13. Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy NES Front Cover

Developer: Square
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1990
Platform: NES, GBA, Playstation, PS3, Wii, PSP, Smartphones

Square was about to go under when Nintendo decided they might take a chance and see if this whole RPG thing would catch on. We’re all glad they did.

While the game has become more user-friendly with recent ports, the original suffered a bit from the same thing all 1980 RPG’s suffered from: endless battles to level up and get gold. My first time, I chose two fighters, a white mage, and a black mage. Why two fighters? Well, black belts were wimpy and couldn’t equip hardly anything. Little did I know that black belts become extremely powerful later in the game, and that fighters are insanely expensive. I have distinct, angry memories of spending hours outside Melmond fighting beasts to raise enough money for two long swords. I also have distinct, angry memories of wasting a turn attacking blank space after an enemy I had chosen to attack had just died (this was fixed in future ports).

Final Fantasy NES Boss battle against Garland. "Final Fantasy IX", anyone?

I’m also not a huge fan of choosing my party. I’d much rather be given distinct, fleshed out characters than to put myself in the role of a cipher. And once you know the best party (Fighter, Black Belt, White Mage, Black Mage) it’s hard to choose any other if you want to just enjoy the game. Making it harder (e.g. picking all mages) holds no appeal for me.

All that said, this game still holds up today. I don’t think anyone raised on modern RPGs would enjoy it much, but it is still more than nostalgia for the rest of us. I have so many fond memories of the game. Passing Corneria’s bridge for the first time. Battling the nine pirates. Dying multiple times in the swamp cave after having my whole party turned to stone. The hall of Giants. Talking to the twelve wise men and raising the airship. Maturing the party. Praying against encountering Warmech on Tiamat’s Plank of Death. I also loved that this was the first RPG that showed the act of fighting (somewhat) with bright colors used for weapons and spells. The music is classic and most of the soundtrack is still used in the series.

Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls Game Boy Advance Even more fighting (it's rpg after all ;-) (FF1)

Chaos, the final boss, is not terribly difficult with the right party members in tow. Sadly, though, he remains one of the more difficult final bosses in the long history of the franchise. The first time I beat him I was excited, as I believe this was the first RPG I won. I have come back to it on more than one occasion. Final Fantasy is a classic through and through.

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5 thoughts on “13. Final Fantasy

  1. Think this was the second RPG I played. Having multiple party members was cool after Dragon Warrior.

    I also can’t stand choosing your party. Same goes for choosing any type of player in a game when you have no clue how it will affect things. I remember I chose Fighter, Thief, Red Mage, Black Mage. Totally effed without White Mage. Choosing parties would be fine if reaching the end goal didn’t vary so wildy based on who you chose. Even as a kid I had no interest in replaying a game with different characters. I much prefer a set cast of characters and not a ridiculous amount at that.

    One game did it quite well even with a big cast, which I’m sure is pretty high on your list. Time is a big factor sure, but I lost interest playing level-up-quest, sidequest and bunch-of-characters-thrown-together-with-an-uninteresting-story-quest. If I’m going to do something with no hand-eye coordination or puzzling involved, it’s got to be interesting and a little more linear.

  2. I’ll pile on as someone who prefers real characters handed to him and trying to make use of those characters. I also have memories of the nine pirates that really stand out, despite this not being one that I played over and over. I actually think I only played it once.

    After my friend Leif and I played this at essentially the same time, we joked that the second one would be called “Final Fantasy II: The Search for Better Characters.” Little did we know it was a big step in the wrong direction. Oh well.

  3. I’ve attempted to play the modern ports of this game (GBA, PSP) but I feel like I am almost cheating since the difficulty is so easy. Yeah, most of that is due to the level grinding aspect. However, many of us were used to Dragon Warrior’s level grinding.

    I figured out later that gaining experience at a couple of points makes the game much easier: The mummy attack spot in Astos’ castle (just use Dia / FIR2) and The Eye monster attack spot in the Ice Cave (Usually only takes one hit from your quickest fighter). You just keep stepping on those spots over and over and the monsters will regenerate. Once you’ve killed The Eye in the Ice Cave a few times, you can walk through the rest of the game.

    I think my favorite party of all time is Knight, Ninja, Red Wizard and White Wizard. I never was a fan of having the Black Belt / Master and the Black Wizard / Mage die in one hit from strong monsters in the final castle. Plus there are many items that you can use in battle that will generate the level 2 spells FIR, ICE, LIT, so no need for the Black Wizard.

    Although I’ve played this multiple times, I’ve never had the patience to attempt the 4 White Wizard / Mage run…

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