Monday, August 30, 2010

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy II is the second installment in the Final Fantasy Series. It is notable for being one of the first story-intensive RPGs released for a console system, and for being the first game in the series to feature many elements that would later become staples of the Final Fantasy franchise, including chocobos and a character by the name of Cid. It was also unique for eliminating the traditional experience-based advancement system, instead favoring a system wherein the statistics of playable characters increased according either to how much they were required, or how much they used. In other words, a character who frequently cast magic spells would have their proficiency at casting increase faster than a character who specialized in physical attacks.
Although abandoned by subsequent installments in the series, a similar system was adopted by the SaGa series, also produced by Square. As a side-note, this game was actually designed by Akitoshi Kawazu, who later designed the SaGa series, rather than Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the series. Because of the popularity of the series in America during the '90s, Final Fantasy II was one of the first games to undergo fan translation, in this case by NeoDemiforce. Final Fantasy II was originally scored by Nobuo Uematsu, and it was Uematsu's seventeenth work of video game music. The game's music was arranged by Tsuyoshi Sekito for the WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance and PlayStation Portable remakes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Final Fantasy I and II

PlayStation Portable
Final Fantasy I and II were released separately on Sony PlayStation Portable. They were complete remakes of both versions with more revised storylines and better graphics thanks to the PlayStation Portable's capabilities. Final Fantasy I and II were released on the 20th Anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, along with Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions which also bears the 20th Anniversary logo.

Ports of the PlayStation Portable versions of Final Fantasy I and II were released as downloadable apps on the iPhone App Store.

Ports of the PlayStation Portable versions of Final Fantasy I were released as a downloadable app on the BlackBerry App World.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Final Fantasy I and II Changes and Additions-Game Boy Advance

A battle against a Soul of Chaos boss in the GBA version. This one is Shinryuu from Final Fantasy V

Both games were faithful in content to the original NES versions, and the package, while graphically similar to the WonderSwan Color adaptation of the first game, also contains the Bestiary feature, which allowed the player to view images and statistics of enemies that they had defeated in both games, and which first featured in the PlayStation package.
However, the package lacked the ability to choose between easy and normal games as was available in Final Fantasy Origins, although not in the original. Many reviewers complained that the first game appeared to default to "easy", making the heroes level-up much more easily and rendering enemies much easier to defeat, especially in comparison with the NES original. Many items were cheaper, the party began with more money, and defeating enemies brought greater rewards. Others praised the reduced difficulty level, saying that the high difficulty level (especially in comparison to later titles) was its primary weakness. In Final Fantasy II, magic degrading as physical strength grew and vice versa was removed; unlike the changes to Final Fantasy I however this was generally better received among players. Another thing that was added to both games is the ability to save the game at any point out of battle, and later resume from that same point, while the originals only allowed this under certain conditions. This was not a feature in Final Fantasy Origins or the original versions of the games.
Final Fantasy I also featured four extra dungeons known as the "Soul of Chaos" dungeons. These dungeons are accessible by restoring power to the Crystals by defeating each of the Elemental Fiends; the death of each Fiend unlocks a dungeon terminating in a selection of four bosses each from Final Fantasy III, IV, V, and VI.
Final Fantasy II featured a completely original feature found in none of the previous remakes. Once completed, a bonus storyline entitled Soul of Rebirth would be accessible to the player, featuring a number of characters who had been killed off during the course of the main story. The game only features four areas and most of the time will be spent training up for a second encounter with the last boss. An Ultima tome can be achieved but it requires the killing of the extremely powerful Ultima Weapon.
Additionally, the airship parts in both use Mode 7.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Final Fantasy I and II Changes and Additions-PlayStation

