In spite of its lamentable recent reprogramming to disable outside music, Final Fantasy I has been getting a shitload of play recently (solution to the music problem: listen from another music playing device). This game has been my time-traveling companion on the train to and from work, and also in the toilet at my schools when I don’t have a class to teach. Enjoyable, but damn repetitive. And with a power party like mine, the main story is almost challengeless. If you do any treasure hunting at all, you will end up at levels so high that random encounters are little more than a series of cockblocks that serve no function except to increase game time. You will also end up so rich that you can stock up on ethers (MP restoratives), have the Black Wizard cast Firaga on everything, and have everyone else in the party defend – just because it saves time. It is ridiculous how much money is lying around in this game. There are hundreds of treasure chests, and something like 90% have some amount of gil in them. But why? What is there to buy, really? I knew after defeating the first elemental Fiend that I would never be poor for the rest of the game. To up the challenge, they should increase the price of ethers to least 1000 gil (from their actual price of 150). 2500, maybe, even. The bosses of the main story are no challenge, either. All they do is allow you to have a battle that takes more than 15 seconds. They are pussies that I slay so easily, I wonder if I’m not liberating an ant farm rather than Mother Gaia.
Here we are taking out Tiamat. Yes, Chance, my ninja almost died. And that would have been annoying because I have put in place a personal challenge to keep the game keep me on my toes: we all level together. If one character dies and the battle finishes before they’re revived, we start over from the last save point. Them’s the rules. And that’s not even a difficult task, either – it’s just an anal retentive condition that I believe somehow dignifies my party of invincible badasses. Let’s meet them!
There’s MOWK (that’s me!), our knight in dragon mail, CHNS, our thief (who can’t steal) turned ninja, T 40 the white wizard wielding Thor’s Hammer, and SHRD, our Obsidian black wizard who does all the work since he’s the only one who can hit all enemies in one turn. They are all based on actual people I know, and I always play this way. If you have the opportunity to name something in an RPG, what better way to RP it than personalizing the adventure with yourself and the people you’d most like to adventure with? People who stick with default character names or name them “AAAA,” and “BBBB,” are lame and should stick to playing with something that better employs their imagination. I usually take the main dude, my wife is either that dude’s love interest or the chick I think he should hook up with (which in FFVII is Tifa, because I believe that Cloud and Aeris were never meant to be). The rest of the characters get named after family, friends, and other people I admire. In Final Fantasy VIII, it was me, my wife, and 20 Guardian Forces named after Ween songs. For this game of FFI, I held an informal survey on my facebook page asking everyone’s favorite FFI class, and those who answered ended up in my party. Choosing characters and names is sometimes the lengthiest part of the game for me. This was the first time it took a whole week. The Mother (Earthbound) series does this to me, too, since they allow you to name not only your crew, but your dog, your favorite food, and “the coolest thing ever” which becomes your main attack spell (can’t tell you how many dudes I wiped out with a blast of ‘PK Spooge’). These are decisions you will have to live with for the whole live-long game, and I don’t take them lightly.