- "After switching over to the Famicom, there was a time when I wasn't happy with anything I was creating. I thought of retiring from the game industry and I created Final Fantasy as my final project. That's why the title includes the word 'final' but for me, the title 'Final Fantasy' reflects my emotional state at the time and the feeling that time had stopped. They say that technologically, it's good to keep going, and each time, we give it our all and expend our skills and energy until we can go no further; this is what I consider to be the "final fantasy"."
- —Hironobu Sakaguchi
Final Fantasy (ファイナルファンタジー, Fainaru Fantajī?) is a popular series of role-playing games produced by Square Enix (originally Square Co., Ltd.). It may be the most widely distributed game series of all time, including both standard console games and portable games, two massively multiplayer online role-playing games, games for mobile phones, two CGI films (one being original, the other being being a sequel to Final Fantasy VII), and two anime series.
The first installment of the series premiered in Japan in 1987, and Final Fantasy games have subsequently been localized for markets in North America, Europe and Australia, on several modern video game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System, the MSX 2, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sony PlayStation, the PC, the WonderSwan Color, the Sony PlayStation 2, IBM PC compatible, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo DS, as well as several different models of mobile phones. It is Square Enix's most successful franchise, having sold over 100 million units worldwide as of June 7, 2011.
As of 2012, fourteen games have been released as part of the main (numbered) series, but in total the Final Fantasy series includes numerous spin-offs, sequels, and subseries. It currently ranks as the second-best selling RPG series ever, and the ninth-best selling video game series in the world.
Square Co., Ltd. first entered the Japanese video game industry in the mid 1980s, developing a variety of simple RPGs for Nintendo's Famicom Disk System (FDS), a disk-based peripheral for the Family Computer (also known as the "Famicom," and known internationally as the Nintendo Entertainment System). By 1987, declining interest in the FDS had placed Square on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. At approximately the same time, Square designer Hironobu Sakaguchi began working on an ambitious new fantasy role playing game for the cartridge-based Famicom, inspired in part by Enix's popular Dragon Quest (originally known in the United States as Dragon Warrior). Recognizing that the project could very well turn out to be Square's last game, the project was titled Final Fantasy. Far from being Square's last installment, however, Final Fantasy reversed Square's lagging fortunes, and became Square's flagship franchise.
Following the success of the first game, Square quickly began work on a sequel. Unlike a typical sequel, Final Fantasy II featured entirely different characters, with a setting and story bearing only thematic similarities to its predecessor. This unusual approach to sequels has continued throughout the series, with each major Final Fantasy game introducing a new world, and a new system of gameplay. Many elements and themes would recur throughout the series, but there would be no direct game sequels until the release of Final Fantasy X-2 in 2003, though Final Fantasy V received an anime sequel prior to this. After the merge with Enix, however, real game sequels have become increasingly prevalent. In a way, the Final Fantasy franchise has been a creative showcase for Square's developers, and many elements originally introduced in the series have made their way into Square's other titles, most notably two of its other major franchises, SaGa and Seiken Densetsu.
Dualism and CyclesEdit
- "We all of us bear a touch of darkness, just as surely as we bear light. Much as with the twin sets of Crystals. And the darkened underworld that rests beneath your planet's brighter surface. But as long as there is darkness, so will there always be light."
Dualism appears to be a strong theme in many Final Fantasy games. This dualism is expressed in a variety of ways, including two worlds, two different heroes/heroines, or most commonly, dualism between antagonist and protagonist. Most often this dualism is thrown out of balance by outside forces, forcing the protagonists to restore balance. Sometimes, the final villain is a being who wishes to return all things to nothingness, and restore balance in the most extreme way possible.
A theme that is heavy in several Final Fantasy games is that evil cannot be entirely destroyed, only subdued or marginalized, and thus the balance between good and evil, light and dark, can and must always exist. Later Final Fantasy games also shifted to allude to some sort of cycle that was nearing completion, and some games also demonstrate a conflict between nature and mankind which must be settled.
