The Final Fantasy universe (ファイナルファンタジー, Final Fantasy) refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from the world-famous role-playing game (RPG) franchise owned by Square Enix.
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. Square were looking to name the game something with the "FF" initials and the original name for the game was Fighting Fantasy, although the presence of a board game series of the same name prevented that, necessitating changing the first word to "Final" later on. Thematically inspired by Western-made 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; for Sakaguchi, Final Fantasy represented not merely Square's potentially last project, but ultimately that of his own if it floundered. 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, thanks to ties since Square's contributions of the racing game Rad Racer and its inclusion as a title game in the 1990 Nintendo World Championships.
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". II was close to receiving a localization for the NES and a version of the game with a working official English translation exists as well as a possible subtitle: "Dark Shadow Over Palakia" (with Palakia being the localised name of the antagonist empire of Palamecia,) though the release fell through due to the Super Nintendo's release. V was almost released overseas as Final Fantasy Extreme due to its revolutionary Job system, but was passed over for Secret of Mana instead and when the time came, was skipped, thus VI received a localization and rename. All of the previous titles would later be rereleased under their original numbers for modern platforms such as the Game Boy Advance, although III did not see an English release of any sort until the 3D remake on the DS in 2008 due to the loss of the orighinal Famciom version's source code.
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. 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:
- Final Fantasy Tactics, released in 1998 for the PlayStation, was Square's first foray into the strategy RPG genre and is regarded as a cult classic; it saw an enhanced re-release for the PlayStation Portable with the subtitle The War of the Lions. Separately, a duo of more colorful, unconnected titles - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift - were released for the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS. All of them take place in a world known as Ivalice, a middle fantasy nation with its own history and legends throughout its vast realm; Tactics takes place in a time akin to the middle ages, where political intrigue and turmoil run rampant amongst its people and tied to the monarchy and its ruling faith, The Church of Glabados, where A2 and the twelfth main installment is said to take place during its Golden Age, regarded as a mythical time of unmatched prosperity, progress, and grandeur. The original Advance game's Ivalice is said to be born of the wishes of the young boy named Mewt Randall, his love of the Final Fantasy series of games, and an ancient mystic relic of Ivalice known as the Grand Grimore, that allows his desires to become true. In terms of recognition by Square, the original game's protagonist, Ramza Beoulve, would be included in the free-to-play mobile games Final Fantasy: Record Keeper and Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius as an obtainable unit, and Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Type-0 is an action-RPG that was released only in Japan for the PlayStation Portable in 2011, with an high-definition (HD) remaster later released worldwide early 2015 for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Originally intended to be a part of the Fabula Novus Crystalis series of games that began with its thirteenth main installment, Type-0 marks its independence and own identity as the Type series, that focuses on gameplay and story elements divergent from the main series. The game itself is centered in the world of Orience and those of the elite magical military group Class Zero of the southern Dominion nation of Rubrum, who face the start of a world war waged by the technological prowess based Milites Empire, who hopes to conquer and seize all of Orience's crystals; in the wake of global turmoil and experiencing first hand of the threat of invasion, Class Zero is tasked as Rubrum's, and eventually, Orience's, only hope from the grasp of tyranny against powers seemingly greater than them.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is an action-RPG that was released exclusively for the Nintendo GameCube, and has since spawned its own metaseries with the Crystal Chronicles name, all of which have been exclusive to Nintendo hardware. The world of Crystal Chronicles is of its own universe where four races exist; the farming centered Clavats, the esoteric and magic centered Yukes, the short but stout Liltites, and the crafty but thieving Selkies, where crystals are central to their existence and tales regarding them are the focus of the series.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy and its sequels, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy and the arcade and PS4 game Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT. The first two are PlayStation Portable titles designed around a combat system resembling a hybridized blend of the three-dimensional fighting and action-RPG genres, while the third game is oriented more to the fighting aspects rather than the RPG aspects. These games are crossovers of the various disparate continuities of the franchise, and make at least one hero and one villain from each of the main-numbered Final Fantasy continuities playable characters. The first two installments detail a long, cyclical war between hero and villain factions led by Cosmos, the goddess of harmony, and Chaos, the god of discord. The third game does not follow the cycle of war plot from previous Dissidia games but retains the roster idea nonetheless. Dissidia NT , currently an arcade release, is built on Playstation 4 hardware and thus will receive a Playstation 4 release later on down the line. The roster is planned to include every character from the last two editions whilst also adding Y'shtola from XIV and Ramza from Tactics.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and its update, Curtain Call, are Nintendo 3DS rhythm titles that similarly cross over the many universes of Final Fantasy, compiling music - both faithfully preserved and remixed - from almost every Final Fantasy title and spin-off.
- Among the many recurrent monster designs trademarked to the series is the Chocobo, a large, ratite-like bird that is often used as a mount in various Final Fantasy continuities. Square Enix uses it as a mascot for Final Fantasy as a whole, and has released a variety of more child-oriented Chocobo media based on it. There have been Chocobo-themed entries of Chunsoft's Mystery Dungeon series of rogue-like games, and similar games were later made for Pokémon.
- Kingdom Hearts is an action-RPG series that was conceived as an unorthodox crossover between the general aesthetic of Final Fantasy and the many universes of Disney animated films, with several Final Fantasy characters - such as Cloud Strife - appearing as guests and cameos. Under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, the on-going series has become one of the most storied video game intellectual properties in its own right. The games center on a vast universe where different worlds manifest as stars and tiny planets suspended away from each other, and a youth by the name of Sora, who wishes to journey beyond his home world of Destiny Islands, ventures into situations related to the legends that speak of how the star like worlds came to be, and to those that wielded the tools of power that caused it: The Keyblade.
