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Guided Tour: Final Fantasy

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FinalFantasy GuidedTour Header 770x200

Wikia hosts hundreds of thousands of informational wikis, in which over 72 million monthly visitors access. These Wikia communities contain a hotbed of information and experts on some amazing topics. When it comes to gaming RPGs, it's hard to avoid talking about Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy is perhaps the most cherished and celebrated game series in modern videogaming, and the numerous iterations have taken countless on the adventure of a lifetime. To the many who have played a Final Fantasy, it's difficult to deny the personal effect the game had on their gaming identity.

Let's take a look at the beloved Final Fantasy franchise.

History

In the late 1980s, the video game “Fighting Fantasy” was greenlit at Square under the planning of Hironobu Sakaguchi. On the professional side of things, Square didn’t think RPGs would sell very well and the company was facing potential bankruptcy. On Sakaguchi’s side, few wanted to work under him because he was considered a tough boss, and he was considering leaving the industry to go back to university if his project failed. The retitling of “Final Fantasy” reflected how much hope Sakaguchi and his superiors had in the game. It went on to sell 400,000 copies and was a moderate success overseas.

FF6

While Final Fantasy became a moderately successful series in Japan, many of the early titles were not localized and Western audiences were ignorant to the existence of half the series. Final Fantasy IV and VI were released in North America as Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III, the three skipped games being quietly omitted. It was not until the explosive popularity of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation that Square and Final Fantasy became RPG titans. The game won numerous awards and was the first Final Fantasy title officially released in Europe.

As the new millennium hit, the legacy of Final Fantasy reached out to the world. The original six games under their proper titles were released in North America and Europe in a series of collections and remakes for PlayStation, Gameboy Advance, DS and PSP. Numerous spin-off titles including the tactical RPG Final Fantasy Tactics, the expanded universe of Final Fantasy VII titled Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. The series also produced the feature-length film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which was a technical marvel but a box-office flop.

FF7

As Square merged with Enix to form Square-Enix in 2003, Final Fantasy continued to grow as a game franchise, introducing the first direct sequel to a title, Final Fantasy X-2, seeing an anniversary celebration of the series in the Dissidia subseries that united characters from across the series to do battle in a fighting game, and lending several character likenesses to the best-selling and critically acclaimed Kingdom Hearts series. Today, as fans look to the future of the series in Final Fantasy XV for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the franchise continues to draw in high sales, critical acclaim, and has a presence in all aspects of the modern gaming world, with all handhelds, home consoles, and even smartphones, being able to play a Final Fantasy game of some sort.

What makes Final Fantasy such a unique series is that contrary to the numerical naming, the “main series” of fourteen games are all self-contained. Each game is its own universe with a unique gameplay system, cast of characters, and world lore. The series relies more on recurring themes than continuing the same story over several games. The Job System allows players to customize their party in endless ways by switching jobs to learn new skills. Chocobos and Moogles pop up to aid the party and provide fans cute critters to fawn over. Mystical crystals that produce magical energy and decide the fate of the world drive the plot. Rebelling against fate, discovering who you really are, denouncing false and tyrannous gods, and finding love are all recurring aspects that help to thematically bind otherwise standalone titles.

FF10

As technology has progressed, so has the series. Each title, in its own ways, innovates and recreates what came before, making every game a new experience. Somewhat inevitably, this means the fanbase can be fractured when discussing which games are the best and which the worst, but this is part of the appeal. Final Fantasy has established such a diverse profile as a series that there is bound to be something for everyone. There are first-person action-adventures, tactical RPGs, fighting games, rhythm games, and MMOs. There are stories focusing on romantic love, on finding your path in life, on family, on friendship, on destiny. No matter what one’s preferences for storytelling, there is almost certainly a Final Fantasy title that can speak to them.

