#TBT: Final Fantasy for the NES


This is the tale of a girl’s first foray into turn based role playing games.

I had heard from trustworthy sources (friends, Nintendo Power Magazine) that Japanese role playing games like Final Fantasy were super hard, but I was having a great deal of trouble.  I fought monsters in the area surrounding the first town for hours, for days, leveling up and purchasing new weapons and spells, but it never seemed like these new items were making a noticeable difference to my fighters.  I figured this was the “grind” they were talking about.  So I kept going, massacring Mad Ponies and Imps by the hundreds.  I was able to defeat Garland and slowly creep my way out to the Marsh Cave before hitting a road block.

I enlisted my friend from school to come help me out.  He loaded up my save game and entered into a battle.

“That’s strange.”


“Why are all your guys just punching?”

“What do you mean?”

“My guys swing swords when they attack.  Your guys are just punching with their fists.”


Now for some context: I had gotten the game at a garage sale.  No instruction manual, no box, just the cartridge.  And this was before the Internet, so I couldn’t just look one up. Final Fantasy was my first RPG so it had never occurred to me that I would need to do anything with the weapons and armor to make them work after buying them or finding them.  I had been fighting with just my bare hands wearing nothing for protection but the clothes on my back for hours and hours.

Once my friend taught me how to equip the items I had bought, the game became MUCH more fun, as I was now stupidly over-leveled for where I was in the game.

Have you ever had a gaming moment like this one?  Comment below and share your shame.  We won’t judge you.  Everyone was a newb once, after all.

2 thoughts on “#TBT: Final Fantasy for the NES

  1. Huh….

    I received this game for Christmas and man, it had to be one of my all time favorites for the NES… this one and Dragon Warrior IV. Both of them were so much fun for me. Maybe it was because I had the instruction manual, but I never had a problem like this in the game.

    Were you the type of kid to experiment with everything in the game (including submenus)? Or were you the type to try to stick with exactly what was presented to you on the screen?

    • I was so used to platformer style games at the time that the turn-based battles made zero sense to me. I don’t think I ever even opened the menus at first (I never even saved I just left the game running whenever I had to leave). When the game said I found a sword in a chest I just assumed that the little guys would use the new awesome sword they got!

      I wouldn’t say this was a “problem” it was just a case of me learning for the first time as a kid that video games could include many different types of mechanics and systems. FF was the first of many JRPGs that I would go on to love. I look back at myself and laugh for not realizing what was happening, but I also recognize that as a game designer who wants to make games that are as inclusive as possible, I shouldn’t assume that everyone immediately understands how to navigate a new (to them) game’s rules and systems and menus.

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