Yesterday’s post was intended to be a quick one, but fact-checking led me to a far more detailed analysis, which took far longer. After finishing the half-season of Agents Of Shield this evening, I was getting very close to falling asleep during Deep Space Nine.
The Alternate, the episode wasn’t bad, I was just exhausted. The effects were, erm, primitive.
So now I think about something quick to write about this evening (as the internet goes down, hopefully temporarily for maintenance).
One of the things I talk about on here fairly regularly, is Final Fantasy. Most games in the series are self-contained, but it can get confusing to a casual observer when there are direct sequels. For example, Final Fantasy XI is not a sequel to Final Fantasy X, but Final Fantasy X-2 is.
Final Fantasy VIII is one of those games that attracts mixed reviews. The lead character, Squall, is a bit of a self-imposed social exile, so his unwillingness to engage other characters more than he has to, makes it difficult for some to connect with him. And some people didn’t like the timey-wimey ending.
There’s a video from the game, which I think is pretty popular. Squall’s at his graduation, there’s a dance going on, and he’s standing off to the side. A girl, Rinoa, who soon afterwards becomes a main character, convinces him to dance.
It’s interesting to watch the progression from completely inept, through moderately incompetent, to actually pretty good. Our Squall’s a quick learner. And how he tries to give up a couple of times.
I like the music. The track is called “Waltz For The Moon”. This uses the same basic tune as the main song of the game, “Eyes On Me”, but with a completely different flow.
If you watch this, you’ll notice that the song isn’t completely grammatically correct English. It was written by a Japanese guy, for a Japanese-originated game, so I don’t have a problem with giving some slack there. The song is actually about two other characters in the game: Laguna and Julia. Julia was a singer, who Laguna kept going to see, but kept failing to talk to. Then circumstances diverged their paths, and Julia had a hit with that song she wrote about them.
I love the line, “Did you ever know, that I had mine on you”. I also like “I’m more than the dress and the voice”. I almost wanted to hear that line on The Voice, back when I was watching it.
So there you go, two versions of a catchy little tune, connecting two stories in the game.
I have mentioned before, more than once, being rather fond of Final Fantasy music. Of course hearing some when I played the games, downloaded some MIDIs that I used to listen to on my phone, back when I had one. Listened to a bunch of different arrangements: the Distant Worlds orchestral series for one, various piano arrangements (the official Piano Arrangements, various YouTubers).
Last night I was watching more arrangements on YouTube, I found a complicated solo piano version of the battle theme from IX, and another of The Man With The Machine Gun from VIII (Oldest’s favourite). I stumbled upon a series of Related videos, which were tracks from a series of albums called “FF Violin”.
A violin or two are the featured instruments, but there are other instruments on the tracks as well.
Contrasting with PS1 music/MIDI, piano and full orchestra, these violin tracks have something of a different character about them. Which makes sense. And again, it’s another set of music that I could just listen to all day (and I did for a pretty big chunk of today).
The musicians behind these tracks made 5 albums, but they’re only available in Japan (well, you can import them, but like other Japanese CDs they’re rather expensive that way).
Playlist here, includes all the first album, most of the third, some of the second, and one video containing the whole of the fifth. Here‘s a video of the second, and here‘s one of the fourth.
I said yesterday that I would write today about my experience trying out the Final Fantasy X demo. And I will, but perhaps some background of my history with Final Fantasy first. And I’m going to want to point out how some things have changed, which will make more sense if you have some idea of what they’ve been changed from.
Back in college, a good friend of mine got into VII. Really got into VII, kept going on about how good it was. Sounded like there was a lot to it, but I didn’t have access to it at the time.
A few years later, I picked up a PlayStation second-hand. This was at the point where there were still PS1 games in the stores, but only just. I picked up VIII and IX new. I think Origins (I+II) and Anthology (IV+V in the European version, the Americans got stuck with V and VI and no IV PS release) may have been in the store, but I didn’t get them at that point, I did pick them, VI and VII up later (probably ebay). III was the only release from I-IX, that didn’t get a PS1 release anywhere.
I played lots of VIII and IX at that point. Didn’t finish them until much later. They were easy to play for days (maybe weeks) in spare time, but then I’d take a break, forget what happened, and find it easier to start over to remember the story, than to continue from where I left off…
VI I played through on the emulator, and I was multitasking while I did it, it was easier than going to the console and a dedicated screen.
