Final Fantasy: Twenty Years and a Massive Universe Later

20 Years of Final Fantasy

FF1 SpriteNote from racketboy: To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the original Final Fantasy, contributer, Fastbilly1 has spent a great deal of time putting together a look back at this landmark RPG series. This look back at both the original game and the extensive and diverse series that followed is filled with both an historical look at the games and personal experiences with each. I hope you enjoy it!


“I Garland, will knock you down” are the infamous words that have brought fans delight for 20 years. Of course Garland is the first boss in the original Final Fantasy and December 18th is the 20th anniversary of the Japanese release of the game. The rest of the world actually received the game in 1990 but we’ll celebrate the birthday of this landmark series based on its original release.

Since Final Fantasy is a Role-playing game, I thought it fitting to start with thoughts from one of the men who created Role-playing Games? Having a dream and knowing he was a kind man I asked the brilliant Gary Gygax one simple question: What was his opinion on videogame RPGs? His response actually took me by surprise…

The computer search and destroy games erroneously called RPGs are not actually in the role-playing game genre. Why? Simply ask yourself: To whom does one role-play to when engaged in such a game? The answer is also evident: No one.

This is not to say that the “CRPG” is not a worthwhile playing experience. The size of the audience for such games demonstrated unequivocally that they are compelling, nearly addictive. Unlike a true RPG, where there is a game master and assembled player group, the CRPG can be played whenever the individual wishes, for as long a period as desired, without having to have a game master or associated players there.
Furthermore, the CRPG captures vividly most of the essential features of the true RPG–exploration, problem solving, combat, acquisition. What is missing is the inter-personal role-playing and the vast range of possibilities provided by the game master.

Clearly many people find the trade off well worth the immediate availability of CRPG play.


Final Fantasy ScreenshotAfter I received his email it took a minute for his response to sink in, but everything he said is spot on. One of the best parts of an RPG is the dynamic relationship that grows between the player and their friends. Role-playing games transform us from our everyday selves into characters in far away lands were we battle evil and save the world.

Like many gamers, some of my fondest memories in college were late nights playing RPGs with a group of my friends. We smashed skeletons, broke in doors, blew up buildings, and saved galaxies, all from the comfort of the Student Union. But every so often we could not get enough people to make a good game so we had to rely on CRPGs. And while they scratched the itch, they could never take the place. Not even using Teamspeak and online tools to replicate the tabletop experience of an actual game.

So what does any of that have to do with Final Fantasy? Well the original version of Final Fantasy was fairly close to the original D&D in many aspects. Sure, the characters were mutes and wooden, the plot is junk (by today’s standards), and there is little motivation to save this world. But it did provide an amazing adventure, a dynamic tale about four heroes on a journey. Final Fantasy also had a difficultly rarely seen by modern gamers and some parts that are just downright brutal. It is an amazing game and it spawned a saga that no one expected.

Final Fantasy

The Origins of Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy ScreenshotFinal Fantasy was created by a small team lead by visionary, Hironobu Sakaguchi. After a string of moderate successes and numerous flops (Death Trap 1 & 2, 3D World Runner, Rad Racer, Kings Knight, among others), Sakaguchi had one final idea he wanted to try.

A console role-playing game was something of a rarity back in the late 80s. Sure, we had Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior, Richard Garriot’s team had ported Ultima III with a moderate degree of success, Hylide was released to favorable reviews, and the Shin Megami Tensei series had just begun. But all of these were missing something. Whether it was missing the party dynamic, Dragon Quest, a bearable soundtrack, Hylide, or simply not dropping you off in the middle of no where with no indication which way you should go, Ultima III, console RPGs at the time had no standard. This is not an attempt to say these games are bad — far from it — they are all excellent games on their own accord. But for many people, no console RPG had hit on the right formula quite yet.

This, of course, changed when Sakaguchi started work on his “final fantasy” (it is only a rumor that this is how the name came about, but it sounds so cool). The game was released on December 18th 1987 to a fantastic level of fervor. Video game enthusiasts wanted it because it was amazing, Role-playing fans wanted it because it was the closest available to a real session you could have by yourself. More importantly, it fixed the problems that the other games had. You had a party, four characters out of six available classes, the soundtrack was amazing, and the manual got you through the first couple hours of the game – not to mention the awesome map/bestiary that was also packed in. To be cliché, the rest is history.