In Final Fantasy, the villain Garland creates a time loop. Garland makes a pact to live forever by having the Fiends of Chaos summon him 2000 years in the past when he is defeated by the Light Warriors. There, Garland sends the Fiends of Chaos to the present, continuing the loop. When the Light Warriors travel back in time, they kill the Fiends and confront Garland, who transforms into Chaos and is defeated. This act ultimately breaks the time loop.
In Final Fantasy II, The Emperor's dark side goes to Hell when he is killed and takes it over, raising its capital, Pandaemonium, to Earth. As well, the Emperor's light side ascends to Heaven and enters Arubboth, Capital of Heaven. Firion and his allies kill the Dark Emperor, while Minwu and the spirits of other dead characters kill the Light Emperor, ensuring the Emperor is destroyed and gone for good.
In Final Fantasy III, there is a world of light and a world of darkness. Each world also has a group of heroes arise to save their world from being consumed by the opposing property. When Xande drains the Crystals of their power, he creates an imbalance between light and darkness. This causes the Cloud of Darkness to appear to return the universe to a state of nothingness. The Warriors of Light attempt to stop her, but are defeated. However, through the aid of the Warriors of the Dark, the Warriors of Light are able to overcome her and destroy her.
In Final Fantasy IV, there is the Blue Planet, which has two parallels; the Red Moon, and the Underworld. The surface world has four Crystals of Light, and the Underworld has four Crystals of Darkness. The Red Moon also has eight Crystals, four each of Light and Darkness. Cecil Harvey is a Dark Knight who becomes a Paladin by receiving the light-aligned power of his father Kluya. Golbez, Cecil's older brother, is aligned with darkness and uses powerful black magic to collect all eight Crystals in his quest for power. In the game's finale, Golbez uses a Crystal to attempt to subdue Zeromus, but fails as his heart is tainted with darkness. He thus passes the Crystal to Cecil, who uses his light to render Zeromus vulnerable and defeat him.
In Final Fantasy V, the world was split in two to contain the power of the Void. Each world has a set of four Crystals which are key to maintaining the worlds. When the warlock Exdeath escapes from his sealing, he destroys the Crystals, forcing the two worlds back together and unleashing the Void. The two generations of the Warriors of Dawn combine their powers to destroy Exdeath and recreate the Crystals.
In Final Fantasy VI, the War of the Magi 1000 years prior nearly destroyed the world. This conflict was caused by a war between Espers and humans. In the present, the Gestahlian Empire is seeking Espers to take over the world, leading to the possibility of the destruction of the world. The protagonist Terra Branford is a hybrid of an Esper and a human and represents the hope that the two races could co-exist. Terra fights to defend the hopes of the orphans of Mobliz, who have given her life meaning. The antagonist Kefka Palazzo is an experimental Magitek Knight driven insane and power-hungry, who believes life is meaningless and that love and hope are illusions.
In Final Fantasy VII the conflict between light and darkness is replaced by a conflict between nature and humanity, and science and magic. Sephiroth, representing the power of science as a genetic experiment of the Shinra Electric Power Company, uses the Black Materia to summon Meteor to ravage the planet. Aeris Gainsborough, last of the magical Cetra, uses the White Materia to summon Holy which can stop Meteor. The dualism between Aeris and Sephiroth is clarified in The Reunion Files, where Tetsuya Nomura states "as long as Sephiroth exists, Aerith must exist". The Lifestream also serves as a cycle, as all living things, even plants, have spirit energy that comes from the planet. When someone dies, their spirit energy returns to the planet and their knowledge joins the collective. The Shinra are draining this spirit energy to produce Mako, and spirit energy is also the basis for the creation of Materia.
