Hello. My name is Mal, and I have a confession to make: I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game. I mean, I’ve played some of the spin-offs like Tactics or Crystal Chronicles, and I’ve played a lot of FFXIV but like, that doesn’t really count*. It’s an MMO and it plays like an MMO. I’ve never played a numbered, main series, single-player, classic, JRPG-ass Final Fantasy title. My shame as a self-proclaimed RPG fan! How can I possibly know shit about anything RPG without having played a single one of them?
When I asked my friends for recommendations on FF games to start with, the response was genuinely surprising. Almost all of my friends had finished multiple titles, and over the course of everyone weighing in, I think every single numbered release had been spoken for**. Everyone I knew had a personal relationship with something in this series; at least one of these games had resounded with them. As the recommendations poured in, my fears were realised. I seem to be the only person I know who gives even a passing shit about video games who has managed to not play a single Final Fantasy. Combining that with my tendency to not finish half the games I start, I felt the gamer clout rapidly draining from my body. I had to do something drastic.
First Fantasy is going to be a written record of me actually playing through a Final Fantasy main-line game. As far as format goes, I’m aiming somewhere between an actual article and those old text-based LPs from the pre-YouTube era of GameFAQs and the SA board. The term I’m settling on for this project is “gaming diary,” and the rules will be as follows:
- I have to finish the game. I will define “finished” as beating the final boss and/or a credit roll. I know there’s bonus bosses or something in these games but I don’t care. I’m not trying to 100% anything here, as will be reinforced by the next rule.
- I will not look up anything to do with the game until I have finished playing it. No spoilers, no gameplay tips, no secret items or boss locations or whatever. If I manage to completely break a job system, it will be via my own experimentation. I’ve somehow managed to live for 23 years without knowing anything about these games so why would I ruin that now? Also this is like, the main hook of this series. Don’t be ridiculous.
- When I am playing the game, I won’t listen to other music with the game on mute. I know this one probably sounds weird but trust me. The amount of video game music I’ve skipped or ignored would amaze you. I have too much brain space devoted to memories of playing FFXIV while listening to 2 Chainz. Technically, I’ve already ignored some of these songs before. I can’t hear Los Campesinos! without immediately thinking of Maple Story. It’s probably my worst habit as someone who plays video games and I won’t let it interfere with my RPG fundamentals education plan.
As for the diary, I plan to post here at least once a week, possibly more than that if it’s going well. I’ve already decided my inaugural Final Fantasy game will be Final Fantasy 5, specifically the GBA port, played via emulator. It came recommended by a translator friend of mine specifically for its great localisation. I have no idea what to expect and I’m very excited!
Next Time: I dig in to FFV! For the very first time!
*If you catch me in a certain mood, I’d probably say FFTA is my favourite game of all time. Definitely top 5. And FFXIV is probably the best MMO ever made on the level of objective fact.
**Except for FF2. Sorry to FF2, the least loved FF game by the metric of “people I know’s opinions on Final Fantasy games.”