What Made Final Fantasy Special

Final Fantasy ScreenshotSquare did everything correct in the first rendition. The game was ruthlessly hard, gripping, and had an edge to it. Never before had I played a Light Warrior, nor did I even know what one was. Sure. I had saved the world, but never like this. Quickly I was sucked into the game pretty deeply.

As we all know, you begin with a simple task: save the princess. What you learn first is that if you do not actually equip your weapons, you will die when that first party of five imps decides to jump you. Then when you do figure out your weapons, if you were not already a fan of Gary Gygax’s Dungeons and Dragons, you soon learned that magic can be used only a few times a day, and then you must rest. Though they took it a step further and you only regained your magic spells if you slept in an inn or a high level disposable (cottage or house in the original – tent or cottage in subsequent releases). Factor in status effects like stone, which can be nasty when you run into nice Cocktrices and they all have a chance to cause it, and you have a game that starts you off flying into a brick wall. But for years we have kept at it.

At the time, Final Fantasy had a innovative storyline which involved elaborate myths and time travel. This lead to a deeper experience, that many claim to be better than Enix’s Dragon Quest. With these groundbreaking characteristics, Final Fantasy, along with the original Dragon Quest, proved to be one of the most influential early console role-playing games, and played a major role in legitimizing and popularizing the genre on the video game console.

The original Final Fantasy may not be the best game, but pound for pound, Final Fantasy provides one of the best adventures ever created for a game. And even though it has been made easier over the years in the ports, it still provides an experience worthy of your time.
More: My Narrative Walkthrough of Final Fantasy

The Many Flavors of Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy ScreenshotFor years, we have plugged countless hours into this game. Personally I have had a version of it with me daily for the past five years (emulated on my now-dead Zodaic 2 or the beautiful Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls GBA game). There are very few games that I can go back and play for hours on end. Luckily, Final Fantasy is one of them.

Fans obviously love this title as Square/Enix can’t help but releasing a number of remakes on a variety of platforms, especially mobile devices. While all of these remakes contain various tweaks have been made in a variety of different areas, including graphics, sound, and specific gameplay elements. However, at the heart of each port, the core legacy of this NES classic lives on.
There are seven ports of the original Final Fantasy:

  • NES
  • MSX2 (Japan Only)
  • Wonderswan (Japan Only)
  • PSX
  • GBA
  • Cellphone (Japan only)
  • PSP

Personally I like the NES version the most, it is what I grew up with and the nostalgia I have with it is something the other versions will never have. However the MSX version is just the NES one with a few tweaks – better graphics due to the MSX having more space and a stronger architecture. However the one I Final Fantasy Screenshothave spent the next most time with is easily the GBA one. The PSX version is simply the Wonderswan version with an easy mode and less load times (which were by no means bad). However the GBA version is the PSX version with additional items and dungeons. The dungeons are just side-quest based around each fiend and the final bosses are from the other games. The final bosses from Final Fantasy II and III bosses are present, along with the Ghost Train from VI, among others. The extended weapon sets and items were not needed, but add some flavor and fun to the game. Sadly the Giant Rat from FFIII was not present, but that is probably a good thing.

Any version you choose will be a good game, but as far as I count, I still say every RPG gamer should play the NES version at least once. Even if they do not beat it, they owe it to themselves to at least give this fine game a sporting chance. It has been surpassed in almost ever aspect; story, graphics, sound, etc. but it is still the first console RPG to get everything right and set the standard.

The Rest of the Final Fantasy Saga

Since Final Fantasy has spawned such an impressive saga of installments that are loved by fans around the world, I thought it would be fitting to actually touch on the series as a whole.

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy II Screenshots A couple months after the first game was a success, Square released Final Fantasy II to mixed reviews. Most gamers outside of Japan did not get a chance to play this game until the mid 1990s in raw form, or shortly after that in English, thanks to emulation and fan patches. Unlike any other game at the time, FFII had you do some really unique things to progress, which made a lot of fans and reviewers lambaste it pretty hard. Innovation was shot down. The leveling system, which makes sense from a practical point of view, is not in a typical JRPG style, the characters are actually characters, not just nameless pastless killing machines, and the story is enjoyable. The game itself is fun and while not as good as the first, it is still a very good game. There are a lot of problems with it, like all early RPG’s, and I do not agree with a lot of the changes, or those that people gave the game a hard time about but lets move into another rambling walkthrough.

