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Can We Pinpoint The Origin Of Final Fantasy's Depressing Decline?

I don't think there's any arguing the fact that Final Fantasy is on the decline. Tragic but true.

And as Square Enix shows no indication of being able to pull the storied franchise out if its tailspin, most expect the downward trend to continue. But here's an interesting question for the long-time faithful: Precisely when do you think the fall began? Where did the slide start?

A great many will immediately say Final Fantasy XIII as it was the first official FF entry this generation and marked the largest departure from the series we all came to know and love. Then again, one could make "tipping point" arguments for many different installments; for instance, some might say Final Fantasy XII, as it was also a significant departure and actually featured the most open-ended design of any FF title to date. That was a bit of a shock.

Others will actually go all the way back to Final Fantasy VII. As incomprehensible as it seems to me, they will say the series was only great in the Nintendo days; i.e., up to Final Fantasy VI, which many do claim is the best FF title ever. Still others could stand up and say that it's undoubtedly Final Fantasy X-2, as it was the first actual sequel in the franchise and it hinted at a grim future for the franchise. Personally, I'm not down with any of this and I return to the original viewpoint:

It began with FFXIII.

Saying the downward spiral began with FFVII is too absurd for words. I won't even explain why; if you don't know why, you're not qualified to be a fan of the franchise. I'm sorry but it's true. FFX-2 has a bit more legitimacy because as the first sequel, we all got a whiff of a change we didn't like. That being said, the fact that FFX-2 was actually a damn good game has been overlooked far too often. I still say it boasted a wonderfully refined version of the combat mechanic we had in FFX, and is arguably one of the best RPG mechanics ever.

As for FFXII, it was my least favorite in terms of story and it did indeed feel a bit more like a "Western" RPG just because it was more open-ended. But it was still a role-playing game through and through, was it not? And the mechanics, despite being different, still worked almost perfectly. No, I believe the answer really is FFXIII. It marked the start of Square Enix's complete and utter confusion as a company, and it was the first time I actually noted significant flaws in a Final Fantasy fighting system. It was also the first FF that really did feel significantly watered down.

They tried to redeem themselves to some extent with FFXIII-2. And I do believe they succeeded in some respects. But the core of FF is still left behind in the past and I'm convinced we'll never see it again.

What do you think?

Tags: final fantasy, final fantasy games, square enix, final fantasy sequel

6/2/2013 10:14:46 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (61 posts)

Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 10:46:15 PM

Most definitely 13, no towns, less player control and this push for sequels. And with 13 they've pushed the envelope further. 13-2 is fun but the story isn't just weak for an ff title, like 12 may be, rather it's just plain ridiculous.

Lighting returns looks to be a huge departure in narrative quality and gameplay.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:17:48 PM

The word you are searching for is "insulting"

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 10:54:08 PM

No, it was Final Fantasy 10 part 2.

I remember Ben pointing fingers at people and getting mad for the male gamers not wanting to play this game, even though it was meant for girls and effeminate guys to play. You remember don't you Ben? How you LOVED to play dress up with the girlie characters and said it was childish for grown men to not want to play with ....... dress up dolls? MUAHAHAHAHA! Wussy.

Anyways, since then Square has been trying their ass off to make a legit super hero female to make a buck off of. Probably trying to tap into the gamer girl market.

I think Square was ruined when they and DISNEY started working together. Everything just got, well, "gayed" up after that.

End of line.

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Deleted User
Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:05:52 PM

Lmao. Favorite post of the year.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:15:03 PM

Are you that unlikeable or is your brain underdeveloped? The fact that what Ben said so long ago still stuck with you till this day and the fact that you question his "manhood" probably means the later. To be honest id rather be dressing up hot 3D women than play most of the generic crap that comes out every week. Just because you arent comfortable with your sexuality doesnt take away the fact of how great 10-2 was. Well atleast to todays FF standards.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:20:10 PM

I loved playing dress up with those gals, it was much fun. Just like dolling up my hostesses in Yakuza 4 :)

I don't think that view is incompatible with manliness at all, but then I'm a grown up.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:43:30 PM

It's a good thing I didn't take this comment seriously or I would have been insulted that you said KH is a bad series.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:53:08 PM

Men figuratively beating their chests like apes to display to other men just how hyper-masculine they can present themselves is so tiresome. Such displays reveal only how tragically insecure they are about their masculinity.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:59:13 PM

Is using 'gay' as a pejorative still a thing? Did I somehow get warped back to high school?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:24:47 AM

I'll let the typical adolescent stupidity of ethird1's post speak for itself. It really isn't necessary to humiliate him more...he did that to himself better than I ever could.

