Final Fantasy (universe)
Electrical engineering student Hironobu Sakaguchi became a part-time employee at Square shortly after it was founded as a computer game-centric division of a power line construction company named Den-Yu-Sha. He became a full-time employee as the Director of Planning and Development when Square later separated from its parent company, and had intended to create a role-playing video game modeled after the foundations of then-separate company Enix's Dragon Quest. Thematically inspired by role-playing forerunners such as Ultima, Wizardry, and Dungeons & Dragons, the game was later alleged to have received the name "Final Fantasy" because it was anticipated by the company to be its final project under the threat of bankruptcy. The outcome of the release starkly contrasted with expectations, however, as the game's December 1987 release on Nintendo's Famicom sold more than half a million copies. When Dragon Quest later met success with its North American localization as Dragon Warrior, Nintendo of America released a similarly localized version of Final Fantasy in July 1990, to modest success.
Though Dragon Quest was among the first to effect a divergence of styles in the role-playing genre that resulted in the formation of what is commonly known as the Japanese role-playing genre, Final Fantasy played a critical role in granting it its initial surge of popularity. However, the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) style would remain relatively obscure in the public spotlight throughout many years to come, even as many new JRPG properties were introduced both within Square's efforts and outside it, such as a legendary collaboration between Square, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii, and manga artist Akira Toriyama that resulted in Chrono Trigger. Final Fantasy, under producer Sakaguchi's watchful eye, began to release a continuous succession of numbered sequels - which, in stark contrast to most other video game series, were never traditional sequels or continuations and rarely carried over characters. Much like in Fire Emblem, each of the mainstream Final Fantasy games that were developed and released are self-contained works tied tangentially by shared thematic and design similarities, such as Final Fantasy II and III for the Famicom, and for a while, only some of the games received worldwide localization; Final Fantasy IV for the Super Famicom - which introduced the "Active Time Battle" concept to the series - was released worldwide in 1991 as "Final Fantasy II", and after Final Fantasy V remained a Japan-only Super Famicom release, Final Fantasy VI was released worldwide for Super Nintendo in 1994 as "Final Fantasy III".
Though Final Fantasy VI would become critically regarded in its own right as one of the greatest and most landmark JRPGs ever developed, the JRPG genre remained relatively niche in Western markets. As polygon graphics began to take root in the industry's landscape with the release of systems like the Sony PlayStation, Sakaguchi felt that the franchise might be left behind if it did not catch up to the 3D graphics used in other games - but because Nintendo's then-upcoming 3D-based console, the Nintendo 64, was based on cartridges and therefore lacked the memory storage needed for the project's scope, Square ended its relationship with Nintendo and developed Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation. What resulted was the most expensive videogame of its time, with a development budget of around $45 million - equivalent to $67 million in 2015. The game's international release - which was consistently titled Final Fantasy VII despite prior installments not having been released outside Japan at the time - was preceded by a heavy marketing campaign.
Final Fantasy VII received widespread critical acclaim that was nonetheless eclipsed by the videogame's commercial success and impact on the games industry. Famously referred to by one publication as "quite possibly the greatest game ever made", the game - spread out across three PlayStation discs packaged together - was seen for its time as an unprecedented blend of gameplay, interactive movie elements, and character-driven narrative, the last of which included what was argued to be one of the most infamous character deaths in the medium. On the back of character designer Tetsuya Nomura's now-iconic cast, the game is viewed to have single-handedly vastly expanded the conventional global audience for the JRPG genre, and Final Fantasy itself became one of the most popular video game franchises. The extent to which the game had become a killer app for the PlayStation led protagonist Cloud Strife to become an unofficial mascot for both his series and the console as a whole. Every main-numbered Final Fantasy to follow would receive enormous amounts of attention and sales success as a direct outcome of Final Fantasy VII's own.
Final Fantasy VII's setting introduced a post-industrial science-fiction element to the formerly medieval fantasy-grounded intellectual property, and the involvement of science fiction in a Final Fantasy mythos was expanded with 1999's Final Fantasy VIII. After 2000's Final Fantasy IX deliberately returned to the more traditional fantasy trappings employed in the oldest games, the series' first main-numbered appearance on the PlayStation 2 as Final Fantasy X aesthetically entrenched the series in a distinctive blend of fantasy and technology. The series had also begun to deviate from its turn-based and Active Time Battle-based roots and gradually adapt action-RPG elements in games such as 2006's Final Fantasy XII, 2010's Final Fantasy XIII, and 2016's Final Fantasy XV, as well as release two of its main-numbered games - 2002's Final Fantasy XI and another title released in 2010, Final Fantasy XIV - as MMORPGs. But while every numbered game remains a separate story and setting from the rest, several of them receive their own sequels, spin-offs, and sub-series that utilize their respective settings and casts, namely XIII, XII, X, IV, and most prominently VII.