A couple of years ago, a Nintendo DS was a family present, and one of the games that was also part of the family present, was III. So I did get to play through that one.
I’ve played some VII on-and-off with kids, on the emulator up here (I had them skip a part where Cloud goes into the mansion in drag).
I’ve played I, II, IV and V a little bit, mostly to test that they worked.
The stories take place on very different worlds. IX, getting back to the series’ roots, was more castles, villages, dragons and magic. VI had much more of a steampunk vibe, VII more cyberpunk. VIII is a bit more difficult to place, with mixed elements. There are significant parts with a sci-fi look.
The stories might, in some cases start fairly small – IX starts with a theater troupe on a mission to kidnap a princess, VIII starts with Squall having to pass a couple of tests of his ability as a warrior. The characters soon get swept up into a much larger, world-threatening story. In VIII, a sorceress from the past wants to compress all time to take control of it. In VII, we find out pretty quickly that the life is being sucked out of the planet, to meet energy demand. In IX, someone’s trying to fuse the planet with its dead twin, which will turn out catastrophic for everyone we care about.
There are many common elements through the games, that are sometimes implemented differently. Armour generally works out fairly similarly. You tend to start with something like leather armour, and work your way up throughout the game. Your characters often have job classes: something warrior/knight-ish, something leaning in the healing direction (usually a White Mage), something to cast more harmful spells on your enemies (often a Black Mage). Thief. Some games (III, V) you can choose, some (IX) you can’t.
Magic varies wildly: in III you buy magic from shops throughout the world, and it comes in different levels. Each character has 3 magic slots for each level. It also comes in White, Black and Grey varieties. Some job classes might not be able to use all colours, some might not be able to use any. In VIII, you draw magic from draw points or enemies, and you can plain cast it in battle, but there’s more benefit to “junctioning” it to various character statistics, such as Hit Points, Strength, and a bunch of others. VII, various materia (including magic), you link with slots on your weapons, to make your fighting more effective.
Summon creatures are treated differently by different games as well. A lot of them recur, but some appear only in one game. And they’re referred to differently in different games as well. In VI, they’re called Espers, and they actually have a good reason to help you. In VIII, they’re “Guardian Forces”, GFs. In IX, they’re Eidolons. Most games, as I recall, you give the command to summon them, when you tell the characters what to do, and then they appear when it’s the character’s turn to take the action. In VIII, after you tell the character to Summon, their HP counter gets replaced with the GF’s, for a countdown period before the GF appears. Therefore, the GF is vulnerable to attack and the character isn’t.
In trying the X demo, obviously there’s only so much of the game that they’ll show you, which is fair. They don’t give you much of an idea about the story. They show you the opening movie, and two game segments, the first of which has a bunch of FMV. I couldn’t, as far as I could tell, have a look at equipment screens, and see what you could fiddle around with there. Unsurprisingly, they don’t just let you wander around the world map. In the areas they give you access to, there’s minimaps with indicators of where you are, and where you’re heading to.
The second sequence showcases different battle styles. One battle tells you to use a summon creature, here called Aeons. There’s a big innovation here, the summon creature appears, replacing your whole party, and you give the Aeon commands instead of your party. You basically control it for the rest of the battle, and of course it is vulnerable to attack during this time.
I thought that was a pretty neat idea, and a logical progression from VIII.
They also showcase straight battle, and the use of magic in battle, which aren’t that different to previous games. There are special abilities which you can use for a limited time, after a certain amount of battle: more like the Trances from IX than anything else. But without the characters glowing purple.
The other big innovation, which also seems like a good idea, requires some more background that I haven’t given yet.
Some of the earlier games have 4 characters that you use for the duration of the game. I and III are like this, II has 3 that stay, and the fourth is variable. Most of the other games have a large roster of characters, whom you pick up as the game progresses. In these games, you are given the opportunity to switch which ones you’re using, sometimes at specific points in the game, and for some segments you can change them at any time.
In these larger cast line-ups, in the final battle, if you lose a character, they might be replaced by another. The VI finale is like this, you can choose the order you want your characters to appear in. This is about the only time when your lineup changes during a battle.
In the second playable segment of the X demo, there’s a point where it tells you how to swap out a character mid-battle. One imagines technical limitations have prevented this before, but it seems like a great idea. I wonder how it changes the dynamics, because you could not worry about healing mid-battle, just swap out characters until the battle’s done, then Tent everyone better (assuming that mechanic remains).
