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Though each Final Fantasy story is independent, many aspects of gameplay have remained relatively consistent throughout the series.

Contents

Parties and battles

Screen Shot of Final Fantasy 6's ATB system.

Throughout the Final Fantasy series, players have been able to command a party of characters. The maximum size of the party has been as low as three and as high as seven, depending on the game. This is only noticeably different in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Dissidia: Final Fantasy, in which you take control of only one character.[1] Players must face a variety of enemies in battle who will try to damage the player,[2] as well as afflict the characters with several standard "status ailments" such as poisoning them or putting them to sleep.[3] Many of the games feature a random encounter system,[4] the player is randomly drawn into battle with enemies that are not visible on the map.[5] This remained true of the series until Final Fantasy XI moved to a system where all enemies are visible as the player explores the game world.[4]

In battle, the characters can select a variety of commands from a menu, such as "Fight", "Magic", "Item", as well as other special skills such as "Steal" or "Summon".[4] While Final Fantasy VI introduced desperation attacks, Yoshinori Kitase created an improved system in Final Fantasy VII called "Limit Breaks". These were powerful attacks that gained strength as the player took damage, and were accompanied by a sophisticated animation.[6] Since then, games in the series allow characters to perform special moves when they fill up a power meter,[5] and this gameplay has become synonymous with the series.[7]

Throughout the series, the battle system has evolved from a turn-based system to incorporate more real-time elements. The original turn-based system, with the player characters on the right and the enemies on the left, is imitated by numerous RPGs.[2] Hiroyuki Itō introduced the "Active Time Battle System" in Final Fantasy IV,[1] where the time-keeping system does not stop.[8] Square Co filed a Japanese patent application related to the ATB system on July 16, 1991 and a corresponding US application on March 16, 1992. One Japanese patent (JP2794230) and two US patents (US5390937 and US5649862) were granted based on these applications.[9] On the battle screen, each character has an ATB meter that gradually fills, and the player is allowed to issue a command to that character once the meter is full.[10] Because the fact that enemies can attack or be attacked at any time, and the player can lose his turn if he doesn't attack quick enough, urgency and excitement are credited to be injected into the combat system.[8] This remained the norm until Final Fantasy X implemented a Conditional Turn-Based system, which slowed gameplay while making it important for the right characters to square off against the right monsters.[11] However, Final Fantasy XI embraced a real-time battle system where characters continuously attacked unless issued another command.[12] Final Fantasy XII continued this real-time gameplay with the Active Dimension Battle system,[13] where the player may issue commands to the characters or allow them to act automatically with certain behavioral triggers.[14]

Minigames

Comparison of the Snow Game minigame in Final Fantasy VII (left) and Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding on mobile phones (right).

In addition the normal gameplay, the series has featured various forced and optional minigames. The first of these were simple minigames hidden as Easter eggs which must be unlocked by pressing special button combinations in a particular location. In Final Fantasy, a sliding puzzle can be unlocked while boarding the ship. In Final Fantasy II, a matching game can be unlocked while boarding the ice sled and meeting a certain requirement. Final Fantasy VII was the first game to feature a large number of minigames. A number of minigames appear occasionally throughout the main storyline and at various locations, many of which can later be played at the Gold Saucer theme park within the game, along with various other minigames exclusive to the Gold Saucer. These include a chocobo racing game, chocobo breeding, motorbike racing, a snowboarding game, and several others. The snowboarding minigame was later released as a separate snowboarding game for mobile phones entitled Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding, which released in Japan and North America in 2005. It is a mobile port of the snowboarding minigame featured in the original game.[15] The game is playable on the LG VX8000, LG VX8100, Audiovox 8940 and Samsung A890 mobile phone and contains different tracks than the original minigame.

