Sorting Through the Mess That is the Final Fantasy Franchise Today


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11 comments, 857 points

If you’ve been interested in games for a while — even in passing — you’ll know the name Final Fantasy and the weight that comes along with it. One of the most revered series of all time now, it has been chugging along since the initial game was released back in 1987. From there it has expanded into countless games and spin-offs, even major motion pictures, but I’m going to argue that there is something missing at this point in the franchise. The series seems to be lacking in direction and the soul that once helped to make it such a worldwide phenomenon in the first place.

There hasn’t been one of those big, momentous games in the Final Fantasy world that has been able to capture the hearts and minds of gamers far and wide since Final Fantasy VII way back in 1997. If that sounds like a long time ago, it is. It is about 16 years ago now since players were immersed in the world of Cloud Strife and Sepiroth, yet these characters still hold weight to this day as some of the most memorable in the Final Fantasy series. It is both because they were great characters and because there has not been a really memorable Final Fantasy since then.

The series has, to put it in simple terms, become bloated, weighed down by expectations and years of quality titles. My first real disappointment with Final Fantasy came with Final Fantasy X, when production values were really ramped up for the PlayStation 2 but it felt like they came at a pretty serious cost when it came to characters and story. Tidus was a rather unlikeable, whiny lead character, and while he was surrounded by some characters that fans latched onto (hence Final Fantasy X-2, etc.), the whole thing felt pretty flat in the end. The move to some of the Final Fantasy games being MMOs seemed like a good idea at the time and I’ll never fault them for that. I think that it seems like a logical way for the Final Fantasy series to move and have been curious as to why that hasn’t been the sole focus for the Final Fantasy series, then Final Fantasy XIV happened and it was clear that Square had no clue what they should be doing anymore.

Now that they’ve spun off into the “Fabula Nova Crystallis” mythos from Final Fantasy XIII with the upcoming Final Fantasy XV (formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII) the whole mythos and expectations behind Final Fantasy have become muddled, confused and I’d argue tired. Branching off of Final Fantasy XIII we have Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and of course Final Fantasy XV. The company’s focus seems like it is scattered all over the place right now and that the fans are the ones suffering in the end by not getting games that were as complete or focused as those which they used to produce.

There is no real focus anymore. It is just a giant mess.

Right now it just feels like the Final Fantasy name is being thrown about on so many different games, split into so many different directions and placed on so many games of varying quality that it is only hurting the brand, especially when Western RPGs are gaining more traction in the game industry. The Japanese RPG is one of the purest genres in gaming and it feels like the most popular series of Japanese RPG needs to get itself back on track in a major way, or else it could help to bring the whole genre down.


11 Comments

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  1. Final Fantasy XV isnt connected with the XIII games in any significant way, it just borrows some themes that were used in the XIII series. Also, Final Fantasy XIV has totally been remade as A Realm Reborn, and from what I played, it’s pretty damn good.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t get into the beta for A Realm Reborn and was ticked off by it, really wanted to see how much better it was.

  2. There are still millions that love the Final Fantasy series for what it is, not what it was. And commercially and critically, the majority of the games are still being very successful (even in the case of XIII-2, with sales other companies would kill for). Yes they’ve been on a bit of a wobble lately, but with the market today and recent upheavals in the company given recent events, can you blame them? OH, and by the way, X has one of the most serious stories in the series. It needed a main cast like that to help balance things out, bring a lighter mood to things.

  3. Well i personally think ffx was by far better than vii in any single way. The best installment of the series. Opinions are driven by tastes and memories and not facts…

    1. you really do NOT have any idea what your saying! Vii was the one of the best games in the ff series xv will be no different i really belive it will hold the reputation 7 has today

    2. X was my Favorite it was really X-2 that ruined it. I didn’t mind it but, it made everything done in X meh. The original Final Fantasy would be the second best. Nameless heroes that go into battle. Ur imagination giving all of them a background a reason to fight. They need to do that again.

  4. When you say, “sorting through the mess that is the Final Fantasy franchise,” you’re actually supposed to prove why. This more of a rant than an article. Not saying that you don’t have the right to your own opinion, but yeah… you should’ve expounded on the details as to why the past FF franchise–since The FF VII–were a flop.

    As far as popularity goes, each title is an experiment as to what will and won’t work out with the gamers and the fans.You can’t really expect SE to recreate the same greatness, right? Otherwise what would be the point of numbering each succeeding Final Fantasy? X has a lot of fans because of Yuna and Rikku, not just because of Tidus. VIII is a very memorable game as well; the characters are lovable, and “Squinoa” is proof that even action RPG-ers have that romantic bone in their body. And lastly, even with the heavy fan criticism, the XIII franchise had a pretty good storyline to begin with. To begin with. Let’s not get into the topic of how contrived LR:FFXIII’s plot is.

    I’ve been watching FF XV since it was first announced as Versus XIII. Strip off the grandeur and intimidation that comes along with (really, really) really HD graphics and Latin-based terminologies, XV might actually become the messiah that the FF-verse has been waiting for. (Sorry, Lightning) This year, trailer-wise, XV managed to re-capture the hearts of those who’ve long believed that SE has pulled the plug on the game.

    And if you ask me, it’s a plus that Tetsuya Nomura’s directing the entire thing.