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Final Fantasy is one of the longest-running franchises in videogame history approach almost 40 years of existence. In that time, it has had some of the most iconic games of all time as well quite a few that didn’t quite hit the mark. Part of what’s made this franchise so important is how it managed to introduce an entire genre to the western hemisphere in the form of the JRPG. From there, the genre became arguably the biggest game type of the 90s as games like Final Fantasy VII became some of the best-selling games of all time.
My history with the franchises stretches way back to 1997, when I experienced Final Fantasy VII for the first time. I had never seen a game that felt so real and so adult while looking like it was made for kids. It didn’t have the excessive gore that games like Mortal Kombat had at the time, but it felt far more mature than games like that, even without that. It had incredibly sharp writing, powerfully written characters, and some genuinely touching moments that made me rethink what a videogame was supposed to be and how it was supposed to make me feel.
From that moment on, I was hooked to JRPGs and Final Fantasy in particular. One thing I always loved about the franchise is how it remained static with so many of the items of the game world. Items like Phoenix Down, Hi-Potion, and Ether became part of my gaming lexicon, and it’s awesome to see that all these years later, these items still remain an integral part of every Final Fantasy game ever made. We’re going to explore how they work, what they are, and just why the items in Final Fantasy are possibly the most notable ones in the history of gaming.
What are Items in Final Fantasy?
Items in Final Fantasy can consist of many different things. Anything from an accessory you might pick up to a healing potion is considered an item in these unique game worlds, and generally, every game allows you to have 99 of each item. Some games don’t follow this rule, though, and might limit your item collection in order to impose more difficulty on the game.
Items are unique equipment because, in the majority of the Final Fantasy games, you don’t equip them. Instead, you get to choose them from a pool that your entire party actually shares with you. This means that if you use an item and there is only one left when another character’s turn to attack comes up, they won’t have the option of using that item. This makes you strongly consider when it’s worth using an item and when it’s smarter to hold onto it for a future fight, and this strategy is utilized throughout tons of Final Fantasy games.
Where Do You Find Items in Final Fantasy
Items can be found all over the place in Final Fantasy games. You’ll often start the game with a small pool of items like Potions or maybe even a Phoenix Down, but as the game progresses, you will be able to find items in a ton of different ways.
One way to get items in Final Fantasy is by defeating enemies. In the majority of the games, enemies hold items and will often drop an item of some kind when they are defeated. This sometimes has a random number generation system behind it, so you aren’t always guaranteed an item each time you defeat one, and this keeps the player from being able to instantly horde a lot of one item.
You can also find items in item stores throughout Final Fantasy games. Most games will have both weapons, armor, and items altogether in one store, but some will separate them, requiring you to find each store individually.
The last way you can acquire items in Final Fantasy games is through item chests and also through finding them in the environment. Many games in the series will simply place a shiny thing in the backdrop of an area and dare you to go see what it is. The chests, on the other hand, are usually found in both towns as well as dungeons and can be crucial to your success in an area. Because of this, it’s always recommended to check out every nook and cranny in a Final Fantasy game.
How Do You Use Items In Final Fantasy Games?
Using items in Final Fantasy games is usually pretty straightforward. You have the option of using most items from either the main menu, where you can select which character will use what, or you can use them in battle by selecting to use an item.
Some items act are unusable in battle, though, such as the Cottage, which heals the entire party. This item can only be used on the world map or at a save point and is generally one of the most valuable items in the game. Some items can only be used in combat as well, and these include items that can trigger certain status effects or defensive buffs that only come into play during a battle and not outside of them.
Certain games have characters that will use items on their own, though most of the games in the series require you to select which item a character is going to use. You can also find equipment in Final Fantasy games that have the ability Auto-potion or variations of that which cause the person equipped with it to use potions or whatever the item after the auto is on their own without any input from the player.
One of the more unique games in the series is Final Fantasy XII because it allows you to set up the gambit system, which can make all of your characters operate without your input, and this includes using items when their health gets below a certain threshold.
What are the Most Common Items In Final Fantasy?
Final Fantasy generally introduces a few new items with every game in the series, but there are many that stay static throughout, and we’re going to explore a few of them.
This is the quintessential item that can be found in just about every RPG out there these days, but it originated with Final Fantasy and continues to be one of the first items you get in just about every game of the series.
To me, the Phoenix Down is probably the coolest named item in any game I’ve played, and this item comes into play when a party member loses all of its HP. You can use this to revive them, and it usually involves a small animation of a phoenix rising above your character.
It’s also got an interesting double usage as in some games, it can be used as a weapon against characters who are undead and can even act as a one-hit kill to some of these enemies, and that includes bosses.
Ethers show up in almost every Final Fantasy game as well, and they are equally as important as the potions and Phoenix Downs. Ether is what you use when you need to replenish your magic abilities.
This is usually governed by an MP system, so if the game has magic measured in that way, Ethers are always there, and they are also always needed.
Final Fantasy games love to throw several status effects at you during the course of a battle, and none is more damaging or annoying to deal with than the poison status.