Final Fantasy VIII introduced Triple Triad, a card game designed by battle designer Hiroyuki Ito. It was not considered an essential part of the game, but more to provide a light relief to the storyline and allow the player to interact with minor characters in a different way. Through the use of a Card Mod ability, the player is able to create rare items by converting cards earned by defeating various competitors.[16] Final Fantasy VIII was the first of the series to introduce a side-game with such interaction. In 1999, following the release of Final Fantasy VIII, Japanese games company Bandai produced a full set of collectible Triple Triad cards. The set was made up of the 110 cards as seen in the game along with 72 artwork cards and a collectors edition playing mat.[17] Triple Triad was praised by GameSpot as a "more-than-worthy RPG minigame", finding it engaging and unique.[16]

Chocobo World ( おでかけチョコボRPG Odekake Chokobo RPG?) is a handheld electronic game designed by Hiroyuki Itou of Square Co. (now Square Enix) for the PocketStation handheld game console. The game can be played exclusively, but is intended as a minigame to Final Fantasy VIII.[18] The game was present in all localizations of Final Fantasy VIII, but the PocketStation itself was only released in Japan.[19] It was later ported to the Windows version of Final Fantasy VIII in 2000.[20] The game allows players to control Boko, a baby chocobo, on his quest to save his friend Mog from the clutches of an evil demon.

The game's screen consists of black and white pixel graphics and is presented in a manner similar to the "virtual pet" concept conceived by Bandai's Tamagotchi. To play in conjunction with Final Fantasy VIII, the player must find Boko in the world of Final Fantasy VIII. Once accomplished, the player receives a user interface for communicating with the minigame. At any time, the player may send Boko into Chocobo World to gain experience and collect special items, which are transferred back for use in Final Fantasy VIII. In addition, Boko may be used as a summon in Final Fantasy VIII.[21] The Electric Playground and Malaysian website The Star Online both noted the similarity of Chocobo World to another digital pet game, Tamagotchi,[22] with The Electric Playground describing the minigame as "very nice" and pleasing.[23] Ars Technica thought that players who enjoy "walking as a Chocobo on the horizontal plane of infinity" might find the minigame fun.[24] IGN considered the PC version of the minigame a "nice touch" to Final Fantasy VIII, noting that users can play the former while doing other activities on their computer since it runs on a tiny window on the screen.[25] Conversely, The Star Online felt that playing the minigame on a PC was "a little boring" and deplored the lack of compatibility with Palm devices.[22]

A goal is scored in the blitzball minigame in Final Fantasy X

Similar to Triple Triad, Tetra Master is a card game found in Final Fantasy IX. Unlike most of the minigames in the series, a few Tetra Master games are required to be played, one at the beginning of the game, and several closer to the end. Tetra Master was seen by GameSpot as inferior and confusing compared to Triple Triad, as the rules for it were only vaguely explained in Final Fantasy IX and there were very few rewards earned from playing it despite its extensiveness.[26] Final Fantasy IX also had an additional minigame named Chocobo Hot and Cold. Upon the acquisition of a chocobo, the player becomes able to access the game inside of Chocobo Forests. No games of Chocobo Hot and Cold are required to be played during the game, though items received through the game could be used in the rest of Final Fantasy IX, including both regular game items and clues towards discovering more items in the main game.

In Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, Blitzball is a sport featuring six-man teams that combines the physicality of rugby with soccer kicks for scoring and the hand passes of water polo. The game is played underwater in a large sphere pool suspended in the air. Although blitzball is a crucial element to Final Fantasy X's plot, only one game is required to be played. In Final Fantasy X the player controls the individual players on the team, while in X-2 they act as a manager and coach. X-2 also had a game called Sphere Break, a mathematical game using numbered coins that possess several different attributes that can help the player in the Sphere Break minigame itself or gain items that can help in the various battles in Final Fantasy X-2.[27] GameSpot has commented that "trivial minigames have been creeping into the Final Fantasy games at an alarming rate over the last few years, and in this regard, X-2 is definitely the most egregious offender in the series".[28]

