Final Fantasy H – Hardtype Review

1 (10)

Fenrir Lunaris’ Final Fantasy H is one of few games from the OHRRPGCE library that does not require an introduction. Even if you are a newcomer to the community, you’ve most likely heard of this game. Upon release in late 2001, FFH became one of the most popular OHR games, and with it,  brought many new users to the community. Since then, FFH and FFH-Hardtype have raked in thousands upon thousands of downloads. I doubt very few games outside of maybe Wandering Hamster and the Ends of the Earth series have surpassed it in terms of exposure.

1 (1)

Despite having been in the community since 99/00, I never played this game back in its hey day. I decided this week to sit down and sink my teeth into what many people regard as an OHRRPGCE classic.

1 (6)

For those that don’t know, Final Fantasy H is a remake of the original NES title, Final Fantasy. If you are familiar at all with the plot of the original, then you’ll be happy to know that much of it has remained intact in FFH. The Light Warriors still have their ultimate quest, but Fenrir also added numerous elements in an attempt to add more flair to the exisiting storyline. While the idea behind this is sound, I don’t believe that it was ultimately achieved in FFH. I found the additional story-based content to be a bit lackluster and the new cast to be a little on the dull side.

1 (11)

While Fenrir may be somewhat responsible for that, I think that the style of game plays a huge factor as well. I’ve never attempted to remake a classic game myself, but I can imagine that adding anything new to the game (specifically story-wise) could be a bit of a challenge. Most people playing the remake will be familiar enough with the original to know when something seems out of place. Unfortunately, the added story content was just not interesting enough for me to care. I also felt that Seraph was way too similar to Sephiroth (his character design, him being in a crater towards the end, etc), though perhaps that was intended.

1 (7)

The dialogue is interesting because, while being well written most of the time, it suffers from many spelling mistakes. Fenrir does a pretty good job of adding some dry humor here and there, but it’s never enough to make up for the issues at hand. It’s just unfortunate that there are so many obvious spelling mistakes that could have been easily fixed before release. To make things even more strange, the bulk of these issues appear in the first few hours of the game rather than towards the end (where rushed content can tend to be a commonplace). Either way, it was a bit of an disheartening for me to see so many easily correctable spelling errors.

FFHARD0001

It’s no surprise to most that Fenrir is capable of producing some of the best graphics in the OHRRPGCE community. This game was released back in his “early days”, but you can still pick up on his unique artistic style that shines even today. The handful of original graphics scattered across the game are pretty good, though they can’t begin to compete with Fenrir’s newest stuff. That’s not to put down the original artwork at all, considering this game was released YEARS before Vikings of Midgard was even a thing.

Going into Final Fantasy H for the first time, I assumed that it would have primarily original graphics. I was hoping to see Fenrir create the Final Fantasy world from his own perspective (graphic-wise). Unfortunately, I was  wrong about that…

FFHARD0006

I would say that at least 50% of the graphics are ripped from various Final Fantasy games. I really have a problem with this, because when I play a remake of something I expect to see the same game but in a “different light”, so to speak. Any time Square Enix/Squaresoft has ported their games to another system, they have almost always made changes to the gameplay and/or the graphics. While they have been know to do exact ports too, I don’t find it as common as them changing up the formula just a bit.

FFHARD0003

My point is that I would have MUCH rather seen Fenrir do all of his own graphics, even if they weren’t as good as some of the more recent ports of the commercial game.  In my opinion, a fresh perspective on an age-old game, no matter the quality, is a lot more enticing than seeing the same assets from previous games brought back in the exact same form. I do commend Fenrir for doing an excellent job on handling the ripped graphics though, as they are by far the best rip job I have ever seen in an OHRRPGCE game. Many OHR games that feature ripped graphics are genuinely hard to look at, but it’s obvious that he put much effort into making them look as nice as possible.

1 (2)

Because I like my games on the more difficult side, I decided to play FFH – Hardtype as opposed to the original “normal” version. The author’s description of FFH-H states that it is the same game as FFH, but more difficult (duh). If that is truly the case, then I would really hate to play FFH-Normal, because FFH-H was almost too easy…

FFHARD0002

My team consisted of a Black Mage, White Mage, Monk, and a Fighter. I’m going to assume that some team builds will have an easier or more difficult time depending on what you choose, but my group blasted through pretty much everything with minimal effort. The game honestly did not get difficult at all until the last few hours, where things could prove to be dangerous if you weren’t careful. When it comes to the difficulty curve in FFH, it actually somewhat mirrors Fenrir’s other game, Vikings of Midgard. I distinctly remember blasting through that game with no problems until a handful of bosses towards the end. You would think that playing a “hardtype” game would offer a constant stream of challenge, but FFH-H did not achieve that at all.

FFHARD0008

On top of that, there are various balancing issues throughout the game. Early on, melee-oriented characters tend to have a huge advantage over casters. Even though casters can perform multiple spells before having to replenish mana (unlike the original game), they have very little access to magic-power increasing equipment until later on in the game. This makes many of their early abilities a bit useless until you start picking up more caster-oriented gear later on down the road. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Cleric’s Harm spell should have been scaled down just a bit. The description says that it lightly damages the undead, but it essentially one shots any normal enemy it hits. I was also a bit confused by this spell because it worked on non-undead enemies even though the description says it does not. I’m assuming that this is a bug, and if so, would have been an easy one to spot before release. Even though Harm can obliterate almost any random enemy, things are still too easy overall even without using it.

FFHARD0013

Final Fantasy H does do some things right, though I feel like it takes one step forward while taking two steps back most of the time. It is obvious that Fenrir devoted a lot of time to the development of this game, but it is only apparent in certain aspects rather than through the entirety of the game. I still recommend playing Final Fantasy H at least once, though I can’t guarantee exactly what you will be able to take from the experience in the end.

standing