How Final Fantasy Defined My Love of the RPG

What is your favourite gaming series of all time? Think about it for a second – there’s plenty to choose from.

Article by Dan Curtis. Follow Dan on Twitter at @FrostedSloth & share your Final Fantasy memories using hashtag: #finalfantasymylove

 If you’ve been playing games as long as I have (I think I probably pressed some buttons on a controller when I was still crawling around in my nappy and shouting burble at inanimate objects), the library of games you’ve probably experienced over the years will be huge.

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When you cast your mind back to every single game you’ve ever played, which ones really stick with you the most? Everyone has their favourites, everyone has been affected by them growing up and for me personally, there’s no series I resonate with more than Final Fantasy

The Fantasy Begins…

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Follow him I did.

Way back in the day, when Pokemon cards were all the rage and people collected strange alien things in eggs and tried to mate them (seriously, that happened in the UK), a young Dan Curtis discovers a shiny new game purchased for the Playstation by his father.

It is named Final Fantasy VII. The young Mr Curtis has no idea what the game is, what it’s about and whether it’s actually any good. He then discovers it’s not actually meant for him; his father has, in fact, bought it for himself.

That doesn’t deter our young hero – as daddums Curtis gradually loses interest, Dan begins delving into Final Fantasy, learning its mechanics, how it works and being amazed by the sheer scale and graphical prowess it showed (which, at the time, was mindblowing).

And he is hooked. It’s his first RPG ever, his first ever Final Fantasy and it begins to mould Dan into the gamer he will grow up to be.

As hokey as that sounds, it’s 100% true. FFVII was my very first RPG game. I’d grown up on Sonic, Golden Axe, Mickey Mouse and Altered Beast – the strange role playing games that graced the Megadrive and SNES were nowhere on my radar.

There are few weapons in gaming as awesome as Cloud’s Ultimate Weapon.

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When I look back at my long gaming history, I see FFVII as one of those pivotal moments that changed how I look at games. I’d never realised before how much depth a game can truly have until I played this one, particularly as I’d only experienced blasting through platformers, 2d-sidescrollers and other older games without the depth of a true 3-disc RPG experience.

To this day, RPGs remain perhaps my favourite gaming genre, simply because I picked up that Final Fantasy VII disc and popped it in my console. Everything about the game wowed me; from its badass villain to avoiding the terrifying Emerald Weapon in my submarine, every single aspect of that stayed with me.

Like many others, I was also deeply moved by a game for perhaps the very first time when Aerith died at the hands of Sephiroth. I didn’t know until that point how real games could get; it remains perhaps the most jarring moment in gaming history for me.

That’s just the beginning of this games’ excellence; FFVII has excellent character progression, a memorable cast, great locations, an excellent soundtrack, tons of secrets to find and Sephiroth is perhaps the single coolest villain in gaming history.

Defining A Gaming Career

Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni is but one fantastic example of a modern RPG timesink. Plus, it has a Welsh Fairy.

My love affair with RPGs was only strengthened by subsequent releases in the Final Fantasy series.

Final Fantasy VIII, though not popular with some, is a series highlight for me. Somehow as a kid I managed to play through the entirety of it without understanding the junctioning system (god knows how) and I’ve revisited it several times as an adult not knowing how on earth I managed it.

In Final Fantasy IX, I get suckered in every single time by the godamn addictive Chocobo hot and cold sidequest. It’s really just tedious hunting for treasure, but I think I must have pirate ancestry and an internal desire to constantly hunt for underground booty.

Then there’s Final Fantasy X, which only gave further depth to the RPG genre by including fully voiced characters.

XII is awesome too. XIII is a bit hit-and-miss, but I enjoyed it overall.

You get the idea. I like Final Fantasy.

In Summary - How Final Fantasy Defined My Love of the RPG...

But what I’m really talking about is how this series has almost completely shaped my gaming career.

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From my humble adventure into Final Fantasy VII, I’ve subsequently been introduced to an entirely new genre. In total, I think I’ve probably invested weeks of my life into RPGs as a result of this series. And I don’t regret a single one of them - I feel that RPGs are some of the richest and most rewarding games out there.

If I look back and think about it, would I really love RPGs that much if I’d never actually touched FFVII? I honestly think if I hadn’t have lived, grown up with and played so many of these games, I would have missed out on so many memorable gaming experiences.

Ni No Kuni. Pokemon. Lost Odyssey. Star Ocean. Chrono Trigger. All of these would probably never have graced my console and I would be left without hours of enjoyment.

So I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to Final Fantasy VII. Without it, I wouldn’t be the gamer I am today.*

But what of you, dear reader? Cast your own mind back throughout your gaming career, sift through everything you've ever done, and think about just how much some games have influenced your taste, grew your appreciation for a genre and defined what type of gamer you are. For me it's Final Fantasy.

For you, it could be anything from the hugely diverse world of gaming.

Let us know exactly which series/game has affected you as much as Final Fantasy affected me down in the comments! Tweet to @gamesyouloved & tag me @FrostedSloth in with the hashtag #finalfantasymylove

*PS. If Square Enix screw up the remake, I’m going to hunt them down and throw things at them.

Article by Dan Curtis. Follow Dan on Twitter at @FrostedSloth

Dan's online Links:

http://factory-sealed.com

http://whatculture.com/author/dan-curtis

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