I know I’m late to the party on this, and I was recently drooling over the VII Remake trailer for PS4, and have been following the long, long development of XV (also PS4, neither released yet). And watched the trailer for the X HD remake. Probably be very late to the party on all these, as well. Never mind, I like retro, one day these things will be, too. for no, that was a nice, brief excursion into slightly-less-retro-land.
I grew up around different games systems. Atari 2600 for a while (every so often we’ll still drag one out). Commodore 64, with my first experiments in programming, but mainly lots of games. And friends with their Spectrums, Atari CPCs. BBC Micro at school. DOS, Windowses (precious). Master Systems, NESes, MegaDrives, SNESes. PlayStations, DreamCasts. A brief encounter with an N64. Most of these not mine, and some of the ones that were mine, I picked up long after the heyday.
I have played with a bunch of emulators, some to a larger degree than others. For some systems, you can find a vast array of games to download, others I haven’t really looked.
Much as I played the Commodore 64 back in the day, I haven’t really played very much with the emulator. Perhaps all that time glued to the joystick makes it a very different experience playing those games on keyboard.
I found a while ago that some games from various consoles are available to play on archive.org – I did try Sonic The Hedgehog for both Master System and MegaDrive – you can really see the difference between the two systems, but keyboard worked for the Master System version and not for the MegaDrive version. I think you need a controller that connects to the computer, rather than rely on keyboard.
I picked up a BBC emulator, trying to hunt down a game that I played in school all those years ago (not Granny’s Garden, I remember that). Emulator worked, but I didn’t find the game. The game had levels of different types. I remember one where there was a sentinel, or a guardian, something like that, and you had to colour it with two or three colours, the catch being that you couldn’t put a colour in a segment adjacent to one with the same colour. I think it was the same game that had you trying to drive to the castle, and you had to program the instructions in advance (west 5, etc), and not accidentally go off-road. If you have any ideas as to what it was called, let me know.
DOSBox is THE go-to DOS emulator, and it can be fun to brush up on one’s old DOS skills to write .bat files to streamline mounting and running the games.
Also an emulator of sorts, the SCUMMVM program is an easier way to get a lot of old point-and-click adventures working on more modern machines: the kids mainly use it for Humungous Entertainment games like the Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish, and Pajama Sam series. I’ve also played Discworld and Discworld II with them, on it.
Probably the emulator I’ve used most, is ePSXe, which lets you run games for the original PlayStation. Actually having a bunch of PlayStation CDs lying around, I haven’t felt the need to look for any PlayStation games online. I’ve got through Final Fantasies VI, VIII and IX on there, a little of I, II, IV and V, and a chunk of VII. Games like this, where it’s good to save early and often, benefit from virtually infinite memory card storage. Plus the Griever and Memoria save-game editors for VIII and IX are rather nice, when you’ve played through the game a few times already and don’t want to grind too much.
It’s kinda funny, cos the older two kids were playing Rayman on a real PlayStation 1 earlier this evening.
ePSXe itself can take a bit of configuring to get it running just right, and sometimes I’ve just needed to try a bunch of different settings until it looks good. It was mainly the display settings, though some games needed the CD drive plugin to be adjusted, too. A down side is that it doesn’t save these settings to the ePSXe folder, it saves them in the operating system’s configuration files, so if you reinstall, you lose it all.
A week or two ago, I went looking for a PlayStation 2 emulator. I happen to have one lonely PS2 disc, that I had never got to try before. I decided it was time to see if I could give it a go.
The disc came with Final Fantasy VI (PS1), and was a demo for Final Fantasy X (PS2).
The emulator I tried was PCSX2. It seemed like it didn’t need as much configuration as ePSXe, but there weren’t default keyboard controls for Controller 1, so I needed to go and set those manually, which took a bit of time. The game ran without displaying oddly, so I was glad I didn’t have to go through all the display plugin settings like I did with ePSXe.
The PCSX2 site lists all the games they’ve tested the emulator with, and state the relative compatibility. Some games can be played all the way through, some suffer from particular bugs that mean the game can be played, not completed, some play as far as the menu, some only play an intro, and others do Nothing At All. But they warn that even games that can be completed, can suffer from slowdown at points.
FFX was listed as a game that could be played all the way through. The demo was not listed, but if the full game runs all right, the demo stands a fair chance, doesn’t it?
The FFX demo came with an intro movie, and two playable segments. I’ll talk more about these tomorrow, and stick to performance today.
