Saving Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy for the NES is one of the most important games I have ever played in my life. It was one of my very first trips into an RPG. The time since I played (what we would call today) my first dungeon crawler, Final Fantasy has changed. What was once a glorious franchise (that had rabid fans of the new iphone level) has reached a borderline parody of itself.

While I hold no delusions of having any sway over Square, I would like to share how I would divert the Final Fantasy franchise from the cliff it looks like it is headed for.

Lose the angsty tweens
Final Fantasy is not scooping up legions of new fans. It’s time to leave the kids behind and give us a hero we can associate with. Cecil (FF4) was (is) probably the most perfect main character in a Final Fantasy game. He possessed some life experience. Something that Vaan (FF12) cannot claim.

Unification of the world
Pick a universe, stick with it, and let us establish a love for the Final Fantasy timeline. FF12 made an excellent step by placing two Final Fantasy games in Ivalice. It doesn’t all have to happen in the same time period but the same world. That way we can remember back on all the good and bad times we have had there.

Open World
To go along with the brand new unified world, we need it to be one great big playground. This would directly oppose Final Fantasy’s habit of linear storytelling. In the end, this would benefit the series.

Real-Time Combat
The combat in Final Fantasy needs a serious shot in the arm. FF12 was a great first (baby) step. If you look at Borderlands, you will find great RPG “dice roll” based combat. Let me fight with the weapons of my choosing in real-time and let the dice roll’s happen in the background.

Get smart or get out
Your party can survive on their own. I understand it’s fun to boss people around but not in the middle of heated combat. The party members should be able to hold their own. You shouldn’t have to tell them to use a healing potion or spell to prevent death. They should be well versed in support also.

Add some Edge
We get it. Corporations are bad, and the planet is good. How many times do we need the same framework? Why do we have to go on this grand David vs Goliath quest? We need to go on a journey that is more personal to the main character. Let the rest sort itself out.

Let me have it my way
Borderlands and Torchlight let me build my hero the way I see fit. Let me do the same here. Don’t even let me work on the stats of the other characters just the mains. I want a character built to fight in the style I enjoy. I don’t want to adjust my style to fit the form the game wants it to.

Party of Less
Variety is the spice of life – or so I have been told. But, it is time to do away with the mega cast and bring it back to a handful at best. I don’t need tons of characters to pick from. I end up using the same three all the time anyway. Less characters lends more time to developing their interpersonal relationships.

Remember it’s a game
We don’t need to watch cut scenes that are so long you can put the control down. Being apart of the dramatic action is what makes a video game fun. Have your drawn out dialogue just find a way that I don’t have to stop playing. If you need a cinematic moment, keep it under 90 seconds of non controllable characters and camera.

Organic conversations
Mass Effect found a very elegant way to keep conversations flowing. It’s a key trick to keeping the audience involved. Why listen to a conversation when you could guide it?

There it is Square. A few simple steps that may help bring final fantasy back. Without changing the status quo, there is a chance that Final Fantasy will become a sidebar in the history of gaming. Things only get better if you challenge yourself.

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About Donald Conrad

Donald Conrad is an avid father and a dedicated gamer -- or maybe that's the other way around. He loves his games, and he loves his family, and he's pretty sure he loves sleep, even if he doesn't remember what it was like. Follow his life confusion on Twitter @ConManEd