Here's What Makes A Final Fantasy, According To Square Enix

This last weekend in Tokyo, Square Enix held an open conference centred around its real-time tech demo, Agni's Philosophy: Final Fantasy. While presenting the technical aspects was paramount in the design of Agni's Philosophy (as it was meant to showcase the detail and flexibility of Square's new Luminous Engine), its creators were adamant it feel like a Final Fantasy.

But what exactly makes a Final Fantasy a "Final Fantasy"? To answer this question they put together a list of the five minimum components for a Final Fantasy.

The first item on the list is "magic", an obvious point on the list given it is a key component in every iteration of the franchise. The second is "summoning", which has been a staple of the series since Final Fantasy III. The third on the list of needed components is "gorgeous beauty". This one is interesting as, given the sprite-based nature of the first six Final Fantasies, "gorgeous beauty" didn't really enter the equation until the PS1 era. Still, no doubt modern Final Fantasies are very much into being visually stunning in both design and graphics.

The fourth thing needed in a Final Fantasy is a little ambiguous: "refinement." They didn't specify refinement of what exactly, but each game in the series has at least tried to refine the parts of gameplay that didn't work in the previous iteration. The same can be said of graphical refinement as there can be no doubt that each Final Fantasy has looked better than the previous incarnation (with the possible exception of the MMOs).

Lastly, they stated that Final Fantasies need "change and challenge". The "change" part is obvious, with each numbered Final Fantasy taking place in a new world with a new cast. The battle system also changes from game to game as well. As for "challenge", that is a bit more ambiguous, but it could mean that each world has a challenge that must be overcome. It could also speak to finding the balance in gameplay between tedious grinding and welcome challenge.

So there you have it: what Square Enix thinks are the basic components to a Final Fantasy. For the most part I agree with this list, though I think things like "a world threatening conflict" and "an unlikely group of heroes" are also key components to the Final Fantasy formula... not to mention Moogles. I don't know about you, but I get really angry if my Final Fantasies are Moogle-less.


    Beauty in FF series didn't 'enter the equation' until the PS1 era of games eh?

      Even then, they were still ahead of the curve.

      ofcourse... in term of graphic before ps1 era the current hardware at that time really limited,and ff at that time was 2D,so elements of beuty in visual are hard to accomplished and beauty for character also limited,and character design during before ps1 era also different style than starting ps1 era which is ffvii as more charming character design

    So interesting story, characters and worlds as well as in depth and fun gameplay don't even rate a mention? Just good looking visuals of magic and summoning an challenge.

    That... actually explains a lot.

    I would argue that the sprite based snes games were just as beautiful as the ps1 games. Especially looking back on them now.

    Only FF games i like are FF7 and FF8. Simple graphics, beautiful art, fun characters, great story.
    FF10 almost got it right, except for the bland characters.

      I personally liked FF6 through FF10. Probably in the order they were released. I hated 12 and 13.

    The main question is: When is FF13-VS coming out Squeenix? Also finish porting FF-Type 0 already.

    Here's an idea. Make a freaking Chocobo rancher game for iOS. You can have that one for free.

    They left out 'music'. Or maybe that's considered under 'refinement' or 'gorgeous beauty'.

    They also left out 'story'. Despite the incredible cliche simplicity of the very early FFs by today's standards, at the time it was ground-breaking. Their stories are still above-average, though this is an area they've been dropping the ball in.

    Still, interesting to see how they see it.

    Unfortunately for the author of this article, beauty in FF has existed since the beginning. Yoshitaka Amano was just as brilliant in the first iteration as he was in the tenth. And, mark my words, the least beatiful sprite from FF6 gushes more beauty than the whole of FF7.

    I'm not saying that FF7 is ugly. Amano still was involved with FF7, after all. But 3D graphics just weren't perfected back in 1997, whereas sprite art had had a decade to evolve. If Square ever remakes FF7, you might have an argument that there is better art there than in FF6.

    If anyone doubts my assertions, take any screenshot from FF6 and compare it to any screenshot in FF7. Notice how the two different art styles have aged. One looks horribly dated, with characters who look like barfed-up polygons. The other looks like a beautifully-painted illustration on a crisp Japanese scroll. It's pixelated, sure, but the care of the painter can be seen in every line.

    I think the author has done a terrible job reading the intent of the Japanese. He's missed the point entirely on the last 3 points.

    Gorgeous Beauty: Things in the world should be beautiful. This isn't talking about the number of polygons that are pushed, it's about the design. Think of the cities, the landscapes, covered in filigree, shining silver in the sunset. It's not a place where everything is designed with military precision, it's a beautiful place.

    Refinement: This also isn't a polygon-pushing concept, or game design getting better - to be honest, that's stupid. It's about refinement as in sophistication. The enemy commanders in Metal Gear are hardened warriors augmented with technology. So are they in Final Fantasy, but here they could also be socialites, rubbing shoulders with the richest people in the land. They bathe, they shave, and their floating battleship is beautifully designed and tasteful.

    Change and Challenge: Once again, to say each game has to change and be challenging wouldn't exactly be a pillar of game design - it's obvious, and common to all sequels. What they more likely meant here is in regards to the plot. The plot is always about great change in this world that you're playing in. The moment when the giant conglomerate that is destroying the world and what is left turns into a beautiful crystal flower. It's also about personal change, the ex-soldier learning to be human, to love. You'll find that unlike many games, the character's core personality is almost always different by the time the story ends (at least the primary ones).

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