Some 25 years ago, I was 2. I know that may be difficult for you to believe because I look like I'm not a day past 22 but what can I say, this fresh face has been around a while...ish. All joking aside this is a day that many people around the world will be celebrating. Today is the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy. From humble beginnings, Hironobu Sakaguchi's vision has since grown into a massive cultural phenomenon. No RPG series has been around longer, and none is more iconic than the not-so-final fantasies that have graced our consoles, computers, handhelds, and mobile devices for the past 25 years. While I could easily write a long analysis of the series’ highs and lows, a wonderful personal essay about what the series has meant to me, or a heated debate on where the franchise might be headed, that wouldn't be fair to my fellow writers. After all, one of the best things about Final Fantasy is the connections the characters have with each other and in turn, us the players. What better way to celebrate then by bringing you an article from the entire 8bitfix adventuring party? Many members of the 8bitfix crew will share their most shocking and intimate thoughts from last 25 years of gaming the Final Fantasy name has brought us! Stay tuned though, because that's not all. We'll have a special section on the music of Final Fantasy by (x) Jason, as well as a look at all the Final Fantasy titles we've reviewed! Prepare to level up guys, this is the 8bitfix Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary celebration!
What we think...
As a person, character is a important thing to have, but as a video game character it is even more important. How relatable a character is can ultimately make or break an experience that relies on you playing their role during the game. Few other series have had such a memorable cast of diverse characters but both heroic and villainous. Who is your favorite Final Fantasy character?
Locke Cole from Final Fantasy VI has always been my favorite character. He's good-humored, quick to help people in need, and is smart enough to use stealth and wits (mixed with an affinity for stealing people's clothing) to escape a besieged town. Being the first character I got to really use in an RPG, this thief (who insists on the title 'Treasure Hunter') made an impression on me that lasts to this very day; the job/class I have chosen in any game that allows it: the ever lovable thief.
My favorite Final Fantasy character is Auron from Final Fantasy X. When I think of what a video game bad-ass is, I envision Auron in my head. Everything about him just reeked epic, from his voice actor to his appearance to his Overdrive attacks. Auron is the man.
This is a toss-up between Zack Fair because of what all he stands for and his morals as a person, and his awesome character development seen throughout FFVII Crisis Core, and Tifa Lockhart...cause she’s hot. Tifa is my long time crush in middle school and highschool and still to this day.... my future wifey!
I'd have to say Yuna from Final Fantasy X. She is a beautiful and strong yet so realistically vulnerable character that didn’t need a voluptuous body or skimpy clothing to define her. At times I forgot she was simply a character in a video game and not a real girl with hopes, dreams, fears, and feelings.
Man, Cecil is just such a BAMF! He made a lot of mistakes at the beginning of the game as a Red Wing soldier, but he eventually chooses to rebel for the greater good. His transformation into a Paladin totally shocked me the first time I played and he redeemed himself and was ready to take names. Although he does face some hardships like fighting his best friend, losing Rosa, and watching his friends die, he never gives up the fight.
The thing about most bad guys can be described in one of two ways. Either they want to destroy the world to end suffering in the world, or are anti-heroes who are used by the evil final boss. Then there is Kefka, from Final Fantasy VI, who is pretty much the only villain who has a legitimate reason why he wants to destroy the world: because he wants to watch it burn. Ironically enough, he is probably the only bad guy who actually succeeded in actually doing that.
Final Fantasy VI is the first role playing game I played, there was no need for a save feature because I never turned the game off. The feelings I had towards Kefka is a love and hate relationship, he is charming yet the epitome of pure evil. There is no doubt Final Fantasy VI is what all RPGs should strive to be, anyone who disagrees deserves nothing good in life.