None of this is to mention a veritable deluge of remakes, reissues, offshoots, spiritually-related works, and involvement in crossovers that began after the turn of the millennium, as if spurred in response to the 2003 merger of Square and Enix into a single entity named Square Enix (which Sakaguchi had resigned from shortly prior). Several games appeared as third-party works on Nintendo hardware as a result of renewed relations between the two publishers, such as the Bravely Default series for the Nintendo 3DS - which constitute a modernized presentation of the original turn-based battle system of the earliest Final Fantasy titles. Along with the Bravely Default games is the 3DS action-RPG spin-off title Final Fantasy Explorers, which features a job system and various iconic main-numbered Final Fantasy heroes as playable characters. Meanwhile, each of the formerly-Japan-exclusive main-numbered titles have been released to the rest of the world in some enhanced form or another. Among the more noteworthy Final Fantasy derivatives:
Despite the many turns that the Final Fantasy franchise has taken, Final Fantasy VII remains as the franchise's most well-known and popular extension. Years after its introduction, it became the subject of a metaseries of prequels, non-traditional sequels, and other various media collectively titled the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, including a computer-graphic (CG) film titled Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. While there has yet to be a proper sequel for this particular continuity, a modernized high-definition remake of the original game was announced during Sony's E3 2015 press conference to be well in development by popular demand. It is currently planned as a timed PlayStation 4 exclusive. It was later revealed in December at the 2015 PlayStation Experience to possess a real-time combat formula as opposed to the turn-based formula of the original game. This remake has been one of the most heavily requested for over the course of a decade-and-a-half and Kitase claims that the remake will retain the same level of strategy elements as the original game.
In addition to his recurrent appearances in all of these works, Cloud Strife has made guest appearances in titles outside of Final Fantasy, including a PlayStation fighter titled Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring and a small sub-series of digital board games titled Itadaki Street. To the surprise of many, Cloud was announced as a post-launch downloadable content fighter for the Nintendo crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. 4, despite his minimal presence on Nintendo hardware up until that point.
In terms of the scenario of the game itself, Final Fantasy VII initially focuses on the efforts of an eco-terrorist group named AVALANCHE - among whom Cloud is a member - as they struggle to destroy power plants operated by an electric-power mega-corporation that has become much of the planet's de facto government, Shinra, headquartered at the industrialized metropolis of Midgar. With the company having since shifted its focus to a spiritual substance called Mako so as to harvest said substance as modern society's primary source of power and fuel, Cloud and his allies operate under the belief that Shinra is siphoning the life force of the planet itself. But between his encounters with the mysterious flower girl Aerith Gainsborough and the re-emergence of an incredibly dangerous and disturbed figure from Cloud's past - the former elite soldier Sephiroth - Cloud and his allies gradually find themselves taking on a more direct and urgent role as protectors of the planet than they could have anticipated, though he must also surmount formidable psychological obstacles ingrained within his own memories.
Unlike most returning universes, Final Fantasy's representation was largely unchanged during the transition.
There are no new tracks or remixes from Final Fantasy.
Main article: List of spirits (Final Fantasy series)
Media with elements from or in the Super Smash Bros. series
Cloud Strife appears as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate alongside Midgar, a location from Final Fantasy VII. Bahamut ZERO, which appears on the aforementioned stage, also originates from this game, along with the designs used for Odin, Leviathan, and Ramuh. Additionally, the songs Let the Battles Begin!, Fight On!, Opening - Bombing Mission and the game's version of the franchise's victory theme are used in Cloud's reveal trailer.
Ifrit's design used in Super Smash Bros. 4 comes from its appearance here.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance can be seen in the Nintendo Chronicle in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Cloud's outfit and Fusion Swords from this CGI movie appear as an alternate costume. A few variations of this outfit remove the large sleeve revealing his Geostigma-infected arm.
Cloud's default costume from the original game takes cues from the design used for his default costume from this game, including the more realistic proportions, polished accessories, and loosely fastened boots.
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