The body of a little boy laid in a cart that was being pulled around a burnt grass field by another little boy. There was a scent of cow dung and a waning summer in the air. The boy pulling the wagon made his way over to a little rock which he inspected for a good minute after letting go of the wagon. Lifting the rock, he gave an excited look and then yelled out "LIFTOO". The boy in the wagon stirred a little and came back to life. The two brothers high fived and then proceeded to walk around, their plastic swords and crossbows clanking in the summer heat.
To say Final Fantasy had an effect on my youth is a bit of an understatement. Just looking at the strategy guide for it fueled hours of play for friends and myself. When we got a little older and started playing Dungeons and Dragons, I could not help but think back to that old Final Fantasy guidebook and how curiously similar it seemed in ways.
Years later I learned that there is or course a reason for this. Dungeons and Dragons had a huge impact on the original Final Fantasy and really defined what it is. This was no "copy" but pure inspiration. D&D inspired those behind FF1 to make something just like FF1 inspired the play of my friend an I that summer day. Having just replayed the game, I think that the game really ends up being my favorite Dungeons and Dragons video game.
Final Fantasy manages to encapsulate the "rules" and "theme" of D&D without being D&D. Too many times I have found myself in front of the monitor with a D&D game playing and it being a little too close and hitting me with a bit of the Uncanny Valley effect in a gameplay sense. The closer a game gets to being like D&D the more obvious to me that it is not. The lack of human interaction flares up and tarnishes the whole experience. The bowl of chips goes down way too slowly.
But Final Fantasy never had that problem. It gave me that twist of fantasy and adventure that I wanted in a format that was easy for me to work with - I much prefer thinking to twitch gameplay - and it did not make me yearn for another type of game that I wished I could be playing instead.