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Poll: Final Fantasy and the Sin of over customization

Every time people say Final Fantasy 3/6 or 7 as the best Final Fantasy game of all, they inevitably bring up the magic/skill system, and that is what really makes me lose my understanding of their definition of "best". The problem is by allowing the player to choose what talents the characters can learn from almost the whole selection of abilities in the game makes the characters lose their uniqueness, turning "The Fighter" into "Character Model C". Let me make this clear: I don't hate these games, I love most of them, I just dislike how they handle certain elemets, now to start off with the games above and then go onto the less serious offenders.

Final Fantasy 3/6: I agree with the magic system on the whole, as in theory it's great. Yes I admit having it so that even if my one person I had dedicated as my Healer goes down, I have another character or two who can pick up where they left off until I find a good time to stuff a Phoenix Down somewhere on their person, but I found that the characters ended up being inter-changable and unless I needed one for a specific plot point or Boss battle I found myself picking characters randomly, only stopping to think when the Parties would be split up and even then all I did was make sure the Celes, Saban and Edgar were on seperate teams.

Now I know that everybody has a separate ability that makes them unique, but unless you find yourself wanting to use a certain skill for a certain reason you could normally ignore them, and when at the end of the day when Cyan can cast every spell Terra can with roughly equal damage and much more physical power, it makes the characters a bore.

Final Fantasy 7: This game is the biggest sinner of over customization period. You can make any character do anything you want in any combination you want them to. you want Cait Sith to be a Mugging Goblin Puncher with the ability to to outrun rays of light? done. You want Red XIII to be a summoning, confusing, unmovable fortress? done. You want to turn Barret into a crying schoolgirl who only casts healing and buffs? All to easy.

Much like 3/6, the ability for any character to learn not only any magic, but also every ability that the player has access to in THE ENTIRE GAME to anyone they want makes characters even more interchangeable then in 3/6 but 7 doesn't even have unique talents and no limit breaks do not count because 98% of them just consisted of that one character doing a whole lot of damage and that was it.

Final Fantasy 8: This game may seem like a near identical situation to 7 in that you merely replace Materia for Magic stock and GF's, but there are 2 differences. Yes being able to junction spells to your stats made it so any character could do anything as well as anyone else stat wise, the game made special abilities unique to the GF's so it more turned into playing as specific sets of GF's all crammed into the bodies of 3 unique looking puppets

Final Fantasy 9: This game really toned down customization a good bit. you could give almost all the characters certain abilities like Jelly, Insomnia, Locomotion, but Vivi would NEVER be able to cast White Magic or hit as hard as Zindane, Eiko would NEVER be able to Steal, Quinoa would NEVER be able to throw and Steiner will NEVER be able to summon a Ham Sandwich, much less the Goddess of Ice Shiva. They also limited the amount of abilities any character could have equipped at any time.

Final Fantasy 10: i've never played it so this one is short, but given what I've seen of the sphere system, it seems to fall into the same category as 7, but i admit I could be wrong.

Final Fantasy 10-2: Actually the least of the Sinners because well any girl could take any job they were stuck in the job they took and if they took another job even mid battle, they left all the other skills behind.

Final Fantasy 5: It falls on the low end of the sin scale, worse then 10-2, but better then 8 and way better then 7. Well all of the 4 character could learn everything, and I do mean everything, they limited what the characters could use at any given time. The game limited you to your current job plus the skills of ONE other job, which meant yes, you could have a powerful beat stick with the power to cast healing pixie dust or to mug an enemy with every attack, but NOT BOTH at the same time (I THINK there was an ability to get 2 sub jobs at some point, but I could be wrong, and even if I am and your powerhouse could cast cure and beat monsters for their lunch money before killing them, he still couldn't also throw ninja stars or summon Ramuh).

I never played 11 or beyond, nore did I play the official 1,2 or 3 or the Game Boy games but I'm pretty sure that they didn't have much customization in them, but hey, I could be wrong. I know 2/4 for the SNES didn't, but the DS version had the Augment system, soooo....