The PlayStation versions of the game were most similar to the WonderSwan Color remakes that were produced separately in 2000 and 2001, respectively. Other than minor changes to take advantage of Sony's superior hardware, such as a higher screen resolution which meant that the graphics in the PlayStation version were slightly more detailed, and the remixed soundtracks, the PlayStation versions were basically identical to the earlier WonderSwan versions. Both games have added CGI FMV cut scenes, and added content. It also includes art galleries of Yoshitaka Amano's illustrations.
As for the tomb at Elfheim (or Elf Land on the NES version), the tomb reads "Here lies Erdrick" on the American NES version of Final Fantasy I, a reference to the Dragon Warrior game. It reads "May Link rest in peace," on the American Final Fantasy Origins (reference to the hero of the Legend of Zelda series). It reads "May Erdrick rest in peace," on the PAL Final Fantasy Origins version. (Interestingly, the text referencing Link was only slightly changed in Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn Of Souls, even though that version was made for a Nintendo system. In the Dawn of Souls and PSP versions, it reads "Here lies Link.")
While the original version of Final Fantasy I has only one save slot and the WonderSwan Color version has only eight, the Final Fantasy Origins and PlayStation Portable versions have as many save slots as the player has available through PlayStation memory cards. The GBA version only has three save slots.
The Origins version has been released on the PSN Store in Japan.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Final Fantasy I and II Changes and Additions-Famicom

As Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II had originally been released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, very few changes were rendered from the original releases in the compilation version: a typographical error was corrected in Final Fantasy and two monster designs were subtly altered in Final Fantasy II. The first game basically borrows almost all of the graphical changes made to the English version (most notably the monsters "Beholder" and "Medusa", which use the altered sprite in subsequent remakes).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Final Fantasy I and II

Final Fantasy I•II is a compilation of two Square Co. console role-playing games for the Nintendo Family Computer: Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II. As both games had originally appeared on the Famicom, there were few substantial changes between the originals and the compilation versions. Final Fantasy I–II was the last cartridge Square released for the Famicom, in early 1994, and was released in a limited edition box including various bonuses, such as maps and hint books. The compilation was never officially released outside of Japan.
PlayStation versions of the two games were released in Japan in 2002 by Square. Each game was either sold separately, or combined in the form of the Final Fantasy I & II Premium Package (ファイナルファンタジーI・II プレミアムパッケージ), a special edition collection which included both games as well as three collector's figurines. This collection, without the special packaging and figurines, was next published as Final Fantasy Origins in Europe by Infogrames in 2003. Later in the same year, the two games were combined onto one disc and released in North America by Square Enix under the same name. It was the first time either game had been officially released in Europe, and the first time Final Fantasy II had been officially released in North America.
The PlayStation remakes were later put onto the same cartridge when they were ported to the Game Boy Advance as Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls (known as Final Fantasy I + II Advance (ファイナルファンタジーI・IIアドバンス) in Japan). The port featured similar graphics / sound to the PlayStation version (though slightly inferior due to the Game Boy Advance's capabilities). The Game Boy Advance version of Final Fantasy contains four extra dungeons featuring bosses from later Final Fantasy titles, plus a few gameplay tweaks (including an MP system and easier difficulty setting). This version of Final Fantasy II included an extra side-story after finishing the game but the overall gameplay was not altered from the PlayStation version.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Final Fantasy (video game) Reception and Legacy

