Flashy Magic and Guardian Forces
does not a Final Fantasy Make
By Yeo Jeoung
There are few times in my life when I have been left completely speechless and dumbfounded. Not much surprises me anymore, I am a veteran of the world and all its odd forces. Earlier this summer, however, my world was rocked by a petty argument I had with a friend. I would like to request that even those who are not fans of, or are familiar with the Final Fantasy series please read this because there is a much deeper point that regards all RPG gamers.
We had just seen the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and got into a discussion about what we liked and disliked about the film. We both agreed that it was an "okay" movie and that it could have been better. When I asked her what she didn't like about the movie, she responded by saying that it wasn't a true Final Fantasy because there was no spells, summoning, or anything magic related. I was confused by this and asked her to explain. She said that in every Final Fantasy game there was magic, and therefore, there should have been magic in the movie. I argued that I believed that it was very much a Final Fantasy because it conveyed much of the same emotions and feelings with a fairly strong plot and story as all of the games. She countered me by saying that Square had taken the "heart" out of Final Fantasy when they made the movie, that there was too much technology. I was shocked! I quickly responded that the movie was not intended to be like any one of the games in the series and that Hironobu Sakaguchi himself stressed this several times in several magazine articles. He was trying to create a movie, not a game. My friend said that regardless of what Sakaguchi says or was trying to do, the movie was not a Final Fantasy because there was no magic. BOOM! I feel like I've been hit with a armored car! Hironobu Sakaguchi, I believe, IS Final Fantasy. He has been producing and directing the series since it first began way back in 1987! He created the series! If he doesn't know what Final Fantasy is, then no one on this dear forsaken earth does! This lead to a very heated, if very petty argument in which my friend argued that magic is the heart of Final Fantasy and I argued that it was the story, characters, and emotions.
There are plenty of RPGs and non-RPGs out there with flashy over-the-top spell effects, but they aren't called Final Fantasy. No. In any RPG I believe that it is the story that draws players in. Is there anyone out there who plays a 40+ hour game for the spells and/or summons? If there is I'd like to know. After all, you could take the magic out of a lot of RPGs and still have them be recieved with the same amount of love and admiration.
Furthermore, I think that there was indeed magic in the movie, the same magic that Sakaguchi has imbued in all of his games: the magic of the spirit. I know that sounds corny, but think about it: why do we play RPGs? Any RPG. What are we playing for? What is it that makes us laugh out loud or cry for a character that doesn't physically exist? I can tell you one thing, it isn't flashy spell effects.
I'm sure some of you out there will be calling for my head on a platter, but I'm begging for people to please respond to me and tell me what they think. This isn't to see who is right or wrong, I just want to know.
"...I didn't want this to be a simple offshoot of the game...It would be
my hope that maybe just a handful of the audience will walk away with some
appreciation or interest in thinking about what is the human spirit."
--Hironobu Sakaguchi, US Official Playstation Magazine, Issue 47
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