When I was first getting into role playing games, I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of the Japanese stuff as I was only really into Legend of Zelda and Dragon Warrior as a kid. My brother was responsible for a large amount of video game purchases in my household when I first got into gaming so the only way I got into Final Fantasy was when it was my turn to rent a game at a local movie rental store and since my brother didn’t really like it – weird, since he was into Dragon Warrior and everything – playing of the game was all mine. It was one of the first experiences I had playing a game all alone and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I ever had as a young gamer. It was right about then that I was starting to get into games of my own – you should have seen my face light up when I got Super Mario Bros. 2 a couple Easters before, a game only I asked for, was my very first, as my mother was something of a casual gamer and my brother was pretty hardcore about the games he did like – and it was rather convenient because, at that time, we were regularly renting games from the same place and if we wanted or really liked one, the guy who owned the store would set it aside for us. It was kind of a mom-and-pop setup and me and my brother were probably the reason their kids got to go to college so it wasn’t much trouble. I remember them actually selling us their copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 because we rented it so often and they needed a reason to get another copy so others could rent it.
That nice little trip down memory lane aside, I really enjoyed Final Fantasy, eventually having it bought for myself but I was one of those rare owners whose cart was eternally glitched in that there was one part of the world map that was impassible no matter what you did and it was a path you needed to get past in order to progress in the story so… yeah… I was a little disheartened and I didn’t end up completing the game, for real, for a long time. It wasn’t until I had picked up Final Fantasy IV – then called Final Fantasy II for us on the North American shores – and, thanks to the wonders of the internet, found that there were many more titles in the series over in Japan. Of course, at the time, emulation was the only way you could play them but by the time I got to Final Fantasy VI – again, at that time, called Final Fantasy III over here – I had known all about the previous NES and SNES releases we never got and I’d played them all, even some that were translated, and I started noticing a pattern: they all followed some kind of sequence for the main franchise entries.
This sequence called for four things to happen: three games would be released, per generation; the first game would be an introduction of the franchise to the new generation and break new ground technically; the second game would introduce new and experimental concepts to the franchise as well as new story tropes and concepts; finally, the third one would be a refined masterpiece that tied up all the lessons learned by the company over that generation’s sequence. There would be slight variations to this sequence but, more or less, up until the last generation, which saw more spin-offs and general craziness in the franchise than actual franchise progression.
It’s not something I’m incredibly rigid about, unlike other concepts I’ve adhered to, over the years: mostly because it’s not something I’ve ever gotten the chance to ask anyone at Square about and no one else really seems to feel the same way so it’s something that’s always been kind of unique to me and I thought I’d share it with you guys. I’m kind of hoping this generation will see a return to form but I’m, honestly, I’m not crossing my fingers. I’ve still got a lot of hope for Final Fantasy XV, though.