Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy is a very popular series of role-playing video games produced by Square (aka Squaresoft), now Square Enix. The Final Fantasy video game franchise originated in Japan in 1987 and was brought over to North America in 1990 and to Europe in 1998. It is also very popular in Australia and New Zealand. Games in the Final Fantasy series have been featured on the NES, MSX, SNES, Playstation, Wonderswan Color, Playstation 2, PC, Game Boy Advance, Gamecube, and cellular phone. It is the best-selling Square Enix game series. According to Square Enix's press release, it sold over 40 million units worldwide before the Square Enix merger, which went into effect on April 1, 2003.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Game screens
3 Release History
4 Compilations
5 Spinoffs
6 Notable People
7 See also
8 External links

Overview

Most Final Fantasy games have a considerable level of detail given to the plot and character development. All the games in the series occur in different universes and were traditionally unrelated, except for the occasional cameo (such as Cloud's apperance in Final Fantasy Tactics, and Ehrgeiz). Since the Square-Enix merger of April 1, 2003, this policy of noncontinuous games has been set aside, as evidenced by the direct sequel Final Fantasy X-2, and the reappearance of the world from Final Fantasy Advance in Final Fantasy XII. There is a tradition where many of the games have characters named Biggs, Wedge, and Cid, as well as recurring creatures, such as Moogles and Chocobos. The battles in these games are usually semi-turn based, using a system known as the Active Time Battle - introduced in Final Fantasy 4. The battle system differs somewhat among all the games, particularly in the use of weapons, magic (such as Black, White, and Summon), and limit breaks (a.k.a. overdrives).

The Final Fantasy series is known for its many references to history, literature, and mythologies from around the world, particularly in the later games. The earlier games also contain references to religion.

The series' name comes from Square's brush with bankruptcy. Head designer Hironobu Sakaguchi decided to make the company's last project a fantasy role-playing game. The game's success brought the company to profitability, and since then the Final Fantasy franchise has been considered Square Enix's most important asset.

Yasumi Matsuno assumed the role of chief producer and designer. The character designers are Yoshitaka Amano, Tetsuya Nomura, and Akihiko Yoshida. Yoshinori Kitase is an integral part in the production of the Final Fantasy series. In October 2003, Kazushige Nojima, once an integral part in the Final Fantasy production, resigned from Square Enix in November of 2003. He worked on Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, X, and X-2.

Final Fantasy has been well recognized in the United States and Europe for its soundtracks. Nobuo Uematsu is the chief music composer of the Final Fantasy series. Other music composers include Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano. Final Fantasy soundtracks and sheet music are getting more popular among 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 the Final Fantasy series. It initially carried complete tracks from Final Fantasy XI and samplings from Final Fantasy VII thru X.

Although the franchise is extremely popular, it is not without critics. Some cite a lack of interactivity (overuse of Full Motion Video), rigid and often linear story structure and unoriginality. The games that appeared in CD form on the Sony Playstation and Playstation 2 platforms (FF7,FF8, FF9, FF10), that are scenario-written by Kazushige Nojima, are especially attacked by critics within the video game community.

Game screens

The games usually have several types of screens, or modes of interaction, broadly categorized as:

The games often feature various mini-games with their own graphical engines.

Release History

Final Fantasy I

Only the first in the Japanese series was available in America until the fourth in the Japanese series. At the beginning of that first game the player chose one of five classes for four characters from a stock list: Fighters, Thieves, Black Belts, White Mages, Black Mages, and Red Mages. These four chosen characters, named by the player, became the Light Warriors, carrying four darkened orbs. The adventure started with the rescue of princess Sara from Garland, allowing a small amount of gameplay before the game's true opening sequence,during which the song played is also present in other Final Fantasy games. This game featured various vehicles for use in crossing different terrains, including a pirate ship, a canoe, and ultimately an airship. This game has been re-released in an upgraded version in the package "Final Fantasy Origins" for the Sony Playstation, alongside Final Fantasy II. Orbs are called crystals in Final Fantasy Origins.

See separate article for more information.

External Link: Final Fantasy Classic

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy II's plot revolved around four friends (Firion, Maria, Gus, and Leon) who survived an invasion of their hometown, Fynn, from the Empire of Palamecia. Their parents were killed by the Empire. Three of them met up again in the resistance headquarters in Altair, and from there they travel around the world and take on temporary companions in their fight against the Palamecian Empire. FF2 is stylistically very similar to its predecessor, using the same battle system and similar graphics (both in the original and in the remake). It is the first game in the series to have a playable female character and a man named Cid. Maria is Final Fantasy's first playable female character, and Leila is the second playable female character and a temporary one. FF2 also introduced Chocobos. The waters are in motion since FF2 (they were a still image in the original version of FF1). This game was never released in America or Europe until 2003 with the "Final Fantasy Origins" package enhanced for the Sony Playstation Console, alongside Final Fantasy I. The original Famicom/NES version was unofficially translated by NeoDemiforce in 1998. FF2 is not to be confused with FF2 for the SNES, which was the original US name for FF4.

