10 Final Fantasy Facts You Didn't Know
VOICE OVER: Aaron Brown
WRITTEN BY: Aaron Brown
"Final Fantasy" has been around for a long time, and there's a lot of interesting trivia you may not know. For this list, we'll be looking at behind the scenes and making of facts that we've discovered about one of gaming's greatest RPG franchises. Our list includes Cid the Engineer, Strategy Guide Woes, Musical Inspirations, and more!
Script written by Aaron Brown
Welcome to MojoPlays and today we’re finding our fantasy as we discover 10 Final Fantasy facts you didn’t know. For this list, we’ll be looking at behind the scenes and making of facts that we’ve discovered about one of gaming’s greatest RPG franchises. What’s your favorite bit of trivia about the Final Fantasy series? Let us know down in the comments.
Great Things From Small Beginnings
While today the Final Fantasy series is world renowned as one of the most successful JRPG series of all time, this almost wasn’t the case. In the early days of Square, the company was struggling to produce a hit game and was on the verge of bankruptcy. The release of Dragon Quest and The Legend of Zelda gave the company inspiration to attempt one more big venture at the risk of it becoming their final game. Series producer Hironobu Sakaguchi was also in a similar situation, planning to leave the gaming industry should his next project be a failure. Thankfully, Sakaguchi and Square’s fantasy was anything but final and has revolutionized the RPG genre for over three decades, showing no signs of any title in the series becoming the final entry.
The story of Final Fantasy 7 went through many rewrites during production as you’ll see later on in this list. One of the most notable changes was the relationship between Aerith and Sephiroth. Originally, the team planned for them to be brother and sister, which is still present in the game with their similar hairstyles. How this would have changed the overall narrative remains unknown beyond their lineage, but there was yet another scrapped relationship between the two that got quite far into production. Before the addition of Zack Fair, Aerith was also originally intended to be Sephiroth’s first and one true love and the act of killing her would be meant to symbolize him severing his ties with humanity and allow him to continue his quest untethered.
Cid the Engineer
Though there are many recurring themes, items and even summons throughout the Final Fantasy series, nearly every game stands apart from the one that preceded it. Characters, locations, and even world ending threats all seem to take place within a Final Fantasy multiverse where although much is the same, it’s all completely different. There is one exception, however. In every entry since the series’ inception, there has been in one form or another, an engineer named Cid. Although he wasn’t present in the original release of Final Fantasy way back in 1987, this has since been retconned with subsequent re-releases. As one of the only series mainstay characters, it’s become something of an Easter Egg hunt to find where Cid fits into each new entry and what form his mechanical tinkering will take on next.
Baby’s First RPG
Today, Final Fantasy is one of the most well-known and revered franchises in the world. In the early days of the series however, that was not the case. Square originally believed the series to be too complicated for Western audiences and in an ill-advised attempt to usher the West into this new style of video game, created Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and released it exclusively for Western gamers. The game, if we’re going to call it that, was so simplistic in design that it essentially played itself, calling for little input from the player beyond “go here and let the game handle any battles for you.” The game was rightfully derided and moreover felt like an insult to their budding audience. Soon ports of the unreleased Final Fantasy games made their ways out west and Mystic Quest has been relegated to a footnote in Final Fantasy’s history.
The opening view of the camera panning over Midgard is one of the most iconic shots in video game history, but once you know the history of its origins, it’ll be hard to look at it the same way ever again. Art director Yusuke Naora revealed that his original inspiration for the design of the plates of Midgard was pizza. Yes, really. This inspiration carries over into the elements of the narrative as Barret even describes how the “pizzas” get all the benefits by living on the upper plates in addition to the city of Midgard being overseen by Mayor Domino. Further alluding to this analogy is the music track “Underneath the Rotting Pizza” which plays during in the lower areas of Midgard.
Strategy Guide Woes
Strategy guides are expected to do one thing: help players strategize their way through a new game or section they can’t figure out for themselves. With the BradyGames Guide for Final Fantasy IX however, there was quite literally no strategy to their guide. Under the insistence of Square, BradyGames was forced to utilize Square’s proprietary website PlayOnline for the actual strategies necessary for figuring out many of the title’s more complex sections. The main problem with this approach however was that back in the year 2000, the internet was not as readily available to everyone, and many didn’t have a connection of any kind making the “strategy guide” nothing more than a novelty collectible. Coupled with the fact that the website is now dead, making the book even more useless, was that due to the implementation, the Nero brothers quest went undiscovered for 13 years due to the strategy guide’s lack of actual strategy.
Although each Final Fantasy game mostly takes place within its own world, nearly every title takes its inspirations from real world or literary roots. Pulling from everything from the likes of Dante’s Inferno to various religious deities, the Final Fantasy series takes many of its inspirations from real life locations as well as that particular region’s cultures and mythos. Powerful summons such as Ifrit and Shiva come from Arabic and Islamic mythology respectively and many real-world locations have inspired many of the game’s settings, such as much of Final Fantasy X being heavily influenced by the South Pacific, Japan and Thailand regions with its topography as well as its flora and fauna. Using these real-world locations and mythologies helps make the Final Fantasy series universally approachable and has undoubtedly helped it become the worldwide phenomenon it is today.
The music in Final Fantasy is some of the most well regarded in all of gaming and many fans can instantly hum many of the themes from their favorite entries simply from memory alone. What’s most surprising however is where some of the series’ most beloved tracks took their inspiration from. Arguably one of the most beloved tracks from Final Fantasy VII, “One Winged Angel” the rock ballad of villain Sephiroth, was actually influenced by another rock ballad, Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and even more surprisingly, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and Norman Bates’ iconic theme. Evoking the rock and roll anthem of the 60’s, the track's ever increasing intensity of the symphony and chorus chanting fully encapsulates Sephiroth’s turn to villany and is still widely regarded as one of the best and most beloved scores in the entire series.
The journey of Final Fantasy XV was one of the longest development cycles in the long running franchise’s history. Originally unveiled as Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006 with a planned release for the PS3, the game would go dark for many years with only a few details beyond the trailer made available, but the game’s combat was unlike anything seen in the series up to that point and the modern setting coupled with the lightning-fast swordplay had gamers instantly intrigued and excited. Finally in 2013, the game was re-revealed as Final Fantasy XV. Surprisingly, much of Versus XIII’s original planned narrative seemingly remained intact and was simply expanded upon to become a standalone title in the Final Fantasy universe. We may never know the full extent of the changes made, but at least the boys didn’t end up being a band as plans for a musical version of FFXV were scrapped early on.
While today, Final Fantasy VII is one of the most beloved entries in the franchise and is credited for bringing the series into the mainstream, the story that players could have experienced would have been completely different. Originally planned to be set in New York City, the game would have followed Detective Joe as he investigated the now iconic Mako reactors. This approach would have left behind much of what made the series the RPG juggernaut it was known as, instead being more of an adventure game focused on investigating crimes involving Shinra and the Mako reactors. The story still would have featured the Avalanche group blowing up the reactors to save the planet, but they instead would have been pursued by Detective Joe for their crimes. We’d like to think that someday we’ll still be able to take a walk in the grizzled gumshoes of Detective Joe but only time will tell.