Unlike most fans my favorite game does not get a number. Final Fantasy Tactics has nestled its way into my heart since I first noticed it on the shelf at Blockbuster and decided to give it a try. At first, the new combat system confused me, it wasn't a thing like VI or VII. To my utter amazement however...I couldn't stop playing it. Something about the tactical battle system and class raising, about the well placed story where saving the world took a back seat for a while...SOMETHING about Tactics caused me to fall in love with it. Also, you could unlock Cloud! All these things were just too amazing at the time.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is the first Final Fantasy I played to total completion. I spent over hundreds hours on a black Gameboy Advance SP, beating every mission past the main story and unlocking every possible skill. Despite its mellow and somewhat corny storyline, I found myself enjoying it thoroughly. I think a lot of us wondered at one point or another what it'd be like to be inside the world of Final Fantasy and that was what made this tale charming. The protagonist Marche wasn't some warrior from prophecy or a rag-tag fighter going up against a greater empire for revenge or survival, he was just a school kid that wound up in the wrong (albeit magical) place.
For me Final Fantasy XII was everything the series should have continued to become. FFXII held itself above all other titles for casting a real sort of desolate fear. Sephiroth looks absolutely fey compared to the metal knife death of the Archadian judges or Vayne Solidor for that matter. Final Fantasy XII is a product of perfect timing and the textbook example of why delays can be just what a game needs to be perfect. I can actually remember going out to pick it up on its release date in a full Halloween costume. What other game can claim all that?
Final Fantasy VIII. By far one of the most customizable and complex leveling systems to date, allowing for tons of different character builds! VIII also had characters I found to be very relatable with excellent designs. Not to mention the Moombas were cute as hell, the gunblades were bad ass, and Triple Triad!
When I got Final Fantasy VII I was going through a rough time trying to find who I really was as a person. I was going through a lot of indecision at the time. The game, I felt, was something I can relate to on so many levels. Clouds indecision on who he was and how he had to fight through such things after the mako poisoning mirrored my indecision on who I really was. The tough time that I endured after the loss of my best friend the year before I got the game can be related to how Cloud lost Aerith along the way to find Sephiroth. This game in my eyes was a manifestation of my life and experiences magnified which is why I hold this game so dear to me.
Final Fantasy V would be my favorite. Although I have enjoyed some of the other more popular games I still believe it to be the best. None of the other Final Fantasys have left an impression on me like V did. The incredible music (Battle at the Big Bridge specially) is very memorable, the villains are awesome and the system brings about a very deep gameplay that greatly improves the classic turned based system.
Hands down, my favorite Final Fantasy was the first one I've ever played, Final Fantasy IV. At first, I had no idea what to do, but over time, I slowly started to understand how to play and got to enjoy the story. I found myself loving all the characters in the game and their stories. A love story, a story of redemption, and the conflicts between friends, and even family, it had it all. Sadly I admit I never did beat it until about a year or so ago, but I consider that to be my greatest accomplishment in my RPG gaming career.
This is a tough one, but I probably have to say when I finally defeated Seymour Flux in Final Fantasy X. I don't remember ever having such a pain in the ass with a boss before this one, and the moment of triumph when I finally defeated him with Tidus as my last remaining character was an incredible feeling. Little did I know another tough-ass boss was literally right around the corner.
My favorite moment has to be Gilgamesh's last stand in The Rift in Final Fantasy V. This reoccurring boss pops up six times, attacking the party in the first four appearances. By the fifth, he just walks away, and in the final encounter, Gilgamesh not only makes a surprise comeback, but helps the party in their battle against Necrophobe. In what must be one of the most touching mid-battle conversations in all of the old school Final Fantasy titles, he respectfully compliments your fallen comrade, teases the cross-dressing pirate, tells another party member to never lose "that pure heart" of hers, and expresses regret that he never got to battle Bartz one more time. As Necrophobe is the last sub-boss before the actual final fight, Gilgamesh seems to remind the party that they have "admirable companions" which he envies. After his last words to the group, Gilgamesh shrugs off a Flare and sacrifices himself to destroy Necrophobe, ending the battle. In a way, he was just as much of a supportive character as any other as he leaves the party with words of encouragement and the last save point they'll find before confronting Exdeath.
I have to say my favorite Final Fantasy moment was when Lighting and company return from Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII. The cutscene where they reenter on a racetrack was so fun to watch. Everyone has their Eidolons out and are totally wrecking everything! I even laughed when Hope just stood there in the middle of rushing cars looking like he was thinking “I don’t even care.”
