with a "!" or "?" appears over the character's
head. The "here" icon from FF7 makes a return as well.
- When talking to certain people about game tips, or
when viewing your key items, a yellow exclamation mark appears next to
options or items you haven't seen yet.
- You again only control one character at once;
however, instead of the characters "walking out" of the main one
when they're needed, there's just a full fade in/out effect and the other
character is there. Much more believable.
- Pressing "Select" toggles the Moogle Help
Window on/off - this guy has a comment on EVERYTHING.
- New Ability system: Every piece of equipment has
certain abilities which you can use as soon as you equip the item. (Different
abilities are available for different characters.) However, if you leave the
item on for long enough and gain AP by winning battles, you'll learn the
- Abilities are divided into two types: Action
abilities usually cost MP and can be used in battle; Support abilities
require "magic stones" to be equipped and occur automatically (they
have uses like protecting from status effects, raising strength of other
abilities, automatically casting Reflect or Haste, etc.). The amount of
stones a character has raises as he/she raises levels.
- The Triple Triad game of FF8 has been resurrected as
Tetra Master. The rules are different, and so is the point - you can get
through almost the whole game without having to play at all (besides for one
point in the game) - and frankly, it's nowhere near as addictive as its
- There's no "switch" or "save"
option in the main menu. To save, you have to talk to a moogle. To switch
characters, you have to be inside your ship or airship.
- Fancy intro text pops up whenever you enter a
location for the first time.
- Transportation includes a ship, two airships, and a
chocobo which (through a gigantic side quest) can be upgraded to travel
through rivers (light blue), mountains (red), oceans (dark blue), and even
fly (gold)! Other side quests include sending letters back and forth between
moogles and catching frogs with Quina.
- There are tons of references to earlier FFs in this
Effects On Society
- The "Trance" system has replaced the Limit
system. As your character takes damage, his/her Trance meter fills up. When
it's full, he/she is in a Trance for several rounds; all stats are increased,
and some characters have new commands they can use.
- Basically all status problems (which include new
ones like Trouble, Heat, Frozen, Venom, and Virus) are shown as little icons
around the character, which makes it much easier to figure out the situation.
- Steiner can pair up with Vivi for a special Magic
Sword technique, but that's the only "combo" in the game. Vivi
loses no MP or turns for a Magic Sword move.
- Many items can only be used in battle, particularly
the gems found throughout the world. They can also be equipped as accessoris,
but the different colors restore different amounts of HP. There's no
Megalixir item, so battles are tougher.
- Eidolons (this game's version of Summons) are now
like normal spells, except that sometimes (usually in normal battles) their
animations are thankfully truncated to a fraction of the previous length.
- You can now steal up to four different items from
the same enemy in one battle, and the same enemy can drop up to four items
at once, plus a Tetra Master card.
- Most spells can again be targeted against all
characters/enemies by pressing the L1 or R1 button.
- You can now bring up a targeting window at the lower
left which lets you pick enemies by text, not by switching around the ones
on the screen.
FF9 is a regression in the trend towards more realism
and darker themes, but that's in no way a step backwards. It takes much of the
new and a lot of the old and mixes them together almost flawlessly, with
exceptional humor and light-heartedness. References to earlier FFs, particularly
FF1 and 4 (both of which were similarly trailblazers of their times) abound in
the game, and the final sequence sounds very much like Squaresoft is saying
goodbye to its longtime fans. Does this mean we'll never see another deformed
hero or four-character battle? Time will tell...
FF10 is far more revolutionary than evolutionary, with
brand-new systems for mostly everything! Here's a rundown of the game's engines.
- Everything, including character models and locations,
are in 3D. A map at the top of the screen allows you to keep your bearings.
- Every named character and a bunch of unnamed ones
have voices! The dubbing isn't perfect, but it certainly adds a whole lot to
the experience. Subtitles are optional.
- There is no world map per se; most of the game just
has you going from one place to another. When you get the airship you can
simply choose a spot to go to from a list, and head there automatically.
- You can have up to seven characters in your party,
but only three can participate in battle at once. (Sort of. See below.)
- At any save point, you automatically recover all
HP/MP, and you can play Blitzball or board your airship (once you've passed
certain points in the story). Blitzball is a sort of cross between soccer
and water polo, and comes complete with teams, leagues, tournaments,
techniques, formations, player stats, player enlisting and salaries, and
prizes. Prizes may include more techniques and formations, Overdrive moves,
or special Spheres or items.
