Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy 25th Anniversary, Final Fantasy!

25 Years ago today, in the far off land of SquareEnixia, a team of seven Square staffers set about to create a simple fantasy video game for the Famicom system. With a limited run of 400,000 units, the original Final Fantasy shipped out to rave reviews across Japan and established the Final Fantasy brand as one of the most popular game franchises across any platform.

Several great games followed the original Final Fantasy - most of them good - and the franchise proved that it could appeal to a wide range of fans with traditional and nontraditional stories alike.

Looking back on all the twists, turns, and changes the franchise took along the way an interesting realization surfaces: no matter what form the Final Fantasy product takes, the raw story is almost always the same: good triumphs over evil, and along the way the heroes must call on the powers of magic, nature, or a super cute outfit to help win the day.

Part of the allure of the original Final Fantasy came from its limited graphics. By reducing Yoshitaka Amano's incredible artwork to 8-bit sprites, players were encouraged to rely on their imaginations to fill in the gaps in the story's visual narrative.  The red blob that represented the fighter class was supposed to look like the fancy armored gent at the top of today's post and while he eventually realized that look later in the franchise's run, players of the original game could map out almost any heroic figure they could imagine on their Warriors of Light.

Even now, however, when games in the franchise have graphics that are near-movie qualityFinal Fantasy games all share the same underpinning elements established by the first three games in the series.

It's absolutely amazing to look at the latest installment in the series and see how much of 1987's Final Fantasy is reflected in what we see today.

No one's sure when Final Fantasy will fail to resonate with the gaming world and see its legacy retired, but so long as it has fans - and so long as people continue to believe in fantasy worlds where good will always win over evil - there will be a place for Final Fantasy.