Final Fantasy 4 DS: The Augment system almost sounds like a 8 or 9 rip off, and to an extent it is, there are major differences between them. The Augments for those that don't know, we're unique character skills or new skills period that would be dropped or found/given after when you'd reach a point of no return, killed a major boss and were able to get back to where you fought them, or when characters left your party for good if they had a skill that only THEY had access to (Such as Palom and Porom's Twincast ability) then they would leave the skill behind as a one-time use item to teach it to another character (More if you counted New Game+ but for this argument I'm not though I do admit the more you NG+, the more samey you can make them but even that has it's limits.).

Now well this made it possible to have SIMILAR characters to one's you lost, such as giving Twincast and Cry to one Character and then Twincast and Bluff to a different character, and unless those characters happen to be Rosa and Rydia, the twins respective White magic and Black magic will NEVER be dropped for you to give to any other character. Much like 9, the game places a limit to how many Augments you can use, more accurately a limit of 4 abilities per character and almost all characters come with a full list, so if you wanted to give them one ability from another character you had to remove one of their unique abilities (Or the attack command, but that seems very unlikely). Even the generic none character augments like HP+50% had to take up one of the 4 slots.

Augments WOULD raise your stats upon level up, but they would raise them AFTER you hit a certain level (at least level 50 if I recall correctly) and even if you did waste your time giving your heavy hitters all the magic powering augments, only 7 or so had a magical power to them: 4 being the signature move of 4 major bosses or an ability related to them, 2 were the Twincast Augment which could only cast 1 of a VERY select few magic spells and required 2 people to do it (Certain powerful magics would cast randomly if the right two people had Twincast) and the last was Recall, a Augment that a randomly selected spell on the proper target IF it worked, you have no selection over what type of spell or who it targets, if it even worked in the first place.

The last difference is Aguments are COMPLETELY OPTIONAL. Well in almost every game from 5 on, the customization has been almost mandatory to win, with 7 and 8 being the biggest offenders, fallowed by 3/6, (seriously, go ahead and try or look up a no Materia/no Junction run) 5 and 9 could stand with minimal use of it (It's not a requirement to have a subclass in 5 and not hard to beat 9 with just character unique skills only) for 4 they aren't needed at all the game can be fully beaten with the skills the characters come with.

I know that last one is by far the longest but with such a specific system in place, I felt the need to explain it as best I could and point out the differences between it and other games that shared a similar mechanic to it. Don't take away that I don;t like these games, because I really do, but since how a Role Playing Game is about unique characters and story, a lot of the "Best" games have really generic characters. Of course this only applies to battle so maybe I'm making a mountain of a molehill, but you have to deal with these characters as you go along.

I just finished Final Fantasy VI Advance, like an hour ago.

Yes every character can learn every spell and they can be interchangeable. But if you make them that way you're doing it wrong.

Every character has a defining skill and is more suited to certain roles.

Just because Edgar can learn the Aga spell doesn't mean I used him to cast offensive magic. He was using tools and later became a Dragoon. Shadow was too busy throwing stuff and I also used his melee because he's a ninja.

Here's how I played them.

Terra, Celes and Relm are offensive mages

Locke usually used for stealing, and back-row physical attacks with a genji glove

Sabin always blitzed.

Edgar used tools then jump when I got a Dragoon horn. I also gave him support magic.

Setzer, slots were OK at first, then I got a Fixed Dice and Masters Scroll and he was doing insane damage.

Shadow was primarily melee with a genji glove but I also used throw, probably not as much as I should have.

Mog has his dances which are very powerful for the first half of the game or so. He also became a Dragoon once I got the horn.

Gau, I never use. Though he has a ton of rages.

Strago is also an offensive mage, though he has some niche blue magic. Mainly unique support spells.

I didn't use Cyan that much this play-through because his Bushido's take too long to use. He was good for the first half of the game. Then he just stayed on the airship with Gau.

