Yes that Final Fantasy, the old ones. Not saying they are better. It’s incredibly subjective. Just back in the day the story was a side note to the action. Not that they were action packed thrill rides in and of themselves. Quite the opposite. These games were brightly colored exploration based journeys. That as technology advanced to meet talent changed to be a narrative focused experience with a focus on exploration. Is there a difference? Yes actually. A big one. When the quest is a large world saving adventure you tend to need some help. Going from town to town offering aid in exchange for information or travel to where you need to go. It’s a series of smaller adventures all building to the final showdown with usually a fangly blob monster.
Slowly the focus shifted more to the baddies. Who they were and why they are in desperate need of a punch to the throat. Yet the dungeon crawling, chest grabbing, and dead end finding exploration has always stayed. Even the newest ones like Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII:R which almost completely drop the turn based combat that the series is known for keeps these dungeons intact. Turn based strategy doesn’t make a Final Fantasy game feel authentic. It’s not the world, there is like 3 or 4 different ones they set them in. It’s the beautifully crafted areas. That’s what makes them stand apart from other RPGs.
No matter if it’s the original, a remake, or even a phone mash up cash grab the worlds of Final Fantasy stay captivating until the end. Lots of games have dungeons, world maps, and all the typical RPG fair. Just few manage to make me want to crawl into every last corner and find every last item like Final Fantasy games. Just look at those screen shots up above. I don’t even like a few of those games. Yet I will load them up just to see the world once more. That’s not something I can say about Lunar Silver Star Story, Star Ocean, Dragon Warrior/Quest, Phantasm Star, Tales of Destiny, Thousand Arms, Xenogears, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and yeah you get it. Those are all games I replay for the characters, the story. Sure Final Fantasy IV and VI are among the best stories you can find on a 16 bit cartridge. That’s nothing compared to slowly running from save point to save point grabbing chests and dodging mimics.
Ofcourse it’s not always the “Surprise! The chest is a monster!” trap. Not at all. Sometimes it’s a forced random encounter right in front of the chest. Then sometimes it’s a chest full of ghooooooosts oooowh~. Every door you kick open getting you more and more nervous. Hoping for a save point at the least. There is a real sense of danger to a Final Fantasy dungeon. Often you can’t turn back. I mean you could, but you’d never make it. Every time you flee a fight you drop money, run from two or more and you might as well used your potions. Even running doesn’t mean you live. The enemies can just keep wailing on you until the game lets you go.
So feel free to complain about the Pixel Perfect Remasters, it’s just what gamers do now. I for one am looking forward to getting back to those dungeons. Sneaking a peak at those chests. Saving the world one more time, 6 more times.