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What Could Have Been / Final Fantasy

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  • In early 2001, only a few months after the release of Final Fantasy IX, Squaresoft announced their intentions to remake the entire Final Fantasy series on then-current generation systems. I, II, and III were slated for the WonderSwan Color; IV, V, and VI were being planned for the Game Boy Advance; VII, VIII, and IX were to be remade for the PlayStation 2, which came out the previous year. The PS2 remakes would be released on DVDs, with updated graphics and sound, and would also include bonus features. However, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was released that summer and bombed at the box office, resulting in a massive financial loss for Square of between $50-120 million. The film had been directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy and Square's vice president, who resigned shortly after. The handheld FF remakes were delayed for several years (except for the one of III, which was canceled entirely, though it did eventually get one on the Nintendo DS), and the PS2 remakes were canceled entirely. VII, however, got a a remake in 2020, on the PlayStation 4.
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  • Final Fantasy II's NES version would have had an English release, but in the end it was canceled as the 16-bit era drew nearer, IV was brought over instead, and II wouldn't see the light of day in the western hemisphere until Final Fantasy Origins. A prototype of the ROM exists, although with a hilariously awful translation.
  • The remake of Final Fantasy III has unused Japanese text strings within the data of the DS version which seemed to belong to an earlier version of the script. How many? On average, at least one per town/dungeon. These scrapped scenes vary in importance; Some were throwaway scenes, some showcased character traits or world lore, some show scrapped sub-plots or skits and some even point to differences with the final game, such as Castle Hein and Saronia playing out differently or the Bard class being optional.
  • There was originally going to be a game for the Famicom called Final Fantasy IV. Other than the fact that it existed at some point, not much is known about it except that it was canceled and the Super Famicom/SNES game starring a Dark Knight named Cecil Harvey that was planned to be Final Fantasy V was renamed Final Fantasy IV note  due to the cancellation of the 8-bit game that was going to have that title. Its cancellation also resulted in every future game having a number lower than it would have had; had the game with Cecil and Kain that ended up as IV stayed as V, we would have ended up with Final Fantasy V being called VI and so on.
    • It turns out Final Fantasy IV for the Famicom was a mock-up only, with no coding or beta version in development. Or was it? According to Sakaguchi, it was actually some 80% done.
      • But based on what we know of it, it's likely that what there was of it in terms of story/concept was reworked into what we now have as Final Fantasy V, as it was stated the game concept was largely based on job classes; FFV's famous niche.
  • Final Fantasy IV had some portions of its script tossed out before it was finished, not unlike fellow Squaresoft game Secret of Mana. Fortunately, restoring at least part of it was one of the goals of the Nintendo DS remake.
  • Final Fantasy V was considered for a North American release on PC, under the name Final Fantasy Extreme, since Squaresoft thought it was too difficult for SNES players. The only remnant of this release is the rather bad translation job that was used as the script for the Final Fantasy Anthology release on the PlayStation.
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  • In the originally planned ending of Final Fantasy VI, Terra would have been a male character in his twenties and died with the other Espers. In the ending of the final version, she receives instructions on how to specifically avoid this fate and does. Recently, lost official preproduction art from Tetsuya Nomura himself has shown up on the internet, and this mystery character shows up in one of the pieces. He heavily resembles Squall.
  • Following the 3D remake of Final Fantasy IV on the DS, 3D remakes of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI were to be on the DS or 3DS. Both remakes were put on hold due to "technical issues."
  • Final Fantasy VII had a ton of these.
    • Before the PlayStation version, the game had tentative plans to be released on SNES, Sega Saturn, the N64, and the N64 with the 64DD add-on drive, and on PC on Windows before it was eventually ported to PC.
    • In the supplementary material books, you can read up on about a dozen different drafts for almost every plot point and character in the game; naturally, all of these books are Japan only and have no official translation. Here's just some of the plot points that weren't used: Sephiroth was originally going to be Aerith's brother, her lover, or both. Midgar was going to be the real-world New York City, or maybe a giant floating misshapen world in the sky. Vincent Valentine was going to be a traveling Mulder-like detective researching bogus supernatural cases, Yuffie was going to be a bounty hunter, and there would have been Job Classes.
    • It was always intended that one character would be killed off, right from the very start, and there was also a choice to kill off Aerith or Barret, but they ultimately chose Aerith because she would have more impact than if they used Barret. They were also well aware of the Unfortunate Implications that would result from doing so.