Umaro turned out to be pretty useful, especially in the cultists tower.

Gogo was the jack of all trades. I mainly had him/her using Blitz, Lore and some Magic. Gogo was also extremely useful for the coliseum. I got a lot of good pieces of gear that I would have not been able to do without Gogo.

So yes, the game does let you play every character the same, and while the choice is yours, it's not the best way to use them.

Tsukikagenoknight:
I never played 11 or beyond, nore did I play the official 1,2 or 3 or the Game Boy games but I'm pretty sure that they didn't have much customization in them, but hey, I could be wrong.

Well, I agree that you haven't played Final Fantasy 2, because you are wrong about it.

FF2 has ZERO (0) restrictions on any character. Give any spell to any character. Equip any weapon to any character.
It's like you've got a party of characters from the Elder Scrolls that have mastered everything.

Final Fantasy 4 DS: The Augment system almost sounds like a 8 or 9 rip off,

Augment was crap. FF4 Advance > FF4DS

One of my main problems with FF6 was how, after the party got back together, they stopped interacting in meaningful ways. Part 1 had really strong characterization, but as the game progressed, it just got blander and blander both in terms of how the main party interacted with the world, and in how they operated in combat.

So I agree, I guess?

I want to agree but my favorite Final Fantasy game is Final Fantasy Tactics and customization is the core of the game.

People call one or the other the best usually because they enjoyed it the most as a whole including all of its features, some like customisation some dont it all apples and oranges for my part I prefer being able to adapt my characters to a point like in VI,VII,VIII and X for example among others where they keep individula skills and traits like weapons, abilities and limit breaks for example but can change their roles with work even ones they are initially unsuited for. That way I am not stuck with a rigid build but can make my own or likewise be lumbered with a character I dont like but need because they fill a specific role in my team.

VI,VIII and X are my favorites of the series by far each allow customisation but the characters keep their personality really though I liked them because of the gameplay, story and characters as a whole after that IV was my next favourite although I didnt enjoy the combat much in that game.

I don't think this is the Final Fantasy specific problem, but rather something that might hamper any party RPG. I remember Shin Megami Tensei Digital Devil Saga having the same problem. I think the most optimal way is specialized party members and Main hero who can choose his own skills, much like Dragon Age or Mass Effect or Persona 3 and 4.

A balance is preferable. It's why I enjoyed VIII's junction system. I'm probably in the minority, but I also liked XII and it's awkward license board. And II, even though it gets to be a pain when leveling spells and such. But the system is completely open. Mostly I hate being forced into roles I don't like or don't use. The exception being IV, my favourite game in the series.

Okay I'm a little confused by your examples.

I thought you were complaining that when any character can be anything, it loses an important opportunity to tell us something about that character through gameplay.

But your praise of FFX-2 seems to make it more like you're just annoyed at the lack of gameplay diversity it creates. The characters in FFX-2 are pretty interchangeable but their battle roles aren't which theoretically allows for more structured battles at the loss of player creativity and minmaxing. If you're issue is mainly this one, well it depends on the game. If it's done right they don't give you the time to make everyone into everything anyway, so you have to specialise them. But it allows for a lot more cool builds in that specialising with more customisation. But the 'fight puzzles' of FFX, centred around rigid character roles are fun too.

As a sort of aside, my big criticism of the OP would not be so much the points raised, but the examples used. There's a lot of subtlety to all these systems which is being skipped over. In pretty much all FF games, even ones with very flexible levelling systems, the characters will have base stats and levelling progression that favours certain roles for certain characters. For the record, X has very fixed character roles and not until endgame can you begin experimenting with different combinations.

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I think the first idea, of character through gameplay is important. FFX did it fantastically. Auron was an overpowered badass whose role was damage dealer and armour breaker. Tidus was fast, but not as strong as Auron or as accurate as Wakka. It all fitted very well.