The intro movie played all right. The first segment had quite a few FMVs, which really struggled at times. The gameplay didn’t seem to suffer any trouble.
So there you go, some experiences of emulation. The past… in the future.
I started writing a post on a different subject, and research started taking a while, and it just got to a point where I decided I needed to go to bed soon, so I decided to save that post for another day, and give you something less complicated.
So, following on from yesterday’s post about stuff I found on YouTube, I thought I’d highlight a couple of YouTube stars who have been rather prolific in their output.
I found the Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly, from their Star Trek themes cover. They take tunes they line, TV themes, movie tunes, video game music, rock, and heavy metal, and create arrangements of the tunes, for two harps to play. then they record them, video them, and put them up on YouTube for your enjoyment.
(of course, if I’m going to embed one, it’ll be Final Fantasy tunes)
Their Lord Of The Rings covers are a favourite, Oldest loved their Star Wars medley.
There’s all sorts of stuff to enjoy there, and I hope you do enjoy it. nice relaxing playlist to have on in the background of your day.
Just a quick one tonight, as the power’s going to go off in not-too-long, and the outage is supposed to last until about when it’ll be time to get up.
I’ve crossed a few things off my to-do list the last couple of days. Sorted payment for the web sites, arranged an eye test because I need a new prescription to get a new pair of glasses (my current pair got scratched while playing hide and seek with Oldest outside, in the dark), wrote the first draft of an article for a site I frequent. Did some of the data collection for my planned site. Some items go really quickly, and some take a really long time (such as the last one I did today.
The Steam key for Civ IV came through, am going to try and enter that before we lose power.
Played some Final Fantasy VII with Oldest today (disc 1, having left the Gold Saucer, we got to Cosmo Canyon, for those that means anything to). Oldest, familiar with the Star Wars music, recently saw an orchestra playing the Imperial March, He hadn’t realised quite how many instruments, or how many people playing the same kind of instrument, there were in an orchestra. He said he didn’t realise it was that “complicated”. So today, a while after we’d stopped playing FF7, I put on a YouTube video of the very beginning of FF7 for him. Then I put on that same music (“Opening/Bombing Mission”) on my Distant Worlds DVD. The full orchestra is playing it, and clips from the game are shown on a projector screen behind them. Oldest thought this was also “complicated” (quotes because that’s the part I can guarantee are his words). We saw a few more tunes on the DVD before he had to get ready for bed.
Smoke me a kipper, internet: I’ll be back for breakfast.
Not being a big fan of forms or tests, personality tests are very Not My Thing. There usually ends up being some stupid question where none of the options are particularly me.
“Which of these two options is more you, Option A which is totally not you, or Option 2 which is totally not you. This will help us determine what kind of personality you have.” Oh, I can tell you – I’m the kind of personality that’s done with these questions.
If you happen to be like me in this regard, then let me help you.
If you’re so outside the box that four-letter abbreviations starting with I or E aren’t enough for you, then options widen considerably.
I like FFIX
I’m starting to use HDMI USPS keep bringing me things (usually after I’ve been busy on Amazon).
I didn’t go to university, but it could very well be that UCLA is a personality type all of its own.
I don’t think these are me, but you might identify with GMTV, CITV or CBBC.
If your into history, SPQR might suit you.
I do have a reputation, however, and perhaps the best four letters for me would be FOOD. I know I’d like some…
I like playing games, though I don’t really make a lot of time for doing so. Playing Final Fantasy VII with Oldest hasn’t happened in a while. I’ve downloaded a few games that I haven’t tried out, yet. Got a way into Cut The Rope 2, and log in most days to get the prize of the day, most days I don’t spend more time than that.
I’m fairly competitive so with the Final Fantasies I like doing all the side quests and getting all the items, Cut The Rope 2 I like solving each level all 3 ways, otherwise I would probably be a lot further ahead.
And then there’s games with Achievements. My first encounter with something like this was in Command And Conquer: Generals, medals for doing so many of different kinds of maps, medals for defeating the different General types and so on.
Though I prefer games that just come on CD or DVD and one can just play without having to do a tedious download, or even worse an update right when you want to be playing, any Achievements you earn while playing games are tied to your account and you don’t lose them.
Actually, I think it’s the same way with games in the Windows Store, though I only have installed one game that has Achievements: Microsoft Sudoku. (Had it on for less than a month, and already have most of the achievements, though one will take 8 months to get and another 12).
