Thursday, January 03, 2013

Final Fantasy Tactics: Version Choice

Last summer when I went off to get a PSP in order to play Final Fantasy V on the bus Mark commented and suggested I keep my eye open for a Final Fantasy Tactics remake on the PSP. Not long after I found a copy for $10 and it's been sitting on my floor/shelf for 6 months waiting for this day to come. It's a little odd that I've had a PSP for almost 7 months but have never put in a PSP disk since everything I've played thus far has been a PSOne game downloaded off the network. I probably should have gone looking for version differences before I started playing but I figured I'd give it a go and look things up later. I played a bit, was quickly reminded of the golden rule for playing a tactics game (see if you can figure out what it is before I post about it later), and decided to look the differences up on the internet. One thing I had noticed right away is the game seemed to be lagging a lot when spells were being cast. Was this a problem with my PSP or is the game just bugged?

It would seem the PSP version is a pretty faithful remake. They added a few things in to make it a little different (2 new jobs, 2 new story characters from FFXII and FFTA2, 3 new quests) but kept pretty much everything relevant the same. The plot is the same. Combat is the same. The way you level is the same. It definitely feels like the same game and therefore it's quite reasonable to play it in this slot of the marathon and not look to play the game twice.

On the plus side they completely redid the translation. This is a very good thing since the original translation was pretty terrible. I don't remember even caring about the plot at all when I played the original version because I didn't understand it. I just went places, killed things, and leveled up. And that was great, don't get me wrong, but I'm looking forward to understanding a bit more about why I'm doing the things I'm doing.

It would also seem the original version was pretty heavily nerfed compared to the Japanese version. Square still thought at the time that the US gamer was a moron I guess. All those nerfs have been removed which sounds like it should make the game a fair bit harder. Your story characters have their stats lowered. Some bosses have their stats raised. It takes more JP to learn abilities. It takes more JP to level jobs. The job tree has harsher prerequisites. This all seems fine. They also nerfed one fight, and I bet anyone who's played the game can figure out what fight that is. The first time I played I actually had to restart from the beginning because I simply couldn't beat that fight as I was set up and there was no way to level up from where I'd last saved.

They added in some more cutscenes and added in voice acting to some of the old ones. This is the sort of chrome I like so this is pointing towards wanting to play the new version.

There's really only one downside, but it's a pretty big one. That lag I noticed isn't a problem with my system; it's a problem with the game. Apparently the Japanese version had really bad spell lag and they somewhat fixed it for the US release. This boggles my mind. Clearly that means they were aware it was an issue, couldn't actually fix it, and launched anyway. I hate this sort of thing. I'd rather have no spell animations than have jarring delays when they go off. Maybe it's worse because I played the original and now how fast these things should be? But even then the sound isn't delayed, just the graphics. I fought some enemies on the bus today which charged up a lightning attack and then zapped you. The zapping sound went off while the energy was still swirling around the skeleton and then the animation finished with no sound at all. It's really immersion breaking. Even worse is multi-target spells. I cured two people at once and had to watch the slowed down animation twice in sequence.

I want the new translation and I already bought the PSP version and not the PSN one so I guess I'm going to suck it up and give it a shot. Maybe there's a fix or hack or something that turns the animations off so I don't go crazy. Or maybe I'll get used to it. I found the tinny sounds in FFVI annoying at the start but got used to them eventually, right? (But maybe that helped FFVII pass it!)

I also wasn't sure if I wanted to do something crazy or not. A single character or single job challenge, that sort of thing. I don't think I want to put up with grinding out with the lag though, so I'm just going to go straight and narrow. I don't even think I'm going to stand around beating myself up for xp unless I reach a point where I feel I need to do so to progress.

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