Nostalgia is one of the key components for marketing an established series, remake, or sequel. Whether it’s Batman, Ghostbusters or whatever the hell else Hollywood and game industries try to make a cash cow, childhood memories are a gold mine. However, depending on the hype and the how the bloodthirsty fans receive the release, re-releases can be pretty dangerous territory. In the game world, so many companies rely on their dynasty games for revenue. Xbox has its Halo and Gears of War, PlayStation has Uncharted, and Nintendo has its many first party games, but what makes each entry part of that series?
Game franchises grow and expand over the years, trying new things or sticking with the same old formulas. Sometimes they grow stale and repetitive, but some become almost unrecognizable. The question is, what really defines a game series? What makes each part of that series connect with the ones that came before it? When does a game no longer fit the original mold and when does it need to make a change?
Final Fantasy: A Legend
One of the game series I’ve fallen in love with over the years was Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy has established itself as one of the greatest RPG series of all time from way back in 1987 to today.
There have been so many main installments (1-15) and so many other off-shoots that it really has become a household name. Over the years, however, the series has evolved in so many different ways that it has attracted new fans, alienated old ones, and completely changed its look. Each entry provides a different play style, a different story, and over the years the series has traveled from medieval times to a futuristic era. Regardless of whether someone is a die-hard fan or someone who is just discovering the series, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly a “Final Fantasy” is anymore.
Some would argue that the series is no longer what it once was based on the changes of the time period, the battle system tweaks, or the experience of the game. Others say that there is nothing wrong with the series making changes to fit a modern world with modern needs. That all being said, does throwing a character named Cid and slapping in a few Chocobos and Moogles make a game a Final Fantasy title? What about all of the off-shoots like Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Legends, Crystal Chronicles, Dissidia, or any of the other games born from the main series?
Getting a Series Right
Like I said, nostalgia is tricky – sometimes it’s not about familiar faces, but a familiar feel or experience that brings a long-time gamer back to a series. So how can a company manage that when the story changes in every entry? What type of gamers do these companies want to attract? Are they just publishing games with this title to draw in the fans for the cash? With the announcement of the Final Fantasy VII remake, I can only sit back and wonder what the outlook will be. There is something to be said about hype: it can destroy the experience. Granted, the remake’s release will bring all of the fans; some will likely be disappointed, some will love the changes, and others won’t tell just because…fanatics are just the worst. (Oh, those blind die-hards who think that X company, movie, or sports team can do no wrong.)
Rather than talk out what I think is right or wrong with Final Fantasy as a whole, in a small series, I’m going to be taking a look at all the main installments of the series plus one (Final Fantasy Tactics, because that game is awesome). This series will examine each Final Fantasy title from its humble beginnings to the final entries; each entry will include the criticisms, accolades, and a bit of memory for each game. I hope you enjoy it!
Before we begin, are you a fan of the Final Fantasy series? Which one is your favorite installment and why? Stay tuned for the first installment on the original Final Fantasy!