There have been 14 proper entries to the Final Fantasy series, and countless spinoffs. Originally, Final Fantasy was just that. The Japanese company Squaresoft was in dire straits. Created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, this was his last attempt to create a successful game, and save his company, hence the name. Fortunately, he succeed. Final Fantasy for the original Nintendo was a hit. The story was a little bland. You began with 4 nameless characters that you selected the class for (Fighter, Black Mage,etc.) and set about saving the world. The game eventually made it’s way to North America.
The next two entries in the series began to evolve the characters and the stories while experimenting with gameplay. Every game was different. The characters, worlds, stories, settings, battle system; everything changed with each iteration, only keeping some creatures and such for cohesion. Final Fantasy IV for the Super Nintendo changed everything though. Every character evolved into more than just templates and names with vague or weak backgrounds. Characters (12 total) had defined classes, allowing them to have more specific traits. Final Fantasy V followed suit, offering an equally compelling tale. Only 4 were playable this time, but the flexibility in customization was returned.
The next two games in the series still rank amongst some of the highest rated games in the world. Final Fantasy VI perfected the Super Nintendo trilogy. With Final Fantasy VII, Square abandoned Nintendo, switching to Sony because the Playstation supported cinematic cutscenes. This allowed Square to evolved the mechanics of their story telling.
Final Fantasy VIII and IX were a little divisive. The first 6 games, due to hardware limitations, had a unique art style with large heads and small bodies. VII changed that, making the characters a little more human looking. VIII evolved this change further. It didn’t sit well with many. This coupled with the experimental gameplay and whiny main character stereotype divided the fanbase. VII & VIII had a very steampunk aesthetic. IX went back to the original, albiet now 3D, character design and fantasy setting.
X ushered in the Playstation 2 with a fully voice acted entry that many loved. X is personal favorite of mine, especially the love story between the two main characters. From there things began to go off the rails a bit. For the first time ever there was a direct sequel to main entry with X-2 (pronounced 10-2). It was a weak follow up that was more of a Charlie’s Angels/fashion show game. From there a few subpar sequels from VII came as well. XI was an MMORPG (a la World of Warcraft). This attracted many and alienated others. I was in the latter half. Years later XII was released. While I’ve heard good things about the story, the battle system enraged many. Playing more like an MMO with little control of your characters.
Things had been shaky for the series, with the last few entires pleasing about half their fanbase. Then, Final Fantasy XIII was released. A beautiful game with little else to offer. The first 40 hours were completely linear, telling a poor story with weak characters and a weird setting with many elements seemingly lost in translation. This game is universally looked down upon. It only made sense for Square to release not one, but two sequels in the form of XIII-2 and XIII-3 (this is getting a little ridiculous). XIV was another MMO that was so broken on it’s release that a year later the game was taken down for 6 months to just now be revamped and relaunched.
Final Fantasy for me was once the pinnacle of story for me, with VI showing me the possibilities of stories in games. Now, who knows what Square is doing or if they could ever comeback from this. Just look to their horrible showing at the PS4 announcement (the same demo video was shown a year ago).
What’s your favorite FF games? VI, VII, & X for me. What should I discuss next? Comment or tweet!