RPG’s are one of my favorite hobbies. I’m sure eventually I will probably do a blog post on my favorite RPG games of all time. That list will no doubt contain multiple titles from the Final Fantasy series. Below are ten life lessons that I have learned from my experience playing them.
1. Sometimes it is better to walk than to ride a Chocobo.
Chocobo’s are great, now you can finally travel through the desert or plains without it taking an hour or more to get where you need to go! Plus, most of the time they are cute. Who doesn’t want to mount a giant chicken like a horse and ride it around? However, sometimes much like in reality we can become lazy. If we rely on the faster transportation methods, we may miss out on treasures along the way. We may get out of shape and not be at the level we need to be to tackle the next challenge that we are presented with. Getting from point A to point B quicker may save us time which may be good for certain times, but other times we may need to weigh what that time savings is actually costing us. Perhaps whatever we may gain from a slower journey where we are able to take things at a slower pace is worth it.
2. Side quests aren’t always a waste of time.
Recently while playing Final Fantasy XII I caught myself cursing at the length of one of the side quests. I had to kill a cactus for this guy, take the flower to his wife so she could make some medicine, go back to the guy to pick something up that his wife wanted from him for more medicine, and now his wife is trying to send me to some cliff to gather some more shit for a different kind of medicine. Sure, it is nice that I am able to help out the person that must have been practically dead but damnit, I just want the experience points for finishing the quest! After a few deep breaths I calmed down and was able to realize that perhaps the back and forth isn’t such a bad thing. Do I think that the guy should be able to run his own damn errands? Yes. However, I have gained much experience from defeating enemies along the way and was able to come across a rare enemy and defeat them for a much larger reward than normal. If I hadn’t been trying to complete the quest I may not have come across the possibility for the higher reward. Sometimes in reality I have a habit of falling into this kind of thinking as well. Is it really the end of the world that I have to take a different road because they decided it was a good idea to start construction on another part of the city? Who knows, I may end up finding a new coffee shop or some place that inspires me.
3. Know your limitations.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War. Odds are that most of the time in Final Fantasy you are aware of the level that your characters are at and what abilities they have. If possible, before trying to overcome enemies (especially bosses) do some research on them. If not possible, make sure to save the game before fighting them and study their fighting pattern during the battle just in case it doesn’t end well the first time around. Perhaps you can find a way to exploit a weakness. Maybe you just aren’t at the right level yet. I have a guide book for some of the games that I refer to in order to see what the recommended level is for certain areas. I try not to read too far ahead because I still want to be challenged and I don’t want too many spoilers. In life it pays off to know what level you are at for various situations and whether or not you can handle certain things. With the internet we also have a valuable tool at our disposal that allows to do better research to know what we are getting into before we make the decision to do something. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be times that we are thrown into a situation beyond our control, but at the very least we can try to make it happen less often.
4. It is possible to be vulnerable and strong at the same time.
One of the characters in my party in Final Fantasy XII was acting as an AI and my control of him was limited. I was not able to switch out his items or upgrade his stats or abilities because he was just a guest. However, he was a higher level than most of my other party members and his strength was off the charts. This allowed him to hit hard during battles with the enemy but I also had to heal him the most often because he had the weakest armor. There were also some enemies, especially elemental enemies that may be strong as well. However, In the case of a fire elemental I discovered that I needed to just use water in order to extinguish them. A lot of times most of us try to put on a strong façade when face to face with others but inside struggle with demons such as anxiety and depression. Maybe we aren’t comfortable being in touch with our feelings. Maybe we have that one trigger that causes us great anguish. The hard part when you have a vulnerability is admitting when you have one. This is when it can be a show of great strength to ask for help. In the case of the AI character above, his health revealed to me his distress and I supplied a potion in order to heal him. It was a good thing that he had others around to help him or he may not have made it.
5. Keep leveling up.
All of the Final Fantasy games I have played have been driven by a leveling up system. This usually results in being able to wield better weapons, wear tougher armor, and use stronger attacks as you level up. Don’t try to face too much too soon or you may regret it. Try to be prepared for what you will have to face. There is a section of Final Fantasy XII that comes to mind when I tried to kill a T-Rex while I was at a low level. I didn’t know it at the time but apparently you need to be stronger to kill it. After dying a few times very quickly I was able to figure out that the T-Rex was above my current level and that I would need to keep leveling up in order to match him or overcome him. Don’t give up after beating the T-Rex either, there is nothing wrong with maintaining the thought of trying be a better person today than you was yesterday. Keep setting goals and keep striving towards them. Level up your life. If you need help getting started I recommend checking out Nerdfitness. Steve Kamb literally wrote the book on leveling up your life.
