Quite true. They were still woefully inadequate compared to the first.
I don't have anything against difficulty, though that is a perfectly legitimate criticism of the legends. I was like seven anyway; so it was approximately the same difficulty of every other game. I would say though that difficulty is only a good design choice when it offers a reward.
They're the uncanny valley of rpgs. FF1 and dragonquest were typical and cliche'd enough representations of DnD to where they were just a nice way to kill some time in a fantasy setting with swords and magic. Final Fantasy 4 and above are epic enough in their own rights as legitimate stories and individual universes in which you could emotionally invest yourself. The legends are neither: they're composed of shoddy storytelling, some truly ridiculously convoluted mechanics, unclear motivations and objectives, and yes, needless difficulty.
I don't recall ever dying in that game... but I do recall stopping play simply because the story was non-existent. Maybe it was because of my age, but I didn't have any trouble comprehending final fantasy 6 around the same time.
I seem to recall the story and the gameplay in the SaGa series being significantly superior to Final Fantasy the first. I may have a jaded memory. Of course, both of them had an almost laughably non-existant story (SaGa 3 had a pretty decent story actually). SaGa holds a note as being the earliest videogame I know of where God was the most evil being in the universe. Gotta love a videogame that's willing to cast God as a being that created the universe and all the people in it, as a plaything to watch kill each other in an attempt to reach a Heaven.
The difficulty is what defined the SaGa games. They were deliberately designed by Square to appeal to the hardcore RPG gaming market (which is virtually nonexistant in America), and Final Fantasy was designed for the casual RPG gaming market. It wasn't about flashy graphics, or a in-depth story. It was about intensely difficult combat.
Sometimes, the difficult gameplay can be a justification for itself.
Personally, thinking back to the first SaGa game, some of the subworlds really give me chills to think about. A lot of the sub-worlds were designed to be representations of ****, in various incarnations. One of the sub-worlds was populated entirely by aborted babies, who were stabbed and burned to death, only to be born again, and be killed again over and over. Edited, Jun 22nd 2009 10:27pm by Karelyn