The stories of the first 5 were also far too similar. 4 out of the 5 are the same thing with the Warriors of Light and the crystals. Two was slightly different with the power hungry Emperor. At least they made a unique story with XIII. Final Fantasy I is absolutely terrible and it amazes me that the series even continued after the first game. Regardless, I wouldn't even have XIII in my top 5 Final Fantasies. However, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 12 were not very good. I'm not sure that 12 even qualifies as a game since it plays itself.
I'll agree with you about the story, however I'm going to disagree about 1 being "terrible".
I've played and finished the NES version countless times, and it has more replayability and non-linearity than nearly any other game in the series. Also, if you only ever finished a remake of it, you're a baddie. The remakes remove all the challenge.
The replayability is fantastic- you have 6 job classes, each with their own unique promotion. Your party makeup determines your gameplay experience. Using many pieces of equipment that cast spells in battle, it's even possible to finish the game with a team of white mages. After the earth dungeon, the rest of the game can be completed non-linearly, you can do the remaining dungeons out of order.
To quote from the article I linked:
"From a present-day perspective, what might be most striking about 1987's Final Fantasy is how little it resembles its sequels. Almost none of the things we now associate with those two F-words are anywhere to be seen. There is no adolescent male protagonist in stylish clothes who comes of age and learns the meaning of friendship and duty as he travels the world and battles the forces of evil; nor is there a well-meaning but ultimately inept gorgeous female co-star who falls in love with the hero after being rescued by him three or four times. There are no long-haired, borderline androgynous antagonists with textbook Freudean disorders who want to destroy the world in order to save it. There are no cutscenes: the player's characters never speak (much less carry on five-minute conversations amongst themselves), and NPC speech is almost always limited to what can be squeezed inside a single text box. None of the Light Warriors are capable of summoning magnificent energy blasts during desperate moments; there are no god-conjuring spells with painstakingly-choreographed thirty to ninety-second animation sequences. There are no gimmicky weapons -- no gunblades, no razor-edged playing cards, no flintlock pistols that shoot magic, no eight-foot katanas, no Buster Swords. All of Final Fantasy's trademark critters -- moogles, chocobos, tonberries, cactuars, Ifrit, Shiva -- are nowhere to be seen. There is no trademarked real-time battle system, no specially-tailored character development mechanics like the Junction system or Sphere Grid, and no special moves involving quick button presses or spinning reels. The game certainly can't boast of having a four-year development cycle or an eight-digit budget: Final Fantasy was released within a year of its inception and worked on by about seven people (including its sole programmer, NASIR). Things were simpler then, that's for sure..."
"Final Fantasy doesn't give you much to work with. There is only one (1) health-restoring potion, and it's only good for about 30 HP. The party can hold up to 99 of these, which only sounds like a lot. You don't get as much healing magic as you'd like, and spell list forces you choose between expending turns and magic charges on spells that either restore a moderate amount of HP for a single character, or a piddling amount for the whole party. There is no way for magic users to replenish spell charges inside dungeons. The only way to restore a party member who's hit 0 HP is through a couple of spells that only the White Mage and promoted Red Mage have access to and cannot be used during battles. There are no save or heal points inside dungeons. The real challenge of Final Fantasy is in handling the deluge of random battles as best you can and finding ways to stretch your team's supplies as you guide them through labrynthine, multi-floored dungeons without maps. This actually makes the dungeon treks one of the game's highlights, and not just a series of annoyances that must be slogged through in order to progress to the next boss fight or cutscene."
This game was made in simpler times, with a different design philosophy. There was no need for story, your characters were blank slates. You had the bare basics- class specific weapons and armor, magic with very limited use, and a limited inventory. This all served to make the game MORE of a roleplaying game, and more similar to the pen and paper games it was based on. It required skillful planning and careful usage of magic to make it through a dungeon successfully. You could *gasp* actually use your imagination, since the graphics were primitive. The limited narrative made it easy to suppose any sort of story for your team, instead of having it all fleshed out for you by the scenario writers.
They don't make games like this now, that's for sure.
If FFXIII is "so great" why was it universally critically panned for being extremely linear, limiting, having bad character design with cardboard personalities, no free roaming, no towns, no character equipment, a bad battle system, and so on?
Why is the average reader review score on gamefaqs a 6.8... but in reality, LOOK
how many gave it below a 5.
(To be fair, NES Final Fantasy
on gamefaqs has an average reader review score of 8.4, and I don't see a single review giving it less than a 5, indeed I only see 3 reviews that gave it a 5)
Final Fantasy was revolutionary, and a complete classic. I agree it's dated, sure, but not everyone only started gaming in the last 10 years. It is certainly better than the modern day, Japanime reject filled, overly linear, stripped of all soul incarnations of FF. But hey, at least they have "amazing graphics", right?
EDIT: Let's also keep in mind, the budget for Final Fantasy XIII was $80 million and it took 5 years to make. The budget for NES Final Fantasy was probably under $100000 and it took less than a year to make. We're also comparing a modern day console with a dedicated CPU and GPU to an 8-bit machine without it's own dedicated graphics, and extremely limited ROM space. We're kind of comparing apples and oranges here, and if you think FFXIII is a better game than FF 1-6 simply because it has better graphics, is longer, has a very in-depth story, or any of that, you're missing the point. FFXIII couldn't have been made 15 years ago, let alone 25 years ago. The newer ones aren't simply better because they have better story telling, and back in the day, the story was secondary to the character stat and skill development and GAMEPLAY. That's what the classic games have in spades over the new ones- time tested, addictive turn based gameplay that required strategy and planning over the whole course of the game. It's certainly better than FFXIII, which is "mash X to win, change Paradigm to medic to heal occasionally".Edited by neurotix - 2/16/13 at 1:03pm