Just like Final Fantasy VIII, many people hate this game. They say that it deviated to much from the other games for its own good. It was to different, to hard, or just bad. I know, I was one of them for years. But one day I gave it a second chance, sat down and gave it a good three hours of my time – which nowadays is a rare thing, and I loved it. Sure it is not a perfect game, but it is a good game. The nasty difficulty of the first is still present, though toned down, but there are more than enough reasons to draw you into the game. Sure the game is really just one large fetch quest, but that is what most CRPGs are anyway, this one is just a little more obvious, stupid Altea… But the game works. The leveling system made the game unique and actually requires you to think and plan. Simply put, it was different, and we all know that different is evil.

There are just as many versions of FFII are there of FFI, many of them are two packs. And just like FFI, I have played the same copies. Out of them all, the PSX version is my favorite. While the WSC and GBA versions look the similar to it, the PSX one runs smooth, the game is beautiful, and the audio is simply unmatched. While the GBA version has better visuals and is portable, it is not the same. It is to zoomed in for my taste. But all versions are worth your time, but don’t take it from me, give it a couple hours on your own, just remember magic is worthless but Chocobos are awesome.
My Narrative Walkthrough of Final Fantasy II
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Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III ScreenshotsHere is where the series takes another hard left. Like FFII, Final Fantasy III brings a lot of new things on the table. Introducing my absolute favorite part of the entire series, the Job system, FFIII does some awesome things.

This game was introduced to me by a friend several years ago. I played through the English patch on my GP32 back when I was in college. Then a couple years later I heard rumors of a remake. 3D, remade music, and on the new Nintendo handheld, what was not to love? Well I got to play a copy of it right before it was released and hated it. Gone was the simple brilliance, the game was in the vein of FFVII – more on this later.

In Final Fantasy III, you go through a lot of airships in this one, and there are several useless jobs. But the game is simply stunning. The interface and style are used in the next couple games in the series. Even though it is only a Famicom game, it feels and flows like SNES RPG. It is a lot of fun, and is a rock solid game.

The Nintendo DS version from 2005 is not quite as enjoyable, in my opinion, but it is still a good game. I do not want to come off as a hypocrite, I hate to review games without putting sufficient time into them, but it is not the best version. While the game is prettier and sounds a lot better, the best overall experience is from the Famicom version.

My Narrative Walkthrough of Final Fantasy III
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Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy IV (released as Final Fantasy II on the US SNES) was one of the first 16-bit RPGs, displaying state-of-the-art music and cutting-edge Mode 7 graphics. The story took gamers across three separate worlds with a slew of characters. FFIV was also the first Final Fantasy to set love as a plot focus, popularized by later titles such as Final Fantasy VIII.

FFIV’s battle system is a bit different as it is the first to use Square’s infamous ATB (Active Time Battle) system. With this system, there are no turns to take, but you can attack while your foes are still deciding on what to do, and vice versa. This system was a bit innovative, but was not very intuitive, resulting in a mixed reception.

Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI ScreenshotsFinal Fantasy IV’s battles did occasionally feature “Battlescripting” which were bits of dialogue or scripted events that were used as plot devices. This did help round out the dramatic elements in the game and brought the series closer to the cinematic experience that Final Fantasy fans have come to expect.

I actually have an ex-girlfriend who loves this game very much, but personally, I just got bored of it after Tellah said Edward was a spoony bard (sorry Diggers, its been awhile). I must have been spoiled since I played it after completing FFVI.

The game was later remade on the Playstation in 1997 for the Japanese audience and was eventually repackaged with Chrono Trigger for the US in the Final Fantasy Chronicles release in 2001. A Wonderswan Color version came soon after in 2002 which was eventually ported to the GBA in 2005/2006/

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Final Fantasy V

This is the closest to a spiritual successor of FFIII. The rocking Job system was tweaked to nigh perfection, the story was awesome, and the world was just brilliant. The Active Time Battle combat also made a return from FFIV but this time there was a time gauge so you could see what character would be able to attack next. (This technique was later used in Chrono Trigger)

All these characteristics in Final Fantasy VI took the experience that we were given in FFIII (with the combat of IV) and made it practically perfect. It is not the best in the series, but it is in my top three.