After getting through Half-Life 2 on Steam, there were several Achievements I didn’t achieve, and the competitive person in me has considered going back and getting them. Well, I didn’t and didn’t, but then a remake with updated graphics, Half-Life 2: Update, was released to everyone who already had Half-Life 2. And the Achievements were the same.
This seemed the perfect opportunity to go back and start over. One Achievement in particular, that I missed first time round, involves finding the Lambda symbol, or some supplies near to them, through all the game. So I basically have to play through the whole game to get this one, and was a big one I wanted to get, but had kinda been putting off.
I’m doing OK so far on that one, but there was another that I tried first time that was Hard with a capital Difficult. Get through Ravenholm using only the Gravity Gun.
At this point in the game, you’ve only just got the Gravity Gun, with which you can pick up objects, then either drop them, or fling them at high speed.
Ravenholm is a zombie-infested hell hole. It has regular zombies, the insanely fast zombies, regular headcrabs (nasty little critters that jump on peoples’ heads and turns them into zombies), toxic headcrabs (let’s just say that they’re so much worse), and carrier zombies (have a bunch of headcrabs on their head and shoulders that they just throw at you).
The level is rather easier if you’re using the other weapons you have at your disposal. The shotgun is quite helpful.
Now, there are rather a lot of helpful objects around that you can throw at all these zombies and headcrabs. The circular saw blades are the most effective, as long as you hit. Flammable barrels can affect a large area. Bricks, and plain barrels can be helpful in a pinch.
There’s one human (half-crazed) inhabitant of Ravenholm: Father Grigorio. At a few points, he’ll show up and ramble madly at you, and also take out a few enemies with his shotgun. He has also set a bunch of traps around the town, which can help you out. Or kill you, if you’re not careful.
If you’ve not played the level before, you’re going to be dying and reloading (and hopefully saving, frequently) a whole bunch of times. If you’re going for the Gravity Gun Achievement, same applies.
Hence the Babylon 5 reference in this post’s title. The original line was, “If you go to Z’ha’dum, you will die.” Ravenholm may well be worse.
With the Gravity Gun, you can only carry 1 thing at a time. For a good chunk of the level, you can take it slow: carry a circular saw blade so far, go back and get another, take it to where you dropped the first, go and get a third. Less good is when you shoot one, need it again and can’t find where the stupid thing landed.
And that’s just in the buildings and in the streets: a fair chunk of the level you’re on walkways partway up the outside of the buildings. Very easy to lose stuff up there.
Oh no! Accidentally switched to the crowbar and swooshed it! Load saved game…
So there’s this part where you go into a door at the top of a building, and call the elevator to get down to street level, where a zombie horde is milling about. you close the door, call the elevator, and some of those insanely fast zombies break their way in through the skylight. The room, while not perhaps strictly small, is small enough to the point where, once you’ve picked up an object to throw, the fast zombie has knocked it out of your grip before you’ve had a chance to aim.
After several tries, one time making it into the lift, with the speedy so-and-sos also making it in, I figured it was really time to try something different. Before you go into the room, you can see down into the street you’re trying to get into. I found it safer to just jump down there, straight into the (for the most part, much slower) zombie horde than be trapped in a room with the fast ones.
After that, the street was much easier: the fast ones showing up but not quite so close together, a trap that works once and then breaks, but you can Gravity Gun the broken-off part to good effect (repeatedly,as long as you can find the thing). Then you’re back onto the rooftops, and hey, there’s the cart I need to get across the gap, how do I get it here? Oh man, need to go back into the street into a building… OK, got it. Now back onto the roofs and walkways, further this time, Father Grigorio shows up for the last time, we can join him and he’ll accompany us through the graveyard.
But first, we have to wait on top of this building, for another little cart, that will carry us across the gap. And I have no objects to throw. (There are some ammunition boxes here, but throwing them does no good). And there are two fast zombies coming, one coming up the drainpipe (that you can’t knock down, though it be loose), and the other… Aargh! I don’t care! It’s coming!
So, defenseless (even if I had things to throw, the situation would be like being in the lift room, only there’d be a lot more losing the weapons off the side of the building), under attack, what do I do?
Run around, trying not to get hit. Jump in the cart when it arrives. Hit the button to be taken away.
Surprisingly, this method works, and the fast zombies decline to join me in the cart. Whew!
Comparatively, the graveyard is a lot easier. Then the mines.
