In just two weeks, Square Enix will launch their next installment of the Final Fantasy series: Final Fantasy XIII.
This game has been one of the most hyped and eagerly awaited games in the entire Final Fantasy series. Not just because it is the next numbered installment of one of the biggest names in the role playing genre, nor because it is the first Final Fantasy on this current generation of consoles, but because it is the flagship title for a the Fabula Nova Crystallis (that would be Latin for “The New Tale of the Crystal”) collection, which Square Enix plans to expand upon for the remainder of this decade.
Square Enix has gone to the well with this tactic before with the Final Fantasy VII Compilation and Ivalice Alliance. Both of these collections, however, were afterthoughts. The Final Fantasy VII Compilation only started to come together well after the initial release of Final Fantasy VII and was comprised of several spin off games and movies related to the original game’s cast and story. The Ivalice Alliance likewise came about a couple months after the release of Final Fantasy XII and tied together older games such as the Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance series, as well as adding on new games such as Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Job System (never released in the US), and the re-release of Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP (entitled Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions). Unlike the Final Fantasy VII Compilation, the Ivalice Alliance only had the common link of the world of Ivalice and didn’t necessarily involve the same cast of characters.
This time around, the Fabula Nova Crystallis series has been planned out well in advance. Each game will center around a common theme this time around with the centerpiece being a famous part of the Final Fantasy story: the crystal. While each game will occur in a different world and a different cast of characters, the crystal will tie it all together, creating the mythology for each world as well as aiding in plot development for each game. Each game will also take place in a futuristic setting (this is the “new story” after all) as well.
Final Fantasy XIII will lead this charge and introduce gamers to this new collection, with Final Fantasy XIII Versus and Final Fantasy XIII Agito to follow later on.
As I mentioned earlier, with this next-gen release of their flagship series, the Square Enix has put the hype machine into overdrive. Japan was absolutely bombarded with any and everything Final Fantasy XIII…actually…bombarded might be a conservative estimate, as Japan was introduced with not only several ads and banners, but also a new carbonated beverage and a perfume. The hype has also extended to the States. LA residents were greeted by gigantic banners and even here in my hometown of Dallas, Square Enix sponsored part of the NBA All-Star weekend. Yes, that’s right, NBA fans were able to witness the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game sponsored by Final Fantasy XIII.
Crazy hype aside, I have been looking forward to this release for a very long time. The Final Fantasy series has easily been my all-time favorite. The series introduced me to the RPG, and ever since a friend let me borrow Final Fantasy IV (well, in those days, it was actually called Final Fantasy II), I have been hooked. And with the release so close, I have also wanted to toss in my own small brand of hype in preparation for this release.
So I decided that, for the next thirteen days, I will be counting down and ranking the previous thirteen numbered installments of the Final Fantasy series (see what I did there?). The countdown will start tomorrow and end with what I consider the best Final Fantasy game to date on the eve of the release date for Final Fantasy XIII (as I’m sure come release day, anyone that was reading the countdown will be playing).
For those thinking I am having severe issues counting and wondering why I am saying there are thirteen numbered installments, it is because I am counting Final Fantasy X-2, the direct sequel to Final Fantasy X, in this countdown. Why am I including that game and not any other Final Fantasy game? Simply put, it’s gameplay is similar to the rest of the numbered installments. The Final Fantasy Tactics series as well as spinoffs from other numbered Final Fantasy games are completely different animals as those games ranged anywhere from action-based, strategy-based, fighting, and a third-person shooter. Basically, I’m trying to compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges here (plus it keeps the game count at thirteen!).
How will I be making these evaluations? I will take a look at what I consider the major staples of the series: the story, the villian(s), the characters, the battle system, the music, and the side-quests that are involved in each game.
Translation: it will be completely subjective and based solely on my opinion.
Every morning I will publish a new post and the next game in my ranking will be revealed. So make sure to swing by here every day as I take a nostalgic look at a series that has sucked my life away like none other. I will keep a running tally of each game in the list below. Each game will be linked to it’s respective post, so if you happen to miss a day (or jump into the countdown late) it will be very easy to play catchup.
Update: Trying to do this in thirteen days started out as a wonderful idea, but being ahead soon turned into finishing posts the day before and then resulted in me falling behind. The countdown will continue, but uh…think of it as thirteen random days! I will stay on the posts as best I can, but rest assured the countdown will (eventually) complete as planned.