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This solely applies for main series entries, not spinoffs.
User 1's NotesEdit
Add anything you feel like adding here.
Note: I also talk about a few spinoffs like tactics, but mostly in relation to the main series. I also consider FFD a "main game", because I'm an insufferable asshole like that. I guess.
For me, the one thing I enjoy the most above all else in FF is customization, capabilities, versatility, balance, jobs/classes and options to utilize them with and without crossing over between them, along with the balance of the lot within its respective game(s), especially when the game (even more so when limits are placed on the player's options). I think that, more than anything else (especially what that douchebag Wada says) is what makes or breaks and FF game. The following is more or less complete, with a few things not included that I may or may not remember later to add (or not) later. Oh well. Not like I'm getting paid for this shit. I could talk about aesthetics, stories, and such, but everyone seems to, for the most part, have their own takes on them. Any times that we may agree are almost accidents.
I didn't really like the original 3's job system at all to be honest. Not nearly as refined as it was in 5, mostly because job levels make a big difference in power and skills and abilities weren't evenly fleshed out (you literally don't even need scholar if you still have your elemental weapons), and equipment per jobs even worse so. I ended up using a fighter/knight, white mage/shaman, and black mage/warlock until getting the Ninjas and Sages. Only my 4th one really changed shit up, starting as Red Mage, then Archer (Hunter), then Viking, then Dragoon, with Geomancer sporadically between the two, then finishing off with Magic Knight (until the eventual Ninja like the first unit). This was mostly because the game is essentially made around those 3, and while you can use the 4th as another fighter/knight or a white/black mage, there's not much need to, really. Primarily because the best shit doesn't have enough to go around (pissed me off with the ultimate rod only having 1 of itself, while the eldest staff had 2). In addition, most jobs only use one single weapon or accessory type, which is full fucking retard, since there's far more of some than others, more so since some were dummied out anyways. FF2 was actually better at giving more options and customization, though in a more round-about manner.
Purely regarding the NES release of 3 as an evolutionary point, It made sense why 4 went the preset route, using a similar degree of change for the last slot in the story. Still kinda stupid, but given their intentions as "best of the famicom games put together", it worked pretty well. 5 was definitely better off, regarding customization and use of abilities (and even if you don't stick with a job, it still pays off to master it). Then it all went to shit with 6. 7 was a step back in the right direction, but still had some of 6's fuck ups, and the awkwardness of the early graphic design versus the ease of readability made finding shit more of a pain in the ass than it should of been, some of which were already cryptic as is. 8 is what I consider to be one of the best systems of customization in an FF game to date, before disc 4. The sheer ease of access along with the utility of various resources to flesh out your GFs and capabilities is very user-friendly and almost never a thing you CAN'T do, especially combined with Triple Triad. If we had gotten the Pocket Station it would have been even better. That said, if you didn't prepare for disc 4 ahead of time, it becomes an absolute dick to get all the shit you want compared to before, especially if you don't know about some of the harder to find GFs like the shop one (tonberry, IIRC). They really are helpful though and almost make up for fucking you over, but goddamn they blew it as soon as the time shit happened. 9, like 6, fucking blew it, even worse than before.
10 was... eh. Like 7, it had good intentions, but the execution was lacking, especially with those faggot ass leveled lock spheres. The weapon customization was also dumb, especially since it would require key spheres for later things, which was retarded as shit. I've heard that Int version was much better though. I haven't played much of X-2, and not in a long time, but what I remember, it was as smart as 5, but also better since you could change classes mid-fights. Since I lack the full experience of jobs and balances, I can only say that I liked what I played. It was sort of smart of X to swap members out, but X-2's system felt more refined overall, allowing much more customizations and more variety of combat possibilities. Haven't played 12, but heard the license system was bullshit until int version. Haven't played 13 either. I sorta liked what I played of 13-2's demo, but I'd need more to give an honest analysis and opinion.
Tactics definitely had one of the best skill learning systems, but the job requirements were stupid. Regarding job changing/learning, they should have used the Tactics Ogre method where your stats determine your job capabilities. FFTA using 9's learning system was better executed, but at the same time, still dumb for the same reasons as 6, 7, and 9. FFTA2 was a little bit worse for making you grind for materials, but the combo variety of abilities and skills was more refined and better executed with more interesting possibilities being available. Definitely one of the better ones in terms of execution and fucking with enemies, even if getting there is a pain in the ass.
Final Fantasy Dimensions was easily one of my fave job systems and one of the most refined we've seen yet, making things like 5 and X-2 almost look like child's play. Hell, on top of being mostly balanced, it event took some of the aspects of FF4TAY's new additions and improved upon them. There's a handful of things that are kinda iffy and some others that get outclassed, but for the most part, you could use pretty much anything, provided you put the effort into improving it. Even things like Ninja which are borderline broken in theory can be outperformed by sheer utility. On top of that, due to the compression of jobs into each other, there was much fairer balance between jobs overall, due to skills they learned, but also fusion ability resources as well. Passive skills were also handy in a number of jobs. I was a bit disappointed that jobs were split between parties, but at the same time, it sort of makes sense given how broken some of the combos could have potentially been. The best aspect by far was compressing multiple job action-skills into skill categories, which you could use between jobs for better customization and utility. FFT did it first, but the execution was very lacking, and depending on the jobs, in conflict with one another, particularly regarding equipment and stats. FFTA and TA2 did it pretty well though. In addition to jobs, there wasn't much you could easily miss either. While not everything is entirely obvious, if you're curious enough, you can find everything without even needing a guide. Not everything you miss is entirely necessary or god-tier either, despite usually being helpful at the time, which is another clever factor planned out. Despite not being perfect, it's a pretty smart system and a shame we'll never see it again or improved upon. Also, limiting how far you could go with jobs at a time based on the story was somewhat clever as well, in order to make you plan how to put your JP into things instead of just grinding your ass off for everything to break the game super early.
Regarding Bravely Default, I'm really not entirely sold. I'll need to look at some of the ways that learning and customization work out, but most of the skills and abilities I've read up on are pretty crappy and horribly balanced, especially coming after FFD.
But yeah, that's my two cents from analyzing all of the ones I have. Still haven't played 11 or 14 yet, probably never will.
Also, 1 is its own bag of worms for better and/or worse. Especially depending on the version.