It Really Was The Final Fantasy

…for me at least. Syp has his latest top ten list active on his blog, this time for the original Playstation. (I love this series of his, btw)

And Final Fantasy VII tops his list, as I’m sure it does many other people.

The love for FF7 has always fascinated me, because for me that’s where the series died. That’s where it stopped being an RPG. That’s where they stopped giving me a story to play with my characters and started giving me a story to watch with their characters. If you asked me to describe FF7 or the ones I played after that, “boring” and “dull” would be the tags I would use. Final Fantasy X was the first one I played, and all I remember was how ridiculous it was, both in story and gameplay.

In fact, it was this trend in RPG design – to stop interacting with the players – that kindled both my fierce loyalty to the Might and Magic series through its later years (as they were seemingly the only ones left doing this in the SRPG category) and dialed in my interest in Everquest and the MMO genre as it started to ramp up.

In fact, I can give you my RPG timeline for that period fairly clearly:

Might and Magic VIII (March, 2000)
DnD 3rd Edition (August, 2000)
Final Fantasy X (July, 2001)
Grand Theft Auto III (October, 2001)
Might and Magic IX (March, 2002)
Everquest Online Adventures (February, 2003)

I threw in DnD 3rd because when those came out I began an active PnP campaign with some friends, and didn’t really have a CRPG I was playing at the time. And one bit is deceptive: I played Final Fantasy for all of a day before I ditched it and started looking for something else (Madden, as it turned out).

So, while I have always looked daggers at FF7 and the downward spiral it started the series into (IMHO), I am ultimately grateful that it brought me into the world of MMO’s. And I wonder if I’m not alone in that. Did the general trend towards JRPG’s linear, enclosed storylines have any impact on the subsequent success of Everquest, World of Warcraft, and others? Did the near simultaneous launch of Ultima Online and Final Fantasy VII in some way split the CRPG crowd into smaller genres of players?

I wouldn’t even know how to begin to collect the data on that, or if its even possible. But at moments like this, I wish I had traded in my psych degree for a sociology one, like my professor recommended…

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7 thoughts on “It Really Was The Final Fantasy

  1. Yeah, I think that was the start of the trend to be more ‘cinematic’ — as graphics got better and more powerful, designers stopped having to earn a living by letting us play stories. 😛

  2. D.S

    “That’s where they stopped giving me a story to play with my characters and started giving me a story to watch with their characters.”
    No, that was Final Fantasy 2.
    The NES one.

    1. No, I still got to play that one, and didn’t have to watch it. But yes, this was one in the series that I didn’t like as much. To me Tactics was the best – culling all the parts of the series that I had enjoyed up to that point. FF7 seemed like a giant step backwards in the series in terms of gameplay (and lack thereof), and from that framework, the series continued that “trend.”

  3. It’s fun to see on how many points we agree. I also always considered FFX overrated; though maybe for different and almost opposite reasons: I hated the early Playstation-and-similar 3D graphics, because they were blocky and ugly and killed gorgeous 2D pixel art for several years. I only got around to FFVII years later when I got it in a bargain bin for the PS2 I had likewise bought on discount. I did finish it (so there was something to it), but except for one or two interesting tidbits, it mostly felt like… well, like a generic RPG story. Plus ugly triangles that were barely recognizable as characters. 😛 In fact, I even prefer X over VII, for all its strange story, on account of its music and the fact that you didn’t get eye cancer from it!

      1. That’s okay, my second paragraph above should say that FFX was the last one I played, not the first, and I don’t even have the excuse of not having and edit button, I’m just plain being lazy! (-:

  4. Ah… I was a bit confused about that part, but I blamed it on either you being bad at writing… or me being bad at reading, and in any case, I was too lazy to re-read everything!

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