I came to the Final Fantasy series, through my husband, T. He had started playing with FFVII, before I met him. Not long after we got together, he bought FFVIII, and he would sometimes play it when I was around, and I was interested to realize that there were video games in which story and character had so much importance (before that most of my experiences were with arcade and arcade-type games, and Civilization/Sim City/other world-building type games). FFIX came out after we moved in together, and I watched the entire time he played, like watching an 80 hour movie, and I got pretty invested in it. Finally, with FFX, for the first time he handed me the controller, and I was hooked: on FFX (which to this day remains my favorite game, not just in the series but of all time), on the Final Fantasy series, and on RPGs in general.
I love the same things about the series that most of its fans love: the characters, the settings, the stories they tell. As a newbie gamer, I appreciated being able to ease into combat via turn-based systems, and that my hand-eye coordination was not often tested (I'm better at that now, though still not great). I've played most of the numbered installments, although I'm still missing some earlier games and haven't ventured into the MMOs -- my biggest gap is FFVI, which I've started several times but never finished. Someday.
Final Fantasy IV: I played the DS port several years ago, when it first came out, and liked it quite well. Rydia is completely fantastic, and I really like Rosa, too, although I do wish she hadn't been forced to play the damsel in distress role quite so often. However, I appreciated that she at least attempted to take matters into her own hands, and it was nice to have a white mage who could also deal some damage via her archery skills. I am somewhat allergic to love triangles, and (somewhat to my surprise, given that his is a type that I usually appreciate) Kain didn't do all that much for me, so the romance angle fell a little bit flat. I did enjoy the flirtation, if you want to call it that, between Rydia and Edge. The overall story was fine; I did get a bit annoyed with the way characters were pulled in and out of the party at the writer's whim, and having to start Cecil all over again at level one was both annoying and difficult, but it was kind of neat from a character development perspective.
Final Fantasy VII: True confessions time: of the games I've played to the end, FFVII is my least favorite installment in the series. Probably I came to it too late, with expectations too high -- it was the last of the PS1-era games I played, and I knew how deeply beloved it was, by franchise fans and casual gamers alike. So I was looking for the greatest game ever made, and instead it was.... okay. I found the story confusing, I never warmed to Cloud at all, and the gameplay felt clunky in comparison to the later installments. It's possible that I would have liked it better if I'd played it when it was new.
Final Fantasy IX: One of the unsung gems of the series. I enjoy the fantasy setting, the steampunk elements, the charming characters, the sense of humor. It also might be my favorite music. In some ways, I feel like this is the game that tells the most complete story, because I'm not at all driven to fic for it. I enjoy where it takes the characters, and I enjoy where they all end up.
Final Fantasy XII: My second favorite of the main numbered titles (after FFX). Ivalice is such a rich setting, and I realize that FFXII just barely scratches the surface. I haven't played the other titles set there, though I do mean to get to Tactics one of these days. Some of my best fic has come from mining this world and its characters, Ashe in particular. Ashe is not a character that I expected to love as much as I do. In many ways, she's underdeveloped in the game, but that just means I have the opportunity to explore her more: her past, her future, her motivations. She's one of those characters that I'm sure I will never be truly finished with.
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