If it's sarcasm, it's in exceedingly poor taste.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 6/3/2013 12:25:48 AM

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PSN French
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 9:20:26 AM

^^^ ...and insulting your readers is in good taste?

Although, I'm sure my opinion will be marginalized here, since many of the return commenters live on a digital high horse.

"Oh, just look who posted it, their opinion is worthless" <--seems to be the norm on here.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 9:24:10 AM

Well, his comments aside, X-2 was a very weak game, and it was really the first FF game I couldn't even finish because I found it to be so boring.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 10:45:43 AM

They insult me, I'll insult them.

And that's not an opinion. That's a childish, flaming rant. Nobody attacks another's opinions in here, nor does anyone "marginalize" anything. That only happens when the poster is being a douchebag.

I'm sorry if that offends you.

...wait, no I'm no not.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 6/3/2013 10:46:28 AM

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 7:58:15 PM

Wow. I feel like the dude just had some kind of mental breakdown. I mean, to insinuate that KH was a 'gay' series, is just wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. It was SUCH a cool series. I just wish they didn't confuse the story so much.

Ben does have a way with his commenter's, and on this site, you have the lovers and the haters. He does seem to think he is knows gaming better than everyone else in the world, but that's just him. You either be a child, and complain about it, or you get over it and act like a man.

I have no issue with anyone in the comments, but there are some douche bags who just like to be douche bags.

EDIT: FF X-2 had the best iteration of the ATB system since the originals. It was also a good game.

Last edited by Akuma_ on 6/3/2013 8:00:33 PM

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 10:59:53 PM

I've never been a fan but I've asked my wife who is. She'd played all of them before XIII (except XI) and was looking forward to XIII. She couldn't even finish Chapter 3 and when I asked her why, she told me that she didn't like the constrained nature and lack of exploration. Maybe she would have liked it better if she'd gotten to Gran Pulse but she lost interest well before that.

tl;dr Excessive linearity and losing focus on what made the series successful in the first place.

Last edited by Kryten1029a on 6/2/2013 11:00:12 PM

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The X Factor 9
Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:08:45 PM

The series lost its focus when they decided to go the MMORPG route with Final Fantasy XI.
They wanted a piece of the MMO pie and decided to leverage their brand name to go toe to toe with WoW.
Problem is, they made a crappy game. Then they compounded the problem by making crappy ports on various consoles.
It was this moment that the whole Final Fantasy identity began to shift. Focus on single player was diverted as SE began to concern themselves with spin offs, sequels, and other ways to milk a franchise without actually creating a great game.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 2:30:11 AM

Having played all the FF games, now 33 yrs old, it was a very awesome experience being able to play in a Final Fantasy universe with friends. It's also the only game where PC players, PS2 players, and Xbox 360 players were able to play together online in the same universe. I still remember the funny moment when our 3 man group, venturing out to a quest on our chocobos, were chatting and realized we were playing this game on different consoles. :) anyhow, I disagree with you on this one for the simple fact that FF11 and FF12 were awesome. Complaints were that 13 didn't let you explore...11 & 12 encouraged you to go out to the unknown. Cheers ^_^

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 10:14:45 AM

Except FF11 was out well before World of Warcraft.

I played FF11 for several years and people who dismiss it because it was online are only doing so because they lack any information on the game or didn't play it enough.

First it was a huge game, the cities are massive, the landscape everything about it was huge. There were so many cool side quests and secrets in the game that most people couldnt even imagine finding them all. It didn't hold your hand like other mmos, if you wanted to find all the quests you had to talk to everyone.

Second the story was and still is absolutely amazing. There are 3 different stories depending on what nation you pick in the beginning, and while they are all following different heroes, they do intertwine. Playing all three nations story missions up to rank 10 was truly an amazing experience but not many people did this because they got distracted with the grinding MMO elements. Which is fine but they missed out a lot on what made the game great.

Also it had just an amazing community. No FF11 wasn't the start of the fall, nor was FF12. Both sold very well, and in fact FF11 still has over a million people playing it.

I often wish FF11 was made single player so that people could experience the awesome story it had more easily.