6. Today’s boss battle is different than yesterday’s and odds are it will be different from tomorrow’s.
The boss battles in Final Fantasy take on a different form than the boss battles in reality but don’t let that fool you. A boss battle is still a boss battle. Yesterday in Final Fantasy you may have beaten the Materia Keeper but today you may have to face off against Sephiroth. Yesterday in the office you may have had to deal with the deadline for the new design project but today you have to deal with a presentation about the direction of the department and you can already feel your throat drying up. Do your best to be prepared for the boss battle but even if it doesn’t go flawlessly the main thing is that you keep trying. If you lose the fight, learn from it and try harder the next time assuming you still have the option to respawn (meaning that you weren’t fired). If you were fired, then that will more than likely be tomorrow’s boss battle. The thing about Final Fantasy is that it is never really final. Boss battles are a part of living.
7. Don’t be afraid to open treasure chests but be prepared for what you find.
Treasure chests are another Final Fantasy staple. They contain various amounts of loot that aid the player on their quest. Opening chests and looking for loot is probably the second most time consuming thing about the games after leveling up the characters by grinding. However, sometimes the chests aren’t as they appear to be. Sometimes the chests are beasts called Mimics in disguise. Other times the game makes it so if you open certain chests then you may lose out on a greater reward later (such as the ultimate weapon in Final Fantasy XII). The equivalent in reality would be finding money on the street, winning a contest, or winning the lottery. I’ve found money on the street before and kept it when it has been smaller amounts if there is no one else around. I have won other smaller contests like getting to hang out at a radio station with a band I enjoy and an action figure from Toonami. I hear that some of the larger rewards sometimes come with a price such as having to claim them on your taxes and then pay taxes on the rewards. This can sometimes cause someone to have to give up the reward. Anyone can find a treasure chest, it’s what you choose do with what is inside that really matters. Another way of looking at this is all of the treasure chests inside of ourselves that we choose to lock away our emotions within. Sometimes in order to move past something we have to unlock these treasure chests or if that fails then hammer the damn lock off. Self-exploration also carries with it the chance of great rewards or the risk of it being another Mimic that will try to bite our head off.
8. Save points are your allies.
When you come across a save point in Final Fantasy, please for the love of God save the game! They are usually in important places and a lot of times you encounter one before major boss battles. The last thing you want to do is to rush into a situation and then lose all of progress you had made since the last save point. All of the loot, all of the experience, and the time it took to get there can all be for naught if you don’t save when you should. In reality I think of saving as creating points in your memory for certain events, physical pictures and home videos, journals, etc. My father died in an accident in 2012 and it hasn’t been easy dealing with the grieving process and it will more than likely be a process that never ends. It has become a boss battle. Luckily with time I have managed to level up so that it has gotten a bit easier to deal with than the first few months and then the first year and so on. We have many pictures and videos of my father that I can look at or watch anytime. Plus, I have many valuable memories that I hope I can keep a hold of moving forward. It does suck that he is gone, but he will never be forgotten.
9. Ultimate weapons are for ultimate heroes.
When you start out in Final Fantasy you are usually given basic weapons that you then upgrade throughout the duration of the game. Ultimate weapons are a common occurrence in the series as well. Usually you are limited in what range of weapons you can use by your level. This mimics reality in that you should train with a certain weapon before thinking that you can get the strongest version of something and be a master at the beginning. Odds are if you do that then you will make a fool of yourself or hurt someone. For example, I love swords but I would not want to engage in an actual sword fight with someone at the moment because I lack the skill to do so effectively. If I was to begin training I would more than likely start with a wooden sword and then work my way up to metal. Final Fantasy ups the ante by imbuing many of their weapons with magic that gives them additional abilities or increases the amount of damage caused by the weapon. We all tend to have our own profession as well. There are certain tools for vehicles that I would consider ultimate weapons for mechanics and I wouldn’t dare to begin to think that I could just wing it. I would more than likely end up breaking something or hurting myself. There are other tools that a beginning mechanic would not know how to use but a seasoned mechanic would be quite effective with.
10. Phoenix downs and reality.
Phoenix downs are an item in Final Fantasy that revives a KO’d member of your party. There may be times in life that you feel like you have been KO’d by something and someone might give you a hand, this is similar to having one of your party members use a phoenix down on you. Likewise, you may have the opportunity to use a phoenix down to help someone else out. Sometimes being KO’d doesn’t have to mean actually being unconscious. It can be feeling stuck and thinking that there is no way out of your current situation. Sometimes the act of using a phoenix down can be as simple as just listening to someone vent about their day. Other times it can actually be taking care of someone that is actually unconscious.