Character development and classes

The job system in Final Fantasy V

The Final Fantasy series is like many role-playing games in that it uses a level-up system,[29] where players gain experience points and raise their character's experience level by killing enemies.[30][31][32] Players may have difficulty defeating an enemy until they reach a higher experience level, although Final Fantasy VIII reduces the need to level-up by making the enemy's experience level always match that of the player's.[33]

Each character class has unique abilities which develop as the player's level increases. In some titles, the player can choose a character with a specific class at the start of the game, while others allow characters to combine and learn abilities from a number of classes.[1] An important example is Final Fantasy V, where each character can be assigned and re-assigned one of 22 classes, and they gain abilities in that class as they win battles. Many core players praised the game for allowing characters to gain abilities from multiple classes, although others considered this system highly complex and may be a reason the game was not initially released in North America.[34] But in games such as Final Fantasy IV, the characters are assigned a job class that reflects their personality in the storyline,[4][8] and in some cases the character's classes are not explicitly stated.[4] Final Fantasy IV also introduced the concept of characters joining or leaving the party throughout the storyline, which requires players to adjust their battle plans constantly.[8] In addition to other abilities, a character's class usually determines the types of weapons and armor that they can use.[1] Some of the more traditional classes include the Knight/Warrior, the Dragoon, the Thief and the different Mages/Wizards.[4][34] Mage classes have included Black Mages, who use offensive spells, White Mages, who cast healing magic, Red Mages, who use both, Blue Mages, who use enemy spells and attacks cast against them, and Time Mages, who cast spells which speed up or slow down time. More esoteric classes have appeared throughout the series, such as Bards, Scholars, and Summoners.[34]

The complexity of the class system varies from game to game.[4] In Final Fantasy, the player allocates permanent class selections to the four playable characters at the beginning of the game, each of the six starting classes can be upgraded to a corresponding advanced class midway through the game.[35] Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy V changed the formula by allowing the player to change a character's class, as well as acquire new and advanced classes and combine class abilities.[36][37] In Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, classes are once again chosen by the player from one of the two starting jobs; however, characters must meet prerequisites before changing classes.[38][39] Character classes were re-introduced in Final Fantasy X-2 as "dresspheres"; these classes are gradually acquired and can be changed at any point, including battle mode.[40] The classes that appeared in Final Fantasy XI, the first MMORPG title in the series, have certain unique implementations that more closely follow MMORPG convention.[41] Notably, in Final Fantasy XI a player can equip a secondary job, called a subjob, and have half the abilities of another class that way. Extensive backstories are often given to FFXI's job classes to add to the setting's lore.

Other Final Fantasy installments deviate from the class system by allowing flexibility in character growth, or featuring pre-determined jobs. Characters in Final Fantasy II are molded according to their performance in battle.[42] Final Fantasy IV introduced characters already locked into a class; abilities related to the character's class are learned as the character gains experience points.[43] In Final Fantasy VI, VII, and VIII, characters begin with equipment and attack proficiencies similar to character classes, but the player can allocate magic and statistical bonuses.[44][45][46] In Final Fantasy VI, each playable character has a class and a signature command, such as Dance, Lore or Mimic.[44] In Final Fantasy VII and VIII, characters lack classes, and they all play the same in battle; nevertheless, each character has one or more unique limit breaks.[45][46][47] In Final Fantasy IX, characters have predetermined "dormant abilities" similar to IV; however, the characters in IX learn abilities by wearing equipment instead of gaining levels.[48] Final Fantasy X introduced the sphere grid; characters began at certain areas of the grid, which represent traditional character classes by their statistical bonuses and abilities. In Final Fantasy XII, the player can mold characters into anything, without restriction of traditional classes.[49][50] However, in the game's international version and sequel, the growth system is modified to have more clearly defined classes. Final Fantasy character classes have also made cameo appearances as hidden players in Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and as enemies in Kingdom Hearts II.

