This week marks the release of, well, not too much, so I thought instead I’d jump ahead and take inspiration from next week’s PS4 release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and take a look at the original Final Fantasy.
Created as a last ditch effort by a company at the end of their financial rope, Final Fantasy ended up being a hugely influential smash-hit that went onto spawn the most sprawling, decadent gaming franchise ever. Here’s a few interesting facts about one of the most important JRPGs of all time…
1) The creator of Final Fantasy also popularized the Japanese dating sim. While not particularly well known on this side of the Pacific, dating sims in which the player attempts to romance various virtual ladies are a staple in Japan. These games are, at best, kind of sad and at worst just outright porn, so it may come as some surprise that the whole misbegotten genre was more-or-less spawned by Final Fantasy mastermind Hironobu Sakaguchi.
Before he made Final Fantasy Sakaguchi created all kinds of different games for Square, including Nakayama Miho no Tokimeki High School, a game in which you, as a high school kid, try to woo popular-at-the-time Japanese idol Miho Nakayama. The game wasn’t the first Japanese dating sim, but it was the first to feature a real-life celebrity and the first to be a mainstream hit.
Also interestingly, the game was co-produced with Nintendo itself, with Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto working on the game.
“Push A” indeed.
2) Final Fantasy is also linked to the creation of first-person shooters. The lead programmer of Final Fantasy was Nasir Gebelli, an Iranian-American whiz programmer who created groundbreaking first-person shooters such as Horizon V and Zenith for the Apple II in the early 80s. John Romero, designer of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom has cited Gebelli as a major inspiration and influence.
3) The game originally had a more badass name. Originally Final Fantasy was going to be called Fighting Fantasy. Frankly I’m kind of shocked Square-Enix has never done a Final Fantasy fighter called Fighting Fantasy.
4) Final Fantasy really could have been the final game in the series. We’ve all seen the snarky comments — hell, we might have made a few of them ourselves.
“Final Fantasy? Lol! There’s been, like, 50 of them! When’s the ‘final’ part happening?”
Well, Final Fantasy’s name could have been much more literal. Back in 1987 Square was coming off a series of flops and was on its last legs financially. After Dragon Quest hit big in Japan in 1986, Sakaguchi convinced his bosses to let him make an RPG, but few in the company had high hopes that the game would be a success. Most assumed Final Fantasy would be Square’s final glorious gasp before going out of business. Sakaguchi also assumed it would be his final shot at being a video game writer and designer and that he’d be forced to drag his ass back to university. It was this air of finality and gloom that led Fighting Fantasy to be renamed Final Fantasy. Thankfully the original release of Final Fantasy would sell over 400,000 copies in Japan, save Square and give birth to a very ironically named series.
“Go back to college? F–k that.”
5) Final Fantasy was made with a team of just 7 people. By comparison, a decade later 120 people were needed to make Final Fantasy VII. Around a decade after that, nearly 300 people worked on Final Fantasy XII.
6) The Final Fantasy series’ most iconic melody was written in five minutes. Every version of Final Fantasy has featured some take on the song “Prelude”, a beautiful little melody that inspires instant nostalgia in anyone who’s ever touched a Final Fantasy game. Well, turns out the song was just farted out in five minutes by Final Fantasy composer Nobou Uematsu when Sakaguchi barged into the studio one day demanding one more song. Given the results, maybe Sakaguchi should have been totally unreasonable more often.
7) Cid is not in the game. As all Final Fantasy fans know, every game in the series has featured an appearance by a gruff, airship owning character named Cid. Obviously this includes the original Final Fantasy, right? Nope! The original NES version of Final Fantasy is completely Cid-less, although later versions of the game for the Playstation and GBA retconned Cid into the game’s world.
Oh, and there’s no Chocobos in the game either.
Never mention the fact that Cid wasn’t in the original game in front of him.