Final Fantasy III

For the NES/Famicom, this was only released in Japan, but it was long later translated into English through emulation by NeoDemiforce. The game featured 4 children on a quest to save the Crystals of the Elements from a force known only as the Dark Cloud. Traveling around the world, they go from the dark world to the Realm of Dreams, where they discover a plot by the gods to destroy the world. They can be changed into many character classes using the first incarnation of the job system that later was used in FFV and FFT. FFIII for the NES is not to be confused with FFIII for the SNES, which was the original US name for FFVI. The chances are unknown of whether Final Fantasy III will be remade for Sony Playstation.

Final Fantasy IV

For the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sony Playstation. Final Fantasy IV introduced the Active Time Battle (ATB) system. It is the first game in the series to have more than one world map. It has introduced window color adjustment. The plot focuses on a main character named Cecil Harvey. The game begins when Cecil and the air force he captains (called the Red Wings) are forced to steal a Crystal. Cecil objects about this to his king, King Baron, who promptly deprives him of the command of the Red Wings and sends him off (along with his friend Kain Highwind) on an errand to carry a package to a place called Valley Mist, the home of Rydia of Mist. Starting from Mount Ordeals, the party soon encounters the Fiends of the Elements (Milon, Kainazzo, Valvalis, and Rubicant) who are planning, with their leader Golbez (Cecil's brother), to free the enslaved Zemus, a powerful black wizard trapped on the Red Moon. This game was released on the SNES as Final Fantasy 2 by Square of America. Many of the items, some of the characters abilities, and some spells have been dummied out of the first American version. A lot of things have also been censored in that version, including references to death, the background of Kain Highwind's father, religious content, sexual content, and references to bloodshed in the field. In the Tower of Zot, the scythe that was going to drop on Rosa, the game's female lead, was changed to a metal ball in the first American version of Final Fantasy IV. There is also an unofficial version of this game called FF4 Hard, which was translated into English from Japanese by players through emulation, as opposed to the standard version, which was translated into English by Square. The playable characters are Cecil Harvey, Kain Highwind, Rosa Farrell, Rydia of Mist, Tellah of Mysidia, Edward of Damcyan (known as Gilbert in Japan), Yang Fang Leiden, Palom of Mysidia, Porum of Mysidia, Cid Pollendina, Edge Geraldine, and FuSoYa. Final Fantasy IV was released a second time in the United States under Final Fantasy Chronicles alongside Chrono Trigger. The Final Fantasy Chronicles version is based on FF4 Hard. The censorship and feature omission that was done on the Final Fantasy 2 U.S. version have been reversed in the Final Fantasy Chronicles version.

External Link: Dawezy's Final Fantasy IV Network

Final Fantasy V

For the Nintendo Super Famicom. It was not available in America until much later (in Final Fantasy Anthology). FF5 used the idea of a 'Job' system in which a character could become any type of warrior he/she wanted. FF5 involved the adventures of Butz (Bartz in PS1 version), Lenna (Reina in the re-released PS1 version), her sister Faris, Galuf and his daughter KuRuru, who had to stop a powerful necromancer named ExDeath from taking all of the crystals of the elements, and using them to open a portal of nothingness, called the Mu. The party travels from their home world to the destroyed world of ExDeath, where they battle his plans until the end.This game's storyline would appear to be the main basis of the original Final Fantasy anime.

Final Fantasy VI

For the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo Super Famicom. The plot focuses on a character named Terra (or Tina in Japan). The game begins with two of the Empire's henchmen, Biggs and Wedge, and Terra, whose mind is being controlled by a device called the Slave Crown. They attempt to take a frozen creature called an Esper from a northern town, and in the attempt, Terra is knocked unconscious, and later saved by a member of the underground rebellion against the Empire. No relation to the Empire in Star Wars even though the names Biggs and Wedge were taken from the names of the two pilots that accompanied Luke Skywalker in Star Wars in the final assault on the Death Star. This game was released as Final Fantasy III on the SNES by Square of America. It was re-released by Square EA on the Playstation with Final Fantasy V under Final Fantasy Anthology. Final Fantasy VI has the best graphics that the SNES has to offer, and it set the foundation for the following Final Fantasy games, making the Final Fantasy franchise have realistic computer graphics from the next installment on. The characters include Terra, Locke, Edgar, Sabin, Shadow, and the villain Kefka.

See separate article for more information.

