Well for those of you who have followed this series of posts I say ‘Thank You’. It was fun for me to go back down memory lane and think about the greatness that is Final Fantasy, but it is with a heavy heart that I present the last part.
Years ago, when Enix bought Square I knew that, at some point, the Square portion of SquareEnix would suffer. Now it seems that this prediction is coming to pass.
Final Fantasy 15 is on the horizon, and it looks spectacular:
Behold the beauty that is FF15! Running on the PS4 hardware, I cant think of a game that looks better. SE, over the years, has become one of the most talented and incredible creators of CG content on the planet and their movies and games show it! I dare you to watch FF7: Advent Children and find a better looking leather texture! Their attention to detail is so incredible, its almost eerie! And hair! Don’t get me started on the hair!
All that being said, the fifteenth iteration of the Final Fantasy story has me very worried. I have intentionally been avoiding too much information on the game (I had a very bad experience with spoilers back during FF7 I have never recovered from), but what I have been hearing around the internet doesn’t sound good:
“FF15 is a make or break game. If this fails, the whole series could end.”
“Millions have gone into production, if it doesn’t sell well it could break the bank.”
This, along with the fact that the series is going VERY mainstream (Florence and the Machine is performing what appears to be the theme song for the game, “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King. A great song, to be sure, but never EVER has an FF game turned to an outside source like this for something as important as its music) causes me to believe that FF is finally suffering from the same issue that kills a lot of games: It is dumping tons of money into everything but the story.
Gamers know exactly what I am talking about because we see it all the time! A game comes out that becomes a smash hit. It’s not vastly incredible when compared to other games around it, but something about it strikes a chord with players. Its fun! Its got a great story! SOMETHING makes it a stand out hit, and that brings the developers tons of cash they never expected! They are ecstatic! So ecstatic that they begin to kill their franchise right off the bat. The next game in the series goes through tons of ‘upgrades’. Better graphics, better sound, better marketing – but the ball gets dropped on what made the previous game fun. The story seems thrown together last minute. The controls are screwed up and changed so far from the original they make no sense (looking at you, Parasite Eve 2!). People buy it expecting an upgraded version of the first game, but instead they get shiny crap. Sure it looks better, but the game is uninspired. The FF series had been able to stave off this curse for a long, long time, but as system hardware has gotten better they seem to have fallen into it.
Final Fantasy 13 is the hated step-child of the FF series, yet SE pumped out two sequels. I have not personally played either (still working through 13 on my PC), but general consensus is that all three games are a waste of time. ALL. THREE. GAMES. Graphically the first one was amazing! The colors, the scenery, the characters – all done beautifully, but something lacked! And its not like there were a ton of positive reviews for the first game in the series anyway, but SE is now a giant, pushing forward with plans, apparently regardless of its consumers, putting out sequels for a universally panned title. What does this mean for the newest game? Already we are being blitzed by the media titan, with a film tie in to FF15 on its way as well as a five part anime series. The pre-ordered special editions are already being bought off by scalpers and resold online for hundreds of dollars more than they originally were.
I heard about FF6 in a Nintendo Power magazine. I bought it from a store in another state I had to call by phone, whose number I got from the back of a gaming magazine. All it came with was a manual, a registration card and an advertisement for the soundtrack:
It is the greatest game I have ever played.
Compare that to the monstrosity that is FF15. I hope beyond hope that it succeeds. I will likely never get to play it unless it moves to PC – I simply don’t have the funds to afford a PS4 as a father and husband in an industry that is flailing right now, but at this point I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. If FF15 fails, and the series dies, it will be a big part of my life gone. It sounds dumb, but I have been playing this game since 1988, that’s almost 30 years. It’s stories and lore are burned into my brain. If it is gone I will very much miss it.
I know SE will never see this page. I know they will never read my words with any type of consideration, but if I had the opportunity to talk to them, to say something that I believe would help keep the series running it would be this: “Never neglect your characters or story for eye candy.” I said in one of the previous posts that FF6, being an old 8bit game, comprised of pixels rather than polygons, showed more emotion in their characters than any character in FF7, which towered over FF6 graphically. The characters in FF2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 were all well done and the stories, though they could get a little confusing at times, were pretty straight forward and easy to latch on to. I didn’t fully understand FF7 until maybe a decade after I played it, having read “The Strife Manifesto”, a document written by someone smarter than I who deciphered the mixed up web of the games storyline. Bigger, better and more complex is not always better!
As I watch the information on FF15 unfold I am both excited and saddened. This could be the end of an era and, unlike books, whos stories can last for hundreds and hundreds, even thousands of years, video games are quickly forgotten, in the grand scheme of things. Will the tale of Terra and the fellowship of heroes be something others will see in one-hundred years? Will the rise of Sephiroth leave people in awe generations from now? Only time will tell, but we could be very, very close to finding out.
That’s it, folks. The end of my Final Fantasy series. I am always open to talking about the games, so just reply or send me an email if you are ever interested or have questions. Thanks for reading.