Over the past decade, the Final Fantasy series has fallen out of favor with a majority of gamers, who have gone toward MMORPG’s and other styles of games. There are plenty of reasons why the Final Fantasy series hasn’t been well received in the last few years, between long development times, shifting game mechanics and a changing industry landscape; but I still love the series, and there are many reasons why.
The first reason why I still love the Final Fantasy series, is that each game contains a living, breathing world, from the world of Final Fantasy IV with airships, espers and kingdoms at war, all the way to the upcoming Final Fantasy XV which seems to blend modern technology and ideology, with the fading influence of the crystals seen prominently in earlier Final Fantasy games. One thing that can be noticed as the Final Fantasy series progressed was that the settings and worlds changed depending on the current events in the world at the time, with technologies that shifted over time as well.
A great example of this is Final Fantasy VII, which, if you look at it realistically, has environmentalism and eco-friendly themes at its core. Final Fantasy VII blended technology of the 90’s like the first cell phones (also known in game as the PHS system) while focusing on important elements in current events like the push for environmentally friendly energy (symbolized by the Mako Reactors killing the planet).
Another great example of this is Final Fantasy XV, the newest Final Fantasy game, which while unreleased has shown us plenty of information to prove that it is keeping up with current societal elements such as being able to drive a car (that eventually can fly, adding a fantastical element) and the modern look to some of the in game cities and clothing styles. These things prove that Final Fantasy is more than just a game franchise; it could be considered a cultural mirror, with various games showcasing cultural elements and changing social norms.
The second reason I love the Final Fantasy series, is that it isn’t all about the combat and gameplay. Every Final Fantasy has a narrative at its center that is surrounded by developed characters and struggles that actual people can relate with. Cloud’s struggle with his identity in Final Fantasy VII is one example, while the concept of sacrifice that is common in Final Fantasy X can also be an example. The concept of romance pops up in quite a few Final Fantasy titles as well, from Cecil and Rosa in Final Fantasy IV, to Zidane and Garnet in Final Fantasy IX. Sometimes they end well, like in Final Fantasy IX and IV, while other romances are more tragic like Cloud and Aeris in Final Fantasy VII or Yuna and Tidus in Final Fantasy X.
Despite the central narrative changing between games, the third and most important reason for me as to why I still love the Final Fantasy series is the emphasis on strategic gameplay. Focusing on elemental weaknesses, status effects, character equipment and other elements of gameplay are important. I love the ability to face each problem multiple ways, and while some games haven’t done this very well (like Final Fantasy XIII) I still love the wide range of ways Square Enix tries to challenge players.
These are just a few reasons and examples of why I still love the Final Fantasy series. It looks as though Final Fantasy XV will carry this tradition on, and I can’t wait to see the new world that Square Enix has created. Despite the Final Fantasy series falling out of favor, with the epidemic of broken games and buggy releases I still love the Final Fantasy games no matter how long their development times are. I don’t see my love for Final Fantasy changing any time soon, With World of Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XV, and the Final Fantasy VII Remake (not to mention Kingdom Hearts III) I’ll have plenty of Final Fantasy games to indulge my love for them.