Final Fantasy I
This is a day that truly sneaked up on me, even though in the back of my mind I knew it was coming and have for months. It might be a sign of the times, or at least a sign of my times, but I couldn't let it go unmarked here or anywhere else that I frequent: on this day, twenty-five years ago, Final Fantasy (back then, it didn't even need a Roman numeral) was released in Japan. Well, technically, that day likely came about yesterday for you if you're reading this, due to time zones and such. But still! 18th December!
I personally played that game almost from the day it was released Stateside. I'd seen all sorts of hubbub for the game in the months leading up to its American release in 1990, mostly from Nintendo Power magazine - of course, back then, that magazine and its ilk were the only ways to find out about such things. It had already captured my imagination, causing me to create my own ideas of what the weapons might look like, and even writing proto-fanfiction, and by the time I was able to get my hands on it the hype it had created in my own ten-year-old mind was massive.
And the game lived up to it.
It felt different from the only other JRPG I'd seen before it, Dragon Warrior (Quest). The party system, the more animated battles, and the sheer accessibility of the game relative to Dragon Warrior felt like a sea change in gaming, and it was one I was crazy for. While I didn't actually complete Final Fantasy for a great many years after first playing it, it triggered a fandom in me that led to me playing and/or owning every American-released game in the series within days of its release all the way through Final Fantasy IX.
That's a good part of my story with regards to the original Final Fantasy, now turning twenty-five. From a wider angle, though, there's more to it. This game not only essentially introduced an entire gaming company to the West, it also saved that same company, should you believe Hironobu Sakaguchi. That company went on to produce dozens and dozens of games, games that made a splash on generation after generation of gaming consoles and the gamers who owned them, and that was before they merged with another JRPG titan, Enix.
This game was and is huge. It didn't sell the most, and none of the many incarnations of the first game will ever win any beauty awards. It did, however, pave the way for just about every JRPG that came after it, and created a killer app for a lot of hardware manufacturers; how many people must have bought a SNES for Final Fantasy VI, VI or Chrono Trigger? How many people bought a PlayStation when they saw the gorgeous TV advertisements for Final Fantasy VII or in one of the dozens of entertainment magazines carrying them?
This game created Final Fantasy. This game jumpstarted the JRPG in the West. This game did a lot of things right and still moves units, all the way up to the PSP and iOS releases. But most importantly to me, it made it possible for all of us to be here right now, though we didn't cover it here until 2004. What legacy could be better than that?
Join us in celebrating Final Fantasy today. Share this news or your own thoughts both here and to your social networks (if you're on Twitter, use our hashtag, #FinalFantasy25, on Facebook, tag us!). It's okay to be excited about this. A good chunk of your lineage as a gamer came from this day twenty-five years ago, even if you weren't here to see it.
As part of the celebration for the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary, Square Enix brought in a wide array of artists to create an album celebrating the music of the series up to now. This is not exactly new news, though I believe we missed it in tidbits around the time that it was announced in October. The album was released last week, though, and to promote it a bit more, Square Enix Music posted this medley video to YouTube earlier this week, with samples of a large number of the tracks.
There's a lot of variety on show in this video, and it really makes for some fresh takes on some of the Final Fantasy music that we've heard for many, many years. It's piqued my interest, so I took some time to try to find some English-language shops that sell the double disc; while AmaCoN looked a bit pricey, I found that another of our shop affiliates, Play Asia, has the set for $35.00 including free shipping. If the video makes you want this for Christmas or... New Year's (?), hit that link right away.
Source: Square Enix YouTube, Destructoid
A slightly abbreviated tidbits today, both because the good news is a bit thin this week and also because I'm not working today. Funny that I have more time to post the news when I'm at my office, right?
Let's start with the news that is my favorite for the week but has the least overall impact on the gaming world: the original Final Fantasy is now available for the Nintendo Virtual Console. For 500 points, you can play the true original version, with all of its (by today's standards, anyway) slow gameplay and clunky mechanics intact. Will users have any use for this release beyond nostalgia, with revised ports already available for no fewer than three platforms in North America? Probably not, but feel free to prove me wrong here, Wii owners. We... do have Wii owners who read the site, right?