Final Fantasy has been well-received by critics and commercially successful; the original release sold 400,000 copies. As of March 31, 2003, the game, including all re-releases at the time, had shipped 1.99 million copies worldwide, with 1.21 million of those copies being shipped in Japan and 780,000 abroad. As of November 19, 2007, the PlayStation Portable version has shipped 140,000 copies. In March 2006, Final Fantasy appeared in the Japanese magazine Famitsu's Top 100 games list, where readers voted it the 63rd best game of all time. GameFAQs users made a similar list in 2005, which ranked Final Fantasy at 76th. It was rated the 49th best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list. In August 2008, Nintendo Power ranked it the 19th best Nintendo Entertainment System video game, praising it for setting up the basics of console role-playing games along with Dragon Warrior, and citing examples such as epic stories, leveling up, random battles, and character classes. Editors at IGN ranked Final Fantasy the 11th-best game on the console, calling the game's class system diverse, and praising its convenient use of vehicles as a means of traveling across the world map.
Final Fantasy was one of the most influential early console role-playing games, and played a major role in legitimizing and popularizing the genre. According to IGN's Matt Casamassina, Final Fantasy's storyline had a deeper and more engaging story than the original Dragon Quest (known as Dragon Warrior in North America). Many modern critics have pointed out that the game is poorly paced by contemporary standards, and involves much more time wandering in search of random battle encounters to raise their experience levels and money than it does exploring and solving puzzles. Other reviewers find the level-building and exploration portions of the game as the most amusing ones. The game is also considered by many as the weakest and most difficult installment of the series.
The subsequent versions of Final Fantasy have garnered mostly favorable reviews from the media. Peer Schneider of IGN enjoyed the WonderSwan Color version, praising its graphical improvements, especially the environments, characters, and monsters. Final Fantasy Origins was generally well-received; GamePro said the music was "fantastic", and that the graphics had a "suitably retro cuteness to them". Reviews for Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls were generally positive, with Jeremy Dunham of IGN giving particular praise to the improved English translation, saying it was better than any previous version of the game. The PlayStation Portable version was not as critically successful as the previous releases; GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd cited the visuals as its strongest enhancement, but stated that the additional random enemy encounters and updated graphics did not add much value.
The theme song that plays when the player characters first cross the bridge from Coneria has become the recurring theme music of the series, and has been featured in most numbered Final Fantasy titles except Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy was also the basis for the series finale of a video game-themed cartoon series Captain N: The Game Master entitled The Fractured Fantasy of Captain N. 8-Bit Theater, a sprite-based webcomic created by Brian Clevinger parodying the game, has become very popular in the gaming community since it started in March 2001.
Warrior of Light, based on Yoshitaka Amano's design of the lead character, and Garland are the respective hero and villain representing Final Fantasy in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Warrior of Light is voiced by Toshihiko Seki in the Japanese version and Grant George in the English version, while Garland is voiced by Kenji Utsumi in the Japanese version and Christopher Sabat in the English version.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Final Fantasy (video game) Versions and Re-releases

The WonderSwan Color version was one of the first expansive remakes of the game

Final Fantasy has been remade several times for different platforms, and has frequently been packaged with Final Fantasy II in various collections. While all of these remakes retain the same basic story and battle mechanics, various tweaks have been made in different areas, including graphics, sound, and specific gameplay elements. The game was first re-released for the MSX2 system and was published by Micro Cabin in Japan in June 1989. It had access to almost three times as much storage space as the Famicom version, but suffered from problems not present in Nintendo's cartridge media, including noticeable loading times. There were also minor graphical upgrades, improved music tracks and sound effects. In 1994, Final Fantasy I•II, a compilation of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, was launched for the Famicom. This version was only released in Japan and had very few graphical updates. The WonderSwan Color remake was released in Japan on December 9, 2000, and featured many new graphical changes. The 8-bit graphics of the original Famicom game were updated, battle scenes incorporated full background images, and character and enemy sprites were re-drawn to look more like the ones from the Super Famicom Final Fantasy games.
In Japan, Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II were re-released both separately and as a combined game for the PlayStation. The collection was released in Japan in 2002 as Final Fantasy I & II Premium Package and in PAL and North America in 2003 as Final Fantasy Origins. This version was similar to the WonderSwan Color remake, and featured several changes, such as more detailed graphics, a remixed soundtrack, added full motion video sequences, and art galleries of Yoshitaka Amano's illustrations. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls is, like Final Fantasy Origins, a port of the first two games in the series for the Game Boy Advance in 2004. The Dawn of Souls version incorporates various new elements, including four additional dungeons, an updated bestiary, and a few gameplay tweaks.
Square Enix released a version of Final Fantasy for two Japanese mobile phone networks in 2004; a version for NTT docomo FOMA 900i series was launched in March under the title Final Fantasy i, and a subsequent release for CDMA 1X WIN-compatible phones was launched in August. Another titular version was released for SoftBank Yahoo! Keitai phones on July 3, 2006. Graphically, the games are superior to the original 8-bit game, but not as advanced as many of the more recent console and handheld ports. Square Enix planned to release this version of the game for North American mobile phones sometime in 2006, but this did not happen until 2010, with help from Namco. For the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy, Square Enix remade Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II for the PlayStation Portable. The games were released in Japan and North America in 2007, and in PAL territories in 2008. The PSP version features higher-resolution 2D graphics, full motion video sequences, a remixed soundtrack, and a new dungeon as well as the bonus dungeons from Dawn of Souls. The script is the same as in the Dawn of Souls version, aside from the new dungeon.
Square Enix released the original NES version of the game on the Wii's Virtual Console service in Japan on May 26, 2009, in North America on October 5, 2009 and in the PAL region as an import on May 7, 2010. On February 25, 2010, Square Enix released the iOS version of Final Fantasy, based on the PSP port with touch controls, worldwide.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Final Fantasy (video game) Development

