This could be one of the most common questions that gamers, and even more so, fans of the Final Fantasy series are asking. Some may think that Final Fantasy evolved for the better, some, for worse. Innovation in graphics, gameplay, music, and overall mechanics is to be expected with newer games, but did Final Fantasy retain the ?magic? it cast to its players in the past? Not many think so.
Perhaps, one of these gamers? laments (including mine) is about the part where the word ?Enix? was added to ?Square?, but that?s an entirely different matter, BUT it was the start of everything falling into pieces. ?Squaresoft? was producing quality Final Fantasy titles before the merge happened between Enix and Square.
Square-Enix also got focused more on re-releasing old titles, mobile apps and DLCs. This is another problem that made its way into the series? system, especially with the more recent titles like Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns.
But all these are just minor things that we can always overlook anyway, but something more serious happened in the series and it is the way that the characters in the later Final Fantasy games became forgettable and one-dimensional. From Final Fantasy VI, we got a villain, so evil, that we wanted to tear him to shreds, a main protagonist that is torn apart with her identity, twin brothers who parted ways, and even a father who is trying to mend his relationship with his daughter. These characters are well ?lived? in the game, and you get attached to them emotionally. Who would forget the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII?
The surface in the later Final Fantasy titles was thinner than ?paper that we never cared about what happened to the other characters after the game?s ending. There was barely any depth to their background at all.
So what else are we losing here? Storyline. One good (or bad) example of this is Final Fantasy XIII, which bombards the player with so much information on what?s going on, what?s going to happen, what needs to be done and what will probably happen. All in the first hour of the game. In our term, we can call this ?information overload? and this is not helping the game unfold its story naturally. A good contrast to this is Final Fantasy VIII, which had ?very good storytelling. Even though the game?s a bit clich??d, everything in the story was presented in a timely manner.
If only Square-Enix would actually know what their fans loved about the series, more people would actually get more interested in the game and it would actually stand out in the competition (like it used to).
Image Source: Screen grab from Square Enix’s LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII Launch Trailer