To name Closing Fantasy a titan of the RPG world is a profound understatement. For a lot of, it’s the RPG sequence. For a lot of others, it was. Some think about it a house for custom, others an experimental playground. It’s a sequence that’s as divisive as any, however one which nonetheless retains breaking gross sales information and posting success after success. However with 15 mainline video games thus far, the one sort of fan left behind within the dialogue is the non-fan.
As such, this information is for the beginner. I’ll be strolling via the 15 mainline video games, together with info on what makes them distinctive, what you may and may not like, and the perfect methods to play every one in the present day. However let’s assume you’re fully recent. You’ve by no means heard about Closing Fantasy, and also you’re trusting me to be your shepherd.
First off, improbable selection. I’m a fantastic shepherd. I’ve acquired two children, they usually’re… I imply, they’re effective. Often.
Second, let’s get the fundamentals down: Closing Fantasy is an RPG sequence made by Sq. Enix, beforehand held by the Squaresoft half of that firm. Whereas it began as a sequence of turn-based RPGs (fundamental by in the present day’s requirements however groundbreaking in its time), Closing Fantasy has advanced via dozens of spinoffs to hit nearly each style you possibly can think about. From combating video games to rhythm video games, from shooters to racing video games, Closing Fantasy is sufficient of a world phenomenon to promote copies on title recognition alone. That stated, RPG followers occupy a distinct segment market to at the present time.
Closing Fantasy is usually on the forefront of the style and has by no means been afraid to reinvent itself, even inside the mainline sequence. Whereas this brings blended reactions from lots of the sequence’ longtime followers, it finally signifies that any given sport is likely to be the perfect level to dive in. However with this fixed reinvention, what actually defines Closing Fantasy is a fairly open query. Those who have been in it for the core gameplay tenets began falling off round Closing Fantasy X and XI. These searching for a fantasy setting fell off as early as Closing Fantasy VI. There’s loads of historical past to dig into, however there are ample sources on that, so let’s hit what I think about the core constructing blocks of a mainline Closing Fantasy sport.
- RPG – To a point or one other, each mainline Closing Fantasy is a role-playing sport. Whereas the gameplay itself may fluctuate wildly and the quantity of participant management over the plot is usually restricted, the video games all the time function character development and a powerful deal with story. This implies leveling up, discovering new gear, unlocking new talents, and immersing your self in a considerably linear story filled with distinctive characters and fantasy world-building.
- (Melo)drama – The Closing Fantasy sequence is understood for its dramatic chops, which followers could categorize anyplace from “awe-inspiring” to “embarrassingly melodramatic.” Wherever you fall on the spectrum, the sequence often focuses strongly on characters and interpersonal drama earlier than dovetailing into gigantic world-level stakes. Video games could fluctuate in how severely they take themselves, as earlier video games have been usually a bit lighter. However, in comparison with different video games launched on the time, Closing Fantasy often took itself much more severely and demanded that gamers make investments themselves on the planet.
- Know-how – Closing Fantasy often units the audiovisual requirements for RPGs after they launch. They’re usually properly forward of the competitors for visible constancy, and its steady of veteran composers (particularly Nobuo Uematsu, who was with the sequence throughout its youth and thru its heyday) have created a few of gaming’s most iconic tracks. Closing Fantasy is usually seen as an RPG for non-fans of the style, because it provides AAA manufacturing worth in a style recognized for engaged on tighter budgets.
- Standalone experiences – Whereas some video games have gotten direct sequels through the years, most Closing Fantasy video games happen in separate universes with unconnected plots. No mainline Closing Fantasy video games straight tie into one another exterior just a few fan theories. So, it doesn’t matter what mainline sport you select to play first, you received’t be behind on the story and can be capable to expertise the whole thing of the expertise with no prior information.
- Iconography – Lastly, the sequence can all the time be recognized by the nods to longtime followers. Whether or not it’s sequence staple monsters like chocobos and moogles or important music just like the Prelude, Closing Fantasy consists of loads of references to the sequence’ historical past whereas making certain all of them match into the world of every unbiased sport. Whereas not each sport options each icon, you possibly can usually anticipate to journey a chocobo, solid some black magic, or run right into a grizzled engineer named Cid in most video games.
Whew! That’s lots to begin. However we’re about to go even deeper, as we hit each single mainline Closing Fantasy sport so as.
Authentic Launch: 1987, Nintendo Famicom (NES)
Additionally Launched On: Sony PlayStation, Sony PSP, WonderSwan Shade, Cell, Nintendo Sport Boy Advance, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, NES Basic Version, Microsoft Home windows, Android, iOS
What it’s about: Closing Fantasy is a fundamental story about 4 youths, chosen by glowing Orbs (or Crystals, as sequence translations would later undertake) who search to save lots of the world from initially ambiguous capital-D Darkness. Whereas the plot is pretty easy for in the present day, it took twists as the sport progressed that gave it some novel parts of sci-fi that will not solely introduce ideas uncommon in a fantasy RPG, however would inform the design of sequence titles for years to return.
