Final Fantasy

This is not so much a review as it is the start of a series of overviews of each Final Fantasy game I’ve played. While it would be very easy to simply do a Final Fantasy series article and just be done with it, it wouldn’t pay special attention to each FF and what they did for me individually. The Final Fantasy series is a series that has influenced me greatly, as I’ve said before, but exactly how and why?

First, let’s start with the obvious. The original Final Fantasy on the NES was my first RPG ever. I was only 7 years old and my brother was 5 when we started this title. It took us a year to beat it, official Nintendo Power strategy guide in hand. It is not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a game that I recommend for any RPGer to go through at least once.

It’s an incredibly tough and frustrating experience…so why would I want to pass that onto another generation? Am I just a spiteful old man? Well yes, but that’s not the reason why. Let’s think about the limitations of the game and what it really means if you beat the original Final Fantasy on the NES without emulation options.

The original FF started with letting you only save in towns. Now eventually you get items that allow you to save on the overworld (pretty sure those are houses), but again, they were items…and they were expensive. Now yes, you could claim these were limitations, poor design flaws, or whatever, but I’m not discussing what was or wasn’t done right; I’m simply presenting it as is and alluding to why this game is so important for any RPGer to play.

So you save in town, figure you’re ready for the dungeon boss, travel to the dungeon (which could take a while depending), traverse the dungeon (which will take a while regardless), then fight the boss (which might take a while), and fucking fail. All that progress…is gone. I admit, it’s a game that would be very hard to play without emulation, but I encourage you not to or at least not to use savestates.

Why? Envision this. A 5 and 7 year old playing collaboratively, strategy guide in hand, beating the game within a year. Now I get it. We’re older now, we don’t have time for that shit. Let’s just beat it! But that’s where the mistake is made. It’s not about hurrying up and beating it; it’s about learning about the limitations and working around them.

It’s about anticipating said limitations and constant preparation with the understanding that it may not be enough or perhaps it is, but it was just plain bad luck, bad tactics, or you took too many risks. And this is exactly why the original FF is so important. The reward is terrible. The ending is virtually non-existent, the story is uninteresting, the dialogue is boring, and in general it’s just enough to be slapped together for a console RPG.

We forgive it because it’s old, but honestly, it really isn’t very good in that respect. At all. But the point is that with no payoff, constant limitations, endless aggravation, forced preparation and grinding…all of that combined means an experience that you will feel genuinely satisfied with when you beat it, simply because you finally did it…and will literally prepare you for any RPG ever.

How so? First, let’s talk limitations. If we’re talking about save points alone, you have to admit that since modern RPGs like to have auto-saves or at least constant areas you can save that since you’ll constantly over-prepare, you will never worry about that one time the developer “forgot” to include a save point or there’s a long stretch with no saves or whatever.

You won’t be too butthurt if you get knocked back an hour of progress or so, especially because more than likely it won’t be that far with modern developer techniques. Think about how much you rage right now when you haven’t saved in a while and get taken out. Now think about those 5 and 7 year olds having to deal with that almost DAILY and not complaining…not one bit.

Think about games that seem to force grinding, then think about how ridiculous the original FF can get overall. It’s seriously one of the most humbling experiences you can have playing RPGs. For that reason alone, it’s worth playing the original FF all the way through. And I won’t lie: it’s not going to appeal to everyone, most people will just play the remakes, and if they do emulate it, you can be damn sure they’ll use all possible emulation options.

Again, I implore you to play it as purely as possible and all the way through. In my opinion, there are few greater rewards than beating the original FF, with the exception of challenging yourself a variety of crazy ways in attempting to beat it again. It’s not the best RPG, but it was one of the first console RPGs and will teach you things you never expected.

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Filed under NES, Nintendo, Retro, Videogames

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