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To Be Decided
Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:12:15 PM

I would have to agree with the case of it being FF13. It was first FF were the dialogue was absolutely horrible and it was putting me to sleep with its gameplay mechanics. The auto command and rating system just kill it. While FF13-2 try to fix it it only created more problems with the monster party member, retcon story, and the auto command and rating still there. I believe FF13-2 tried very hard to fix issues with 13 but only created more into a spiraling down franchise that we are now faced with Lightning Returns. If it was a whole different game then I would be excited for but has it carries the FF name I just can't.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:32:51 PM

Well, there WERE previous entries with horrible dialogue but that's back when all games had horrible dialogue.

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To Be Decided
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 2:29:48 PM

That is true but I guess what I was trying to say is that it didn't stick out has much as 13. At the same time a lot of it had to do with poor translation (previous FF) as I recall.

Last edited by To Be Decided on 6/3/2013 2:30:38 PM

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:28:42 PM

I'd say FFX-2 but I will say that Vaan from FFXII was the worst main character ever conceived in a video game

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Comic Shaman
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:01:58 AM

I stand by Balthier's conviction that he was the hero of the story. Fran was just giving him a hard time at the end when she called him a side character.

Second choice would be Ashe. It was certainly more her story than Vaan's.

Vaan was along for the ride.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:16:08 AM

I still quote Balthier to this day.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 3:32:50 AM

thats one thing i didnt like about ff12, there wasnt really one clear main character. that annoyed me because i couldnt really get into the characters stories. not to mention i didnt like the political plot. i did still like ff12 but not as much as previous games.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 4:03:44 AM

Vaan was so annoying, I kept on hoping for someone to backhand him but it never happened. :(

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 6:01:53 AM

Vaan is not a character, he is a transparent avatar like in any MMO. Hence why he has no input to the story. Balthier will always be the leading man.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:31:27 PM

I think it began with the battle system of FFXII, the gambits made it automatic and the ability to run around the field didn't add anything to the battles. They were MMO style and you did all your figuring out beforehand. The battles themselves were then just about as exciting as those of WKC (not bad but not great).

Once they realized people preferred the separate field of battle screen they tried to mesh the two and came up with FFXIII's semi automatic system.

The problem was compounded by needing to make a 360 version and being way over budget so they tried to opt for a linear game hoping the flashiness would distract us from all that had to be cut or went lacking.

They knew they had to make some money back so recycled a few things from the chopping block and slapped together FFXIII-2 after paying 2 or 3 junior high students 100 yen to write the script.

Confused about why the sequel didn't sell so well, they decided it hadn't become western enough and people wanted more Lightning because they had been irradiated during the tsunami. Then Lightning Returns was started and the deadline combined with lack of material meant they needed to add a timeclock to it so you have to play it many times because they are convinced we want to see Lightning's crazy new outfit as often as possible.

It all started with that stupid light-beam-from-head-to-head battle system though.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013 @ 5:23:09 AM

I completely disagree about the combat. I found FFXII better than any FF except FFT.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:39:49 PM

Begrudgingly I'll have to admit FFVII was the downfall or wayward turning point for the series. It was so massively popular that every game since is to be held against an unreasonably high standard.

I loved FFX and X2 which surprised me how much I really did enjoy it (100 levels of bevelle) dress sphere system, revisiting Spira for the last time.

For me personally where it went downhill was with FF12.
I'll admit
I've never played it. I watched my friend play the game long enough to realize you weren't really a "player" as you were more of a coach, taking a sidestep from being involved in the action to deciding a lineup and subsequent moves for each attack/defend.
The point where I lost interest was when I witnessed my friend laying the controller down on the floor for a half hour never needing to make another independent choice during the length of an entire boss fight.

It should be said that from a business aspect - Square lost the most money on designing and producing FF: Spirits within and Final Flight of the Osiris thus needing the merger with Enix to stay alive.

Last edited by Amnesiac on 6/2/2013 11:44:25 PM

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:17:34 AM

You might not have played it, but your observations are dead on.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:44:41 PM

The FF series took a downward turn after whatever FF game you like best ;) So for me, every game after 9 sucks, obviously.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:46:19 PM

We too often overlook FFXI. That's where the downfall started. FFXII kind of recouped the series by moving back towards RPG. But it wasn't a jRPG, that's for sure. And isn't Final Fantasy (I-X) SUPPOSED TO BE synonymous with the pinnacle of jRPGs? Without that element, Final Fantasy lost its identity, and it therefore lost its core audience.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 10:19:03 AM

Its overlooked because FF11 is amazing. I played it for several years, and it has one of the best stories in any Final Fantasy period.

