Absurdly Specific Genre: Emsemble cast, the RPG
Difficulty: 5 (there's a couple of fights that pack a bit of punch, but it's nothing too crazy)
It's only now that I realize the grave error I've made in my top 50 moments list. That list is, by its very nature, more nostalgic and prone to be swayed by how I felt during the moment as it occurred. With that in mind, how on earth did I miss the introductory cutscene to this game? It's cinematic as all get out - with the three mechs overlooking the town and then making the slow walk in the snow. It's a top 30 moment for sure, and I blew it.
Maybe that's because the rest of the game does such a good job of making sure that it never lets up on the powerful moments. From poisoning of Doma to Cyan's (all too brief) reunion with his family to the mildly terrifying first encounter with Atma/Ultima ("Feeble creatures... GO!" and the chilling boss music that plays) to the finale, when Kefka admits that at his core, he's not homicidal, he's omnicidal he just wants the whole world to burn.
|Laughing all the way.|
The story is epic. The music is epic - it's probably Nobuo Uematsu's best work (the way the boss theme breaks into play in any of the many times that a boss sneaks up on you is lots of fun). The characters are all rich and varied (lots of archetypes from previous Final Fantasy games, but lots of new ones, as well).
The game itself plays beautifully, and though the second half doesn't quite live up to the first half (I always chose not to abuse the vanish/x-zone glitch, and I only taught one character Ultima, since I generally try to keep things on a non-lame level), it still has plenty of memorable parts while you get the team all back together for the final assault. I actually liked the fact that you had to split the party in three for that final attack, since I'm generally the kind of guy who likes to use all kinds of different characters, anyway.
|Except Strago. Fuck that old brainwashed coot.|
All of it adds up to a game that is the best game that isn't the best game ever. I play through the whole thing every couple of years, and I always find it to be a joyful, fresh experience. RPGs have gotten bigger and prettier and more complex (one last dig at the goofypants Final Fantasy XIII story, I mean, that shit was just weird). They've never topped this one. I sort of doubt they ever will.
Other Notable Final Fantasy games:
I started a new run of Final Fantasy I well after I had solidified the list, and I'm finding it to be a lot of fun. Probably not top 50 fun, but it's still a pleasant surprise.
I get Final Fantasy IV and V confused in my head a lot. It probably means I should give them both a replay. I'm thinking of starting with V, since it's been longer since I played through that one.
I'm trying to remember ever having played II or III. I can't remember details on either. Are they good?