Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Final Fantasy

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Final Fantasy
Developer: SquareSoft
Publisher: Nintendo (US)
Release Date: July 12, 1990 (US)
System Released On: NES, MSX2, WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, GameBoy Advance, Mobile Phones, PlayStation Portable, Virtual Console, PlayStation Network, iPhone/iPod Touch
Genre: RPG

Who Nominated The Game: Sean Madson, resident FF fanboy and player of Square-Enix titles.

Why Was It Nominated: Without Final Fantasy, there would be no SquareSoft and thus, no Square-Enix. That’s how important the success of this title was to the future of the company. Some may think their failure may have been a good thing considering the direction some of their franchises have taken in recent years. However, you can’t deny the impact that they have had on the industry and it’s not just the Final Fantasy franchise either. Other games, such as Kingdom Hearts and Chrono Trigger would simply not exist and the mainstream appeal of the modern RPG may not be where it is today.

Of course, this is all speculation to say whether or not Square’s existence would have hindered future RPG’s being released outside of Japan or not. But one has to consider that despite Enix and Nintendo’s efforts to promote titles such as Dragon Warrior and Earthbound to minimal success, there is that strong possibility. And then there’s the simple fact that the original Final Fantasy is an awesome game. For its time, anyway.

All in Favour:

Sean Madson – Awhile back, I wrote a piece regarding my feelings for each entry in the main Final Fantasy franchise and I talked extensively about the original in Part 1. If you haven’t read it, my personal feelings on the game are that had I not played it and got hooked on it, my future as a gamer and fan of RPG’s would be a huge question mark. Perhaps I would have picked up a different game down the line and would be interested in the genre that way. Who knows? But as it stands now, the original Final Fantasy was my vice for much of my youth and is a title that almost two decades later is still fun for me to play.

Christopher Bowen – This is the hardest thing I’ve had to think on so far. On the one hand, this game singlehandedly got me into gaming. On the other, in Japan, Final Fantasy has – and really, always will be – second to Dragon Quest. But on yet another hand, this was the first RPG to really break into an American console market (sorry, Ultima doesn’t count), but on another hand after that, other Final Fantasy games did more to advance both JRPGs and the Final Fantasy name… I tossed this back and forth for a long time.

Looking at the gameplay of the original (I’m not considering the remakes), I figured that the gameplay had aged too much. You can’t switch off of someone who’s dead, the difficulty curve is very steep, it requires a tonne of grinding, all of these things were fixed by the remakes, but that didn’t make the NES game stand out any more.

But then I figured… didn’t I just say both Shining Force games are Hall of Fame worthy?

The interface for the original Shining Force games sucked. The gameplay was good enough, but the menus and everything else were so unwieldy that it often helped me make mistakes if I went too fast at anything. Playing them nowadays is an exercise in annoyance, and I can’t even really say that about Final Fantasy, though that might be because I grew up playing Final Fantasy more.

Ultimately, it was a hard decision, but I feel Final Fantasy‘s effect on the JRPG market makes it worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.

Alex Lucard – Look, it’s no secret that I think the FF series, as a whole, is the most overrated gaming franchise ever and that many of the games in the series, if stripped of the brand name, would have sold far less copies and recieved far more critical reviews. The first Final Fantasy however, is a different story altogether.

Not only did it contain a truly epic story for an 8-Bit game, but it was one of the few games at the time that wasn’t entirely linear. before FFI and Phantasy Star, I was pretty much of the opinion that the PC was the only real way to get a quality RPG fix. Wizardry. The Bard’s Tale. Ultima. THOSE were RPGs. Final Fantasy actually let me make my own character. I could customize four different ones and assemble a team of whatever I wanted. My original team was a Fighter, a Red Mage, a Black Mage and a Black Belt (Defense was for sissies!), but I could have had four thieves if I wanted to! I could class change if I wanted to, or I could beat the whole game without. I could pick what spells my Mages knew. All of thise made FF actually feel like a REAL role playing game, and by real I mean tabletop for back then. Customization and story has always been the two big things I looked for in a RPG from my childhood and FFI had it in spades. or in spades for an 8-bit game anyway.

I still enjoy the game for what it is and I happily own the PSP version of that and II. For all the rancor I have spit out at the Final Fantasy series over the past decade and a half, Final Fantasy I still brings a smile to my face.

Aileen Coe – This is the game that singlehandedly pulled Square from the brink and spawned a series that continues on to this day – for better or worse, depending on which game you’re talking about. It was also the precursor to the job system found (and expanded on) in some later Final Fantasy games, like V and Tactics. You had complete control over the composition of your party, and you could have four white mages if you were feeling up to a challenge (or had some masochistic tendencies to fulfill). Sure, the NES version is archaic by today’s standards, and it’s received oodles of remakes since, but its impact can’t be denied.

