Ah, Final Fantasy. There aren’t many other franchises that foster such an emotional connection with its fanbase. Everyone has a favorite Final Fantasy game that they’re willing to defend to the bitter end – and, usually, a Final Fantasy game that they hate with a fierce passion. From whimsical tales of swords and sorcery to gritty sci-fi epics, the series has been everywhere – and, as fans, we’ve been there for every high and low. It’s hard to describe, and it doubtless has something to do with the mere longevity of the franchise, but Final Fantasy has this remarkable way of forming a very special bond with gamers in a way that no other franchise really can.
What do I mean? Ah… well, let’s try it this way.
My first Final Fantasy game was actually Final Fantasy X. Yes, I was very late to the show. But, hey, I certainly could have picked a worse place to start. I loved (and continue to love) Final Fantasy X. Turn-based battling wasn’t entirely new to me, but Final Fantasy X was the first time I fell in love with it. I felt like I was employing some form of strategy to take down my enemies – a sensation that was new to me at the time, since my (rather short) gaming track record at the time was diluted with (usually rather crappy) action games.
I loved the game’s storyline. Final Fantasy X was the first videogame I’d ever played that actually had an immersive story that I could sink my teeth into. I loved the characters with real personalities, I loved the melodrama, and I loved the epic moments. To be fair, if I played Final Fantasy X for the first time today, I doubt it would would be quite as impactful. But nine years ago, it was pretty much the greatest thing I’d ever experienced.
Final Fantasy VII came next. Eager to explore the series further, I ordered it off of Amazon (or something) a few short days after finishing X. And within a few short hours of playing, my ongoing love affair with Final Fantasy was sealed. I remember loving the fact that many of the conventions in X were present in VII – y’know, like potions, phoenix downs, summons, chocobos, and all the usual staples. If that sounds like a silly thing to glee over, that’s probably because it is – but hey, all I can do is tell it like it is. Meeting Cait Sith for the first time and realizing that he looked just like one of the dolls that Lulu used in Final Fantasy X made me unbelievably happy. Probably too happy.
I think I played Final Fantasy VIII next. By this time I had a pretty firm grasp on the gist of the series, and I was intrigued by the rather unique that Final Fantasy VIII took. It was around then that I started to appreciate the series not just for its traditions, but also for differences between the individual games. We all have our preferences, yes, but I think most of us will agree that if Final Fantasy was the same game every time, a lot of the charm would be lost. Take Final Fantasy VIII for example: the game made some odd decisions, and a lot of people don’t exactly appreciate them. But regardless of that, Final Fantasy VIII has carved out an immortal spot among the hearts of gamers, be it a place of hatred or adoration. What if the game had never existed? The people who love it for its oddities (like myself) would have one less game to love, and all of the haters wouldn’t have the opportunity to tell the fans why they’re stupid for liking it. The karmic balance would be thrown off, and everything would just… be wrong.
I know I’m talking nonsense now, but all I’m really trying to do is convey something that’s very difficult to put into words. For a lot of people – like myself – Final Fantasy is more than just another videogame franchise. It is, for lack of a less cliched way to put it, a part of us. Its high points are our high points. And, similarly, its low points tend to be low points for us.
Like, say, Final Fantasy XIII. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone here, but I can certainly speak for myself: Final Fantasy XIII is more than just a massive disappointment; it’s almost a betrayal. Now, I’m not going into another anti-FFXIII tirade (the internet has plenty of those) but it’s an example of just how personal the series is. Well, to me at least. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so angry at a game as I am at Final Fantasy XIII, and that’s because I love the series so damn much.
Some 847 words later, I’m still unsure if I’ve managed to convey… anything. Hopefully I’ve managed to explain my own love for Final Fantasy, if nothing else. If you thought today’s soapbox was an unorganized, poorly-structured mess just blame Ethos. He was supposed to write part of it, and pulled the rug out from under me at the last minute so he could go help his mom move. Or something stupid like that.
But that’s enough from me. Why do you guys love Final Fantasy?