The way it performs: Closing Fantasy is a standard turn-based RPG whereby you enter instructions to your occasion after which watch because the actions of your occasion and enemies play out. Outdoors fight, you’ll discover the world and discover cities with individuals to speak to, treasure-filled dungeons to discover, and loads of bosses to progress the story. Firstly of the sport, you create 4 characters from just a few sequence staple jobs, giving longtime followers ample replay as they experiment with attention-grabbing and typically ineffective combos of jobs and see what it takes to beat the sport.
What it dropped at the sequence: Most clearly, it kickstarted the sequence. Because the bedrock the remainder of Closing Fantasy was constructed on, the weather introduced listed here are probably the most generally used all through the remainder of the sequence. The deal with elemental crystals can be revisited again and again. A couple of recurring enemies debut right here, such because the sequence tackle the easy goblin. The sport’s villain, Garland, can be referenced commonly all through the sequence, although every iteration is usually a brand new character. Additionally launched are sequence mainstay dragon Bahamut and a bunch of jobs: Warrior, Monk, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage, and Crimson Mage. The sport additionally allowed you to take to the skies with the primary of the sequence’ customary journey methodology, airships.
Why you may prefer it: Closing Fantasy provides nice historic context—seeing the place lots of the sequence’ defining parts debut generally is a fantastic expertise and conjure up nostalgic emotions for the period even in case you don’t have recollections of this precise sport. The occasion creation provides some enjoyable replayability, as distinctive occasion combos make the sport really feel moderately completely different. Closing Fantasy offers you some basic gameplay that was on the high of its class for its time.
Why you may not: The sport has aged closely. The plot is fairly fundamental, missing any vital character growth. The core gameplay mechanics are nothing you haven’t seen over the previous 35 years, and lots of parts that make up trendy Closing Fantasy weren’t current but. When you play the unique launch, you’ll have but extra to wrestle with, because it makes use of an older MP system that has since fallen out of vogue. Lastly, battles go with out trendy concentrating on—in case you kill an enemy, the following character who focused that enemy will simply assault air. Don’t fear, rereleases assist with these extra archaic leftovers.
Which model to play: There are a whole lot of choices with this one. Essentially the most full model is Closing Fantasy Anniversary Version for the PSP, obtainable for play on the Vita by buying via the PlayStation Retailer. The latest Closing Fantasy Pixel Remaster provides a succesful model of the unique title, although your mileage could fluctuate based mostly on obtainable platforms (as of this writing, the Pixel Remasters are solely on Home windows, iOS, and Android), questionable font selections, and the way extremely you worth the added content material from different variations not included within the remasters. Failing that, the PSOne and Sport Boy Advance variations function the updates required to make Closing Fantasy a kind of trendy expertise, updating the magic system, sport steadiness, interface, world map controls, and battle oddities. The unique NES model is simply really helpful in case you actually need to delve into the sequence’ historical past. You’re almost assured a greater time with one of many ports in case you’re a newcomer to the sport.
Authentic Launch: 1989, Nintendo Famicom (NES)
Additionally Launched On: Sony PlayStation, Sony PSP, WonderSwan Shade, Nintendo Sport Boy Advance, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Home windows, Android, iOS
What it’s about: Closing Fantasy II is the primary sport within the sequence that stars named playable characters with their very own personalities, wishes, and roles on the planet. The sport opens as 4 pals flee their village as an ordinary problem evil empire burns it to the bottom and orphans the younger heroes. As you journey the world, making an attempt to take down the Emperor, you’ll management three of the childhood pals (Firion, Maria, and Man) with a rotating character occupying your fourth slot. This technique permits these fourth characters to usually drive the story, and people characters can be a part of and go away the occasion for a lot of completely different causes. Whereas the sequence would return to blank-slate characters as soon as extra in Closing Fantasy III, the development of tales with characters at their core began right here and have become a trademark of the sequence going ahead.
The way it performs: Battles, world exploration, and gear development comply with fairly straight from Closing Fantasy. FFII includes a key phrase system that requires you to memorize particular phrases and use them on characters to unlock additional dialogue. Nevertheless, probably the most vital change in Closing Fantasy II is the leveling system. Moderately than having conventional ranges, characters in Closing Fantasy II enhance via talent use. When you use bodily assaults extra, your power will enhance. You’ll acquire HP as you are taking injury and magical energy as you solid spells. This technique provides extra natural character development and offers you a excessive diploma of customization over your characters, as you possibly can mould every character into any archetype you select. Whether or not or not the system works in follow remains to be a degree of competition to at the present time.