AJ Hess – The cartridge that launched a thousand strategy guides. More like several hundred thousand, but who’s counting? Final Fantasy was the first game-that I can remember, at any rate-that allowed you to party up and fight against the forces of evil together. Anyone that played this game can recall their first party, and the four-character names you gave them. HCKS was my fighter, RPLY my White Mage, DRKE my black mage, and HDSN was my Black Belt. I was going through an Aliens phase. Final Fantasy is the progenitor of the most popular J-RPG series of all time. This title gave players a familiar world with elves, dwarves, and a vague steampunk-magic feel, but filtered through the eight-bit world of the Nintendo Entertainment System. It also gave many of us our first taste of an experience and gold grind-Hall of Giants, anyone? Final Fantasy defined the console role-playing game for generations to come, and still is a fun way to spend several hours on modern portable systems. Dock the airship in the Hall of Fame.

All Opposed:

Aaron Sirois – This game does have a great legacy. Final Fantasy saved Squaresoft. It spawned one of the most successful franchises of all a time: a franchise that brought RPGs to the mainstream. it started it all, even if it wasn’t the first, or best RPG.

However, the game itself is nothing to write home about. Perhaps I played it too late in my life, but I can’t in good graces vote for this game to make it in, not while games like VI and Chrono Trigger haven’t made it in. Heck, I’d even put VII in, despite the fact that is a hated game among most of my fellow staff members.

After a few more deserving RPGs get in, then bring this back up and I might vote for it. Until then, it’ll just have to wait.

Mark B. – In the same way that I missed the boat on Super Mario Brothers, I missed the boat on this, having spent my formative years playing Phantasy Star instead of making fighters and thieves and whatnot. That said, I completely acknowledge that Final Fantasy is a significant, and generally pretty good, RPG in the grand scheme of things, and as such, can see why it would deserve a place in the Hall of Fame based on those merits alone. That said, two things prevent me from voting for the game:

1.) Given the choice, I find Final Fantasy VI a better game, and while I’m well aware that I’m in the minority on this site for harboring this opinion, I would easily say it’s the greatest JRPG ever made, period. As such, I would sooner vote for that game over this one, and don’t entirely feel the need to cast my vote here.

2.) You can pretty much say that were there no Final Fantasy, there would also not be a Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XIII, or Final Fantasy XI, which would mean that I would never have to see Sephiroth ever again, never have to hear anyone tell me why I’m wrong for thinking Final Fantasy X is everything that is wrong with JRPG’s ever, never have to hear someone explain why it’s impossible to make towns in a next-gen RPG, and never lose a week of my life leveling my Paladin in Kazham, respectively, and I find it hard to cast a positive vote with that sort of perspective in mind.

There would also be no Advent Children or Dirge of Cerberus, which, to be honest, is enough to make me consider inventing a ridiculous time traveling car of some sort or another (a Pinto, maybe?) to prevent Final Fantasy from being made. Just saying.

Ashe Collins – As much as I like Final Fantasy as a series, for the most part, I really really never liked the first Final Fantasy. I’ve played the remakes and it took a sheer force of will to get me through that one and into the next. I can see the appeal, but I didn’t like the generic story, the generic monsters, and a complete lack of any kind of direction when you go to explore. For me there are much better RPGs from this generation, and they weren’t on the console, they were on the PC from SSI.

While this one is the title that pulled Square’s bacon out of the fryer, I think there are much better titles in the series than the first, and no, Seven isn’t one of them either. Sorry, but FF gets a Nay from me.

William Kaye – I never really had fun with this game, and that is because of the Marsh Cave. Grinding might have been more tolerable when I was younger, but even then I did not have the patience needed to grind and grind and grind just to make it through that cave. Nintendo Hard does not even describe this game. That doesn’t even get into the fact that the enemies were all basically cribbed from D&D, the fact that the game does not re-direct attacks when the original target is killed, and that there are so many broken stats and spells it is just sad. I can appreciate Final Fantasy II, from a certain viewpoint, but the original Final Fantasy really feels like more of a chore than a fun game.

Result: 5 In Favour, 4 Opposed, 55.5% Approval = REJECTED

Conclusion: Well, it was closer than I expected any Final Fantasy title to be. I was quite surprised by the overall positive reception of the game (though not half as surprised as I was to see Alex Lucard vote in favor of it). Regardless, I think due to the aging mechanics of the game, it truly is a title that you had to have grown up with to really appreciate. Regardless of whatever impact it may have had on JRPG’s or the RPG market as a whole, it won’t hold much value to you if you don’t find it fun to play.

Next Week: Join us next week as we look at a Bond title that brought the thrill of fragging your buddies to consoles in all its split-screen glory. Stay tuned!

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