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The end of turn-based Final Fantasy was inevitable, but it still makes me sad

Final Fantasy was inevitable: It’s not uncommon for Final Fantasy to undergo significant changes between games, but FF16’s heavy emphasis on combat makes it feel like the series has reached its breaking point.

State of Play, Sony’s annual E3 showcase, featured a new teaser for Final Fantasy 16 that revealed the game’s Summer 2023 release date and showcased enormous summons and action-packed combat.

That final point is what I’d want to emphasize on; the protagonist, Clive Rosenfield, flies around the battlefield like a rejected member of the twink boy band from Devil May Cry 5. Still, I can’t help but feel that this is the Final Fantasy series’ final step away from the turn-based combat that paved the way for its legacy and popularised a whole new genre of gaming.

After all this time, it’s finally here! Thirteen, 15, and the FF7 Remake’s fighting mechanics are so different from the earlier SNES and PS1 games that they’re nearly unrecognizable. In between numbered installments, Final Fantasy has always aggressively reinvented itself with individual games creating the foundations of mini-franchises of their own, most memorably with the Compilation of Final Fantasy 7.

The essential principles and mechanisms of new Final Fantasy games are preserved while introducing us to new and exciting locations. Combat in JRPGs is always evolving, and each of these games has pushed the envelope. Final Fantasy 15 and the remake of 7 have already reached the point where they are action-RPG hybrids—they are a hybrid of both. FF7R’s developers almost seemed to want to build a character action game instead, according to Tim Rogers’ outstanding (and lengthy) review(opens in new tab) of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. “This is still Final Fantasy,” the menus, items, and upgrading systems proclaim, “This is still a JRPG, as you know it.” ‘

The end of turn-based Final Fantasy was inevitable, but it still makes me sad

Perhaps it was time to break the cord with recent mainline entries that were so close to full-action games. Despite its limitations, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin(opens in a new tab) demonstrated how well the monsters, visuals, and job system of old Final Fantasy could be integrated with sophisticated Team Ninja gameplay.

A fifteenth-century summons is at the heart of Stranger of Paradise-inspired FF16, which has all the theatrics and proper nouns I’ve come to expect from a Final Fantasy game. It’s still very much like Final Fantasy in certain ways.

FF16’s high-flying, Bayonetta-Esque gameplay feels like a final curtain call on the turn-based combat puzzles that really gripped me, even though the series has gradually turned toward action. In this final farewell, ATB’s OG is finally laid to rest.

Final Fantasy 7’s turn-based fighting made me feel tricked because I had previously seen the high-flying animation nonsense from its feature-length movie sequel Advent Children. I’ve come to appreciate not only the game’s distinctive pace and mechanical depth but also the contrast between Final Fantasy 7’s cinematic aims and Squaresoft’s capabilities at the time. It’s a charming artifact of a bygone era of game development, one that isn’t seen very often these days. Because of technical restrictions, some visual and mechanical styles have faded away, yet I still miss them.

The good news is that Dragon Quest is never far away. You know that if Yuji Hori made Number 12 an action RPG, Japan would go into a rage. Wouldn’t you? You can catch me pelting his car with 3DS XLs if the unexpected happens.

 

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