A Final Fantasy (et al) post to welcome you to the glory of Friday (if you don’t have weekends off then may this hopefully brighten the midst of your work week) with more located here!
Last week I substituted a review for my typical post, which I’ll probably opt to do every now and then when I have a review prepared. Now we’re back with a typical question and discussion, and this one was garnered from the extensive discussion on my Un-Final Fantasy post. I’m sorry I don’t remember who mentioned it, but if you’re reading this, let me know in the comments so I can give credit where it’s due!
Which Final Fantasy would you recommend to a series newcomer?
I’d want them to start with either Final Fantasy IV or Final Fantasy VI like I did with the latter. Now that I’ve played IV, which I like a little bit better, I’d want them to start with that one since it’s earlier and the first Final Fantasy with a cohesive story, deep plot, and well developed characters. Final Fantasy VI has a simpler, more straightforward story line, but it’s a huge fan favorite and manages to have enough plot for all 14 possible characters. This might also be a good reason to start a newbie there. Some people argue that VI exemplifies the series, but I’d have to disagree a little bit since VI has a simpler plot than the rest with a more blatant and straightforwardly evil villain whereas other games go into more depth with motivation and background. VI did set an example for the JRPG world, and there would be numerous attempts to duplicate the magic it created.
I would not recommend a Final Fantasy newbie start with VII, because VII has arguably the most convoluted plot in the series, considering fans are still debating what really happened and its implications. Plus VII has more blatant sci-fi elements than prior Final Fantasies, though there is a bit of it (albeit sometimes more steampunkish) in all iterations. VII also took many of the established Final Fantasy and general fantasy paradigms and subverted them, so I’d rather my imaginary newbie have a baseline to compare before experiencing my favorite.
I also wouldn’t recommend IX (my second favorite), because even though IX can very well stand on its own, there’s a great deal of callback to prior Final Fantasies, and there’s a better experience if you’re familiar with that. It’s the same way I feel about World. It is possible to play it without prior knowledge of other FFs, but your experience is richer if you have such.
It wouldn’t be my first pick for a noob, but I do think Final Fantasy X would also do well as an introduction to the series, even though Tidus is my least favorite main character. The others are so good they more than make up for his lack, and while X has many of the standard Final Fantasy paradigms, in many ways it also stands on its own as the series’ ambassador for the PlayStation 2. FFIX was the last game for the PS (and it was supposed to be much shorter than it was), and X is a bit of a fresh start, jumping farther into the future, though it pointedly is still tied to the ghosts of the past in a never ending cycle.
So what Final Fantasy would you introduce to your friend who’d never played Final Fantasy before, but was an JRPG lover and wanted to understand the hype? Let’s discuss in the comments!