So, my love affair with Square Enix began when the company was still known as Squaresoft. I was playing my first RPG ever and it just so happened to be Final Fantasy 8 (FF8). I was so enamored with the story telling that after I finished FF8 I went back to find the rest of their games. So that would be Vagrant Story, Xenogears, all the past Final Fantasies from 1 to 8, Chrono Trigger, etc. I was hooked. I wanted everything that this company had to offer because each experience was new, innovative and wonderful at immersing you into its world.
Fast forward to around the release date of Final Fantasy 10 (FF10) in 2001, Squaresoft announced their merger with the company, Enix, to take place in 2003. At this point I was unfamiliar with their games so of course I looked them up. They had published games in the West like Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile and Dragon Quest, whose style of RPG play I didn’t really care for at the time. Upon further reading I found out that while Enix published these games a lot of them were not actually developed in house unlike at Square. I wasn’t impressed with their catalog and was very confused as to why they would merge at all. I’m guessing it has something to do with finances but as a younger person I did not know or care about any of that. For the purpose of this post, I looked it up and was reminded about the monumental failure of the movie, Final Fantasy: Spirits Within that put the company in dire financial straits. FF10 was to be their last Squaresoft Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts was their last new Squaresoft IP that was a major success. After that, I feel like they may have lost their way.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for trying new things. They decided to start making sequels to their games starting with Final Fantasy 10-2 which I still disagree with to this day. I liked that each entry was self contained and the story was done whether u wanted it to be or not. They created their first MMORPG, Final Fantasy 11 (FF11), which I never played due to PS2 limitations. Final Fantasy 12 (FF12) was definitely inspired by that battle system or was used to test FF11 mechanics. Either way, FF12 was one of my least favorite Final Fantasy games with Final Fantasy 13 (FF13) a close second behind it. Final Fantasy 14 (FF14) was another MMORPG that flopped horribly at first launch but after a change of directors and a reboot it’s now very successful. (They may have been one of the few if not only game in gaming history to actually pull it off). Which leads me to their present game, Final Fantasy 15 (FF15).
This game started out as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. This game was supposed to be dark, gritty and a very big departure from the FF numbered games. You can find the trailer here. The community was excited. A new IP and a numbered Final Fantasy too? Sign us up. But somehow along the way we were into another console generation, 10 years post initial announcement, and the game had morphed into the next numbered entry. The game’s director, Tetsyua Nomura explained why in this interview back in 2013. We have gotten details about the game. It’s a departure completely from the turn based formula, ATB or otherwise, the game is entirely open world, there is stealth sections which is new to the series, VR elements etc. Its evolved/strayed/conformed from the JRPG roots that the series was known for and morphed into the Western Style RPGs that are very present in the market right now. There is so much hype surrounding this game because it is one of the numbered entries but I fear for its success (or its failure) because it’s so different. And for the first time since I fell in love with Final Fantasy 8, I could literally care less about this game or the company.
I guess I’m writing this to get thoughts about when SE became too afraid to follow through on a new idea with a new name and IP? I honestly think this game would have been better received had they kept it as the original game. The community would have been more forgiving of its flaws and ambition and maybe even clamored for more. I have read recent articles per IGN via the creators of Gran Tourismo, that the PS3 may have been a difficult system to create for so maybe that’s why SE pushed the game back so far. But now that it’s a main entry in the Final Fantasy series it may be under way more scrutiny because our nostalgia glasses are thick as fuck for the Squaresoft of days past.
But then, just as I have resigned myself to accept the new SE, they will do something interesting like release a game called I Am Setsuna. The game which states that it is inspired by Chrono Trigger from the art style to the traditional turn based game play. What are they trying to do here? I hear more people excited and clamoring for this game than Final Fantasy 15. I hear people more excited for Persona 5 and even the next Tales game before FF15. Both of those series stayed true to their audience and I believe that is what’s working in their favor now.
So I say all that to say this: if Final Fantasy 15 is a “flop” so to speak, when it comes to the numbered entries of Final Fantasy they should stick to what the community wants. (Minus sequels. Don’t even get me started on the Final Fantasy 7 Episodic Remake that was predictably MIA from E3 this year). If they want to do something vastly different, which I’m all for by the way, they should create a brand new IP to give it a chance to not be over scrutinized by the spoiled brats of the Final Fantasy of days past like me.
I guess to me, the reason why I fell in love with RPGs and JRPGS specifically was because it was different from Western games and had a charm all its own. Final Fantasy was the innovator and the staple for the genre because they took the RPG tropes and made games that made the player not care about it at all. I miss that Final Fantasy.
I wonder if after both of these games drop, FF15 and I Am Setsuna, if the climate for the company will change again. As of late, SE has been unreliable and promising a lot of things they can’t and don’t deliver on. (Except for FF14 which I’m a big fan of). FF13 and it’s sequels disappointed in a real way and if FF15 does the same the ship may have sailed away for me on the flagship series. We shall see though. Am I alone in my thinking about SE? Should I get over it and accept the changing climate of RPGs and SE? Let me know what you guys think.
Until Next Time,