Let’s talk character classes and jobs in role playing games which let you organize your party like Final Fantasy III. What jobs or classes do you always keep in your party? What classes can you do without?
Jenni: I’ve always been a sucker for a party that consists of a standard, sword wielding warrior, a basic magic user and a monk/ninja, occasionally switching in a gunner or distance shooter. In FFVII I always went with Cloud, Tifa, Vincent, occasionally bringing in Yuffie is a mage. In FFVIII my party was usually Squall, Zell and Rinoa, though occasionally I’d substitute Zell. In FFX I’d always use Tidus, Lulu and Rikku, with Tidus as a warrior, Lulu as a mage and Rikku as a hand-to-hand fighter/thief. FFIII probably best showed my party preferences, as you could completely customize the four character’s jobs. Luneth was my dark knight, Refia was a ninja, Ingus would switch between a red mage and a dragoon and Arc would either be a bard or devout.
There are quite a few classes I never really got used to, though. For example I despise the blue mage class. The only game where I actually used and built one up was FFVIII, and that was because Quistis learned abilities by giving her items, rather than having them used on her. It always seemed like too much work and a bit of a gimmick, when I typically had at least one other mage character who could learn the same spells.
I also don’t care much for beserkers, samurais, scholars, time mages, beast masters and hunters/rangers. For some reason, I look at those classes and realize there are other, more basic classes with similar abilities that are easier to use and make a more rounded party.
Spencer: Final Fantasy III is a tough game. It feels like it was designed to encourage or force players to switch between most of the jobs. There is one boss fight where you pretty much need to make everyone Dragoons and when you’re small you have to make everyone mages. One neat thing about the DS version is job classes like Viking were upgraded with commands like Provoke to be more useful than they were in the Famicom version. At the end these additions didn’t matter much since everyone is a Sage, Ninja, or Onion Knight anyways.
In tactics games like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or Disgaea I tend to keep unusual classes in my main group more. The Cheerleader class in Disgaea 3 act as healers, buffers, and have guns. Juggler moogles were one of my favorite classes in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance too since they could deal damage and inflict debilitating status effects from a distance. One of the problems with traditional role playing games is character classes are often pigeonholed into being tank-like knights, healers, or damage dealers that need to be protected. Since developers tend to stick to the archetypes, in respect to game balance, even in modern Japanese RPGs like Lost Odyssey there isn’t much room for creative classes. Random battles happen and end so quickly you don’t need to worry about variables other than doing damage or healing which leaves little room creative classes with unique abilities.
Louise: I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m really frugal in games. I hate spending money on potions and antidotes so naturally, I always have a healer class in my party. I think they’re completely necessary in any sort of party even if everyone has HP regeneration. I hate dying in games and a healer with a resurrection skill and a bunch of defense buffs is the perfect solution to cut down on people dying.
I lean more towards all the ranged classes. In addition to a healer, I almost always have to have an offensive magic caster in my party. Not one of those mages who cast status effects or anything like that, but a straight forward magic damage dealing character. I always feel bad when my melee characters get beat on, so I try to cut down on that by having ranged attackers deal damage to enemies before the melee characters get to them. Usually, if I do that, the melee character just needs to throw in a punch to KO the enemy.
In most games, I shy away from offense-buff dealing classes since I find them ineffective. I can usually deal enough damage with my melee and magic-offense characters to not need a character who can lower enemy defenses. The only exception to that are boss battles; some are just plain nasty unless you lower their defense and attack. This is definitely true of games in the Shin Megami Tensei universe. I learned the hard way that you definitely need offense-buff dealing members in your party if you want to proceed in the game.