The problem with the Final Fantasy Franchise

DaniPoo

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From what I've read online (Trustworthy sources at that), Final Fantasy wasn't even that popular in Japan. Sure, it sold decently well back in the NES and SNES days, but it was nowhere near a success as Dragon Quest. In fact pretty much every company had to play catch up with Enix and DQ. But Final Fantasy had one trick up its sleeve: Each game changed significantly from the previous one, mostly bringing graphical and audio improvements along with deeper, more complex stories and more engaging gamplay. Then Square Soft jumped ship to the Playstation and thanks to Sony's deep pockets they finally broke through in the west. That's mainly why they're trying to appeal to western gamers nowadays. Heck, they've been trying to do that ever since FF1 came out in North America in 1990. I obviously don't agree with their choices, and I think the modern games are shit, but as long as Tetsuya Nomura is in a position of power we are unlikely to see a return to form any time soon


Sakaguchi was born in 1962 in the city called hitachi,

He joined square soft in 1983 and when the company was going bankrupt they gave sakaguchi a chance to save them, his was reply was “I don’t think I can create a action game, I think I am better at telling a story ”, so from that, the final fantasy was born, the name was quite accurate because it was meant to be his final fantasy


This is the roots of Final Fantasy, What gave birth to the series. Now they are doing the opposite.
 
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Tsukiru

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Final Fantasy VII remake is actually not a remake, but it’s actually fits the definition of a reboot much better...
And what other remake can you think of that changes both story and genre??
And the next part I heard is going to take the story in a completely new direction.

I really don’t get it... Why? Was it needed?
It's a bait and switch I think. I don't see them sticking with Remake past this point when it's clearly set up things can and will be very different now. Hence Part 2 is just named Rebirth. I know how this sucks in execution, feeling lied to, but I kind of respect that sort of marketing. MGS2's trailers only using Snake only to play as Raiden for most of it, y'know?

Now, I'm not a Final Fantasy fan. I've only beaten Type-0 HD and XIV (up until Endwalker, which is not very good), which aren't the most representative of the series. I've bought the XIII trilogy and XV but purely because I know those are weird. I've always respected sequels having similar concepts and names but brought into different contexts. Like "Final Fantasy concepts but in a contemporary world" like Versus XIII looked cool as hell. But I think Square is the problem of a developer that pretends that they're AAA when it only hurts them. The XV we got feels like an attempt at AAA that doesn't feel natural or fluid. I haven't played 7 Remake but it also shares the same "vibes" even if it is visually impressive at point.

I think it's fine to keep the series in a different direction and not be bound by its foundations. Like while Final Fantasy embraces more action, keep a Bravely Default so that you still acknowledge and keep what people liked. A Like A Dragon and Judgement situation, while Like A Dragon (Yakuza 7) became a turn based RPG, Judgement and Lost Judgement kept the beat-em-up formula all in the same world and city. Attracted new audiences with the game shift but your older audience still has something to chew on. It's still under the same house. But then they barely did anything with Bravely Default to keep up. And then XV was a disaster. While XIV is pretty "Final Fantasy", it's at points held back by the fact is also serves as a "reference game" and the fact its a subscription and expansion based MMO. I'm not interested in XVI so I can't comment on that.

It kind of rings in my ear as a Sonic situation. While there is a foundation that is known to work, development aims for a new thing entirely. And then doesn't commit to it fully, so it feels both sudden and wasted.
 

DaniPoo

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It's a bait and switch I think. I don't see them sticking with Remake past this point when it's clearly set up things can and will be very different now. Hence Part 2 is just named Rebirth. I know how this sucks in execution, feeling lied to, but I kind of respect that sort of marketing. MGS2's trailers only using Snake only to play as Raiden for most of it, y'know?

