AeroPergold

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Ah, it must be time for a controversial hot take. While I am not stranger to shaking up the forum. I wanted to put my thoughts to text on a subject that I even wrote about in a college class paper.

But first some background, everybody knows what Final Fantasy 7? Right? I don't have to explain it? This is a forum pertaining to the RPG genre so I don't feel like I should have to explain Final Fantasy 7. But...Phantasy Star 4 is the last in the mainline Phantasy Star JRPG series created by Sega starting life on the Master System before doing its last three games on the Genesis or Mega Drive as some European/Asian members may point out.

So why compare the two? Simple...Phantasy Star 4 does Sci-Fi better than Final Fantasy 7.

Final Fantasy 7 is one of the first entries in the Final Fantasy series to fully embrace sci-fi elements featuring grungy industrial environments, advanced technology and weaponry as well as featuring Shin-ra as the first Anarcho-Capitalism society in an RPG. But FF7 has a problem in the sense that it doesn't want to commit to Sci-Fi or Fantasy. Instead feeling like like a halfway point between high fantasy and Science Fiction, neither Lord of the Rings or Star Trek. That's when Phantasy Star 4 comes in.

Phantasy Star 4 fully commits to Sci-Fi featuring laser guns, spaceships, interplanetary travel, satellites, biologically modified monsters, robots, and aliens. For instance, magic abilities in PS4 aren't called magic, but rather Tech or Techniques in long form. Final Fantasy 7 despite featuring an industrialized setting with advanced technology still calls its magic magic.

Phantasy Star does Sci-Fi and does to its maximum potential, even in its most primitive form on the Master System featuring three planets to explore and fast paced 3D Dungeons, all this on an 8-Bit console using the same CPU as the ZX Spectrum no less!

Final Fantasy 7's art kinda falls flat compared to the chad Phantasy Star 4, excluding drawn art and 2D profile pictures, FF7 was confined to the limitations and lack of experience of early 3D gaming. Overworld people models look like lego mini-figs, the models in pre-rendered cutscenes look stiff and lack texture. Phantasy Star 4 was produced at the height of 2D pixel art, utilizing Sega's heavy experience with 2D games with well made sprites and tile work. Even the artstyle has a heavy manga/90's Anime look to it giving it an artistically distinct style only seen in Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger (since the dude who did the art for Dragon Ball did the art for both of these games). While FF7 does have an anime artsyle, it is still confined to the limits of the Playstation 1 leading up to 1997.

Also Phantasy Star 4 had the more subtle character death, everybody knows that Aerith dies but does anyone know that Alys dies in Phantasy Star 4? That and the most impactful things come after Aerith dies, but in the Phantasy Star 4, Alys' death was the impactful thing.

Am I saying that FF7 is an inferior game, no. A bit overrated yes but far from a bad game. All I am saying that Phantasy Star had the complete and involved Sci-Fi experience and that Square's game is called Final Fantasy and not Final George Orwell's 1984.

Join me next time when I try to prove that if given the chance, Ultima will beat Dragon Quest for being the best Fantasy RPG.
 

PixeLockeT

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There is no good Fail Fantasy. I tried and found Phantasy Star Online flat and boring, but I haven't tried the offline ones (although I wanna, as sci-fi is my fav setting). Star Ocean 2 is tops for sci-fi jRPGs - it's like taking Star Trek and combining it with anime - so very exciting. And Dragon Quest > Ultima for sure, although Ultima's not too bad. u wu
 

ATT_Turan

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Phantasy Star 4 does Sci-Fi better than Final Fantasy 7.

Final Fantasy 7 is one of the first entries in the Final Fantasy series to fully embrace sci-fi elements
I think you contradicted yourself and your point right there. I don't believe (and I've never read any description claiming) that Final Fantasy was trying to be a sci-fi game. Final Fantasy, as a series, has always had a blend of fantasy and technology...sometimes it was more steampunk-ish, in 7 it was more modern/almost sci-fi, but I never got the impression that anyone in its development wanted it to be seen as a sci-fi game. I think "sci-fi elements" is the correct way to look at it.
For instance, magic abilities in PS4 aren't called magic, but rather Tech or Techniques in long form. Final Fantasy 7 despite featuring an industrialized setting with advanced technology still calls its magic magic.
That's not correct. Techniques are separate, many of the Skills are magic. This is explicitly stated in the first fifteen minutes of the game, and several times thereafter. It's not common knowledge to the citizens of the setting, but it definitely exists and is called magic:
1618958000850.png

Also Phantasy Star 4 had the more subtle character death, everybody knows that Aerith dies but does anyone know that Alys dies in Phantasy Star 4?
I don't see how being less well-known makes any part of a game better...

For what it's worth, I think Phantasy Star 4 is a better game than Final Fantasy 7, and I think of the Final Fantasy series 7 is very overrated, but I found several of your points/claims confusing.
 