Luckily, if you have an antidote on hand, you can cure that poison immediately, and although most enemies you face won’t be able to poison you, having these on hand for the ones that do can be a lifesaver.
Antidotes are great for poison statuses, but there are some enemies in Final Fantasy that can inflict multiple statuses at once, and when this happens, you don’t want to get caught just using individual items to try and heal them.
This is especially true when facing off against the fearsome Malboro enemy, who has a famous attack called Bad Breath that causes every negative status effect in the game. Remedies can cure every status effect in Final Fantasy outside of Petrify or Stone.
The Cottage item was a recurring item in many of the Final Fantasy games of the 90s, and it had the unique trait of being an item that was both incredibly important while also being completely unusable in battle.
Cottages heal your entire party and cleanse all status effects while also restoring your magic points, but the catch is you can only use it on the world map or a save point if you’re in a dungeon.
Generally, in Final Fantasy games, you’re going to hit a point where potions and hi potions are no longer cutting it, and when that point comes, you turn to Elixirs.
These act like mini Cottages and completely heal and restore magic points to one character.
They are usually incredibly expensive and rare, but having them during tough fights can be hugely beneficial to you.
Gysahl Greens are the uniquely named item that appears in many Final Fantasy games, and it’s used to summon or catch Chocobos in most of them.
You can summon the Chocobo or its awesome alternate form Fat Chocobo in a handful of the games in the series, but usually, it’s used to tame a Chocobo into letting you ride it.
One of the most hilarious status effects in Final Fantasy games is that of the Frog/Toad status. This status effect does exactly what it sounds like and turns the character affected into a tiny little frog.
What’s even better is that your frog form can still attack, although the damage is generally incredibly weak compared to your normal output.
The cherry on top is that the item that heals it is called Maiden’s Kiss. Squaresoft was a truly special company in the 90s.
The Gold Needle serves a very specific purpose in the Final Fantasy games, and that is to stop you from becoming a statue.
A select few enemies can cause the Petrify status effect throughout the series, and although they aren’t all that common, they can be devastating to your party as it’s the equivalent of an instant death because if all members get petrified at the same time, then it’s game over.
Gold Needles are an instant cure to the status, but many players disregard it and end up paying the price in crucial situations.
How to Use Items In Battle Vs in the Menu
Using items in Final Fantasy games is a pretty simple task, but different games treat the process differently, and although there is a general similarity between the games, there are some quirks.
Final Fantasy games have two distinct forms of gameplay and that’s some variations of turn-based combat as well as games that emphasize real-time combat, making them action RPGs.
Turn-Based Item Use
In Final Fantasy I-XIII, items are used in battle by selecting the item command during your character’s turn. In some games, the item command can be changed out for something else, and although it’s definitely not a recommended strategy, it is doable.
When you select the command, you get a list of all the items that are usable in battle at that moment. Each character shares the same items in most of the games as well. In order to use items from the menu, you need to bring up your character screen, find the item you want to use and then select the characters you want to use it on.
Some Final Fantasy games will let you press a direction on the D-pad during this time to activate an all-use system, where the item gets used on every party member you have simultaneously. Some items are not usable from the character menu and will only become available when selected during battle.
Real-Time Item Use
Final Fantasy started to drift a bit toward real-time combat for the first time with Final Fantasy XII, and from there, it’s been on a steady evolution up to the fully real-time combat of Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Starting with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, items were used on the fly in between attacks, and your selection of them would basically be qued up following whatever maneuver your character was in the middle of pulling off.
Usually, this involves your character completing an attack animation and then using the item. It was tougher to select here because, in Final Fantasy XIV, your command list is incredibly long compared to most Final Fantasy games, which generally present you with 4 commands at any given time.
Once you delve into Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy Remake, item usage became more important than ever because gone were the auto-attacks, and you instead had to fully measure when to get in one more attack or when to defend and gain distance in order to use a life-saving item.
Final Fantasy XV allows you to use items haphazardly throughout the game, which can admittedly cheapen the difficulty of the game, and in direct response to the criticism of that aspect of the game, Final Fantasy VII Remake made it, so there was a cooldown between item usage, meaning you had to rely on more than just your stockpile of potions to get through the toughest fights.
Most Important Items in Final Fantasy
You’re going to be more or less bombarded with items throughout your lengthy playthroughs of Final Fantasy games, and it can be tough to figure out which should be prioritized and which should be ignored.
Having experienced the items in different variations, I’ve compiled a list that has always served me well throughout the games, and I have a feeling they will do the same for you.
- Hi-Potions- These are the upgraded version of Potions that you will find throughout the early parts of most Final Fantasy games, and although they aren’t as effective as Elixirs or Mega-potions, they have one trait that is consistent throughout all of the games. They are very cheap, and they generally heal around 1000 HP with each use, so whether your characters have 3000 or 9999 HP, they are incredibly useful to have around.