Final Fantasy V was re-released (with FFVI) for the Playstation in 1999 as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology collection. An enhanced version was also released for the GBA in 2006.
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Final Fantasy VI

Perfection. In my opinion, Final Fantasy VI has it all: a compelling story, complex characters, a villain that is pure evil, and the NPC’s telling. All in all, this and Phantasy Star IV, are the two closest examples of 2D RPG perfection. They are both exquisite games, and you would be remiss if you missed them.

In this installment, the Final Fantasy world has decided to do away with magic and is now based on steam power and other technologies from the Second Industrial Revolution. The structure of society takes a cue from the latter half of the 19th century, with opera and the fine arts serving as recurring motifs throughout the game. This setting served as an interesting contrast to the fantasy medieval themes of most RPGs.

At the time of its release, Final Fantasy VI boasted unprecedented graphics and sound helping it become one of the first truly epic stories in the history of video games. All these technical capabilities required a then-impressive 24-meg cartridge, making it one of the biggest RPGs up to that point in time.

It is also worth nothing that Final Fantasy VI was the first to be made without the influence of Hironobu Sakaguchi, yet this didn’t hinder it one bit. The game is still considered to be the best game of the series and of its whole genre. Final Fantasy VI was re-released on the Playstation in 1999 and the GBA in 2006.
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Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII ScreenshotsAnyone that is experienced with the Final Fantasy series or grew up with a Playstation in their home is probably quite familiar with Final Fantasy VII. Transitioning into the world of 3D and cinematic gameplay, FFVII is a treasured classic in the minds of many fans. The game also brought RPG games to the mainstream outside of Japan.

I, on the other hand, have a long and painful history with the game. I picked the PC version up at my local Best Buy for $30 the day it came out. I played it a lot of the game that summer and reached the Cosmo Canyon’s Observatory cutscene before the game crapped out on me. Nothing I could do would make it work. The next week that computer’s hard drive failed. The next year I played it again, again got stuck in a cutscene — this time exiting Midgar (this was the patched version).

Over the next three or four years I try to play it every once and a while. Then one week I decided to finish the game off. I load it up and get to the first Chocobo race and it crashes my PC. The next day I pick up a copy of the Playstaion version at Software ETC. Once I got home, I played through to Coast De Sol, and saved my progress. The next day I fire it up and my memory card is erased. This miffed me pretty good as I was playing a legit game on a stock PSX with both first party controllers and a reliable memory card. So I gave up with the game for another couple years.

Then the last summer I was in college I sat down and decided once again to give this unicorn a shot. Everything went fine on the first disk (finally Aries/Arieth was dead) and I was just about to go fight the Ultimate Weapon for the second time, but he was no where to be found. I could not find him, but then I realized that the game thought he had already died, yet no Ultimate Weapon in my inventory (but more that one Buster Sword in its place). Then, when I tried to fight the Ruby Weapon, he never attacked back. Several other problems later, I decided to stop playing and have not touched it since. (Please don’t harass me about different things to try…)

FFVII is my personal unicorn (or white whale, if you like). I felt that I will never finish it. The worst part, however, is that I never really enjoyed the game. I know I know, but to me the feel of the series was lost in the transition to 3D.
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Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII and IX ScreenshotsFinal Fantasy VIII is the black sheep of the series and I will say for good cause. Final Fantasy VIII was the first game in the series to consistently use realistically proportioned characters and the first to feature a vocal piece as its theme music. FFVIII also removed Magic Point-based system for spellcasting, and it remains as one of the only titles to deviate from the series’ traditional means of increasing a character’s power. Many critics complained about the combat system being overly complex, but I’m sure many RPG fans found it interesting.

The main character was shallow, even if his weapon was beyond awesome. I found the story very good, but just lost interest around the middle of the second disc. I liked most of the characters but the world just did not draw me in at all, and I will not start on the music. I feel if I played it again I may think better of it, but that will be some time in the far future.

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Final Fantasy IX
Much to the delight of old-school RPG fans, Final Fantasy IX returned to the series’ roots with a more traditional fantasy setting and heavily-inspired by the original Final Fantasy. However, Final Fantasy IX did introduce some new features to the series, such as the Active Time Event and a revamped equipment and skill system. In the visuals department, Final Fantasy IX was drop-dead gorgeous game, even when compared to much of the PS2’s early library.

