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?
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.