RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Apr 2nd 2020 at 12:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Maps and Manuals, RPGs, Final Fantasy, NES



This year has been a good year for me in regards to making progress on beating my NES library. In January and February, I was able to pump out some serious completion numbers. For the first couple weeks of March, I was able to tackle a few games from my sublist of games that I anticipated to be the hardest ones for me to complete. Before all this COVID-19 stuff, I planned to continue putting time into these challenging titles specifically. Things are stressful enough at the moment, so I decided to change my tactics and go with some comfort food instead. My stress reducer of choice was the original Final Fantasy. Now I've beaten this game before, but not before I started keeping records and recording my plays.



I chose Final Fantasy because I was familiar with it and some low pressure grinding seemed like a relaxing idea right now. What I forgot about this game was how important the pack in maps and manual are to the experience. Very early on I dug mine out of the box and set them between my NES and CRT to reference as needed. Right off the bat, just figuring out what spells to purchase and use meant having the manual opened up to the back anytime I entered a new town or when in a dungeon as a quick reminder.



As soon as I crossed the first iconic bridge and the opening splash screen passed by, I had that map out on my lap. It has most points of interest marked on it and even numbered in the suggested order you visit them. Once you've gotten access to the boat, canoe, and airship, the order is up to the player, but boy is it great to have some out-of-game direction as the in-game direction can be purposefully (or occasionally unintentionally) vague. And the back of that map, which has enemy stats, including weaknesses and total HP, can make combat a lot easier to handle.

My wife would often see me with my controller on the ground beside me as I was referencing the map and while simultaneously holding my spot in the back of the manual to quick check my spells as needed. This would go on for several minutes as I planned out my strategy and made mental notes to ensure I was prepared. She commented once on how frustrating that looked to play, but it was anything but. It really took me back to sitting down with a good RPG and strategy guide in hand and just diving head first into the fantasy world. Yeah, in-game maps are a lot handier. Sure it's bad design for the game itself not to tell me what each spell is capable of. But despite those annoyances, it's a pretty special experience to adventure through the world of Final Fantasy armed with some out of game tools to assist you in your quest. It really hit the spot with everything going on worldwide at the moment and totally immersed me into the experience each time I hit the power button.



Is anything you are playing at the moment helping you relieve stress or do you have any favorite games that also require some out-of --game ephemera to maximize the experience?


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Comments
 
Great article.  It sure brings back memories to me.  I wish games still had manuals, maps, and POSTERS in the box these days.
 
My first ever exposure to this game, was being at my cousin Colins house, when he had received the game as a gift. Being that it was HIS house, and HIS game, meant that he got most of the controller time. While he was the main player, I was instantly drawn to the maps. It quickly became my job, to be the navigator for him. He guided his party, with the help of me, providing directions and advice, along the way. I soon after, obtained my copy of the game, and enjoyed my own playthrough of the game. These experiences, would forever establish my love of the RPG genre.
 
@EngineerMike: I had a friend who couldn't attend school because of medical issues growing up. We used to play a ton of games like that where (usually I) would have the controller and the other would be in charge of directions and research or an advisor role. Such a fun way to play games.

Before all this craziness I would meet up some a different friend on Saturday mornings and we'd play jRPGs together like that. I love it.
 
I too played through the original FF with media in hand, though mainly with the excellent Nintendo Power strategy guide.  The manual I saved for flipping through before bed, absorbing little facts and snippets of information.  The maps were never used for practical purposes, and were delegated to my wall where I had a near complete covering of game posters and advertisements clipped from gaming magazines (only the windows and door were uncovered).  Back onto the manual, my favorite part was the little Notebook breakdown at the end of sections.  This had a large influence on me, as to this day I like to play classic RPGs with a little notebook on hand (or Notebook open in a separate window) for NPC chatter, hints, and ideas.

There is just something chill and pleasing about the older game manuals.  After first reading this article I found myself pulling down my copy of Baldur's Gate and leafing through the manual, enjoying the lore (instead of playing Red Alert, which is what I need to be doing now).  While I don't find them as necessary as I once did, I love using them to reinforce my interest in the game I am playing, which I find often wains around the eighteen hour mark.
 
For those looking for similar maps, this collection of images has some from NES/SNES era. https://archive.org/details/RetroGameMapsAndStageLayouts

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