|World of Final Fantasy|
North American cover art
|Release||PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita|
Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
World of Final Fantasy (Japanese: ワールド オブ ファイナ���ファンタジー, Hepburn: Wārudo Obu Fainaru Fantajī) is a role-playing video game developed by Tose and Square Enix who also published it. It was released worldwide for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in October 2016, for Microsoft Windows in November 2017, and for Nintendo Switch and Xbox One in November 2018. Returning to a more traditional gameplay style from earlier Final Fantasy titles, it revolves around turn-based battles which utilize the series' recurring Active Time Battle system, augmented with a stacking mechanic where stacking allied characters and monsters affects stats and turn numbers. An enhanced edition, called World of Final Fantasy Maxima, was released on November 6, 2018, and has an avatar change mechanic to transform into a classic Final Fantasy character.
World of Final Fantasy is primarily set in the world of Grymoire, a land populated by classic Final Fantasy characters and monsters from across the series, while being unconnected to any other series entry. The storyline focuses on twin siblings Lann and Reynn, who suffer from amnesia and hold the power in one of their arms to capture and wield Mirages, the monsters of Grymoire. Lann and Reynn travel to Grymoire to recover their memories, gradually mastering their powers and becoming involved in the conflicts consuming the world - these include fights between rival factions within the native Lilikins, and the impending threat of the Bahamutian Army.
Development started around the concept of a Final Fantasy title aimed at a wider and younger audience, focusing on a light tone and stylised graphics compared to the mainline entries. It was directed by Hiroki Chiba, who had worked as a scenario writer and event planner for the series and also wrote the scenario for World of Final Fantasy. The chibi character designs, which had been used for Pictlogica Final Fantasy, were created by Yasuhisa Izumisawa; the larger characters were designed by Tetsuya Nomura. The music was composed primarily by Masashi Hamauzu, who also included arranged versions of classic themes while aiming for the music to be lighter in tone.
First announced at the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo, World of Final Fantasy was intended as a celebratory title to commemorate the series' 30th anniversary. A worldwide release was planned from an early stage, with localization running parallel to the development and Japanese voice recording. In order to keep the characters true to their original appearances, the localization staff who first handled them were brought in to translate their dialogue.
World of Final Fantasy is a role-playing video game in which players take control of twin siblings Lann and Reynn as they navigate the world of Grymoire. In Grymoire, all the characters and monsters encountered by the player are rendered in a chibi-style. The exceptions are Lann and Reynn, who can shift at will between chibi form and their true forms. During their travels, Lann and Reynn befriend various monsters called Mirages that they can utilize both in battle and within the navigable environment: examples of this usage include riding larger Mirages as mounts or using them to navigate environmental puzzles. The game's battle system makes use of the Active Time Battle (ATB) system employed by multiple Final Fantasy games. In battle, players control a party of Mirages which can be stacked upon each other to grant various boons in battle while decreasing the number of turns that can be taken. The types of Mirages used affect the party's available skills and abilities in battle. Mirages are befriended in battle after they have been sufficiently weakened, and once in the party can be freely named. In addition to standard Mirages are special Mirages that can be temporarily summoned into battle using Action Points (AP): the Mirage remains in battle, replacing the main party, until the summoner's AP is depleted.
World of Final Fantasy opens begins in a town called Nine Wood Hills, though the story's events are set in the world of Grymoire. Grymoire is a land where multiple locations from earlier Final Fantasy titles, such as Cornelia (Final Fantasy) and Saronia (Final Fantasy III), fuse together and where multiple climates exist side-by-side. The main inhabitants of Grymoire are the chibi-like Lilikins, while its monsters are called Mirages. The protagonists and others like them are referred to as "Jiants".
The main protagonists are twin siblings, Lann and Reynn — Lann is an energetic boy who is prone to act idiotically, while his older sister Reynn is cautious and acts as a foil and counterpart. Both hold a special power in one arm that enables them to control Mirages, the monsters inhabiting Grymoire. They can also switch at will between Lilikin and Jiant forms. The siblings are guided through Grymoire by Tama, a mysterious creature who acts as their navigator and teacher. Their mother is revealed to be a legendary figure called Lusse Farna, who saved the world a century before.
