The pride and joy of Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft), Final Fantasy is a hand-latheringly popularRole-Playing Game series, currently on its fourteenth iteration alongside multiple sequels, spinoffs, remakes and films.The series is highly regarded for its outstanding production values and gameplay, and for being a pioneer in the Eastern RPG genre. Many of the conventions of Eastern RPGs that didn't originate in the Dragon Quest line originated with the Final Fantasy series, which in turn was influenced by Ultima and other Western computer role playing games. Even to this day, each new Final Fantasy game attempts to evolve the genre with new gameplay innovations or approaches, and although this can be divisive to the fanbase, credit is generally given to their attempts to at least try something different in the heavily-stagnant and conservative Eastern RPG genre.While the series was fairly obscure on Western shores for a long time, its popularity exploded with the release of Final Fantasy VII, which exposed most people to the Eastern RPG genre for the first time and is widely regarded as one of the best Role Playing Games of all time. Since then, Final Fantasy is widely considered as the pioneer of the Eastern RPG franchise in the west, held to such a regard that the English localizations are now developed concurrently with the original production.Tracking the early parts of the Final Fantasy series can be confusing, as only three of the first six games made it to North America, where the numbers were changed so that the US releases were consecutive numbers. Final Fantasy IV was released in America as Final Fantasy II, while Final Fantasy VI was released as Final Fantasy III. The confusion doesn't end there, as four games were given the name "Final Fantasy" to increase sales in North America: the first three games of the Makai Toshi Sa Ga series (released as Final Fantasy Legend (1-3)) and the first installment in the World Of Mana series (released as Final Fantasy Adventure). Final Fantasy VII broke this trend and was released as "VII" everywhere, and from that point on, every release would bear the original numbering.This series was also one of the first Japanese games to reach US shores and see a successful market. Later Japanese games would see this potential and come onto the scene. One equally popular series that saw this potential would eventually be Dragon Quest, Enix's flagship franchise. The other is Shin Megami Tensei, Atlus' flagship franchise. Before the Square Enix merger, these franchises have been competing against each other since the NES days; currently, SMT and Final Fantasy are direct competitors in both markets, while Dragon Quest has taken a much quieter role.While the series stuck firmly to a policy of one-game-per-number for a long time, in more recent times the franchise has opened up to the idea of sequels and compilations. Final Fantasy X was the first to get a direct sequel, and Final Fantasy Tactics was the first to have a compilation of games set in the same universe, known as the Ivalice Alliance.
Actually a technical demo for Square's Luminous Engine development kit. It has its own unique story and setting, however, and is actually labelled as Final Fantasy, perhaps existing as a concept for next-gen FF titles.
Altum Videtur: The series has always loved putting in gratuitous Latin in places, but in recent years game titles have been subject to this as well (Dissidia, Dissidia Duodecim and Fabula Nova Crystallis, among others). An increased usage of Latin in later games may or may not have been due to Final Fantasy VII's Final Boss theme being a Crowning Music of Awesome.
Artifact Title/Not-so-Meaningful Name: Final Fantasy I was going to be series' creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's final game for Square if it didn't sell well, who proclaimed that his "final game" for Square would be a "fantasy RPG". The fact that it is now more than twenty years and forty-seven sequels/spin-offs later provides a slight hint as to whether or not the word "final" still, in fact, applies, although Sakaguchi is no longer involved in the series after Final Fantasy X.
Yoshitaka Amano has a fondness for traditional japanese watercolors. He also loves willowy males with frizzy white hair, pale skin (But that's a trend in Japanese art anyways), purple eyeliner, and blue-purple lipstick. He also loves to put spiked armour, catsuits, and capes whenever he can get away with it. His monsters also look like Eldritch Abominations that you would expect to see in art depicting the Fair Folk.
Akihiko Yoshida has a thing for bondage gear, tight pants on men (the tighter the better), caucasian males to fit the more European feel of the games he works on (Specifically, Ivalice Alliance), tight pants on men, and more brown-blonde hair on humans. Oh yeah, and tight pants.
All of them have a thing for feathers, too.
Attack Backfire: In Final Fantasy II, attacking enemies with the wrong spell (eg Ice monsters with Ice magic, Undead with Drain and Osmose or Blob Monster with Poison) will actually heal the monster. In case of Drain or the Blood Swords results will be ugly.
In fact, all Final Fantasy games after the first one have a system of elemental absorb.
BFS: Swords that in real life would be very difficult if not impossible to wield "properly".
Big Red Devil: The recurring summons Diabolos and Ifrit tend to be this.
