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The Menu is a recurring feature in the Final Fantasy series' games and one of the key modules that make up each game. The menu can be opened from the Field or world map modules, often through a specially assigned action button. The menu displays a number of elements, such as the status of characters, variables such as time and gil, and the main navigation list.
The navigable part of the menu is in a list format, traversed using the cursor controlled by the D-pad. The core features of the menu allow the player to configure their party setup, to view their inventory, and to Configure the game's settings. The menu is also usually where the player can choose to save, more commonly in the older games where the World Map module and its save anywhere capability is used.
Since the World Map module has been exchanged for direct interconnecting field locations in the later games, the save menu is accessed immediately from Save points. Later appearances of the menu more commonly feature tutorials and have information about story elements and terms in the game.
The menu can be exited with the cancel button.
The menu is accessed through one of the action buttons on the controller, when available usually as follows:
|NES and Game Boy series|
|SNES and Nintendo DS|
Most entries to the Final Fantasy series have the menu accessible in the field, and also the World Map if it appears on the specific game. In the games where the battle and field modules were merged like Final Fantasy XII, the menu can be accessed at all times, including during battle, allowing for easier customization and pausing of time to switch to relevant equipment.
The menu can occasionally be accessed through an option in dialogue. When dealing with two parties, after switching to the opposite party the player is often given an option to remove equipment from other characters and to access the menu to customize the current party's characters before dialogue or a battle ensues.
Various sections of the menu can also be accessed at periods of time. At various points in the game the player may need to choose a party and this part of the menu may open. Some games also assign various buttons, particularly shoulder buttons, that open up particular parts of the menu, bypassing the main menu screen.
The layout of the menu changes from game to game, but most of them feature the same general elements. One side of the menu usually displays the characters in the active party, most often depicted with a portrait. Alongside each character is a brief look at the character's current status, such as their current HP compared to their max HP, and statuses that have remained after battle. In some games the menu will change various text colors to indicate statuses, and the sprite is often different to depict this in sprite-based games.
This information as well as more extensive information about the character is also often found in an option titled Status. In a number of games the player can move their cursor over a character and switch their row by selecting them, while in other games the ability has been switched with an option titled Order if the mechanic appears at all.
On one side of the menu is a narrow list of navigation options. Most of the options link into a further sub-menus relevant to the specific option. The navigation list is the main part of the menu and allows the player to do all of the customization and viewing of the information.
In one of the corners of the screen is usually a number of variables. Most games will display the player's current time spent during the save and the player's current amount of gil. Various games also include the amount of steps taken by the player. Menus also frequently have a bar to display the location of the player including their sub-location. Another bar on the menu may be present to describe what each option does when the cursor is on them.
On the navigation there are a number of options present. Many of the options are unique to specific game, but many features occur in multiple games. There are a number of different purposes for the options. One of the primary purposes of them are to allow customization of the characters, such as their current equipment. There is also options to access the inventory and also various abilities, a number of which, particularly restorative and curative, can be used from the menu.
Some magic may also serve a unique purpose on the menu such as warping out of dungeons. Other options on the menu will contain data including tutorials to help a player understand how the game works, and information centers to make it easier for a player to understand the game, or expand on what might not be said in dialogue.
Item, also known as Items, or Inventory, is one of the more recurring options, appearing in some form in every game to date. The Item option allows the player to view their inventory, what items they have, and how much they have in stock. Items are usually divided into different areas, splitting them into a main set of items, and key items. Other subordinates exist, such as Loot and Equipment, however, most instances keep these in the main items.
A number of games mark each item with a relevant symbol denoting the type of item. In the menu are a selection of items that can be used in battle and cannot be used in battle, while others can be used in either circumstance. One of the features of the Item option is to reorganize the inventory in either an automatic way or a custom way. This allows players to move items more likely to be used to the top of the inventory, particularly useful in battles for games with the Active Time Battle system. Some games also give two sortable lists, one for battle items and one for the menu's inventory. The benefit of having the two menus is that it removes the time going through unusable items when in battle situations.
Final Fantasy VIII is notable for having no key items and keeping all items in one pool.
The Equip option, also known as Equipment, allows characters to change their weapon, armor, and accessories they currently have equipped. This menu will normally contain a bar where the effect of any additional effect of the equipment is displayed. There is also a portion that will display the character's current stats and the stat gains or losses that equipping the equipment currently highlighted will have on the character, usually displaying improvements in yellow and decreases in red.
Other information displayed may be specific to the game, such as Materia slots and growth in Final Fantasy VII and abilities that can be learned from it in Final Fantasy IX. Equipment menus often have an Optimize option which automatically equips the player with the best equipment according to the game.
