A Video Demonstration of the Evolution of Final Fantasy Battles


We’re in the heart of February, and already Dante’s Inferno and Aliens vs. Predator have been overwhelmingly panned.  So what’s next?  Are there any hyped games to look forward to?  There’s Heavy Rain, I suppose, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know that Final Fantasy XIII will be released next month, continuing Square Enix’s penchant for placing sexually ambiguous protagonists in the center of its biggest franchise.

It’s pretty obvious how much has changed since the original Final Fantasy for the NES (still one of my all-time favorites, and a game I’ll still fire up on the old NES Emulator every once in awhile), including the face of battle.  The dynamic – a turn-based system – is almost always constant (save for the weird system in Final Fantasy XII), but visually, the battle scenes in this newest installment of Final Fantasy couldn’t look more different from their predecessors.  I thought it’d be interesting to see just how far the franchise has come since the days of 8-bit consoles, so I went ahead and collected videos of battle from each of the Final Fantasy games (including XIII) and posted them below*.  See for yourself how much it has evolved, albeit quite slowly…

*No Crystal Chronicles or Tactics Advanced; this is purely the main series.

Final Fantasy


These graphics look pretty crude now, but they were actually considered pretty good at the time.  I always liked how much cooler my party looked once I returned the rat’s tail to Bahamut.

Final Fantasy II


Final Fantasy II was initially released only in Japan, and the battle scenes are nearly indistinguishable from the first game.

Final Fantasy III


Like Final Fantasy II, this was also a Japanese exclusive early on.  The battle setup is just about exactly the same as in the two prior games, but the damage numbers that appear after a hit now appear over the enemy.  Stylish!

Final Fantasy IV


And Final Fantasy makes the jump to 16-bit.  Pretty much the same format, just a lot better looking.

Final Fantasy V


Nothing new here.

Final Fantasy VI


Moving right along.

Final Fantasy VII


The next leap forward for Final Fantasy.  For once, the battles felt organic and real, and not just a series of crude animations with a ton of numbers popping up on the screen.  It was great to finally see your characters strike the enemy instead of simply waving a sword at them.

Final Fantasy VIII


The battle scenes are pretty similar to those in Final Fantasy VII, but for the first time, your party’s anatomy is proportional.

Final Fantasy IX


But not for long.

Final Fantasy X


Sometimes simple works just great, like in Final Fantasy X.

Final Fantasy XI


I really have no idea what’s going on here.  Has anyone played this online?  Is it similar to Warcraft?

Final Fantasy XII


I always found those arcs to be incredibly distracting.

Final Fantasy XIII


From this clip, Final Fantasy XIII’s battle scenes should be far and away the most impressive yet.

  • Felix

    Pretty interesting comparisons. It’ll be amazing to see what Final Fantasy XX looks like compared to XIII. Maybe 3-D? At that pointt, perhaps the characters will be indistinguishable from real people.

  • NY not NYC

    I think the jump to IV was pretty friggin huge. Especially when as Americans the last game I played was I on NES. Change rows? Magic as MP? Implementation of the Active Battle Timer?

    Were there any other RPG before FFIV that had the active battles like that?

  • Madison

    @ NY not NYC

    I think you’re right, and I probably should have mentioned that – the MP switch was big (no longer having a certain amount of spells) and changing rows became somewhat of a staple.

  • limitless

    pre-ordered my copy of 13 yesterday, must say, watching those videos got me all kinds of nostalgic.

    Never did touch eleven though, didn’t have a ps2 at the time (sold it after ten, bought a new one for ten/twelve).

  • Kaeyne

    FFXI is nothing like World of Warcraft. xD It plays more like a RPG than WoW ever will. And the battle style is somewhat unique to all other MMORPGs.
    The system is pretty much the same as in FFXII.

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  • Holden_Makok

    aaw he picked a mage video for ff11 need some samurai or dark knight action to show the battle system a skillchain or 2