I remember the very first time I watched a Final Fantasy game and in a broader sense the original PlayStation console . It was the year 2000 and I spent a weekend afternoon as usual: I sat in the carpeted basement of Alex's house and watched him play a video game I'd never seen before.
This time it was a borrowed copy of a title with a name we had only seen on the front page of magazines. Alex had gotten hold of it by the older neighbor of a classmate who lived on the street and was ahead of everything else in Japan when it came to cool new entertainment from Japan. The game was sort of like Pokémon Alex told me, only that it was better and bigger in every way. (For turn-based RPGs, we had a very small frame of reference at the time.) I could not imagine what that looked like.
But there it was, a copy of Final Fantasy IX plays on its bulky, silver pre-HD television. I still remember the scene exactly. It was in the first half of Disk Two when you were back in Alexandria Castle trying to rescue Princess Garnet from the main villain Kuja and Garnet's brainwashing mother Queen Brahne. In Brahne's chamber, whose appearance is burned into my memory to the exact location of the secret switch in the wall, you fight the second of your lost battles against General Beatrix. I was immediately excited.
At that time I was exclusively a Nintendo child. For my eighth birthday, I got an N64, and my games collection contained the standard classics: Banjo-Kazooie Ocarina of Time GoldenEye. Before the launch of the first Xbox and the reign of the PS2, my main console was my Game Boy. I can hardly remember a time in my elementary years when I did not see a copy of Pokémon . But I had started asking for more than Nintendo. Through game magazines and TV ads, as well as reports from Alex and other game-loving friends, I became aware of the PlayStation and the stranger and fancier experiences it offered. Like Final Fantasy .
In a short but meaningful presentation, I have the turn-based combat system, the stunning graphics and pre-rendered environments, the written dialogue, and the incredible combat animations – all was stunning. I have to play this I remember. After some desperate pleading and an unforgettable Christmas I soon had my hands on a PS1 and FFIX and afterwards on the legendary FFVII and FFVIII . I would later discover FFVI and Chrono Trigger both of which were part of an English-language double disc collection. When the PS2 was launched and FFX arrived in December 2002, I was All-In.
My experience was not isolated. In America it was often harder to learn about Japanese role-playing games, unless you were reading the right magazines or visiting the right internet forums. In many ways, the discovery of Final Fantasy became a defining moment in my relationship with Gaming and PlayStation. And you could argue that Final Fantasy is the defining series for Sony's first home console, more than Crash Bandicoot Gran Turismo Metal Gear Solid, or Tomb Raider . It's easy to forget that the amazing effect of the Squaresoft trio (now Square Enix) of 3D RPGs inexplicably began every three years from 1997.
For children like me. Anyone who enjoys Pokémon DragonBall Z and other popular Japanese export goods will discover a whole new world. I had never played a real RPG before. I did not know that video games can look so good. I would load certain scores of FFVII and others in the series just to watch certain cutscenes. The story was captivating and the worlds realized that I can still remember the sheer wonder I felt as I explored the open world with an airship and after hours of secret hunts with a golden chocobo.
I remember how absurdly smart it was that FFVII of low-poly graphics in the outside world where I often spent most of my time reading dialogues and accessing my menu , to higher-quality models passed in the fight scenes in which I spent most of the interactive part of the game. When I was a kid, it just seemed like a clever magic behind-the-scenes production. Almost two decades later, I read in a detailed report by the game's developers how monumental it was to make every aspect of the game work as well as possible and in such a short time.
The PlayStation will forever be a Final Fantasy machine for me, even though I broke years later as a student I would forgo playing FFXIII on the PlayStation 3 since all I owned at the time was my Xbox 360. (I switched to my PS4 for FFXV .) The two brands – PlayStation and Final Fantasy – are intertwined in my memories and always will be, and so are the games industry.
Final Fantasy came closest to a video game blockbuster for Sony when the company and Squaresoft conquered the international market with VII VIII and IX . Although many of the series' most important design concepts have come to be known in previous iterations on Nintendo platforms, the original PlayStation 3D rates have been groundbreaking for using full-motion video, photorealistic character models, and stunning mixes of changing-layered 3D environments , The stories and their characters immediately became the PlayStation brand's trademark, much like Master Chief became the Xbox mascot and Shigeru Miyamoto's creations became the embodiment of Nintendo.
FFVII became a massively influential title that aroused appetite for high-profile console RPGs in Western markets, each demonstrating the technical abilities of the PlayStation when it seemed Nintendo could not be beat. The game would continue to sell millions of copies around the world and create a model for FFVIII and FFIX that should follow. Until then, RPG-makers worked mainly in the field of high-fantasy and almost exclusively on the PC.
The Squaresoft team led by former director Yoshinori Kitase and series developer Hironobu Sakaguchi, however, developed an unprecedented formula. They showed how to combine medieval fantasy, steampunk and anime elements with complex, intricate game mechanics and groundbreaking technical leaps to create something that appeals to players around the world. I never felt like playing something by and for a Japanese audience. Final Fantasy Games felt universal.
Sony eventually switched from Final Fantasy and chose Die's creations Many in-house studios became the faces of his platform when Squaresoft turned into Square Enix and diversified the types of games he developed. For a short while, when PlayStation hit the market, Final Fantasy was the king and the only way to play it was to plug in a Sony console and the massive multi-disc sets in the series to buy. (Now that the first installment of FFVII: Remake is coming out as an exclusive PlayStation 4 game in March of next year, it looks like Sony and Square have a unique relationship with Final Fantasy [19459005Thecirclehasclosed)
So much of this era feels weird now, and phoning FFIX in my pocket is something I would not have imagined 20 years ago can. But I've never lost sight of the fact that these games were state-of-the-art and unprecedented in their range from a narrative point of view. I still look forward to playing them again in a few years if they remind me to sit on the bedroom floors and feel like I'm sitting in the bedroom every time I pick up my PlayStation controller Future to go.