The Complicated, Terrifying Reality of the Final Fantasy Fandom

There's a diabolical twist to the fandom of the two-decade-old Final Fantasy series, one defying all comprehension yet being the blood of all Final Fantasy fans: Final Fantasy fans hate Final Fantasy. If you run into someone who thinks the series is quite enjoyable, owns every game, spinoff, and the movies, these imposters apparently aren't true Final Fantasy fans; Final Fantasy fans hate Final Fantasy.

Whereas Dragon Quest fans largely admire its creators, scenario writer Yuji Horii, artist Akira Toriyama, and composer Koichi Sugiyama, most Final Fantasy fans seem to harbor resentment towards its creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, how he had the franchise constantly evolve and changed its gameplay mechanics, how the series was generally one of the most revolutionary in RPG history. More resentment towards him came after his abandonment of the series, foundation of his own company, Mistwalker, and generally lukewarm reception of its titles released in North America.

Final Fantasy fans also hate the original Final Fantasy, particularly the horribly sluggish battles, tedious grinding, and nonexistent story. Fans even hate the PlayStation remake, as it generally retained the original's old-school mechanics, and the Gameboy Advance version even more, given its save-anywhere feature and more standard MP system.

Final Fantasy fans hate Final Fantasy II, as well, how Square kept in Japan for a little over a decade before finally allowing it beyond Japan in the form of the PlayStation remake. Even so, fans hated the second installment when it did come overseas, particularly Akitoshi Kawazu's alteration of the sequel's mechanics that would influence his surprisingly-long-running and equally-detested SaGa series. Fans hated the Star Wars-esque story, and the potential to exploit the game's mechanisms in their favor.

Final Fantasy fans further hate Final Fantasy III, how it became the only installment of the series not to see foreign release until the Nintendo DS version, which fans nonetheless detested when it came to North America, given its old-school mechanics, grinding, minimal plot, and the "ugly" 3-D graphics.

Final Fantasy fans hate Final Fantasy IV, how it came overseas with the phony moniker of Final Fantasy II, despite its introduction of the fabled active-time battle system and having an actual plot for a change, not to mention its translation with "classic" lines such as "You spoony bard!" Fans hated the Gameboy Advance version as well, for some reason nitpicking about the "virus sound," as well as the Nintendo DS version, its own "ugly" 3-D graphics, its voice acting, its incarnation of active-time battles, its lack of the GBA extras, how it kept the dated "spoony bard" line, and the added story.

Final Fantasy fans hate Final Fantasy V, too, how Square again for some time kept it in Japan, yet still hated it when it did get foreign release, particularly the subpar translation, infantile plot, the class system, the grinding, and how it was generally more difficult than average for a Final Fantasy. Fans hate the Gameboy Advance port, as well, the added content, and the translation rife with pop-culture references.

Final Fantasy fans also hate Final Fantasy VI, originally translated with the phony moniker Final Fantasy III, hate the stuffy dialogue, hate Ted Woolsey, hate the Esper system, and generally think the game is overrated. Fans further hate the Gameboy Advance version, its subpar sound quality and how it excised "classic" lines in the original translation, despite being truer to the Japanese script.

When Final Fantasy VII debuted on the Sony PlayStation, fans hated it with even more burning passion, how their beloved hero Hironobu Sakaguchi became a Quisling to Nintendo, hated its own active-time battles, hated the liberal Materia system, hated how battles only had three characters instead of four, hated the Lego-man character models, hated the eco-terrorist story, hated Sephiroth, hated the new character artist, Tetsuya Nomura, and generally think it's overrated.

Final Fantasy VIII gets even more abhorrence. Fans hate the Junction system, the Draw system, Triple Triad, the convoluted plot, the love story, the soundtrack, think the graphics were its only saving grace, and generally think it to be the worst of the series.

Even when Final Fantasy IX attempted to return the series to its roots, fans hated it, as well. Fans hated the long load times preceding battles, how the active-time battles were slow even on the fastest setting, hated the plot, hated the characters, hated the derivative soundtrack, hated Tetra Master, and hated how the visuals were a step down from the eighth installment's.

Then came Final Fantasy X on the PlayStation 2, and the franchise's unpleasable fanbase grew ever more irate. Fans hated the revolutionary Sphere Grid system, hated the tedious mini-games, hated the absence of an unrealistic donut-shaped overworld where the protagonist became a forty-foot giant, hated the annoying hero, hated the plot, hated the voice acting, hated that awful laughing scene, hated the subpar soundtrack, and thought the graphics were its only saving grace, in spite of Nomura's "awful" character designs.

Final Fantasy XI came along soon afterward, with fans hating how it was a massively-multiplayer online RPG focused on quests and grinding, and most refusing to play it.

Then came the long-awaited Final Fantasy XII after a while of development hell, and fans hate it ever more. Fans hate the Shakespearean translation, dialogue, and voice acting, hate the plot, hate how it rips off Star Wars, hate the License Board system, hate the Gambit system, and once more think the graphics, and to a lesser extent the soundtrack, are its saving graces.

Fans even hate the Final Fantasy spinoffs, beginning with Final Fantasy Tactics, given the subpar translation, cutesy noseless character art, and unbalanced class system. Fans hate the PlayStation Portable rerelease as well, hate the non-campy polished translation, hate the cel-shaded cutscenes, hate the lower musical quality, hate the occasional graphical slowdown, hate the cameos by characters from other Ivalice games, and again hate the unbalanced mechanic and noseless art. Fans hate the portable sequels to Final Fantasy Tactics as well, how they were generally a step down, gameplay and story-wise, from the original FFT.

Final Fantasy X-2, which became the first direct Final Fantasy sequel, had fans vomiting at its girlish disposition, some outright boycotting it, hating the fine-tuned class system and active-time battles, hating the girly plot, hating the recycled graphics, hating the music, just thinking it to be an absolute disgrace to the Final Fantasy name. Fans hated the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XII, Revenant Wings, as well, hated the real-time strategy battles, hated the recycled soundtrack, hated the graphical slowdown, hated the plot, and so on. Other Final Fantasy spinoffs, including Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus, and Chocobo Tales, have generated equal contempt.

Fans also hate the Final Fantasy movies, hate how The Spirits Within wasn't even a fantasy movie but rather a more generic science-fiction film, hate how it had almost no connection to games in the series, and hate how it nearly bankrupted Square. Fans hate Advent Children as well, hate how it's an afterthought, hate the Sephiroth knockoffs, hate the reappearance of Sephiroth, hate the voice acting, hate the story, and just outright hate the movie.

Fans hate the thirteenth Final Fantasy as well, though it hasn't seen its release yet, hate Nomura's art for the thirteenth game, how the protagonist looks like Laura Prepon, hate what they've heard about the game mechanics, hate the science-fiction atmosphere, and think it'll be the worst of the series. Fans further hate its spinoffs, hate how the protagonist of Versus XIII looks too much like Riku from the Kingdom Hearts games, and hate how it will be more action-oriented than main iterations of the franchise. The upcoming fourteenth installment has garnered equivalent contempt, being an MMORPG like the eleventh game that doesn't pique their interest at all.

There's also Mystic Quest, which is highly disliked for its relative simplicity compared to the main entries.

In summation, so-called Final Fantasy fans hate just about everything about the series, from the gameplay to the graphics and music. Characteristic to being a true fan of the series, in this writer's opinion, involves a willingness to accept the franchise's evolution, and having an unconditional love for the series. Because this writer, however, always takes each new installment with a grain of salt, and wishes that the franchise would reuse its best gameplay mechanics in other iterations, he can safely say that he is no Final Fantasy fan, despite having liked many of its installments.

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