Final Fantasy VII

For the Sony PlayStation and PC. This is the first release where the character's names aren't arbitrarily capitalized. It is also the first Final Fantasy with 3D-graphics. The plot focuses on a character named Cloud Strife. Cloud is beginning his employment for a group called AVALANCHE, headed by Barret Wallace, after quitting from the Shin-Ra Electric Power Company's super-soldier unit named SOLDIER for reasons that he cannot recall to become a mercenary. They are attempting to sabotage a Mako reactor, a device which drains energy from the Planet to generate electricity, to create monsters, and to create Materia, magical orbs. These reactors are created and maintained by the Shin-Ra EPC. However, Cloud goes beyond being a hired mercenary with AVALANCHE by his side, and is drawn in to a vast storyline, centering around Sephiroth, who was the ultimate SOLDIER member. Final Fantasy VII seems to be most popular Final Fantasy game. It is the best selling Final Fantasy game installment-wise. Final Fantasy VII will soon have a motion picture sequel, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

Final Fantasy VIII

For the Sony PlayStation and PC. This release featured a dramatic improvement in graphics and cutscene quality. A highly artistic addition to the series, it involved a group of orphans about 17 years of age who were adopted by a school for mercenaries called 'The Garden'. There are many such schools throughout the FF8 world and their main (but secretive) duty is to protect the world from the threat of powerful Sorceresses, as the last one caused a great war.

This addition to the series was surprising in its incredible level of detail, including ancient stories of a being that gave humans magical powers, an unknown force that makes radio transmissions impossible, the mysterious lineage of the game's main character Squall Leonheart and a burgeoning love between Squall and a young girl, Rinoa Heartilly. While many hold that FF8 created a new zenith in RPGs for artistry and character/plot development, critics disliked the opaqueness of Squall's motives and his unpleasant, unlikeable and distant behavior, as well as the interminably long summoning cut scenes. Therefore, Final Fantasy VIII created controversy among Final Fantasy's pre-32-bit-era fans.

Final Fantasy IX

For the Sony PlayStation, released in 2000. This release is a return to Final Fantasy's roots - likable characters, a main character with an unknown past, and stereotypical examples of the original series' various character classes (unlike the "Job" system of FF5 and FFT, the characters can't change their type of fighting). The plot revolved around a mysterious villain who needs the people of a devastated culture to gain power as he disrupts the "flow of souls" in the natural cycle of life and death. There are several main characters: Zidane, Princess Garnet a.k.a. Dagger, Eiko, Amarant, Vivi, Adelbert Steiner, Freya and Quina. Chocobos and airships figure strongly in the gameplay. Final Fantasy IX has created controversy among Final Fantasy fans. It also has references to the previous Final Fantasy games, especially Final Fantasy I. The fiends of Final Fantasy I, which are Lich, Marilith, Kraken, and Tiamat, were carried over to Final Fantasy IX.

Final Fantasy X

For the Sony PlayStation 2, released in 2001. Visually much like Final Fantasy VIII, in that the characters have normal proportions. There are some noticeable differences between Final Fantasy X and the previous members of the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy X introduced voice acting. Under the direction of Toshiro Tsuchida, the battle system is changed from the traditional "Active Time Battle" to a new "Conditional Time Battle" system which was more turn-based and ostensibly allowed for a greater degree of strategic depth.The leveling system has also received an overhaul, with the advent of the Sphere Grid. The story is still the primary focus, aided by exceptional graphics, but some critics have an opinion in reverse of this regard.

The main character is Tidus (son of Jecht), a cheerful blitzball player from Zanarkand, who escapes an attack on his home city by a creature called "Sin". He is transported to the world of Spira, where he is enlisted in a quest to destroy the creature, who reappears every ten years to wreak havoc until defeated by a "summoner". Tidus joins the summoner Yuna of Bevelle (daughter of Lord Braska the High Summoner), and her guardians Wakka of Besaid, Lulu of Besaid, Auron, and Kimahri Ronso. Kimahri is Yuna's most faithful guardian. He knew Yuna for ten years before the events of Final Fantasy X. He later meets Al Bhed thief Rikku. Wakka and Rikku are close associates of Tidus. They make up the playable cast of the game. Tidus of Zanarkand was voiced by James Arnold Taylor. Yuna of Bevelle was voiced by Hedy Burress. Wakka and Kimahri were voiced by John DiMaggio. Rikku the Al Bhed was voiced by Tara Strong. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy X has created some controversy among fans of the older Final Fantasy games (especially fans of the games released on 8-bit and 16-bit systems) due to linearity, English voice acting, the addition of blitzball, and claiming that it has no world map. Critics disliked Blitzball, and they complained about the Sphere Grid system and the voice acting. Many critics stated that Final Fantasy X was centered solely on graphics, complaining mainly about the storyline and gameplay. A few critics complained about the soundtrack. One notable song is Suteki Da Ne, performed by Rikki of Amami. It is derived from Yuna's Theme. There are four versions of Suteki Da Ne.The Eternal Calm video, interquel of Final Fantasy X and X-2, was never in English until the time of the American release of Final Fantasy X-2, when it was featured on the demo disc of the Official Playstation Magazine.