- Overdrives are powerful attacks or moves each
character can use. At first the Overdrive gauge works like FF7's Limits (take
damage and it builds up) but you can learn new Overdrive modes that make the
gauge fill up when you attack the enemy, for example, or when you use a
- Each character has unique weapons and armor (one of
each can be equipped). Instead of raising stats (although they can raise
things like HP/MP/Defense/Attack) equipment generally adds useful abilities
like status/elemental causing/evading or other auto-abilities. Later in the
game, you can customize equipment to add your own abilities to it (as long
as it has a free slot, from a maximum of 4). Items are used up when
abilities are added to equipment. The equipment's name and appearance may
change when certain abilities are added to it. An ability cannot be removed
once it's been added.
- Instead of gaining EXP after battle, characters gain
AP. After a certain amount of AP is gained, the character gains a Sphere
Level. That level can be spent on the Sphere Grid. Characters use up their
Sphere Levels to move around the grid from node to node, and they use
attribute Spheres (usually dropped by enemies) to activate nodes on the grid
that grant powerups like stat/HP/MP raises or new abilities.
- Later in the game, more Spheres become available,
allowing a character to "unlock" parts of the Sphere Grid, move
around the Grid more quickly, or change an empty node into some other node.
- Any ability can be learned by any character, though
you may have to unlock several locks and travel quite a distance for some
characters to learn abilities they're not "meant" to learn. In
fact, every character must eventually leave their path and travel on someone
else's path (they get to the end of their own path far before the leveling
- Yuna's Aeons don't just appear, do an attack, and
disappear; instead, they take over for the entire party until they are
defeated or dismissed. Aeons can also learn Abilities similar to equipment
customization. They can also have their Attributes (stats) raised by using
- If an Aeon is defeated, it will be unable to be used
until you fight several battles so that it can recover. It recovers HP in a
similar fashion. Going to a save point restores all Aeons.
- As the story progresses, you will find Al Bhed
Primers. Al Bhed is a language created by swapping one English letter for
another one. When an Al Bhed speaks, any letters you've learned will be a
different color, so you can sort of piece together what he's saying based on
which letters you've learned so far.
- Although you can't ride Chocobos on the world map,
you can ride them on certain large "pseudo-overworld" areas: The
Mi'ihen Highroad and the Calm Lands. You can also race them!
Effects On Society
- Battle is no longer real-time. Instead, similar to
FF Tactics, you can see exactly when each character and enemy will take
- You can swap characters out of battle at any time
and replace them with another backup character, without losing a turn.
- Characters who do not take at least one action in
battle (even defending) will not gain AP after battle. Gil is gained after
battle like most FFs.
- Every action takes up a certain amount of
"time" (i.e. that character will need more time to recover from
the action). Stronger techniques and overdrives require more recovery time.
- Weapons and armor can be switched during battle at a
small recovery time cost.
- Every character has a "specialty", such as
flying enemies, armored enemies, or elementals. Strategic swapping of the
correct character depending on the enemies will yield the best results.
- Defeating an enemy with a finishing blow that does
far more damage than the enemy has remaining HP results in an "Overkill".
Overkilled enemies leave more AP and items.
- Yuna's Aeons can't use items, but they each have one
special ability (that delays an enemy's turn, hits all enemies, causes
death, etc.) and each has two special ones: Boost, which boosts Overdrive
gauge fill-up but lowers defense, and Shield, which has the opposite effect.
- Aeons basically have all Overdrive modes on at once
(anything they do adds to the gauge).
- Most items (besides for healing items) can't be used
in battle without Rikku's "Use" ability.
- Some weapons have the "Sensor" ability,
which displays enemy elemental/status and HP at all times whenever it is
- Depending on how far the characters are in the story
and who's in the party, characters may shout out humorous quips to each
other during battle.
