Final Fantasy Friday: A Grand Introduction

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!


38 thoughts on “Final Fantasy Friday: A Grand Introduction

  1. Honestly, I’d ask them to start with the first game. I’m a big fan of franchise roots, and nothing says FF better than having to buy 99 individual potions before heading out on a quest. Truthfully, things can only get better from there, right? 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m going to say something super blasphemous, but I’m not that fond of the first one o.O I know right hehe. I like that it’s the foundation and it sets up a lot of the iconic parts of the series, but in terms of story it’s like a rough draft. The second one has a little more of a plot, but then in the third, it’s way more scattered and haphazard. It’s like by IV they’d put all their notes together for story line and really hit it out of the park! I think with the original, it’s so much more difficult and takes so much more grinding to get anywhere, though that’s quite common for a game of its time. I think I’d have my newbie go back to it at some point or maybe play a more modern version of it, but I know you’ve played the REALLY hard games like Miracle Warriors so you’d be able to handle it 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha yeah, it’s definitely not a fan-favourite. I am not at all offended by your totally reasonable reasoning! I remember getting lost beyond belief and having to consult the internet to figure out where the heck I had to go next. Don’t even get me started on the snail-paced scrolling for the beginning and ending of the game! It might sound like I don’t like the game, but I do, truly. I seem to like all of the hardest, grindiest games. I think they’ll eventually help me to appreciate everything that’s been streamlined in newer RPGs, whenever I get to them.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. VIII.

    Haha ok, seriously though, I’d also have to go with FFX. It’s the easiest game to get into, taking both gameplay and presentation into account. I love most of the games between IV-IX, but the Active Time Battle might throw newbies off. Sure, if you’re already a JRPG fan, then you’ll probably get the hang of it, but if you knew nothing about JRPGs or Final Fantasy, X’s non-timed battle system is very accessible.

    Presentation-wise, the game looks and sounds great. I’m still impressed by the remastered version’s graphics, music, and voice acting (yes, even the laugh). I think the voice acting alone is a big factor in helping newbies get into it. If any of the games between IV-IX had voice acting (not counting the DS version of IV), then they may be good choices. But X already makes such a strong case with its voices, colorful world, and entertaining characters. X isn’t my favorite, but I’d recommend it to someone who wanted a comfortable, accessible entryway into one of my beloved franchises!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed! If the person wasn’t as big of a JRPG fan, I’d pick X to introduce them, but if they’d say played Dragon Warrior and just never picked up Final Fantasy, I’d give them IV or VI to start with just including the caveat that they’re older games. I think X is the best bridge for someone who hasn’t ever played one, but wanted to have an idea of what they were about. I haven’t played XI (plus it’s online or was online) and XII isn’t a good example at all (albeit I had fun with it).

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Final Fantasy X was my first game and it got me hooked without getting too complex for me. I would definitely recommend that for newbies to the series. I also think the first FFXIII game is a great place to start too. It’s very straightforward (dare I say linear 😉 ) so you can’t get lost, the combat is fun to master, the story is intriguing, and the graphics are gorgeous. I don’t know if I want to recommend the “worst Final Fantasy ever” to newbies though, haha.

    I love that each Final Fantasy is so unique and stands on its own, so you can really start where ever you want. That’s one of my favourite things about the series 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think FFX is a great choice especially for people who might not be used to old school RPGs! It’s modern enough that the graphics won’t put people off, but it still hits all the important Final Fantasy beat points except for the ubiquitous theme for some reason. X was the first game that didn’t wind up in. I think they stopped it after X, too. Makes me sad.

      Actually, I agree! For one, if they played XIII first they really wouldn’t have a basis to compare it to the other games as being not linear, and chances are they wouldn’t just blindly hate it (so long as they weren’t listening to any other opinions). It’s also modern with more current graphics, and it has a legitimate strong female main character.

      The only other thing I can compare Final Fantasy to in terms of how each iteration works is Doctor Who lol. Playing it in order you’ll definitely see some patterns, but you could start anywhere and the story is cohesive. With Doctor Who even though you’ll get way more references the earlier you start, it doesn’t matter which doctor you begin with 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  4. While I kind of hate to do it because I rank the game in the middle of the franchise, XV would probably be where I point people. But it has a couple things going for it, the biggest being that it is a modern game with modern design sensibilities. It’s not a classically styled Final Fantasy but if they like aspects of the world and story, I think you could then direct them to other games.