Another good example is Mass Effect 1 and Wrex. Wrex is utterly boring. He has almost no dialogue with Shepard, no story impact, he won't develop a relationship in conversations, his motivation is absolutely crud and his special mission is so underwhelming that Wrex himself dismisses it as inconsequential at the end.

But people love him. Why? Well meme videos.

But if we pretend that isn't true, in gameplay terms Wrex is a badass tank who runs at enemies and eats bullets whilst shotgunning him in the face. A legitimate problem solving method is telling Wrex to go and kill it. It feels right and it exudes his personality.

Final Fantasy needs to do more of it. It was great in X, but very weak in XII and XIII. They try it with different levels of roles and abilities but the switching mechanics in XIII stopped those roles from having a very firm feel.

And fuck girl=mage. Even Lightning had a weaker attack stat than the people around her. I was pissed that Serah had less health and less strength than Noah. Its good to tells stories with characters, but the one about how you need men to take the hits and do the damage needs to die. Apart from gender stereotypes, it's boring, because they do it every single time

Tsukikagenoknight:
Final Fantasy 10: i've never played it so this one is short, but given what I've seen of the sphere system, it seems to fall into the same category as 7, but i admit I could be wrong.

The Sphere system is pretty different from Materia. For most of the game, each character is limited to the semi-linear path of their own section on the Grid. Meaning they each fulfill a specific role. There is no cherry picking whatever you want. Auron can initially only gain samurai abilities and appropriate stat boosts. Similarly, Lulu and Yuna are the only characters that early on can learn black and white magic respectively. And so on.

Late in the game, you can unlock the rest of the grid and develop each character along the path of the characters his/her sections borders on. And then along another characters semi-linear path, and then another, until you complete the grid. So, in the end you end up with a set of all-rounders that can pretty much do anything (Except summon Aeons. Only Yuna can ever do that).

However, a few things should be noted. Firstly, it is not necessary to go beyond each characters specific grid section. It's perfectly possible to beat the game without Tidus ever learning black magic. Secondly, it takes some serious grinding for any character to become as good at a specific role as the character that specializes in that role, if at all.

Could someone please explain to me what some of the characters roles are in 10 ? I've cleared the game once, and found the sphere grid a little confusing, not a lot, just enough that I'm not too sure what Tidus is good for, and have no idea why Kimahri and Wakka even exist.

Yuna - White Mage and Summoner
Lulu - Black Mage
Auron - Samurai, Hard Hitting, Armor Breaking - Mental Breaking ect
Rikku - Steal, Mix, Does Machines

Tidus I think might be on a path of Time Magic ?

But other than Blue Magic and Hitting agile targets I never figured out what Kimahri and Wakka do.

The reason Final Fantasy VII is my favorite Final Fantasy game has nothing to do with the skill system. Though I do like the skill system in FFVII.

Anyhow, what you are saying might be true, but there is a far more important issue at hand: unbalanced gameplay. The vast majority of games suffer from this. The more RPG'ish the game gets (with stats and skills), the more unbalanced it tends to get. Now if you look at the major Final Fantasy games, none of them are unbalanced. That alone is pretty impressive. I am happy with all the Final Fantasy games I have played (minus one), even the most recent ones FFXIII and FFXIII-2.

I have played Final Fantasy I-VI (SNES), VII-IX (PS1), X + X-2 + XII (PS2), XIII + XIII-2 (Xbox360). The only one I don't like is FFXII, because of the gameplay. I still have to complete that game one day.

I think the main issue with Final Fantasys these days is 30 hour long corridors, cliches, bad narratives, visuals over gameplay(although this isn't as true nowadays, but it was game breaking in the PS1(VII-IX) era) and pacing.

Tsukikagenoknight:
**snip**

I absolutely disagree.

The reason I love FF7 as much as I do is the absolute infinite customization. I don't have to let the character archetypes set down by the creators determine how I want to play a given character.