- Phoenix Downs- You’re going to die a lot in most Final Fantasy games, and the only way to keep your party in the fight is either with the healing spell Revive/Renew or a Phoenix Down. These are very pricey, but it’s always a great idea to bring at least 10 of them along with you wherever you go, as you never know when an incredibly tough enemy is going to rear its head.
- Ethers- Magic is a key part of any Final Fantasy game, and the one thing that fuels the magic system in most of these games is your stockpile of magic points, and with each spell you use, it drains a little bit. More powerful spells will use more magic points, so in order to keep from running out, you will need Ethers. For me, I want 50 Ethers if I can afford it at all times when venturing to a new place in Final Fantasy. Running out of magic points when you need a clutch spell is brutal, and it’s worth the grind to keep these healthily stockpiled.
Tips For Using Items in Final Fantasy
Item management is one of the more underrated aspects of any Final Fantasy game. It’s never fun to be a hoarder when it comes to items, so I’m not suggesting you just spend 1000 hours in the starting area just to gather enough potions that you’ll never need to worry about healing again.
In order to effectively manage your items, you need to have a certain mindset about each situation you’re going into. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up in my 20+ years of playing Final Fantasy games.
Know Your Enemy
While it’s obviously tough to predict just what kind of enemies you’re going to run into at any given moment in a Final Fantasy game, the area you’re being told to go is usually a pretty solid giveaway for the types of enemies you’re going to encounter. For example, if your mission involves a forest, a sewer, or a tomb of some kind, bring antidotes.
You’re generally going to run into enemies that can poison you in areas like this, as the enemies of the forest will usually be some kind of poisonous plant, the enemies of the sewers will be some type of rat or infected creature, and the enemies of the tombs will be some decrepit horror that can poison you to make the area seem all the more intimidating.
Sometimes you’re going to have to rely on blind luck as areas aren’t always well described before you get to them, but you should generally know what kind of dungeon you’re approaching and prepare at an item store beforehand.
Keep a Solid Stock
Take it from a Final Fantasy veteran; there is nothing worse or more helpless feeling than when you’re in the middle of a tough fight and you simply run out of items to help you.
At that point, it’s usually a race to the finish line, and although the real-time games will give you more of a chance in this regard, the turn-based games of the series will simply just have you watching inevitably as an enemy builds up a big attack that you simply just won’t be able to recover from without items.
To stop this from happening, make sure you always have at least 20 of every item you’ve come across.
Save it For the Boss
There are going to be plenty of extremely tough dungeons in Final Fantasy games, and many of these will have strong enemies that will cause a lot of damage to you and your party. It’s during these fights you might want to splurge on an Elixir or maybe use that ever precious Phoenix Down.
My advice during these fights is to just tough it out. If you can manage to eke out a fight against some common enemies while maintaining your item stockpile, definitely do so because the chances are that a boss is lurking nearby and will require everything you’ve got to defeat it.
Prioritize The Rare Ones
Certain items in Final Fantasy will be far rarer than others. For example, the vaunted Megalixir is an item that completely heals all status effects, all health, and all magic points of your entire party simultaneously.
The catch is that this item is extremely tough to find, and there are plenty like it that are just as valuable. These are worth saving for your journey, but sometimes, even the main story bosses don’t really require this type of item.
The hidden super bosses of Final Fantasy, however, are a completely different story, and they usually require the top-of-the-line equipment, a healthy stockpile of elite-level healing items, and the best summons in the game too.
Question: Which is the longest Final Fantasy game?
Answer: This all depends on what pace you play and whether you do all the sidequests and fight all of the super bosses, but over multiple playthroughs, I’ve found Final Fantasy 8,9 and 10 to be the longest experiences in the series. They all involve tons of different changes to the world map, additional side dungeons, lengthy side quests, and some incredibly complex and interesting stories that take a lot of time to build up but always nail the landing in the end.
Question: What is the best Final Fantasy Game?
Answer: A lot of people will say Final Fantasy VII for this question, but right now, it’s hard to argue with naming Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn the best Final Fantasy game ever as it has one of the most engaging stories of the series mixed with the best MMO combat I’ve ever played and remains atop the charts almost 8 years after its initial release.
Question: What is the best Final Fantasy spinoff?
Answer: There have been a handful of spinoff titles from the main numbered series, but I have to give the crown to Final Fantasy: Type 0. It brought back the maturity and brutality of the series that seemed to go missing post-Final Fantasy XII, and it also introduced the series to real-time combat, giving you a ton of different characters to play with, and each one played completely different. It also has one of the most powerful and sad endings of any game I’ve ever played, so there’s your inspiration to go check it out.
Final Fantasy remains one of the most talked-about names in videogames today, and that’s a testament to both the creativity it has displayed over the years along with the fierce loyalty from its fans.
The items of Final Fantasy have become some of the most iconic and, most of all, copied in all of gaming, and no matter what the game is, every time I see a potion in an RPG, a small part of me immediately thinks of Final Fantasy.
Hopefully, this guide helped you learn about the item system in the series.