Magic

Like many role-playing games, the titles in the Final Fantasy series feature a system of magic. While the first game in the series had eight levels of spells with one to eight uses per level, later games jettisoned this concept for a common pool of magic points that all spells consume.[2] Magic in the series is generally divided into classes, which are usually organized by color.[5] The actual magic classes vary from game to game, but most games include "White Magic", which is focused primarily on spells that help teammates, and "Black Magic", which focused on harming enemies.[2] One who is proficient in White or Black magic is often known as a White Mage or Black Mage, respectively.[2][51] Other games include other types of mages and spells, such as geomancers who can cast spells based on the terrain, blue mages who can cast spells that are learned from enemies in battle, and red mages who can cast both white and black magic.[51] In most games, the most powerful white magic spell is either "Holy", "White" or "Pearl", while the most powerful black magic spell is "Ultima", "Meteor", "Meltdown" or "Merton". In some games, acquiring these spells is a difficult quest, and in Final Fantasy VII they are only used at specific points in the plot.[51]

Another recurring class of magic is "Summoning Magic", which calls forth magical creatures to attack enemies and/or heal or protect party members.[1][4] This magic debuted in Final Fantasy III with eight different summons, and hit a peak of 51 different summons in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings.[1] These summoned creatures draw their names from classic mythology. Ifrit and Bahamut come from Arab mythology. Meanwhile, the Hindu tradition inspired several summons, including Shiva, Garuda, and Lakshmi (the correct translation of the summon known as "Starlet"). Ramuh is another Hindu inspired summon, drawn from Indra and Rama.[1] Meanwhile, the serpent Leviathan is inspired by the Old Testament, and the phoenix is drawn from Egyptian mythology.[1] Greek mythology inspired Titan, Hecatonchires, Hades, Cerberus and Siren, while Norse mythology was the source for Odin the warrior and Fenrir the wolf.[1]

Airships and transport

Although some Final Fantasy games have featured unique vehicles such as a spaceplane or hovercraft, many vehicles are common to several games in the series. Many games in the series allowed players to pilot a ship over oceans and seas, with some even allowing players to pilot a ship or submarine under water. Trains also appear in several games in the series. The first the games in the series allowed players to ride a canoe through rivers. But all games since Final Fantasy II have featured a chocobo, a species of fictional bird which often acts as a mode of transport.[1]

However, one of the most iconic modes of transport in the Final Fantasy series is the airship, which has appeared in every game. The visual style of each airship varies between games. In several games, they are repaired and improved, allowing the player to access new areas. And in many they have built in weapons for random encounters, which attack at the beginning of a battle. However, in Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, and Final Fantasy XII, flight is abstracted with a short cut scene and essentially allows the player to teleport between locations. The impossibly fast 'Nautilus' in Final Fantasy III was dubbed the fastest airship in the whole series, travelling across the world map in less than 10 seconds.[1]

Inventory

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Crystals

Elemental orbs or crystals have appeared in more than ten of the twelve titles of the series. They usually drive the plot as an essential link to the planet's life force, and thus the player must find or collect these crystals to advance the plot and win the game.[1]

Currency

Final Fantasy games allow players to purchase various items and equipment from shops,[52] using a currency known as Gil (ギル giru?).[53][54] Final Fantasy IV is the only game to explain the origin of the word; in that game, the word Gil is named after Gilbart, a common name for members of the royal family of Damcyan, and was originally used as the currency of Damcyan.[55] The most common way to earn gil is from random battles, although Final Fantasy VIII is a notable exception where gil is earned as a regular stipend from an academy for mercenaries.[33]

Weapons

The Excalibur, named after the King Arthur legend, and Masamune, named after the Japanese swordsmith, have been top-tier blade weapons since the first Final Fantasy.[1] As the series progressed, other weapons such as the ultima weapon, the blood sword, and the Ragnarok have challenged their supremacy as weapons.[1][51]

