FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions: Final Fantasy Series

Final Fantasy US box art cover.
© Square Enix

The Final Fantasy series has had a long history, spanning back since 1987 with the release of Final Fantasy (known as Final Fantasy I) on the NES. Since its release, there have been 14 main-series games (not including sequels to these!), with the 15th game in the series releasing later this year on the 29th of November, 2016. The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, and is one of the largest video game series in history.

The name “Final Fantasy” has debatable origins. Some attribute the origin of the name stemming from how Square Co. was facing bankruptcy during 1987. Thus, “Final Fantasy” would have been the company’s last game before going bankrupt. However, higher-than-expected sales had changed the fortunes for this company and saved them from bankruptcy.

The creator of the series itself, Hironobu Sakaguchi, has since explained that the title simply reflects his both a desire for alliteration and his feelings towards his work in the game industry.

Hironobo Sakaguchi, Nobuo Uematsu, Akitoshi Kawazu and others.
© Square Enix

First, the team responsible for creating the first game in the series wanted a simply abbreviation. They decided on “FF” for the Japanese pronunciation “efu efu”. While the name “Fantasy” may have been the most obvious choice (given the setting), they opted also opted for “Fighting” for the adjective. Yet “Fighting Fantasy” was already the name of a popular role-playing book series. So they settled for “Final”.

Hironobo Sakaguchi.
© Square Enix

This leads to the “Final” in Final Fantasy. Not only was it meant to be final, as in ultimate, but it also had connotations of a last ditch effort for success. Had the game not been successful, Sakaguchi would have left the industry and gone back to university. As such, this was his “final” attempt at a successful career in the gaming industry.

The game, however, turned out to be a massive success, leading Final Fantasy to where it is today.

Why are there two Final Fantasy II’s and two Final Fantasy III’s?

Final Fantasy II and II US box art.
© Square Enix

For Japan, this isn’t a problem. However, for those outside of Japan, it’s been a source of confusion.

Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy V weren’t originally released outside of Japan. But Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI were.

So, to avoid Western confusion over how the games continuity seemed to jump from Final Fantasy to Final Fantasy IV to Final Fantasy VI, the games were renamed for the North American release.

Final Fantasy IV was renamed Final Fantasy II.

Final Fantasy VI was renamed Final Fantasy III.

Then Final Fantasy VII came along.

Final Fantasy VII became incredibly popular worldwide. It’s success is arguably why the older Final Fantasy titles eventually found a release outside of Japan. Once the real Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III were on the market, Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI went back to their original numbers.

Is there a connection between different Final Fantasy games?

Warriors of Cosmos wallpaer for Dissidia Duodecim 012 Final Fantasy.
© Square Enix

There is no official connection between the main Final Fantasy games (however, they all same common themes, tropes and elements).

Some of the games do have prequels and sequels. For example:

  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is the sequel to Final Fantasy IV
  • Final Fantasy X-2 is the sequel to Final Fantasy X
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns are sequels to Final Fantasy XIII
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII while Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII is a sequel to Final Fantasy VII
  • Revenant Wings: Final Fantasy XII is a sequel to Final Fantasy XII

These are just are just a few examples, as many more exist. And while these few games are set in the same continuity, they are very separate games with separate worlds, characters, and storylines. You don’t need to have played Final Fantasy II in order to play Final Fantasy III.

Should I play the games in order?

It’s up to you. Some recommended that you don’t play the games in order, as very early Final Fantasy titles aren’t always the best introduction into the Final Fantasy series. However, the very early Final Fantasy titles have made the series what they are. In this sense, it’s a judgement call.

What game should I play first?

This is a heavily debated subject, and it varies from person to person. Some people start in chronological order. Others start with the newest game in the series. Whichever game captures your interest is the one you should start. I only recommend that you play them all.

Which version of each Final Fantasy game is the best?

It’s all a matter of opinion and your personal taste! Some like the original versions that appeared on their respective console, to get a more authentic experience. Others preferred remakes and remasters on the newer systems in an attempt to play the most definitive version they can. Try them all to get a well rounded feel for the series.

Why are there so many Cids?

The Cids of Final Fantasy.
© Square Enix

Since Final Fantasy II, Cid has appeared in every iteration of Final Fantasy (main numbered, spinoff, film, anime) excluding the first game. Since then, he has been retconned in Final Fantasy. Cid derived from the Arabic word sîdi/sayyid, which means “lord” or “master”.

Did you know: A character in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was named after the recurring Cid character as a response to the Final Fantasy series taking names from Star Wars characters (e.g, Biggs and Wedge).

What about Biggs and Wedge?

Terra Branford gains a level with Biggs and Wedge at Narshe in Final Fantasy VI.
© Square Enix

These two (named after Star Wars characters, Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker’s Red Squadron wingmen in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope) also make an appearance in the Final Fantasy series from time to time. They officially made their debut in Final Fantasy VI as Terra’s escorts (“Vicks” being a mistranslation of Biggs in the SNES version). While not as as Cid, they too have been retconned into previous games of the series.

What’s the deal about the “Spoony Bard” quote?

You Spoony Bard from Final Fantasy IV.
© Square Enix

“You Spoony Bard!” is a quote from Final Fantasy IV. It’s also one of the best-known and recognized quotes in the series. The word “spoony” is another word for “amorous” (meaning “sentimental”) and a bard is what Edward is. The line itself is spoken by Tellah as an insult to Edward Chris von Muir.

Suplexing

Sabin Rene Figaro suplexes the Ghost Train as Shadow and Cyan Garamonde run in Final Fantasy VI.
© Square Enix

Sabin of Final Fantasy VI fame has the option to suplex many different enemies, include the Phantom Train and even himself. Sabin can end up Suplexing himself if;

  1. You use the Suplex command before Sabin becomes confused.
  2. Sabin randomly chooses to use it, and he is the only living party member.

Aeris or Aerith?

Tetsuya Nomura's Aeris Gainsborough character art for Final Fantasy VII.
© Square Enix

Aerith.

Aeris is a mistranslation of Aerith, which most likely came about because the Japanese alphabet doesn’t have a ‘th’ sound. A common way to translate this would be to replace the ‘th’ with a ‘su’ or ‘s’. It seems that the translator didn’t understand the connection between Aerith’s name and ‘earth’, and so ended up translating it directly to Aeris.

The name ‘Aeris’ is only ever used in Final Fantasy VII, any following media has her name as Aerith.

Fun Fact: In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith is actually called “Aerith” right up until the screen where you name her (similar to how Cloud is called EX-SOLDIER).

Then why do we pronounce “Exodus” as Ex-Death?

Yoshitaka Amano's ExDeath for Final Fantasy V.
© Square Enix

I guess because it sounds cooler.

For a little bit of background, the Japanese name for Ex-Death (ekusodasu) sounds similar to “exodus”. Exodus, signifying to a mass departure, could refer to the evil spirits within Ex-Death. Those spirits, in a sense, had their own exodus from the world to Ex-Death (who in turn also promised them a return the world).

As for the name convention, it’s uncertain. Why he’s named “Ex-Death” as opposed to “Exodus” is a mystery. It would be a great topic to research, speculate and discuss.

But Ex-Death does sound cool.

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