Final Fantasy: 25 Years of RPG Greatness

Black Mage

A couple of days ago, one of gaming’s greatest franchises hit a very special milestone — Final Fantasy turned 25 years old. It’s hard to believe that a quarter of a century ago, series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi released what he believed to be his swan song, the game that would end his career as a game developer. Much to the delight of millions of RPG fans, that turned out not to be the case.

Even though the series sometimes gets a bad rap because of its current direction and its sometimes head-scratching missteps, it’s hard to argue that Final Fantasy as a whole hasn’t changed gaming for the better. Because of this series, developers dared to bring sweeping, epic stories of magic and empires, rogues and princesses to gamers everywhere. I know that in my own life, Final Fantasy is responsible for some of the more profound moments of my adolescence, from seeing the crumbling urban setting of Midgar to the rolling plains of Ivalice.

Say what you will about where RPGs stand today, its longstanding themes of camerederie, friendship and redemption were uplifting then and still are today, in a way that most modern games fail to tap into. Those kinds of experiences rank among what I miss the most about the games I played a decade ago, and I’m still waiting for the Final Fantasy experience in today’s generation.

So here’s a salute to Final Fantasy — happy birthday, you old devil. Feel free to share some of your favorite memories and moments in the series. Go!

Update: In addition, OC Remix has released a metal tribute to Final Fantasy I, with dozens of tracks dedicated to the first game’s soundtrack. Check it out.

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

7 thoughts on “Final Fantasy: 25 Years of RPG Greatness”

  1. Final Fantasy Tactics is my favorite FF because it had such a powerful character-driven story, not to mention great strategy gameplay. As for a traditional FF game, I’ve got to say FF9 is probably my favorite, and FF5 is a close third. I also actually liked FFXII because the story was great and I liked the combat even though a lot of folks didn’t for whatever reason. I enjoyed the Final Fantasy series, but it’s kinda gotten meh recently. I wouldn’t say it’s dead, but it ain’t the shining pinnacle of gameplay it used to be.

  2. When I was young my cousin’s neighbour had some early FF games that we would watch him play, which are some of my earliest memories of “real video games”. Our family had an SNES, but my dad played NHL 93, Pilot Wings or Super Mario World with me.

    When I was older I played FF VIII on PC and I played Mystic Quest on SNES (which I bought by accident thinking it was a different game, only to find out it was a largely dislikeable Final Fantasy game) about 4 or 5 year ago.

    Now I’ve got the NA releases of FF II and FF III on SNES that I’m looking forward to getting through; It’s an interesting feat to me because I don’t really like magic, wizards, trolls or that kind of lore.

  3. My favourite FF is FFX. That admission usually sets me at odds with other fans. At the moment I’m enjoying FFIX which I recently got back into after about a year long break. I really like it, what with the setting, the art style and the combat system. I am also trying to knock out FFXIII over the summer. It’s not going well.

  4. FF VI will always be my favorite – not only only the merits of its epic story, compelling characters and great gameplay, but also for the fact that it revealed the potential of console gaming to me. I’d done all my gaming on a PC until the 16-bit era, and while I desperately wanted a console for Mario and other sort of casual titles, I had already decided at that point that PC was the only platform for “serious” gaming. When I scrimped together enough money for an SNES, it was mostly to play Super Mario World and Street Fighter II. I’m honestly not sure what possessed me to drop all $80 of my birthday money on FF VI, knowing nothing about the game or the series at the time, but it was well worth it.

  5. We all know my fervent love for this series. Eddy did a great job of illustrating why this series is so revered.

    For myself, I will simply say that it is my favorite series of all time, with my favorite game and my favorite music and I love it as much as I do Star Wars.

  6. I love games, and have for a while, and there are games that I like better than any in the Final Fantasy series. But still, nothing gets me more excited than hearing about new FF, especially if it’s got a number directly after it. I think it’s the characters. Mass Effect, Beyond Good and Evil, Psychonauts, Ico. All wonderful games, but they don’t have Locke, Celes, Aeris, Zidane, Vaan, or Ashe.

    The first, I watched a friend play from start to almost end (he beat it without me, goddamnit!!). The third (in the US, now sixth), I borrowed a friend’s SNES to play, and it was everything I always wanted in a video game. Meaning actual character motivation and growth. I’m playing it again on my Android emulator now. (The only time since FFIII that I’ve felt that same sense of wonder since is when I picked up Demon’s Souls.) The seventh, I took a PS home from the video rental store I worked at and played all night, then left it on while I worked the next day so I wouldn’t lose my game before I bought a memory card. The rest are more normal experiences, but except for X (sorry Skuba) and the online iterations, I’ve enjoyed the time I spent whatever world is bringing me chocobos and moogles.

    My ranking: XII, IX, VI, VII, VIII, XIII, I, with X as a distant last (never played II-V, and still going through XIII-2).

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