Final Fantasy Blackmoon Prophecy Completed

Blackmoon Prophecy is a fangame (or tribute game as I like to call this) that I began in 2004 which is based on the Final Fantasy franchise. I had abandoned it several times between 2004 and 2008 (the last time I think I worked on it before now) for various reasons. Sometimes I would mess something up that affected the entire game, or I’d simply lose motivation for one reason or another and give up. I released several demos between 2004 and 2007. Initially, not a lot of people took to Blackmoon Prophecy. There were lots of bad maps, dialogue was overly juvenile, and the overall presentation (such as battle animations) was a little disheartening. With each demo, I refined the game more and more to carry a more authentic Final Fantasy feel until it seemed that almost everybody who played the later demos at least partially enjoyed the game. Negative feedback dropped quite a lot over the three years of demo releases. It has now been a few years since my lastdemo and I can safely say that, now that the game is finished, the refinements I’ve made since then are very thorough. Many dialogue sequences and maps have been completely remade and, in some cases, areas of the game have been completely removed because I deemed them to be too amateurish. There are still a few bugs lurking in the game and a few dialogue sequences are still pretty outdated, but general reception on my hosting site (RMN) has been exceptionally positive so far. They’re also helping me out immensely by locating bugs and eventing issues, so I’m very quick to iron out any issues and upload fixed updates.

As for the story, it is meant to emulate classic Final Fantasy titles of the early 1990s. Because of that, the following description is brief.

Blackmoon Prophecy is the story of Vahn, a dragoon from the Branch Kingdom. A year has passed since the Crystal War which saw the King of Branch wage war on the worlds via crystal power. The King was defeated and the crystals returned to their rightful shrines across the world. Now, something mysterious is clearly going on. Strange happenings have been occurring at the Water Shrine, and a local dragoon named Darius has been acting peculiar and defiant in many cases. Can Vahn get to the bottom of it all?

What was it made with?
RPG Maker 2003.

Do I need to RPG Maker 2003 RTP to play?
No sir!

Can I edit the game if I find any bugs or errors that halt my progress or result in my character getting permanently stuck?
Yes, but the David patch is required due to the monsters in this game requiring more than 999 for stats and 99,999 for HP. If you are going to open this game in RPG Maker 2003, be sure that you have the David patch! It is available on Blackmoon Prophecy’s blog on RMN.

How long is the game?
This is a very good question. After two full days, I’ve had some people on RMN playing for about 10-15 hours and they’re only halfway through the game. By RPG Maker standards, it’s a decently long game. I expect that it should take most people about 20 hours, maybe more.

How big is it?
130 megabytes decompressed. Not bad for over 1200 maps and a wealth of compressed mp3s! As well, I frequently post updates which are only 1 to 2 megabytes in size.

What makes this game a tribute more than just a fangame?
I make constant references to the fourth, fifth, and sixth Final Fantasy games throughout Blackmoon Prophecy. For example, there is one location called Branford Hollow, which is home to a mysterious girl who wants magicite shards. The girl was sprited to look like Terra in the form of a miniature Final Fantasy 4 sprite. I also bring Ultros in. Many item names reference particular games in the series. As well, Mystic Mysidia is ripped straight out of Final Fantasy 4. There are other little details, but I think it’s best for the player to find them rather than having me blab about every single thing.

How does it play?
Blackmoon Prophecy is meant to emulate the older Final Fantasy games in many ways. Walk speed, locations, battle system, items, character roles, and so forth are all emulated to an extent. Basically if you don’t like how Final Fantasy 4 plays, since it is the game I emulate the most, then this may not be a game for you. However, if you enjoyed that particular game in the series, then you may like Blackmoon Prophecy.

Will powerleveling be required like in the original NES titles, or the original Japanese version of Final Fantasy 4?
Yes and no. If you skip most fights and only get by on bosses at first, you won’t have many issues due to the game starting off quite easy. However, the game will eventually punish you if you don’t make an effort to level up at least once in each new area that you visit. There are two distinct difficulty spikes in the game which make themselves known as soon as they are reached.

Minigames? Side quests?
There are hidden side quests all over the place and, in most cases, the player must really look for them. NPCs in towns who look completely unimportant may hold the key to obtaining some nice loot. There are a few minigames of sorts as well such as an arena where the player can fight and unlock treasure chests, a sheep chasing game that awards items based on how many sheep are caught, a Black Jack clone, and an auction house that functions exactly like the one in Final Fantasy 6. There are also LOTS of optional locations to visit.

Blackmoon Prophecy can be downloaded at RMN by clicking here.

