This is part of the Blaugust series!
This has been such an integral part of my creative life, but I realized that I have never once put this all down in writing nor told this full story. So I’ve decided to use Blaugust as a time to talk about The Game That Changed My Life (furthermore known as TGTCML).
The game that changed my life happened the summer of 1992, when my younger sister and I first rented a game called Final Fantasy II for the SNES. This is now better known as Final Fantasy IV, but at the time, we knew nothing of Japanese game development, etc. etc. etc.
The summer of 1992 was a good summer. I was 14 years old, and had landed an almost full-time summer job babysitting neighbor kids just down the road. Yeah, looking back on it, I was way too young for that kind of job. But the kids were behaved, the pay was good, and it only lasted a few weeks overall.
What it did give me was the financial freedom to buy the coolest new game system at the time, the Super Nintendo. I grew up a Nintendo fan-kid. I fell in love with Super Mario Bros. the first time I picked up a controller at my cousin’s house. While I had dabbled with RPG games like the original Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, it was really Super Mario World that I wanted on the SNES.
Back then, my parents would go to the local rental shop at our Pharmor and pick up the cheapie movie rentals. They always let us rent one video game for 99 cents, and the very first one we chose for the SNES happened to be Final Fantasy II.
We’d never played a real JRPG with a full storyline and characters we could care about. We never even knew that kind of thing existed in video games. What proceeded to happen was love at first sight and a lot of this:
Sadly, buying the system took all the money I had saved, and buying games for us was not something my parents did very often, so my sister and I worked tirelessly to save up recycle money and our tiny bit of allowance for months before buying FFII in November that year. I remember we bought it for over $60 – no joke – brand new at Lowes of all places!
My sister and I played that game over and over and over again. Like the good books and movies of our childhood, this became a part of my young-teen years. Only a few years before that, I’d discovered the world of fantasy fiction through accidentally reading The Hobbit and then devouring The Lord of the Rings. Also, just a note, 1992 was years before the Internet existed for me! So, FFII was just the right game to not just introduce me to JRPG gaming, but into a new sort of fandom I never expected to find.
To Be Continued!