Will Final Fantasy destroy itself?
Earlier this month, the video game company Square Enix announced the next current-gen installment of its critically acclaimed “Final Fantasy” series. The series, which has been in the hands of almost every role-playing game lover, has been receiving more and more negative feedback since the 2010 release of “Final Fantasy XIII”. The game sold well and was praised for its breathtaking graphics, but it was slammed by critics and fans for its extremely linear story progression and overwhelming mythology.
Then Square Enix tried to right its wrongs. In 2012, the company released a follow up to the game: “Final Fantasy XIII-2”. It was only the second installment of the series to have a sequel (the other being “Final Fantasy X”).
Now, when it comes to “Final Fantasy,” the number scheme can be quite confusing to anyone unfamiliar with the series. Each addition to the series is signified by a roman numeral and contains a world and story that is completely separate from any other installment. In the rare case that a game does have a sequel, it is signified by another number. Confused yet?
“Final Fantasy XIII-2” didn’t sell as well as its predecessor (about a third of its sales), but it received praise for its upgraded battle system and newly introduced monster capturing system. However, the game was criticized for not being linear enough because of its convoluted time traveling gameplay and cliché plotline.
Now, Square Enix has pulled off something even rarer than a sequel to a “Final Fantasy” game. It’s turning “Final Fantasy XIII” into a trilogy. “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII” is Square Enix’s latest and supposedly last attempt to correct the 13th installment’s notorious imperfections.
The game will feature the main protagonist from “Final Fantasy XIII”, Lightning, returning to a world that will end in 13 days, unless of course she’s able to save it from impending doom. Details are still under wraps, but it’s been confirmed that Lightning will be the only playable character in the game. This revelation came as a surprise, because the previous games were criticized for their restrictions on playable characters. There is no confirmation as to whether or not the other original cast members will make a reappearance, but a colorful and eccentric cast has been promised.
It’s great to see that Square Enix cares about pleasing their customers, but instead of listening to fans’ pleas for another installment or a remake of the most popular “Final Fantasy” series, “Final Fantasy VII,” the video game giant just keeps adding games to the “Final Fantasy XIII” roster. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. That’s exactly what Square Enix is doing.
Has “Final Fantasy” run its course? The first entry into the series, “Final Fantasy,” was released in 1987 and raised a dying video game company (originally named Square) from ashes. The series will be celebrating its 25th anniversary soon, but with dwindling sales and low reviews, the series might soon see its own impending doom, only without any spiky-haired heroes to save it. Square Enix seems to be milking the series for every last dime before it runs dry. It’s a dishonor to longtime fans of the beloved series and it’s making an even bigger dent in Square Enix’s once untarnished reputation.