Final Fantasy was developed during Square's brush with bankruptcy in 1987, and in a display of gallows humor, director Hironobu Sakaguchi declared that his "final" game would be a "fantasy" role-playing game; hence the title. When Sakaguchi was asked what type of game he wanted to make, he replied "I don't think I have what it takes to make a good action game. I think I'm better at telling a story." Sakaguchi's concept was a game with a large world map to explore and an engaging story.Sakaguchi took an in-development ROM of the game to Japanese magazine Family Computer, but it would not review it. Video game magazine Famitsu, however, gave the game extensive coverage. The development team was composed of seven people, while the other team at Square had about twenty. Sakaguchi stated that if the game did not sell, he would quit making video games and return to college to make up a year. Only 200,000 copies were to be shipped, but Sakaguchi pleaded with the company to make 400,000 to help spawn a sequel, and it agreed.
The game's characters and title logo were designed by Yoshitaka Amano, and the scenario was written by freelance writer Kenji Terada. Iranian-American freelance programmer Nasir Gebelli, who was living in Japan at the time, worked as the programmer for the game. Among the other developers were Hiromichi Tanaka, Koichi Ishii, and Kazuko Shibuya. Following the successful North American localization of Dragon Quest, Nintendo of America translated Final Fantasy into English and published it in North America in 1990. The North American version of Final Fantasy was met with modest success, partly due to Nintendo's then-aggressive marketing tactics. No version of the game was marketed in the PAL region until Final Fantasy Origins in 2003.
The music for Final Fantasy was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, and was his 16th video game music composition. The soundtrack album was released together with the score of Final Fantasy II in 1989. Some of the game's tracks became mainstays to the Final Fantasy series: the "Prelude", the arpeggio played on the title screen; the "Opening Theme", which is played when the party crosses the bridge early in the game and later referred to as the Final Fantasy theme; and the "Victory Fanfare", which is played after every victorious battle. The opening motif of the battle theme has also been reused a number of times in the series.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Final Fantasy (video game) Plot

