I've been a member of this community long enough that most everyone knows I write about games and technology for another publication. A few of you have even benefited from this in my tech giveaway I did some time ago. Gaming writing is my first passion, and I'm happy that I finally get to tie it into a match ratings thread, even if it's after a loss.
When I was nine years old, I still hadn't talked my Mom into buying me a Nintendo Entertainment System. She seemed to think that the ColecoVision was good enough for me. When the ColecoVision broke, she finally acquiesced, though I had to earn it by shoveling snow. When she felt I had done enough, we made a trip to FuncoLand and I got to finally buy my system.
The trick was that she wanted to go with a refurbished model and it didn't come with a game. That was fine by me, because I didn't care about Super Mario Brothers. I wanted a bigger challenge. We ended up getting two games that day: The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. Both IPs have incredible history now, but Final Fantasy always holds a special place in my gaming life with so many different characters to learn, bosses to destroy, and worlds to save.
Final Fantasy games are not easy. Well, most of them aren't. They all tend to follow the same path when it comes to a story: Something is wrong with the world and a bunch of warriors get together and take on the evil entities. Along the way they learn how to get stronger and mow down entire ZIP codes of enemies with a single spell. Some of these games have done this better than others. If you've been a gamer as long as I have, you've probably played most of these titles.
5 STARS: Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI will always be my favorite. Every playable character has an interesting story and is quite useful (exception being Gau), the final boss is a crazy clown who is the only villain smart enough to actually accomplish his goal and ruin the world, and someone actually suplexes a train that isn't named Brock Lesnar. There was so much to do and accomplish in the game that one could go for forty hours and still not be ready to take on Kefka. FFVI is awesome and deserves nothing less than five stars.
Erik Lamela (MOTM): Erik was outstanding yesterday. He pressed, made fantastic runs, and was threatening the Leicester defense multiple times yesterday. His through ball to Harry Kane should have been an assist, but it was not to be. The Argentine seems to get more comfortable with each passing match and that only means good things for the future.
4.5 STARS: Final Fantasy III
If you haven't played this one, I understand. It never actually made it over to the States until it came out on Nintendo's handheld just a few years ago, but the difficulty was turned down a bit. The original NES version can be found online with translation and is one of the hardest games you'll ever play. It features four of the most diabolical bosses in the history of gaming in the form of the Two-Headed Dragon, Echnida, Ahriman, and the Cloud of Darkness. The Cloud of Darkness may not have the quick wit and psychotic nature of Kefka, but was the perfect boss to cap off a stupidly hard game.
Hugo Lloris: Hugo was Hugo yesterday. He only had to make one big save, and that was on Danny Drinkwater's first half rocket. His distribution was good and he organized the back quite well. He also had to clean up Kyle Walker's mess on that near-disastrous pass back that could have easily resulted in a penalty.
Jan Vertonghen: Verts didn't really make any big mistakes. He had a couple of key clearances and deflections, especially on the mess in the box in the mid-70s that I thought for certain was going to be the breakthrough goal in the match. Somehow it wasn't, and it was also entertaining to watch him have his little chit-chats with Jamie Vardy. We can assume they won't be making dinner plans any time soon together.
4 STARS: Final Fantasy VII
One of the longest running arguments in gaming is whether or not Final Fantasy VII is overrated. It isn't, but it isn't my favorite in the series. I still remember the first time I loaded up this game and seeing the camera pan out to show Midgar. I was blown away by the graphics and, honestly, I cannot wait for the remake. My issue really comes down to the story getting cut down for the North American release and not being a huge fan of Cloud as the primary character. Yes, he was powerful and carried a gigantic sword, but he was whiny and drove me nuts. Barrett was great because he had no filter, just like Cid. I didn't really care about Aerith or her big scene at the end of Disc One because Tifa was far more useful and was a terror to monsters with her Limit Break.
Ben Davies: Ben had a solid match yesterday. The Welshman was tasked with shutting down Mahrez and pretty much kept him in check. Davies did have a couple of issues on trying to track back but his errors were minor. He also had two excellent passes into the forward attack that resulted in good scoring opportunities. On another day, he picks up an assist.
Toby Alderweireld: Normally, wherever Jan ends up getting rated, his fellow Belgian defender ends up on the same line. Unfortunately, while Toby had a great match, he made one massive error that ultimately cost Spurs two points on the set piece. We're not sure what the miscommunication was, but he effectively put Dier flat on his back, freeing up Huth to take his time and putting the header into the net.
