The tale of the Final Fantasy Franchise is a long and varied one. The original Final Fantasy game was a humble isometric RPG experience. Yet all of the elements that we’ve come to love were already instantiated in the original.
There was a rich plot, character progression, and a somewhat expansive world to explore. Throughout the 1990s, the franchise developed at a lightning pace. We had Final Fantasy II through VIII, all of which brought improvements over the original and new worlds to explore.
Final Fantasy VII, perhaps the most famous in the series, really nailed the battle system. Battling was neither turn-based, nor action RPG, but a mixture of the two. Yes, combat was chosen from menus, but it was all done so on a timer that kept battles fast-paced. Well, relative to its contemporaries, at least.
Beyond that, the series built a reputation for deep storytelling and compelling plots. Two years after VII, Final Fantasy VIII arrived, and it marked a golden age for the franchise. Both VII and VIII are the only RPG games to have ever so successfully penetrated the Western market. And both games taken together, represent the high point in the franchise’s history.
Asked most fans which is their favorite Final Fantasy game, and they’re likely to say either VII or VIII. In many ways, the storyline and the gameplay of VIII were more ambitious than in VII, and yet VII remains a firm fan favorite for many.
But since this peak, things have not gone so well for the series. Many people agreed that Final Fantasy X was a good game, but it did not have the magic of its predecessor. And then, of course, there was X-2 and XII, both of which seemed to lack personality.
The franchise went online with Final Fantasy 14. And while the game has proven popular, it doesn’t do what the originals did. Being an MMORPG, it can’t. Thankfully, it is a source of new content, and you can check out Final Fantasy 14 Heavensward online.
But besides some new content for 14, we’ve seen no new games from Square for over five years. That’s a long break in the world of Final Fantasy.
But now that’s about to change for two big reasons. First, Final Fantasy 15 is real and moving towards full development. Finally, after such an epic development process, we’re going to see the game later this year on PS4.
Secondly, we’re going to have something fans have been clamoring for over a decade: the remake of FFVII. When the news of the remake hit at E3 last year, the crowd went wild. If fact, practically everybody went wild that Square was finally going to realize VII in full HD.
The question is whether these new games will allow the franchise to rekindle its former glory. With such a long development cycle, will Final Fantasy 15 be able to deliver? Will the remake of FFVII be able to compete with our sense of nostalgia for the original? Only time will tell.