For the first article of “Spawn Point”, I would like to talk about about the purpose of this series. I have been gaming my whole life. I cannot recall a time that I didn’t have a controller in my hand. As with anything else in life, when you do it for a long time you just learn more things about it. I know many people who did not grow up with video games. Either their family couldn’t afford them, they had parents who thought video games were the devil, or they simply did not get into games as a child. The world of video games is full of long running series, franchises getting reboots, and genres that are very niche and hard to discover. Sometimes, if you missed the boat on the first game, navigating the maze of remakes and adaptations to other mediums may seem overwhelming.

This is why Spawn Point exists. To help clear the fog so that everyone can have a chance to enjoy some of the great games out there. These articles are not meant to be an exhaustive history of a series however. My goal here is to be the friend you ask when you want to get into a new hobby. I am a guide to help you get started. From there, I hope you learn to love the series and go explore its depths on your own. Even an experienced gamer like me needs this article. When I started designing this I realized that there were so many popular series that I didn’t know a lot about. I guess I will just have to go play them and report back!

For the first ever Spawn Point, I wanted to talk about Final Fantasy. It is a name most everyone is familiar with, the long running franchise dating all the way back to the  original Nintendo Entertainment System. This game has a special place in my heart. Some of my earliest memories are of my older brother playing Final Fantasy VI for the Super Nintendo and I would struggle to read all the text. I like to attribute my learning how to read to that game. However, due to its numbering system, there being so many of them, and the huge mess that is the numbering of games II,III,IV, and VI , I am often asked how it all works.

There are a lot of Final Fantasy games. As of writing this, there are 14 games in the main series. Now, this point is critical, DESPITE BEING NUMBERED IN ORDER NONE OF THE FINAL FANTASY GAMES ARE SEQUELS OF EACH OTHER UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. Some of the games in the main series, e.g. Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy X, have direct sequels. Final Fantasy X has Final Fantasy X-2, and Final Fantasy XIII has XIII-2 and Lightning Returns. As well as sequels, there are also several spin off games separate from the main numbered series that I will also talk about.

History

Why is it called Final Fantasy if there are so many? Yes, that question is asked a lot. The answer is in the history of how the series got started. Squaresoft ( now Square-Enix) was not always a successful company. The “long story short” version is: when development started, Hironobu Sakaguchi, felt that if this game did not do well he would have to leave the video game industry. Additionally, the company itself was in a very bad financial situation. Well, it turns out the game wasn’t very final for the company. It sold amazingly well and Square-Enix is now one of the largest video game companies.

There is a massively annoying blip in the history of Final Fantasy. The release numbers for the American versions of the Super Nintendo games. Final Fantasy was released for the Nintendo(Famicom) in both US and Japan. No problem. Then, Final Fantasy II and III were released for the Famicom in Japan, but never released in the US. When Final Fantasy IV was made, it was released in Japan as IV but since it was the second game to be released in the US it was called Final Fantasy II. Final Fantasy V was never released in the US but VI was, so they called it Final Fantasy III. Then when Final Fantasy VII was made, someone finally was smart and released it in both the US and Japan as Final Fantasy VII. Eventually, every main numbered Final Fantasy made it to the US in one form or another and the numbering issue has been resolved.

What is it?

A Japanese Role play game, commonly called J-RPG. This genre is known for fanciful settings, huge emphasis on narrative, and leveling up and stat building. It tends to be a divisive genre in the gaming world. While the games in the genre provide wonderful stories and characters, they tend to be very linear (meaning that it will confront a player with a fixed sequence of challenges. Every player sees every challenge and sees them in the same order). and have lots of grinding. (Doing a repetitive task over and over again). Usually, you control a group of characters called a party.

Every Final Fantasy game is very similar in a “big picture” view of the genre, but each Final Fantasy game has its own fairly unique combat and leveling system. Some were very well received, and others were hated. It’d be a bit too indepth to go game by game and explain each system, but here is an overview of some of the combat systems.

Turn Based

These have you input all your commands for the turn then each side of the combat executes their commands. There is also a variation where you input each characters command as their turn to attack comes up. Final Fantasy’s I,II,III,IV,V,and X, use this system.

Active Time Battle(A.T.B.)

This system has a loading bar for each character and when the bar is filled, that character gets to attack. It makes the combat a bit more dynamic.Final Fantasy’s VI,VII,VIII,IX, X-2,use this system.

Other Systems

Final Fantasy XII uses a pseudo AI system where you input simple logic for your party members that they will execute. You do not directly control them. Final Fantasy XIII uses a form of the A.T.B system, where you constantly switch which role your party members play. Final Fantasy XI and XIV are both MMORPGs and as such have their own thing going on.