Outside the Kingdom of Coneria

Final Fantasy takes place in a fantasy world with three large continents. The elemental powers on this world are determined by the state of four orbs, each governing one of the four classical elements: earth, fire, water, and wind. The world of Final Fantasy is inhabited by numerous races, including Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Mermaids, Dragons, and Robots. Each non-Human race has one "town" in the game, although individuals are sometimes found in Human towns or other areas as well. Four hundred years prior to the start of the game, the Lefeinish people, who used the Power of Wind to craft airships and a giant space station (called the Floating Castle in the game), watched their country decline as the Wind Orb went dark. Two hundred years later, violent storms sank a massive shrine that served as the center of an ocean-based civilization, and the Water Orb went dark. The Earth Orb and the Fire Orb followed, plaguing the earth with raging wildfires, and devastating the agricultural town of Melmond as the plains and vegetation decayed. Some time later, the sage Lukahn tells of a prophecy that four Light Warriors will come to save the world in a time of darkness.
The game begins with the appearance of the four youthful Light Warriors, the heroes of the story, who each carry one of the darkened Orbs. Initially, the Light Warriors have access to the Kingdom of Coneria and the ruined Temple of Fiends. After the Warriors rescue Princess Sara from the evil knight Garland, the King of Coneria builds a bridge that enables the Light Warriors' passage east to the town of Pravoka. There the Light Warriors liberate the town from Bikke and his band of pirates, and acquire the pirates' ship for their own use. The Warriors now embark on a chain of delivery quests on the shores of the Aldi Sea. First they retrieve a stolen crown from the Marsh Cave for a king in a ruined castle, who turns out to be the dark elf Astos. Defeating him gains them the Crystal, which they return to the witch Matoya in exchange for a herb needed to awaken the Elf Prince cursed by Astos. The Elf Prince gives the Light Warriors a key capable of unlocking any door. The key unlocks a storage room in Coneria Castle which holds TNT. Nerrick, one of the Dwarves of the Cave of Dwarf/Dwarf Village, destroys a small isthmus using the TNT, connecting the Aldi Sea to the outside world.
After visiting the near-ruined town of Melmond, the Light Warriors go to the Earth Cave to defeat a vampire and retrieve the Star Ruby, which gains passage to Sage Sarda's cave. With Sarda's Rod, the Warriors venture deeper into the Earth Cave and destroy the Earth Fiend, Lich. The Light Warriors then obtain a canoe and enter Gurgu Volcano and defeat the Fire Fiend, Kary. The Floater from the nearby Ice Cave allows them to raise an airship to reach the northern continents. After they prove their courage by retrieving the Rat's Tail from the Castle of Ordeal, the King of the Dragons, Bahamut, promotes each Light Warrior. Using an air-producing fairy artifact known as Oxyale, the Warriors defeat the Water Fiend, Kraken, in the Sunken Shrine. They also recover a Slab, which allows a linguist named Dr. Unne to teach the Lefeinish language. The Lefeinish give the Light Warriors access to the Floating Castle that Tiamat, the Wind Fiend, has taken over. With the four Fiends defeated and the Orbs restored, a portal to 2000 years in the past opens in the Temple of Fiends. There the Warriors discover that the four Fiends sent Garland (now the archdemon Chaos) back in time and he sent the Fiends to the future to do so, creating a time loop by which he could live forever. The Light Warriors defeat Chaos, thus ending the paradox, and return home. By ending the paradox, however, the Light Warriors have changed the future to one where their heroic deeds from their own time remain unknown outside of legend.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Final Fantasy (video game) Gameplay

The Light Warriors battle Lich, Fiend of Earth

Final Fantasy has four basic modes of gameplay: an overworld map, town and dungeon maps, a battle screen, and a menu screen. The overworld map is a scaled-down version of the game's fictional world, which the player uses to direct characters to various locations. The primary means of travel across the overworld is by foot, but a canoe, a ship, and an airship become available as the player progresses. With the exception of some battles in preset locations or with bosses, enemies are randomly encountered on field maps and on the overworld map when traveling by foot, canoe, or ship, and must either be fought or fled from. The player begins the game by choosing four characters to form a party, which lasts for the duration of the game.
The game's plot develops as the player progresses through towns and dungeons. Some town citizens offer helpful information, while others own shops that sell items or equipment. Dungeons appear in areas that include forests, caves, mountains, swamps, underwater caverns and buildings. Dungeons often have treasure chests containing rare items that are not available in most stores. The game's menu screen allows the player to keep track of their experience points and levels, to choose which equipment their characters wield, and to use items and magic. A character's most basic attribute is their level, which can range from one to fifty, and is determined by the character's amount of experience. Gaining a level increases the character's attributes, such as their maximum hit points (HP), which represents a character's remaining health; a character dies when they reach zero HP. Characters gain experience points by winning battles.
Combat in Final Fantasy is menu-based: the player selects an action from a list of options such as Fight, Magic, and Item. Battles are turn-based and continue until either side flees or is defeated. If the player's party wins, each character gains experience and gold; if it flees, it is returned to the map screen; and if every character in the party dies, the game is over. Final Fantasy was the first game to show the player's characters on the right side of the screen and the enemies on the left side of the screen, as opposed to a first-person view.
Each character has an "occupation", or character class, with different attributes and abilities that are either innate or can be acquired. There are six classes; Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, White Mage, and Black Mage. Later in the game, each character undergoes a "class change"; their sprite portraits mature, and some classes even gain the ability to use weapons and magic that they previously could not use. Final Fantasy contains a variety of weapons, armor, and items that can be bought or found to make the characters more powerful in combat. Each character has eight inventory slots, with four to hold weapons and four to hold armor. Each character class has restrictions on what weapons and armor it may use. Some weapons and armor are magical; if used during combat, some of these items will cast spells. Other magical artifacts provide protection, such as from certain spells. At shops, the characters can buy items to help themselves recover while they are traveling. Items available include Potions, which heal the characters or removes an ailment like poison or petrification; Tents and Cabins, which can be used on the world map to heal the player and optionally save the game; and Houses, which also recovers the party's magic after saving. Special items may be gained by doing quests.
Magic is a common ability in the game, and several character classes use it. Spells are divided into two groups: White, which is defensive and healing, and Black, which is debilitating and destructive. Magic can be bought from White and Black magic shops and assigned to characters whose occupation allows them to use it. Spells are classified by a level between one and eight, with four White and four Black spells per level. Each character may learn only three spells per level. White and Black Mages can potentially learn any of their respective spells, while other classes cannot use most high-level magic.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Final Fantasy Video Game

