It's about a week until I get to play FFXII, and currently I'm salivating at the prospect. I have avoided all internet spoilers so that I will have no idea what is going to happen. What it is making me do, though, is reminisce about my experiences playing Final Fantasy.
Like a great deal of people, VII was my first exposure to the series. When I was about nine I was at a friend's house and he had just got a copy of it (it's hard to believe that it came out 10 years ago now.). Anyway, we did it co-op in a sense. We would work out all the puzzles together, and if there was a fight that one of us had trouble with, the other would take over. I remember that in one night we got as far as fighting Dyne (about midway through the first disk), which ain't a shabby achievement all things considered. However at that point, while I enjoyed playing it, it didn't wow me greatly. Partly that was because I was young and stupid(er), but mostly because at any given point I had only a limited idea what was going on. Try explaining the complicated and multi-faceted plot of that game to the typical nine-year-old and you'll know what I mean.
Anyway, after that it wasn't until I was 14 that I got really into the series. Another friend had the really rare PC edition of it, which I borrowed. I was hooked almost straight away. I think i still have his copy of it :S
After that I sought out the next one, FFVIII. I didn't enjoy it as much, but it was a sound game with some jaw-droppingly cool scenes in it (the Landing, anyone?).
Then I made the PS2 jump, gettting hold of FFX. I loved it. I have probably racked up more hours on that game than any other. Squaresoft have always been good at making immersive new worlds for you to play around in, but Spira was in a league of its own. The actual game wasn't as good as VII, but the graphics, the sound, the story and the characters really endeared the game to me.
After that I had that niggling moment that I think every FF fan gets if they play it for long enough, where you realised that the first game in the series you played was called VII for a reason. I managed to rent out the playstation double edition which contained I and II. I enjoyed I, principally because of the class-system they had. II, however, is my second favourite in the series so far. It was the first to introduce characters (the ones in I were faceless sword-carriers), had one of the best plots in the series, and I loved it's system of increasing your stats by using them. Use a spell lots? Its power goes up. Take a few knocks to the head? You gain HP. Smash something with an axe? Have a point of axe skill! It wasn't the first game to do such a thing, but I'm willing to guess that it was the first to do it so well. Well, I have since played all of them except III, which I don't think ever even got translated.
So yeah, Final Fantasy fan here. Just don't mention X-2 and we'll be fine, mmmkay?