Square Enix recently released their PC port of World of Final Fantasy and as it happens Final Fantasy is also celebrating thirty years in existence this month. From its humble beginnings as a response to Enix’s Dragon Quest to becoming the de facto title most people think of when you say JRPG, it has contributed so many things to not only the world of RPGs but to gaming culture in general
I thought it would be fun to look back across the whole series to see where a few long lived elements appeared and how they’ve evolved.
Biggs and Wedge
Originally seen in Final Fantasy VI, these two characters have mostly been light comic relief whenever they’ve appeared. Named after popular Star Wars characters, Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles, both were part of Luke Skywalker’s Red Squadron in A New Hope. Biggs was mistranslated in the original SNES release as Vicks, though corrected in future ports.
In Final Fantasy VI they are front and centre as they escort a prisoner, Terra Branford, to Narshe during the introductory sequence. They share art with regular soldiers but do have some personality as the bicker and show fear of Terra before their involvement in the game abruptly ends with them being exterminated.
They were retroactively added to Final Fantasy IV canon by that game’s future sequel, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, as two Red Wing guards who question Cecil about their orders to raid and procure the Water Crystal. They are significant characters in The After Years, their arcs ending with another Star Wars reference as they appear as ghostly mentors.
Final Fantasy VII also saw the pair play a significant role early on as members of Avalanche. Taking part in the attacks on Midgar’s reactors they are ultimately left behind as the main team of Barret, Cloud and Tifa escape. They die during later events in the game but this would be the last time they fail to see the end credits.
They make a similar appearance to their debut in Final Fantasy VIII, this time encountering Squall early on before being blown out of the battle by a boss enemy. They show up again later during a prison sequence where they are shown to have been demoted. Their last appearance has them considering retiring.
They have small cameo appearances in a few other mainline entries, showing up in Final Fantasy X and X-2 as possible blitzball recruits (or as actual members in X-2’s case), and as guards in Final Fantasy XII and XV. They also show up in the MMO Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in a few significant spots, notably as you get your airship alongside Cyd (another couple of recurring elements.)
Another entry that made its debut in Final Fantasy VI, the Cactuar (originally named Cactrot in the English SNES translation before being changed) is an oddly endearing enemy. They have shown up in almost every Final Fantasy since then, even showing up in World of Final Fantasy as a train conductor, because of course they are!
Every variation of the Cactuar enemy uses needles as their attack and they typically have exceptional speed and dodging abilities. The Final Fantasy XV variant can dodge Noctis’ warp-strikes for example.
There are also giant versions that appear in a few games which, rather unsurprisingly, are called Gigantuar and are exactly as they sound except the vacant eyes and gaping mouth are even more unnerving.
Chocobos are arguably the most recognisable creature in the whole Final Fantasy series and are one of the few elements that have been around from very early on, originally appearing in Final Fantasy II on the NES. The flightless birds have made an appearance in some form in every game since then.
Often used as a mount to traverse the overworld maps, they’ve also commonly been used in minigames like the breeding and racing games in Final Fantasy VII, the latter of which was so popular it got spun off into its own title. Their signature cry of “Kweh” has also followed them throughout the games along with their traditional yellow colouring. Chocobo colouring often hinting at special movement abilities such as being able to cross mountains or water.
The chocobo has become something of a mascot for the franchise so it’s not really a surprise that the first real encounter in World of Final Fantasy is with a baby chocobo, the Chocochick.
So there you go, a few things from the world of Final Fantasy that have lingered across three decades of games. A vast amount of enemies and characters survive between games, reimagined for a new land and a new story. Appropriate really considering that World of Final Fantasy puts a new spin on a lot of these things in its quirky world of Grymoire.
Final Fantasy as a series has constantly reinvented itself and while some entries may not have been as well received as others, it has never been afraid to try something new whilst showing reverence and appreciation for where it’s come from. Here’s to another thirty years of Final Fantasy.