Final Fantasy (ファイナルファンタジー Fainaru Fantajī) is a fantasy role-playing video game created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, developed and first published in Japan bySquare (now Square Enix) in 1987. It is the first game in Square's Final Fantasy series. Originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Final Fantasywas remade for several video game consoles and is frequently packaged with Final Fantasy II in video game collections. The story follows four youths called the Light Warriors, who each carry one of their world's four elemental orbs which have been darkened by the four Elemental Fiends. Together, they quest to defeat these evil forces, restore light to the orbs, and save their world.
The game received generally positive reviews, and it is regarded as one of the most influential and successful role-playing games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, playing a major role in popularizing the genre. Praise focused on the game's graphics, while criticism targeted the time spent wandering in search of random battle encounters to raise the player's experience level. All versions of Final Fantasy sold a combined total of two million copies worldwide by March 2003.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Final Fantasy Impact and Legacy

The Final Fantasy series and several specific games within it have been credited for introducing and popularizing many concepts that are today widely used in console RPGs. The original title is often cited as one of the most influential early console RPGs, and played a major role in legitimizing and popularizing the genre. Prior to the series, RPGs featured one-on-one battles against monsters from a first person perspective. Final Fantasy introduced a side view perspective with groups of monsters against a group of characters that has been frequently imitated. Final Fantasy II was the first sequel in the industry to omit characters and locations from the previous title. Final Fantasy VII is credited with allowing console role-playing games to find a place in markets outside Japan.
The series' success affected Square's business on several levels. The financial success of the first game saved Square from bankruptcy, while the commercial failure of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within resulted in hesitation and delays from Enix during merger discussions. Square's decision to produce games exclusively for the Sony PlayStation—a move followed by Enix's decision with the Dragon Quest series—severed their relationship with Nintendo. Final Fantasy games were absent from Nintendo consoles, specifically the Nintendo 64, for seven years. Critics attribute the switch of strong third-party titles, like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, from the Nintendo 64 to the PlayStation as one of the reasons behind the systems' decline and success, respectively. The release of the Nintendo GameCube, which used optical disc media, in 2001 caught the attention of Square. To produce games for the system, Square created the shell company The Game Designers Studio and released Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, which spawned its own metaseries within the main franchise. Final Fantasy XI's lack of an online method of subscription cancellation prompted the creation of legislation in Illinois that requires internet gaming services to provide such a method to the state's residents.
The series' popularity has resulted in its appearance and reference in numerous facets of popular culture like anime, TV series, and webcomics. Music from the series has permeated into different areas of culture. Final Fantasy IV's "Theme of Love" was integrated into the curriculum of Japanese school children and has been performed live by orchestras and metal bands. In 2003, Uematsu became involved with the The Black Mages, a rock group independent of Square that has released albums of arranged Final Fantasy tunes. Bronze medalists Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova performed their synchronized swimming routine at the 2004 Summer Olympics to music from Final Fantasy VIII. Many of the titles' official soundtracks have been released for sale as well. Numerous companion books, which normally provide in-depth game information, have been published. In Japan, they are published by Square and are called Ultimania books. In North America, they take the form of standard strategy guides.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Final Fantasy Critical Response

