Fumbling into the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta

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Each year I find myself drawn to the challenge of the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta. The name alone is a mouthful, but the event offers up a new way to play for veterans of the game. I entered this year in hopes of making it to the end, but the jobs issued to me haven’t exactly offered a smooth ride. I’ve defeated Final Fantasy V a single time, where a couple years ago I worked through it on my own volition. Regularly switching jobs and building a team of characters that resembled tiny gods was the end result. Due to the limitations of the Four Job Fiesta, my characters aren’t fit to be called gods– maybe not even demigods by the way things are going.

I started this year’s attempt at the Four Job Fiesta with four white mages. Right out the door I was offered somewhat of a challenge, having hardly any attack capabilities to defend myself with. Every battle was finished with the same strategy: four white mages in the back row, chipping away at the health of the enemy. With any luck, the enemy would run out of MP before I did, and eventually I would emerge victorious. It wasn’t the best way, but I had to make do with what I was issued. After a pair of early boss battles, the trip through the haunted ship graveyard came as somewhat of a relief. The legion of undead enemies made it easy to fight back, as I was relying on heal magic to harm my opponents and push forward.

Upon reaching the second crystal, I was a mix of relieved and disappointed to learn that the second job issued to me was the mystic knight. While this afforded higher attack capability, it was a let down compared to what I could’ve ended up with. My party of two white mages and two mystic knights has been adequate for most situations, but I worry about how my luck will fare as I continue on. I’m nearing the third crystal, and the corresponding job allotted to me is… the bard?

I went ahead and queued up the fourth job from the twitter bot. I needed to know how my final party was going to end up immediately so I could start preparing for whatever was to come. My final job will be the samurai. Some of the weight was lifted off of my shoulders as I breathed a sigh of relief. Having access to a powerful swordsman that can throw money at the enemy is all I can ask for. From a narrative perspective, it at least provides a character that looks like they know what they’re doing. Having a party comprised of a white mage, a mystic knight, a bard, and a samurai makes for a more interesting story than what the game itself offers.

Final Fantasy V stands as one of the most important chapters in the series, one that was unfortunately passed over for American release until its return on the Game Boy Advance in 2006. It’s Hironobu Sakaguchi’s masterpiece in regards to gameplay, offering almost unlimited customization to the player. More people should experience this game, and while I don’t recommend it for a first timer, the Four Job Fiesta always delivers a unique take on an already unique entry in the Final Fantasy saga.

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Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Portables, Relaxation

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As of right now, I’ve clocked about 22 hours into Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Nintendo’s 3DS entry in the Animal Crossing series. I never played City Folk, and I recently had a bad experience with the DS entry, Wild World. It’s not that the game was outwardly bad, it’s just that the Nintendo DS wasn’t really capable of doing Animal Crossing. Wild World ran at a horrible framerate, which was playable, but not ideal. Now, Animal Crossing is by no means an action title, in fact it’s actually quite the opposite. This is a series built around relaxing– it’s about taking your time and enjoying yourself. Most of all, it’s about not overdoing it. Animal Crossing is at its best when you adhere to a dosage of around half an hour or so a day.

I downloaded New Leaf on launch day at midnight, eschewing a physical cartridge for the sake of convenience. Animal Crossing is a game that is best suited to this– truly a title that benefits from having it easily accessible at all times without the need of swapping a cartridge. The argument can be made about digital ownership and the inability to resell, but after spending a large amount of town creating my own narrative from my townspeople, why would I even want to let it go?

Having New Leaf on my 3DS at all times also keeps me actively playing it. When you have it right there on the home screen, ready to go, it’s hard to ignore it and at least check in. It’s easy to take a few minutes to pick some fruit or catch a few fish, or just wander around and see what the neighbors are up to. This makes for an absolute gem of a game, even if it’s really not that much of a game at all.

Animal Crossing has been one of my favorites for a long time, but like Pokemon, it doesn’t change that much between releases. Having skipped City Folk, jumping into New Leaf felt just right. I feel like I had spent enough time away that I was ready to spiral back into addiction. The result is that I’m liking this game as much as I liked it on GameCube, and that this is the best Animal Crossing has ever been. Aside from owing a lot of money to a raccoon, I’m having an absolute blast with it.

I’ve said before that my gaming habits are drifting more towards portable platforms. My 3DS and PS Vita get the most use out of any of my consoles. It’s a matter of convenience, mixed with the intimacy of laying on the couch and falling into these little worlds. I’m feeling more immersion from these systems, which are concentrating on delivering gaming experiences instead of trying to create cinematic masterpieces that ape the conventions of film. They are a place where games get to be games, and they have become my new favorite escape.

Let’s try this all again.

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve been able to concentrate on writing in any capacity. My schedule has finally freed up and I want to get back to this blog as a regular project. Not only do I have the time to write, but I also have the time to play video games again, making this a pleasurable experience for me once again. I’m futzing with the layout, along with spending some time in the lab to get my writing back up to par. It feels like I’m slipping and I’m not willing to let that get any worse. The fun part is that I’m opening this blog up to other topics besides video games, so it’s about to a little sillier around here. Video games will remain the primary focus, but unrelated subjects will be approached on a more regular basis.

I’ve missed writing. My gaming focus continues to shift as the months go by. I’m still depending heavily upon my handhelds, while searching for the relevance of the upcoming “next-gen” consoles from Microsoft and Sony. I’m digging into franchises I’ve never really dug into, and trying to rediscover what I actually liked about video games to begin with. The problem I’m finding is that neither Sony nor Microsoft is really offering the kind of experiences I’m looking to have with games. As a medium built primarily around user input, I hate to watch the industry tread further into the territory of “cinematic experiences”. The best video games have always been the ones that embraced the world they exist in, and use that as an advantage to throw all logic out the window. I like video gamey-ass video games, something few studios are in the business of as of late.

Where it’s all gonna go, I can’t tell you, because I just don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to change or what’s going to stay the same. I’m not completely sure what I’m going to be writing about, or how often I’ll be writing at all. The point is that I’m actually writing, and I’m ready to sweep the dust off and get back to the business of bitching about video games.

See you very soon, internet.