Birdback Heroism: Better not laugh at someone who can send your ass to the cleaners on a yellow ostrich. Kweh!
Bartz Krauser was the first character to have a chocobo (named Boco) of his very own. He abandons Boco outside the Noob Cave, but later reunites with him at the end of the game, whereupon he discovers Boco has gotten hitched and had babies.
The crusaders in Final Fantasy X have a division called the Chocobo Knights who mount and raise chocobos as their steeds. They reappear as a job class in Tactics A2, this time while wearing cutesy chocobo outfits.
Darker and Edgier: It's no accident that the most popular entries are set in a dystopian future. IX and X were throwbacks to the swashbuckling adventure of earlier titles. IX remains obscure, while X's bubbly lead hero is a walking punchline in the west.
A Day in the Limelight: Many characters, although Alexander seems to get the most throughout the series. To date:
Being the Big Bad and final boss of Bahamut Lagoon, although he's entirely different from his other incarnations and takes the form of a serpentine 4-headed dragon.
And all this time, he hasn't said a single word.
Interestingly enough, the Giant of Bab-il◊ from Final Fantasy IV looks very similar to him as well. Not only does this give a possible origin on Alexander but this Giant also has a limelight moment by starting the destruction of the Blue Planet, among other things.
Deconstructor Fleet: Started (sparingly) with general fantasy tropes as early as Final Fantasy I, and later moved on to more specific RPG tropes that had sprung up in the years following.
Deceased Parents Are The Best: Look back at all the Final Fantasy protagonists. There's a pretty good chance that one or both their parents are either dead, have disappeared or die by the end of the story.
Elemental Tiers: Common on the series with the Summon Magic, since you go finding them in your way, each one tends to be stronger that the previous one regardless of elemental atributes, at the end of the game you'll probably end using only the last summons you got, and maybe some of the weaker ones that are used for a support role. Some of the games avert this by either allowing you to level up the summons or making their power directly proportional to yours on a more balanced way.
Face Heel Turn: A meta example with the Cids. For the first eleven games and the spin-offs that came out at the same time the Cids were aligned with your party, or at least weren't evil. Beginning with Final Fantasy XII and continued in XIII and Type-0, the Cids have begun to act as antagonists, and the Cid of Type-0 is actually the Big Bad.
Fantastic Nuke: In a weirdly literal example, the Flare spell. It is, in most cases, non-elemental, but in some games Flavor Text for the spell refers to its power as coming from either fusion or fission. As well, the spell's name is reminiscent of solar flare, and we all know what powers the sun. Ironically, the translation of the spell as NUKE in the very first game probably has nothing to do with this.
That the Flare spell was called NUKE in the English version has to do with the game only providing four characters/signs per spell or item name. That's more than enough when you're using kanji (Japanese lettering) but causes some troubles when you're going to translate those names and are still limited to only four letter.
Five-Man Band: The classes in I and III, and the characters in IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII, XIII, Tactics, Tactics Advance, and Tactics A2.
Fire, Ice, Lightning: There are many recurring types of elemental attacks, but these three are by far the most prominent in the overwhelming majority of Final Fantasy games. FFX puts Water on an equal footing with these three.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: No, you can't use Phoenix Down to revive those killed in cutscenes. They actually try this in Final Fantasy V, though it still doesn't work. In most games, though, characters with 0 HP are actually unconscious rather than dead, so Phoenix Down isn't really a resurrection spell.
Genki Girl: Starting from FFV (Porom in FFIV was extremely collected so she avoided this completely), the series started employing this trope. We have Krile in FFV, Relm in FFVI, Yuffie in FFVII, Selphie in FFVIII, Eiko in FFIX, Rikku in FFX and FFX-2, Penelo in FFXII, and Vanille in FFXIII.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Freely name-able party members (and sometimes summon monsters), resulting in this in every game until it was mostly dropped in the tenth; you could name the protagonist of ten, but none of the other characters. It was fully discarded in the twelfth installment.
This concept is played with in the DS remake of IV. In the remakes up to then you could rename the characters, but come the DS release the cutscenes, which had voice acting, would make this confusing. Thus you can't change the names of your party members, causing Namingway, the character who performed this function in past versions of the game, freak out when he tries to rename you and can't, inspiring him to embark on a journey to find a new purpose in life since his old one is now gone.
Iconic Logo: One that usually reveals some aspect of the overarching plot in a subtle way, usually through illustrating plot events or even by the color of the logo itself.
