Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Final Fantasy III Players Guide (1995)

Author: Peter Olafson | Page Count: 164

“They’re a good bunch of people, in a real story, full of twists and turns, and you can put your heart into them. Many of them have something in their past that’s holding them back, and you’ll have to help them come to grips with their inner demons.”

In the days before Squeenix was hiding things behind otherwise unremarkable endless walls of textures, and denying you an ultimate weapon for doing something as natural as opening chests at the beginning of a game, Square Soft was in the business of providing players with far more innocent secrets. The type that you could actually stumble onto yourself, if you were thorough enough in your explorations. Back then, your parents may have bought you a strategy guide out of the kindness of their hearts, because they saw them on the rack, not because they were harangued by an employee who counterintuitively wants to remain in the employ of a vampiric and entirely disreputable mega-chain.

Times heartbreakingly change.

My original copy of this went missing, sadly, and I will wholeheartedly admit that this is an endeavor of nostalgia. However, as a matter of personal principle, I do not allow things to remain solely in its softening and heralding glow. I’m here to be (as) completely objective (as a human can be) about its advice, given my twenty plus years of experience with the game. There is no disrespect intended to Mr. Olafson, regardless of the outcome, not the least of which is because of a passage of the introduction that has stuck with me all this time, completely in the absence of the book itself:

“Finally, if possible, hook your machine up to stereo speakers and a nice big TV. The music is superb, and the graphics shine whether you’re looking at something as simple as a section of wall, or whipping across the landscape in Super NES’s special ‘Mode 7.’”

Even the walls in FF VI are works of art, and he acknowledges that, the same as I do, to this very day. Graphics and filmmaking, and honestly anything created by mankind, are all a product of the realities of the world and the technology available at the time that they were birthed. Yes, sometimes we’re able to eventually do some things ‘better,’ but the age of a piece of media shouldn’t be held against it, as a matter of course. There are people out there who disregard things because of such circumstances and I pity them. I won’t say ‘limitations,’ because in some cases they are actually strengths. Technological Zeitgeist can be very powerful and I unquestionably believe it to be in regards to FF VI. Sprites are beautiful and these are the best I’ve seen.

Unlike with Chrono Trigger, where I adore the sprites, but cannot stomach the original Dragon Ball Z-esque artwork, I do in fact like Yoshitaka Amano’s foundational character artwork for VI. It is deliberately peppered throughout this book, to my utter joy. It is joined by a number of boundary-less charts detailing things such as the Magicite available in the game and the characters’ unique skills. However, there are some rather grave omissions on that particular front, and a few others. Olafson fails to list the majority of Strago’s Lores, or what monsters he can learn them from. Only a small few are mentioned in passing, which is unfortunate because many require special techniques to even be elicited at all. He does not touch on the Dances that Mog can miss out on permanently. I cannot hold the lack of coverage on Gau’s Rages against him, however, as the list is extensive and intensely daunting, which in turns makes it unlikely that he, or any casual fan, would know that it’s actually not completable at all, without a cheat device. Especially as a Westerner in 1994-95!!!

He also somewhat inaccurately describes the mechanics for maximizing one’s score in one specific mini-game and neglects the specifics of a boss with an unorthodox gimmick. I suppose he simply got lucky on all of his playthroughs? He seemingly missed seeing three essential flashbacks on all of those runs, as well.

I realize that the immediately preceding paragraphs are very punitive in nature. However, outside of the final bullet-point, Olafson repeatedly demonstrates that he possesses not only a chronic sense of humor about the proceedings, but also a deep abiding reverence for the STORY. One that I have always shared. Even though he does not deliver a few important pieces of information, he will not lead a player astray in terms of the timeless and shining narrative. In fact, he basically retells it, here, and when I read this straight through, I felt the same emotional stings as I do when playing the game. He conveys so eloquently that he understands the value of it. He kids about it because he loves it, the same as I do.

I had completely forgotten that he outright states to the Western audience that this is actually FF VI, and not really III. I clearly forgot early on, as I was befuddled when VII was released, like many others were. He was ahead of the curve in many regards, including his passion. And, in this day and age, that’s really the only reason to buy this: if you want something that accurately embodies your feelings about the game. To know that you’re not alone, much the same as what is conveyed by the game itself.

3 Startlingly On-Point Beatles References out of 5

Nutted by NEGIf you'd like to hear me fill in the gaps, go here.