Final Fantasy VI – The After Years

A new little pet project of mine is a continuation of Final Fantasy VI. It is simply being called Final Fantasy VI: The After Years. I am aiming to set my take on FF6’s post game apart from the various fangames and such out there by straying away from making it about things I personally would like to see and more about what I think would make an interesting story.

So, how did Final Fantasy VI end? Well magic disappeared from the world as the heroes fled from Kefka’s Tower. After making it back to their airship and taking flight, we were able to observe the world slowly turning back into a somewhat green world. The transition from Ruin back to Balance appeared to be remarkably quick!

My take on everything will still have magic gone, and the world will still have the World of Ruin layout but will be green and lush again ala World of Balance. With seven years having gone by since the end of Final Fantasy VI, I’d expect the world to be in good shape again since the mere act of defeating Kefka immediately threw the world back on track.

So, who will be featured and why?

The central protagonist is Relm. Yes, Relm. She is now older, more mature, and certain circumstances in her life have hardened her such as Strago passing away and being left to fend for herself in Zozo (which is now free of crime). It’s not all bad though! Relm has her loyal friend Interceptor to keep her company. Since seven years have passed, Interceptor is a bit of an old pooch now. However, despite a few problems like not being able to jump up on Relm’s bed on his own, Interceptor is still an energetic and lively dog.

As for other characters…

Celes and Locke are now married and living in Jidoor where Locke manages the local auction house.

Cyan returned to Doma with the sole sentry who survived Kefka’s poison attack and has become Regent Lord of the kingdom which has since rebounded from the disasters it had suffered at the hands of the Empire and Kefka. He is married to Lola, a girl from Maranda. The single sentry that survived Kefka’s poison attack, named Lyon, has donned Cyan’s old armor and is the new Retainer of Doma.

Edgar’s reign as King of Figaro has continued uninterrupted, and he has also taken on a wife who has given birth to a young son. Sabin has given up his life of solitude to assist with the runnings of Figaro which has become the world’s strongest kingdom and has become known as “The Empire” after the original Empire and Vector fell. Sabin serves as Chancellor of Figaro, assisting with the day to day runnings of the kingdom while also leading Figaro’s blossoming military.

The Returners have settled into new roles as well. Arvis has taken up the mantle of Elder in the town of Narshe which has been repopulated (though the mines are still dangerous and are patrolled by militia who regularly hunt an enraged Umaro). Meanwhile Banon has settled in Nikeah as a doctor.

Interceptor being by Relm’s side clearly means that Shadow perished when Kefka’s Tower was destroyed. However, the other member of the “Shadow Bandits” has resurfaced in the new world having somehow escaped death years ago. Baram, leader of the New Shadow Bandits, is a ruthless crime lord of the underworld. His whereabouts, however, are unknown.

Duane and Katarin, though still young, are the community leaders of Mobliz. Duane is content leading the small town, but Katarin’s heart yearns for something more.

Setzer serves as an Imperial Airship Engineer based out of a facility within Figaro’s borders. Thanks to him, Figaro has a vast fleet of airships that are mostly used for rescue and transport purposes. The Blackjack II serves has his personal airship.

Terra has settled in the town of Albrook in the home of her boyfriend, and Imperial Captain named Zwei. She has adjusted to life without magic and it is now something she hardly even thinks about.

Gau has become civilized and lives with his elderly father who has become senile and very dependent on Gau’s care.

Gogo and Mog have both vanished without a trace and seemingly exist as nothing more than memories.

World famous swordsman Siegfried has become a highly sought after sword for hire as he travels the world searching for purpose.

Cid, Daryl, Gestahl, Kefka, and Leo are still all as dead as doorknobs.

I’ll post more when I have additional info, but for now here is a picture from the intro sequence.

Final Fantasy VI (SNES, 1994)

INFO: My “Retro Vault” reviews are not scored. Instead, I just talk about why I have fond memories of whichever game I’m writing about at the time. Generally, I won’t pick out any bad games for the Retro Vault feature, so scoring them is essentially useless anyway. Enjoy the read.

Most gamers these days tend to say that their favourite Final Fantasy is VII, which is cool. It was a well made game and Square really did a good job with it. There is one game in the series that gives VII a run for it’s money in terms of popularity with the fans however, and interestingly enough it is not one of the 3D installments. No, the game in question is the 16-bit 2D Final Fantasy VI.

The fact that a two dimensional installment in the series is in constant contention for “best of the entire series” says quite a lot about the game, I think. Obviously the graphics aren’t fully up to par anymore, so folks who held onto their dicks while playing the gorgeous Final Fantasy XIII are unlikely to be blown away by much in Final Fantasy VI. When the game was released however, the graphics were fairly pretty. Fortunately, the graphics were only a plus back in the day, a nice addition on top of an already stellar package.

