The State of Final Fantasy

State of the Franchise: Final Fantasy

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The State of Final FantasyI have been playing Final Fantasy games for a long time. Now, just because I have played a franchise for a long time does not make me a fanboy. Since I’m talking Final Fantasy, I bet Todd would be getting in on this article if he wasn’t mad because my Blue Jackets beat his Capitals in hockey. As many of the long time readers know, Todd is anti-Final Fantasy.

This got me to thinking about how far the franchise has come. Each installment has gotten more advanced and introduced something new. Final Fantasy VII set a precedent and each one after raised the bar higher. Then the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy hit the shelves and was polarizing amongst the fanbase.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. People complained about XII, X, IX, VIII and even VII. From what I have seen it appears that people are just looking for a reason to complain. No matter what advancement the following game makes, people whine that “just isn’t the same as the old ones.”

Let’s say that the series kept the same style for the entire run, just for the sake of argument. I personally guarantee those same people would be advocating “the series needs to evolve with times and do something new.” Every Final Fantasy has had the same formula…take the good with the bad. No matter which one was your favorite, there were glaring issues with all of them. Fans of each title seem to be in denial about these flaws though. So I want to go over a few with you.

I’m going to start with the favorite by majority, Final Fantasy VII. Now right now I can hear 80 percent of the Final Fantasy community grabbing torches and pitchforks and searching for my address. Here is the thing, someone has to bring these points up because every fan has been in some weird denial I’ve never seen before. The two basic issues with VII reside in the horrific graphics and the disappointing ending.

The graphics are so bad in VII that it makes me nauseous to watch. Especially compared to games that came shortly after like Final Fantasy VIII and Legend Of Dragoon. As for the ending…as a writer it made me sad that it seemed like a great idea to make the ending some dream. It wasn’t clever how it was done, wasn’t unique or unexpected. It was a slap in the face to the gamer who wasted so many hours in that game.

My favorite of the series is not immune however. I grew up on Final Fantasy VIII and to this day it’s still my favorite. While it had a great story, players had to fight with a dysfunctional junction system. Instead of being able to grant the GF (or Aeons in X, Eidolans in XIII) to the character you want, you have to equip them based off of what abilities you want to upgrade. In addition to the anger inducing junction system, VIII liked to leave you stranded. One of most memorable moments was when they told me to go to the continent of Esther. I popped open my map and guess what everyone? There were no names on the continents, anywhere.

Final Fantasy IX and X weren’t much better. Between the awkward characters, anti-climatic boss battles or discombobulated stories the series was always middle of the road. Then we come to the current series, Final Fantasy XIII.

Now I have played all three and I have to tell you I still can’t understand the complaining. Sure XIII starts out slow, yes XIII-2 had some issues with the classes and Lighting returns is solo fighting meets beat the clock. How is this any different than the last games in the series. How is XIII’s linear storyline any different in quality from VIII which contained few surprising turns? How does XIII-2’s battle system compare to XI, where you could get the game to play itself?

The XIII games have taken a great step forward with a long spanning story arch and characters that develop over time. Instead of flat characters that act the same no matter what, their morals and attitudes drastically change. Cinematic graphics have also gotten ten times better and are a great especially, especially with fight scenes.

My point in all this is everyone really needs to take a step back and think things through. Square Enix (Squaresoft at time) has introduced new mechanics and great stories into every Final Fantasy game, yet people want to criticize because it’s not like their favorite. I’m a huge Legend Of Dragoon fan, a die hard fan at that, but I don’t compare every other RPG to it. I think no matter how many more installments are released, people are going to find some reason to complain on reviews and message boards. I just want to raise awareness that maybe, just maybe people are in denial. If you read this and you want to go complain on a blog or boycott my reviews because I insulted your game…you’re part of the problem.

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