The order equipment appears in this sub menu usually depends on how it has been sorted in the Item sub menu.
Other options for equipment may appear on the menu. Final Fantasy VI has its own menu option for relics, the game's accessories. Other games can equip abilities through Ability, or equip other things to the character through various other relevant options. In Final Fantasy VI Gogo can equip abilities through the Status option.
As well as in the menu, some games also allow equipment to be changed during battle via specific abilities often found by going right from the main command screen on a particular character.
Final Fantasy VIII is notable for having no option for equipment since weapons bought are immediately equipped to the character and another weapon has to be equipped to change the character. With the junk shop ability available through the Doomtrain Guardian Force weapons can still be changed from the menu, albeit still spending items and gil. The Junction option also allows more customization than regular equipment since stat increases and elemental and status attacks and defenses are all treated individually.
The Ability option, also known as Skills, is a feature in multiple games, which is regularly split into numerous options, often including the Magic option. The Ability option allows the player to view the abilities owned by a specific character. The Ability option may also allow a character to use their abilities from the menu if the particular ability has a menu effect. In fewer games, the Ability option allows abilities to be equipped and removed, such as in Final Fantasy V where secondary abilities can be equipped to characters, or in Final Fantasy IX, where a number of abilities can be equipped only if Magic Stones are available.
The Ability or Magic option often has a number of divisions within it. The divisions depend on the divisions of abilities in the game. A Magic option is often divided by the type of magic, such as Black Magic, White Magic, and Summons.
Final Fantasy XII is notable for lacking any of these options. Instead the character's abilities owned by the party that they have the License for are displayed in the Status option. They cannot be used from the menu since the abilities can be used anytime in the field.
An Ability option appears in Final Fantasy VIII, but serves a different purpose of opening up the option for many more menu abilities so long as at least one GF has learned the relevant ability.
The Status option is a regularly occurring option throughout the games and can be seen in almost every game in the series. The Status option allows individual characters to be specifically looked at. A small select portion of stats can be seen on the main screen of the menu, but Status open up far more stats to see.
The Status menu displays all relevant stat numbers including the character's base stats and stats that have other effectors, such as the equipment being used. The amount of Experience Points, the character's menu commands, and the state of the Limit Break gauge if applicable are also usually displayed here. It is also a regular occurrence for other screens to appear over the top displaying more specific information, such as specific abilities, status and elemental resistances, and Limit Break information.
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- is notable for not having a Status option. Since there is only one character, most of the information is displayed on the main screen if it is not also covered in another field. The status of the Digital Mind Wave is featured in its own menu option.
Order, also known as Formation, is an option that can change player's positions when in battle. Some games theoretically have this option without it being labeled as an option on the menu list, but instead the player can press the left or right directional button to move their cursor over the characters and change them this way.
The Order option primarily affects two things: In games featuring the row feature characters can be moved from the front row to the back row. Final Fantasy IV is notable for having slots designated to a specific row and characters cannot be changed individually.
The other thing the Order usually affects is the order of characters. The order doesn't matter so much in most games, but in Final Fantasy IV it can change their row, and in various versions of the original Final Fantasy characters in the top position will get attacked more than others. The character in the first position can also change other things, such as the name and whose character's stats are displayed on the save file, the picture displayed on the save icon, and who the player controls when traversing the field.
Party, also known as Switch, PHS, or Formation, is an option in various games' menus. These options allow the player to switch out members of the current party with members not in the current party. In many cases the option can also be used for the same effect as Order by moving the characters' positions.
The first version of the party menu appeared in Final Fantasy VI, although it did not appear on the game's accessible menu, and instead could be opened up by talking to players on the game's airship and at various other points, and was not linked with the game's menu at all.
This also occurs in Final Fantasy IX. The same events also occur in Final Fantasy VII, but the PHS option also allows it to be done from the menu. Both Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII only allow the player to change their current party at save points or on the World Map, while the party in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII can be changed at any point in time.
An option for summons has appeared twice, once as GF in Final Fantasy VIII and once as Aeons in Final Fantasy X. This option allows players to see their summons and see their stats and progression. It also allows the player to assign abilities, and in some games, add stat boosts by spending items.
In Final Fantasy XIII each character's Eidolon's status can be viewed on the Status screen.
This option allows players to view the effect of Limit Break skills and change settings. In Final Fantasy VII players can set which level of Limit Breaks will be used by each character, whereas in Final Fantasy X the mode of filling the Limit Break gauge is changed. In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- nothing can be set in the DMW option, however, the status of each DMW skill can be seen.