Iconic Outfit: Many of them, but the most famous and iconic are the outfits of the three core mages — the striped blue robes and yellow pointed hat for the Black Mage, the white robe with red triangle trim and Cat-Ear Hood for the White Mage, and the red and white robe with a red hat and white feather in it for the Red Mage. Various other jobs have recurring costume motifs, for example Summoners usually have horns or horned headbands, etc.
Low Level Run: It is quite common to see players on YouTube perform these runs. Several games have the option of doing so to the end.
Final Fantasy VIII, since the monsters level up with you, can be played to completion at single-digit levels. It's actually regarded as being much easier than a high-level run.
Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII have the NSG (No Sphere Grid) and NCU (No Crystarium Usage), respectively. The idea behind both cases is to use the equipment as effectively as possible.
Final Fantasy XII has No Augments (i.e. everyone's stats say the same with no situational bonuses etc.), No Licence Board (i.e. everyone is more or less stuck to their starting equipment, also there are no Quickenings or Esper summons), and 122333 (i.e. everyone stays at the lowest possible level the entire game).
Final Fantasy IX never gives the characters any EXP during boss fights, so it's entirely possible to reach the end of the game with every character, bar Zidane, at level one. This is done by avoiding random encounters, and by only using Zidane during the forced, story based encounters that end up giving you EXP.
Magnum Opus Dissonance: Hironobu Sakaguchi considers IX the best title in the series. The game received mixed reactions, and sold the least copies of all the Playstation 1 installments of the franchise.
Magic Staff: Staves and rods are generally exclusive to caster classes.
The Bard, Dancer, Songstress and all their variants in the series. The specifics vary per game and can get complex, but these classes usually focus on entering a state where the player loses direct control of them, and they begin inflicting random effects on the party or enemies. Each song/dance has a specific list of effects they can cause.
The Mimes, present in various games, whose specialty is the "mimic" abilities where they copy the attacks used by others. They are nearly always an end game unit as they can mimic spell and item use at not cost in terms of mana or items, or even charge time in some cases.
Not helping much is the barrier between America and Japan's culture, mannerisms, and, above all else, LANGUAGE.
Monster Modesty: The Seeq often wear just loincloths instead of pants and when they wear shirts they cover very little. Somewhat odd when compared to other races such as the Moogle, Bangaa, Garif, and Nu Mou who are fully or mostly clothed.
Mythology Gags; roundabout references to previous games in the series, some being as subtle as special move names applied in different contexts, some as elaborate as characters being composites of those from other installments (such as Snow being modeled off of Seifer and Zell.)
One Time Dungeon: Nearly every single game in the series (I being the only exception) has several dungeons that the player only gets one shot at visiting. Naturally, there are items that can only be found in these dungeons, so they're Lost Forever if the player leaves without picking them up.
Our Dragons Are Different: Plenty of dragons, including Bahamut as a summon monster, usually the most powerful or second-most powerful summon of the game, especially since he deals non-elemental damage.
Path of Greatest Resistance: If you get stuck, pick a direction and if the enemies are challenging again, you're going in the right direction again.
Averted horribly II: in most other Final Fantasies, the sequence in which you visit towns is mainly enforced by geographical features the player cannot overcome until the right transportation is found. In II, you know you strayed from the sequence because the next random encounter killed your party in seconds.
Pause Abuse: Many games with the "Active Time Battle" system (4 thru 9, and X-2) have an option to pause the ATB clock when a player accesses an in-battle submenu (magic, items, etc.), but any in-progress attack animations will continue to execute. As a result, the player can gain a slight speed advantage by opening the menu whenever a party member executes an action, to prevent enemy turns from coming up while the attack animation takes place.
The song is unusual in that it usually plays over the opening and/or closing credits, and sometimes not at all. Employed as a connecting thread between games, it's considered to be the theme song of the Final Fantasy as a whole; these days, however, it takes a backseat to original pieces of music, and only pops up during the credits because fans expect it to.
Every random battle theme for the first six games starts out with the exact same bassline. It was dropped in VII, but it shows up in VIII's final boss theme and made a return in IX before vanishing again.
The Bangaa in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance are pretty cool guys, and have some incredibly Bad Ass job abilities. However, the NPC Bangaa in the game are almost all soldiers and jailers in the employ of the evil government.
In Final Fantasy XII Vaan's adoptive father figure Migelo is a Bangaa. But, then you have Ba'gam'nan's all-Bangaa hit-squad after you. Tellingly they are common enemies while the cuter tribes of Viera, Moogle and Nu Mou are not.
