Moogly Boogly Boo!
Back in 1997, it was New Years Eve, and as with every NYE, me and my cousins and friends were sent upstairs away from the drunken parents and ended up playing video games. This year was special, I had just got my PS1 for Christmas and had been playing it for ages, my parents loved the silence.

This New Years was a unique experience for me, you see, this NY, my cousin Paul had brought around what HE had got for Christmas. Namely, Final Fantasy VII.

Now I don't know if you've ever had a religious experience, but I'd say this is as close as I could have come at the time to one. The beautifully rendered environments, the instantly enthralling characters, the locations that could only have come in a mans dreams. Magic, swords and guns, a young boy can only handle so much wonderment.

Now back then I was ten and wanted anything I saw (heck, I still do, only now I have to pay for it), and so for one whole week all I did was pester my parents to get me it. Alas, 'twas not to be, but my destiny with this game was not over, for you see, my cousin was banned from playing the game because he wasn't spending enough time with the family, so, being the generous boy he was, he lent me the game. I shall now admit to you, that may be the biggest mistake anyone ever made around me, it began a lifelong obsession with magic, swords, video games, amazing characters, vampires, guns, mythical beasts and strategy guides.
Quasi-Vampireness is always in fashion, as is the red cloak

VII was truly the pivotal moment of my life, it was the moment I ceased to 'be' and instead 'be geek'.

Then came VIII. I remember reading the stories in Official PlayStation Magazine of how the Japanese had queued around entire city blocks to get this game. Now being 12, my parents would NOT allow this, lucky for me, I didn't realise Britons aren't quite as crazy as our ever loving asiatic cousins when it comes to getting games (but God help me, I wish they were, I want more people to talk to about it!), so my mum said "go to school", not telling me a thing. I arrived home only to find my uncle (God rest his soul) had gone out to find one of few copies left just for me. He got a thankyou and didn't see me again properly for a month.

VIII was not what I was expecting, I hadn't realised that when mags said "It wasn't a sequel" it really wouldn't be. Of course, it didn't take away from the game, VIII was a unique look at politics instead of just fighting, it was fighting in a way VII didn't show, with brains as well as brawn. Irvine was the character that made me love this game, he was a unique character to the FFVIII universe that I don't think people appreciate, he's still a lone wolf, but he is alone within a group not by choice, but by force, because no-one likes him at first.

Now, before we move on, I have to tell you, this one is going to be short and sweet, because if I get started, I won't finish.

Final Fantasy IX is the best game ever. Now as for ten... oh, you WANT me to rant about IX? Well if you insist!

Alexander VS Bahamut, one of the coolest FMV sequences in anything ever

First of all, let me say that seeing as I’m 20 in this year of Final Fantasy, and seeing as Final Fantasy is 20, I feel a special connection, but the first European release of an FF game is only 10 years past (FF7), and yet still I felt a kinship with the ‘classic’ feel of Final Fantasy IX. Released in 2001 to the European market, Final Fantasy IX was a game which literally changed my life. Where Final Fantasy VII put me on a track, IX became the train, with my own personal carriage to store all my opinions and loves in.

The steampunk style, the colourful characters who, for the first time in Final Fantasy history I now feel (aside from IV), had a genuinely different attitude, this was made even clearer by their own personal quotes, one of which I now live by, Zidane’s -- “You don’t need a reason to help people”, and it’s an attitude which I hope many Fanpoppers carry also, because it’s an important credo in a very selfish world. The magic system was simple but unique, for me it was a first time introduction to genuine character classes instead of the differences just being weapons and limit breaks. IX takes everything the old school FF’s made awesome and crams it all in between a delicious story which the newer games have developed to perfection.

This then sent me on to classic FF’s when they were released to the euro market on PS1, I don’t like to go into too much detail on these because I’m very much a new school gamer, but suffice to say every single one is in my Top 100 video games list without a shadow of a doubt and I’ve re-played them all consistently, with IV being a unique standout.

Then came ten, and despite IX being my favourite, this is the one I suggest to people who want to get into FF, not only because it’s the easiest to find, but because it is perhaps the most well rounded story of any Final Fantasy, which I think we all agree is probably the most important part of Final Fantasy. The story comes such a full circle that even though you could see the ending from a mile off it was still a shock and made me cry. Of course, X-2 soured the story to some degree, but as a stand-alone story, it was fantastic, with a battle system which is even more customizable than the revolutionary materia system of VII.

I’m not going into FFXI because I don’t see it as an FF game in its truest sense, but I assure you, it is a good game.

XII is a new/old story, it is such a big story, but it’s not the best, it suffers from chronic level up syndrome that impairs your enjoyment of the tale. Bring back random battles.

I know it seems like I skipped over a lot of games, but it’s because I wanted to make this point.

Music, Moogles, Chocobos, Tonberrys, Bahamut, Leviathan, Magic, Black Mages, Stories, Cactuars, Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Four Fiends, Paladins, Dragons, Dragoons, Firaga, Blizzaga, Thundaga, Omnislash, Knights of the Round, Mini-Games, Airships, Summoners, White Mages, Red Mages, Sorceress’, Sephiroth, Kuja, Sin, Monsters, Evil and Good. That’s just me going for one minute or so. That’s one minute ended, but in one minute I never stop thinking about Final Fantasy, and I never stop thanking all the developers, creators, designers, musicians and all fans of the game for keeping me involved in something that I find important in life, as silly as it may seem.

So even for reading this, I just want to thankyou :)