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Straight off the bat, let me tell you: I love Final Fantasy. I love the wide variety of characters, the amazing music, and the hidden depths of ridiculous stories. I even love those big golden chickens that double as mach-speed mass transit. Safe to say I have a fondness.
When I was young and slightly more impressionable, I played through these games and took in all the lessons they had to offer. You’ll find most of them in pop culture of every sort: sacrifice for greater good, be yourself, stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
You know, the basics. But there are some lessons from this beloved series that are very, very terrible if you applied them to real life. Lessons that will damage your soul, or at least make it smell pretty bad for the rest of your life.
1: Stealing is awesome!
Locke. Yuffie. Zidane. Rikku. Vaan. Some of those characters are awesome. Others are cute, funny, or otherwise important enough to start as the main character but after you swap him out for Ashe you never use him again.
Each of them are thieves to some degree. None are shown dealing with the consequences of thievery or even having a single negative emotion about it.
Oh, it’s handy in the game, and they’re shown in the best possible light- Locke doesn’t like being called a “Thief,” instead preferring “Treasure Hunter.” Yuffie steals materia to make her hometown richer. Rikku can disassemble robots by stealing parts right off their freaking bodies… somehow. But not one of them turns their head back in regret when that gil they pilfered to buy one more Mythril Sword turns out to be some lost soldier’s rent.
2: Quality rarely equals sales.
Final Fantasy Tactics is the standard when is comes to strategic, challenging game design. It has dozens of classes, innovative abilities, and a distinct style that is still being ripped off today. It ranks as one of the best PS1 games of all time. Too bad Final Fantasy VIII absolutely destroyed it in sales only a year after its release.
Don’t get me wrong, VIII is not an abysmal experience. It’s endearing in its own Tobey Maguire sort of way, but it also has the dubious honor of being one of the most broken RPGs of all time.
In that game, if you spent a few hours in the beginning playing a card game and fighting a couple T-Rexes (which is admittedly pretty awesome), you could junction strong enough magic to your stats to crush most bosses inside of a minute for the rest of the game.
It was way, way lopsided. And it made way, way more coin than the innovative classic. I guess junctioning money to VIII’s advertising stat did a whole lot more for it than Tactic’s innovation stat ever did.
3: Kids are more grown up than you think.
No, no, no. No they’re not.
Get that thought out of your head, light it on fire, then bury its shredded, torched remains under fifty thousand tons of concrete.
The characters in Final Fantasy range in ages, and most of them need to talk at an adult level so they can actually have conversations with other characters. You ever try to transcribe a conversation you had with a seven-year-old? Impossible to follow, right? It’s Dora this, Spongebob that. Not the most interesting stuff in the world.
Don’t let a game fool you into thinking that 15-year-olds are capable of flying an airship, or 6-year-olds are qualified to give relationship advice.
4: If I run low on money, I can sell things.
One of the laughably silly aspects of Final Fantasy economies is that you can sell off everything you own to a random dude named Joker, and always get fair market value without somehow bankrupting the poor guy in the process.
This does not translate well to the real world.
Sure, it’s totally possible find a way to sell everything you own to a guy named Joker, but that just ensures you end up the victim of the most enthusiastically pleasant mugging ever.
5: Wacky fashion is totally practical to wear in everyday life.
I have to wonder how some of the Final Fantasy characters make their wardrobe decisions. Yuna starts off wearing something very modest and flavorful, but as soon as she saves the world she gets a big head and slaps on short shorts and a nonsensical half-skirt thing. And what does Squall use those thigh belts for? Does he have some sort of infection only decorative belts can halt? Is Tidus wearing pants or shorts? Did he run out of waterproof fabric, or are the different-sized cuffs just the latest Zanarkand fad? Is Tidus even savvy enough to catch on to fads?
And what type of futuristic technology prevents Ultimecia from succumbing to a wardrobe malfunction every ten seconds? Is her affinity to Gravity magic much more practical than everyone realizes? I thought clothing was supposed to be at least one part practical.
6: We can save lives by finding the right villain and beating him up.
While we all have the urge to call in a drone strike on a wall street investor every now and then, it’s in everyone’s best interest that you ignore that impulse.
Sephiroth and Kuja hold the keys to saving the world in their eventual defeat, but the real world is not as simple as jumping neck-deep into the most dangerous place on Earth and taking out the head honcho.
Complex problems require complex solutions, and you can bet that if you stepped into the lobby of Evilcorp headquarters equipped with nothing but the sword on your back and vengeance in your heart, you wouldn’t make it very far. And even if you did, to slake the thirst of justice by the anger of your blade just means that someone in that high-rise office is getting a promotion and you’re going directly to a maximum security prison.