The first Final Fantasy was released in Japan for Famicom in 1987. It was later released in the US for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. In an age of video gaming led by either sports, fighting or action/adventure games, with the occasional addictive arcade games thrown in, RPGs were an untapped resource that lived predominantly in the PC world.
Final Fantasy made a debut with a break-out hit that launched one of the industry’s longest running and most profitable series still running strong. But, sad to say, over the years there has been a decline in how good the Final Fantasy games have been and why, and if no changes are made soon, it will fall from that coveted king of RPGs thrown. With more spin-offs than times I crashed in my first run through F-Zero, can this giant ball of perpetual motion RPGs be stopped or possibly reformed before it’s too late?
You see the thing is, if you ask anyone who is truly a lover of RPG games “what is wrong with the Final Fantasy series today?”, most will have the same answer. I went on and asked several gamers that very question. Six no-life having living in their mom’s basement-obsessed gamers, and six adult gamers I know, and the response was quite overwhelming and relatively synonymous. “They traded story and gameplay for graphics and other superficial things – the heart and soul of any RPG is the story like physics are to any simulator game or sports game.” Though I wasn’t completely shocked at this response or felt validated in any way. My compulsion to be a “devil’s advocate” took over and I mentioned that not every staff person is kept or even considered for sequels, not to mention those who died or quit before a new one came to life. At this point I found myself straddling the proverbial fence on my view of the evolution of my beloved childhood gaming series.
In the end I had to rely on the only person that matters when it comes to what I like. Myself. I sat down in front of my PS3 and replayed Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy Tactics (my favorite game in the series by far due to the strategy aspect of it) and contemplated at first the hours spent playing such games in my youth and the differences that appeared from one game to the next. Though many opinions vary as to where the fall of Final Fantasy came into being, I strongly feel that the errors started in Final fantasy XI. I’ve always thought Final Fantasy was a way to knowing yourself. A personal journey, if you will. And Final Fantasy XI being online only felt limiting and forced. Much like having to be with someone your mom might think you’d be friends with so she set up a play date or something. Later came Final Fantasy X-2 – which I feel looks like a dress-up with mascot outfits. I couldn’t take the game as serious as one can while still having fun. So now its 4am and I’ve decided that given the great memories the series as a whole created, I will give Final Fantasy one final shot at greatness before I am even remotely looking for the next one coming out.
At the moment, “D-Day” for me will be March 09, 2010. That’s the day I will find out for myself if Final Fantasy XIII will be the RPG that breaks this gamer’s back. But I’m a man of opinions and debate so speak up for yourself and let us know how you feel.