The only problem was in the beginning it was spread out with a huge grind that you would get a good chunk of story but then have to grind to get to the next chunk.

It is much easier now, but still that game was and still is a true Final Fantasy game only it was online with others.

There are so many secrets, side quests, and things to do that people are still playing it today.

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Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 11:53:02 PM

I'm surprised you failed to mention am extremely important event that happened right before things started to get....odd: the Enix merger

Up to that point, Square had been going very strong, both in Final Fantasy and in other titles as well. But once the added the hyphen, they started making curious decisions. Which is not to say that they didn't produce good or even great games after the merge. But most downfalls start gradually. The sequel to X, the MMO, the return to a previous title (among other changes in XII); none of these were bad games, per se, but who can honestly say they were on par with what had come before?

Saying it started with is too simple, IMO. You don't have that drastic a drop in quality that quickly. First you have a good game instead of a great one. Then you have an ok game instead of a good one and so forth until youve arrived at where we stand currently. And as you look back at Final Fantasy and Square as a whole, things changed when Enix got brought on and it wasn't for the good. Things had just been so great prior to then that it took 15-20 years for us to realize what had happened.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:02:59 AM


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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:40:19 AM

FFXIII was disastrous, they fixed everything that was bad in FFXIII with FFXIII-2, but then everything that was good about FFXIII also went out the window.
So yea, there you have it, brainless staffs at SE.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:46:25 AM

FFXI was an MMORPG and I never really took it seriously. Besides, FFXII was a great RPG in my eyes.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:51:05 AM

I can pinpoint the moment. It was when the top 100 people at SE gathered around a screen with a picture of America on it and they were all thinking "Now, based on CoD and so forth, what do we think these people want?"

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 1:44:51 AM

Well, with FFVII it could also mean during that time when it was becoming monopolized with the extra sequel movies, and the spin-off Dirge of Cerberus that somehow made it become the favorite to hate..

Then again, there are those that just can't stand FFVIII for its flawed battle system, involving too much time drawing magic or having to 'break' the game by junctioning magic to give your character higher attack power since grinding on levels does more harm than good for you. Only complaint I've ever heard about FFIX was the art style, that gives it a childish appearance.

Though, I believe it was a combination of the movie Final Fantasy: Spirits Within flopping, and then the merge with Square and Enix. After Final Fantasy X and X-2, they've been experimental hoping to find a true successor to the supposed 'outdated' turn-based battle system that they're desperating trying to move on from. Their later games are fine and all, but their quality is sitting at about average now compared to their original gems.

Last edited by VampDeLeon on 6/3/2013 1:48:04 AM

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 2:43:41 AM

The downfall for Square and FF came when they merged with Enix. They've had games that were pretty bad ass. Although FF12 is to this day my favorite, squaresoft used to have an amazing catalog of games: tobal, bushido blade, Xenogears, etc. All of that stopped. They lost their way to compete with the western market.

Also to blame is the increasing cost of developing games. They could no longer take the risks in creativity that they used to and tried to play it safe with FF13. Also the game ended up butchered do to the 360 port. I read reports that they had towns that were developed, but ended up being removed...obviously because the 360 didn't have blu-ray >:/

my $0.02

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 2:47:16 AM

I would say that the decline first hit with X-2. not that I hate it or thought it was particularly bad, but it started the departure to try and grab more players. The story was a mess. You could say that FFXI helped contribute as well in that it alienated much of the fan base by using the a numbered final fantasy for an MMORPG. I know I was alienated.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 2:50:46 AM

>> April 1, 2003

Talk about a foolish day! That is when it all went wrong. That is when they became "Square Enix." Since then, they have been a company making games in the board room, based on market analytics, and not creative drive. FF13 was simply the game which woke everyone up to that fact. The creators can only make what the executives approve, and sadly, they think that we want non-stop action in our JRPGs.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 3:31:07 AM

I've never been much of an RPG fan myself, and never even liked JRPGs (just found them incredibly boring), so I can't speak for you guys when it comes to this genre or the changes that come to it. But this is a gaming website that I love to read, and I don't want to tell people what they should and shouldn't like to play. Some praise the decisions made for the change, others vilify Square for it because they refuse to stick to a tried-and-true formula that clicked with gamers. I just don't see this whole Final Fantasy ordeal as an industry-breaking catastrophe. They've had countless releases bearing the Final Fantasy name; I'm sure after this boils over they'll go back to making more games with the formula that resonated well with critics and gamers before.

