I am one of those hardcore Final Fantasy fans but, as a gamer, I can see the franchise declining, especially with the direction they’ve taken on the current generation of consoles. With this in mind, I’m going to try to explain the roots of the Final Fantasy series, according to my experiences playing them. I have played most of them, with the exception of the online entries, XI and the original XIV. Originally, Final Fantasy was supposed to be the last game from the company, hence the “Final” in its name. But with the reception the game got from audiences, it ended up spawning a franchise. While I can’t say I’ve played the first Final Fantasy, I can say that its story and gameplay was at the pinnacle for its time, and is one of the main reasons why it is so successful.
When my family first bought a PlayStation, Final Fantasy VII was the first game of the series I experienced. I thought that the cut-scenes were a thing of beauty. Besides the cut-scenes, the other thing I remembered most was how the party members kept following their leader, which, at that time, struck me as funny. To be honest, I didn’t understand all of its mechanics, so I faced many game over screens, though I enjoyed the battle system. I actually learned English (not my first language) partly from playing the Final Fantasy games, especially during the PS One era. Maybe that’s why I like the franchise, despite its detractors due to the actions of current developer Square-Enix. Anyway, after I completed VII, I skipped VIII and went on to IX. Final Fantasy IX was said to be a return to the series’ original roots, and it does that by bringing back a fantasy-based world rather than the more modern settings offered in VII and VIII. I found the small-sized characters to be adorable, and the story was easy to grasp, despite having some complex elements in there. Although I skipped most sidequests, especially the quest that involved fighting the optional superboss, I felt satisfaction after beating the game.
Then I moved on to X, possibly the most romantic Final Fantasy. Whenever I play the game, I always remembered Seymour’s lines at Mt. Gagazet. I can’t recall as to whether I completed the first direct sequel for a Final Fantasy game, X-2, which featured Yuna as its main rather than Tidus. Next came Final Fantasy XII, which has a Xenosaga feel in terms of story-telling and clearly inspired by Star Wars. After I completed all of these entries, I thought it might be interesting to play all the Final Fantasy titles prior to VII, so I began to search for them. At first I thought Final Fantasy VII was the best Final Fantasy ever, but now I feel that Final Fantasy VI managed to beat them all in terms of story. Kefka is mostly what the fans always talk about, rather than Sephiroth, though it was Final Fantasy VII that made Square a powerhouse in gaming industry. The PS3 had its first entry to the series with XIII, which I thought was a good game, but many complained about the lack of towns and shops, its linear path, and its characters. Despite the complaints, it did well enough for Square-Enix to follow it with two sequels, XIII-2 and the upcoming XIII-3: Lightning Returns, slated for a 2014 release. Square-Enix has also re-released earlier entries, reworking them for other gaming platforms, most notably the handheld devices like the PSP and Nintendo DS. With XV scheduled to be coming for the next generation of consoles, there seems to be no stopping the Final Fantasy franchise. In future posts I may explore other major franchises, such as Resident Evil. Stay tuned.