No, I didn’t lay out a spread. But I notice the parallels; maybe Final Fantasy is traveling the same path? Yoichi Wada also consulted a fortune teller, so perhaps he saw the parallels himself?
The word arcana is the plural of Arcanum which means “profound secret”. To the alchemists of the Middle Ages, the arcanum was the secret of nature. The tarot cards are therefore a collection of the “secrets” that underlie and explain our universe. We can use them to apply to anything, even Final Fantasy. The 22 cards of the major arcana are the heart of the deck. Each of these cards symbolizes some universal aspect of human experience. They represent the archetypes – consistent, directing patterns of influence that are an inherent part of human nature.
The Fool – Hironobou Sakaguchi. The fool doesn’t mean “stupid or inept person” in this sense. S/he’s one who ventures out into the world, ready to learn. Zero is an unusual number. It rests in the exact middle of the number system – poised between the positive and negative. Zero stands for infinite possibilities or a standstill in nothingness. A game doesn’t occupy this spot. It stands for the visionary When Sakaguchi started this journey, he took a leap of faith into the unknown. Many of Squaresoft’s executives probably thought a new game was foolish. Even Sakaguchi himself had doubt that Final Fantasy would be a success. If it wasn’t, he was going back to university (so the story goes). He is ready to embrace whatever comes his way. The Fool is unaware of the hardships he will face. He ventures out to learn the lessons of the world.
The Magician – Final Fantasy. This is the game that started it all. The Magician card represents the active, masculine power of creative impulse. Final Fantasy was a creative mix of Dungeons & Dragons, Fighting Fantasy, Japanese and Medieval storyline, Lords of the Rings, Hayao Miyazaki, etc. Seems like an eclectic mix, and it worked like magic! Final Fantasy impacted the video gaming world in a revolutionary extent. It would soon become Squaresoft, showing the power Sakaguchi have in creating.
The High Priestess – Final Fantasy II. Sakaguchi again created the plot for the title, with the actual scenario written by Kenji Terada. Businesses (another Magician) loves to profit on what works. But Sakaguchi hated sequels. His promise to himself and his team demanded he creates a complete game. He So what happens? He follows his intuition and creates a brand new game. The High Priestess provides the fertile ground in which creative events occur. This would start the pattern of creating brilliant stand-alone games. Every single Final Fantasy has a new cast of characters, a brand new story, and a different system. The High Priestess is our unrealized potential waiting for an active principle to bring it to expression. Final Fantasy II is when the series becomes realized as more than just a one-shot game, but a series.
The Empress – Final Fantasy III. Final Fantasy is now lucrative. As Director of Planning and Development, Sakaguchi becomes more aware of his surroundings. The two previous games were like night and day, Ying and Yang. He realizes they he must build on those two. But instead of one set job class, why not multiple job classes? Instead of character skills leveling up, why not independent jobs leveling up? Final Fantasy grows to become even of a sensation and now the sales are starting to grow.
The Emperor – Final Fantasy IV. The Emperor card is the representative of structure and authority. Final Fantasy starts to get a bit of structure to it and becomes a solid authority of JRPGs.
The Hierophant – Final Fantasy V. Final Fantasy goes back to its roots. The writing of the scenario text was a collaborative effort between Sakaguchi and Yoshinori Kitase. The Hierophant represents the organized belief systems which begin to surround and inform the Fool.
The Lovers – Final Fantasy VI. The idea behind the story of Final Fantasy VI was that every character is the protagonist. Now, Sakaguchi has a choice. Is it going to follow the same pattern as the odd and even numbers Final Fantasy games before it? Should Sakaguchi push the boundaries? The Fool needs to decide upon his own beliefs. He must start to question received opinion. In the end, the Fool makes one of the greatest proclamations of a video game yet. “Thanks to every one of you — we have created the best game in the world! No! The universe! Thank you!” In the path between being comfortable or setting a new course…well, we know Sakaguchi by now.