Numerous weapons have seen recurring use throughout the series; others have been influenced by a variety of mythological and fantasy concepts. Interspersed between unique weapons are a graded scale of other, more common weapons, usually sold in shops. They are typically labeled according to the following progression, from weakest to strongest: Bronze, Iron, Steel, Mythril/Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Crystal, Adamantite (found in Final Fantasy I), and Adamantine.[citation needed] Armor typically follows the same alloy progression.[citation needed] Moreover, armors of "Genji" series are seen in Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy Tactics, and most recently in Final Fantasy XII.[citation needed] "Wooden" weapons and "Leather" armor are also often seen throughout the series.[citation needed]

The Final Fantasy installments feature several types of projectile weapons, including bows, balls, guns, boomerangs, and launchers. Gunblades have a gun-like handle which contains a firing mechanism but are not considered projectile as the firing mechanism only makes the blade vibrate causing extra damage, and does not fire any actual shells, with the exception of Yazoo's gunblades from Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, and Weiss's twin Gunblades, shown in Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus. In some installments, such as Final Fantasy III, ammunition (bullets and arrows) is limited; others, like Final Fantasy XII, have unlimited ammunition, only requiring the player to actually have it. Other installments, like Final Fantasy VII, omit ammunition completely. Some of the common recurring projectile weapons include Yoichi's Bow,[citation needed] and the Full Moon boomerang.[citation needed]

Swords are commonly seen throughout the series, and come in various forms. Elemental swords, which include a certain element, such as fire or wind, during the attack, are seen almost every installment in the series. Some elemental swords launch an additional magical attack during battle, such as the Lightbringer in Final Fantasy VI. Elemental swords have had many names, fire-elemental swords usually named 'Flame Saber' or 'Flametongue', ice-elemental swords named 'Blizzard' or 'Ice Brand', thunder-elemental swords are 'Thunderblade' or 'Coral Sword' and on one occasion in Final Fantasy I, a 'Vorpal Sword'. A water-elemental sword hasn't been used often, but in Final Fantasy X the main character obtains one called 'Brotherhood', that has minor relevance to the story, and in Final Fantasy X-2, Warrior dress sphere has a water-elemental sword attack ability named 'Liquid Steel'.[citation needed]

There are also various staffs/rods featured in many of the Final Fantasy games which use special actions, most often of which are not directly damaging (or deal very low damage) and are often beneficial, such as the "Healing Staff" found in Final Fantasy V. The effects of such weapons are usually used by selecting "attack", even if no actual attack is initiated. Additionally, some weapons are able to be used from the items menu (usually by pressing up at the top of the items menu during gameplay) and most often inflict damage when selected in such a way.[citation needed]

In addition to the types of weapons above, Final Fantasy includes whips, dice, staffs/rods, lances, axes, knives, daggers, swords and other common weapons.[citation needed]

Armor and accessories

Many pieces of armor and accessories from the series appear in multiple titles. One of the most common sets of equipment is Genji, which consists of a shield, helmet, body armor, and sometimes gloves. Some armor featured in the series is named after metals or stones, such as bronze, iron, silver, mythril, gold, emerald, diamond, and crystal; others are based on colors or spells. Armor and accessories used in the series consist of bracers, shields, rings, bangles, shoes, helmets, body armor, robes, and dresses. However, not all games in the series have an armor system; for example, Final Fantasy X-2 uses the equipping of dress spheres instead of armor. Final Fantasy VIII uses stats increases from equipping Guardian Forces, a form of summoning in the game, than the use of armor.[citation needed]

Several individual pieces of armor and accessories recur throughout the series. Two of the most common are the Aegis shield and the Protect Ring, which provide various effects for the character, depending on the game. The Golden Hairpin almost always benefits the spellcasters in the party. For example, in Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy V, they were accessories that reduced spell costs by half; in Final Fantasy Tactics, they were head armor that gave a significant boost to the maximum MP value and nullified the silence status effect. The Ribbon is an item in most Final Fantasy games that allows the equipped user to become immune to most or all status ailments. Most times, it appears as a helmet; in some games, such as Final Fantasy VI, it is an accessory or a special item.[citation needed]

Items

The Final Fantasy XII "Potion" drink.