Now, I'm not a Final Fantasy fan. I've only beaten Type-0 HD and XIV (up until Endwalker, which is not very good), which aren't the most representative of the series. I've bought the XIII trilogy and XV but purely because I know those are weird. I've always respected sequels having similar concepts and names but brought into different contexts. Like "Final Fantasy concepts but in a contemporary world" like Versus XIII looked cool as hell. But I think Square is the problem of a developer that pretends that they're AAA when it only hurts them. The XV we got feels like an attempt at AAA that doesn't feel natural or fluid. I haven't played 7 Remake but it also shares the same "vibes" even if it is visually impressive at point.

I think it's fine to keep the series in a different direction and not be bound by its foundations. Like while Final Fantasy embraces more action, keep a Bravely Default so that you still acknowledge and keep what people liked. A Like A Dragon and Judgement situation, while Like A Dragon (Yakuza 7) became a turn based RPG, Judgement and Lost Judgement kept the beat-em-up formula all in the same world and city. Attracted new audiences with the game shift but your older audience still has something to chew on. It's still under the same house. But then they barely did anything with Bravely Default to keep up. And then XV was a disaster. While XIV is pretty "Final Fantasy", it's at points held back by the fact is also serves as a "reference game" and the fact its a subscription and expansion based MMO. I'm not interested in XVI so I can't comment on that.

It kind of rings in my ear as a Sonic situation. While there is a foundation that is known to work, development aims for a new thing entirely. And then doesn't commit to it fully, so it feels both sudden and wasted.

Yes it's similar to the Sonic situation. I think many fans agree that Sonic Mania is the best Sonic Game released in a very long time. And that says something.

SQUARE ENIX keeps trying and trying to change the genre of the Final Fantasy series even though they fail time after time to do it successfully.

I think at this point they would be more successful doing it just keeping it as a spin off series.
Because at least then the fans know that they can expect it to be different from the mainline series and they probably won't be as harsh on it.

Bravely Default is a good franchise but it does not feel as polished as Final Fantasy.
They are almost playing it too safe in my opinion. The stories feels very generic and the characters also feels quite average. If they had put more into Bravely Default and also made more of them then I could have switched over to that Series instead of playing Final Fantasy.

But isn't that f*cked up?

They have a beloved franchise, then someone think it's a good idea to change it genre and the direction of the games completely. And it didn't work, so they try again, over and over and over.

Instead of I dunno, create a new IP if you want to make an action game...

On instead they make a new IP for handhelds that serves as a replacement for Final Fantasy...

Is it a culture thing? Fugu comes to mind.. First person eating it dies, ok someone tries cutting it differently and dies, someone tries cutting it differently again and dies over and over, eventually only a few people die from eating the fish, and now hundred of years after it's almost completely safe to eat it.
 

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I mean before Mania (2017) was Lost World (2013) and after Forces (also 2017) so it's not like it was a hard race following Generations (2011). But I get what you're saying, it kept to the formula that has been proven to work and improved on them. I guess that's what made Generations work, whereas Forces was rushed and never even matched it.

I think it's fine if Bravely Default started basic but nothing has caught my eye that gives it its own soul beyond "it's also Final Fantasy, technically".

"Make a new IP if you want to make an action game" worst part? They did! Kingdom Hearts already takes elements from Final Fantasy. While now-a-days it doesn't rely on outright characters, the command menu still exists, magic and items are all around. I don't know what prompts to make the Final Fantasy franchise it's own action monstrosities. Feel it has to do with trying to "modernize" a well-known name to keep up. Like the idea "well RPGs are dated, let's spice it up" and you get one of the worst feeling action games (XV).
 
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DaniPoo

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I mean before Mania (2017) was Lost World (2013) and after Forces (also 2017) so it's not like it was a hard race following Generations (2011). But I get what you're saying, it kept to the formula that has been proven to work and improved on them. I guess that's what made Generations work, whereas Forces was rushed and never even matched it.

I think it's fine if Bravely Default started basic but nothing has caught my eye that gives it its own soul beyond "it's also Final Fantasy, technically".