The Chariot – Final Fantasy VII. The Fool has a strong identity and a certain mastery over himself. To date, Final Fantasy VII is the best selling Final Fantasy game of all time. Final Fantasy VII took the Final Fantasy series to new heights. Sakaguchi is undoubtedly riding high, and now he is concentrating on taking Final Fantasy to a multimedia franchise. For the moment, the Fool’s assertive success is all he might wish, and he feels a certain self-satisfaction.
Strength – Final Fantasy VIII. Riding off of the success of Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII comes in roaring like a lion. But there’s a new difficulty: how does Final Fantasy VIII live up to the success of the former? So the series relies on its creative nature.
The Hermit – Final Fantasy IX. This game seems to be the odd one out among titles. But the series has become much more enlightened. It’s looking back at the series, where it came from and asks “What does it all mean?”…The Fool begins to look inward, trying to understand his feelings and motivations. It comes to the conclusion for a send-off of the old. This is the deeper truth of the Final Fantasy series.
The Wheel of Fortune – Final Fantasy X. Things are looking up for Squaresoft. Their flagship title for the PS2 becomes a critical success for the best selling console to date. The wheel of fortune only smiles on Squaresoft AFTER it turned sour due to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Not necessarily due to the movie, but Squaresoft is in the process of becoming Square Enix. Sometimes Sakaguchi experiences the work of fate and his destiny. However, things have turned bad for Sakaguchi due to things out of his control. The Wheel of Fortune is a symbol of the mysterious universe whose parts work together in harmony.
Justice – Final Fantasy XI. Before Sakaguchi leaves, the Fool must now decide what this vision means to him personally. He’s making important choices. Will he remain true to his insights? Will he slip back into an easier, more unaware existence that closes off further growth?
The Hanged Man – Final Fantasy XII. The Fool life hard to tame. His experience at Square Enix is too difficult to endure. This overwhelming challenge humbles him until he has no choice but to give up and let go. He leaves Square Enix to establish his own company. Sakaguchi set much of the tried and tested guidelines for Final Fantasy. It’s as if he still has a bit of control over his series. The game’s long development time and director change leave Final Fantasy XII in a type of limbo. Final Fantasy XII feels suspended in a timeless moment, free of urgency and pressure. But everything works when Square Enix relinquishes control. What results is the most mature work of Final Fantasy to date. Final Fantasy and Sakaguchi is the Hanged Man, apparently martyred, but actually serene and at peace.
Death – Final Fantasy XIII. This is when the Final Fantasy gradually dies…to what it used to be. Final Fantasy now begins to eliminate old habits and tired approaches. It’s a process that gives Final Fantasy fans the appearance that Final Fantasy as a series is dying. In truth, it’s clearing the way to something new. At times this inexorable change crushes Final Fantasy. But eventually, it rises up to discover that death is not a permanent state. It is simply a transition to a new, more fulfilling way of life.
Temperance – Final Fantasy XIV. Final Fantasy XIV seems like an update of Final Fantasy XI. Why change something when it works? Well, at the beginning, it didn’t work. Final Fantasy has swung wildly back and forth on a developmental pendulum. Of course, it discovers true poise and equilibrium and has come to appreciate moderation. Final Fantasy has come a long way in realizing the harmonious company profits.
The Devil – Final Fantasy XV. And now we have come to this, the latest game in the series. Final Fantasy XV game has been in development hell for nearly a decade. Final Fantasy has a healthy sense of cash flow due to two MMORPGs and a number of spin-offs. But the reputation of the main numbered series is on the line. Can Final Fantasy reclaim its throne as JRPG king? Maybe everything is riding on this game. Will it fail? Will Final Fantasy XV be the benchmark for hype? Yes. From now on, Square Enix can’t hype up subsequent titles artificially like they did with this title.
These are just the 15 of the Major Arcana. There are 22 cards in the Minor Arcana. From here on, we speculate about what’s next. Will Final Fantasy end after 21 games? I don’t know. I hope not. Every end is a beginning.