Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary: The Worst of Final Fantasy - Part 2: FFIV, V, VI

By Gabriel Jones 20.12.2017 1

For some console RPG fans, the 16-bit era remains the zenith. With titles like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy V, and Final Fantasy VI, it's not hard to see why. Also, considering that all three of these games were released by Squaresoft, one can't help but get a little nostalgic. Here's a company that at one time could release a classic every year, sometimes even more than one. Game development today is an entirely different beast, but one still has to question the dramatic reduction in output.

Rather than waste more time lamenting a developer's fall from grace, I'd rather waste time lamenting three of their most well-received games. Admittedly, figuring out the worst qualities of the Super Nintendo-era Final Fantasy games was pretty difficult. This was a time when storytelling and characterization became practically essential to the RPG experience. While solid mechanics and thoughtful game design are still very important, a problematic story or poorly-written characters can't be overlooked, either. When it comes to writing, bad habits are tough to escape. Oh, and fair warning: there will be spoilers.

Final Fantasy IV

"Let's go. To the moon. But Rosa and Rydia stay behind. This time, there may be no homecoming."

This line, uttered by Cecil, represents what is simultaneously the worst and most baffling moment of Final Fantasy IV. Mere moments before the final dungeon, the culmination of everything the heroes fought and sacrificed for, Cecil tells the girls to stay home, while the men take care of business. This scene is so blatantly sexist and moronic that it buries all of Cecil's decent qualities.

Did Cecil even stop for one second to consider Rosa and Rydia's thoughts? Due to the machinations of Zeromus, Rydia lost all of her family and friends at a very young age. After being separated from the rest of the party by the Leviathan, she spent several years training in the summoner village, undoubtedly with the intent to stop the evil that destroyed her hometown. Rosa put up with both of Kain's betrayals, was nearly executed, and caught desert fever. Despite it all, she stood by Cecil's side. These two heroines have every reason to participate in the final battle. Why even tease the thought of leaving them behind?

Also, let's consider who would be traveling with Cecil to the moon. Kain is a good fighter, but very untrustworthy ally. Half the nonsense that occurs in this game can be attributed to him stabbing his best friend in the back. Then there's Edge, who spends most of the adventure with his face in the dirt. For someone who can't survive an especially sharp toothpick, he certainly runs his mouth. After Cecil tells the women to get off the ship, Edge chimes in with "This is work for grownups." Spare me, please.

To sum it all up, Cecil refused the help of both a powerful white mage and an incredible summoner for inexplicable reasons. Instead, he decided that two guys, who aren't nearly as good at swinging swords as he is, will be enough for the final battle. Can this paladin really be entrusted with saving the planet? If Rosa and Rydia hadn't stowed aboard the Lunar Whale, Zeromus would've won. By the way, these lines are from the Nintendo DS remake of Final Fantasy IV. It's unbelievable that even after sixteen years, nobody at Square Enix realized just how idiotic and shameful this scene is.

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Final Fantasy V

Look, I'm going to be honest; it took quite a long time for me to figure out the worst aspect of Final Fantasy V. This entry is one of the best in the series, and maintains its high level of quality throughout. I can't think of single scene or character that's out of place or just doesn't work. Not to mention, this RPG is ridiculously deep and has a ton of replay value. The job and ability systems allow clever players to find solutions to any problem. How Squaresoft managed to account for so many possibilities is nothing short of astounding. Every aspect ingeniously clicks into place.

Still, this is a "Worst of Final Fantasy" article, and I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I couldn't find one thing wrong with this game. All that can really be said is that the berserker job is complete and utter trash. Usually, berserk is a status effect that raises a character's attack power, but they become incapable of taking commands. A bruiser that does nothing but inflict serious pain has its uses, but the job was implemented very poorly. Berserkers are so slow that they're always the last to act in a turn. Their damage output doesn't make up for this debilitation, either.

Alongside the ability to equip axes, berserkers can also grant other jobs the ability to… go berserk. Again, it's a mediocre damage boost that's offset by a sizable penalty to speed. Then, of course, there's the whole "can't take commands" aspect, which benefits no one. Even the argument that berserkers are there for an "added challenge" doesn't hold up to scrutiny. If anything, this job is added tedium. It takes away the player's agency, leaving the fate of their party entirely up to the whims of stats, equipment, and RNG. Axes aren't all that great, either.

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Final Fantasy VI

Objectively, Final Fantasy VI's biggest fault is the evade bug. Basically, evade is a meaningless stat, and all hits are guaranteed. If a character is blinded, all that means is that they get a cool pair of shades. The chance of an attack getting deflected was actually tied to the magic block stat. With the right equipment setup, characters could block practically everything. Thankfully, this issue was sorted out in the more recent ports.

This just leaves the other biggest problem: Banon. His entire purpose is a gimmick. While on the Lete River, he's the guy who keeps the party's HP topped off, since there are only a couple of opportunities to heal outside of battle. In the story, he's the leader of the Returners, the rebel group that's fighting against the Empire. However, the role he serves is largely redundant. Edgar could have just as easily led the Returners. It's not like Banon exhibited any unique or exceptional traits. His insights weren't the result of being a brilliant tactician. Anybody who is paying attention could draw the same conclusions. Furthermore, as the story progresses, he fades further and further into the background. Banon and the Returners don't accomplish much of anything, really.

When the short-lived truce between the Empire and the rebels is broken, Banon is nowhere to be found. One would assume that he was killed, which is most likely the case. However, the game doesn't even bother to acknowledge his fate. Remember the scene shortly after Leo's death? Edgar arrives at Thamasa to tell Locke and Celes about the Empire's betrayal. Nobody asks about Banon. Instead, the conversation shifts to how Edgar discovered the truth. How'd it go again? Oh right, he was flirting with a server, and she admitted it was all a ruse. That's amusing and all, but what about the leader of the Returners? I guess nobody cares about him, which is just as well. He died as he lived: irrelevant.

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i love that these articles exist.
as much as i care about these games, i feel like people do not address the real flaws with them.

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