I will not pass “Go,” I will not collect $200, because though I was right when I predicted Final Fantasy VI would have its day on iOS and Android, I might as well pat myself on the back for prophesying 2014 comes after 2013.
Square Enix honcho and Final Fantasy IV lead designer Takashi Tokita confirmed the game was in the offing to Kotaku, and like the last five versions released for smartphones, handhelds and tablets, it’ll be a full remake, not an untouched port of the PlayStation or Game Boy Advance versions. We can expect it this winter, says Tokita, thus sometime between December 21 and March 19.
If your Final Fantasy history’s a little muddled, explainer time: FFVI wasn’t originally called FFVI; when it debuted in the U.S. back in October 1994, it was Final Fantasy III. Square Enix — then just Square — restricted several of the early Final Fantasy games to Japan, thus when the company opted to bring Final Fantasy IV over, it was re-dubbed Final Fantasy II for continuity. Since FFV was also held back, when FFVI hopped across the Pacific, it was re-dubbed FFIII. If Square had held to that regional numbering system, Final Fantasy VII — the fan-favorite installment — might well have been FFIV stateside.
Fortunately Square wised up and made subsequent installments international obligations, eventually porting the older games over and re-sequencing the series. Final Fantasy II, III and V were arguably lesser games, but still respectable RPGs, and if you’re an aficionado, you get a sense, playing them, for the mechanical and narrative growth of this most consistently reinvented franchise in video gaming-dom.
When Tokita calls the new version of FFVI “basically like a remake of the original VI,” no, he doesn’t mean redone with something splashy like the Infinity Blade engine; he means in the sense the prior games were remakes: a visual upgrade to high-def 2D graphics and a coat of gameplay polish.
The battle systems have been altered for the other [mobile remakes] for Final Fantasy and VI will be the same. For instance grinding was an issue and people had to spend a lot of time leveling up. Now on the mobile devices the battle systems have been adjusted so you don’t have to fight as much and can enjoy the game for what it is.
FFVI was plenty of things, but grind-a-thon? Not for me. Maybe there’s a translation error here — hopefully there is — but it sounds like Tokita’s saying the game’s going to be easier. If so, it’ll probably go over like a lead Kupo with diehard fans. To them, I say this: You can always play the version released as part of Final Fantasy Anthology in 2002 if you own a PlayStation 3, PS Vita or PSP — it’s $9.99 and downloadable from Sony’s PlayStation Store.
Then again, FFVI‘s contribution to Final Fantasy-dom was more its story and scope, which rival VII‘s (thus the reason some consider FFVI the greatest 1990s-era Final Fantasy, not VII). The game elements were more refinements than major rethinks: we’d already seen the active time battle system (turn-based, but with continuous timers), already cobbled together multi-character parties, already done the nonlinear exploration thing, already summoned godlike creatures to do battle on our behalf and so forth. This was Square taking all those systems and plugging them into a game world with a sprawling dystopian yarn the likes of which we’d not yet experienced in a video game, PC or console.
Before FFVI arrives, we’ll see Final Fantasy: The After Years, an Android and iOS port of the post-quel to Final Fantasy IV that’s been available on Wii since 2009 and the PSP since 2011.
And now that we’ve finally reached the number VI, whither FFVII, FFVIII and FFIX? Tokita told Kotaku this: “We are aware that we have tons of VII fans … We have VII fans in our own company. If this Legacy project works out well, we would like to one day be able to work with VII.”