Eric Dier: I could almost word for word write the same thing about Dier that I did for Toby. Dier had a great match and was his usual self until that set piece. While we don't know whose fault it is that they ran into one another, we do know that he was marking Huth, and that is what cost Spurs the match.
3.5 STARS: Final Fantasy IV
Cecil and company ushered in the 16-bit era in style. Graphics were upgraded, the musical score by Nobuo Uematsu was one of his best, and the story was excellent. I'll never forget the first time I got to cast Meteo with Rydia on an entire screen of enemies and watch them all fizzle into nothing. While this is a solid title in the franchise, it wasn't overly difficult. The re-release on the DS ramped that difficulty up almost too high, though it was refreshing to see a Japanese developer finally show the rest of the world what the "standard difficulty" was for their games.
Harry Kane: Kane was bright in attack and made a couple of good runs. He should have been rewarded for his blast that he received from Erik Lamela, and I'm certain that 99 times out of 100, that ball goes in the back of the net. There were times, though, that the striker disappeared or didn't make the best decision when on the ball. It is what it is.
Dele Alli: Dele had a weird match. Early on he was active in attack and looked to be terrorizing Leicester's defenses. About 30 minutes into the match, he disappeared and we didn't really see him again until the second half. He had some flashes of great play, but the second half he couldn't string it together for more than a minute or two. Not his best, but definitely not his worst effort.
Christian Eriksen: Our Great Dane had a decent match. He had some good chances created, though often times he had to come back quite deep to get the ball in an effort to build the attack, giving Leicester a chance to get their bearings together. His curling attempt in the 31st minute could have easily been a goal if it weren't for Schmeichel standing on his head all day.
3 STARS: Final Fantasy
The game that started it all was supposed to be Squaresoft's final game. The company was about out of money and were on the verge of bankruptcy. The team pooled all of their resources together into the final game that was in a fantasy realm, hence the name Final Fantasy. Thankfully they did, because what resulted was an expansive world that told the story of the Warriors of Light taking on the Four Fiends of the Elements. People tend to forget about this game because of the more recent entries, but make no mistake: If you want a challenge, go back and play the original version of this game. It's not easy.
Mousa Dembele: My gut feeling is that Moose was not quite ready, fitness wise but the gravity the match forced him to be cleared. I could be wrong, but Moose definitely looked off a step. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't 100% fit Dembele. It isn't his fault, nor should anyone be worried going forward.
Tom Carroll: Carroll picked up the start yesterday with Dembele not quite fully fit for 90 minutes of work. He managed the midfield as best as he could and made some decent passes, but there were times that he got bullied by the bigger midfielders of Leicester. Carroll has a place on this squad, but yesterday was a pretty average outing for him.
Heung-Min Son: Son didn't really have a chance to make an impact, given he came on with 10+ minutes remaining, but he did what he could. He still pressed and tried to create chances. He was simply a victim of the late sub and didn't have a chance to pull off some Watford magic.
Kyle Walker: Walker wasn't bad yesterday, but he had a couple of rather questionable plays that hurt the squad. His first was the back pass that he almost completely whiffed on and set up Vardy one-on-one with Hugo. Thankfully, Hugo was up to the challenge and kept Vardy from doing anything except a swan dive with a half-gainer over the touch line. The second one, though, was his easy concession of the corner kick that led to the goal. That could have been put out for a throw in, but hindsight is always 20/20 and he probably felt it was the safest play.
TWO STARS: Final Fantasy VIII
While I absolutely adore the storyline of Final Fantasy VIII that allows a gamer to play as mercenaries for hire, this game suffered from the incredibly stupid Junction System for leveling. It was an interesting change, but it was quite difficult for new players to the series to understand and even veterans questioned why it was done. The saving grace for this game comes in the form of the side game, Triple Triad. I wasted many hours playing the simple card game, trying to make the perfect deck. Also, the optional battles of Omega and Ultima Weapon were two of the best challenges in the entire series.
No players were as bad as Final Fantasy VIII.
ONE STAR: Final Fantasy II
Messing with a winning formula is almost always a bad thing. Squaresoft committed this cardinal sin by looking at Final Fantasy, taking everything that was fun, and changing it. As bad as FFVIIIs Junction System was, FFIIs trumped it with extra stupidity. Imagine a game that actually encourages you to beat the heck out of your own players to get higher hit points. How about that same system requiring a player to constantly use the same weapon or magic just to build up its strength? Dumb. Extra characters along the way were practically worthless because the level progression was broken. While the story was fine, this game is almost unplayable because the experience system was ripped out. If you somehow manage to make it through this game halfway without needing liquor, I commend you.
No players were as bad as Final Fantasy II, thank god.