"Items" are collected objects that may affect the status or health of a character or enemy. Many objects are one-use and include a limit to how many are stocked in the party's inventory. In every installment, the basic HP-recovering item is some form of potion. The items' names varied in earlier games, such as being called "Heal Potions" in the first game, "Cure Potions" in the English translation of Final Fantasy IV (called Final Fantasy II), and "Tonics" in the English translation of Final Fantasy VI (called Final Fantasy III). Other variants, which heal more HP, include the mid-level "Hi-Potion", the high-level "X-Potion", and the multi-target "Mega Potion".[citation needed]

Since Final Fantasy IV, the lead MP-recovering item has been the "Ether". The name is derived from Aether[citation needed], a classical term used in medieval times to describe a possible substance between air, earth, fire, and water. The English language localization of Final Fantasy VI renamed the Ether to "Tincture," and also featured a second-level MP-restoration item, "Hi-Ether", which was renamed simply "Ether" in the English localization. The Turbo Ether (also known as "Dry Ether") has appeared in recent games and restores either a significant or complete portion of a character's MP.[citation needed]

The "Elixir", which appears in most Final Fantasy games, is an HP and MP recovery item. Some games include the Megalixir (or Last Elixir), which fully restores the party's HP and MP. Other items recover both HP and MP at specific locations. "Tents" are often used on field maps or at Save Points as replacements for an Inn as they restore some of the party's HP and MP. Variants such as Cabin, Cottage, and Sleeping Bag restore more or less HP and MP; sometimes to only one character. In Final Fantasy IX, Tents can be used during battle, although there is chance of being inflicted with abnormal status effects when used.[citation needed]

Status effect-curing items are also recurring. For example, "antidote" heals poison and venom, "echo screen"/"echo herbs"/"echo drops" removes silence, "eye drops" cures blindness, and "soft" (originally "Golden Needle") cures petrification. There is a variation of the soft, the Supersoft a key item (see below) which only appeared in Final Fantasy IX used to remove the petrification effects from an entire forest. "Phoenix Down" (also translated as "Phoenix Tail") is used in most Final Fantasy games to revive an unconscious party member with a small portion of their HP. In some of the earlier games, the word was translated as "FenixDown" because of size issues with fitting English letters in the space previously occupied by Japanese characters. Phoenix Down often instantly kills or inflicts maximum damage on undead and other creatures harmed by curative spells. The item is supposed to be the feather of a Phoenix, a common symbol of life and rebirth; "down" refers to the down feathers of a bird, the undercoat of feathers beneath the visible layer on top. Other representations of Phoenix Down include the bottled tears of a Phoenix, bolted quivers and bead necklaces. Variants of this item include the Phoenix Pinion and Mega Phoenix, which revive all party members.[citation needed]

There are other basic items seen throughout the Final Fantasy series, including "Gysahl Greens", which can be used to summon Fat Chocobo, an item storage service, at specific locations in Final Fantasy IV, catch, feed and race chocobos in Final Fantasy VII, summon a pet chocobo in Final Fantasy VIII, or ride a chocobo in Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII.[citation needed] The "Rename Card" renames characters that have already been named. This first appeared in Final Fantasy VI, though the character Namingway had a similar function in Final Fantasy IV. In Final Fantasy VIII, a Rename Card renames Guardian Forces, and Pet's Nametag renames Rinoa's pet dog's name. In Final Fantasy IX, the Namingway Card had the effect of renaming the characters in Daguerreo, and in Final Fantasy X, it was used to rename Aeons.[citation needed] All Final Fantasy games also have "key items", which must be acquired to further the game's story or complete a sidequest. Examples of key items include the "Nitro" from the original Final Fantasy, the "Huge Materia" from Final Fantasy VII, and the "Supersoft" from Final Fantasy IX. Some items or key items are/may be almost completely useless, like "Tissue" from the American release of Final Fantasy VII.[citation needed]

See also


References

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