I loved the entire first disc, but once I passed that point, it started to fall apart for me. There was a point where I just stopped caring – notice a trend here. I could not attach myself to any of the characters and while I loved the style, the game started to drag. Everything was going for it, then it hit the wall. I find that once the games started to span multiple disc, they just got boring in the middle.
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Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X ScreenshotsFinal Fantasy X was an early showpiece for the Playstation 2 and its beautiful cinematic experience attacted a new audience. Final Fantasy X was the first of the series to make the jump from pre-rendered 3D backdrops to ones that were rendered into fully three-dimensional environments on the fly by the console’s hardware. It was also the first to feature voice-over actors.

Personally, much like the earlier disc-based Final Fantasys, it lost me about halfway through. Many other old-school fans were a bit turned off by it, but the majority of the gaming community welcomed and enjoyed it tremendously. (Japanese Famitsu readers voted it the best game of all time)
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Final Fantasy X-2

Riding on the success of Final Fantasy X, Square did something they never did before: made a direct sequel. The main character is Yuna from Final Fantasy X. This game is slightly unique in that you there are only 3 playable characters who all happen to be female, and this is one of the few games of the Final Fantasy series to include different endings.
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Final Fantasy XI

ff-11-13Dumbfounding the fans, Square went MMO. I got into the Beta and hated it. I loved the game, but the community was worse just awful. If you were not a Warrior, Black Mage, or White Mage, no one wanted you in their party. So my Thief was kinda shoved to the side every time, and you can only solo for so long in the game.

Years later I tried again on a friends account, the community had changed and developed much like the Earth and Beyond one, but was still far from Ultima Online, but it was fun. I have not played the expansions, but pound for pound it is my favorite of the disc based Final Fantasy.
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Final Fantasy XII
Keeping the MMO style gameplay, but putting it into an offline game was a good idea. And being based in the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance universe meant that status effects were worthwhile, but it fell flat just like most MMOs, the grind just got to be to much. I still like it though.

A real-time strategy spin-off/sequel on the DS by the name of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings was recently released. It blends in some of the gameplay elements found in the Tactics series and offers some unique gameplay for DS owners.

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Final Fantasy XIII
It looks stunning, but only time will tell how nice it will be in terms of gameplay.
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Final Fantasy Spinoffs

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
Final Fantasy SpinoffsThis SNES title is the easiest of the entire series, but with only a two person party. A beginner RPG and not worth your time, unless you like a cliché storyline and a hold A to win game. Yes, even some of the most basic things that you expect in an RPG such as random battle, manual equipment, and use of a party are all eliminated to create a simpler game. If you have young kids that you want to prepare for Pokemon, this might be a good one for them.
More: Wikipedia | Video

Final Fantasy Adventure
Technically this is the first game in the Seiken Densetsu (Mana) series, but it was branded Final Fantasy to sell in the states. While it is a pretty bad Final Fantasy RPG, it is one awesome Zelda styled Action RPG, like most Seiken Densetsu games. It has solid mechanics and is a hoot. If Links Awakening was not its competition it would have been a shoe in for best Action RPG on the Gameboy at that time.
More: Wikipedia

Final Fantasy Legend I, II, and III
Like Final Fantasy Adventure, these are re-branded games from another series. This time the Makai Toushi SaGa games were victim. However all three of these games are amazing. Sure they are clunky and have problems with slowdown, but they are excellent titles. If you are a fan of 2D RPGs, and happen to have a Gameboy, GBA, or a suitable emulator, you may want to look into them, especially part III. The caliber of game that they accomplished with what they had to work with is astonishing. Gorgeous adventures, all three of them.
More FF Legend: Wikipedia

Final Fantasy Tactics
Though not the pioneer of the genre, Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the most involved, serious, and well-rounded strategy RPGs. Despite being more than 6 years old, it remains as playable and fascinating as ever. Final Fantasy Tactics is notable for its well-crafted storyline, which might actually be one of the best in the Final Fantasy series.

The classic combat gameplay found in Tactics is just as outstanding and is really the star of the show. The game features a complex “job” system, first introduced in Final Fantasy V. Much like a game of chess, Tactics forces players to think carefully about each move, to plan ahead, and to bring the best possible strategies to duke it out against many challenging opponents. Many games, since its time, have attempted to copy and improve on its formula, but none have managed to do so with the same dramatic flair and unusual style as Final Fantasy Tactics.

It is also worth mentioning that Tactics was actually developer by Quest, the same people who created Battle Ogre and Tactics Ogre (originally for Enix). This explains the many similarities and strengths behind these rock-solid games.

