Calin Kim wrote:Lol opinions and all that, but I think the versions of FFI that remove the Vancian magic system are too easy.
The easy mode on Origins and any other version that gives you MP just makes it way too easy.
They probably are too easy -- I'm level 50 now and absolutely ripping through everything except the optional bosses in the Soul of Chaos dungeons, which pack one hell of a punch -- but I feel the original was waaaay too far in the other direction. It took far too long to level up -- hell, it was several hours before you could reliably take on Garland before the intro sequence rolled -- and the Vancian magic system, while true to the extremely obvious D&D wholesale ripping off that FFI does, meant that casters were useful for approximately five battles before they became a liability. This would be fine if you were actually, you know, playing D&D, where every enemy encounter is A Big Deal, but in a game where you're in combat against up to nine enemies every few steps, it's painfully unbalanced, and not in a masochistically "fun" (hi Beige!) Dark Soulsy sort of way.
FFI 20th Anniversary appears to be paced in such a way that you can power through the story in 10 hours or less, then spend a considerable amount of time working your way through the Soul of Chaos dungeons, which get progressively long, complicated and fucking weird -- more on that in a moment -- and then spend even longer working your way through the semi-randomised Labyrinth of Time to take on Chronodia's multiple forms. Only after that do your level 99 (or whatever) selves go and curb-stomp Chaos in two hits before going home to argue about who gets to snog Princess Sarah of Cornelia.
There are still pacing issues: at level 50, which was the level cap of the original version, there are surprisingly few enemies that seem to offer meaningful XP. The Soul of Chaos dungeons appear to be populated by deceptively underpowered random enemies which lull you into a false sense of security before, say, Gilgamesh comes and turns your face inside-out with a well-placed punch up the bracket. I kind of wish that the random encounters gave more meaningful amounts of experience and allowed you to effectively grind on your way to the superbosses, but so far they have mostly failed to deliver on that note.
Oh yes, those Soul of Chaos dungeons are pure fanservice -- each one features bosses from a different subsequent game (specifically FFIII, IV, V and VI) -- but they're also just plain weird. Emphasising the "chaos" aspect of their name, they don't make any attempt to be thematically consistent or have any reason for existing save for providing you with Something Fun to Do. They're just More Game, in other words, which is fine, because they're actually rather fun, and by far the most interesting dungeons in FFI, which otherwise had rather bland mazes.
The first Soul of Chaos dungeon, for example, features a couple of levels ripped straight from FFIII along with a huge forest populated by enemies you can actually see on the field screen, an endless desert which you have to navigate by interpreting landmarks correctly and some challenging boss fights against various enemies from FFIII. The next one, Hellfire Chasm, is twice the length at ten floors, and features levels ranging from conventional dungeons covered with damaging floor-lava to one that inexplicably hurls you onto a World Map that is all kinds of wrong and expects you to find your way around using all the usual World Mappy things like the ship, airship and canoe. After that
, the next dungeon has twenty floors and concludes with the two toughest bosses in the game aside from Chronodia's various forms; the one after that (which I haven't ventured into yet) has a whopping forty
floors to traverse.
I don't know if I'm going to go the whole hog and try to 100% the Bestiary in FFI, but I'm enjoying it enough to want to clear all the Soul of Chaos dungeons and at least poke my head into the Labyrinth of Time before I go and flatten Chaos. The 20th Anniversary edition of FFI has been a genuinely enjoyable experience when compared to my time playing the Origins version on Normal mode a few years back; that felt like a chore that I was doing out of "obligation". That, for me, is a remake doing a good job; I'll happily sacrifice a 100% "authentic" experience if it makes it more enjoyable and brings it up to date without compromising the essence of the original.