Lann and Reynn are guided into Grymoire from Nine Wood Hills by the mysterious Enna Kros, and aided within Grymoire by Cid, a robot and incarnation of a recurring character within the series. They also encounter a mysterious Masked Woman who offers advice to the siblings but whose loyalties are unknown; a "Masked Woman" with enigmatic aims; and an antagonistic Jiant summoner called Hauyn. The main enemy is the Bahamutian Army, a force of Jiant-like beings who are casting darkness across the world: they are led by their king Dark Knight Brandelis, his chief tactician Segwarides, and Winged Knight Pellinore.
The inhabitants of Grymoire are drawn from multiple entries in the Final Fantasy series. These include the Warrior of Light and Princess Sarah (Final Fantasy); Refia (Final Fantasy III); Rydia (Final Fantasy IV); Bartz Klauser, Gilgamesh and Faris Scherwiz (Final Fantasy V); Terra Branford, Edgar Roni Figaro and Celes Chère (Final Fantasy VI); Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart and Shelke (Final Fantasy VII and its companion media); Squall Leonhart and Quistis Trepe (Final Fantasy VIII); Vivi Ornitier and Eiko Carol (Final Fantasy IX); Rikku, Tidus and Yuna (Final Fantasy X); Shantotto (Final Fantasy XI), Lightning and Snow Villiers (Final Fantasy XIII); and Sherlotta (Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time). Rather than being characters drawn from their respective worlds, they are versions that have always lived in the world of Grymoire — these characters have dedicated side stories separate from the main narrative. Additional characters, such as Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII and Sora from Kingdom Hearts, appear in the game via downloadable content.
In the world of Nine Wood Hills, Lann and Reynn meet the enigmatic Enna Kros, who reveals they are former Mirage Keepers stripped of their mirages and memories. She opens a portal to the world of Grymoire, where the twins begin recovering their mirages. They discover a power dubbed the Bahamutian Federation—led by Brandelis and his subordinates Segwarides and Pellinore—is forcing other nations into servitude from their hidden base. Lann and Reynn are embroiled in Grymoir's conflicts with the Federation. Prompted by Lann, the twins begin following the steps of the Azure Prophecy, which leads them to seek four elemental keys across Grymoire's lands, and learn that their mother Lady Lusse is a legendary figure who saved Grymoire from catastrophe a century before. They also begin awakening champions, individuals across Grymoire who can resonate with the twins' powers. They are also prodded along by the Masked Woman, and confronted by an angered Hauyn.
The twins eventually learn the full truth. In an attempt to help their mother, Lann and Reynn used their own summoning powers to summon Brandelis through a portal called the Ultima Gate. Brandelis, part of a destructive pantheon dubbed the Exnine Knights, killed Lusse and their father Rorrik and used their bodies as vessels for the Exnine Knights Pellinore and Segwarides respectively. Lusse's last act was to send Lann and Reynn to Nine Wood Hills, separating them from Grymoire and consequently stripping them of their memories. With help from another Exnine Knight using the "Masked Woman" as a puppet, Brandelis manipulated the twins into reopening the Ultima Gate, allowing a parasitic race called Cogna to begin consuming Grymoire. Despite Reynn's fears, Lann leads a single-handed attack on Brandelis' fortress. Lann defeats both Segwarides and Pellinore, then sacrifices himself to imprison Brandelis after the latter kills Hauyn. In despair, Reynn retreats with Tama to Nine Wood Hills, which is eventually also invaded by Cogna.
Refusing to accept this ending, Reynn is sent back in time by Tama—in her true form of Tamanohime—through the sacrifice of her remaining lives. This allows Reynn to alter events, telling Lann and Hauyn about the coming tragedy. Together they form a plan; use the summoners of Grymoire to reverse the Ultima Gate's flow, sending the Cogna and Exnine Knights into the void. The twins continue to help the people of Grymoire, recover their mirages, and revive Tama. Lann, Reynn and Hauyn together with the summoners and their champions then launch a united attack and successfully reverse the Ultima Gate, pulling the Cogna from Grymoire. Lann and Reynn free their parents from the Exnine Knights' control and allow their spirits to pass on, then defeat Brandelis. After he attacks Hauyn, the twins push Brandelis through the Ultima Gate as it closes, giving Hauyn their mirages to safeguard Grymoire. Enna Kros then gives a final "gift", giving Hauyn mirage versions of Lann and Reynn.