In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall Leonhart is opposed by his arch-rival Seifer Almasy. Squall wears a black jacket and pants while Seifer's are white in color, and the two use Gunblades to battle, each having their own preferred model and fighting style. It is also revealed that the Sorceresses Ultimecia and Edea Kramer are part of a time loop. Defeated in the process of casting Time Compression to merge all times into one, Ultimecia and Squall emerge several years in the past, where a younger Edea absorbs Ultimecia's Sorceress Power. This sets in motion the events that lead to the creation of SeeD, Ultimecia's possession of Edea, and Squall's fight against her. Because of this time loop, it is possible that Ultimecia's Sorceress Power, paradoxically, is her own power passed down to her from Edea through generations.
In Final Fantasy IX, there are two worlds - Gaia and Terra. The Terran world was destroyed many centuries before the game began, so the Terran people attempted to assimilate Gaia by sealing themselves in sleep and gradually replacing the souls of Gaia with those of Terra's. To assist them, the villain Kuja was created as an "Angel of Death" to encourage death and war on Gaia and speed up the process. Later, a second Angel Zidane Tribal was created, the game's main protagonist.
In Final Fantasy X, the monster Sin was created by Yu Yevon to destroy any machine-based settlement that grew too large. However, a Summoner is able to appease Sin and hold off this destruction by using their Final Aeon to destroy Sin. But when this happens, the spirit of Yu Yevon within Sin possess that Aeon, transforming it into a new Sin and continuing an endless cycle. By destroying Yu Yevon himself, Tidus and the Summoner Yuna are able to end the cycle and destroy Sin for good. However, in the process, the world that has been dreamed up by Yuna's aeons is destroyed, causing Tidus to disappear.
In Final Fantasy X-2, the concept of dualism is present in the form of Yuna and Shuyin: Yuna is a human seeking for her lost lover while also being a witness of new Spira rising, Shuyin is an unsent wishing to destroy Spira as his grief and anger to avenge his lover's death.
In Final Fantasy XI, the enlightened races – those races believed to have been created by Altana, the Dawn Goddess, a good deity – face off against the hordes of beastmen – races created by Promathia, the Twilight God, who is twisted and evil – on Vana'diel.
Final Fantasy XII represents the conflict between despotism and self-management in two aspects: the main characters witness the rise of the Archadian Empire and its conquering of the Kingdom of Dalmasca, and sequentially ally themselves with the Resistance force against Archadia. The main antagonists' motifs are also to free mankind from the divine control of the undying Occuria, who have fiercely intervened in the history of mankind, and give mankind their own means, which are comparable to the gods', to craft its future. In the end of Final Fantasy XII, both these goals are achieved by the heroes.
In Final Fantasy XIII, the two lands of floating Cocoon and the lowerlands of Gran Pulse, two separate worlds that both view the other as corrupt or evil plays on the dualist theme. Additionally the roles of fal'Cie and humanity on each world is also reversed in that on Cocoon, humanity relies upon the fal'Cie for survival, while on Pulse the fal'Cie are almost indifferent.
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, there are still two worlds, but with a different dualism approach: the passage of time. While Gran Pulse and Cocoon are in constant move with time paradox appearing within their timelines, Valhalla is a place where past, present, and future intersect, meaning that time doesn't flow there "as it should". Another, plainer example of dualism are the characters Lightning and Caius, whose goals are complete opposites: Lightning wants to save the goddess Etro and protect the world, while Caius wants to kill Etro and trigger the apocalypse.
In Final Fantasy XIV, the world of Hydaelyn has constantly undergone periods of abundance, known as Astral Eras, followed by catastrophes that bring scarcity and can destroy entire civilizations. These are known as the Umbral Eras. Currently, Hydaelyn is approaching its Seventh Umbral Era.
The theme of rebellion is also relevant in Final Fantasy games. In almost all Final Fantasy games, there is a higher power of sorts, whether it be a rising empire, a government, a deity or group of deities, a monstrous being, or even a company that is oppressing, dictating, conquering, or exterminating the populace. The various heroes of the Final Fantasy series take it upon themselves to defeat the evil power and save their respective worlds. In their journey to vanquish these forces, the threat escalates, and they end up fighting against beings so powerful that sometimes, they are almost god-like.
