None of the Final Fantasy games, sans VII and X, have any canonical relationship to each other. That doesn’t stop fans from searching for a grand unification theory. Perhaps we can find one that’ll weave the entire series together into a concise whole. However, this hasn’t stopped fans from searching. And maybe you and I are still looking for the evidence that connects them all?
So do any of the worlds connect? We probably could have made this connection with the first five games. Each one takes place in the medieval world. Then, you’d have a hard time explaining just why their respective world maps differ. Final Fantasy VI introduces steampunk/industrial elements into the series. I guess it makes sense in its evolution, from what we know of progress. And when it comes to industry, Final Fantasy VII just seems like the next logical step in the series.
Final Fantasy VIII is where this supposed timeline gets murky. It’s futuristic but fairly modern. In some ways, it’s a step beyond Final Fantasy VII. It’s like a younger cousin. But Final Fantasy IX is the monkey wrench in this theory. Somehow, we take a step backward in time to castle and knights. Lindbulm is fairly industrial, but thanks to Cid. The rest of the world hasn’t caught on. Suddenly, it’s a lot harder to assume the worlds evolve through chronological release order.
Even if we switch the order of each game, Final Fantasy VIII and IX create a huge logistical problem. In fact, the inclusion of both these games ensure a connection can’t be possible. In Final Fantasy VIII, time implodes. Ultimecia’s end goal was to create a singularity. By compressing all of time and space, she could theoretically become a god over all. In one timeline, she succeeds. So then nothing can come after it. Especially not Final Fantasy’s IX’s world.
In Final Fantasy IX, space explodes. Somehow, Zidane and his cohorts travel to the beginning of all things and reach the Crystal. This Crystal is the life-source of the entire universe. Kuja destroys the Crystal, and temporarily defeats the party, using Ultima. Now, nothing can come afterward.
Perhaps Final Fantasy IX’s Crystal explosion creates a big bang that leads to all of the other Final Fantasy worlds. If this is so, it will eventually end in Final Fantasy VIII, due to Time Compression. Maybe Final Fantasy VIII’s world will carry on after we defeat Ultimecia. But how is that possible? If we travel several generations to the future, and Ultimecia has compressed all time, only one line remains. Going back to our time will only restart the loop, logically.
By the virtue of their stories, Final Fantasy VIII and IX make it impossible for the timeline theory to progress. Better off just thinking of each game as a standalone.