Starting with the original is a bad idea. If you want to get into the series you shoulkd start with one of the later titles.
Final Fantasy I-III are decent RPGs but lack any real kind of depth until III, and they're tough as shit. I wouldn't recommend startiung with these at all, at this point they're just for the more hardcore fans. If you are going to play them the PSP remakes of I and II are by far the best versions, they look and play beautifully and the difficulty has been toned down to the point where it's still challenging but not overly frustrating.
Final Fantasy IV is where the series really kicks off, to me anyway. It's where the story really began to take center stage. It's a good starting point, and you're best off with the PSP version again as it comes with the two sequels, FFIV: Interlude and FFIV: The After Years in glorious amazeballs graphics. The gameboy version is also good. THe original snes american version is considered to be a bit dumbed down and the PS1 port suffers from huge load times.
It's been ages since I've played Final Fantasy V but it does use a fairly different system and it's quite difficult so it may not be not the best startting point. PS1 port suffers from long ass load times.
Final Fantasy VI is where the series peaked to many people. Most of the other games use a similar system, it's not overly difficult and the story is generally considered one of the best from a video game. A great starting point. GBA version is best but the SNES version is fine. PS1 port has LOADTIMES.
Final Fantasy VII introduced many if not most fans to the series (including me), the materia system is one of the best ever, being extremely easy to get used to while remaining versatile. At this point the series also started to deviate from pure fantasy and into more modern, futuristic or cyberpunk settings. This is probably the best starting point. Don't bother with the PC version. The prequel, Crisis Core, is also fantastic.
Final Fantasy VIII features a fully modern setting and a small cast, and takes a huge jump from the usual formula with it's Junction system and GFs, and focuses more on the characters than the world around them. You either love it or you hate it. Bad starting point.
Final Fantasy IX is my personal favorite and features a pure fantasy setting and heavily stylized visuals as a call back to the earlier titles. Thanks to the art style it still looks great and the combat/leveling is very simple and easy to get in to. Story and sound track is the best of the series imo.
Final Fantasy X has easily the best combat and one of the best soundtracks. It's very easy to learn and get into and gets more complex later on, this would be a pretty good starting point. The sequel should be left well the fuck alone.
Final Fantasy XII & Final Fantasy XIII. I don't like XII much at all thanks to it's boring as shit combat and I absolutely fucking hate everything about FFXIII. Proceed at your own risk.
As far as spinoffs go, Final Fantasy Tactics is probably the best. Fantastic game but the combat and style is a vast departure from the main series. Dissidia 012 is really fun if you're not a full-on fighting games fan who hates everything that doesn't follow the exact same formula as everything else. The rest of the spinoffs aren't worth talking about yet, and the movies and anime aren't worth the effort at all really, with the arguable exception of Advent Children.
TL;DR: I would say IV, VI, VII, IX, X and Tactics (not necessarily in that order) are the must-plays of the FF series and should all be judged on their own. If you still want more after that, try V, VIII and XII.
As for tips on the individual games; I would say to just enjoy the story, don't worry too much about grinding and don't be hesitant to look up a guide or ask for help instead of just leveling, that's rarely the answer in these games. I have beaten the entire main series and most spinoffs multiple times and have never had to grind at all from VI onward. No, seriously, don't grind unless you absolutely suck beyond sucking.
Keep a few of every item type and pretty much just sell whatever you don't need (don't be too hasty on that though, especially when you could get stuck with an unequipped party member), in most of the games you'll be able to buy the best equipment available as long as you sell old stuff and don't go too crazy on potions or something. Don't pick four white mages. Don't level Cecil. Aerith fucking sucks. Card games are more important than combat. Steiner is a beast.
Don't go into any with overly high expectations and try to bear in mind the significance they had in their time.
At 12/8/12 12:09 AM, Austerity wrote:
The first tip is to not play the actual original NES version of Final Fantasy, because that's the most difficult FF of all.
It's not really difficult, just overly grindy. FF3 is easily the most difficult.
At 12/8/12 02:48 AM, Tony-DarkGrave wrote:
1st rule: VI-X are considered the best of them all
3rd rule: grind ALOT try and kill as and level up as much as possible until it takes you a hour to get one level in the current are you are at.
That's not fair to say, LOADS of people love IV and V, and rightfully so
Grinding just ruins the experience, nothing after VI (and even after IV if not for those final dungeons) requires any grinding at all as long as you don't run away from battles or do stupid shit.