What it dropped at the sequence: Closing Fantasy II introduced many Closing Fantasy traditions to the sequence. Chocobos, the signature fowl mount of the sequence, make their first look right here. We additionally get the primary look of Cid, a reputation given to completely different characters in every sport, usually related to an engineer of some form. The set characters and story focus of Closing Fantasy II endured all through the sequence, forming the inspiration of the sequence to at the present time. A number of jobs additionally make their first look right here, together with the fan favourite Dragoon—a dragon knight related to spears, fight leaping, and trendy armor.
Why you may prefer it: Closing Fantasy II provides top-of-the-line examples of storytelling of its time. Whereas the plot is fairly routine by in the present day’s requirements, taking part in an epic with a rotating (and mortal) solid that stretches throughout so many places is thrilling, as is witnessing the origins of each chocobos and Cid. The sport additionally provides fairly just a few curiosities that enchantment to those that love novelty, from its leveling system to the key phrases required for development.
Why you may not: For a lot of followers, Closing Fantasy II sits at or close to the underside of the rating. The leveling system doesn’t scale properly, usually resulting in prolonged leveling sprees the place you do issues like attacking your individual occasion to drive your HP up for the following boss. The key phrase system is often extra annoyance than gameplay mechanic, performing as an pointless barrier to plot development. The sport additionally frustrates via lack of readability. For instance, the final boss might be extremely tough in case you promote your Blood Swords. Sadly, these are mid-game swords which are outclassed by the top sport, however their HP absorbing impact is almost required for the final boss except you’ve invested vital time into powering up your staff.
Which model to play: Closing Fantasy II has about as many variations as the primary sport. The 2 have been bundled collectively in lots of circumstances, equivalent to on PSOne and GBA. As such, suggestions are much like these for Closing Fantasy: the PSP model is usually thought to be the perfect, and the Pixel Remaster is strong with the identical caveats as the unique. The PSOne model is out there on the PlayStation Retailer, although it has additional load instances. The unique NES model is simply obtainable by way of fan translation and, once more, primarily really helpful to historical past buffs.
Authentic Launch: 1990, Nintendo Famicom (NES)
Additionally Launched On: Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, NES Basic Version, Microsoft Home windows, Android, iOS
What it’s about: Closing Fantasy III marks a return to generic characters, this time a quartet of orphans that shortly discover a crystal that grants them energy marking them as Warriors of Gentle tasked with returning mild to the world. Whereas the crew begins as lowly Onion Knights, the crystals give the soldiers the flexibility to vary jobs via varied iconic roles within the sequence, some showing for the primary time. As is custom, the soldiers face an evil empire led by Emperor Xande and should cease his machinations whereas uncovering the facility behind the throne. Apparently, the generic solid was changed by distinct characters with precise personalities within the 3D remake, including a layer of development to the story.
The way it performs: Whereas the core fight and exploration model continues from earlier titles, the largest change in Closing Fantasy III is, no doubt, the debut of the job system. Whereas your characters are clean slates, sticking with a job makes them higher at that job (and makes it less expensive for them to vary forwards and backwards from it), making specialization advantageous. Determining which jobs are good, which of them are unhealthy, and which of them completely break the sport is vital to beating among the tougher bosses on the finish of the sport. Standing results take a bigger position, as some dungeons even require utilizing standing results equivalent to Mini to navigate small areas. Jobs are additional enhanced by distinctive instructions in battle and particular results within the subject, such because the thief’s potential to open locked doorways.
What it dropped at the sequence: The job system shortly grew to become a mainstay of the Closing Fantasy sequence in a single type or one other. However that’s not all we acquired! Moogles, one of the vital beloved mascots within the franchise, first appeared right here in Closing Fantasy III. Distinctive job talents like stealing or, extra iconically, the Dragoon’s soar potential, originated right here. Summoned creatures joined the fray for the primary time, a function that will persist all through the sequence, usually changing into the main focus of Closing Fantasy tales. Closing Fantasy III is among the hottest entries with sequence vets in Japan, most prominently seen as the premise for the complete Crystal Tower raid sequence (and extra) in Closing Fantasy XIV.
Why you may prefer it: Managing jobs is extraordinarily satisfying. From distinctive sprites to experimenting with job instructions, the quantity of customization obtainable to your occasion is exclusive to its time. There are many historic causes to play Closing Fantasy III, however few extra distinguished than experiencing the oft-referenced story beats of the sequence’ third outing. And along with the origins of moogles, you possibly can get pleasure from an unimaginable soundtrack that also will get musical references and preparations in Closing Fantasy video games to at the present time.
