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Final Fantasy: 25 Years of History

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This article was provided by Front Towards Gamer contributor Walter Doolittle (Illuminasa).

Final Fantasy is a series known worldwide by most gamers. But for those of you that are completely clueless, pop some popcorn and keep reading for an exciting ride. Final Fantasy was started in 1987 by SquareSoft (now known as Square-Enix). After having quite the bad streak in sales, SquareSoft thought they were making their final game – “Final” Fantasy. See what they did there?

Fortunately for SquareSoft, it was their biggest hit. After all, it was either giving your child Final Fantasy or Track and Field. Which one would you have picked?

Worse game ever

Yeah. I think doing 99 points of damage is better than jumping hurdles.

Let’s go back in time and revisit some of those Final Fantasy games, and see how it’s evolved since the time of 1987.

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy was the first in its series. It introduced the now well-known turned-based battle system. Using potions, equipping new armor and weapons, and what’s this!? We can change our Warrior into a Knight?! That’s pretty sweet. But Final Fantasy had its bad points of course. If you didn’t buy it brand new, more than likely you didn’t have the map that came with it. And that means you were pretty lost.

Magic circle

That’s nice and all, but can you tell me WHERE I’M SUPPOSED TO GO?!

Final Fantasy II

Since Final Fantasy just made the company a lot of money, they quickly released Final Fantasy II a year later in 1988. But they were very smart about it. Instead of being like any other company and just using the same system again, they created a new system. This introduced the ability to level up based on what weapon the character was using, instead of the class changing that was in Final Fantasy. It also introduced the Word Memory system. This allowed the character to memorize a word, so later the word could be mentioned to a Non-Playable Character (NPC) and would advance the story. But why don’t we remember Final Fantasy II on the Nintendo Entertainment System? Sadly, it was never released in the states.

You heard it right. It was never released in the United States until its release on the PlayStation as Final Fantasy Origins in 2003. That’s the only Final Fantasy title they left out for us right?

Not really…

Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III was released in 1990 on the Famicom in Japan. This game brought so many popular features into the franchise it was ridiculous. Class changing was brought back, but just in another form. This was called the Job system. This allowed the player to change the class of the characters to fit the situation. Need four warriors to destroy that bar you were kicked out of a few weeks ago? No problem. Short on cash? Four thieves should do the trick. Anyway, you get the point. The final addition that was made was the most important: the ability to summon monsters in battle. This game didn’t make it until stateside until 2006 in its release for the Nintendo DS.

I better clear something up before we proceed into the article. Some of you might be scratching your head thinking, “But we got Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III on the Super Nintendo!” This is where it gets tricky, but we can do this.

Since the second and third game were not released in the states, the company knew that releasing the fourth title would raise questions since we only got the first title. So in reality, Final Fantasy II (US) = Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy III (US) = Final Fantasy VI. But Final Fantasy V is left out! Before you ask, they left that title out too. But let’s keep pressing forward!

Final Fantasy IV

The fourth title was released in 1991, shortly after the Super Nintendo was released. This game brought new graphics and a much better storyline than the previous Final Fantasy titles. It was so good that it’s been remade at least FOUR times. Characters held specific classes and special abilities exclusive to their class.

Jump attack

Kain used Jump to attack enemies. But I think he just didn’t feel like fighting.

Final Fantasy V

Here is our final title that didn’t make it to the states until later. Final Fantasy V was released in 1992 for the Super Nintendo. It reintroduced the job system that was shown in Final Fantasy III, but improved it much more by letting the character keep certain abilities by mastering the certain class they used. If I said the series didn’t get any better than this, I’d have to say that I would be wrong.

JOb application

Sorry, bums. This game forces you to get a job.

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI was the last title of the series released for the Super Nintendo in 1994. This title was the most impressive game to date. The storyline featured diverse characters with very different agendas, personalities, and fighting styles. The game took almost every feature from the previous games and made them even better.

Desert Walk

I just feel bad for the submariner.

Final Fantasy VII

In 1997, we finally made the jump – not to the Nintendo 64, but to the PlayStation. The file size of Final Fantasy VII was too great for Nintendo 64’s cartridges, so the company decided to move to the PlayStation, where CD-ROMS would be more appropriate.

Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to be in 3D and feature cinematic cut scenes. It was also the first to feature “Limit Breaks.” Limit Breaks were accessible when the character took enough damage, then unleash a special attack that would do a lot more damage.

Sick Man

This guy is very sick, Aerith.