"Make a new IP if you want to make an action game" worst part? They did! Kingdom Hearts already takes elements from Final Fantasy. While now-a-days it doesn't rely on outright characters, the command menu still exists, magic and items are all around. I don't know what prompts to make the Final Fantasy franchise it's own action monstrosities. Feel it has to do with trying to "modernize" a well-known name to keep up. Like the idea "well RPGs are dated, let's spice it up" and you get one of the worst feeling action games (XV).

You are correct..

"Kingdom Hearts already takes elements from Final Fantasy." - and that is fine, it worked out for them.
So apparently they can make new successful IP's, why mess up their existing ones?

Someone at SQUARE ENIX thought that this was what the franchise needed going forward.
It was a mistake and they refuse to admit it and do a rollback.

Had they instead admitted that they have been unsuccessful in creating a proper Final Fantasy title in about the last one and a half decade and spent some time instead studying their past successful entries and studied fan opinions then perhaps they could create something great again.

But I suppose someone at SQUARE ENIX is too proud to admit that they're fumbling around in the dark at this point.

And when they listened to fans they were taking it like too far.

Example: they heard that fans thought that FFXIII was too linear.
Then they responded by making FFXV "open world".

I don't think they had to go THAT far. Final Fantasy X was also quite linear, in fact it was similar to XIII in some ways. But the main difference was that it embraced back tracking and it had NPC's that you could interact with, so the world didn't feel as linear and and empty as XIII's did.

Also Final Fantasy X had a less linear growth system, yes it was sort of linear until halfway through the game when you really could start shaping your characters however you wanted.

If you wanted Lulu to hit 99 999 in physical damage and have Auron being the strongest Mage then this could be done.

Final Fantasy XIII's growth system was linear all the way.

Final Fantasy XV's growth system is a bit better, but it's still not great.
That's because the over all feeling of getting stronger has greatly been reduced and there's less things to unlock in general.

It's funny, because I was excited for Final Fantasy Versus XIII being a Final Fantasy playing similar to Kingdom Hearts. But the moment they announced the renaming to Final Fantasy XV then I thought it was a bad idea.
 
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Tsukiru

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The only time I think they've admitted they fumbled was XIV 1.0... And you'd think canceling your DLC would warrant the same response, but guess not.
 
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The Real Jdbye

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This is a long rant from a long time fan of the series.
Feel free to disagree and discuss but please be respectful.



I feel like the problem is that they try to adapt Final Fantasy to industry trends and make it a mainstream franchise.
Final Fantasy used to be regarded as probably the most quality of jRGP series (and this was when it really was not at all trying to be mainstream).

Dragon Quest on the other hand stayed true to it’s identity and even though the gameplay have barely changed since the beginning it’s more loved than ever before.

I think Square Enix needs to take a step back and look at Final Fantasy the same way they did when they created Final Fantasy IX.

Final Fantasy does not have to be a flashy action RPG, it doesn’t need to have the best graphics.

But what it needs to have is a great story, great memorable characters, charm, nostalgic moments, a sense of character growth (both as a story element and in gameplay) and loads of nostalgic elements.

for me the last great FF game was X and X-2.

XII had fun gameplay and a decent story, and I have to admit that I like Balthier. But the rest of the cast was boring and nothing interesting really happens between them.

XIII was not much better, in fact the gameplay got even worse with it’s linear approach and the boring way it handled side quests and how you acquired new gear.

XV - they changed the entire genre to action RPG, but they did it in a worse way than in Kingdom Hearts. In fact, Kingdom Hearts feels more like a Final Fantasy title than Final Fantasy XV did.

And the game is brutally short for a Final Fantasy title.

So they started adding more chapter (that does not carry over items or levels)

this just took you out of the main game and into another very short game in order to expand the story. Very poor way of doing it.

Final Fantasy VII remake is actually not a remake, but it’s actually fits the definition of a reboot much better...
And what other remake can you think of that changes both story and genre??
And the next part I heard is going to take the story in a completely new direction.

I really don’t get it... Why? Was it needed?

