November 28, 2012

Final Fantasy Legend - Ranking

Story & World

I think my disdain for both story and world is covered in enough detail in the postings.  Now purging from RAM.  1/10

Character Development

The three racial development systems are very distinct from one another and is FFL's strongest point.  To have an entire party comprised of a single race would completely change how the game is played.  An all-human group would mean a heavy workload of grinding while a group of monsters would require none.  Also appreciated is the ratio of control vs. chance between each race.  Human development is completely controlled by the player, monsters are driven by luck, and mutants are in the middle of the two extremes. 

The diversity of equipment and items is what one would expect from a Final Fantasy game (not that this is really a Final Fantasy game — damn marketers).  The only aspect lacking is having weapons or armour imbued with special effects or abilities.  Every weapon comes with a set amount of uses, after which it breaks.  This adds another level of complexity to inventory management and encourages experimentation with various weaponry.

A minor annoyance in regards to the inventory system.  When a key item has served its purpose, it stays in the inventory screen.  With a limit of eight items, every slot counts and it would have been nice to know when an item can be discarded.  I held onto certain items way too long, not knowing if discarding them would pooch my entire game.  Overall, a great system that has the ability to appease a multitude of play styles.  17/20

Combat & Monsters

Following the trail blazed by racial character development, combat complexity and difficulty is based off party composition.  The more humans in the group, the more stable (and boring) the entire party will be.  Mutants and monsters will keep one from just mashing the attack button and instead try out their constantly changing abilities.  Due to this uncertainty principle, every excursion out has a palpable amount of tension.  As an example from my own playthrough, when both mutants lost their damaging abilities, it was like slamming on the brakes.  All of a sudden, the group was unable to take out huge stacks of enemies and instead had to fight them one by one.  Targeting in combat works like FF1's, where a character will waste his attack if his targeted enemy dies before his turn (a plus in my book).

The monster selection, much like the story, is all over the place.  Some monsters would only be found in their appropriately themed world but others would should up regardless of the setting (e.g. werewolves in the middle of the ocean).  There are very few special attacks available to them; I only came across poison and blind.  To counteract these negative aspects, there is hot monster-eating-monster action.  There's nothing like watching the group's pet monster devour the carcass of a boss and coming out better for it.  13/20

Graphics & Sound

Greyscale doesn't bother me so much but lack of graphics does.  The background, at times, would become a homogeneous white (or a simple pattern) with nothing to anchor the eye.  It really distorted my sense of direction and I don't think that was the intention.  Monster sprites are nice although they get recycled a lot for different monsters of the same type.  Needed more / different attack animations as well.  The score was provided by Final Fantasy mainstay, Nobuo Uematsu, and works well given the Game Boy's propensity to be high pitched (I'm a bass bitch).  I think there were a few beeps and thuds that were suppose to be sound effects but I could have just been hungry.  11/20

Gameplay

Though still a short game, it dragged on a little too long.  Too much tower climbing at the end.  It really goes to show how a stronger story could endure such a burden but here it just becomes a chore under so much fluff.  Having said that, a replay could still be fun if one approached it with a dungeon crawl mindset.  Just thinking about an all-mutant or all-monster party gives me spine a slight shiver (just imagine a whole group of wolfmans!).  Such an odd party selection would also give a big boost to difficulty.  Money problems are entirely dependent on how many humans are in the group for the reasons mentioned under character development.  For this run, money was tight in the beginning and then stabilized for the rest of the game; I was never too rich or too poor.  14/20

Final Ranking:  56/100