      • The game has unused dialogue present in the coding that shows Aerith was going to die a lot later than she was supposed to, but the developers decided to move her Plotline Death to the end of the first disc to induce shock and surprise to the player since it would happen so suddenly.
      • In fact, Aerith was going to be the only female party member in the game (and there would only be three members, Barret being third). Tifa was added later in development when the writers realized there was no character conflict, and the party would be too flat without something to unify them — in this case, a possible Love Triangle.
    • Additionally, Red XIII was originally intended to be the character who was cloned by Hojo, as opposed to Sephiroth. After defeating the clones, the party would have confronted the mad scientist and killed him earlier than they do in the actual game. This seems to suggest that Hojo wasn't originally as important to the plot as he eventually became. As for the clones, they were originally going to return as minions of Sephiroth. They were originally named Cobalt and Jade, leading to the idea that they may have been re-envisioned into the WEAPON supermonsters who are minions of the Planet rather than Sephiroth.
    • Sephiroth himself was definitely no exception to this. Most notably, one of his earliest character concepts was essentially to make him a clone of Kefka Palazzo from the previous game. He was originally supposed to be a man whose Jenova element was awakened artificially due to exposure to Mako energy. His base personality was already extraordinarily cruel and brutal, and had a morbid fascination with destruction and slaughter. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? He also was supposed to suffer from Mako addiction like everyone else, only he becomes much more insane than before, while still keeping his composure.
    • Jenova is a massive change from its original concept, as explained in "Another Hypothesis". Initially, Jenova was supposed to be a gene that was a part of every person, and that Aerith could use this power naturally because she's a Cetra. Shinra's methods for creating SOLDIER are the same as the final product, but they, along with Sephiroth, were "awakened" beings with the gene. The Turks would be the people who were able to sense the usage of Jenova, and they would bring the subjects back to Shinra for experimentation.
    • One of the earlier plans was to have people infused with Ilfana's (Aerith's mother) cells, rather than Jenova.
    • Apparently an earlier idea for Lucrecia was that she was loyal to Vincent, but was drugged and forced to take part in Hojo's Supersoldier experiment. While the actual game has her being willing, the lack of consent probably would have explained quite a few things (namely why she chose to marry Hojo of all people).
    • And the Honey Bee Inn scene was going to be MUCH more explicit (watch the video with annotations activated).
    • Before the writing for FFVII even really got going, another game was originally planned to be Final Fantasy VII. And that game was Xenogears. However, Square executives felt (possibly rightly) that the game's plot and tone were too dark to be a proper Final Fantasy game, so it was turned into a spin-off. (And before developing an identity of its own, Xenogears was allegedly meant to be an entirely different Squaresoft title: Chrono Cross.) A negative effect of this was that the team working on the game was unable to finish the project in the allotted two-year development period note , leading to the infamous "talking heads" segments of Disc 2.
    • An earlier draft of the Final Fantasy XV story was actually a proposed script for Final Fantasy VII. Yes, you heard that right.
  • It's possible that the developers of Final Fantasy Tactics originally planned to have Teta survive the events of Fort Zeakden; if she is hacked to join the party, she doesn't appear with Ramza's sprite (whereas any other NPC simply appears as Ramza when forcibly added to the roster) but with a custom sprite that is otherwise Dummied Out of the game. Concept art also exists, calling this character an "elegant flier", but developer Yasumi Matsuno has since forgotten the context in which the art was drawn.
  • Final Fantasy VIII's Edea was originally conceived as a Final Fantasy VII character; most likely a humanoid version of Jenova given her personality in the final game.
    • The story sections that focus on Laguna were originally going to be just as big as the sections that focus on squall, and would encompass the first half of the whole game. But for various reasons related to time and budget, these sections ended up having to be heavely cut down.
  • Concept art of Final Fantasy IX shows two protagonists named Bahamut Dragoon and Liviathan [sic] Dragoon, and a bunch of characters using more traditional job classes from the earlier titles (some examples here and here). The art style also resembled that of Final Fantasy Tactics.
    • The concept art for the "Rat Knight" ended up becoming Fratley and Freya, with genders changed and motivations split down the middle.
      • It's also kind of hard to not think of Amarant when looking at the Elementalist guy.
    • The entire game was originally planned as the first in a spinoff series made to appeal to old school fans.
    • Concept art shows Queen Brahne having a couch-sized cat and Garland would have beared more of a resemblance towards the Garland from Final Fantasy I.
    • Also, Thorn and Zorn were originally going to be just one character, an old man who was the court wizard.
