Unlike in most series, each game in the franchise is typically set in its own universe. Recurring elements include concepts, game mechanics, and species. Plots typically focus on a team of young heroes trying to either defeat an evil empire or save the world from some threat.
Main Series Edit
Usually, three main-series Final Fantasy games are released per console generation, with the only exception thus far being the seventh console generation, which only received two. Final Fantasy I through III were released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, IV through VI were released for the SNES, VII through IX were released for the N64, X through XII were released for the GameCube, and XIII and XIV were released for both the Revolution and the Pluto. The fifteenth game in the series has been announced for the Stream, but is speculated to be coming out on multiple platforms.
The series has also had a number of spinoffs. These have included 1989's Legend for the Game Boy, 1997's Tactics for the N64, and 2008's Dissidia for the Game Boy Nitro .
History of the Main Series Edit
The original Final Fantasy was released in Japan in 1987 for the Famicom, and was one of the most influential games of its type ever created. Although Dragon Quest is credited for founding the "Console-RPG," of "JRPG" as it is also known, Final Fantasy was one of the genre codifiers, adding aspects such as different character classes, party combat, and a more complex story than other games of the time. The was brought to America in 1990.
Final Fantasy II came out a year later, in 1988. Rather than being a direct sequel, the game started the series tradiotn of every entry being a radical departure from previous entries. IIhad a complex story with many named characters, a unique experience system, and an entirely new world to explore. Though now regarded as the "black sheep" of the series due to its notorious difficulty and convoluted leveling up system, the game was still moderately successful.
Final Fantasy III took a bit longer to develop, and was released in 1990, late in the Famicom's life. It was more inspired by the original game, but placed a heavy emphasis on the "Job" system of character classes. Each of the four playable characters could pick from one of over twenty distinct classes, allowing for a vast amount of party customization. This was the most successful entry in the series yet, selling over a million copies in Japan alone.
After Ohga Shrugs Edit
Final Fantasy IV, known as II in its Western localization, was released in July 1991 in Japan, making it one of the first notable JRPG's for the SNES. The game featured the series's most complex plot yet, with a cast of characters that would enter, leave, and re-enter the party over time, learning abilities both through leveling up and through progress in the story. It also introduced the "Active-Time Battle" system that would become the series norm until the GameCube-era.
Final Fantasy V, which like II and III was released only in Japan until years later, was essentially a reimagining of III. Released in late 1992, it featured an complex job system with over twenty classes, with the ability to carry over abilities from other classes to new ones. The game, thoguh only released in Japan, was a massive hit, selling over two million copies.
Final Fantasy VI, the last main entry in the series for the SNES, was released in April 1994. Set in a more "steampunk" setting than prior entries, the game combined elements of all the prior series entries with new ideas. Each character had their own unique class, but could be customized through items. The cast was very large, with fourteen permanent playable characters along with various temporarily playable characters. VI also had arguably the most ambitious story in a video game to date, with most playable characters and some NPC's having their own character arcs woven into the complex tale. In total, the game sold over three million copies worldwide, making it by far the most successful Final Fantasy yet.
The Fifth Generation Edit
Although Square considered abandoning Nintendo platforms due to the memory limits of cartridges, the series would nevertheless stay a Nintendo exclusive. Final Fantasy VII, engine on the Nintendo 64 was demonstrated as early as 1995, but the final product would not be released until January 1997.
Final Fantasy VII was a massive hit, not only in its homeland Japan but also, for the first time, abroad, especially in North America. The game focused on a group of seven characters in a steampunk environment not entirely unlike that of VI. However, the large 3D world, character and equipment customization via magical "Materia", and anime-inspired art style helped make this one of the most popular role-playing games of all time upon release. In total, the game sold over six million copies worldwide, launching Final Fantasy into the upper echelons of gaming. This also made VII the best-selling third-party game on either console in the fifth generation.
Final Fantasy VIII would come out just over two years later, developed by the same team that made VII. This game featured the most realistic graphics in the history of the series, and focused on a love story between two of the main characters. In Japan, it had the best first week any video game ever released, in terms of sales. However, the game failed to eclipse VII abroad. In total, the game sold about 5 million copies
In contrast to the previous three games, with their advanced settings, Final Fantasy IX was a throwback to the series oriigns, developed by a different team than VII and VIII. Released in September 2000, fairly late in the life-cycle of the Nintendo 64, this game was actually the most acclaimed game in series history according to Western reviewers, with few reviews giving below a 9 out of 10. IX featured the return of many older ideas, from traditional black mages to saving princesses, but used more modern concepts and technology. In total, the game sold about 5 million copies.
