Final Fantasy Should Go Back to 2D

Some of my all-time favorite games are 3D Final Fantasy titles. Final Fantasy IX is a heartfelt love letter to the JRPG genre. The battle system in Final Fantasy X-2 is fast-paced perfection. Squaresoft handled the transition from pixels to polygons with unparalleled grace.

But it’s time for the Final Fantasy series to go back to 2D.

Final Fantasy XIII Demake

Recent Final Fantasy titles have lost all semblance of charm. They’re so desperate to be taken seriously that they’ve forgotten what made the series fun. There’s no room for joke-cracking octopuses or impromptu squat competitions. Instead, they drown you in melodrama and overly complex exposition.

Contrast that with Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, a title that positively oozes whimsy. There’s still plenty of angst, but it’s balanced out with goofy conversations about food and hilarious Ringabel journal entries. Even though the game dips into dark territory, it never stops trying to be entertaining.

Bravely Default Bravo Bikini

As graphics have become more realistic, Square Enix has become more reluctant to be kooky. You can catch glimpses of the old Final Fantasy charm every now and then, but for the most part, they seem determined to hide that away. When I first heard about the chocobo in Sazh’s afro in Final Fantasy XIII, I expected magic, but both the character and the chocobo were pushed into the background.

Bravely Default showed that Square Enix is still capable of making the kind of games fans love. It feels like a classic Final Fantasy in every way, from its crystals to its bosses to the “FF” in the title. And more importantly, it proved that they can tell serious stories and be charming at the same time. They just need sprites to do it.

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