  • Final Fantasy X was originally going to offer online elements, but this plan was scrapped early in development.
    • Tidus was originally conceived to be a plumber from Spira and not a Blitzball Ace from Zanarkand. And he had black hair.
      • The original plan was for Tidus to find out that he had been Dead All Along. However, due to The Sixth Sense coming out earlier and basically having this exact revelation, they decided to scrap the idea because it would be too easy to figure out. Auron ended up being the Unsent of the party.
    • According to supplementary material, X as we know it was originally not going to be a part of the Final Fantasy series at all, but was planned as a separate game called Eighteen. Its plot would have centered around a mysterious disease that kills people on their 18th birthday, and would have had Yuna cast as a doctor/nurse who traveled around the world administering a cure to those who were found to be infected. It would later be revealed that this alleged "cure" was actually the cause of the disease, with the organization Yuna worked for using the "disease" as a means of controlling the world by alleging that they were the only ones capable of providing the cure while simultaneously perpetuating the disease's existence. When the game was later redesigned to be the next Final Fantasy installment, several of these plot points were retooled to fit the new game's story.
  • Final Fantasy XII was supposed to originally have Basch as the main character, as well as a more familiar relationship between Vaan and Ashe (like siblings) which would have given him more of a reason for joining the party. Penelo's brothers were supposed to be in the resistance, and there would be interactive airship battles a la Star Wars.
    • Game director Yasumi Matsuno purportedly suffered a nervous breakdown during development of the game, and left both the project as well as Square Enix. The reins of the game were given to Akitoshi Kawazu.
    • Penelo was also supposed to have a bigger role or at least a more fleshed out backstory. When the idea was presented, the rest of the writers didn't agree with it (Penelo was to betray the party at some point, for reasons possibly related to the brothers mentioned above, which lies in contention to her in-game personality) so Penelo was reduced to a Tagalong Kid that made sure Vaan stayed out of trouble.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings was meant to be an original story and completely unrelated to Final Fantasy XII.
  • Fortress, by GRIN studios, was going to be an action RPG in a viking setting, when the publisher, Square Enix, decided to make the game tied to the Ivalice setting of Final Fantasy XII, as Final Fantasy: Fortress. The game was cancelled.
  • Final Fantasy XIII was planned for the PlayStation 2, the battle system would have been more dynamic and action-based, battles would've taken place on the field map, Lightning would have a much less serious personality and gravity-based powers that influenced gameplay, Serah would have been the seventh party member, and Fang was going to be a male character (explains the Les Yay she and Vanille have, doesn't it?). The entire hoo-hah around XIII and its sequels and spin-offs being categorized into their own subseries stems from the fact that the Fabula Nova Crystallis series was supposed to be a set of Action RPGs, akin to titles that had recently become popular in western markets such as The Elder Scrolls series and Demon's Souls. Lightning Returns supposedly is a resurrection of this original concept.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy considered several characters for the lineup, but they were rejected for various reasons. One of these characters was Seifer Almasy, who, in spite of his rivalry with Squall, was replaced with Ultimecia, because he would probably turn out too similar to Squall. Seymour was replaced by Jecht because Tidus and Seymour lacked the kind of personal relationship the other hero/villain combos had. Also included in the list are Kain Highwind, Locke Cole, Yuna, Prishe, Vaan, Balthier, and Lightning, though most of these guys made it into the sequel. And of the two who didn't (Locke and Balthier), the former would eventually make it into the console release of the 2015 entry as DLC.
  • The Ivalice-related spin-off Vagrant Story had a sequel planned for the Nintendo GameCube sometime before 2003, but it was scrapped.
  • Final Fantasy XIV, when it was being reworked into 2.0/A Realm Reborn, was supposed to have the Rogue and Ninja classes at launch, but due to a tight schedule, the developers had to scrap them. The classes did eventually make a return in patch 2.4 a year later.
    • The game was also planned to be released to the Xbox 360, but the idea was canned after Microsoft refused to budge with their online polices; Square Enix wanted Microsoft to allow the game to be able to connect to players of different severs, regardless of what platform/client they used, but Microsoft wouldn't allow it since they would be forced to deal with connections towards Sony for their PlayStation 3 platform.
    • 1.0 originally had belts that could be equipped and they could be seen on the player when worn. When the game was retooled for 2.0, belts are still an equippable item, but are not visible on the character models due to problems with trying to get them to look correct on every piece of armor without heavy clipping. As of 6.0, belts will finally be removed from the game altogether to coincide with a stat squish.