The new, highly-praised Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions for the PSP is also a remake of the original Tactics and it definitely worth picking up if you have Sony’s handheld.
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Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Controversial is the best way to describe this one. Taking the beloved Tactics gameplay and adding laws to the game, banning weapons among other things, many fans hated it. I loved it my first time through, but when I went to play it again to finally get Cid, well I got fed up in the first fight. I feel that this game is best played if you can keep the mindset for about a month. If you put it down and pick it up a couple months/years later, you may go mad. It was a fun game, but in no way, shape, or form the best SRPG on the system.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2 for the Nintendo DS is a direct sequel to Tactics Advance. It has been released in Japan, but has yet to be released in any other countries. Hopefully it will be on par with the Tactics: The War of the Lions from the PSP in terms of quality.
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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
Being that I am a Gauntlet fan, I love Crystal Chronicles. My chances to play it are very rare, but every time I do it is a blast. The game has some major problems if you are not playing one or four player, and it can get tedious, but when playing with three other people in the same room it is intense. So much so that I am trying to get two more Gameboy Player equipped Gamecubes and two more small TVs and just have them setup in my gameroom, for impromptu games of course.

The best way to describe this is a PC hack-and-slash (similar to Titans Quest, Dungeon Siege, or Diablo) done in the Final Fantasy world, and using Gameboy Advances to manage your inventories. Upcoming sequels for the DS and Wii are both on the way and it will be interesting to see how those turn out and how similar they are to the Gamecube original.
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More Spin-Offs
There are actually many more spin-offs and related game, but instead of covering them all, you should probably just check out this Final Fantasy Spin-Offs entry on Wikipedia.

The Saga Continues

Obviously, the Final Fantasy series has grown remarkably to transition from a last-ditch effort to keep Squaresoft alive to one of the most powerful and diverse gaming franchises of all time. As I breifly mentioned a few times above, there are numerous new installments and spin-offs being released and under development that are exploring new gameplay mechanics and reaching new levels of cinematic experiences. It will be interesting to see how things progress.

If you have enjoyed the Final Fantasy series, we’d love to hear your thoughts, both nostolgic or current, in the comments section below. With all the Final Fantasy games out there, I’m sure almost everyone has been touched by at least one.

Special Thanks Goes Out to…
Jessica Merriman (founder of Momocon,one of the largest free conventions in the United States), Dale North of OCRemix
Children of the Monkey Machine of OCRemix (Happy Anniversary, my friend), And of course Gary Gygax.

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Marurun says:

Might be nice to add a comment about FF Tactics being developed by Quest, the people who created Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre (originally for Enix), thus the similarities between the two series.

StarsCream says:

I love this site, I really do, but this article was a disaster. Why would you EVER let someone do a retrospective of Final Fantasy games that hates every FF since VI?

Yeah dude, we get it, you lose interest half way through on every FF past VI. I am not trying to flame fastbilly1, but this was obviously not a good choice to do mini-reviews on modern FFs.

StarsCream says:

Ammendment: Actually, looking back on the article one last time, billy didn’t like any remake of a FF either and especially dislikes anything 3D.

I love FFVI as much as the next real gamer, but that doesn’t mean FFX or VII were crap just because of a different art direction.

racketboy says:

Marurun, thanks for that bit of trivia — I’ve added it to the article.

StarsCream, I can definately see where you’re coming from, but after reading it over a couple of times, I think he was more concerned about the stories and being drawn into the game than the graphics and art style.

I had people complain about similar things when I was critiquing Sega on their recent Sonic games. IMO, Sega just happended to lose control of what made the games great as they transitioned to 3D. I love 3D graphics if they are executed well.

I haven’t played any of the 3D FF games besides a bit of VII, so I can’t really comment on them. But to give Fastbilly1 some credit, he does enjoy Crystal Chronicles.

bonefish says:

Add something to the FFXII section like “this entry in the series has divided the community.” Some people like it but I find the story dull (except for Balthier, but he can’t save it unless he was the main character), the excellent graphics boring (minus Vaan’s spray on abs which are hilarious) and the sound forgettable. The gameplay is a lame grindfest complete with a dumb license grid thing. If you liked Final Fantasy X, avoid this game at all costs. But, if Final Fantasy XI is your favorite game, go for it!

emilles says:

I’m in agreement with StarsCream. If the article’s purpose was to be a retrospective, then an additional contributor for the later games should have been used. I wasn’t reading the article to hear about the personal experiences the author had with bad hard drives and memory cards. And if you don’t play all the way through the game, you are not the best candidate for a retrospective or review. I’m not opposed to opinions of the games being voiced. But to not even have played the game through…

It is also interesting to note that fastbilly1 had a very high opinion of FFV but gave it the smallest treatment of all the 2D FFs. Nothing wrong with that, just interesting to me.

