Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.


Transcript:

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

There are only a few franchises that have been around through most of video game history. Most franchises that thrived in the 2D era failed to make the transition to 3D and simply died off. Amongst those that did transition over, few have been able to evolve with the times quite like this franchise. Today let’s talk about the first game in one such franchise. Today’s game is Final Fantasy. Developed by Square and released on the NES in 1987.

Final Fantasy is a series that has evolved dramatically throughout the years. Many of the tropes you may think of when you think of Final Fantasy: Moogles, Chocobos, job systems, the ATB, none of that existed in the early days. Players begin Final Fantasy by choosing the class for each of their four characters. Class choices include Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Red Mage, White Mage and Black Mage. Each of the four unnamed characters are one of the four prophesied heroes of light and carry with them a darkened orb. They are given a quest to save Princess Sara from the evil knight Garland. With that, the first Final Fantasy begins.

Final Fantasy’s battle system feels simplistic today but it’s still recognizable. Players choose their character’s attacks from a menu and then the attacks are carried out. Characters do not always attack in the same order from round to round so this must be considered. Also, this first Final Fantasy game is much closer to Dungeons and Dragons, the inspiration for its design, so the game feels much more punishing than later entries in the series. Attacks miss nearly as often as they hit. Level ups are spaced out much farther than in later entries. One unlucky surprise round can end your game without even giving you a chance to react. Final Fantasy is brutal so preparation is required.

Final Fantasy is the brainchild of Hironobu Sakaguchi who had wanted to create an RPG for a significant amount of time but Square turned the project down, believing it would not sell well. Sakaguchi worked on  other projects, none of which became the hit that Square needed. After the success of Dragon Quest, Square finally approved Sakaguchi’s request to make an RPG of their own. This came at an opportune time for Sakaguchi as he was ready to leave the game industry if this one last game wasn’t a success. Sakaguchi confirmed that this was one of the reasons why Final Fantasy has that name. This was Sakaguchi’s final attempt to create a hit game.

Sakaguchi found a team of seven people within Square willing to follow him. This team became somewhat ironically known as the A-Team within Square. The irony was that Square actually did not fully support this project and was expecting its failure. As development continued, more employees started coming in to support Final Fantasy’s development, with these additional staff calling themselves the B-Team as a show of support. 

When Final Fantasy released, it was received with high praise and commercial sales. What Square assumed would be a flop quickly became the flagship franchise of their company. Today, Final Fantasy has released 15 main entries in the franchise with countless spin-offs and remakes over the years. Many of the spin-offs have become their own successful franchises in and of themselves, including the Mana series and Kingdom Hearts.

Thank you so much for listening! For more facts about Final Fantasy, follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday. Archives and transcripts for each episode are available on videogameoftheday.com. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.