Though each Final Fantasy story is independent, many themes and elements of gameplay recur throughout the series. From the strong influence of history, literature, religion and mythology on the story to the frequent reappearance of certain monsters and items, these shared elements provide a unifying framework to the series.
Some key objects and concepts that have appeared in more than one Final Fantasy game include:
- Airships - Powerful airborne vessels which usually serve as a primary mode of transportation for the player. In many games, most notably Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IX, the presence of airships is a key component to the story itself. In most of the titles, airships generally had the appearance of flying sailing ships with a series of propellers instead of sails. However, in some of the later games they look more technological.
- Job System - Playable character classes have included the Warrior; White, Black, Red, and Blue Mages; Monk; Thief; and Mime. Even in games where the player is not given the choice of choosing class alignment, these classes often play an important background role in the story. Additionally, several installments in the series (Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V, and Final Fantasy Tactics) have utilized a "Job" system wherein the player is able to switch character classes in between battles. In Final Fantasy X-2, the "Dressphere" system actually allowed a player to switch a character's job during the middle of a fight. In addition to this, certain recurring "Legendary Weapons" may be granted to certain classes, such as the sword Excalibur for the Warrior, or the Black Mage's Flare spell.
- Magical styles - Magic in the Final Fantasy series is generally divided into different schools, which are usually named after a specific color. White Magic and Black Magic represent healing/support and attack magic, respectively, while Red Magic incorporates elements of both healing and attack magic, at reduced effectiveness. Later additions have included Blue Magic (sometimes referred to as Lore or Enemy Skill), which incorporates specific special attacks learned from monsters, and Time Magic, Green Magick and Arcane Magick, which contain status-affecting spells.
- Status ailments - and cures Characters in Final Fantasy games are usually subject to a number of standard "status ailments" which cause deleterious effects, including silence, poison, petrification and confusion. While these are present in many console RPGs, Final Fantasy also has a standard list of items which may be used to cure specific ailments (for example, "Echo Herbs" cure Silence, and "Gold Needle" cures petrification, as well as magical spells, such as Esuna or Poisona).
- Creatures/monsters - Fictional creatures such as chocobos and Moogles have appeared in most games in the series. Certain monsters also reappear frequently, including Goblins, Tonberries and Cactuars. Lastly, summoned monsters (also known as Espers, Guardian Forces, Eidolons, or Aeons) such as Bahamut, Shiva, Ifrit, Leviathan and Ramuh have appeared in almost every title in the series.
- Character names - A character named "Cid" has been present in every Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy II (while Cid is mentioned in the remakes of the original Final Fantasy). Although he is never the same individual, he is usually presented as an owner, creator, and/or pilot of airships. The motion picture Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within also featured a character named "Sid," presumably an alternate spelling of the more traditional "Cid." In a similar vein, characters named Biggs and Wedge (homages to the Star Wars characters, Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles) have appeared in Final Fantasy VI to Final Fantasy X (excluding Final Fantasy IX, and with the loose anagrams of "Gibbs" and "Deweg" appearing in Final Fantasy XII). The character Sarah has also appeared in various games as well.
- Plot elements - Many entries in the Final Fantasy series involve broadly similar plot points, such as rebellion against a major economic, political, or religious power, or a struggle against an evil which threatens to overtake or destroy the world. One of the most famous of such recurring themes involves elemental Crystals, which have appeared in all the titles of the main series, as well as in several spin-off titles (Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles).
- The Moon - Moons play a significant role in the plot of several installments: Final Fantasy IV (Red Moon), Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (True Moon), Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals (Black Moon), Final Fantasy VIII (Moon), Final Fantasy IX (Twin Moons), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (Crimson Moon). Final Fantasy X's Yuna's name also literally translates to "moon" in the Okinawan dialect.