World of Final Fantasy was produced and overseen by Square Enix, with development support provided by Tose. The initial concept for World of Final Fantasy was created between series producer Shinji Hashimoto, and Square Enix staff member Hiroki Chiba. Chiba's previous work on the series had been as a scenario writer and event planner for several titles including Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Type-0, titles that had been noted for the dark tone and stories. Hashimoto and Chiba noticed that the series age demographic had shifted to adolescents and adults, with few young people coming to the series. World of Final Fantasy was intended to "lower the threshold" for players so more people could enjoy the series. World of Final Fantasy was Chiba's directorial debut. The original concepts that form part of World of Final Fantasy were created for a simulation video game. When that project ran into difficulties, it was scrapped and its aesthetic elements reused in the smartphone title Pictlogica Final Fantasy.
The scenario was written by Chiba, whose main focus was to create a story that would appealed to young players with comic dialogue, while keeping true to the characters drawn from each Final Fantasy title. The story was written to be similar to early Final Fantasy titles, with the volume meant to be equivalent to Final Fantasy VI, VII and VIII. Its main focus was creating a light-hearted experience while still retaining darker narrative elements associated with the series. In addition to more traditional character inclusions such as Cloud, Squall and Lightning, less prominent characters such as Eiko and Shelk were also included. This was because characters were chosen due to situations in the plot rather than just including every character or choosing only the most popular ones. A cited example was a scene which took place at a port, which was a perfect fit for the pirate captain Faris from Final Fantasy V. The characters were not meant to be the versions shown in their respective entries, instead portraying them as people who lived in Grymoire: they were all designed to appear in the main story, while they were also given dedicated side quests. Chiba was responsible for all the characters introduced into the title, and turned down multiple characters suggested by staff as they did not fit into the story. The "World" title held multiple meanings: it was at once a Final Fantasy world in its own right, and a world where multiple Final Fantasy titles merged.
The aesthetics were intended to contrast directly with the increasingly realistic graphics of the main series, exemplified by the graphics and character design of Final Fantasy XIII. The characters were redesigned in a super deformed "chibli" style to better reinforce the series' "cute" aspect. To create these new designs, Chiba and Hashimoto brought in Yasuhisa Izumisawa, who had worked on the Crystal Chronicles subseries and enjoyed creating cute character designs. The chibi designs were drawn from those used in Pictlogica Final Fantasy, a title which Chiba had worked on as scenario writer. The chibli designs and the contrast between chibli and realistic designs, originally created for the cancelled simulation video game, were used at Chiba's insistence. The designs were shared between Pictlogica and World of Final Fantasy, and also inspired the creation of Play Arts Kai figurines produced by Square Enix. The normal-sized characters were designed by veteran Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura. Nomura was brought in so that his designs would draw the attention of established series fans.
The initial idea for the protagonists was for them to share the chibli art design of the rest of the cast, but Chiba felt that this would weaken the game as it did not represent the "sweet and sour" aspects of the series. Nomura's designs were a hybrid of his work on Final Fantasy and his more cartoon-like character designs for the Kingdom Hearts series. Many monster designs were based on series artwork created for earlier entries by Yoshitaka Amano: Amano also designed the game's logo, using the concept of a large number of monsters fighting alongside the main characters. There were also new monster designs created by both Izumisawa and Nomura. Izumisawa was key to smoothing out the differences in how each monster had been portrayed by different artists across the series, creating images which epitomized their most iconic features. Nomura supervised character modelling, even down to small facial details, and was regularly consulted by Chiba on how each character should move and speak in-game, so as to keep their personalities and presence intact which still serving the narrative. The anime sequences was produced by studio Creators in Pack, with Yasuhiro Imagawa acting as animation director.
The gameplay systems deliberately recalled mainline entries prior to Final Fantasy X. The battle system was inspired by the Active Time Battle system variants used in the Super Famicom era of the series. Hashimoto was the originator of the monster collection mechanic. The capturing mechanic was included as a parallel to the company's Dragon Quest Monsters subseries. The monster stacking design was decided upon during discussions between Chiba and Izumisawa during early development: Izumisawa had created an illustration showing three different Job classes stacked on top of each other while riding Magitek armor as a joke, and Chiba thought that this would be a nice addition to the combat system. The number of monsters included in the game had to be restricted due to hardware limitations. Once the gameplay systems had been decided upon, the team needed to consider what hardware could successfully portray it. The game's platforms, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, were decided upon by Chiba as he wanted "the power of the former and the portability of the latter". This also enabled use of the two platform's cross-save feature, allowing players to take the game between the two platforms. Despite the varying power of the hardware, the team worked to ensure there were minimal content differences between the two versions. The game used the Orochi 3, which was chosen to help speed development due to its developer-friendly structure.
