Behold, that most sacred and rare of creatures: a short rant.
Desperation Attack. Limit Break. Trance. Overdrive. EX Mode. And, inexplicably, Quickening. Why exactly does the Final Fantasy series have half a dozen names for more or less the same gameplay concept?
I don’t know why I’m so hard on Final Fantasy naming (recall my old rants on calling their lightning spells “Thunder” and on the stupid suffixes -ara and -aga (and nowadays, there’s -ada, which is just as bad)) in particular,* but this bugs me. I mean, look, in fairness, the nature of the ability does change a little from game to game, sometimes. In FF6, the Desperation Attack had a probability of activating when a character was at very low HP. In FF7, on the other hand, there was a Limit Break gauge that continually built up as the character got damaged, and once it was filled the character could use their Limit Break, although they didn’t have to--they could just kinda sit on it for a while until the player wanted to use it. FF9’s Trance was less a special ability than a mode in which, for a short period of time, a character’s abilities were enhanced, which was, like FF7, gradually built up to from taking damage. And so on and so forth. But these variations are ultimately just small changes to the same concept, that of special, climatic powers being unlocked in (supposedly) desperate situations. Naming them differently as though they were completely different concepts would be like deciding you couldn’t call a black cat the same kind of animal as a cat with white fur. The cosmetic differences aren’t enough to change the fact that they’re both cats.
I just don’t get it. What purpose does the name change serve, really? Why the desire to differentiate at all? I can understand Square’s wish to name FF7’s Limit Breaks differently since FF6’s Desperation Attacks were not really a well-defined part of the game, and were only rarely seen (I daresay most playthroughs of FF6 don’t see a Desperation Attack trigger even once), but after FF7 cemented the concept in Final Fantasy gameplay and gave it a very functional and personalized name, why keep renaming it later? Particularly since SquareEnix would eventually come back to the Limit name in its semi-Final-Fantasy-related Kingdom Hearts series. It just seems needless and silly.
* It’s not like plenty of other RPGs don’t also have stupidly-named spells and abilities. The Legend of Dragoon called one of its huge plot weapons the Psychadelic Bomb and tried to pass it off as serious, and don’t even get me started on the naming of abilities and spells in the Shin Megami Tensei series.**
** Actually, on second thought, I SHOULD get started on that. Thanks for the rant idea, me. Oh, no problem, man! I love your work. Well, except for those AMV rants. Those’re totally gay.