As I made mention in my last post, that Christmas in 1980-something yielded the family 4 different NES games, Final Fantasy, was my parents. Although, admittedly, I remember my Mom playing it more than my Dad…I actually don’t remember if my dad played it all, but I digress.
Final Fantasy is a role playing game that allows you to pick four party members before venturing off and questing for glory and gold. Fighter, Black Belt, Thief, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage. Fighters are suppose to be the Tank class, they can use all the heaviest of armors and the heaviest of swords. Black Belts are the martial arts experts and have a very limited selection in armor and weapons to use, but they hit hard. Thieves are a little less than Fighters, in that they can carry a larger assortment of weapons than Black Belts, but can’t hit as hard, and their armor choices are limited to leather. Mages are a special class of characters, they cast spells. Black Mages use destructive magic, White Mages use healing and defensive magic, while Red Mages can use both. The caveat with a Red Mage is that each class can only learn three spells per level. So Red Mages have eight possible spells to learn, but only three slots available. White and Black mages are very limited in their armor and weapon choices, where as a Red Mage could have heavier armor, and have a greater selection of weapons and still cast spells. All of this changes when your characters get to class change mid way through the game…Fighters become Paladin type characters, learning White Magic. Thieves become Ninja’s and learn the art of Black Magic. Black Belts become Masters, they do not gain the ability to cast spells, but their need for weapons and armor becomes unnecessary. Mages became Wizards and gained the ability to learn the most difficult of spells.
My mother’s party was Red Mage, Red Mage, White Mage, Black Mage. I guess you simply cannot have too many mages. I couldn’t play the game until my mom finished it…which meant I had plenty of time to study what she did, learn from her mistakes, read the manual, study the map and best of all…read through the strategy guide that my friend Bobby used when he played.
Strategy guides were no big thing to me, my dad frequently purchased strategy guides for his Dungeons and Dragons computer games. But I think from the perspective of the NES, the strategy guide for Final Fantasy, was epic. It was a full color, high gloss publication which also told the story of the game. It provided tips on what weapons and armor to buy, where to level up to earn the most gold and experience, what spells to use on monsters to do the most damage and where to find all the treasure chests, and hidden secrets. This specific strategy guide to both Bobby and I was GOLD! We shared it, we read it, we memorized it.
My first party was Fighter, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage…since then, I have successfully played with every possible combination to beat the game. Fighter, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage…to me is the strongest of all combinations short of all Black Mages.
The ultimate goal of the game is to seek out the four legendary crystals (Fire, Earth, Water, Air) and defeat the main villain (Chaos) from taking over the world. In regards to role playing games, with this being the second game I ever played of the genre, was unique in that you earned experience and gold for defeating monsters. The more experience you gain, the stronger the characters become (the more Hit Points, or damage they can take before dying). For magic users, it also meant the more spells per level you could cast. In the original NES version of this game, you could only cast your spells a certain number of times. For example, as a level one, you could cast magic spells three times (either once for each of your three spell slots, or one spell three times, or any combination in between). As you leveled up, you could cast more spells, so by level 5, maybe you could cast your level one spells four times…with a max number of spell casting at nine. (Note: This was later updated in the Game Boy Advanced version with magic points and really took out some of the strategy in the game.)
For some people, myself included, part of the fun of the game was leveling up your characters. Which meant walking around the map or dungeons a lot which would randomly initiate encounters. The ultimate goal was to level your character high enough to beat a boss, or successfully make it through a dungeon without any of your characters dying. Of course, in addition to experience, you also earned gold…which meant having money to upgrade your characters equipment and buying new (stronger) spells. Part of the strategy in leveling, was trying to do so without having any of your party members dying in the process of combat. If at the end of combat any of your characters died…they didn’t earn the experience. Which also meant doing a long walk of shame to the local town church to have your character revived (at least until you learned the white magic spell Life or Lif2).
I fell in love with this game, probably more so than I should have…it was a game that introduced me to player party style games. It also introduced me into the genre of fantasy role playing. I have played and beaten this game, more times than I can count and any time it is available for a gaming device I purchase it. I have also been faithful to the franchise. Final Fantasy has had many different titles and spinoffs and I’ve played most. Some of the most memorable, of course Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II (US Version), Final Fantasy III (US Version), Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy X. I will save those reviews for another time. Final Fantasy has influenced two different movies, as well as a comic book series and has been parodied in multiple formats. It’s an addicting series with a huge fan following. Definitely one of the most influential video games of all time.