Random Encounters: The Evolution of ‘Final Fantasy’
Change is good, and 'Final Fantasy' is always changingon March 20, 2014 at 8:00 am
Gamers are fickle. This disposition is even stronger when they’re “fans” of something. Excruciatingly eager to defend something to the death if they love it. Resolutely ready to award death to anyone who disagrees with their distaste.
There is no middle ground. There is no grey. There is no compromise.
There are few examples of this that are finer than the vehement reaction to the “Final Fantasy XIII” series. Want to feel the tug and pull of suicidal tendencies creep into your brain cavity? Hop onto a message board discussing these games. The tinge of life-ending thoughts will enter your mind within minutes.
It probably won’t be because you find the conversation obnoxious or frustratingly one-sided. It will be because you’ll be in agreement! Decked out in your cloak, dagger at the side, fresh pitcher of poison-laced Kool-Aid on the refreshments table; you’ll be ready to engage in the ritualistic sacrifices and hara-kiri that will ensure, through dark magicks, that everyone who enjoys the thing you dislike will suffer, and the coded bane of your existence will be wiped clean from the Earth.
This isn’t even isolated to the Internet. I even heard a neckbeard of the female variety say, “I USED to like “Final Fantasy”…at least, I did until ‘Final Fantasy XIII’ came out.” Yes, you, holed up in the back of podunk, hole in the wall, table-top gaming store, with four empty cans of Mountain Dew in front of you, complaining to other neckbeards, is EXACTLY the kind of customer Square Enix is looking for.
If companies catered purely to those types of gamers, they’d all be bankrupt in three weeks.
But, I’m being too harsh. Because it’s not JUST the neckbeards who are the very vocal minority this time around. There aren’t many who have been happy with these recent “FF” offerings. The general reception, both by players and critics, has been largely tepid or fervent rage.
What I find most interesting is that the “Final Fantasy” series has never been one to rest on its laurels, to play it safe or give in to demands. Always pushing and coming up with new ideas, it’s been a series that moves its genre forward, whether people like it or not. So, why do fans continue to insist that, “It’s not the same anymore?”
To be fair, it sort of does those things on the side now, preferring to create spin-offs and sequels in place of new and unique experiences. This can be attributed to the current status of the industry, because Square Enix Enix is not alone in these actions. Really, with all of the remasters and ports, “Final Fantasy” is more of the same than it’s ever been.
State of gaming aside, it must be difficult to be a fan of a singular “Final Fantasy” game or a particular era of games. Square Enix is always changing things up on you, forcing you to run to the hive mind of the Internet to vent your anger and express your concerns that they’ve “lost their way”. That’s probably very time consuming. Doesn’t leave much time for playing games.
What do I think? I’m a fan of the entire series. I take the good with the bad. I appreciate its boldness, which is something that can’t be said for most JRPG franchises. I don’t like every “FF” game, but when I want a AAA JRPG experience, there is nothing better.
“Tyler, I know us ‘Faceless Opposers’ always pop up in your articles to provide a voice to argue against, but “Final Fantasy” has always been the same exact thing! That’s what we love about it, safe consistency!”
Yeah, I know you folk are always there when I need you, thanks. But, “Final Fantasy” has most assuredly been one of the most fluid, innovative, impactful, and experimental JRPG franchises. I fail to think of anything else that has done more for the genre that is as big as “FF” is.