- Meteors - In addition to being a regular spell, Meteors play a significant role in the plots of Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
- Religion - Religion, divinities, theologies, and their related philosophies play an important part in the Final Fantasy series, where they play roles in human nature, the source of magic, society, and the importance of balance in existence and even to the fabric of time and space itself.
Ever since Final Fantasy V, the endings of the Final Fantasy titles have become famous for repeatedly involving fake deaths of playable or supporting characters, which occur either in the ending sequence or right before the final battle, and are reverted either by the time the credits roll or in the post-credits cutscene.
- In Final Fantasy V, party members that are dead (if any) when Neo Exdeath is defeated stay dead during the ending, until the very end when they come back and explain the crystals have returned them to life.
- In Final Fantasy VI, Terra is briefly assumed to be dying when magic disappears from the world. She falls from the sky in her Esper form, but is then seen alive in her human form.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the whole human race is threatened by Meteorfall and the Lifestream surge, and their fate is unclear, until the post-credit sequence which reveals that Red XIII, at least, survived. The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII also confirms that the humans survived.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall appears to be trapped in the dimensional limbo, until Rinoa uses her power to save him.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Zidane is believed to have died when the Iifa roots collapse on him and Kuja, but he returns later in the ending sequence.
- In Final Fantasy X, it is assumed Tidus dies when the dream of the Fayth comes to an end, but the post-credits cutscene depicts him waking up in the ocean and swimming back to the surface. The perfect ending in Final Fantasy X-2 expands on this event.
- In Final Fantasy XI, it is assumed Lion dies when she sacrifices herself to save Vana'diel from Eald'narche during Rise of the Zilart, but Chains of Promathia reveals that she survived. In Wings of the Goddess, Lilisette temporarily vanishes until the player gathers memories of her from other people to reestablish her existence before the final battle. Shortly after, she leaves the player's timeline to take Lilith's place in the true timeline.
- In Final Fantasy XII, it is assumed Balthier and Fran die in the explosion of the Sky Fortress Bahamut, but a letter from them to Ashe and Vaan at the very end of the ending sequence reveals that they survived.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, it is assumed Vanille and Fang die when they transform into Ragnarok to prevent Cocoon from crashing on Pulse, but their disembodied voices reveal that their consciousness still exists and that they will return when Pulse needs them. Final Fantasy XIII-2 further expands how they have survived.
- In Final Fantasy XIII-2, when Chaos consumes the world, the fate of existence is unclear. However, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII confirms that humanity survived.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, it assumed that Ramza and Alma die in the explosion of Muronde Dead City, but Olan and the 3D sequence reveals that they survived and live away from civilization with their chocobos.
- In Dissidia Final Fantasy, it is assumed Cosmos died but the secret ending reveals that she either survived or was resurrected by Cid of the Lufaine.
However, how some games are notable in that they do involve a final death that isn't reversed. For example:
- In the ending of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Gray's sacrifice to distribute the spirit wave is not reverted in any way, leaving Aki victorious in her mission to save Earth but at the cost of her lover.
- In Final Fantasy XIII-2, despite the fact that humanity survives Etro's death, Serah's imminent death following her arrival, due to her having a fatal vision, is final, confirmed when Lightning meets Serah's spirit while fighting Caius in Valhalla, who reveals that she doesn't mind that she is now dead - so long as Lightning remembers her.
- In Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, when Lightning, Yuna, Tifa, Kain, Laguna and Vaan sacrifice themselves to stop the manikins, they are shown vanishing and do not appear in the 13th cycle of warfare, confirming that they died. It is also revealed that Prishe 'died', when Cosmos was killed in a previous cycle, by not being revived into the next cycle.