The series' name has become something of a joke now. The game that was thought to be the final product of an obscure game developer has made them a powerhouse company today. Nothing has been “final” with Final Fantasy, because the series is constantly shifting and evolving. As new titles dominate home consoles, older titles like the first six Final Fantasy games, and series crossovers like Dissidia and Theatrhythm, are re-released for handhelds. Games from the series are regular fixtures on Top Video Game lists by major video game magazines and publishers, and a precious few have been pointed to as among the greatest games of all time. Final Fantasy has established a proud legacy in the minds of gamers worldwide that is only rivaled by a handful of other franchises for its scope and success. And in eternal defiance of its name, the series will surely continue to be the fantasy of choice for gamers for years to come. (Written by Drake-Clawfag)

Drake header The Super NES era of Final Fantasy would take the series from its obscure roots to the gaming powerhouse it is today. Final Fantasies IV, V and VI would take the simple stories and battle systems of the NES era and turn them into compelling epics with developed, memorable characters and complex gameplay systems. The three titles are pointed to regularly as among the best games of the Super NES, and rightfully so.

Final Fantasy IV had graphics that simply were not possible on the NES, and had a much deeper story than what came before. In the first three games, players commanded blank slates as party members with abilities they could customize freely. Starting with IV, the party consisted of a dozen different characters who came and went as their paths diverged from the main hero’s, and everyone had their own unique skillset so players had to adjust their strategies as the line-up changed. The story was grand and theatrical, a tale of a warlock from the moon who wished to eradicate humanity so his people could inherit the Earth for themselves. But this was only the beginning.

Final Fantasy V took the simple Job System of the first and third games and made it a masterpiece of gaming, giving the four party members over 20 jobs, each with its own abilities and equipment, and allowed players to freely change between jobs in order to mix and match their strengths, making their party as unique and diverse as they wished, while also continuing to tell an epic story of two worlds split apart to seal away a great evil, until now a force arrives wishing to unite the worlds and unleash that evil upon them both.

Final Fantasy VI would end the franchise’s days on Nintendo home consoles by topping all that had come before. The player now could choose from 14 party members, again each with their own skills, to form their own party for different legs of the game, and told a grand story. Summoned Monsters became central to the plot as beings of magical energy the villains sought to drain power from. In one of the most foreboding moments of the series up to that point, the villain "wins" and splits the world asunder with an apocalyptic continental shift, leaving the party members to reunite a year later in order to defeat him and set things right.

The Super NES era also saw a black sheep of the family enter the franchise, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. A simpler NES-style RPG taking action cues from the Zelda series, it was intended as a sort of “gateway game” for players unfamiliar with the complexities of RPGs to ease into the genre. Though receiving a mixed reception, it enjoys a small fanbase of its own. The foundations for the legacy of the franchise were built on its Super NES titles. While it would be the Playstation era that made the series famous, the roots of those titles can be found here as the series begins to grow beyond its simple NES-era stories and gameplay and truly establish itself as its own franchise.

Drake recs



Tia header

The first Final Fantasy I played was the seventh. Though now considered by many an overrated game, Final Fantasy VII is a great source of memories for me and a game I have continued to enjoy twelve years on from my first foray into the J-RPG genre. I firmly believe that, without Final Fantasy VII, the series would not be what it is today; it really set the bar for fascinating adventures, the exploration of love and relationships, and the clear divide between good and evil. Its legacy has carried on steadily since its 1997 release and it doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon.

Final Fantasy VIII is a beautiful, slowly emerging love story in the midst of a raging war between past, present and future. Relatable through its mix of young characters from all walks of life, they constantly evolve and discover much about themselves that they didn't find possible, forming an unbreakable bond with their friends through these discoveries. Eventually, with it all coming down to fighting against that which they once loved and admired, and exposing obsession, possession and forgotten pasts, Final Fantasy VIII is a fast-paced story, laced with pain and ultimately providing an emotional rollercoaster for all.

Final Fantasy IX has always been hugely popular within FFWiki's community. A throwback to the classic themes and imagery- such as castles, princesses and crystals- that originally made the series famous, the game is littered with references, intertextuality and designed in a sweet, almost childish style reminiscent of a cartoon. With thoroughly likeable characters and such issues addressed as war, betrayal and shocking revelations of how the world came to be, I am always drawn back to this game to immerse myself in a loving slice of history once again.

