July 15, 2010

Taken for granted

Recently, I've been indulging in a little retro-modern gaming: I've bought Final Fantasy 3, the remake for the DS. It was a steal. And it was the only one I hadn't played of the 6 first.

I had bought it last year, played for like half an hour, and gotten killed. It had been put on a shelf ever since, until yesterday.

Playing it seems like a window in yesterdays' game design. Everything I've now taken for granted in many games is just not there. Don't get me wrong, that does not make it a bad game, it's just harder.

It began with the equipment. I'm now used to being able to equip what I buy the moment it is bought, while I'm still talking with the vendor. Not so here. You must first leave the shop, then open the menu, go to equipment and equip your characters. Needless to say, they've done half a dungeon half naked (does that make them quarter something?) before I've remembered the upgrades I had bought.

It continued in the second village I entered. The people there told me to go somewhere else to help them. But there was a cave in the village itself ! It was a mithril mine ! I could not not go there first (double negatives or not. Not) ! Well, let's just say the very first monster handed me a precious gift: a portion of my lower anatomy. Very quickly and nicely wrapped, too. Ooooh, so this was a part of the game I could access now but should come back later, when I was stronger (or could try to do the hard way) ? Hadn't seen that in a while...

And then I got teammates. You would think the fights would have gotten easier. Partly. Yes, my damage output was higher, but the monsters were quite strong from then on too. And my characters NEVER attacked in the same order. And their range of damage was quite big for a Final Fantasy. I'm used to character dealing 33 to 35 damage with hits. Not with a range of 5 to 35. Makes it harder to optimise the fights (yeah, I'm one of those guys who strikes the second monster with the first and third character, the first monster with the second chracter and having the third playing the fiddle on the fourth, knowing that their combined onslaughts will kill two of the monsters, when just bashing A would result in some of the damage being wasted and only the first monster being killed), but I can live with that.

And then came a surprise attack. Ok, no pb, the monsters will have a free shot, I'll weather it and then turn the damage hose on them. Free shot weathered, the hose turned into a trickle. Huh? So, surprise attack HALVE my damage output FOR THE ENTIRE FIGHT?! Needless to say, when I surprise them, I just get a free shot... That would be harder to live with...

And then someone died. The ubiquitous Phenix Down was here. But, the first problem was that, for the first time in a FF I played, I could not buy them, I had only found 2. Being the hoarder that I am, I decided to finish the fight. I could live with a character having a bit less experience than the others. At the end of the fight, he would be revived with 1 HP.
Ah? No... Still dead.
Ok, then, I'll just go to one of the magic pond, eternal restorers of HP and MP. Who needs rest when you've got one of those?
Ah? No... The others were fresher, this one wasn't getting any.
Aaaaah, so THAT's why you need to rest at an inn ! "What-ho, innkeeper, your finest room so my friend here can sleep off its little deahtover !"
Ah? No... Guess I'll need to use a Phenix down after all.
But, what if I had used all of them? I would have to carry the litteral dead weight while fighting monsters as
if all my team was alive? That way lies madness. And death. More death.

And then, there was a boss. No problem, it's a FF, there will be a save point and magic pond right before it !
Now where's that pond? And that save point...?
Where do I save anyway?
World Map? Still better than a chuch, I imagine...

Be a Hoarder? Not a good idea in this game, it seems.

This will be a strange trip, mark my words !