Hey, Homura! Long TIME, no see! … Wait, wrong time travel joke.
Before going past this point, read this post to understand what I’m doing here why. Basically I’m just a fanperson, writing the memories of his favorite game series down, while trying not to spaz out too much from all this.
Ah, the very first Final Fantasy title, simply called Final Fantasy. As you can see, I’m going to talk about these games in the order they were released, not the order I played them in. In fact, this was the last Final Fantasy I finished (not counting XIII-2), so that’s a bit of an irony there. A kind warning: In the next few paragraphs I’m just going to talk about how I even got to play this game, so if you want to skip that and read about the game, just scroll down past the picture. Pictures will always serve as some sort of milestone in these posts.
My first indirect contact with this game must have been around 2002 or 2003, where I started reading gaming magazines. While I knew Breath of Fire IV, Final Fantasy VII and VIII before from watching a friend play who had a PS1, a console I never had, I didn’t really have any interest in RPGs like that (other than Pokémon, but I don’t take that into account). That changed thanks to a magazine I bought that had a CD-ROM with fan-made RPG titles constructed with the program RPG Maker 2000 on it. And boy, did I love those games. Most of them were just rip-offs of PS1 classics I didn’t know back then (because I didn’t have that goddamn gaming system!), like Silent Hill or Xenogears, but if it weren’t for those 2D-‘clones’ I could have never experienced those games until much, much later. Because… I never had a PS1. Did I mention that already?
And one of those games was an originally German RPG Maker game called Mondschein (eng.: Moonlight), which was indeed the first RPG of this kind, that I ever played. In this game there were two side-characters that were totally out of place… because they were 8-bit sprites. Their names were Fighter and Black Mage, and they were referencing a webcomic named 8-Bit Theater. Seriously. The 8-Bit Theater. Back then I didn’t get it and thought it was pretty stupid, but years later… probably when I was 16 and already knew a lot about Final Fantasy… I randomly found it again and remembered. Guess what, it became one of my favorite things on the web.
But the first time I played Final Fantasy I was before that time. I saw that it was remade for Gameboy Advance, and I borrowed it from one of my friends. I didn’t get to finish the game though, and after some time I completely forgot about it, until I found 8-Bit Theater after so many years. Then I wanted to attempt it again, having already tried out (but also not finished) Final Fantasy II, IV, V and VI, but I never found the time to play these long games because of too much homework and studying. They bothered me more than they entertained me. Oh, but then it happened. 2008. Dissidia Final Fantasy was announced. Despite not having finished the majority of Final Fantasy games, I knew them and loved them, already considering myself a fan. But this. This broke me. Wait, let me find my face when I saw the first trailer.
Nope, that’s the wrong picture. Whatever, I’m getting a little off the track here anyway. The thing is, after playing Dissidia and loving it, I was finally motivated to finish all those games (not including II, XI and XII, but that’s a different story), and about one year ago I bought 20th Anniversary version of the original Final Fantasy for the PSP and completed that as well… well, at least the main story part. The superbosses were just too much for me. A superboss is an optional boss officially appearing in the games since Final Fantasy V, usually much stronger than the final story boss. The first superbosses from Final Fantasy V, Omega and Shinryu, are actually appearing as superbosses in the original Final Fantasy since the Dawn of Souls version for the GBA, along with Deathgaze, an enemy from Final Fantasy VI. The 20th Anniversary version also added the boss Chronodia, which I encountered first of those four and made me give up on the other three as well. This actually saddens me, because I always loved superbosses, as they add a little more content to an already content-heavy game. Oh, Gilgamesh is in there too, by the way. I can’t leave that out. Also Ultros. Enough said.
So what is the original Final Fantasy about? Compared to newer games, the story is as simple as it could get: When the world is in peril, four dudes with four shiny crystals appear in the kingdom of Cornelia (or Corneria) and are tested by the king to see if they are the legendary Warriors of Light. He sends them to the Chaos Shrine where they have to rescue Princess Sarah from the hands of Garland, a former knight of Cornelia and the first antagonist of the Final Fantasy series. After Garland meets his demise, the king orders the bridge in the north of Cornelia to be repaired, which allows the Warriors of Light to access new areas. This is how the game’s story basically progresses. New town (like Pravoka, the next town) -> dungeon/boss (like pirates who terrorize Pravoka) -> obtain way to access new places (like a pirate ship you obtain after beating the shit out of those pirates). The main goal of the game is basically to defeat the Four Fiends: Lich, Marilith, Kraken and Tiamat, to find the one responsible for the mayhem they cause and to stop the resurrection of Chaos, the incarnation of evil.