Tia recs



Kaimi headerv2

The mainstream single-player games for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 consoles consist of five titles: Final Fantasy X, its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XIII, and its sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2. The story of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 happens in a fictional world of Spira which under a constant threat of being destroyed. The first game centers around a young man named Tidus who arrives to Spira without any knowledge of that world.

He later develops feelings for a young summoner, Yuna, who is willing to do anything in order to save Spira. Final Fantasy X-2 continues the story of Final Fantasy X, now starring Yuna two years after the events of the previous game. Final Fantasy XII is a story about an orphaned boy named Vaan and a valiant princess named Ashe whose paths intersect and lead them across a land ruled by Occuria, mysterious beings who control Ivalice, and Lord Vayne who wishes to cut their ties to the world. Final Fantasy XIII tells a story of a woman from the world of Cocoon who goes by the moniker 'Lightning' and fights against the cruel fate of a l'Cie which was branded on her and her friends by a fal'Cie from the world beneath, Pulse. Final Fantasy XIII-2 tells the story of how Lightning's actions influenced the timeline of the world and a mysterious man named Caius who wants to create a timeless world in order to save a woman whose constant changes in the timeline kill her various incarnations.

Final Fantasy X is one of my first Final Fantasy games and I have some fond memories of it, like Yuna and her behavior despite the sad fate of a summoner's path she took on, the world of Spira which, despite the constant fear of Sin, is full of mysterious things like Hypello, pyreflies, and ancient machina. Yuna had some part of shaping my personality in a good way and I'm happy about that.

I was under great impression when playing Final Fantasy XIII: the playable cast along with Serah was a very vivid set of characters that I fell in love with, especially Oerba Dia Vanille, a l'Cie from the hated world beneath, Pulse. While most people dislike Vanille, usually because of her squeaky voice, I didn't find it 'disturbing' as some would say. In my eyes, Vanille had the most influence over the story of Final Fantasy XIII which I enjoyed very much, but she also influenced me in a positive way, definitely a good symptom.

I recommend these two games to people who like strong stories and characters, and don't mind linear gameplay.

Kaimi recs



Spira header

If there is one thing about the Final Fantasy series that has caused much division among its players, it is the fact that FFXI and FFXIV are MMORPGs. Many series fans have never touched the online titles, likely because a huge difference exists between MMORPGs and offline RPGs. But from this distinction comes the claim by FF fans that online FFs are not “real numbered FFs” in the series franchise.

Yet the success of the MMORPGs is unprecedented. FFXI has seen 5 expansion packs in the past 11 years, with one as recent as May, and holds the record for the most profitable FF title of all time. And although FFXIV got off to a rocky start in 2010, its recent relaunch has already garnered over 1.5 million players in less than 3 months.

While both are MMORPGs, FFXI and FFXIV are vastly different from each other. FFXI is what one might call an old-school MMORPG, requiring more time and effort, whereas FFXIV is modeled after the new generation of MMORPGs (from the post-WoW era), which are generally more friendly to casual players. At present, it would seem like FFXI is the stronger game, given its track record of success, but FFXIV is still young and has the potential to surpass FFXI – its subscription count is already thrice of what FFXI’s was at its peak.

As with any FF, the online games are filled with nostalgic references to earlier games for series fans to enjoy, but it simply isn’t enough to throw in a bunch of chocobos, jobs and crystals to call an MMORPG a Final Fantasy game. The online experience has all the elements that make a great Final Fantasy - enjoyable gameplay, a captivating story, breath-taking graphics, memorable soundtrack, and one more special thing - a sense of community.

Considering the distinct way that all FFs are designed, this social aspect is the only true difference that sets the online FFs apart. Being able to interact with fellow players in-game, to team up to battle a notorious monster, craft items or simply to hang out and do some fishing - there is always an experience to share with your friends online. And with the continual release of content, one never runs out of things to do.

Over the years, it is this sense of community that has proven the strongest at keeping people together and playing. And the same can be said of the communities of Final Fantasy fans who group together because of their beloved franchise. Truly, the MMORPGs in the FF series are not so different after all, and I strongly suggest giving them a try before deciding they are not “real numbered FFs”, because they really are true to the series.

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