The game's soundtrack was primarily composed and arranged by Masashi Hamauzu, with small contributions from Shingo Kataoka, Hayata Takeda, and Takashi Honda, consisting of nearly one hundred tracks. In contrast to Hamauzu's previous work, which was noted for its darker themes and motifs, the music for World of Final Fantasy was intended to be lightweight, allowing him to approach it more positively than previous projects. In addition to original music, Hamauzu was in charge of doing new arrangements of classic themes. Hamauzu's work was the subject of constant oversight, with other leading staff making sure his music fitted different scenes, and requesting changes when they did not; this checking was motivated by the wish to pay respect to the original characters. German pianist Benyamin Nuss, who had performed other Hamauzu and Final Fantasy pieces on the Distant Worlds concerts and Symphonic Fantasies tribute album, performed piano on the soundtrack. The opening theme, titled "Innocent²", was written by Ryo Yamazaki and performed by Japanese singer Aoi "Mizuki" Mizu. The ending theme, titled "World Parade", was written by Ryo Shirasawa of Noisycroak and performed by Kana Hanazawa, Eri Kitamura, and Ayana Taketatsu, the respective voice actresses of the characters Enna Kros, Tama and Serafie.
The game was first revealed to the public at the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo. At the time of its reveal, the game was said to be 30-40% complete. In addition to drawing new fans into the series, its release was intended to be a celebration of the series to commemorate its 30th anniversary. This meant that its ultimate release date was decided early on. The title was released in October 2016 worldwide: on October 25 in North America, on October 27 in Japan, and on October 28 in Europe.
The Western release of the game was planned from an early stage, as the team wanted to deliver the experience to fans across the world. Localization was an arduous task, as the team wanted to preserve as much of the Japanese version's tone and style as possible. As Chiba wanted the guest Final Fantasy characters to sound consistent with their canon appearances from across the series, the original localization leads were brought in to help translate the dialogue so as to retain each character's recognized nuances. Some terms were difficult for the team to localize, such as "Nosenose" and "falling apart", Japanese terms related to the stacking mechanic. English dubbing ran almost parallel to the Japanese voice recording, which lasted around ten to eleven months.
Meghan Sullivan of IGN stated, "World of Final Fantasy is a humorous adventure that is just too cute for words, but its combat and exploration aren’t diverse enough to support a campaign nearly as long as this one. However, I did enjoy it for a long time - more than 30 hours - before it wore out its welcome." While Heidi Kemps of GameSpot stated, "Unfortunately, you have to put up with a fair amount of frustration and filler before you get to enjoy the best of what World of Final Fantasy has to offer, namely charming writing and Final Fantasy fan service. If you’re willing to put up with some of the game’s mundane sequences, you’ll get some enjoyment out of it, but if you’re not a Final Fantasy fanatic, the magic in these moments may be lost altogether."
The PlayStation 4 version debuted at number 3 on the Japanese sales charts, with 53,176 copies sold. The PlayStation Vita version debuted at number 4, with 47,159 copies sold. This resulted in a combined total of 100,000 copies being sold in Japan during its first week. By November 18, 2016, the PlayStation Vita version had sold 68,924 copies in Japan, whilst the PlayStation 4 version had sold 71,459 In the United Kingdom, it charted at #11 after its first week of retail sales.
World of Final Fantasy: Meli-Melo
A short-lived mobile spinoff to World of Final Fantasy, subtitled Meli-Melo, was released in Japan in December 2017 for Android and iOS devices. In it, the player character could summon their own team of mirages to do battle with threats to Valgallan. The game was free-to-play but monetized itself via a gacha mechanic wherein players acquired randomized Mirages via in-game play, but players were able to spend currency to get additional attempts for random Mirages. Like the main game, character designs in Meli-Melo were done by Yasuhisa Izumisawa and Tetsuya Nomura. Meli-Melo was shut down on December 13, 2018.
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