If I want Cloud to be the healer, Aeris to be the Fighter, and Tifa to be the Black Mage, I can do that. There's actually a period in Midgar where that's a good option (right after stealing Aeris a weapon in the junk yard that temporarily makes Aeris the best fighter in the party).

More importantly, it means that every character can heal. I was kidding before about Cloud being a healer - with Materia, I never NEED a healer. I can have two fighters and a mage, all of whom can heal. I can keep my damage output high while ensuring that any party member has the ability to Cure (or later Raise) any other party member.

I am very sad that they've never brought a similarly customizable system back. Even the games that came close never had the flexibility or customization of the Materia system in FF7.

ChristopherT:
Tidus I think might be on a path of Time Magic ?
But other than Blue Magic and Hitting agile targets I never figured out what Kimahri and Wakka do.

Tidus - buff Mage/well rounded fighter
Kimahri - no core class, choose your own path (and my least favorite character because you HAVE to use your wall breaking items, rare and precious early in the game, to allow him to level into any useful class)
Wakka - fast fighter (so yes, hitting agile targets)

Since the game had some very specific mechanics for Agile enemies vs Armored enemies, Wakka and Auron were pretty much one-job characters. Wakka was also dodgy as fuck, which made him a good dodge tank.

I see your points, OP, and disagree vehemently. I love classless RPG mechanics. If I want to make a jack-of-all-trades character, let me customize it. If I want a tank, battlemage, healer, archer... let me design the skillset myself out of a myriad of choices.

So kind of what Maxtro said.

Also, if you take the example of FF6, in building offensive mages, min-maxing as much as possible with esper levelup bonuses (and taking for granted every spell being learned), Cyan's spell output is nowhere near Terra's, she just naturally gains more magic power on level-up (just as he gains more physical power). I mean, if you consider half damage equivalent...

I'm sorry but your complaining that you have to much customization? Really?

While I can sympathize with not liking a game as much because of its mechanics the reason people like/dislike FF games very rarely is because of the Mechanics. FF6 You can learn any spell but with the exception of Terra, Celes, and Relm the characters benefit more from their special abilites then magic.

I can agree with you about FF8 which is one of my least favorite in the series. The Draw/Junction system is a lot of busy work combined with just attacking for pretty much every fight with the exception of monsters that are severly weak to an elemental spell late in the game and that one spell that let you use your limit(?) ability every round.

But again I should re-emphasize if your playing an FF game for its mechanics your doing it wrong.

Let me again re-iterate I LIKE all these games, and I KNOW these are supposed to be story driven, my argument is that
battles are a major part of the game as well and if you make your game so that party members are essentially
swapable at will you don't get the sense of bonding to the chracters because you've played through the whole
game, laughing as your thief failed to steal again, or crying as the 8493 Flare your black mage did was only a few points
short of killing the boss or your fighter being the only character left with like 4 health and you having a heart attack then
wooping in joy as his last attack killed the boss.

Now in responce to people who have commented on this with their own opinions, here are my replies.

BrotherRool I'm not praising 10-2, just pointing out it's semi lack of customization. Yes they could switch
on the fly but that took a turn and as I said before, they have to lose the talents of the class they left.
Yes I know there is subtlety to the systems in all of them, and I do get all of them, I didn't mention them
because there was no reason to, if you're reading this you KNOW what they are.
As I said, I never played 10

Maxtro Yes well I would agree that giving every character every spell is th wrong way to play it,
you have the ability to, and quite frankly, even I admit it would be smart to at least put SOME
magic onto every character, even if it is just arise/full life and cure spells. My point was
nothing is stopping you from doing so even to characters who have no good reason to use magic.
I mentioned every character had a unique ability and that is was good for them to have, but
the game never really gave you a great chance to have to use them, even Celes's rune ability
was only optional for hard bosses

Madwarper As I said I I never played 2 so thank you for showing me that it has a even WORSE customization then 7
I like 4 Advance because the game would let me drop Edge for Yang and the new dungeon on the moon was awesome and difficult
DS had a harder game overall, such as Dr. Lugae and the Reverse Gas he coudl use which made any damage heal and any heal damage
(Literially, a sword swing would heal him and a potion would hurt him while it was active but he wasn;t undead so
no Phoenix down/Exlier wouldnt work) Yes the Augment system wasn't the best, but it was a nice addition and new mechanic
they didn't have to add.