A similar case is with Insomniac and the Ratchet & Clank series. Look at their Trilogy games; they all share the same gameplay formula across all platforms, with minor changes. Then they made Deadlocked, All 4 One, and Full Frontal Assault, but these games have one thing in common: They haven't been pursued as full-scale projects after release. They're spinoff, one-shot titles that the dev possibly made for fun, for the hell of it, or even to kill time until their next project, and then they made the good stuff again.

Not trying to rain on anyone's parade here, just blowing off a little steam. :S

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 4:36:12 AM

I try my best to finish games. No matter how horrible or boring they get to me. There's been some instances where i just couldn't bring myself to complete some games. Borderlands would be first, not because of the game because its boring without friends to play with. Theres an example.

FF13 is designed for single player. Meaning, i shouldn't need friends to play it. Instead of that, i get gorgeous visuals with everything else.... Not being so gorgeous. It was a complete and utter punch in the stomach from what i grew up with. A character i could relate to, a world i could immerse in, a story i could retell without sighing, and finally, pretty compilation of polygons.

FF13 had NO story and people who tell me how amazing it is makes me slightly depressed. Characters were... I don't think i could explain it better than saying it was like a Kardashian thing. Nothing but drama (i see it on yahoo news when i check my email, i don't waste me time reading that stuff, just the headlines). The world and story speak for themselves. And half the time i wanted to offer the girls something to eat. Being that skinny can't be healthy.

I'd get started on FF13-2 but i don't want to suffer another aneurysm. But i'll just say one thing. If lightning never existed in the first game, wouldn't half if not all of the events have not happened? Lightning did save most of the characters. GAH!! and theres a freaking 3rd one?!?!? I decided to jump into memory lane and i watched the reveal trailer song for ffvs13. The guy posted the video 6 years ago. He has all this hilarious anotations on the video now giving all these FF13 sequel names.

"FF13-3-3 :lightning returns again. FF13- Lightnings revenge. FF13 When lightning struck cloud. FF13 Lighting strikes again. FF13-2 lightning strikes twice." There was more but i couldnt help but laugh. Oh and he put in a quote from the writer of FF13. He basically says that Lightning needs to be in every game because she has an amazing personality and a great sense of humor. And if he could, he would go back in time and change every lead character in FF to lightning. I hope i don't break a rule but if anyone reading this wants to watch the video heres the name. "Final Fantasy Versus XIII - "Somnus" by Yoko Shimomura" Anyway, FF13 is what started this.

Oh, i lol'd at the guy who called Ben a wuss. Some people amaze me.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 4:40:42 AM

When it comes to Final Fantasy there is nothing bigger in the industry for me.When I think back the answer is not all that complex. I was when Square-Enix formed. Now this is not just an attack on Enix, they're a more than competent company. But after projects like Final Fantasy X-2 and Star Ocean 3 were finished we began to see much less games being developed by both companies. I Imagine Squaresoft and Enix had them two tiles on there go when they formed and I don't think either title suffered from the merge - Even if I dislike Final Fantasy X-2, I believe that was how it was intended to be.

When you look at Sqauresoft, they were releasing so many other titles before the merge. From Front Mission mecha robots, to Parasite Eve's action horror survival to The Bouncer's Streets of Rage. They were tacklinga very diverse range of games. Then it all just stopped. The majority of what we have had are ports on portable consoles. Which is just such a shame. Oh course now Square-Enix has just bought out licenses Like Hitman, Deus-Ex and Tomb Raider but they're not really Square games are they?

So where did Final Fantasy slip. With XII. I admit I personally dislike this game for many reasons but I will try remain un-bias. The key problem is Hiroshi Minagawa, who made the Tactics Orge games along with Vagrant Story and a few other games which all thrive of a similar setting some even included in Ivallice. The problem is the feel of this game relates more to them game than a Final Fantasy. Other than XII the only other Final Fantasy he is credited for is Final Fantasy IX - Where he got a special thanks. The rest of his work is on the Tactics games which once again feel more like the Orge series than part of the Final Fantasy series.

But it goes beyond just the aesthetics, the game also traded the focus of the story being character driven to being purely focused on the political confrontation of the region. In doing so they made the majority of the characters bland and to be honest, none of the had much of a back story which became a conflicting point in the story. Other than Balthier - Who was the saving grace of the game. Not only did Balthier have charisma, he also had an interesting back story with the Judges and the confrontation with his Uncle which becomes a big event in the game. None of the other characters had such an attachment to the story. Vaan was just along for the ride and he brings Penelo too.. it really was that plain.

