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Boss Fight: Leah’s Final Fantasy Primer, Part 3

With Dissidia releasing tomorrow for the PSP, I thought it would be a good time to wrap up my Final Fantasy rankings.  This mini-series of mine has required a lot more thought than I anticipated, but it’s turned out to be a ton of fun to write, so I hope everyone else is enjoying reading it just as much.  Alright, enough with the squishy stuff… time to move on to the final three!

3. Final Fantasy X– As the first of the series for the PS2, this game was nothing short of groundbreaking.  The visuals are beautiful, the storyline is dramatic and engaging, and the characters… well, the characters can still be annoying at times.  Come on, did you really expect that part to be any different?  This game was the reason I bought a PS2 (at least it was already out when I did, unlike my somewhat preemptive purchase of a PS3 for its descendant…), and I never once regretted my decision.  To this day, I would count it one of the top three games on the system (but don’t ask me what the other two would be… they float around a bit according to my mood).  The battle system is fairly traditional, with the added bonus of a strength/weakness system (*gasp* You mean like Persona?  Yep.) and customizable weapons.  There are plenty of opportunities to branch out from the main storyline for those of us who enjoy side quests; getting everyone’s ultimate weapons can be maddening and nigh-impossible in some cases (I’ve never managed to get Tidus’s….), and the trips out to get all of the Aeons are incredibly rewarding.  Really, I think the key to greater enjoyment of Final Fantasy X is this: you can’t think of Tidus as the main character.  Let it be Yuna, or Auron, or whoever, but Tidus… *sigh*.  It’s all in the perspective, I think.  The temptation to rename him something like “Bitchface” or “Mangina” is very, very strong for me.  I usually manage to resist it, though.  Usually.  Oh, but fuck Blitzball.  Seriously.

2. Final Fantasy VII– This was the first Final Fantasy game that I played, and in fact one of the first RPGs I played, period.  I don’t think anyone could rightly dispute the importance of FFVII in the gaming world.  It’s spawned spinoffs, “sequels,” re-releases, and ridiculously priced eBay auctions, not to mention truckloads of screaming fans.  I am, of course, counting myself among those; my heart about stopped when I saw that tech demo from waaaaaaay back at E3 2005.  But aside from simply being the first of the 3D Final Fantasies, this game just has a lot going for it.  The characters are well fleshed-out and interesting, the story is epic, and the Materia system is addictive.  Side quests a-plenty enable you to trick out your party and make them incredibly powerful by the last battle, and you can spend infinite amounts of time breeding and racing Chocobos if that’s your thing (or if you simply want access to the super-potent Knights of the Round).  There are even optional characters that you can obtain to round out your party even more (I always want to skip Yuffie, but I can never quite make myself do it…).  If you haven’t played this game, you should.  If you have, then you don’t need me to detail the story.  What I will say is that my party almost always consists of Cloud, Tifa, and Red XIII, and that writing this has made me want to go watch Advent Children again.  Perhaps I’ll do that.

1. Final Fantasy VIII–  I know this isn’t a particularly popular choice for a favorite Final Fantasy game, but I’ve always loved it.  There’s just something about the way the characters and the system and the world come together that clicked with me the first time I played it, and I’ve been coming back to replay it with that same joy again and again ever since.  I’ve spent literally hours sifting through different sets of junctions to optimize my characters, and I keep charts so that I can rebuild with minimal effort when things switch between Squall and his crew and Laguna and his.  I won’t go on to the first cave until I’ve drawn the maximum amount of magic at that point.  I’ve made Boosting an art form.  I even made a Rinoa costume for Halloween two years ago, and have plans (if I can ever overcome my crippling fear of needles) to have a small wing tattooed on my shoulder blade.  VIII rubs some people the wrong way because it really does stick more to the science fiction side of things than the “Fantasy,” but I don’t feel that’s really a first for the series, nor, looking at XIII, does it appear to be the last.  The leveling system is, particularly at first glance, absurdly complicated and technical, but that’s actually one of the things I like about it; it takes planning and a certain amount of skill.  Things that are bonuses for some people, in this game as well as others, can definitely be detriments to others, and that’s why this isn’t the Definitive List of Best Final Fantasy Games… I don’t think such a thing actually exists.  It’s just the way *I* prefer them.  That’ll be different for everyone, and that’s as it should be.

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