What started with pretty surprising and welcome news of Final Fantasy XII – The Zodiac Age getting a Switch port, quickly turned into me staring at the screen slack-jawed and teary-eyed.
Final Fantasy VII (FFVII) is coming to the Nintendo Switch
You might be thinking “come now, Jason. FFVII has now appeared on many platforms. This is hardly something to get worked up over,” and I would in any other case concede to that fact. But this? This is different. This – in my head at least – is where the timeline split and where the majority of RPG fans went from the established house of Nintendo to the untested shores of the PlayStation (PS One). Facing hardware limitations with the Nintendo 64’s hardware, the then Squaresoft decided to shift development to the flexibility and reduced cost of the PS One CD-ROM. It would take about 7 years, brand loyalty to Sony and a merger with rival Enix before another Final Fantasy title would appear on a Nintendo home console (that being Crystal Chronicles, which is also getting the Switch treatment).
Let me reiterate: the development of FFVII started on the SNES and now The Prodigal Son is coming home.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth look at the development of FFVII and all of its twists and turns, then Polygon has an excellent oral history piece for you.
The Forgotten Fantasy
Just as surprising, but definitely more puzzling was that Final Fantasy VIII was absent from the announced FF titles during September 13th’s Direct.
I have a few ideas on why that might be.
- They’re doing a full-on HD Remake in the vein of the FFVII Remake and are probably waiting till next year for the 20th anniversary of the initial release, but that might just be an announcement. Likelihood: very low
- Perhaps, like FF XII – The Zodiac Age, it’ll be an enhanced remaster with redone gameplay. Likelihood: medium
- The safest bet would be an updated release of the Steam version for Switch and other platforms. Likelihood: I just wrote a safe bet, so let’s go with high
The biggest obstacle would be every other game Square-Enix currently has in development (15 + development of FFXV DLCs + ongoing support for FFXIV + probable pre-production on FFXVI). In short: Square-Enix is spread too thin to properly provide resources for an FFVIII re-release, remake/remaster or otherwise.
Jason Schreier of Kotaku has a great retrospective on FFVIII. Read through it and you’ll have a good idea if it’s worth the remake treatment or not.
And for an alternate take on why FFVIII is not coming to the Switch and/or other consoles, see VG 24/7’s article.
A Fistful of Fantasy
The recent Direct showed an embarrassment of riches, but for brevity’s sake I’ll just focus on Final Fantasy here and by golly, it sure is a lot! FFVII, IX, X + X-2, XII – The Zodiac Age, XV – pocket edition HD, Crystal Chronicles, World of Final Fantasy – Maxima, and Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon Everybuddy. If you’re an FF fan like me, then I suspect we’ll be broke together by next year’s end.
While a lot of the news caught me off guard, I think it’s safe to say that most of us expected to see FFXV Pocket Edition HD to makes its way to Nintendo’s handheld console, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how impressive it is that Square-Enix managed to squeeze the massive world into such a digestible format. With cute character designs to boot! FFXV truly is the gift that won’t stop giving.
When all is said and done I’ll probably end up buying FFXII; I’ve been eager to play it since the announcement of its original release way back in the PS2-era, coupled with the portability/ease-of-use on the Switch and it’s a match made in heaven. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally complete my playthrough of FFVII (making sense of the map is hard, ok!?). But whatever the case, it’s a good time to be a Final Fantasy fan and a Nintendo Switch owner.