Wow, has Square ever lost focus since FFX. I think that game is the culmination of all things FF and since then they haven’t produced anything worth my time.

It’s too bad that Tactics has not had sequels made for home consoles (not counting FFXII). That was a great game.

fastbilly1 says:

The article was actually supposed to be about FF1, and only FF1, which is why the rambling part of FF1 is the most indepth. However when asking for help on the article from several different sources, they all stated I should expand it. Now I was actually planning on expanding it further into the other games, full writeups of each one, but being pressed on time and that it seems no one apart from Racket has even looked at them, well I really dont want to waste even more of my time. These retrospective pieces really were not the focus of my writing, which would explain why they are not even of decent quality.

Since writing those pieces I have finished FFIX and most of FFX, both fantastic games – which I do plan to update the writes ups. I do not hate 3d RPGs, I just found that on the whole the 3d Final Fantasy’s lost alot of the magic that the 2d ones had. They went from being fantastic adventures, to interactive movies – this is ofcourse oversimplifying it to get my point across. Which makes them good for different reasons. But I guess I am in the minority on this.

As for bad harddrives and memory cards, both that harddrive and memory card work today. I am typing from that harddrive and that is the same memory card I beat FFIX on recently. Besides no matter what was written about FFVII some people would come in saying it was not given enough credit, others would say that it is overrated. I really dont care to form an opinion on it based on my experiences, and I thought people would atleast get a laugh out of them – even if racket truncated them a bit.

All this and the fact that Gary Gygax wrote the introduction seems to be overlooked by everyone.

fastbilly1 says:

Actually if you would be kind enough to give us a proper writeup about the games that you feel were overlooked or poorly written about, we would gladly add it.

Ofcourse I am offering this without talking to anyone else, but I will get it done.

Mik says:

Since you technically HAVE purchased the game, I suppose it is relatively legal to download it. There have been several files going around (Final Fanstasy VII Ultimate or Ultima or something to that effect) on the internet that have all of the necessary fixes.

I too had some trouble running the game, and it wasn’t until somewhat recently that I was able to fully, properly finish it. I encourage you to research the available downloads–you won’t be disappointed.

fastbilly1 says:

I was actually planning on that after I finished off the three RPG’s I am currently working on: Mother, Shining Force 3 Scenario 1 (finally got a copy of it), and Fallout 2. Thank you for the idea, I will look into this Ultima version.

Ray says:

Loved this article. I didn’t really get into FF until VI, then I tried to go back and play V, loved it, but couldn’t get into IV or any older games. Played III on DS and didn’t see the intrigue.

Dave says:

Interesting read, but its a real shame you turned the FF7 bit into a personal bitching space 🙂
In the nicest possible way, it would have been better to have stuck to the games massive impact and what made it different. It totally ruined the flow of the article 🙁

Apart from that, good write up 🙂

ZexMarquies01 says:

i’d like to point out that the PSP’s ” Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions” is NOT a sequel, as you mentioned in the article. Its a Re-make.

And i’d like to make another little point. Maybe i’m just anal…but one should not review a game, based on the fact that their computer has crashed multiple times when trying to play it. Or the fact that you just couldn’t beat it for one reason or another. If you have not beaten a game, then you are not qualified to review it. I’m not talking about “YOU” as in the writer, but “YOU” as in general…any person making a review.

If you couldn’t get through FF7 for one reason or another, you should have had someone else you know whom has beaten the game write a small review on it instead.

As i said though…i’m anal about game reviews.

Though, good article. Though i may not agree with a few of the things you have said, still a good article, and a really good read!

Dado says:

Final Fantasy VIII was much better then the previous once, I played them all and well the difference in game design with the battle system was far more amusing in my opinion. The story it self was unique since I didn’t even consider such an ending and well the characters were amusing to some aspect. I guess it depends on how much you like certain perspectives of each game.

racketboy says:

I think Fastbilly1 and I have both learned not to do Anniversary pieces unless you do them well ahead of time.