The combat also didn't help, feeling much more routed to an MMO (Because of XI obviously.) it made the departure seem even more grand. I found myself just using attack and a few buff spells for the majority of the game. The licence board was just a chore When I buy a weapon it should be available to use and once again the characters had not distinguished weapon, though I kept Balthier with a gun it just made the characters feel less formed.

I could go on, with the music, the sidequests being just battles. How other games with previous FF creators like Lost Odyssey felt more like a Final Fantasy but you get the idea.

Since then, we had XIII, which I honestly liked. It had problems but it brought back a unique world and characters who are really attached to a progressing story. XIII-2 fell below what I expected of a Final Fantasy and just became so convoluted and now this Lightning Returns game feels more like a spin off than the Final Fantasy XIII-3 it is claiming to be. I am now just holding out for Final Fantasy XV and hoping S-E can start a fresh. Just do not make it an Xbox exclusive...

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Banky A
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 5:26:18 AM

hate you all lol ffxii was a great game and the first ff i owned myself (borrowed all others). i put the standard amount of fantasy hours into it and more.

it really has to be xiii. it had no resonance to me at all for the first time in the series. maybe thats from all the bad publicity. but hey all i know is that if i want a game, no matter how average, then i will get it - and i do not have ffxiii haha

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 5:30:56 AM

I believe FFX was the first FF to truely stray from the FF core. Taking away the world map was the number one thing I noticed about X along with the fact that they took away the ability to name your playable characters in which the series from then on continued to remove more and more core aspects. I don't understand how no one notices that.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 5:57:27 AM

I know X had some differences, but it still had the Final Fantasy feel - that sense of a huge quest ahead of you and a team of characters all with their own motive. I should note in VIII you can only name Rinoa and Squall so that is not entirely new. I do see what you mean by the world map, but in X I felt that was so well covered by the pilgrimage, how you travel from place to place travelling over seas and mountains many times. I felt the variety of areas help expand that, while in XII I cannot distinguish one town from another. The only thing that I did not care for in X was the sphere grid - I would be happy for all that content of choosing your upgrades to be done automatically through a leveling system.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:34:38 PM

Ah, the sphere grid. The precursor to the leveling system in XIII. XII had something similar to it that was worse than XIII. I say that mainly because of the rediculousness of just how overbearing the system was on what you could do but how much you could do once you get pretty far into it. FFX never had as much of an epic feel as the PS1 era games, it felt much smaller even though they tried to compensate for that with the calm lands. Still getting the HD X and X-2 so I can play through them again since I haven't in a while.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 6:02:44 AM

I think VI was the last of the true nintendo format.

But I don't think that VII was the start of the decline, VI and VII are by far my two most favourite FF games, next would be IV,VIII,X,V. I definitely think XII was.

XII was a departure from the normal series and XIII was a more radical version of that.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 6:41:09 AM

Thinking aloud I see jRPGs as flat lining this generation and the competition zooming ahead and overtaking.

Oblivion, Fallout, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Dragons Age, The Witcher.

wJRGs have all gone global and blockbuster whilst jRPGs have stayed local and niche.

Unfortunately jRPGs are becoming irrelevant. Interesting to see what the next generation will bring?

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Looking Glass
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 10:24:35 AM

Flatlining? I think not.

The genre is perhaps nowhere near as popular as it once was but it's still very much alive. It's definitely not dead and it's almost certainly not doomed to any kind of eventual death.

Niche? Perhaps. But local? Not quite as a number of JRPGs have been and continue to be released outside of Japan.

It should also be noted that the WRPG genre seems to be starting to have notable problems of it's own (the Mass Effect 3 ending backlash, the disappointment of Dragon Age 2, the subsequent woes and arguable decline of Bioware, Skyrim's PS3 woes and the bad feelings that whole mess generated, etc).

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 10:31:44 AM

Final Fantasy declined with FF13. It was to date the most radical change to the formula that we have seen.

People who rip on FF11 and/or 12 are missing all the Final Fantasy staples that those games both offered. Good characters, good story, lots of exploration, cities, side quests, extra bosses, customization, etc.

