Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

Final Fantasy: Twenty-Plus Years of Story and Still Going Strong

The release of Final Fantasy: Dissidia for the PSP as well as Final Fantasy XIII (and soon XIV) has left me feeling a bit nostalgic of late.

I still remember the excitement I felt while playing the first Final Fantasy back in the era of 8-bit Nintendo systems (Gee, am I really that old now?). Though it did not possess the interactivity that’s found in table-top RPGs, I still found myself loving the story, even if it was a bit “generic” compared to the RPG video games of today. That was because the story struck a cord somewhere deep inside, the same cord that gets struck by the stories in almost every FF game I’ve played.

It’s hard to believe it’s been over twenty years. While reminiscing I began to wonder what had resulted of other games of the era, like Dragon Warrior just to name one. Dragon Warrior was an RPG, like Final Fantasy, and even had a few sequels, but at the same time I wouldn’t miss not being able to play them again.

And the reason for that is simple.

Story.

Story is why the FF franchise has remained as popular as ever while other games of its type have faded into obscurity. The makers of the Final Fantasy games understand that cool action scenes and mind-blowing graphics, while they may titillate for the short term, is not enough. To stay on top for the long term, you have to have great stories (which, by the way, must first be written, so writers might want to look into opportunities to write for game companies…).

Also, Square-Enix was smart enough to avoid that ever-decrepid disease called Sequel-itis. While the majority of the games have titles like Final Fantasy VI or Final Fantasy VII, none of them are real sequels. Each game was a different story that took place on a different world and with a different cast of characters. Even the re-occuring Cid is never the same Cid from the previous games. Only on very rare occasions, like with Final Fantasy X – 2, did you have an actual sequel.

But that’s not to say there isn’t a common thread (other than Cid, monster summoning, and magic-infusing crystals–which aren’t found in all the games, either) that ties the games and movies together. It’s a thread that many game designers and storytellers often overlook.

And that is theme.

And the four common themes found in all FF games are:

Light Vs. Darkness (or Good vs. Evil)
Hope Vs. Despair
Love Vs. Hate
And, on occasion, a little Redemption here and there.

Very powerful themes, ones that tend to resonate in the hearts and minds of the human race. And that is the true reason why–in addition to deep characters and plot twists galore, not to mention cleverly avoiding the “sequel problem”–the Final Fantasy franchise has lasted longer than most of the RPG video games that had both preceded it and came after it. Indeed, even if they actually do bring out the “final” Final Fantasy some day, the stories, worlds, and characters they’ve created will continue to resonate in the hearts of millions for generations to come.

So, enjoy the tribute put together by DarkFF:

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March 14, 2010 - Posted by | News & Rants |

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