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Final Fantasy: The Chronicles

So when it comes to Final Fantasy there are a few different generations of gamers in the timeline of its history. There are gamers like myself that started at the beginning with Final Fantasy in 1987. The next generation in the fandom was Final Fantasy VI (aka FFIII in the US). Then Square made a smart move by switching to Sony PlayStations for FF VII, the first one to release in 3-dimensional graphics. As the generations went on the hallmarks of players seemed to change. Those who joined in with FFX seemed less inclined to play earlier versions of the series because the graphics were not comparable to the awesomeness of FFX. For the first generation gamer we grew up with each landmark of graphics upgrades and had a deeper appreciation for the fact that the older games were the top graphics of their time when released. When X released smooth cinematic events it drove gamers to desire those same graphics in regular gameplay. That also led to more stories and less free gameplay over the years. This brings us to the final generation, the FF13 era. Now does this mean these are the only “good games”? Certainly not. In fact there were a few over-rated and under-rated games in the mix. This series of articles written by someone who has watched the development is to demonstrate the changes from the position of a fan that has grown up with Final Fantasy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey from start to today. Maybe even put on some “Journey” while you read.

The first Final Fantasy game was released in December of 1987. What a lot of people don’t understand about the game’s ongoing title of “Final Fantasy” goes back to this game. The company Square (now known as Square-Enix) had been unsuccessful in the gaming industry at this point. The overall idea was created by Sakaguchi Hironobu. This final effort to become successful was the “Final Fantasy” of the company. Until later games that had direct sequels, the title can be attributed to the last battle before destruction for the individual worlds, hence the Final Fantasy.

The first title came with a world map, dungeon map, and bestiary poster. Most of this was pretty cool considering in more current games you would have to purchase the game guide, look online, or discover them all yourself. In all honesty with this game being new and the unique it was in the developers best interest to make this information inclusive to help with the learning curve of their role playing game series.

 

Graphics for this game were cutting edge at the time being 8-bit for the original Nintendo system. Today they would be laughed at. However the game has been re-released in better graphics bringing it up to 32-bit, as a PS1 game, PlayStation Network download, and even a cellphone download! The music was epic and for those of you who know much about music, the newer renditions are still at their core. The original songs, however, have been re-mastered as the game kept getting upgraded. Getting started in the game you have a selection of classes with your 4 characters. You can choose the Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, White Mage, Black Mage, and a Red Mage. Now I grew up with this game and there were plenty of old-school challenges with party make-ups, and I have done all of them. The one I found most difficult was 4 White Mages. Upon selecting your characters you begin the game in the main town in which you have a quest to save the princess who has been captured by Garland, an evil knight. When walking on the world map there were random encounters with enemies in which you gain experience that in turn gives you the ability to use magic(after buying the spells), so why would that skill not develop with experience points? In later games your spells came with experience which is likely because other fans found this just as equally annoying as I did. So after defeating Garland and rescuing the princess the king will build a bridge allowing you to continue the game across the other continents. I remember reading reviews on the original game and that players did not like the random battles because it didn’t seem “real” in the sense that you would see your enemies coming. However the random battle trait stuck through most of the series of games. When utilizing magic you had to buy your spells at towns you visit. I found this really annoying because only certain characters have talent for magic. As the game continues you get different vehicles to travel in like a Ship, a Canoe, and a freaking sweet Airship (like a boat but with propellers instead of sails on the mast). This was also the start, in my opinion, of the Steampunk influence in Final Fantasy.

Another epic theme from the game series that started here was the Elemental Celestial objects. Here the Warriors of Light (your party) have one of 4 elemental crystals, and they are trying to restore the Orbs of Light. You will battle various monsters taken from historical fiction and from biblical monsters like the Leviathan, Lich, and even Behemoths. Through all the grinding to get your characters stronger you can eventually get a class change in which their abilities become stronger and their physical appearance changes. This was actually really cool in my opinion and in later games when a similar event occurred I think it made a difference in the story. You eventually make it to the floating castle for the final battle of the story. I know I am leaving out some of the particulars but that is in hopes that those that have not played the game will and I don’t end up spoiling it for them. Overall any fan should play this gave as a reference point. In its day, it would have been a 10 out of 10…Best Game of the Year! However with the advances in overall technology and story development today it would be a 4 out of 10. I recommend playing it if you have a long summer break and plenty of time to kill.

 

*Credit for Featured Image goes to DeviantARTist, fukuryu*

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