    • Labyrinth of the Ancients, one of three series of raids in the Crystal Tower series, was supposed to have been available at the launch of 2.0, but due to time constraints, the raid was shelved and was released in patch 2.1 several months later. The raid was also supposed to have been as difficult as the Binding Coil of Bahamut, but the developers realized that having a very difficult raid for 24 players that probably don't know each other or how everyone plays wasn't a good idea, thus the difficulty was toned down.
    • 1.0 was supposed to have players face down Titan instead of Garuda. An intro and ending cutscene was created and is all that is remained when it was decided not to push through due to the Sendai Earthquake of 2011.
    • Yugiri Mistwalker was supposed to have a major presence in the Heavensward expansion, but she ends up appearing briefly in Patch 3.0 helping to rescue Raubahn before disappearing until near the end of Patch 3.5. This was because Yugiri's actress had been murdered, and Square Enix decided to put her on a bus until the time was right.
  • Final Fantasy Agito was planned to be released at the same time as Final Fantasy Type-0, as a companion game. A planned Windows 10 and Vita port were cancelled. The game's localization was cancelled on all platforms in favor of releasing Final Fantasy Type-0 Online, relaunched as Final Fantasy Awakening. Neither version ended up localized to North America and Europe.
  • Final Fantasy Type-0 was planned to be a Mobile Phone Game, but was moved to the PSP, and was to be titled Final Fantasy Agito XIII, but the title was changed when the game bore no connection to Final Fantasy XIII. Planned localizations for PSP and Vita were cancelled after the servers in Japan were shut down. After the world wide release of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, there were tentative plans to continue the series with Type-1, Type-2 and Type-3.
    • A Fan Translation of Final Fantasy Type-0 on the PSP was around 75% complete before being issued a cease and desist.
  • Final Fantasy XV — Where to begin? It is well-known that the game began development in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, an action-based spin-off meant to be a dark reimagining of the franchise and, while sharing a world lore but unrelated in continuity (as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series), the antithesis in terms of theme to FFXIII. Over the course of its decade long conception-to-release, so much was changed. Some details include Lucis being perpetually at nighttime, the Lucis Caelum royal line acting more like a mafia family than a typical monarchy, Noctis and his love interest (who was a different woman named Stella) being able to see "the light of expiring souls", and also being unwilling combatants, a villain named Safay Roth being heavily involved in the plot, and perhaps most extremely, the idea of chasing after Luna, only to learn that Noctis had lost his memory of killing her himself while under some kind of possession. While the finished product still somewhat fulfills the goal of being the opposite thematically to FFXIII, it's safe to say that little, if anything, of the original story ideas for Versus remain recognizably intact since the game was previewed in 2006.
    • Adding onto this, a large number of gameplay elements were planned that never made the finished product. There would be controllable mounts like mechs or tanks, and a command called "EX Arts" that never saw more than a promotional screenshot. With smaller details, like visible blood upon attacking enemies and generally more realistic combat, Versus XIII might well have been on the way to an M rating.
    • Back when he was still the director for Versus XIII, Nomura, having seen the 2012 version of Les Miserables, was hell-bent on turning the highly anticipated game into a musical! That's right! A musical! Thankfully, Square Enix managed to talk him out of it...
    • XV wouldn't be free of "what could have been"s after its release, either. Three of its Season Two DLC Episodes (Aranea, Luna, and Noctis) were cancelled in November of 2018, possibly as a result of Tabata quitting Square Enix.
    • In 2017, Square Enix tried running the game's engine (Luminous Engine, which was developed internally) on the Nintendo Switch, but the system couldn't handle the game's engine. They instead settled for porting the Pocket Edition to the Switch a year later.
    • The game's lifecycle being cut short denied it a final alternate ending over the aformentioned canned DLC that ended up being shown in a book of concept art that released once it became clear that the DLC cycle was done with. Over the course of the three episodes it would reveal that Ardyn finally broke free of his Then Let Me Be Evil, forcing Bahamut to revive Lunafrea as a new Starscourge carrier, only for her to break free, reveal Bahamut as the Greater-Scope Villain, and have the Noctis, Luna, Aranea, and Ardyn team up to kill him, creating a Golden Ending where Everyone Lives except for Ardyn, who gets a Redemption Equals Death and has Noctis acknowledge the honors he was denied that led to his villainy.
  • The Chocobo, having made its debut in Final Fantasy II, originally looked like a giant, featherless, wingless pterodactyl.


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