Clive Howlitzer Tactics is one of my favorite games too, and even in that game your only allowed 1 sub job just like
in 5 which is a balance to the system.

Maximum Bert I agree completely that giving you the abilty to customaize a character is great, it's when they allow you
to go to far is where I have the problem. in 7 one of your listed favorite games if you needed a healer, a black mage and
a tank all you needed to do was pick 3 characters you liked (either through limit breaks, or model) and add Materia until
the job is filled.

IllumInaTIma Yes I know it's not a Final Fantasy problem exclusively this was jsut the example I am using

x-Tomfoolery-x I like the junction system to, it made the game a lot more interesting. It's not a bad system
and the intent was good, the only problem with it was that since it was so broad and every character could junction
to all stats, you could turn Selphie into a 99(9) stregnth when she's clearly supposed to be a speed character
and Zell into a Black mage when he's clearly supposed to be a Beat stick. Had they made it so every character
could only junction into certain stats (like Rinoa couldn't junction to STR), limited how high the bonus could go
for certain characters (Zell's magic stat cutting off at like 40 or 450 caus eI forget if the stats were double or triple digits)
and of course leaving stats like HP and MP and Luck free to customize would of made the system much more...structured.

chimzy Maybe it is I never played it, so like I admited I could be wrong and thanks to you I clearly am. Thank you for correcting me.

4RM3D I agree the games are balanced, although you do have to use the customization to do so. If you can try to play a no materia
or no Junction run and see how easy it is. Still very balanced and fun gameplay, as I said I do enjoy the games a lot,
even 3/6 and 7 are loads of fun to play, and as you can see I attack them the most here.

Reply part 2

Bara_no_Hime That is fine if you disagree, I never claimed I was right. The blank slate character mode of 7 let you pick your
favorite limit breaks/chaaracters and run with them doing anything you needed and well I liked it, it made everyone else
just wasting space on the discs that could of been used for more story, more Materia or anything else.

loc978 Yes fine I was exagerating when I said that Cyan could output damage equal to Terra, but when the next character can
just curaga you back to full health, doing 9999 or 6### is kind of a meaningless difference. Making a Jack-of-all-Trades isn't
a bad thing but if your going to give us 7+ characters and limit us to using 3 at a time then what's the point of the
other characters if the first 3 can be anything you want them to be. And yes if you wanted to make an archer, or you wanted
to make a tank that is fine, but when they let you make a Archer/Tank/Healer/Battlemage all AS THE SAME CHARACTER,
THAT is where I have my problem.

Belgariontheking1 Yes I know Terra Celes and Relm can make the most use of it, but as I've told others, if every character COULD
get the ability to heal, why wouldn't you? If every character COULD learn Ultima/Meteor/Flare, why wouldn't you?
8's draw/junction system was unique, its problem to me is it's wide spread use to EVERY stat in the game.
And I'm not playing a FF game for the mechanics, but since they are what you need to focus on so you don't die
they should be criticised and balanced as opposed to letting every character have free reign, or in a easier sense,
giving the player in game access to a character customizer for talents.

When I play a role-playing game, I generally prefer for the characters to play the roles I choose for them rather than the roles the script has set for them. That seems like a lost battle in the Final Fantasy series, but the ability to customize characters seems like at least a conciliatory gesture toward those of us who kind of feel like we're doing no more than minding the projector while it plays a movie we're not propelling (and I admit I probably ought not to speak in the plural here since I have no idea if anyone else feels that way, but never mind).

After 4 (minus 9, which kind of went back to 4s style), they were all generally customizable, but you'd definately be forcing yourself into somewhat of a grind if you did silly things.