Bangaas are the race best integrated within the humes, hence why they're so common in the game. Contrast with the Seeqs who also appear as enemies and are treated like second-rate citizens.
The Lamiae are snake-woman hybrids that routinely slay people and then raise the corpses to make an undead army.
The Mamool Ja are lizardmen who had once paid tribute to The Empire of Aht Urhgan, but have since tried to destroy it.
Poroggos are frogs that were able to walk due to magic, and actually were nice to the Tarutaru, thinking they were on good terms with the main races... too bad Windurst got scared of talking, magic-casting frogs and tried to kill them all. Now the Poroggos go around and hit adventurers with party-wiping magic.
Quadav are turtle beastmen who actually had a nice life and weren't very nasty. This, of course, all went to hell when Bastok started taking and destroying the Quadav's homes so that the Republic could get more resources. Now the Quadav attack pretty much anyone they see, defending their homes with extreme prejudice.
Revisiting the Roots: VI was a steampunk world that coined the term Magitek, VII and VIII shifted to a modern-esque setting with electricity spaceships and cities. IX then brought things back to a medieval setting of castles, airships and villages. As well, while VII and VIII had a three-character party system where they were as unique in battle (or not) as the character customized them, IX went back to the style of four party members with pre-set skills as earlier games had done.
Sequel Escalation: Throughout the series, some sort of hit point inflation seems to be taking place. In Final Fantasy I, the final boss has 2000 HP in the original version. By Final Fantasy IV there are a few spells that will generally do 9999 points of damage. In some of the later games, a single attack will do that much. By Final Fantasy XIII early enemies have hundreds of thousands, and each form of the final boss has over 5 million. Final Fantasy XII's optional super boss (well, the most powerful of several) has FIFTY MILLION and is so far still unmatched in the HP department. Make sure you've used the bathroom and gotten a snack before you start one of these battles.
XIII continues this in a different way, though no boss approaches even half of 50 million, storyline bosses can reach several million, and Barthandelus, fought roughly halfway through the game, has more HP than the final boss of XII. And the party members have the damage cap raised a digit, allowing normal attacks to hit for 99,999 HP, and with the Genji Glove equipped to raise that, 999,999 is possible, and can be reached fairly easily with maxed-out characters and the right set-up.
Spell Levels: Some games have tiers of spells that even have their own set of spell uses. It's a staple to have some more advanced spells under the naming format "[spell]", "[spell](a)ra", "[spell](a)ga", and "[spell](a)ja", though the English translations only began to use it since Final Fantasy VIII (before, spells were simply named "[spell] 1", "[spell] 2", etc. due to limited characters). This naming system is carried over to the Kingdom Hearts series.
Spiritual Successor: Dissidia spawned a subseries of similar Crisis Crossover games that focus on iconic cast of past games. Aside from direct prequel Dissidia 012, there's Theatrhythm, Airborne Brigade, All the Bravest, and to a certain degree the Trading Card Game, all of which borrow gameplay terminology and character designs from Dissidia.
Summon Magic: Creatures that a particular class of character can invoke, and which represent most of the combat power for that character.
Tech Points: Called "AP", and often relates to a quirky new experience and character advancement system in each game.
Thematic Series: One of the most notable game examples. None of the numbered titles in the series are related to any of the others except by series-wide hallmarks, like the ATB battle system, Chocobos, Moogles, and the names of spells. Only four*
five, if you count Legend of the Crystal, an OVA set after Final Fantasy V
of them have sequels taking place in the same continuity as the original game. There are occasionally hints that one world is related to another, like Final Fantasy X-2 hinting that it's related to Final Fantasy VII.
Vancian Magic: A magic system with a common set of spell names across the series, with several frequently reused classes of spell-casters, and quirky variations for magic advancement and availability unique to each game.
The very first game played this trope to type, since it was cribbing rather heavily from D&D. All spells had a spell levels, and mages had limited uses of spells per level which they could not regain until the party rested.
The Verse: Each numbered sequel produces a new one (see Non-Linear Sequel, above); the only established universe to get a large number of games set in it is Ivalice (FFXII and various Tactics games), and even then the links between various games is a little confusing.
Games getting sequels has increased in recent years including Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
Warp Whistle: Chocobos, and occasionally airships (on those occasions when the party doesn't own one, but rather pays air fare).
XII cuts down on travel by allowing you to warp to previously-visited save crystals.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: You see that list of games up there? Every single one of them has at least one character with hair of an unnatural shade, be it blue, green, purple, pink, inhuman shades of red, or—the series' favorite—silvery-white.