Galuf's death might not be as talked about as other moments in Final Fantasy history, but this particular fight brings a very powerful message with it. Exdeath just got his full power, your party is down and out, and Krile is about to be killed, but in one last breath of bravery the old man in your party summons up all of his strength and stands up against Exdeath. This fight was meant to be more than just a way of sacrificing a party member, but it was used to give the player a sense of dread and hopelessness. Even though Galuf is trying with all his might, he can't stand the constant barrage of powerful attacks from the ruthless villain, which essentially shows the player what they're up against, and makes them fear and even hate it. Great music and a great scene that conveys more than just a heroic sacrifice.
My favorite moment though has to have come from one of the spin-offs from the original Final Fantasy VII. The scene from Crisis Core in which Zack is having his last standoff with the hundreds of Shinra soldiers before he dies, making the ultimate sacrifice for his new friend Cloud. This brought me to tears. This had to be one of the most heartfelt moments I had ever had the pleasure of experiencing in any Final Fantasy title.
My favorite moment isn't from a "normal" Final Fantasy, but from Final Fantasy XI Online. As the leader of a Linkshell, I joined another Linkshell founded by a former member of mine on a joint operation of sorts. As my gun-toting Corsair Mithra I met a girl who would eventually become the love of my life, my wife, and the mother to my adorable child. Even though she thought I was a jerk initially, I won her over by attempting to save her life in an Orc stronghold (I failed). I will always be eternally grateful to this game for having such a real impact on my life!
Music is such an important part of any game, and in Final Fantasy it is an experience of its own. Distant Worlds, The Black Mages, and a wealth of Overclocked remixes by fans can attest to the ability for these great tracks to stand on their own outside the game. This is no more evident now with the release of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, a rhythm game set to the franchises many masterful works earlier this year. Our very own (x) Jason will take it away and give us his top picks when it comes to Final Fantasy!
A very happy 25th anniversary to Final Fantasy! I could ramble on and on about how influential the series has been to the video game industry over the past two decades, but there are others who wish to share their opinion for this special article. So I thought I could commemorate Final Fantasy's 25th anniversary by retrospecting on some of my favorite musical pieces from throughout the series. While the sound library of Final Fantasy is hugely expansive, I just picked a few that stuck out over the years. Instead of a "top songs list", this will just go in chronological order by game. Yours may be radically different, but that's what makes your listening experience unique. Let's take a look, and have a listen.
Possibly one of the most catchy boss battle themes heard in the entire series, the theme heard in Final Fantasy IV immediately draws you to the edge of your seat in utter excitement. The shrieking strings drive this pulse pounding melody forward and that bass line... well, come on.... that bass. This piece always seemed to evoke that desperation to come out of the battle a winner. It must've been so good that it was not only heard in IV but also in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Scott Pilgrim plays the bass line in his movie too.
One of the great things there was to admire about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was its capability to generate some entertaining music. Final Fantasy VI (or known as Final Fantasy III in North America) pushed the boundaries of what was possible in sound production. "Searching for Friends" played when traveling the skies in the Falcon as it rises from the sea.
Another favorite from Final Fantasy VI, Terra's theme acted as the main theme for the game as well. Terra was this character with a troubled past, haunting in a way. That fact is reflected in her theme with rich woodwinds... okay flutes. Still, there's this slight glimmer of hope that transcends the character and her theme despite all the tribulation she is put through. Little by little Terra rises to her true potential.
It wasn't until I saw Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children that I truly got to appreciate this beautiful piece in a new way. This would be the piano version of Tifa Lockhart's theme. Cloud and Tifa were good childhood friends. I always reflect on that when I hear this gentle piece. Years pass but those cascading piano notes bring sweet memories back. Be it memories of old friends, or hey the time that has come and gone since first playing this game, Tifa's theme is a melodic representation of great times.
Cloud Strife is a tightly wound character, very brash and careless in the beginning but slowly evolves as the story of Final Fantasy VII progresses onwards. What I enjoyed about his theme, or the main theme of the game, was its use as the world map theme. Stepping out of Midgar for the first time cues this melody. It captured that feeling of being free of Shinra's influence on the city and that the world was ours to explore. The sweeping themes matched the terrain. There was wonder in visiting places on our adventure with these characters that hadn't been experienced before.