Leveling Up and Getting Stronger

Besides combat, leveling up your stats and acquiring new gear is a huge component of Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy goes back and forth on how much control you have over your character’s development. Some games, such as III and V, have a direct “job class” system where you can swap jobs throughout the game, resulting in a great deal of flexibility. One battle the character is a mage, but in the next battle he could be a warrior. Others, have close to no control, in IX each character is a set role. Finally, some are in between, it doesn’t directly mandate that this character is a mage or a warrior, but choices you make while leveling up will affect what they are better at.

Tropes and other base knowledge.

While each game is completely independent. there are plenty of reused ideas between the game. There are plenty more besides the following ones, but these tend to be the most visible to those outside of the fandom.

Chocobos

These are large ostrich like birds that people use like horses. They are fun and have a super catchy theme song. They are often used as a form of transportation at some point in the game.

Moogles

Cute white furry creatures. Sometimes they are common sometimes they are treated like fairies. They tend to say Kupo.

Crystals

There are 4 crystals (earth, wind, fire, water). This comes from the very first Final Fantasy, where your quest is to protect the 4 crystals. They reuse this idea a few times through out the franchise.

Spin offs and other media

This is also a source of much confusion. The main games in the series are just called Final Fantasy followed by a roman numeral. Direct sequels are roman numeral dash number. For example Final Fantasy X-2 is the direct sequel to X. The exception is Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which is the 3rd game in the Final Fantasy XIII series. As mentioned before, Final Fantasy XI and XIV are MMO’s and therefore have a monthly subscription.

Final Fantasy Tactics is a tactical RPG series and is wonderful. It features an adaptation of the A.T.B.(Active Time Battle) system and utilizes a grid for the battle map. I highly recommend playing them at some point. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a Gamecube release that has a really fun co-op feature where each player connects their Gameboy advance to the Gamecube.

Final Fantasy VII is the most massive of the franchise brands. Final Fantasy VII was originally released for the PSX. Since then, there has been a sequel movie (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children), a spin-off (Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII), some prequels (Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII). There are more, here is the wikipedia article on it.

There is also Final Fantasy Adventure for Gameboy, Chocobo’s Dungeon and Chocobo’s Racing, My life as king, and others. What I am getting at is that there are a lot of games and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are even some anime shows and films as well. Nothing in the Final Fantasy universe is outright bad, some things are agreed upon as being better than others. Although it’s a little overwhelming, you should feel free to just explore the universe.

The Spawn Point

Since Final Fantasy is such a long running series there are exceptional games during all of the generations. If you are okay with SNES era sprite graphics I’d recommend Final Fantasy VI. It has a great story with some amazing characters and is a very straight forward game. It does not require you to be good at J-RPGs. Final Fantasy VII is generally considered the best and I personally have it rated pretty high. (I’m terrible at picking favorites). The graphics didn’t age as well and there is a fair amount of typical J-RPG angst in it, which some people may find off putting. From a gameplay perspective, it is one of the best balanced and has a ton of fun side quests and mini games.

For PS2 era, Final Fantasy X is a very solid game but, again, it is often criticized for being too “J-RPG” ( girly looking male protagonist, bad voice acting, silly outfits, etc.). Personally, and this is an unpopular opinion, I think Final Fantasy XII is the worst; but when I talk to people who are not seasoned Final Fantasy players, they tend to like XII. Many, Many, people hate the Final Fantasy XIII series. Although I liked them, I would not recommend them as a first foray into the Final Fantasy universe. They are much better enjoyed if you are already a fan of the series and willing to tolerate the bad, silly, and absurd aspects of it.

Where to buy

Square-Enix loves money. This is good for Final Fantasy fans. They have released and re-released the games so many times. So, unless you want an original copy, you can pretty easily find the any Final Fantasy game you’re looking for. All of the re-releases do a very good job of holding true to the original while adding value. Final Fantasy I and II were re-made using higher quality graphics and some quality of life improvements. Final Fantasy III which was never originally release in the US has a re-make originally for the Nintendo DS and was re-released on Steam and Playstation Network (the game has 3-D graphics now)! Final Fantasy IV got a similar make over.

Both Final Fantasy X and X-2 have a HD release for PS3. Some of the games have IOS release for your iphone/ipad users. Final Fantasy’s III,VII,VIII,XI, and XIV can all be found on Steam. Every main series game except XII is available on PSN for the PSP, Vita, or PS3. If you end up liking Final Fantasy, I apologize to your wallet.

About The Author

Charles is a mild mannered engineer by day, and slightly less mild mannered gamer by night. He spends most of his time traveling the world looking for arcades to play at.

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