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) sequel film titled Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, a sequel video game titled Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII based around Vincent Valentine, and two prequel games, Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, based around the Turks and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, focusing on Zack Fair. While there has yet to be a proper sequel for this particular continuity, a modernized high-definition remake of the original game was announced Sony's E3 2015 conference to be in development for PlayStation 4 as a timed exclusive. It was later revealed in December at the 2015 PlayStation Experience to possess a real-time combat formula as opposed to the turned based formula of the original PlayStation 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 an arcade and PlayStation fighter titled Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring and a small subseries 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. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, despite minimal presence of his own 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.
List of games in Final Fantasy franchise
- Final Fantasy (1987, NES)
- Final Fantasy II (1988, NES)
- Final Fantasy III (1990, NES)
- Final Fantasy IV (1991, SNES)
- Final Fantasy V (1992, SNES)
- Final Fantasy VI (1994, SNES)
- Final Fantasy VII (1997, PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy VII Remake (TBD, PlayStation 4)
- Final Fantasy VIII (1999, PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy IX (2000, PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy X (2001, PlayStation 2)
- Final Fantasy XI (2002, PlayStation 2)
- Final Fantasy X-2 (2003, PlayStation 2)
- Final Fantasy XII (2006, PlayStation 2)
- Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (2007, Nintendo DS)
- Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (2008, PlayStation Portable, iOS, Nintendo WiiWare)
- Final Fantasy XIII (2009, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2011, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2013, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
- Final Fantasy XIV (2010, PC)
- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (2013, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC)
- Final Fantasy Type-0 (2011, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
- Final Fantasy XV (2016, Xbox One, PlayStation 4) (formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII)
- Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (1993, SNES)
- Final Fantasy Tactics (1997, PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy Tactics: War of The Lions (2007, PlayStation Portable, iOS)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2003, Nintendo GameCube)
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (2003, Game Boy Advance)
- Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (2004, PlayStation 2)
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007, PlayStation Portable)
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance A2: Grimoire of The Rift (2007, Nintendo DS)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008, PlayStation Portable)
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy (2011, PlayStation Portable)
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (2012, Nintendo 3DS, iOS)
- Final Fantasy: All The Bravest (2013, iOS)
- Final Fantasy: Record Keeper (2014, iOS, Android)
- Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (2015, iOS, Android)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (2015, Arcade, Playstation 4)
- World of Final Fantasy (2016, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)
The Final Fantasy universe is represented for the first time as DLC in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
- Cloud: Cloud Strife, the main protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, makes his debut in the Super Smash Bros. series as a downloadable fighter in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. His default designs are taken from the expansive lore of Final Fantasy VII and his attacks generate unique sound effects from his debut title. His attacks primarily revolve around his iconic weapon, the Buster Sword, and references to most of the Limit Breaks he acquired on his quest.
- Midgar: The iconic cyberpunk conurbation on the planet Gaia, of which is depicted in Super Smash Bros. at the beginning of Final Fantasy VII, just after the completion of AVALANCHE's first bombing operation. One of the several Mako Reactors and the main Shinra Electric Power Company structure can be seen in the background. The layout of this stage is identical to those of Battlefield and Dream Land (64), however, there are the omnipresent summons from the Final Fantasy series that appear as stage hazards, each with their own abilities which directly impact the stage, and, likewise in Final Fantasy, can only be called upon by Summon Materia.
- Let the Battles Begin!
- Fight On!
- Victory! Final Fantasy Series
- Cloud (Alt.)
Wii U Version
- Let the Battles Begin!
- Fight On!
Media with elements from or in the Super Smash Bros. series
Cloud Strife appears as a playable downloadable content character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U alongside Midgar, an area from Final Fantasy VII. Bahamut Zero, which appears on the aformentioned stage, along with the designs used for Leviathan, Ramuh, and Odin, also originate from this game. Additionally, the songs Let the Battles Begin!, Fight On!, Opening - Bombing Mission and the game's version of the series' victory theme are used in Cloud's reveal trailer.
Ifrit's design used in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U comes from its appearance here.
Cloud's outfit and weapon the Fusion Swords from the CGI movie appear as an alternative costume. Cloud's Japanese voice actor from Advent Children, Takahiro Sakurai, would voice Cloud in all regions in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
Cloud's alternate SOLDIER costumes base their colors off the uniforms of SOLDIERs in this game, as well as reference the main protagonist Zack Fair.
Cloud's default SOLDIER costume takes some elements from the design used for his default costume from this game, including the more realistic proportions and loosely fastened boots and dual-layered pauldron, as well as the redesigned SOLDIER logo on his belt. Cloud's shield stance, dash, and double jump, as well as ability to wall jump, may come from this game. Many of Cloud's quotes are directly taken from this game.
In NT storyline however, his Advent Children costume is his main costume, rather than his original SOLDIER costume.
- Final Fantasy and Mega Man are the only third-party universes that originated on a Nintendo system. They both debuted on the NES with Final Fantasy debuting one day after Mega Man.
- Final Fantasy and Earthbound are the only universes to not feature characters that debuted in the first installment of their series.
- Super Smash Bros. would feature three prominent Final Fantasy staff members:
- Nobuo Uematsu, well known for composing much of Final Fantasy's music, composed Brawl's Main Theme.
- Kazushige Nojima, who was the main scenario writer of many Final Fantasy games, wrote the storyboard for The Subspace Emissary.
- Tetsuya Nomura, who was the character designer for Cloud and many other Final Fantasy characters after, illustrated Cloud's character poster.