Final Fantasy: The First 6 Games & What Each Brought To The Series

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Final Fantasy has endured as a franchise since 1987 with 2021 marking its 34th anniversary as a popular RPG. There’s undoubtedly something special about the Final Fantasy franchise for it to have persisted for so long and received so much media attention throughout the last nearly four decades. The secret? Constant innovation.

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Where other franchises died out over the years, received far less attention, or netted few new games, Final Fantasy has consistently pumped out content and has a whopping 25 mainline games under its mantle so far (not including remakes, ports, and games featuring Final Fantasy characters, such as Kingdom Hearts). Final Fantasy‘s first six games all differed from each other while adding more content to each new entry.


6 Final Fantasy I Laid The Foundation For Future Games


Chaos From Final Fantasy I

Overworld maps, random encounters, town and dungeon maps, battle screens, and menu screens – these are the basic ingredients that come to mind when most gamers think of a classic Final Fantasy game. The first Final Fantasy effectively set the stage for most of its iterations up until Final Fantasy X, which ditched the overworld map for more linear story progression. Other ubiquitous features included its music, battle system, and magic system. Several iconic items also appeared from the very beginning, including Tents and Cottages.

For music, Final Fantasy has been using the same basic composition by composer Nobuo Uematsu for its title screens and victory fanfare music, a welcoming bit of nostalgia for every new Final Fantasy game that releases. And its battle system established not only its iconic separation of Black and White magic, but also common class types, such as Black, White, and Red Mages. Most notably, it cemented the classic conflict for most future games: a group of warriors (also called the Warriors of Light) need to defeat evil and restore power to the world’s crystals to maintain balance.


5 Final Fantasy II Enhanced Some Features & Changed Up Others


Like its predecessor, Final Fantasy II included the basic structures to its menus and maps, but one notable change is how players level up. While experience points were the norm in Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy II opted for a skill-up system that strengthened characters based on which actions they take in battle. A character who is attacked often, for example, might get an HP boost, a character who uses a lot of MP might get an MP boost, and a character who spends a lot of time with a particular weapon will become more adept with that weapon over time.

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Final Fantasy II also introduced one of Final Fantasy‘s loveable mascots, the chocobo. Likewise, it introduced the character Cid, who appears in every following Final Fantasy game. Players can save on the overworld map starting in Final Fantasy II and also designate characters to a “back row,” a tactic that became useful in future games.


4 Final Fantasy III Introduced The Job Change System & Special Battle Commands


job level up in final fantasy iii

This entry built upon its predecessors’ main ingredients and made minor adjustments to how damage is displayed during battles. Experience points returned for good in Final Fantasy III, but its biggest claims to fame are the job change system and special battle commands. Unlike previous entries, players start out as Onion Knights who can choose their jobs moving forward and even change them when desired.

The more a character practices a certain job, the more proficient they become at that job. Players need to use capacity points to change jobs, but these can be earned from random battles, much like gil is rewarded upon victory. Since jobs are so robust in this entry, developers added special battle commands like Jump for Dragoons and Steal for Thieves. Another notable first is the introduction of summoned creatures, which characters could call by using the Summon command in battle.


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