The series has received critical acclaim for the quality of its visuals and soundtracks. It was awarded a star on the Walk of Game in 2006, making it the first franchise to win a star on the event (other winners were individual games, not franchises). commented that the series has sought perfection as well as been a risk taker in innovation. In a 2008 public poll held by The Game Group plc, Final Fantasy was voted the best game series, with five titles appearing in their "Greatest Games of All Time" list. IGN has commented the menu system used by the series is a major detractor for many and is a "significant reason why they haven't touched the series." The site has also heavily criticized the use of random encounters in the series' battle systems. IGN further stated the various attempts to bring the series into film and animation have either been unsuccessful, unremarkable, or did not live up to the standards of the games. In July 2007, UK-based Edge magazine criticized the series for a number of related titles that include the phrase "Final Fantasy" in their titles, which are considered to be not of the same quality as previous titles. It also commented that with the departure of Hironobu Sakaguchi, the series might be in danger of growing stale.
Many Final Fantasy games have been included in various lists of top games. Several games have been listed on multiple IGN "Top Games" lists. Eleven games were listed on Famitsu's 2006 "Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time", four of which were in the top ten, with Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy VII being first and second, respectively. The series holds seven Guinness World Records in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008, which include the "Most Games in an RPG Series" (13 main titles, 7 enhanced titles, and 32 spin-off titles), the "Longest Development Period" (the production of Final Fantasy XII took five years), and the "Fastest-Selling Console RPG in a Single Day" (Final Fantasy X).The 2009 edition listed two titles from the series among the top 50 consoles games: Final Fantasy XII at number 8 and Final Fantasy VII at number 20.
Several individual Final Fantasy titles have garnered extra attention; some for their positive reception and others for their negative reception. Despite the success of Final Fantasy VII, it is sometimes criticized as being overrated. In 2003, GameSpy listed it as the 7th most overrated game of all time, a comment echoed by IGN. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII shipped 392,000 units in its first week of release, but received review scores that were much lower than that of other Final Fantasy games. A delayed, negative review after the Japanese release of Dirge of Cerberus from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu hinted at a controversy between the magazine and Square Enix. The MMORPG, Final Fantasy XI, reached over 200,000 active daily players in March 2006 and had reached over half a million subscribers by July 2007. Though Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was praised for its visuals, the plot was criticized and was considered a box office bomb. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the GameCube received overall positive review scores, but reviews stated that the use of Game Boy Advances as controllers was a big detractor.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Final Fantasy Reception

Overall, the Final Fantasy series has been critically acclaimed and commercially successful, though each installment has seen different levels of success. The series has seen a steady increase in total sales; it sold 45 million units worldwide by August 2003, 63 million by December 2005, and 85 million by July 2008. In June 2010, Square Enix announced that the series has sold over 97 million units. Its high sales numbers have ranked it as one of the best-selling video game franchises in the industry; in January 2007, the series was listed as number three, and later in July as number four. Several games within the series have become best-selling titles. At the end of 2007, the seventh, eighth, and ninth best-selling RPGs were Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy X respectively.Final Fantasy VII has sold more than 9.5 million copies worldwide, earning it the position of the best-selling Final Fantasy title. Within two days of Final Fantasy VIII's North American release on September 9, 1999, it became the top-selling video game in the United States, a position it held for more than three weeks. Final Fantasy X sold over 1.4 million Japanese units in pre-orders alone, which set a record for the fastest-selling console RPG. Final Fantasy XII sold more than 1.7 million copies in its first week in Japan. By November 6, 2006—one week after its release—Final Fantasy XII had shipped approximately 1.5 million copies in North America.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Final Fantasy Music