Final Fantasy VIII

In 1999, Final Fantasy VIII was released. This was the first of the series to feature fully proportioned characters in and out of battle. It also introduced the new Junction system. Junction allowed characters to equip spells to their stats, increasing attack or defense. It even allowed characters to equip attributes such as fire or water to their weapons. Final Fantasy VIII broke the level up system, though. Staying in one spot and leveling up the characters for hours was no longer necessary. When the characters leveled, the monsters did too.

Magic Spell

Why was I expecting him to draw me something?

Final Fantasy IX

In 2000, Final Fantasy IX was released to the PlayStation. It brought back familiar concepts early in the series, such as classes, characters not in complete proportion, and a storyline that did not feature modern technology.

Final Fantasy IX was the last game to be released on the PlayStation, because bigger things were ready to come our way.

Faceless Mage

Hey! Remember me? I’m the creepy mage with no face!

Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X was released a year later in 2001. It was the first of the series to be released on the PlayStation 2, and it featured a lot of changes not previously seen in other titles. It eliminated the World Map altogether, featured voice acting, and had a new way to level up through a “Sphere Grid.” It also contained many core elements to the series: turn-based battles, summoning monsters to aid in battle, and graphics to make anyone take a second look.

Fabio Moment

I can’t believe it’s not butter!

Final Fantasy XI

Most people don’t even consider this one part of the series. Final Fantasy XI was Square-Enix’s attempt at making an online game. It featured Active Turned Based battles, classes for the player to choose, and quests. This game didn’t seem to contain too much of a story, but one thing I do have to say about it is that this game was VERY addicting. I just couldn’t afford the payment to play it every month. Otherwise, I’d be playing it instead of writing this article…

Look at my baby

Not to mention you have to avoid the pedophiles.

Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII was released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2. This game eliminated the way battles started. Usually the player would be taken to a battle area after encountering an enemy. This time around, the battles were conducted on an open field with other party members that based their actions on commands that would be given to them. It also introduced a new Limit Break system. When characters use their Limit Break, they had the ability to chain it with quick presses of the buttons required to double or triple their damage.

I love furries

Not to mention this super cute bunny rabbit girl.

Final Fantasy XIII

Lastly, Final Fantasy XIII was released in 2009 for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. With over-the-top graphics, a new edge in the battle system called a “Paradigm” for characters to assume roles, and summons specific to each character. And did I mention this game is just gorgeous? I think so.

Token Black guy

Check out my mean motorcycle. I can do tricks.

So, how does it feel to just breeze through thirteen games in one article? Do you feel more knowledgeable about the series? Does it make you want to pick up the controller and try these titles? I sure hope so! Now, make sure not to miss out on the most current title, Final Fantasy XIII-2, which will be released on January 31st, 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

 

  • Anonymous

    What a boring article. You took the amazing, breath taking world of Final Fantasy and reduced it to a sad pile like Final Fantasy X-2 (which you forgot to mention). This is a disgusting representation of a franchise that has continued to stand at the forefront of the video game world. You’ve written each section like the opening paragraph of a larger idea. I am appalled that you could manage to squeeze out only three lines for Final Fantasy VI and the most you said was the “storyline featured diverse characters with very different agendas, personalities, and fighting styles,” would you care to elaborate? I can’t believe this was allowed to be published on a video game website, especially one that seems to be on the cusp achieving a well-known status. If I were you, I’d spend a little more time crafting an editorial so it sounds like you actually played the game and didn’t read about it on Wikipedia.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FWOK3UTMYAYJFZOBX5GFRVYBOI Jaba Nore

    FF series tremendously got better and better by the year as they created from 1st to FFX, but after that it all went downhill, i bought all the final fantasy games after X, it was getting crappier and crappier, now to me FF doesnt mean that much excitment gor the new series because they have taken out alot of features and introduce very very few new ones and i dont like it, they can do so much to improve it yet they dont deliver….. im not looking forward at all to buying the new FFX-2 at all, so thats just my opinion the newer series of FF

    • http://www.facebook.com/TheMap Nathan Lloyd

      FFXII was actually pretty good, and you can’t deny that.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Renardo-Krootjes/1549164800 Renardo Krootjes

        FFX-2 was better than FFXII. dumb Vaan.

      • JZSquared

        Yes, yes I can. I agree wholeheartedly with Jaba Nore. The series took a nose dive after FFX. I even got my friend, who “loved” FFXII to admit that it was crap.

