31
Mar
2011
spambot

A Proposal: Final Fantasy Series


      

Final Fantasy is a media franchise which centers around a RPG series. It is developed, published, and owned by Square Enix. There are currently 14 Final Fantasy games, along with spinoffs and games influenced by it. The first game was released in 1987, the following year the second Final Fantasy game was released and so forth. There is about a one year to six years gap between each game’s release date.

Final Fantasy was originally released for the Nintendo consoles. That business partnership fell flat after the sixth game. The first six games were originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Famicon, and the Super Famicon; these were all remade for the PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, PSP, and the Visual Console. The seventh and following games were all released for the PlayStation consoles. All eight games were released on the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3. In addition, the more recent games were also released for other consoles, such as the 11th game through the 13th game were released for the Xbox 360; and the seventh, eighth, eleventh, and fourteenth game were released for the PC.

The Square company was founded in 1983 and in only three years the company was in trouble. The Square company was facing bankruptcy and, in a last effort to save themselves, released one last game, hence the name ‘Final Fantasy’. Game creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, started to create a game that was similar to Dragon Quest, thinking this was going to be his last game as he was planning to resign from the company and go back to school. Due to its surprising success, the company was saved and the series has since affected Square’s business practices and relationships with other video game developers; like merging with Electronic Arts in 1998 and Enix in 2003. The company decided to create the a sequel of Final Fantasy to continue its success, but Final Fantasy was originally supposed to be a stand-alone title. The second game shared its title, but featured a new story, setting, cast of characters, and an upgraded battle system. Afterwards, several sequels were released; the most significant of them being Final Fantasy VII. Final Fantasy VII is credited as having the largest industry impact of the series, gaining mass-market appeal which allowed the games that followed to continue the legacy of Final Fantasy.

The characters themselves are unique from one game to another. Character names are usually derived from different cultures’ histories, languages, and mythologies. For example, ‘Shiva’ is a Hindu god, ‘Odin’ a Norse God, and ‘Biggs and Wedge’ are characters from Star Wars. These are recurring characters in some of the games in the series, but by name only. Biggs and Wedge are minor characters that are sometimes viewed as comic relief and are killed in one game, only to reappear in the next game as different people. Cid is the best example of a recurring character in the series. He appears the most in the games, but as a different character such as a headmaster or an airship captain. There are, although they are not characters, Chocobos and Moogles that appear as species in the most of the games. Chocobos are large flightless birds that help with transportation. Moogles are small white creatures that act like storekeepers. Other characters that recur are the summons. Characters like Odin, Shiva, and Gilgamesh can be summoned to help in battles. Characters also join ‘parties’ when battling. This changed the way RPGs worked, using strategy to help the other members in the party and fighting battles as a unit instead of an individual fighting a battle.

There is a common theme amongst the games such as a complicated storyline, usage of magic, music, and locations. The sub-storylines are unique and it does get complicated, but only up until the point where they rejoin the main storyline. The usage of magic is in all the games. When playing the game, the option of mage is available as a class choice. The use of magic can also be tied into the summon powers; most characters can apply this power even without being a mage. Each game has its own soundtrack. Most of the music is made by music composer, Nobou Uematsu. The music he is most known for is Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and X.

Another very interesting commonality in the series is the various settings. The locations in the game can be distinguished by unique personalities. The places seem real and have a familiar feel to it, like the beach or a jungle or a just an ordinary building that can be seen in everyday life. Even the unique aspects of the architecture have a familiar feel to it, bearing a resemblance however slight to actual real life architecture. The graphics in the game progress, it originally started with a two-dimensional graphics, and then became a three-dimensional game. It soon moved away from polygonal characters and pre-rendered backgrounds. The recent games became even more modern giving it more of a realistic gameplay.

Final Fantasy’s international success is due to its being credited with popularizing RPGs in markets outside of Japan. It also has its own sub-culture, such as cosplaying around the world. Bronze medalists Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova used Final Fantasy music in their synchronized swimming routine at the 2004 summer Olympics. Due to its success, movies and books were even created that center around Final Fantasy. Other games also branched out from Final Fantasy, like the Kingdom Hearts series using its characters in a minor role and the Mana series which uses the same gameplay system.

It is noted as one of the best-selling video game franchises. It has received acclaim on its sound and visual quality. It is the first franchise to receive a star on the Walk of Game. Final Fantasy has been on the top of various game lists such as IGN’s top games list like The Top 25 PS2 Games of All Time and Famitsu’s 2006 ‘Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time’. It also holds some records in the Guinness Book of World Records which include the ‘Fastest-Selling console RPG in a single day’ and ‘Most Games in an RPG’.

It is impossible to avoid mentioning the Final Fantasy series when discussing the games that are the heart of the gaming world. Its evolution is important because it shows the progression of visuals, sounds, and gameplay. Its progression is analogous with the progression of video games as a whole. A major percentage of games and gaming companies look to Final Fantasy as their inspiration and as a major influence. The rising importance of Final Fantasy historically and economically is a precursor to the importance of video games as a whole. Video games have become big part of today’s popular culture in today’s society. Its popularity is increasing and it is influencing a more diverse range of people.

Works Cited: 

6, November. "Final Fantasy." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .

"FINAL FANTASY | SQUARE ENIX." SQUARE ENIX HOLDINGS. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .

"The Top 25 PS2 Games of All Time - PS2 Feature at IGN." Sony PlayStation 2 - PS2 Games, Cheats, Walkthroughs, News, Reviews, Previews, Game Trailers & Videos at IGN. Web. 30 Mar. 2011. .

Image Credits: 

All Final Fantasy images - Creative commons licensed by Casul Media
Kingdom Hearts image - Creative commons licensed by hsuyo

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