FF11 is ripped on by people who never played it or played it long enough to get to the meat of the game. Which I admit was a flaw with the game, in that there was a lot of grinding to get to the awesome story it had, which by the way it does have. Also it has a lot of awesome characters. I mean there were story missions for your counntry, story missions for ALL the different classes, story missions for unlocking hidden classes, and side quests. All of the character class missions had excellent characters and these characters were fleshed out and then when you encountered them in the country missions it was just awesome to know more about them, why they were fighting etc.

Anyway FF11 made some mistakes by making the barrier of entry very high BUT the story, gameplay and the sheer amount of things to do in the game are VERY inline with what you expect from a FF game.

FF12 I get it people don't like it, but I really enjoyed it. I liked it more than 10 because I found the characters more enjoyable and I liked the political plot. Penelope and Vaan are exceptions those characters just didn't really do anything but they weren't face palming annoying like ALL of the characters are in FF13. Plus it had all of the good stuff, like cities, side quests, hidden weapons, secret bosses, etc. FF13 was extremely limited in this regard.

I like the combat because I played FF11 and it is similar. Despite there being ways to cheese the game and let it play yourself, even myself using the cheapest cheesiest strategy needed to actually play the game when I was fighting the secret bosses, or the high level hunts.

Besides in every Final Fantasy game since FF7 there have been ways to cheese all the hard fights. The weapons in FF7, ultimecia in FF8, Ozmos in FF9, they all had cheeses ways to beat them although you did have to be at the console to do so.

Anyway I think FF13 is the entry that made everyone say WTF. While you can argue that earlier titles did you can not deny that those games weren't as drastically different from the formula as FF13 was.

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Looking Glass
Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 10:39:17 AM

I think the decline of Final Fantasy is probably the cumulative result of a number of unfortunate events such as the failure of The Spirits Within and the problems that caused for Square, the departure of Hironobu Sakaguchi, the merger with Enix, the normalization of executive meddling and design by committee mentality within the company, the arrival and subsequent rise of Yoichi Wada, and maybe some other things that I'm not aware of or just can't think of off the top of my head.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 11:14:38 AM

Well I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one that did not like:
FFX-2 (IMO story goes downhill)
FFXll (Don't like fighting system, story and characters)
FFXlll (Should I even mention the points? lol)
and Kingdom Hears Franchise (Not interested in playing with Disney characters).

I much rather play Megaten/Persona RPGs or the Dark Souls franchise.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 12:56:42 PM

As I look back at all the Final Fantasies, I must say, the decline began after the successes of Final Fantasy X and, even though it's not an FF title, Kingdom Hearts. FFX sold over 6 million copies and had such fantastic tale that gamers wanted to know more. Kingdom Hearts did the same. Unfortunately, it is in this moment that I see SQEEX begin to topple atop it's pillar.

By releasing sequels and spinoffs, starting with FFX-2, KH Chain of Memories and then Dirge of Cerberus a few years later, we as consumers enabled SQEEX to throw these games at us, hoping to use them as leverage to climb back up. We (well, at least I) became greedy for more and more of worlds we already played through before and wanting something exciting. How can something be old AND exciting? It really can't. So that is where the SQEEX design team lost their way.

As a side note, FFXII was a fantastic game as a whole (Vaan not so much). I liked having a more political story than we had seen.

FFXIII is the first title where reality has set in for SQEEX. They knew they were in trouble and set out to design a series of games from the get-go instead of an after thought like with many of the other spinoffs we had seen. At the same time, SQEEX was also trying to find their voice in a market dominated by Call of Duty and action-based button mashing (IMO). This is the reason of the sub-par gameplay of FFXIII. There was a great story in there and some fantastic characters. I'm still trying to figure out how people can bash Lightning but call... I don't know... Master Chief a great character. To me it doesn't make sense. I have only played up to Halo 2 so far. If later Halo games prove otherwise I will gladly take back my opinion. I like Lightning.

So, as true fan of Final Fantasy, I will let SQEEX have their time to sort out whatever issues they are experiencing. I will continue to support them and play the new titles. I will try to understand the thoughts behind the design and voice my thoughts on the official SQEEX forums as I have done for many years.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 1:51:25 PM

This will be an unpopular opinion, but I'll share it anyway. In my opinion, the decline of Final Fantasy started with VIII. I say that because FFF 4-through-7 were just phenomenal, classic, absolutely sterling video games in my opinion. VIII had a ton of awesome ideas, characters, scenes, weapons, etc., but it was the first one where it felt disjointed to a point that my enjoyment was impacted. The junction system was weird. The story was dumb and outrageously complex, a trend that the series still suffers from severely. Squall reminded me too much of Cloud, which for me signaled the start of redundant characters in the series.