      • http://www.facebook.com/greg.wendricks Greg Wendricks

        I wasn’t a fan of the story. The battle system, side quests, gambits and licenses were awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darklyern Fabricio Sito

    dude, epic bad article, make the title match the content, you only explain like nothing of the entire franchise nor each title, the reason FF became so popular is because it was the first epic RPG game that made it into play station (FF7) and play station was the first gamer’s console that became so huge that it triggered the dawn of the gamers’s era. Seriously, without PS1 and PS2, we would still be a minority with just nintendo’s family and kids games, and zelda only, for consoles, and the ones to rule the gaming industry would be FPS games in PC and morpgs on the east, it was final fantasy and play station that bridged us the culture of RPG, not wow, and it was thanks to that bridge that morpgs became popular in the west. First came many oldies like ultima etc, but without FF 7 to gather fans and make them interested in morpgs just out of curiosity then there wouldnt have been a fanbase large enough for the mmo market to grow here.

    Grow a brain its not about facts of history its about fanbases that are built from epic titles and then catter to the same company or other companies that develop the same genre games or similar genres. Without everything i mentioned, mmo would be thought of as kid stuff in America by now and wow and gw would simply not exist, or just exist in Asia and possibly europe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leo.bejarano.7 Leo Bejarano

    You forgot to mention FF Tactics.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3RT3BXB26H4USB4FTFUZFZQP5Q Jonathan

    Imma go ahead and say it. I loved FF13-2. The ability to travel to / create different dimensions and time periods was an innovative and fun addition to the game. The plot is not convoluted and complicated as others suggest; people who think this probably didn’t understand the movie Inception, either. It’s not that hard to follow. The characters were good too.
    FF13 was also a great game, because the plot and characters were wonderful. My only criticism was the Linear play, whereas every other FF game allows you to explore the universe.
    Screw the haters!

    • http://www.facebook.com/Hard.Candy.Boy Leo Garcia

      ff13 is the worst ff in the franchise either u like it or not
      ff13 sold well for the sole reason it was the first ff for this gen…it sold more than 6mil world wide but once player tasted it and saw how crappy it was in every aspect
      ff13-2 came out and check the sale…..a poor 2mil world wide.

      instead giving the true ff wich is ofc versus they keep making this cheap trash 13-3

  • http://www.facebook.com/SergioZamoraGrancelli Sergio Zamora Grancelli

    Because FFXIV doesn’t exist…

  • http://www.facebook.com/roger.mccormick.33 Roger McCormick

    what about FF Crystal Chronicles?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jani-Huhtakangas/1040960844 Jani Huhtakangas

    final fantasy 12 was the last good final fantasy game they made :(

  • Daclivont

    FFXI actually has quite a deep and enthralling story line. It is conveyed through the rank missions. But, It doesn’t really pick up until the rank 5 missions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.raybin George Raybin

    The Final Fantasy game boy games were super happy mega fun time as well!

  • http://www.facebook.com/thee.game.3 Thee Game

    to me FF died with with 10

  • http://twitter.com/toygunhitman joiless Oubliette

    As an aside on the long list of why this article fails, Limit Breaks did not truly debut with the seventh game. A form of Limit Break, called Desperation Attack, was built into FFVI. However, they were kind of hard to get to work since they were triggered when you were at super low hitpoints – to this day after playing it God-alone-knows how many times, I’ve still only seen the Desperation Attack of two characters.

  • http://twitter.com/NyNy_x NyNy ♛ ナイナイ

    Nice post! My first FF game was X and now I have been intrigued with the series since. Hearing about other people’s experience of the day makes me
    jealous because it looks so amazing as well. How did you get a ticket? ;__; And
    Crystal Kay was there as well!

    By the way, I made a post about 25 years of Final Fantasy
    since it’s today! Hope you can comment and tell me your first experience with the
    game series and what you think about the series. http://nynyonlinex.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/25-years-of-final-fantasy/

  • Dee Hines

    I was a huge FF fan. I have the whole series from creation to FFX. After that it really wasn’t worth getting. I couldn’t stop raving about 7+8 to my friends. I got them hooked on FF and they even tried to hold onto a little hope for the series even after I washed my hands clean. But they only came back disappointed and confirming my suspicions. I couldn’t stop shaking my head as my friend explained the story from start to finish after beating FFX-2 because I assured her I wouldn’t care enough to play it even when offered to let me borrow it. I honestly don’t know what happened to them.

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