This was a bit rushed on both the writing (fastbilly1) and editing (racketboy) part. It also started out as being way too ambitious instead of sticking with just the original game. We’ve been discussing how its turned out and we’ve learned some lessons. We’ll be getting back to solid stuff soon 🙂

Fapper12 says:

Interesting read, but did you see what they did on Gametrailers?

Its a full retrospective of the Final Fantasy series.

Aaron says:

Actually Gary Gygax is talking about CRPG’s, not JRPGS. Two _very_ different kettle’s of fish. And if as you say its supposed to be mostly about Final Fantasy I, you didnt credit Ultima enough. Without Ultima II+III there would be no FF1 or Dragon Warrior. FF1 + DW were nothing but clones and didnt find their feet until later on. I also dont think there is much to enjoy in FF1.

“Role-playing fans wanted it because it was the closest available to a real session you could have by yourself”

LOL! It was not even close to soloing Tunnels and Trolls or DnD. This statement is just ridiculous.

“and the manual got you through the first couple hours of the game – not to mention the awesome map/bestiary that was also packed in”

AKA This game is so crap we have to give you the dungeon maps and other crap to make it sell. (Still not a patch on Ultimas classic cloth maps).Where is the reward in giving you the maps to the dungeons?

The sad thing is, this came out in 87, and the world had already moved on (to levels like Dungeon Master, and in three months Ultima V).

Marurun says:

“and what made it different”

What really did make FFVII different? It’s not the first time a character, or love interest even, died in an RPG. It’s not the first use of animated cut scenes. The only real difference were the bigger budgets on CG and on advertising (provided by Sony, and arguably misleading). FFVII was really a mediocre JRPG in almost every mechanical and story aspect, unless angst is somehow revolutionary.

David says:

I was surprised to read, “Sakaguchi started work on his “final fantasy” (it is only a rumor that this is how the name came about, but it sounds so cool). ”

I have lived in Japan since 1988 and the FF franchise, being such a buisness success story, has been documented countless times on Japanese TV. I remember watching an interview with Sakaguchi around the time of FF7. He told the story of how they did not have any more money and the company was going to close. So they decided to make one last (final) fantasy.

So it’s not a rumor. The man himself said so.

robot2501 says:

Your review of this landmark series is quite weak. You gush praise over the first RPG like a old man reliving his childhood with nostalgia. Then as you “review” the next installments of the series your comments become shorter and shorter into an incoherence of trifle details and opinions of the games with no explanations. Perhaps the faults are not in the games themselves but of your expectations from them, especially compared against the “perfection” that was FFVI and FFI?

If anyone wants a real review of the Final Fantasy franchise: go to and watch their retrospective on it. That is what a true review should be.

Marurun says:

This review SHOULD gush all over the first one and focus on the early titles. The first game is the one that turned 20. I get the feeling some of you are younger gamers and don’t appreciate the earlier parts of the series.

racketboy says:

Yeah, that was kinda the intention.
Maybe I stuck too many screenshots in there and gave the wrong impression.

And yes, the GameTrailers Retrospective is excellent.

Nghia Doan says:

I think the difference in perspective is due to different generation. I am 31 years old and my first FF was FF VI or III in the US. I have played FFVII, FFIX, FFX, FFXII, and they just do not captivate me as much as it did with FFVI. To be fair, I didn’t finish any FF games after FFVI because I always lose interest after about ten hours, with the exception of FFVII, which I lost interest after disc 2. What captivate me most in an RPG is the story and simplicity of the mechanic of the game. I think people of the Playstation generation, i.e. FFVII, see FF in a different lime light. To each his own I guess. For me, no matter how flashy the graphic is, if it doesn’t have a well written story with characters that I cared about, I won’t be interested in the game for long. Please understand that I am not trying to diss any FF after VI because I am sure there are certain crowds that find each of them awesome. BTW, I find Chrono Trigger overrated and boring while others think it is godly, but that is another story for another day.

Hey fastbilly1, I’ve throughly enjoyed all of your contributions on the site so far (well done). But much like the other readers I was disappointed with this write up, I don’t think that you need me to say why.

In anycase I’m looking forward to your upcoming contributions. BTW if you haven’t already take a look at the GameTrailers Retrospective. I know that a few other people have already mentioned it but I think that you’d really enjoy it. Do it for me your #1 fan ^_^

DeathTrendSetta says:

what about Dirge of Cerberus. you toally shoulda thrown that in the spin offs, that games badass.

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