At the beginning of the game, you create your four characters, name them, and choose one of six character classes for each of them. The available classes are the following:
Black Mage, who uses strong offensive spells, generally known as Black Magic in the series. A very crucial member in my opinion, as he will deal a lot of damage even against the strongest bosses, and can inflict negative status effects to enemies. Unfortunately, he tends to die really quick. As soon as the player completes an optional (but much recommended) sidequest involving the Citadel of Trials, this class will evolve into Black Wizard, allowing him to use even stronger spells and equipment.
White Mage, a healer and the only female Warrior of Light (at least in the 20th Anniversary version, she’s proven to be female). While she is not necessary to keep your health up, it’s much recommended to have one in your team, as it will save you a lot of money. Her White Magic is capable of healing and providing positive status effects that are very useful when dealing with bosses. She evolves into White Wizard, allowing her to use more powerful spells and equipment.
Warrior (or Fighter), is exactly what the name suggests. In terms of stats and equipment he is the best character class available for both damage and survivability. Especially his evolved form Knight that allows him to use some White Magic spells, giving you a second character to boost your character’s stats in battle. This makes your boss fights much more efficient if you have a White Mage as well, as you can cast two enhancements (mainly Protect, Blink or elemental protection) on your characters in one turn. The only downside to this class is that the equipment will cost you a lot of money.
Thief, the weakest class in the game. Seriously. He can’t use a lot of weapons or armor, doesn’t know any spells and can’t even steal. The only thing he’s good at is running away… But! The Thief is actually the biggest investment you can make in this game. After he evolves into the Ninja-class, he can use all weapons but two, and much better armor, while being able to use some Black Magic spells (most importantly Haste and Temper, the only positive status effect in Black Magic) as opposed to the Knight’s White Magic. While he is still outclassed by the Knight in terms of stats, you have a great damage dealer doubling your efficiency if you also have a Black Mage.
Monk (or Black Belt), a fighter exceeding in empty-handed combat. This character is practically useless… until you remove the nunchaku he has equipped. If he has no weapon he is literally the most powerful damage dealer in your party. You also save a lot of money with a guy like him, as he barely needs any equipment. He evolves into Master and gets… well, nothing. He gets stronger, but in the end… He is the complete opposite of the Thief, becoming more useless the longer you play.
Red Mage, a mage able to cast Red Magic! … Not. There is no Red Magic. The Red Mage is basically capable of both Black and White Magic, but also wears better equipment than the other mages. But that’s not a good thing. He can’t learn the best spells and can’t wear the best equipment, not even as his evolved form, Red Wizard. The only thing he is useful for is supporting, but he is just wasting space for a better class. As the Final Fantasy Wiki nails it: He’s a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
The reason I love this game is because of it’s simplicity. You have a clear goal, and you rarely get distracted by anything. You don’t even have to do a lot of farming as long as you prepare yourself and use your given spells and items as efficiently as possible. I prefer this straight-forward layout over any other RPG layout anytime, to be honest. No random weapon stats, no boring and redundant sidequests, just you and your world, ready to be explored. This is probably also why I even love Final Fantasy XIII: it’s simple and fun. In fact, all Final Fantasy games are. And this is the game that made them this way. We all love adventure, and this game is proof that such an adventure doesn’t have to be Oblivion-complicated to be enjoyable. Much like the Zelda-series, which I love as well.
This game aged pretty well. After playing the modern titles I was still able to enjoy such an old game (even if it was a remake) which is pretty rare! I hope you enjoyed seeing the game from my point of view, and if not, that’s okay too. If you haven’t played the game yet, think about the stuff I said and consider it. Should you think that I forgot something of great importance, leave a comment and suggest something.
Next up will be Final Fantasy II, but before that, I’m going on a vacation! I sure hope the bridge is already repaired…