AeroPergold

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I think you contradicted yourself and your point right there. I don't believe (and I've never read any description claiming) that Final Fantasy was trying to be a sci-fi game. Final Fantasy, as a series, has always had a blend of fantasy and technology...sometimes it was more steampunk-ish, in 7 it was more modern/almost sci-fi, but I never got the impression that anyone in its development wanted it to be seen as a sci-fi game. I think "sci-fi elements" is the correct way to look at it.

That's not correct. Techniques are separate, many of the Skills are magic. This is explicitly stated in the first fifteen minutes of the game, and several times thereafter. It's not common knowledge to the citizens of the setting, but it definitely exists and is called magic:
View attachment 186900


I don't see how being less well-known makes any part of a game better...

For what it's worth, I think Phantasy Star 4 is a better game than Final Fantasy 7, and I think of the Final Fantasy series 7 is very overrated, but I found several of your points/claims confusing.
Okay so I half arsed this thread and I forgot that part in Phantasy Star 4 in the screenshot
There is no good Fail Fantasy. I tried and found Phantasy Star Online flat and boring, but I haven't tried the offline ones (although I wanna, as sci-fi is my fav setting). Star Ocean 2 is tops for sci-fi jRPGs - it's like taking Star Trek and combining it with anime - so very exciting. And Dragon Quest > Ultima for sure, although Ultima's not too bad. u wu
I've never played PSO because I like my Turn Based RPGs waaaay too much. But I'll look into Star Ocean 2 and I was joking about talking about Ultima and Dragon Quest since Ultima is what inspired the modern JRPG.
.
 

Drakkonis

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FF7 fan here, so take this for what it's worth. I've also never played any Phantasy Star game, so my comments involving that will take into account only the information provided.

For the setting, FF7, and Final Fantasy in general, never strives to be sci-fi. The tech level is usually part of the setting more than part of the story. The story makes use of it, but a lot of any given Final Fantasy's story would remain the same no matter the tech level. Most major plot points could have alternative explanations that serve the same effect even if set at a more "traditional" fantasy tech level. Though I grant that FF7's worldbuilding involving Shin-Ra and mako and Sephiroth's backstory probably wouldn't be too feasible without suitable tech of SOME kind. If you like, think of Final Fantasy 7's setting as an example of technology evolving with magic still present, though largely rare and in the background until Shin-Ra started messing with mako and manufacturing synthetic materia.

FF7's magic IS magic, and its existence in a psuedo-sci-fi setting is explained, even if not entirely to the level of detail one might wish, but even that can be explained as the result of a 2000 year gap since magic was widely in use. Though I do take some issue with the explanation that materia gives the knowledge of how to use magic... and then you can't use the magic after taking the materia off... I wonder if that sparked the idea of FF8's twist involving the Guardian Forces...

For graphics... there's always going to be an issue when inexperience is in play, especially given the scope of what FF7 was reaching for on new technology. That's why the pre-rendered backgrounds look good and the 3D stuff... really doesn't. I imagine if Phantasy Star 4 was made with similar development timing and choices it might have suffered similarly. There might have also been data storage or hardware performance concerns, but that's merely speculation. Could have been a lazy texture artist for all I know.

As for no good Final Fantasy, as someone else mentioned, that really depends on what you want out of a fantasy RPG. Story-wise, I think they peaked around 6/7 and then started twisting themselves into knots, starting with 8. Unfortunately, 7 is also when they started their emo solo main character trend that they STILL haven't really shaken off, at least in numbered titles(Looking at Squall, Lightning, and Noctis here). The mechanics started getting a little unnecessarily complex around that point too. Materia allowed you a lot of creative flexibility. Then they decided to up the ante with 8's Junction system.... then the sphere grid.... and on.... and on...

Apologies for the half ramble, half rant at the end. I LOVE Final Fantasy, I do. But for every thing that I like about something in the series... there's at least one thing that just frustrates me or makes me question the thought process of the people involved. I only replied to answer specific points being argued and got off on a slight tangent.
 

RachelTheSeeker

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For the setting, FF7, and Final Fantasy in general, never strives to be sci-fi. The tech level is usually part of the setting more than part of the story. The story makes use of it, but a lot of any given Final Fantasy's story would remain the same no matter the tech level. Most major plot points could have alternative explanations that serve the same effect even if set at a more "traditional" fantasy tech level. Though I grant that FF7's worldbuilding involving Shin-Ra and mako and Sephiroth's backstory probably wouldn't be too feasible without suitable tech of SOME kind.
Small point to add, but exactly. I feel Phantasy Star 4 is more of a "sword and planet" or space opera game, whereas Final Fantasy 7 is more "dieselpunk". Especially in the remake, it feels more noir with anachronistic tech and sci-fantasy magic.
 

Drakkonis

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Small point to add, but exactly. I feel Phantasy Star 4 is more of a "sword and planet" or space opera game, whereas Final Fantasy 7 is more "dieselpunk". Especially in the remake, it feels more noir with anachronistic tech and sci-fantasy magic.
Yeah, they more or less made mako as a sort of "hyper-fuel". More efficient than coal or oil, but with the drawback of literally sucking out the life force in the area. Take out the LITERAL life-blood of the planet part, and all that comes with it, and it almost becomes a modern/noir-ish sustainable energy story, at least in the beginning. Barret's AVALANCHE team almost comes off as PETA, if PETA was in the eco-sustainability department.

