Many gamers are familiar with the names Mario and Sonic, but let us not forget the birthday of the Final Fantasy series, the brainchild of game publisher SquareSoft (now Square ENIX). Final Fantasy celebrates its birthday today, December 18, and has spawned numerous sequels, spinoffs, and put the role-playing game genre on equal footing with the more popular side-scrolling fare that was dominant in the 80s and the 90s.
Final Fantasy also made video game music popular through the efforts of Nobuo Uematsu, who composed many of the games’ soundtracks and also helped compose music for other SquareSoft games such as Chrono Trigger and has even ventured outside of video game music, composing music for the anime Ah! My Goddess.
The concept of “Final Fantasy” came about when Hironobu Sakaguchi, the series creator, said, “After switching over to the Famicom, there was a time when I wasn’t happy with anything I was creating. I thought of retiring from the game industry and I created Final Fantasy as my final project. That’s why the title includes the word ‘final’ but for me, the title ‘Final Fantasy’ reflects my emotional state at the time and the feeling that time had stopped. They say that technologically, it’s good to keep going, and each time, we give it our all and expend our skills and energy until we can go no further; this is what I consider to be the ‘final fantasy.'”
The series had a meager start on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but started gaining steam when SquareSoft started producing games for the Super Nintendo, and eventually cemented itself in the minds of gamers everywhere when Final Fantasy VII came out for the PlayStation in 1997. To this date, VII is still the top selling game in the series, with over 10 million copies, and has not lost its place as one of the premier role-playing genre series, although an ill-fated massively multiplayer online (MMO) excursion has left some fans doubting whether it will return to its glory days, although the series still remains strong in terms of commercial success.