A number of games have a designated information option on the menu or within the menu. In Final Fantasy VIII the player can find it within the Tutorial option from the main menu. It often has a different name in each appearance.
Within the game's information option is information about locations, events, characters, and other terms the player may come across in the game. It serves to expand upon the game and also easily display information if the player wants to check up on something or read up on it. These sections often update as the player progresses.
Config, also known as Configuration, or Settings, is a recurring option featured in the menu of most games. The Config option allows the user to change the settings. This includes changing the colors and background, and also the speed of various things such as the Battle Speed. Other common options including changing the controller setup, changing the battle mode which decides how and when the time gauge fills, and the cursor position in battle.
The Tutorial option, also known as Help, or Traveler's Tips, allows players to view helpful guides for various aspects of the game. They may contain tutorials that have been available previously in the game or guides especially for the section.
The Save option is a common option to appear in games in the series, notably the first eight games of the main series, although not in certain versions of the first two games. Unlike most other options, the Save option is blanked out except in specific locations. In most games the Save feature can only be used when at a save point or on the World Map. The Save option saves the current state of progress to a storage device. There is occasionally a Memo or Quicksave option which saves memory to the system's RAM instead.
In Final Fantasy IX the replacement save points take the player straight to the save menu instead, and to save on the World Map a specific button has to be pressed. In Final Fantasy X onwards there are no World Maps and instead all save points take the player straight to the save menu.
The Dissidia series and Final Fantasy XIII-2 use an auto-save feature that automatically saves the player's progress at certain checkpoints, and the game can also be saved any time from the menu.
The Job option, also known as Dressphere for Final Fantasy X-2, is a recurring option featured in a number of the job system games, specifically ones where characters can change their jobs. The Job option allows characters to switch their current job class and also view their progress with other accessible job classes.
A number of games in the series have a place where they can spend a points earned on progressing their player. In Final Fantasy X the Sphere Grid option allows players to spend their characters Sphere Levels to move to a new point in the Sphere Grid.
This needs to be done to place Spheres on tiles. In Final Fantasy XII the Licenses option allows characters to spend earned LP on licenses which give access to abilities, equipment, and other bonuses. In Final Fantasy XIII the Crystarium option allows players to spend their earned CP on new abilities.
A number of games have a system where the player can predefine setups to use within battle. In Final Fantasy XII the player can set up gambits from the Gambits options. This assigns an AI structure to uncontrolled player units, and can be changed whenever the player wants.
In Final Fantasy X-2 there is a Garment Grids option that allows the player to choose Garment Grids and alter the setups for the characters to use during battle. In Final Fantasy XIII the Paradigms option allows a number of Paradigm options to be set which allows the characters to assume different job roles during battle to a paradigm that has being set.
The Card option occurs in two games in the series, Final Fantasy VIII to display Triple Triad cards, and Final Fantasy IX to display Tetra Master cards. The Card option allows the player to view the cards they have in their possession.
In Final Fantasy VIII the player can also see cards they have once had and lost and where they can find them, or from which enemies they can Card them from..In Final Fantasy IX the player can discard cards they do not want anymore. To do the same in Final Fantasy VIII the player has the Card Mod option under the Ability option to also gain items.
Bestiary is rarely an option found directly on the main screen of the menu, but in numerous games can be found within a sub-menu. Often found within the Config, found within the Datalog information option in Final Fantasy XIII, and found within the Clan Primer in Final Fantasy XII, the bestiary displays all enemies that the player has defeated within the course of the game. An image of each will be shown, and in some instances it may have written information about the enemies, and occasionally the stats of the enemy.
Some Bestiary options also include an integer for the amount of the enemy defeated. In Final Fantasy XII an integer may display next to an enemy to indicate how many more of that type of enemy have to be beaten to unlock further pages of information about the enemy.
Shops in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, or Call Shop in Final Fantasy VIII is an option on the menu. Both versions of the option give the player a list of shops to choose from. In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- the shops menu option is the only way to shop, and each shop can be unlocked in certain ways such as prizes for Missions.
In Final Fantasy VIII the Call Shop ability must be known by a GF, which the Tonberry can naturally learn after learning Sell High. The shops that appear in Call Shop are shops that the player has previously visited and the option just saves time on commuting as opposed to being the only means of shopping as it is in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-.
The player can view missions in the menu in some games. In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- the player can view and enter missions they have unlocked from the menu. In Final Fantasy XII a Hunts option can be found in the Clan Primer where the player can view Hunts they have accepted and their status on the hunts.