    X is also another great choice. While not as modern as XV, it still looks pretty good (especially the HD remaster) and plays quite well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’d definitely take my noob’s experience into account! If they were used to old school JRPGs, I’d introduce them to the older games, but if it was their first dive in, I’d go for something like X with a caveat about some of the voice acting. I love the old 8/16 bit games though, and am willing to take any and all recommendations for them!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’d have them start with Chrono Trigger, Earthbound or Super Mario RPG! Not trying to be blasphemous, but those were my gateway JRPGs that showed me just how rich of a story you could tell using the graphics of the SNES.

    FFVI was my first though, and always held a special place in my heart. I think it depends on the gamer – if they’re not into retro, maybe start them with X. If they’re all about classic gaming, the first truly great one for me is IV. If they’re truly special – treat them with IX and The Roses of May!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not blasphemous at all, and those are great games! Chrono Trigger is one of the best RPGs ever created, and though I never played Earthbound, I watched a Let’s Play and fell in love. It was so quirky and proved that you didn’t need to set your RPG in a particular era to be successful. Prior to it, games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Age mired RPGs in that medieval era where you might have steampunk influences. Anything that can subvert a well established rule and get away with it is wonderful in my book! I’ve seen SMRPG, too, and I think it’s a fine starting choice as well. Before Nintendo and Squeenix had their falling out hehe.

      Mine, too! X seems to be the favorite for non-retro gamers, and I agree with that sentiment. I lean towards IV because I like it a bit better than VI though like you the tale of Terra, Locke, the Figaro brothers, and Celes will always have a special place in my heart. I would be a bit hesitant about starting them with IX only because it has so many references to prior games in the series that I’d want them to experience them first so that they’d get the full impact 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • VI has an opera, you can’t beat that! I’m still crossing my fingers that VI might get a remake a la FFIII and FFIV for the DS.

        I do agree with your sentiment about IX, people who haven’t played the previous games wouldn’t appreciate a lot of the references. I think that’s part of the reason I suggested the other games, actually – they are stand alone, so people don’t need to be daunted by the fact that there are 15+ Final Fantasy games, but at the same time it would hopefully help them fall in love with the JRPG genre. Forgot to add Secret of Mana to my SNES JRPG list too :p

        Liked by 1 person

        • The Aria di Mezzo Caraterre. Have you heard some of the professional renditions of that?? That whole scene always reminded me of Phantom of the Opera with the kidnapped opera diva hah. Wait…no you’re right. There’s a port for VI to the DS or GBA, but not a remake. You and many other fans would love an HD remake of VI I’m sure! Squeenix could just remake all of the earlier Final Fantasies from IV forward and they’d never have to make anything new again.

          I played it after VI, VII, and VIII, and while I got quite a bit of them, I had no idea about Garland and why that name was so significant. There were a few other things, but now that I know this, it’s so much more expansive. Honestly though, you could play IX first, play some of the others then play IX again. That might not be such a terrible idea actually.

          I need to play the Mana series. It has some amazing music.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh yes, I have the digital versions of all the Distant World albums, and I have heard other renditions that were part of other Final Fantasy orchestral albums too. Classic, beautiful. Uematsu is a genius.

            Secret of Mana is a gorgeous game too. Chrono Trigger is my all-time favorite SNES RPG, though. There will be blog(s) on it for sure, just trying to figure out what angle to take.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. For someone completely new to Final Fantasy, I’d argue that either FFX or FFXV would be a good starting point. FFX is a more modern take on traditional class-based gameplay and turn-based battle mechanics, while still offering a great world and memorable cast to outweigh its shortcomings. If they enjoyed FFX, I’d recommend they go back and start with VI and IV. FFXV would be a good starting point for someone who is more familiar with action games, or maybe drifted onto the RPG scene by way of The Witcher 3’s popularity.

    I totally agree that VII would be a poor place to start. Visually, it hasn’t aged well by any means. The plot is super confusing, taking multiple playthroughs, a wiki, a spin-off on PSP, and a movie to even attempt to piece it together.

    My goal would be to get them interested in the series, and then hope they’ll go back to see how it grew from the early days to where it is now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly what I was going for. I wanted to whet their appetite for the series with the best game for the job, and then have them dive into the more esoteric of the bunch. I think I’m going with X for the set that isn’t familiar with RPGs at all or even XV as you suggested (I haven’t played it, so I can’t really do so) and VI for people who played stuff like Dragon Quest, but just never picked up Final Fantasy. I like IV a bit better, but that game is hard as fuck in its original form, and might put people off. The PSP version is quite a bit easier, but I actually like VI’s simplicity for this task. It’s a fairly straightforward story with an obvious villain, the ubiquitous evil empire, and a theme of hope against all odds. It’s also impressive that they managed to have 14 possible playable characters yet enough plot for them all. That was one of my major issues with Chrono Cross. There were like 30 characters just kind of…there.

      Liked by 1 person

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