Final Fantasy used to be a name that evoked wonder and anticipation. Whenever a new Final Fantasy title was being released RPG gamers would run to their local gaming establishment and give them countless dollars out of their pockets for special editions, strategy guides, toys, t-shirts, posters, and soundtracks. Now the series is a relic. Something that was once great and looked upon with nostalgia, but not much else. The past three Final Fantasy games (X, XII, and XIII) were all divisive, as the series has not found its center since the days of VII, VIII, and IX. As I would hate to lose this series, the next installment has some real challenges ahead of it. Square needs XV to bring back old fans and entice new gamers to plunk down $60. What many of us may not understand, is that Square Enix NEEDS this game to perform well. We need Final Fantasy back in the limelight. Here’s why….
It’s Final Fantasy!
Like Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, and Pac-Man; Final Fantasy is an important piece of the intricate fabric of video game history. It’s the most traditional of the RPGs and deserves a little respect! Just like I said about Mega Man, Final Fantasy is one of the series that could greatly benefit from its lineage. The classics all seem to hang around forever. It’s why series get weeded out, only so many can withstand the test of time (Sonic had better watch himself). Final Fantasy is very close to obscurity, if it isn’t already there. Final Fantasy XIII did nothing to invigorate its fanbase. FFXV could be the pill we need to bring this onetime great series back to where it belongs!
Final Fantasy Represents Square’s Future
While wonderful games like Kingdom Hearts III are on the horizon as well, Final Fantasy is the series that will push Square forward into the future. It’s the job of this series to push the envelope, push gaming consoles to their limits, and be the modern take on the JRPG. Square’s long lineage retro-love will still continue with the Bravely series, so there still is appreciation for classic gameplay. There have been two paths paved: one representative of what Final Fantasy was and embracing that (Bravely Default), and one that will embrace the future (Final Fantasy). It was a brilliant decision by Square to do that, so they can take risks with one series and change the game, while the other will give us the classic feel we want!
Many analysts were calling for the end of the JRPG. “It’s over!” they said! The modern JRPG could not stand on its own two legs next to giants like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. Then we got Xenoblade Chronicles to be localized for the US (Thanks Operation Rainfall!). The interest and sales made Eastern companies realize that there was still love for the JRPG in the United States. Shortly after Xenoblade Chronicles, we were graced with Ni No Kuni, more Tales games, and Bravely Default. These games may not have been localized without the mass emails, letters, and internet activism that allowed them to come here. Because of that the US will most likely get more and more JRPGs like Persona 5, Tales of Zestiria, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. The JRPG has a second life ahead of itself in the US and Final Fantasy can be champion this genre needs! JRPGs don’t have to be sequestered to the handheld consoles, we want big, bright games to play on our 60″ TVs! Activist groups like Op-Rainfall are at the forefront and have been instrumental in making this phenomenon known. I think we will continue to see the health of this genre continue to improve and see more of the niche and quirky RPGs over here. It could put Square back on top, and make them look like a hero. Though it’s all dependent on the success of Final Fantasy XV.
Square Needs a Return to Form
Final Fantasy XII and XIII broke the mold quite a bit for the series. Whether it was XII’s wacky gambit system, or the insanity of ATB/Stagger/borefest of Final Fantasy XIII, FF has needed some form of change for a while. This metamorphosis has given us Final Fantasy XV, an action RPG in its own right. Expect it to play a lot like Kingdom Hearts with more FF flair. That’s cool, because that embraces the “new”. Next, the character designs are very reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII and VIII, once again embracing the series’ history. XV can really bring things back to basics, while still feeling new and fresh. This concept has worked over at Nintendo for years, and it needs to be employed at Square. Final Fantasy XV already feels nostalgic from all of the video, gameplay, and trailers I’ve watched. The game plays with a certain respect for its history without trying to give us some strange techno-future. It’s modern and old, respectful while being rebellious, and it appears to speak to a new generation. I’m excited for this blend of styles, and I think it will give us something that is just quite what we wanted.
I really hope that Final Fantasy XV does this for the series. It has the power to do so. JRPGs have always been some of my favorite games on Earth and as a big supporter of Final Fantasy it would be great to see the series come back and assume its position among the best and brightest. I also hope that it brings more visibility to the growing fanbase of JRPGs and embraces its cultural significance. I also hope it gives them the money to localize Dragon Quest VII for the 3DS…because I really want that game.
As of today, Square is about 60% done with FFXV, which means that we may not see it in 2015, but we can dream and hope, right?