Barring grinding full out to master classes and runnign a bare class/mimic, you generally couldn't cross fighters and mages very well in 5.

You could prettymuch toss out the goodies wherever in 6, but Edgar & Mog could use spears, making them the best dragoons with the damage bonus. Relm, Terra, and Celes would incredibly outclass other peoples magic power without a lot of pre-planned grinding using the Esper's level up bonuses. Locke was prettymuch always the fastest even with trying to bend it. And I forget who specifically could max their Vigor for physical damage.

7 saw everything prettymuch dumped out the window. Sure, you couldn't pull extremes like making Yuffie fight at Clouds level, but it really saw the bland sameness come out in force.

8 didn't have any real character bias, but the GF skill layouts kind of worked in a similar vein to 5's jobs, albeit a bit wider in versatility.

10 had pretty defined roles, and going the "wrong" way on the SPhere grid set you back more then it helped, beyond novelty purposes.

ChristopherT:
Could someone please explain to me what some of the characters roles are in 10 ? I've cleared the game once, and found the sphere grid a little confusing, not a lot, just enough that I'm not too sure what Tidus is good for, and have no idea why Kimahri and Wakka even exist.

Yuna - White Mage and Summoner
Lulu - Black Mage
Auron - Samurai, Hard Hitting, Armor Breaking - Mental Breaking ect
Rikku - Steal, Mix, Does Machines

Tidus I think might be on a path of Time Magic ?

But other than Blue Magic and Hitting agile targets I never figured out what Kimahri and Wakka do.

Someone covered most of it above me, but X more than any other doesn't follow the traditional roles and comes up with their own much tighter ones, so selecting the character appropriate for the job is the vital part of strategy.

So we can put Tidus in a Time Mage box but really the way you were thinking when you were playing the game is the 'role' they were in and is a more accurate/useful way of thinking

Auron - Slow armoured enemies (also physical DPS and soft debuffs)
Tidus - Wolf, fast enemies (also buffs)
Wakka - Flying enemies (also hard debuffs)
Lulu - Low magic resist enemies

Yuna - Tough enemies, desperation
Rikku - Is fast

I don't really think there are names for them because I've never really seen a game with such a specific battle system and relying on that swapping mechanic.

I was always a bit sad that Rikku didn't have much of a role at all in battles, so I tried to use her the most and over level her. Wakka got a bit of the short end of the stick too because Tidus only needs to be a little overlevelled before he can take over his job

Tsukikagenoknight:
Let me again re-iterate I LIKE all these games, and I KNOW these are supposed to be story driven, my argument is that
battles are a major part of the game as well and if you make your game so that party members are essentially
swapable at will you don't get the sense of bonding to the chracters because you've played through the whole
game, laughing as your thief failed to steal again, or crying as the 8493 Flare your black mage did was only a few points
short of killing the boss or your fighter being the only character left with like 4 health and you having a heart attack then
wooping in joy as his last attack killed the boss.

Now in responce to people who have commented on this with their own opinions, here are my replies.

BrotherRool I'm not praising 10-2, just pointing out it's semi lack of customization. Yes they could switch
on the fly but that took a turn and as I said before, they have to lose the talents of the class they left.
Yes I know there is subtlety to the systems in all of them, and I do get all of them, I didn't mention them
because there was no reason to, if you're reading this you KNOW what they are.
As I said, I never played 10

Well I think that answers my question (this is a character thing more than a strategic thing right?). And I didn't mean you were praising FFX-2 as a game, but that you were saying it had a battle system with the level of customisation more in line with what you thought was appropriate.

It was confusing me, because I think X-2's thing is slightly different from your main idea. There's the one idea where a battle system builds up relationships with characters over the long-term in a way that supports the story by making it so that they're useful in specific roles over the course of the game. You think of Snow as your sentinel and in your battles you'll be thinking about how you're specific sentinel has done and how he's grown in the role etc.