Why you may not: To be trustworthy, Closing Fantasy III occupies an area much like Closing Fantasy II for a lot of English-speaking followers. A sufferer of arriving lengthy, lengthy after its preliminary launch within the West, the sport feels extremely dated. Excessive random encounter charges, enemies with instant-death talents, and lengthy slog dungeons with out save factors result in a lot tedium and misplaced progress. It may be a irritating expertise.
Which model to play: The lately launched Closing Fantasy III Pixel Remaster might be the best strategy to work via the sport. Autosaves assist with the dearth of dungeon save factors, and the sport general is only a contact simpler, which is fairly vital contemplating the tough problem of the bottom sport. The DS remake (additionally obtainable on cell and PC) introduces a little bit of texture to the story, however it maintains the unique’s tough edges and comes with its personal UI and bug points. If you wish to return to the originals, you’ll want a powerful structure.
Authentic Launch: 1991, Tremendous Famicom (SNES)
Additionally Launched On: Nintendo Sport Boy Advance, Sony PlayStation, Sony PlayStation 3, Sony PSP, Sony PS Vita, WonderSwan Shade, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Home windows, Android, iOS
What it’s about: Closing Fantasy IV stars Cecil, a darkish knight within the service of the evil empire of the day. The duties he’s requested to hold out get much less and fewer morally excusable, resulting in a disaster of religion as Cecil is compelled to reckon along with his previous, redeem himself, and naturally, save the world. Alongside for the journey are among the most recognizable characters within the sequence’ historical past, who come and go because the story dictates. For probably the most half, every of those characters have full character arcs, none of which detract from a narrative that leads the heroes around the globe—and past.
The way it performs: The sequence’ staple Lively Time Battle system debuts in FFIV, with characters performing based mostly on an invisible counter (which might grow to be seen in later variations of the sport). As soon as a personality’s timer fills up, they get to behave, making quicker characters a bit extra invaluable as they’ll use extra actions than slower enemies. That is the place many of the depth lies. Every character takes on a basic Closing Fantasy job, which is mounted for the entire sport. Whereas this makes characters really feel distinctive in battle, this leaves little customization exterior of kit. Your ninja Edge will all the time throw weapons, whereas summoner Rydia… properly, she summons. In any other case, anticipate a fairly linear basic RPG specializing in story.
What it dropped at the sequence: The ATB system remains to be iterated upon to at the present time, making it one of the vital important gameplay parts of the venerable sequence. Iconic characters tied to jobs outline the look of these jobs to at the present time, with each Dragoon in Closing Fantasy XIV going via a number of Kain phases all through their life. The construction of Closing Fantasy IV additionally broke from the usual loop between dungeons and cities, making for a extra cinematic expertise the place setpieces may very well be strung collectively with out intervening intervals on the world map or in dungeons. This may influence the complete sequence going ahead.
Why you may prefer it: Closing Fantasy IV has one of the vital standout tales within the sequence, which is well the best draw of the sport. The characters are fantastic to get to know, and every feels distinctive each in battle and out. As well as, the gameplay is not any slouch, as the normal trappings are stored attention-grabbing by a rotating occasion with distinctive talents. This retains the journey attention-grabbing, even with no plot that takes common wild twists and turns.
Why you may not: In some methods, Closing Fantasy IV’s standing as the usual for the sequence additionally means it doesn’t do a lot distinctive (in hindsight). It executes every little thing it does properly, however other than the story, there’s not a lot right here that different video games haven’t copied and iterated on within the years since. A few of the relics of the previous might be tough for contemporary gamers, with excessive random encounter charges assembly occasional problem spikes. It’s a sport that’s laborious to hate, however isn’t all the time simple to like.
Which model to play: Actually, there are two flavors of FFIV: 2D and 3D. The 2D variations largely have loads in frequent, with Closing Fantasy IV: The Full Assortment on PSP being the best to suggest, however any model other than the unique US SNES launch gives you a strong expertise. The preliminary US launch ditched a whole lot of objects, character talents, and mechanics to make the sport simpler for a Western viewers that was perceived as much less skilled with the style than their Japanese counterparts. The 3D model is a special beast. Initially launched on DS and later ported to cell and PC, the 3D model provides just a few layers of customization, together with abilities you possibly can add to any character’s repertoire. The visible facelift is about on par with a PlayStation-era title and consists of full voiceover and cinematics. It may possibly really feel like a extra trendy sport, however the problem can be a bit larger than the unique. Whereas the aforementioned adjustments assist the sport really feel extra trendy, in addition they lose a little bit of the appeal of the unique within the transition. Nonetheless, it’s laborious to go incorrect regardless of which you play… other than the SNES authentic.