Image courtesy of the Louis Vuitton Series 4 Campaign
If you’re any sort of gamer at all, you’ve probably heard of Final Fantasy, the science fiction and fantasy media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and developed and owned by the venerable Square Enix (formerly Square). The story behind the name is an interesting one, filled with twists and turns that show that sometimes, your best expectations may lead you astray. Back in 1987, Square was on the verge of bankruptcy, with only enough money to fund one last game. With the recent release of Dragon Quest showing that, contrary to conventional wisdom, roleplaying games could be commercially successful, they finally greenlit the game that Sakaguchi had wanted to make for years, the fantasy RPG we know today Final Fantasy.
When Sakaguchi first proposed the game, he’d called it Fighting Fantasy, but, given that this was Square’s last attempt to stay solvent – as well as being what he thought would be his last chance to work in the game industry (because if he failed, he’d have to go back to school to study something that would let him make a living) – the name was eventually changed.
To make a long story short, the game was not the failure they’d anticipated. A stunning success, it played a major role in repopularizing the genre, laying the foundation for Square’s later endeavours – and giving rise to the ironically named franchise (since if you think about it, calling something a Final Fantasy doesn’t really make sense, unless you’re really think its going to be your last). More than a series of games, Final Fantasy has become a cultural phenomenon, with its settings and characters far outliving their original games.
Thirty years after the release of the epnymous Final Fantasy, the characters (and plot) of the game continue to inspire new projects, with the infamous 8-bit Theater being foremost among them. Twenty years after the release of FFVII, Sephiroth and Cloud are still two of the most cosplayed characters at any convention – with most of their cosplayers too young to have been born when the game came out, though perhaps they will play the upcoming remake. And of course, only a little over ten years ago, a new series in the Final Fantasy Collection was announced: Fabula Nova Crystallis, with its first game, Final Fantasy XIII, intended to be a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy VII.
In upcoming posts, we’ll be exploring the world of Fabula Nova Crystallis and looking at how they reinterpret the themes of the original Final Fantasy series, seeing how, as one changes the future, one changes the past.