Next up is a followup to last week's tidbits with the subbed Final Fantasy XIII trailer. This week you can get the real deal - an authentic English voice-acted trailer straight from Square Enix. Since the rest of the trailer is the same as you've no doubt seen by now, what do you think of the English dub? As usual for voice acting in Squenix games, it seems to be pretty polarizing—I personally didn't really expect too much, but it does seem like the syncing from voice to character action is a little worse in this video than I would have expected.
Finally, Square Enix released some early monster renders for Final Fantasy XIV this week. This is a nice small news item, and from what I hear several of these renders are pretty much just updates of existing designs from Final Fantasy XI, but they're pretty cool nonetheless. I am a particular fan of the crazy zebra-dragon-velociraptor hybrid and the cactuar's pimp strut. And that marlboro? That thing is legitimately terrifying.
Oh, and just to see if anyone actually reads these posts, I want to point out that you need to start taking quizzes during October if you want to be qualified to win the prize at the New Year. You have to have at least ten quizzes in your name by then to qualify, and if you miss the ones that are open right now, there's no way to catch up!
Source: Nintendo, Kotaku, GameTrailers
Good news for those gamers who haven't grabbed one of the FF1/FF2 remakes yet and who own a PSP: Final Fantasy I and II are heading your way this summer.
Originally announced only for Japan, the remastered versions of the first two games in our favourite series will mark the twentieth anniversary of Final Fantasy. The original Final Fantasy will appear on 26 June 2007, followed shortly by Final Fantasy II on 24 July. Both games will go for $29.99.
Honestly, I have a hard time getting excited over this. You can already buy these games together on the original Playstation for far less than the combined price of $60, and can't you rip PS1 games onto memory sticks if you just have to make them portable?
I just don't see the appeal. Square is releasing two of the weaker games in the series separately at an expensive price for a handheld no one can afford to own. Why bother?
As earlier mentioned by Elena, Final Fantasy I + II Advance is slated for release later this month in Japan.
Aside from a convenient new "save anywhere" function in FFI and extensive graphical and audio overhauls in both games, each title will feature new items, story elements and dungeons unique to the GBA release.
Final Fantasy I will include a new dungeon accessible at the end of the game, where players will be able to begin the "Soul of Chaos" quest.
To complete this quest, players will be required to defeat, in sequence, more powerful versions of the game's four fiends: Lich, Marilith, Kraken, and Tiamat.
And during the quest, bosses from Final Fantasy III(j) through VI(j) will appear in battle, including FFIV's Four Fiends, FFV's Gilgamesh, and FFVI's Chupon.
Additionally, a span of new items will be available, including an Ultima Weapon sword and full set of Crystal armor.
Final Fantasy II will include an extra chapter in the game's story, entitled "Soul of Rebirth." During this chapter, players will follow the activities of a new party composed entirely of assisting characters from the original game: Ming Wu, Scott, Joseph, Richard, and Cid.
Enemies during this segment of the game will be equipped with powerful new spells, and will include a new boss named Ultima Weapon.
Final Fantasy I + II Advance's July 27 release date is still tentative, as Square Enix has already pushed back the release once (from it's original schedule of July 15) due to a coding glitch.
The game is set to retail for 6,090 yen ($55-58).
Though it's nice to see some classics getting deserved attention, and the new features sound like fun, Square Enix seems to be pushing the early Final Fantasy titles a little far--along with this upcoming GBA release, official releases have recently been made for the PSX (Final Fantasy Origins), the Wonderswan Color, and even newer Japanese cell phone models using the NTT DoCoMo service.
It was recently announced that there will be a tweaked version of FF1, for the GBA. So far, the news includes bonus dungeons, a tentative release date in Japan of 29/07 of this year, and the fact that you can apparently fight Gilgamesh, Shinryuu, Ultros, Chupon, and the Four Fiends.
The Official Website for this release, though all in Japanese, provides some interesting screens to look at. Use the convenient gloved-hand menu navigator to load pictures.
(FF2 is also mentioned, but unfortunately we do not have further information on it at this time.)
We hope to get more information on this from Phoenix, our newsie currently staying in Japan. And the character images are very cute, but that's to be expected from a GBA, for some reason.