Final Fantasy is probably my favorite game series. I have four Final Fantasy tattoos with plans for at least two more. For those of you that don’t know, FF is a series of role playing games, primarily Japanese RPGs, that started over 30 years ago on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. While there are 15 numbered games they are all part of one story, although some of them did get sequels and side stories. The series is very story and character driven and has produced some of the most memorable characters and scenes in video game history. It’s history with movies and television is also memorable, but not always in a good way. I think it’s time we change that.
Back in 2001 Square Pictures, the studio Squaresoft created to make movies, released Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. This came after the very successful Playstation games Final Fantasy VII, VII, and IX. The movie was a technical marvel that required nearly 1,000 workstations to render over 150k frames. The main character of Aki was so realistic at the time that Square intended to use her as an actress in other movies. However a lackluster story, music by someone other than the series regular Nobuo Uematsu, and going over budget lead to this movie, and the studio’s, demise. It just didn’t feel like a Final Fantasy story. Personally I had hoped, when it was first announced, for something based off of one of the recent games. It was weird to take place on earth, be all futuristic with nearly nothing magical, and it lacked the right sound that so many loved from the series. I have to wonder how it would have done had it not been linked to such a beloved series. It may have succeeded because of its graphics, and despite it’s story, much like Avatar did years later.
There was also the anime Final Fantasy: Unlimited which managed to feel more like the revered game series but leaned into anime tropes too much sometimes. This series was popular enough to warrant some sequels. The series would return to anime with Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood which serves as a companion to the most recent numbered game in the series. There are also two well done direct-to-video CGI releases in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
All of that brings us to the question of whether or not the series of games is deserving of another high-end attempt to reach audiences without a game controller in their hands. I say yes.
A few months ago our very own Cam Campbell wrote on the Golden Age of Fantasy on television, couple that with a renewed interest in the series thanks to the well done Final Fantasy XV and the success of Netflix’s Castlevania and I think you have a prime opportunity to create limited and focused series’. A streaming service would be the prime place for a limited and focused series of FF stories based on some of the most popular games. Each game has a world that has been lived in and characters that we meet have back stories that are interesting and could be delved into further than they were in the games. You could essentially expand on the most popular games by telling stories that helped lead up to the events of that game. This approach allows the producers to use the popularity of a specific game to bring audiences in and then use great writers, actors, and showrunners to keep them coming back for each episode. It could also help Square Enix, the makers of the games, bring renewed attention to old and new games alike.
So which games would I start off with and what stories could be told? I am glad you asked…
Final Fantasy VI is considered by many to be the best in the series. It introduced a larger party of playable characters than ever before, had an engaging backstory, and a villain that looked weird but truly embodied evil. This would be a great place to start with a four or five episode series that shows us the War of the Magi events that precede the game by 1,000 years in the first episode and then brings us to the capture and training of Terra, one of the game’s leads. Terra was capable of using magic, something that had all but been lost after the War of the Magi, and was trained to be a weapon for the evil Empire.
The big question is what format should this come in? CGI, anime, live action, and traditional 2D are all viable options. I really enjoy the mix of anime and traditional animation found in Netflix’s Castlevania series, but I could be sold on a CGI series that uses the same level of detail as Kingsglaive did but that may be too expensive. Final Fantasy VI‘s world of steampunk will look great no matter what and the use of magic in scenes from the War of the Magi and Terra herself should provide great optics for the viewers. The second to last episode would hint at the game’s main villain with the final episode revealing him, Kefka, and leave viewers wanting more. Which they would then have to play the game to get. See? Come on Square Enix… this is a great idea!!!
Did you not think this would be on the list? While VI may be considered the best, Final Fantasy VII is the most popular and talked about. I know that the prequel game Crisis Core gave us a lot of backstory on characters like Zack, Sephiroth, and Aerith but I envision a story based on Barret and AVALANCHE. If you haven’t played this game (WHY HAVEN’T YOU???) AVALANCHE is a group of eco-terrorists, or freedom fighters depending on your point of view, that are fighting against the Shin-Ra Electric Company that controls the world through energy production, which is killing the planet. Part of this group’s story is told in the Japan-only mobile game Before Crisis but nothing much on Barret and his team as that game focused on the Turks, a group loyal to Shin-Ra.
This series would focus on the Formation of Barret’s group of AVALANCHE, their partnership with Tifa Lockhart, and their skirmishes with Shin-Ra and the Turks leading up to their attack on the Mako reactor at the beginning of the original game. I would worry less about action and more about character development and play this very similar to the 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica. Considering there is so little covered on this group prior to the original game there is room to create more. I would definitely touch on how Barret ends up taking care of his adopted daughter Marlene and the events at Corel.
Given how great the world of VII looked in the Advent Children movie, I would continue with CGI for this series. I actually think it would be cool for every iteration of a Final Fantasy series to be done differently.
Lastly, I want you to consider a series that can be completely original, but set in one of the most beloved worlds of Final Fantasy, Ivalice. Ivalice is the world used in all of the Final Fantasy Tactics games, Final Fantasy XII, and more loosely in the game Vagrant Story. This fantasy world with airships, magic, and Chocobos would look amazing in live action and could take queues from shows like Game of Thrones.
This series could take place at any point on the Ivalice timeline from before the events in FF XII through the Lion War in Tactics or even after that. There is plenty to explore in each of the kingdom’s histories mentioned in the games and the countless conflicts in between major story points. The focus here should be more adventurous than the other two series I have pitched to you. I can see following a group of sky pirates at the height of the Dalmasca leading up to the Archadian Empire’s war of expansion. I would venture to say this series could spawn companions that would fall into different genres such as a drama dealing with Judges in Archadia or action with soldiers in the 50 Year War.
Ivalice has such wondrous creatures and beings that live in its realm, and the rich history means there’s no limit to the stories that can be told.
Final Fantasy has given the world countless hours of escape from reality, heartfelt moments with incredibly rich and diverse characters, and shown us worlds even Hollywood can’t imagine. I think the series could do well on the small screen, but only if it is focused and care is given to the source material. I have spent thousands of hours playing these games, and will likely spend thousands more… I actually plan to take time off work when Final Fantasy VII: Remake finally hits in 2026. Yes, it’s that serious. I love these games, these characters, and these stories. I believe there is so much more to be seen.
What do you think about these ideas for shows? What are your favorite Final Fantasy games? What idea’s would you pitch to a studio? Let us know in the comments below.