This year is the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy, which is to say that Final Fantasy was originally released in Japan in 1987.  I learned of the series ten years later, as an awkward high school student.  My best friend gave me a 3.5 floppy disc (kids, ask your parents) with a DOS NES emulator and a rom of Final Fantasy.  This was the same time when Final Fantasy 7, with its CGI videos and polygonal graphics was tearing up the PlayStation, but I didn’t care.  It was something amazing.  It was a game that changed my whole outlook.

Playing Final Fantasy games brought be back to fantasy and science fiction as a reader.  They were genres I had abandoned in favor of horror and thriller paperbacks.  But these games brought me back to them, and showed me that there was something great in those stories.  And I fell in love with fantasy so hard that I started writing it myself.  It’s funny to think that a video game could be the reason I became a writer, but it’s true.

In the fifteen years since I made my first party (Lugh, Bobo, Bill and Maev) the series has had its ups and downs, sequels, spin-offs, mergers and MMOs.  I’ve traveled and journeyed as well, from school to the working world, to living overseas and coming home, and getting married.  And I’ve been playing and loving Final Fantasy throughout everything.  A lot of writers, myself included, have literary heroes they admire and seek to emulate.  For me, Hironobu Sakaguchi, the designer of Final Fantasy is just as much in my pantheon of legends.

Each Final Fantasy game is different, and each one has its own flaws and strengths.  And each one has something to teach about its design, even to writers.  I am going to spend a few weeks looking at the story and plot of each Final Fantasy, to see what makes it tick, and why the game works, or doesn’t.  It’s going to be quite a ride, and I hope you stick with me on it.

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