- Every character can "Escape" - one at a
time. If one character Escapes battle, even if the other two die, the game
FF10 is a huge
departure for the FF series, but it's a good one! The game is far more
challenging than most of its predecessors, and manages to give the player a huge
amount of choice in the way their characters evolve (both statistically and
emotionally) while still gently nudging them along a proper path. The addition
of true 3D characters, expressions, and voices adds a whole new element to the
game; it's really like watching a movie at times, and characters have far more
depth to them than ever before. Another point to mention is that this game can
be played fairly normally to finish, but you can also decide to get *everything*,
which takes about twice as long (!), so there's something for everyone. The
Blitzball game, on retrospect, may not have been such a good idea... RPG fans
are so rarely sports fans as well... 8p
Mystic Quest and Tactics
Neither of these two games follow the normal
progression of the FF engine. MQ is much simpler, while Tactics is much more
complicated. I will concede to their existence, though: here's a rundown of the
basic engines which run these two games.
FF Mystic Quest Engine
Everything here has been toned down; it's even simpler
than the original FF1 engine!
Effects On Society
- Weapons and armor are automatically equipped; you
find "upgrade" equipment around dungeons. You can't buy any of it.
However, you do have four different types of weapons which you can switch
around using the L/R buttons.
- Magic is found around. The system is a simpler
version of FF1: You have four White Magic spells, 4 Black Magic spells, and
4 Wizard Magic (stronger attack) spells; and a limited use of each level of
spell. However, you can now use an item in battle to recover your pseudo-MP.
- MQ is more action-oriented; pressing A on the main
screen allows you to use your axe/sword/bomb/claw to interact with your
- The main map is oversimplified: there are no random
ambushes, and every place on the map has four possible directions (indicated
by yellow arrows for directions you can go, and grey ones for ones you can't
go in yet). Go from place to place using the direction buttons and press A
to enter it. Instead of random battles, you enter "battlefields"
and fight 10 battles for a prize (either extra experience or gold, or an
- There's only one main character, and a variable
second character (who can be controlled by the computer during battle) joins
throughout the game.
- You can now save at any time, anywhere.
- If you lose a battle, you can restart the battle
from the beginning!
- Even in dungeons, there are no random battles;
monsters are placed in strategic positions to block your passage, and once
you fight them they're gone.
- Monsters and treasure chests replenish themselves
once you leave an area.
- If one character dies in battle, he's resurrected
with 1 HP after you win.
FFMQ was a mistake. It was a mistake for people to buy;
after playing FF4, they expected another grand epic with similar story depth.
They got a shallow half-action RPG which was over in 10 hours. It was a mistake
for Square to sell; the game catered to dumb Americans, which, as it turned out,
there really aren't that many of. The only real redeeming point for this game
was the amazingly rocky soundtrack.
FF Tactics Engine
- The main world map is actually a map! The locations
are dots (green for fields, valleys etc.; blue for cities, castles etc.; red
for places which advance the storyline) which you move around automatically
by pressing the direction buttons. Random encounters may take place in green
dots, while blue dots contain shops and bars.
- At any time on the main map you can save your game,
regroup your party (which can consist of up to 16 people, up to 4 or 5 of
which can fight in any battle) or use the lengthy tutorial.
- The main gameplay is only battles a la Tactics Ogre,
which take place in a 4-D (three dimensions plus time) battlefield. You have
all the time you need to plan out your moves. Every character can attack
once and move once in one turn.
- The job system is back and more complicated than
ever. There are 19 possible classes (besides specialty classes for main
characters) and you can switch between them on the regroup screen. You can
equip a Job skill and one secondary ability from another Job, as well as
three other abilites (a counter ability like Weapon Guard or MP Absorb, an
automatic ability like Gained JP Up or Two Swords, and a movement ability
like Jump+1 or Teleport) from any Job you've learned. To gain Job skills,
you gain JP every time you successfully complete an action in battle. You
can choose which skills to learn.
- You can enlist monsters by using Mediators and
recruit more humans (some of which come with some nice skills and equipment)
in cities. You can also send characters on quests (3 per proposition) which
take a certain amount of days to complete (every time you move from one dot
to another, you advance the calendar) and the characters come back with JP,
experience, Gil, and sometimes cool items or having explored new places, the
items and places being completely useless.
- The actual battle ideas are far too complicated to
speak about here!
Effects On Society
FF Tactics was and is not a real FF game, but more like
the Ogre Battle strategy type of game. The gargantuous storyline was more like
an ancient fantasy epic than the modernistic RPGs then plaguing the market -
including Square's own FF7. The challenge, orchestratic soundtrack, and cast of
thousands indelibly marked this game in the public's eye, and has become one of
the most popular of Square's recent RPGs.