Nobuo Uematsu, composer of most of the Final Fantasysoundtracks

The titles in the series feature a variety of music, but frequently reuse themes. Most of the games open with a piece called "Prelude", which has evolved from a simple, 2-voice arpeggio in the early games to a complex, melodic arrangement in recent installments. Victories in combat are often accompanied by a victory fanfare, a theme that has become one of the most recognized pieces of music in the series. The basic theme that accompanies Chocobo appearances has been rearranged in a different musical style for each installment. A piece called "Prologue" (and sometimes "Final Fantasy"), originally featured in the first game, is often played during the ending credits. Although leitmotifs are common in the more character-driven installments, theme music is typically reserved for main characters and recurring plot elements.
Nobuo Uematsu was the chief music composer of the Final Fantasy series until his resignation from Square Enix in November 2004. Other composers include Masashi Hamauzu and Hitoshi Sakimoto. Uematsu was allowed to create much of the music with little direction from the production staff. Sakaguchi, however, would request pieces to fit specific game scenes including battles and exploring different areas of the game world. Once a game's major scenarios were completed, Uematsu would begin writing the music based on the story, characters, and accompanying artwork. He started with a game's main theme, and developed other pieces to match its style. In creating character themes, Uematsu read the game's scenario to determine the characters' personality. He would also ask the scenario writer for more details to scenes he was unsure about. Technical limitations were prevalent in earlier titles; Sakaguchi would sometimes instruct Uematsu to only use specific notes. It wasn't until Final Fantasy IV on the SNES that Uematsu was able to add more subtlety to the music.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Final Fantasy Graphics and Technology

Final Fantasy VIII, along with VII and IX, used pre-rendered backgrounds.

The first titles on the NES feature small sprite representations of the leading party members on the main world screen because of graphical limitations. Battle screens use more detailed, full versions of characters in a side-view perspective. This practice was used until Final Fantasy VI, which uses detailed versions for both screens. The NES sprites are 26 pixels high and use a color palette of 4 colors. 6 frames of animation are used to depict different character statuses like "healthy" and "fatigued". The SNES installments use updated graphics and effects, as well as higher quality audio than in previous games, but are otherwise similar to their predecessors in basic design. The SNES sprites are 2 pixels shorter, but have larger palettes and feature more animation frames: 11 colors and 40 frames respectively. The upgrade allowed designers to have characters be more detailed in appearance and express more emotions. The first title includes non-player characters (NPCs) the player could interact with, but are mostly static in-game objects. Beginning with the second title, Square used predetermined pathways for NPCs to create more dynamic scenes that include comedy and drama.
In 1995, Square showed an interactive SGI technical demonstration of Final Fantasy for the then next generation of consoles. The demonstration used Silicon Graphics's prototype Nintendo 64 workstations to create 3D graphics. Fans believed the demo was of a new Final Fantasy title for the Nintendo 64 console; however, 1997 saw the release of Final Fantasy VII for the Sony PlayStation. The switch was due to a dispute with Nintendo over its use of faster and more expensive cartridges, as opposed to the slower, cheaper, and much higher capacity compact discs used on rival systems. Final Fantasy VII introduced 3D graphics with fully pre-rendered backgrounds. It was because of this switch to 3D that a CD-ROM format was chosen over a cartridge format. The switch also led to increased production costs and a greater subdivision of the creative staff for Final Fantasy VII and subsequent 3D titles in the series.
Starting with Final Fantasy VIII, the series adopted a more photo-realistic look. Like Final Fantasy VII, full motion video (FMV) sequences would have video playing in the background, with the polygonal characters composited on top. Final Fantasy IX returned briefly to the more stylized design of earlier games in the series. It still maintained, and in many cases slightly upgraded, most of the graphical techniques used in the previous two games in the series. Final Fantasy X was released on the PlayStation 2, and used the more powerful hardware to render graphics in real-time instead of using pre-rendered material to obtain a more dynamic look; the game features full 3D environments, rather than have 3D character models move about pre-rendered backgrounds. It is also the first Final Fantasy game to introduce voice acting, occurring throughout the majority of the game, even with many minor characters. This aspect added a whole new dimension of depth to the character's reactions, emotions, and development.
Taking a temporary divergence, Final Fantasy XI used the PlayStation 2's online capabilities as an MMORPG. Initially released for the PlayStation 2 with a PC port arriving 6 months later, Final Fantasy XI was also released on the Xbox 360 nearly four years after its original release in Japan. This was the first Final Fantasy game to use a free rotating camera. Final Fantasy XII was released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2 and uses only half as many polygons as Final Fantasy X in exchange for more advanced textures and lighting. It also retains the freely rotating camera from Final Fantasy XI. Final Fantasy XIII was shown at E3 2006 and will make use of Crystal Tools, a middleware engine developed by Square Enix.