After all the backlash that Square Enix have got the last decade and a half, why don’t they just give in and take the safe route? it would be so much easier..
They just need to stop treating Final Fantasy as their experimental playground and just do what they do with Dragon Quest.
Stay true to the formulas that are proven to be working.

If they wanna experiment and out try new things then create spin-off titles or new IP’s.
Or revive some of their older franchises. The Mana series comes to mind..

I believe that if you buy a mainline Mario game, you expect certain things from it.
You expect it to be a platformer with tight controls and fun power-up’s. You certainly wouldn’t expect it to be a first person shooter.

And it’s the same with every franchise, if you change too much then you change the identity of the franchise.
This is even more apparent with a franchise like Final Fantasy (Where the stories and characters are completely unrelated from one game to the other)
This franchise is really only held together by gameplay mechanics and some things like returning names, races and monster enemies.

So it’s better to keep improving a working formula and just adding smaller twists or gimmicks to make it feel fresh.
And put the most effort on telling a new Final Fantasy story

At least this is what I think,

But hey! I am not a game designer
Wait, you actually liked X-2?
 

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I feel like the problem is that they try to adapt Final Fantasy to industry trends and make it a mainstream franchise.
Final Fantasy used to be regarded as probably the most quality of jRGP series (and this was when it really was not at all trying to be mainstream).


Dragon Quest on the other hand stayed true to it’s identity and even though the gameplay have barely changed since the beginning it’s more loved than ever before.
In a way, this is true. But FF has always gotten inspiration from the surroundings. At the start of the FF series, they borrowed a lot from D&D, which at the moment was very popular. But they evolved out of that with the following games. So maybe? companies always try to adapt to the current trend to get the most cash out. If anything, DQ is their "safe" line.

Final Fantasy does not have to be a flashy action RPG, it doesn’t need to have the best graphics.
I half agree with the first point and totally disagree with the second. FF became known for having cutting edge graphics in each console they were in. As for them being ARPG, I wouldn't like it, but IMO FFX-2 had the best ATB system because it felt so dynamic. Like once, I managed to get a mega phoenix before the last girl go KO'd and that revived my whole party, so satisfying. So them going more dynamic can be good, just not full ARPG.

Final Fantasy VII remake is actually not a remake, but it’s actually fits the definition of a reboot much better...
And what other remake can you think of that changes both story and genre??
And the next part I heard is going to take the story in a completely new direction.

I really don’t get it... Why? Was it needed?
Cashgrab of course.

Take Pokemon for example: It has just now started to change a bit, but the core game mechanics is still there. That's because they know what the identity of their franchise is, they have a working formula.
They just have to introduce a few new gimmicks, some new Pokemon and a new story and they'll make buckets of coin.
Except the design has gotten progressively worse each generation. Maps have gotten linear, gimmicks past megas got very meh and the challenge doesn't feel as much as it did in the past. The FF series always changed their core mechanics, but as upgrades.

Of course I do agree we need to step in the right direction. FF14 is a great example. FF16 is going to be ARPG so I doubt they'll go back to the classic style and it will keep changing because the name is enough to keep people invested in it, while the smaller IPs will get the classic style because it's tried and true. But having a mix between both styles (classic FF mixed with more dynamic battles) feels like the way to go.
 

DaniPoo

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In a way, this is true. But FF has always gotten inspiration from the surroundings. At the start of the FF series, they borrowed a lot from D&D, which at the moment was very popular. But they evolved out of that with the following games. So maybe? companies always try to adapt to the current trend to get the most cash out. If anything, DQ is their "safe" line.


I half agree with the first point and totally disagree with the second. FF became known for having cutting edge graphics in each console they were in. As for them being ARPG, I wouldn't like it, but IMO FFX-2 had the best ATB system because it felt so dynamic. Like once, I managed to get a mega phoenix before the last girl go KO'd and that revived my whole party, so satisfying. So them going more dynamic can be good, just not full ARPG.


Cashgrab of course.