I really did enjoy FF VIII. But again, compared to what came before, it just wasn't in the same class. I've had at least a few problems in all of the FFs since then,while I thought VII and earlier were utterly fantastic through and through. That's why I think VIII marked the beginning of the decline.

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Monday, June 03, 2013 @ 2:31:42 PM

Alright, when did Wada start to take over? If not that, whenever they decided to cater to the West audience, thus FFXIII. I'll have to agree with Ben here.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013 @ 10:23:24 AM

I'm going to just go ahead and take the hit on this one.

For me, it was FFX. I don't know if I had grown up but the transition from 9 to 10 was slightly down hill for me. Ever since then I just haven't been impressed.

Not that 10 was a bad game. I liked it... over 100 hours on it (some of that time I had fallen asleep with the conroller in my hand).

Though, I'm one of the odd ones who lists FFVIII as my favorite, so... F me, right?

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Thursday, June 06, 2013 @ 12:16:38 PM

This is late, but what the hell.

The decline of FF began with FFXII, but not for the reasons posted here. FFXII, the game itself, was really good. It had numerous flaws, but most of these flaws were addressed in the JPN-only International Zodiac version. I will agree that it was more connected to the Ivalice Alliance than to Final Fantasy lore, but I won't hold that against the game. Yes, Vann (and Pennelo) are terrible, and the game is far too plot-driven than character-driven, but in the grand scheme of things, the game is fine.

The gameplay, especially, was a definite step in the right direction. The gambit system was brilliant, getting rid of most of the drudgery of previous FFs, where the majority of "gameplay" in combat consisted of "press X" (sorry FFXII-haters, but if you claim to have played the game on auto-pilot, you didn't really play it at all; you most -certainly- did NOT fight any of the optional hunts). Not that it couldn't be fine-tuned or made more personal, but the base idea was fantastic.

So why do I say the decline started with XII? Cause that was around the time when Square started losing control of the development process non non-handheld consoles and started taking LUDICROUSLY long to finish a console FF game. FFXII took 5 years to make, even being in the Guinness World Records for develpoment time at one point. Supposedly a good chunk of that time was spent developing custom tools for the game, but the problem was there: Square released 4 FF games in 5 years (VII:1997, VIII:1999, IX:2000, X:2001), or 5 in 7 years if you count X-2 (X-2:2003). Since that time, they took 5 years to develop XII (2006), nearly 6 years to develop XIII (2004-2010, though it was only worked on for maybe 2 years of that 5 cause of various interruptions), and of course we're still waiting for them to prove Vs. XIII, announced in May 2006 (SEVEN YEARS AGO), isn't vaporware.

There are various reasons for their FF reduced output. But I think it ultimately boils down to bad management. The teams work on games and then take years to finish them due to interruptions, design changes (FFXIII was originally developed for PS2 then jumped to PS3, and it's rumoured that the same thing has happened to Vs. XIII), or having to work on custom tool instead of just using what tools are available. You'd think that all the extar time spent on development would improve the games, but it really doesn't appear to be the case.

As a result of the development time taking so long, Square's revenues drop, forcing them to make stopgap games, thereby increasing the development time of the "main" titles even -further-. The first time they did that with FFX-2 (a stopgap title while they worked on XII) was fine, since people actually cared about X and wanted to see it continue. They didn't go about it in exactly the way anyone anticipated (or anyone wanted, really), but I still appreciate them for doing it. BUt the sequels to XIII? Uh, no. Supposedly XIII-2 isn't terrible (I Still haven't played it), but no one wanted that. And NO ONE wants Lightning Returns, regardless of how good the game ends up. Square's been stalling on their REAL titles (namely, Vs. XIII and Kingdom Hearts 3) this entire generation.

Don't talk about the debacle that is FFXIV, which apparently has been such a blackhole that EVERYTHING FF related got sucked into and grinded to a halt.

So yeah: Stupidly long development time/bad management has been the real cause of FF's decline. The FF games themselves aren't really in terrible shape. FF has had missteps before - a lot of people didn't like FFVIII, and a lot of people didn't like FFIX either (usually not the same people who didn't like VIII), but then we got an excellent X to redeem them. Had Square maintained a normal FF output, we might have still gotten a divisive XII and a mediocre XIII, but we might have an outstanding XIV (not counting the online FFXIV of course) and FFXV by now. We'll never know though.

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