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.
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.