Infested with headcrabs. And a few things to throw at them, but not quite what you would call an abundance. And then a barnacle (thing that lives on a ceiling, has a long sticky tongue that dangles down, if it touches you, it catches you and pulls you up to be eaten by the Big Pointy Teeth). This barnacle you have to use as a lift, and then not die.
The barnacle took a couple of turns, but was pretty easy to figure out. The mine workings, with elevated walkways and such, was harder with the many headcrabs running around on the floor. Managed to take a lot of them out with flammable barrels, then found a spot where they could get up to me one at a time, and sometimes the Gravity Gun blast will kill them (else it will just knock them away, at least on headcrabs the Gravity Gun will have an effect without needing an extra object to throw).
And then, after a much easier ascent, we reach daylight. There’s a little bit more to the Ravenholm chapter of the game, fortunately we get the achievement before we have to go through that.
Man, that was hard. But there’s an achievement on Update that I didn’t get on Original. Not in a rush to go back and get it there…
Here attached is a video of someone-not-me playing the level without going for the achievement: going with this one because there’s no commentary going on.
Warning: In case you hadn’t realised from everything I’ve said so far, there’s some violence.
Because of some of the trailers coming out of E3 (Final Fantasy VII Remake, LEGO Dimensions), and the possibly-coming-soon Final Fantasy XV, I started looking into the relative merits of the PS3 and the PS4.
Some background: I have played consoles for years (Atari 2600, NES, SNES, Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, PlayStation, Dreamcast). I’m pretty sure the Atari has been in my family for longer than I have. My in-laws have one, too. I’m pretty sure also that my family of origin’s console was new. I have bought three consoles from the above list: PS1, Dreamcast and Mega Drive (possibly in that order), not a-one of them was new. (note to self: get Dreamcast working over here, and introduce kids to Chu Chu Rocket.)
From time to time we (mainly me and Oldest, but including the other two as well, even if the most we can expect from Youngest is chewing the controls) like to have a bash at some of the old games.
But sometimes it seems it would be nice to have a bash at some of the newer games, too.
Like, I have Final Fantasy I, II, and IV-IX on the PS1 (and III on the DS). Despite hearing that the later games in the series suffer a bit of a decline (well, I don’t know about the MMOs, but as they require a subscription I shall happily continue to ignore them), I still would like to give them a go.
I’m not sure I’d want to touch car racing games of the 8-bit era now, though I played quite a few. I play Gran Turismo 2 on the PS1 a bit with the kids. Comparing games like Out Run on the old machines, where, at best, turns and objects you might need to react to show up on screen at about the time you need to react to them, I notice on GT2 scenery being loaded just after it ought to be visible from line-of-sight, at some curve way ahead. GT5 and 6 on the PS3 have improvements on the graphics, of course, but they also support a 3D mode. Interestingly, GT7 on PS4 doesn’t seem to.
(I’ve spotted 3D projectors on Amazon for less than $500. Don’t know if they’re good projectors, but the possibility is rather interesting…)
Also, I’ve played some LEGO games on the DS (Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Marvel), and while I could get them for 2-player action on the PC, a console might be easier.
Early models of PS3 are backwards-compatible to PS2 and PS1. PS1 is less important to me, as I have one, but there are a few PS2 titles I would be interested in. Some of them, though (Final Fantasy X and X-2) have PS3 and PS4 versions. And then some don’t.
The backwards-compatible versions are the 20GB, 40GB, 60GB, and some 80GB models. The hard drives can apparently be upgraded so you’re not tied to a specific size. 60GB seemed to be a safer bet than 80GB, so I’ve been keeping my eye on that. Compared to a 40GB the other day (both Used on Amazon), and they didn’t seem that different in price. Gotta watch out for which ones come with cables and controllers, but it looks like you should be up and running for $200 or less (inc. shipping, if you time it right). Can’t get those backwards-compatible models new.
PS4 has no backwards-compatibility. Some titles are available on both PS3 and PS4 (looking at the HD remaster box set of FFX and FFX-2 the other day, the PS4 version was rather more expensive – the pre-release Lego Dimensions Starter Set was the same price for either version). New PS4 costs about $400, Used (“Good” quality, inc shipping, cables and a controller) starts (as I write this) at $305, and going down the list the price rapidly increases.
For bang for the buck, and wider selection of what I want to play (though, to be honest, such playing would be rather occasional), PS3 would be my (sadly hypothetical) priority (the research has been fun, however). But some of these (as far as we know) PS4-only titles are rather enticing…