So, if Final Fantasy VI does not get so much love for it’s visuals, then what has the series’ fans talking about the game even today? Turn your eyes to Final Fantasy VII, which unfortunately looks like ass by today’s standards. The character models were already kind of crumby when the game was first released for whatever reason, so it’s understandable that Final Fantasy VII’s visuals can almost induce vomiting these days. The game is ugly as hell, but it’s still loved for it’s story and characters. The exact same applies to Final Fantasy VI, and I’m going to explain why I feel that this game, my favourite in the series, has a leg up on it’s older and younger siblings.

Like most RPGs during the 16 bit era, Final Fantasy VI opening sequences hinted at a great war that took place hundreds of years ago. In this game’s case, it was the War of the Magi. This war was fought between Espers and Humans, and nearly destroyed the world. The war ended with the Humans exiling Espers to their own domain. The victory was not one sided however, as the Human civilization was set back hundreds of years, losing their technological advances and being forced to start over again. By the time the present day rolls around, it’s pretty clear that the dark ages are gone as the player gets a glimpse of Vector’s technologically impressive (and menacing) castle.

After the introduction sequence explains the war briefly, it ends after posing a “what if the war happens again?” sort of question before introducing a few playable characters. A girl and two Imperial soldiers (Biggs/Vicks and Wedge) appear over the town of Narshe where an Esper was recently found. This would be pretty big news considering the fact that Espers almost wiped out the Human race one thousand years ago.

So the player takes control of the three characters in their attack on Narshe as they attempt to capture the Esper. I can’t help but think that this was bad writing on Square’s part. In a real life situation, I’m sure that an Imperial Empire would send more than three people to capture a powerful creature. Perhaps an entire squad? It would have made more sense to do so since the two soldiers are killed off by the Esper, Tritoch. The girl survives and is revealed to be Terra, one of the game’s three main protagonists.

For the first several hours, the player spends their time learning about Terra, the Empire, the Returners, and much more. I won’t really go into the story too much since I assume that just about anyone reading this has either completed the game and doesn’t need a refresher, or is interested in playing the game and would probably prefer not to be spoiled. So, ignoring the story for the rest of this article, I think it’s time to talk about other aspects of the game.

The cast of characters is pretty staggering for a Final Fantasy. In fact, Final Fantasy VI has the largest character roster out of all the games. There is plenty of variety so most people will be able to enjoy their own little “favourite teams” so to speak. The joy of having so many characters is the development that you get out of several of them. Only a few characters receive little character development, which is alright. Some characters such as Terra, Locke, Celes, or Cyan have quite a lot of backstory that is a lot of fun to learn about. Cyan in particular is one character who my heart always goes out to, as he went through hell and back throughout the game. By the end of the game, he’s probably still going through his own personal hell that he keeps to himself and you really have to feel bad for the guy.

Opposite the playable characters is the game’s central antagonist, Kefka. I explained in my “top 5 Final Fantasy villains” why I think Kefka is the absolute best villain in the series, so I won’t rehash what I said there. You can check it out for yourself by going to the “top 5” submenu at the top of the page, just under the Review Depot banner. I praised Kefka for being so deliciously evil, and he does it all too well. Even Sephiroth would be jealous of Kefka’s antics. Throughout the course of the game, Kefka does so much evil that you truly do want to punish his sadistic ass, though you love the guy at the same time for being so off the wall and insane. Square really did a fantastic job of making a funny, goofy character so evil and despicable. They have never managed to make a villain quite like Kefka ever since, though they came close with Kuja.

The gameplay of Final Fantasy VI is fairly standard. There isn’t a lot to the game that raised the bar back in 1994, and the most complicated gameplay feature was the method used to learn new spells. The Esper system was a lot like a barebones Materia system in which characters learned new spells from Espers from gaining AP in battle. It wasn’t revolutionary, but it worked fairly well.

Aside from the characters, the aspect of Final Fantasy VI that still stands the test of time to me is the music. For a sixteen year old 16 bit RPG, this game sounds pretty awesome. The overworld map music (at the beginning and towards the end) is very compelling and engaging, and some character themes such as Celes’ saddening overture can very well almost bring a tear to your eyes – and it may very well do so at one point in the game. Kefka, considering how evil the man is, has one of the silliest themes I have ever heard, but it works so well for him. Figaro’s theme, the boss music, and even the entire Opera sequence sound brilliant, and Nobuo Uematsu really did an amazing job in this game. I cannot help but admire the music of Final Fantasy VI.

Everything I have mentioned comes together to make this my favourite game in the entire series, as well as one of my favourite games of all time. No Final Fantasy can truly compare to this one, except perhaps Final Fantasy VII.

If you have never played this 16 bit masterpiece, you owe it to yourself to get your hands on it one way or another.