Honestly that's probably the saddest part of mako. Yeah, it's lifestream energy, and using it is bad... but they did literally nothing else with it. It was basically just a regular energy source. They could have tapped into the "voice of the Planet" angle to make actual magitek, but instead all of Shin-Ra's mako-powered machinery was just that... machinery that ran on mako.

Honestly the only REAL hard science bits in the game were the reactors, everything Hojo-related, and Cid's rocket. And even THAT isn't sci-fi. Swap out the mako reactor for a oil/nuclear hybrid, and really only Hojo's twisted crap is out of today's realm, and even then only because of mako. And only the space travel bit is something that doesn't have a common fantasy counterpart. And being a relatively minor bit of the story, it could easily have been swapped with something less "modern" and still served its purpose.

When you REALLY boil down to the essentials, FF7 definitely leans more on the fantasy side of the scale. Semi-modern fantasy if you really wanted to label it. Sci-fi on a technicality, but only because the power source is fantastical.
 

Touchfuzzy

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They are both very good games. If I had to give an edge to one or the other, it would be FFVII, due to having a bit more going on mechanically (thought not much), but I wish more people would play Phantasy Star 4.

Honestly imo one of the top 3 RPGs of it's era, along with Chrono Trigger and Dragon Quest V. It just isn't as popular cause it was on the Genesis instead of the SNES.
 

Tiamat-86

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FF7 never claimed to be sci-fi, its hardly even industrial era.
that aside its story is kinda crap: villain is a tool, characters lack any meaningful personal development,
and the difficulty is extremly easy (the magic was a joke, realy only need like 4 materia to beat the game +4 more to beat all extra endgame content.)

PS4 only real complaits is spell/skill names with lack of help info knowing what does what, and fair amount of missing lore if havent played earlier games. but the way they did the macro commands was great combined with its skill chaining system, f'n loved their combat system.

for genesis/ps1 era games heavily leans into sci-fi culture i nominate xenogears
 

Trihan

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There is no good Fail Fantasy. I tried and found Phantasy Star Online flat and boring, but I haven't tried the offline ones (although I wanna, as sci-fi is my fav setting). Star Ocean 2 is tops for sci-fi jRPGs - it's like taking Star Trek and combining it with anime - so very exciting. And Dragon Quest > Ultima for sure, although Ultima's not too bad. u wu
What did Final Fantasy do to hurt you? XD Seriously, you dislike every single entry in the series? Everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course, but that just seems like far too wide a spread of dislike for gameplay mechanics and systems considering how far on that scale the series spans. Unless it's the storytelling and characters you consider bad, which I suppose makes sense since they do all follow a fairly common set of beats and characterisations.
 

Drakkonis

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FF7 never claimed to be sci-fi, its hardly even industrial era.
that aside its story is kinda crap: villain is a tool, characters lack any meaningful personal development,
and the difficulty is extremly easy (the magic was a joke, realy only need like 4 materia to beat the game +4 more to beat all extra endgame content.)

PS4 only real complaits is spell/skill names with lack of help info knowing what does what, and fair amount of missing lore if havent played earlier games. but the way they did the macro commands was great combined with its skill chaining system, f'n loved their combat system.

for genesis/ps1 era games heavily leans into sci-fi culture i nominate xenogears
Let's not forget that FF7 spawned Square Enix's trend of emo loners who prefer dark, leathery, and preferably heavily-belted outfits for the main protagonist. Squall "You can only depend on yourself" from 8, Tidus "My dad's an arrogant S.O.B." from 10, Claire "I call myself Lightning to have meaning" from 13, and Noctis "I'm the crown prince, suck it" from 15. Only 9, 11, 12, and 14 escape this, and only because 11 and 14 are online with user-created characters, 9 gave Zidane an emo breakdown as part of the story, and 12 apparently can't decide WHO its main protagonist is. If you count Vaan, since he's the one representing 12's heroes in Dissidia, his story relevance disappears pretty much after the first few hours and is kinda... just hanging out and nobody's questioned him on it yet. It's like he's just there at that point either because he's bored or he has a crush on Ashe.

Point is... yeah, FF7 is one of the most well-known of the series.... but that doesn't mean it's flawless. Granted, some of its more... tired plot elements weren't really that well-worn back then. But someone coming into the game after 20 years of other RPG's can probably smell every plot twist coming a mile away, even if they know literally NOTHING about the game and everything that came from it.

FF7R handles some of the original's gameplay weaknesses fairly well, though that could largely be due to the complete gameplay shift and the changes made to support it. The story.... without spoiling anything, it could have different implications depending on if you know the original's story or not. Though honestly if you DON'T know the original story, you'll be lost on certain major plot points, since some of that isn't really covered in the original until AFTER where 7R's story ends. Cloud's issue with Sephiroth, for example.
 

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