Except the design has gotten progressively worse each generation. Maps have gotten linear, gimmicks past megas got very meh and the challenge doesn't feel as much as it did in the past. The FF series always changed their core mechanics, but as upgrades.

Of course I do agree we need to step in the right direction. FF14 is a great example. FF16 is going to be ARPG so I doubt they'll go back to the classic style and it will keep changing because the name is enough to keep people invested in it, while the smaller IPs will get the classic style because it's tried and true. But having a mix between both styles (classic FF mixed with more dynamic battles) feels like the way to go.

Have you played Final Fantasy 1-6? They are so similar in gameplay that the pixel remasters all could use one shared engine to remake these games.

It's true that final Fantasy got it's inspiration from D&D but after the first game it really started developing it's own identity. The mix between medieval and futuristic setting was something explored in the very first game, but it started to become a part of the Final Fantasy identity after that. Final Fantasy VI sported a more steampunk setting or something of the sorts. And that was sort of unique for the time.

Well while I think Final Fantasy always had decent graphics for its time I never think it was the reason I enjoyed the games. And there was always games with better graphics.
Sure final Fantasy VI for instance had very very good graphics for the time. But again.. the story and the gameplay was what kept me playing the game.

"Cashgrab of course." yes that's the sad fact and my entire point of this thread.
They have completely turned their back on their fans to try to appeal to the mainstream.
And I don't see why they need to do that. Why not just make a new IP that appeals to mainstream instead of messing with a franchise that has already been getting its own identity?

"Except the design has gotten progressively worse each generation. Maps have gotten linear, gimmicks past megas got very meh and the challenge doesn't feel as much as it did in the past. The FF series always changed their core mechanics, but as upgrades."

Well I yes for I while they tried getting the single player story experience more linear. But they improved many other aspects and kept a lot of the core mechanics intact. They did put a bigger focus on online.
And with Legends Arceus and the new upcoming games it looks like they are focusing more on freedom and less linearity while keeping the core battle mechanics the same.
And by core, I don't mean it's a complete match to the original games but a "close match".
 

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From what I've read online (Trustworthy sources at that), Final Fantasy wasn't even that popular in Japan. Sure, it sold decently well back in the NES and SNES days, but it was nowhere near a success as Dragon Quest. In fact pretty much every company had to play catch up with Enix and DQ. But Final Fantasy had one trick up its sleeve: Each game changed significantly from the previous one, mostly bringing graphical and audio improvements along with deeper, more complex stories and more engaging gamplay. Then Square Soft jumped ship to the Playstation and thanks to Sony's deep pockets they finally broke through in the west. That's mainly why they're trying to appeal to western gamers nowadays. Heck, they've been trying to do that ever since FF1 came out in North America in 1990. I obviously don't agree with their choices, and I think the modern games are shit, but as long as Tetsuya Nomura is in a position of power we are unlikely to see a return to form any time soon

Is that so? I always assumed that i was the second most popular in Japan.
 

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I feel ya

After being a Final Fantasy nut since it's "golden age", I am now instead a Dragon Quest nut after really starting to understand the series better

I'll still play the old FF games, but I'm fine with never having a new one after XV happened (not even XIII was this bad imo, which I also dislike)
 
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I will admit that I felt similar at some point in the past. The thing is every Final Fantasy game does its own thing and I do not see that changing anytime. While I do agree that Dragon Quest is more consistent, I think doing different things is what makes Final Fantasy what it is. With that said, I do think that the series can do with the improvements that have been suggested here. I also think that Square Enix needs to get their act together when it comes to their franchise.
 

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The character designs have become far too formulaic, stale and clean. It almost even seems like they design the characters before designing the world they're supposed to belong to, so they kind of pop in a way that doesn't make sense.

I would LOVE if they made a AAA game in the style of Yoshitaka Amano's older Final Fantasy illustrations.

yoshitaka.jpg


But they're never gonna do that. They're going to keep churning out the same tired, cookie cutter designs even as sales drop, and eventually people will stop giving their hopes up that the next game will be any different.
 

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