Artistic design, including character and monster design work, was handled by renowned Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano from Final Fantasy through Final Fantasy VI. Following Amano's departure, he was replaced with Tetsuya Nomura, who continued to work with the series through Final Fantasy X, with the exception of Final Fantasy IX, where character design was handled by Shukou Murase, Toshiyuki Itahana and Shin Nagasawa. Akihiko Yoshida, who served as character designer for the spinoff title Final Fantasy Tactics, as well as the Square-produced Vagrant Story, also was the designer of the main series title Final Fantasy XII.
In October 2003, Kazushige Nojima, the series' principle scenario writer, resigned from Square Enix to form his own company, Stellavista, Ltd. He partially or completely wrote the stories for Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X, and Final Fantasy X-2. Square Enix continues to outsource story and scenario work to Nojima and Stellavista, Ltd.
Nobuo Uematsu was the chief music composer of the Final Fantasy series until his resignation from Square Enix in November 2004. His music has played a large part in the popularity of the Final Fantasy franchise abroad. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, the American synchronized swimming duo consisting of Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova were awarded the bronze medal for their performance to music from Final Fantasy VIII. Uematsu is also involved with the rock group The Black Mages, which has released three albums of arranged Final Fantasy tunes. Other composers who have contributed to the series include Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano.
There have already been two successful runs of Final Fantasy concerts in Japan as of 2004. Final Fantasy soundtracks and sheet music are also increasingly popular amongst non-Japanese Final Fantasy fans and have even been performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
On November 17, 2003, Square Enix U.S.A. launched an America Online radio station dedicated to music from the Final Fantasy series, initially carrying complete tracks from Final Fantasy XI in addition to samplings from Final Fantasy VII through Final Fantasy X. Many video game and MIDI web sites offer renditions of Final Fantasy musical pieces.
Due to overwhelming demand, and the overwhelming success of the first Final Fantasy concert performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on May 10, 2004, the Dear Friends -Music from Final Fantasy- concert tour was established, starting February 2005. Music from Final Fantasy was first performed outside of Japan as a part of the Symphonic Game Music Concert series in Germany. The Final Fantasy soundtracks have also joined the catalogue of the iTunes Music Store.
While the music in the games offers wide variety, there are some frequently reused themes. The games often open with a piece called Prelude, which is actually based on one of Bach's preludes. It is a simple arpeggio theme in the early games, with further melody parts added in later games. The battle sequences that end in victory for the player in the first ten installments of the series would be accompanied by a victory fanfare that used the same nine-note sequence to begin the fanfare, and it has become one of the most recognized pieces of music relating to the Final Fantasy series.
Other memorable tunes include the Chocobo's theme, the Moogle's theme, and a piece originally called Ahead On Our Way in the original Final Fantasy, which was in fact the opening theme and which is now usually played during the ending credits of the game and called "Prologue".
|Final Fantasy VI's Victory Fanfare.|
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|Final Fantasy's Main Theme.|
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Graphics and technologyEdit
The 8-bit and 16-bit generationsEdit
Final Fantasy began on the Nintendo Family Computer (also known as the "Famicom", and known internationally as the Nintendo Entertainment System) as Final Fantasy in 1987, and was joined by two sequels, Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III, the latter two of which were only released in Japan initially (remakes have since introduced them to the international market). On the main world screen, small sprite representations of the leading party member were displayed because of graphical limitations, while in battle screens, more detailed, full versions of all characters would appear in a side view perspective.
The same basic system was used in the next three games, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V, and Final Fantasy VI, for the Super Famicom (known internationally as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System). These games utilized updated graphics and effects, as well as higher quality music and sound than in previous games, but were otherwise similar to their predecessors in basic design.
The text of the Japanese language versions of early Final Fantasy games was comprised purely of kana. Much of the dialogue was simply clumps of text, making it especially hard for older gamers and foreigners learning Japanese. Finally, in Final Fantasy V, the games began to use kanji. This would continue to get more advanced in Final Fantasy VI, and the trend would continue to make the games much more erudite.