Final Fantasy VIII's "Liberi Fatali" was the series initial attempt to combine a true chorus line with orchestration, given the hardware possibilities of the PlayStation during the time. The result was amazing. It could be heard upon booting up the game. The match between VIII's visual prowess and outstanding soundtrack in this opening sequence was one to behold. It's included here. Words don't do this one justice so just give it a watch instead.
I love it when video games step out of their comfort zones and add a little foreign flavor to the mix. I loved the sound of flamenco already so to have this musical style appear in Final Fantasy IX was a nice surprise. Vamo' Alla Flamenco is first head during the sword fight minigame between Zidane and Blank around the beginning of the game. You may also remember it from the Chocobo Hot and Cold minigame in which items could be dug up within a time limit. Finding four was the goal but it could be maddening to hear "time's up, kupo!" while digging.
I remember the day an old friend of mine invited me over to his house to see what was my first glimpse of Final Fantasy X. For a PlayStation 2 game I was in wonder at the impressive visuals that they got out of it. The game's main theme, "To Zanarkland", was the first piece I heard from the game. It foreshadowed Tidus' journey that would culminate in a rather emotional plot twist involving the characters in the game.
"Clash of Swords" could be heard in the cinematic opening for Final Fantasy XII. What sounds like hammer strikes falling on tempered steel is what cued the major antagonist of the game, Gabranth, to strut across the screen. The very regal, yet militaristic, vibe of the piece is enthralling to hear.
Primarch Galenth Dysley was such a mysterious figure to me. So I enjoyed the point in which he revealed his fal'Cie alter ego, Barthandelus. What makes him a great villain, to me, is that he's very loquacious. He spits out insult after insult at our heroes in XIII, but in an oh so egotistical and condescending way. "Fighting Fate" plays during this great sequence as Dysley reveals his true face. The piece features a soaring chorus and a fantastic drum line, which perfectly captures the surprised look on the faces of the l'Cie as the gaze upon the form of their strongest opponent yet. For good measure I included that favorite scene too.
Final Fantasy has evolved as a series over its course of time. There's a lot to be admired from what this series has contributed to video game music. I'll always be curious to see where its musical inclination goes from this point. Thanks for listening!
Just how good are Final Fantasy games? Thankfully the tireless reviewers here at 8bitfix have a few reviews in store for you. These are all the current generation titles we have reviewed so sit back, crack open an ice cold megalixer and have a read!
Final Fantasy XIII (360) - Coming soon!
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (360) http://www.8bitfix.com/content/revie...ii-2-360-3949/
Final Fantasy Crisis Core (PSP) http://www.8bitfix.com/content/revie...sis-core-2038/
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS) http://www.8bitfix.com/content/revie...-fantasy-5085/
Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP) http://www.8bitfix.com/content/revie...-fantasy-3812/
Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy (PSP) http://www.8bitfix.com/content/revie...-fantasy-2341/
Final Fantasy Funnies!
In Final Fantasy I, in Elfheim, a graveyard contains a headstone that reads "Here lies Link" Sorry, looks like Ganon won that one!
In Final Fantasy VII, if you respond well enough you can actually go on a 'date' with Barret instead of Aerith or Tifa! Be careful Cloud, once you go Barret, you never go back!
In Final Fantasy VIII the computer terminal in Quistis's classroom has an announcement by Balamb Garden stating "sexual promiscuity" is grounds for expulsion! Looks like they should name the river in the training grounds Dawson's Creek!
In Final Fantasy XIII if you continuously move a character back and forth enough they'll finally frustrated enough at you for this:
And there you have it folks. With so much input it's easy to see exactly why Final Fantasy has been around for 25 years. Even though these games have been everywhere and back again, I hope we can count on more entries to expand on what is already a definitive experience within the RPG genre. Much like the newly announced Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII!
Straight from the House of Cards, the White House, and the Not-so-secret Overground Base, this is WildCardCorsair on behalf of the entire 8bitfix crew saying a very happy anniversary, Final Fantasy!