Final Fantasy Anthology
This winter, Square EA will be bringing out Final Fantasy Anthology, the awesome compilation that will include Final Fantasy V (never before seen in the U.S.) and VI (seen here as Final Fantasy III). The two games will remain faithful to the original Super Fami/SNES versions, except for newly added CG sequences.
So why isn't FF IV (the U.S. FF II) included, like it is in Final Fantasy Collection over in Japan? According to Square
Download Final Fantasy Anthology
First, let's get this out of the way: Final Fantasy Anthology is a compilation of Final Fantasy V (a Super Famicom game that was never brought over to the U.S.), Final Fantasy VI (seen here on the Super Nintendo as Final Fantasy III) and a music CD with tunes from both titles. Final Fantasy IV (seen in the U.S. as Final Fantasy II on the SNES) isn't being rereleased here (see issue #120 to see why), even though it was brought out for the PS in the Japanese Final Fantasy Collection.
Are you confused? Well dummy, it's not that hard to figure out, but just realize this: Final Fantasy V is considered by many, including many EGM staffers, to be the finest chapter in the series, and Final Fantasy VI is considered by many to be the second finest chapter in the series (as FFIII, it ranked #9 on our Top 100 Best Games of All Time list, EGM #100). The two games in this anthology are faithful ports of the 16-Bit classics, with a few new features like full-motion video and an art gallery (for FFVI). But don't be under the impression that these are two crusty games that can't hold their own against the polygon might of FFVI I or FFVIII. Each of these titles has a unique game system used for developing characters. FFV has the infamous "Job System" (seen in a different form in Final Fantasy Tactics) that allows you to customize your party completely. In fact, the four reviewers all ended up with different character classes (all with different skills) by the end of the game (this is rather common with FFV...everyone ends up developing his or her own people differently). FFVI takes a different approach with totally individual characters who each have radically different skills (from Sabin's Street Fighter-style moves to Setzers's Slot Machine attacks) which you do not customize. Either way, it's a helluva lot of fun.
For a moment, forget the polygons, fancy lighting effects and minute long summoning spells. Let's go back to the old school, where visual splendor took a back seat to awesome gameplay. Let's go back to Final Fantasy V and VI, the two best games in the series. Now, if you're so keen on graphics that you can't enjoy games that don't look good (you know who you are), you won't dig these two. They're 16-Bit games, and outside of the new CG scenes, they still look it. But if you don't mind the retro look, PLEASE check out these two epic RPGs. Most of you already know, FFVI (FFIII) kicks enough ass on its own. The characters are fantastic with their unique skills and powers, and the music, story line and just about everything else are unforgettable. But what about FFV, that legendary Super Famicom RPG you always heard about but never got to play? FFV is most Final Fantasy aficionados' favorite chapter for this one reason: the fantastic job system. This engine gives you unprecedented control over what your characters turn out to be. You can create Geomancers, Thieves, Monks, Ninjas, Knights, Time Mages, Hunters, Chemists and so on and so on...and you can combine different abilities with these jobs for even more customizable goodness! These two games are two of the best. Give them a try if you haven't already.
Final Fantasy Anthology is the perfect package for those that missed the train nearly a decade ago. With people's interest in FF at an all-time peak, it makes a lot of sense for Square to release a retrospective at this point. I'm not sure why the U.S. Anthology has a soundtrack instead of FFIV, but you need to buy this game Just to get FFV, a game many still insist is the best of the series. You have got to see these gorgeous FMV sequences. Yum!
RPG fans weaned on Final Fantasy VII and FFVI11 may look at these old games' crude visuals and wonder what all the fuss is about. Trust me: These classics are every bit as enjoyable as the new stuff. FFV stands out for its rich variety of characters and rewarding story. FFVI is worth playing just for its deep character-development system. In no other game have I had this much fun building my characters and tinkering with their abilities.
When the new CG opening to Final Fantasy VI came on, my heart began beating faster, and memories of the 60+ hours I spent on that game a few years ago returned. Although both games have some load time and there's slight slowdown not in the originals, they're still as fun to play today as they were all those years ago. I'd never played FFV, but it's nice to have an English version of it to play through. A great collection and a must-buy for true fans.