And then in X-2 we've got the idea of characters having specific roles in the short term, where you build up a relationship in that battle because of the certain thing that someone needs. The thing is the materia system has that too because you can only have someone kitted out to do certain things within a battle and you need a diverse selection so you have to put certain people into certain roles.

The worst game in the series for it is FFXII by far, the license grid means anything goes, there's almost no prodding into any roles at all and by the end of the game most characters will be able to do almost everything. So it breaks the long-term thing and the short-term thing

The only way that you end up with everyone in FF6 as being clones of each other is if you grind a lot(which I did the first time I played. Ah, the days of only having one game to keep me occupied for months on end). It is true that the potential is there, but it has to be exploited. Until you have everyone with all the best spells and max magic stats, many of the characters have unique abilities that are the better option(though some of them are very specific in their application).

But really, I never considered FF6 to be especially good because of its game mechanics. It is a pretty basic JRPG in that regard no matter how you look at it. FF6 stands out for because of its characters, its story, its music and its main antagonist. All the things that once were SquareSoft's strengths(and more so in FF6 than in most of the franchise to my thinking). The gameplay was merely the vessel that carried the story.

Even with FFVII, you CAN deck out any character to fit a given role, but you won't get the same results. Kind of like some of the examples given of games that "don't" do this.

Roleplaying games can either have unique characters and story or, more commonly, have an interesting world and customizable characters to fit the player's needs. I know we're talking about Final Fantasy here, but for the genre, customizable characters are the norm. As some examples: Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls, or Fallout allow the player to fully customize their character for any style of gameplay; in the middle are games like Persona 3-4, FF10, and Dragon Quest 8 with characters given premade classes and customizable builds. The only games without any customizable character abilities that come to mind are old-school Dragon Quest games (might be wrong on that) and Final Fantasy 4.

Although I don't understand what we're agreeing or disagreeing about.

The only Final Fantasy where this is a problem before you reach the endgame and start maxing everyone's levels and whatnot is Final Fantasy VIII, where the literally only difference between characters is their levels and limit breaks. And I do think this is a huge flaw.

However, while you could argue that the characters in FF2, FF3 and FF5 don't have predefined roles, they will eventually grow into whatever roles you want them to. Even then certain characters are just more suitable for certain roles, they're hardly interchangeable. The only way to make them palette swaps of each other is to max everything, and at that point you've broken the game anyway.

I do feel that the magicite system in FF6 is mostly superfluous, as every character has a nice niche they fill, and in FF6 equipment alone allows for a good deal of customization. While the natural spellcasters will have magic superior to everyone else for a good while, at some point equipment available to a character becomes a more important factor than their abilities. But even that's only from a min-max standpoint.

Final Fantasy VII... Let's see, Barret has naturally high vitality and HP, and most of his weapons are ranged. Put him on back row and slap Counter Attack and Cover materias on him, and you have a great tank. You COULD use him as a healer if you so wanted, but he'll be much less efficient than, say, Aeris. Unless of course you're smart and instead of spamming Cure, you get White Wind. Again, all this goes out the window once you get to a certain point, but that's all third disc problems.

Final Fantasy X only has this problem once you've finished everyone's paths, and you can beat the game well before that. Until then, just like FF4 and FF9, each character has a preset role they fulfill in battle. Tidus has buffs, delays, and can hit fast enemies; Auron has debuffs and armor piercing, Wakka has status effects and can hit flying enemies, Lulu has elemental magic, and Yuna is the designated healer. Kimahri is the blue mage (which in this case means you can do whatever you want with him), and Rikku the thief (and also your ticket to breaking the game).

At the risk of sounding like a broken record: just because you CAN fill any role with any character, doesn't mean they're anywhere near optimal for it. Unless, you know, you max ALL your shit.

I rather liked the over customization, as I could pick teams/characters I liked, not just ones because they were "needed". Plus I kinda feel it goes with the mantra of "you can be whatever you want to be" kids are told nonstop.

 

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