Final Fantasy X-2

Detailed information is available by searching for Final Fantasy X-2.

Final Fantasy XI

Detailed information is available by searching for Final Fantasy XI.

Final Fantasy XII

For the Sony PlayStation 2. Possibly the last Final Fantasy game on the PlayStation 2 if Square keeps the tradition of three games per console. It was originally scheduled for a release during the last few months of 2003, but Square Enix has postponed the Japanese release to middle 2004. The only information so far is a poster showing a huge city and its population. Recently, it was revealed that the two main characters are named Vaan and Ashe, and the game involves Chocobo Knights.

As of December 11th, another two characters have been revealed, named Furan and Barufurea (current romanizations unknown). Furan is of the Viera race (seen in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance) and Barufurea is of the Sky Race. The game will have many characters, as the norm of a game of developed by Square Enix's fourth production team.

As of December 17, 2003, Final Fantasy XII's battle system has been revealed to be similar to that of Final Fantasy X-2. Also, there will be three slots for crystals.

Preliminary trailers suggest that it has an extremely similar graphical style to Vagrant Story--a previous work of FFXII's new director Yasumi Matsuno

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

For the Nintendo Gamecube. This is the first Final Fantasy game on a Nintendo console since Final Fantasy VI. Since Sony partially owns Squaresoft, the company that makes Final Fantasy, it seemed unlikely that it would ever see a Nintendo system again. However, Squaresoft created a 2nd party studio that included people who had worked on Final Fantasy games for Playstation to make Final Fantasy games for Nintendo consoles. This new Final Fantasy game is set to feature many new gameplay elements previously unseen in a Final Fantasy game, eg. Real Time fighting, as well as being the first RPG to incorporate GameCube-GameBoyAdvance compatibility.

Compilations

Final Fantasy Anthology

For the Sony PlayStation. This game is a compilation of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI, including some CG movies and bonus features not available in the original games. In Europe, this compilation consists of Final Fantasy V and the "hard type" version of Final Fantasy IV, but not FF6. Final Fantasy VI was released for the Sony Playstation in Europe as a standalone game just before the compilation.

Final Fantasy Chronicles

For the Sony PlayStation. This was the second multi-release of old games for the PSX, including the "hardtype version" of Final Fantasy IV (which the "easytype version" was included in the Japanese release of Final Fantasy Anthology, but not in the US release. It was previously released in the US as Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo) and Chrono Trigger (also previously released for the Super Nintendo). FF4 featured new CG animation, while Chrono Trigger featured new anime style cutscenes.

Final Fantasy Origins

For the Sony PlayStation. This is the third (and presumably final) compilation of old Final Fantasy titles for the PSX. It includes the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, both released for the NES/Famicom. Final Fantasy II was never previously released in the U.S., and Final Fantasy I was never previously released in Europe. Both games have undergone graphical and audio improvements and gameplay streamlining, unlike the other Final Fantasy compilation games. Due to a widespread dislike of the game by critics and fans alike, it is not likely that Final Fantasy III will ever see a U.S. release. See Final Fantasy Origins for more information. ''See also enhanced remake and Super Mario All Stars.

Spinoffs

Notable People

  • Yoshitaka Amano - character, artwork, and logotype designer
  • Mayuko Aoki - end-motion capture for Rinoa and Japanese voice actor for Yuna
  • Hedy Burress - English voice actor for Yuna
  • John DiMaggio - English voice actor for Wakka and Kimahri
  • Masashi Hamauzu - video game musician
  • Yoshinori Kitase - producer
  • Koda Kumi - Japanese vocalist in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy X-2
  • Yasunori Mitsuda - sound effects
  • Minoru Akao - sound/music engine programmer
  • Masakazu Morita - end-motion capture for Zell and Japanese voice actor for Tidus
  • Junya Nakano - video game musician
  • Tetsuya Nomura - character and artwork designer
  • Risa Ohki - vocalist for album Final Fantasy: Pray and Final Fantasy: Love Will Grow
  • Nakano Ritsuki (later known as Rikki) - vocalist in Final Fantasy X
  • Hironobu Sakaguchi - originator of Final Fantasy, producer
  • Hitoshi Sakimoto - video game musician
  • Tsuyoshi Sekito - video game musician
  • Tara Strong - English voice actor for Rikku
  • James Arnold Taylor - English voice actor for Tidus
  • Toshiro Tsuchida - battle system director for Final Fantasy X
  • Tetsu Tsukamoto - alternate costume designer for Final Fantasy X-2
  • Nobuo Uematsu - video game musician
  • Faye Wong - vocalist in Final Fantasy VIII

See also

External links




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