1997 saw the release of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation and not Nintendo 64 as originally anticipated. The characters and entire game world were now 3-dimensional, with fully pre-rendered backgrounds. Final Fantasy VII was also the first Final Fantasy game to use full motion video sequences, part of the reason why the game spanned a full three CD-ROMs. However, Final Fantasy VII's FMVs often lacked consistency, with characters appearing tiny and very indistinct in one scene, and extremely detailed in the next. Also, note that Square was forced to sign an exclusivity contract with Sony, forcing them to publish all future games for the PlayStation series to gain access to the PlayStation, leading games for other consoles such as Crystal Chronicles (which was on the Nintendo GameCube) to be released indirectly. Final Fantasy VII was also the first game to composite 3D models over FMV sequences with gaining the Tiny Bronco, the raid on Midgar, and other scenes.
Released shortly after Final Fantasy VII, the spinoff title Final Fantasy Tactics once again utilized sprites for the characters. As the only real user interaction outside of battle was menu-driven, the developers saw no need for fully 3D-rendered overhead graphics.
Starting with Final Fantasy VIII, the series adopted a more photo-realistic look. The full motion video sequences often utilized a display technique similar to what Final Fantasy VII pioneered wherein video would play in the background while the polygonal characters would be composited on top, taking it to a new technical level by allowing player control over movement while the scene was in motion.
Final Fantasy IX returned briefly to the more stylized design of earlier games in the series, but maintained most of the graphical techniques utilized in the previous two games in the series.
Sixth generation of consolesEdit
Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII were released on the PlayStation 2 and made use of the much more powerful hardware to render certain cutscenes in real-time, rather than displayed in pre-rendered video.
Final Fantasy X features innovations in the rendering of characters' facial expressions, achieved through motion capture and skeletal animation technology. It was the first game in the series to use voice-overs to any degree. Final Fantasy X-2 utilized the same game engine as Final Fantasy X and was aesthetically quite similar. Final Fantasy XII used only half as many polygons as Final Fantasy X in exchange for more advanced textures and lighting.
Both Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII used a completely different style of combat and revolutionized the series with their advanced graphics, the latter emphasizing finer details in its art and style.
Square Enix also began releasing several titles for Nintendo platforms. Among these are Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the Nintendo GameCube, the first title of a new subseries exclusive to Nintendo platforms, and the Finest Fantasy for Advance series for the Game Boy Advance.
Seventh generation of consolesEdit
The latest project for the series is called Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy and it includes five new games: Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Type-0, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
Final Fantasy XIV, already released on PC, is an MMORPG in the vein of XI that was expected to be released for the PS3 in March 2011. This has been delayed to give time for the development team to polish up the game. Ideas for Final Fantasy XV and are currently being discussed at Square Enix.
During Tokyo Game Show 2011, it was announced that Final Fantasy X will receive a High Definition port as one of game's tenth anniversary goodies.
Eighth generation of consolesEdit
An unnamed Final Fantasy has been announced by Square Enix during Sony's PlayStation 4 announcement event.
The games typically have several types of screens, or modes of interaction, broadly categorized as:
- Field screens - These are where the main interaction and dialogue between the characters occurs, and indeed most of the exploration of the world occurs on these screens. Final Fantasy VII marked the point that Final Fantasy would have realistic computer graphics, while Dragon Warrior stayed with cel-shaded graphics. Prior to Final Fantasy VII, they were pseudo-orthographic, using a simple 2D engine. Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy IX used pre-rendered and pre-painted backgrounds over which 3D models were overlaid. Final Fantasy X used a completely 3D field screen system, which allowed the camera angle to change as the characters moved about.
- Battle screens - Battles occur on a separate type of screen (or arena), usually with a change of scale and a backdrop that generically represents where the battle is occurring in the game. For example, a random battle in a desert gets a desert backdrop. Plot-relevant battles (as opposed to battling random monsters) may have a unique battle screen, however. In Final Fantasy VII and later, these screens are fully 3D and use higher-resolution versions of the characters, but are very restricted in size. Final Fantasy XII did away with "scene-battles" and battle sequences occur on the main field screen.