Optical Media and Beyond Edit
Development of Final Fantasy X for the GameCube was heavily influenced by the news that the system would finally adopt optical media, in the form of miniature DVD's. These would actually have a slightly greater capacity than the Sega Dreamcast's GD-ROM technology. Furthermore, the GameCube would have more impressive technical specifications than the Dreamcast, save for its lack of online functionality. Therefore, continuing as a Nintendo-exclusive franchise was an easy decision for Square to make.
Final Fantasy X, which was developed by the team that made VII and VIII, was released in 2001 as a GameCube launch title. A massive game by the standards of the time, it required three discs to play, making it, in terms of raw bits and bytes, the largest game on a Nintendo system ever created. This was due in part to the voice acting and CGI cutscenes, a first in series history. X was, despite its vast size, an unusually linear game, focusing on an odyssey of a group of seven characters trying to defeat an ancient evil. Ultimately, X would be the fifth best-selling GameCube game of all time with over six million copies sold, beaten only by a number of Nintendo's own first-party games.
Final Fantasy X-2 was released in 2002, created using assets from the original X. This game took place in the same world as X, telling a sort of epilogue story. The game, despite being a rare "straight" sequel, still sold four million copies on the GameCube.
On March 13, 2003, Final Fantasy XI was released for the GameCube. This game was radically different than X, having been developed by the team that made Chrono Cross for the Nintendo 64. Unlike the linear story-focused X, XI was a more gameplay oriented experience, like III and V before it. The game required only a single disc, but actually featured a larger world than X, albeit one without much voice acting or cutscenes. The game was, despite breaking what were by then audience expectations, a major hit, selling over five million copies worldwide.
The third main game in the series for the GameCube, Final Fantasy XII, was released on March 16, 2006, towards the end of the system's life. It returned to the more story-based approach of X, combining it with the open world of XII. Drawing comparisons to Western MMORPG's, this game featured a huge world to explore, and more side-content than actual storyline, despite the prominence of the tale. In total, XII would be one of the best-selling games of 2006, and the best selling GameCube game released at such a late date.
"Betraying" Nintendo and the Outcomes Edit
For about two years, the future of Final Fantasy was largely shrouded in mystery. Only at E3 2008 was a significant amount of footage shown, along with the surprising announcement that the next entry in the series would be a mulit-platform release on the Revolution and Sega's Pluto console. This would make Final Fantasy XIII the first major entry in the series to be on a non-Nintendo platform.
XIII was released December 17 for both consoles. The game was similar in style to X, being a largely linear story-based affair. The game was renowned for its highly advanced graphics and unique real-time style of team-based gameplay, but criticized for its relatively unmemorable story and characters, especially considering the game's emphasis on them. Nevertheless, the game would sell over five million copies across platforms, only slightly less than VII and X.
Final Fantasy XIV was released September 22, 2010. Like XI before it, this was a gameplay-oriented experience, focusing on combining skills from a variety of jobs in order to defeat foes. It was unusual by Final Fantasy standards in that the player only controlled a single, customizable character, much like in an MMO. Nevertheless, the game was a success, though once again falling behind its counterpart on the GameCube even with additional Pluto sales.
Three years later, an "Ultimate" version of Final Fantasy XIV was released. This version contained far more content, including jobs, equipment, and quests, than the original game. It sold modestly well, despite only being released for seventh generation platforms. The two versions combined have sold over four million copies.
Recent Events Edit
Final Fantasy has a long history of spin-off games in addition to its many "main" entries. Some of these series have become series in of themselves, including the Mana and SaGa franchises.
Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the better known spinoff series of Final Fantasy. A series of Strategy-RPG's similar to Fire Emblem, Tactics made its debut on the Nintendo 64. Other entries in the series have appeared on the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Nitro.
In 2002, the Kingdom Hearts series was launched. These games, though not strictly a part of the Final Fantasy series, featured many elements and cameos from various Final Fantasy games, particularly more recent ones.
Recent individual spinoffs of Final Fantasy have included Zero, a re-imagining of the series for the Game Boy Nitro, the Dissidia fighting games for the same handheld platform, and The Last Story, a Revolution exclusive directed by Sakaguchi himself.
Ports and Remakes Edit
Square has made great efforts to port and remake Final Fantasy games for newer platforms, particularly main series games for handhelds. For example, I through III were ported to the Game Boy Color, IV through VI were ported to the Game Boy Advance, VII through IX were ported to the Game Boy Nitro, and X has an upcoming Game Boy 3DS port. Additionally, remakes and ports have been made for mobile devices and downloadable services.
Final Fantasy is one of the most notable role-playing series in video games, alongside Pokemon and Dragon Quest. Since its first release in 1987, the series has sold approximately 84 million games. Furthermore, each of the main entries in the series, as well as many of the spinoffs, have received much critical acclaim, and have been considered to be among the best games of their type on their respective platforms.