- World Map - A low-scale screen used to symbolize traveling great distances in times that would otherwise slow the game down unacceptably plot-wise. These are usually not scaled, as a character may appear the size of a small mountain. Relatively little plot occurs here, though there are exceptions. The world screen was eliminated in Final Fantasy X, as travel to different areas in the game via airship is opened up late in the game, where the map allows the player to simply select a location from a list to travel there.
- Cutscenes - These scenes are non-interactive playback that usually advances the plot. They can either be pre-rendered (video FMV), or they can be executed within the same engine as the field screens. In some cases, pre-rendered video was overlaid with real-time rendered field screen graphics.
- Menu screen - This screen is used for navigating your party's status, equipment, magic, etc. This screen is usually a very simple blue table layout with a gloved pointing hand to select one's options. In some games, the option to change the color or texture of the tables is given.
- Minigames - The games often feature various minigames with their own graphical engines. These sequences provide variation of play and are often much more arcade-like than the main gameplay. Card games in particular are a recurring form of this, while other games are more sport-like such as snowboarding and Blitzball.
- Main article: Battle
Final Fantasy borrowed many gameplay elements from its primary rival, the Dragon Quest franchise. As such, Final Fantasy uses a menu-driven, third-person, turn-based battle system. Most games in the series utilize an experience level system for character advancement (although Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy X, and Final Fantasy XIII do not), and a point-based system for casting magical spells (though Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy XIII all feature different approaches). Most games in the series (from Final Fantasy III and on) feature a variety of "special commands," over and beyond the traditional "Attack," "Defend," "Cast Magic," and "Run" battle commands, such as the ability to steal items from enemies, or performing a leap attack. Often these special attacks are integrated into the job system, which has appeared in several games in the series and spinoffs (Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy X-2).
Final Fantasy through Final Fantasy III all featured a traditional turn-based battle system. The player would input all battle commands at the beginning of each combat round, which would then be carried out based on the speed rating of each character. Starting with Final Fantasy IV, and continuing until Final Fantasy IX (and revived in Final Fantasy X-2), the "Active Time Battle" (ATB) system was introduced. The ATB system was semi-real time, and afforded every creature in combat a time gauge. When a specific character's time gauge was filled, the character could act, which would then reset the timer. Generally each of these games included both "active" and "wait" modes: when "wait" mode was chosen, then all activity relating to the time gauge would pause whenever the player was using a submenu to choose a magic spell, item, or special attack.
Final Fantasy X abandoned the ATB system in favor of the "Conditional Turn-Based Battle System" (CTB). In the CTB system, every creature in battle would be ranked according to speed. As this ranking was displayed on screen during battle, it was possible to know when a character and/or enemy would move several combat turns in advance, and to plan battles accordingly. The CTB system is always in wait mode, featuring no time gauge.
Final Fantasy XI featured a fully real-time combat system similar to that employed by the game EverQuest: when confronted with an enemy, a character would automatically perform basic physical attacks unless otherwise instructed by the player. Final Fantasy XII adopted a similar real-time combat system, however "gambits" were added to allow a player to program commands into the characters, to smooth out the monotonous junk monsters (since random encounters were removed). Unlike previous games, battles in both Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII take place on the field screen, with no separate battle screen.
In Final Fantasy XIII, the battle system returned to a battle screen concept, but kept the no-random battle element in that the enemies can be seen on the field map and later on can be avoided or battled by choice (a feature discarded for its first sequel). Final Fantasy XIV again used the battle system and enemy distribution that XI used.
In popular cultureEdit
- Main article: Final Fantasy in Popular Culture
The Final Fantasy series has had many pop culture references throughout its existence, ranging from minor notations which only die-hard Final Fantasy fans would recognize to direct parodies.