News

The Seven: best FMVs in the Final Fantasy series

by May 29, 2013 4 comments

This is the second entry in an ongoing series of articles on The Lifestream, called The Seven. The first, in case you missed it, was the Seven Best Lines of Dialogue in Final Fantasy VII. In each article, we turn the spotlight on seven of the best (or worst) aspects of the games of the Final Fantasy series. The selections are made with the help of our community.

In this article, we take a look at the seven best full motion videos (FMVs) in the Final Fantasy series – we’re not limited to Final Fantasy VII this time. The videos our members have selected range from the moving to the epic, and encompass many of the central themes of the Final Fantasy series: war and love, hope and despair. The first six games of the series don’t feature, despite some of them getting opening and ending videos to accompany their remakes and rereleases. It’s also worth noting that, despite the graphical advances made in each generation of game consoles, four of the seven videos in this list are from the (first) PlayStation era, while the remaining three are from the PlayStation 2 era. They appear here in chronological, not ranked, order.

Spoilers ahead.

FINAL FANTASY VII: AERITH’S DEATH

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the focus of this website, that the first FMV we have chosen is from Final Fantasy VII. Of all the videos on this list, this one is perhaps the least graphically impressive – pay close attention to Sephiroth’s gloves for a demonstration of that – but it’s definitely the most significant in terms of plot, which is probably why it was nominated by the Lifestream community. Here’s what Marcus had to say about it:

This is probably the most notable FMV in video game history, not just in Final Fantasy history. It’s surreal how attached you can get to video game characters. It’s what makes these games so special. When Aerith dies it affects you on a emotional level; you feel sad and angry even though she doesn’t exist. Aerith’s music tops it all off, it’s such an awesome theme.

FINAL FANTASY VII: SAPPHIRE WEAPON ATTACKS JUNON

This is, strictly speaking, a series of FMVs, rather than just one, but it was so popular that we decided to include it anyway. It takes place in a period of considerable turmoil in Final Fantasy VII, after Aerith has died, Sephiroth has got the black materia, Cloud has disappeared, and Barret and Tifa are imprisoned in Junon. In the end, Sapphire Weapon’s appearance provides an unlikely escape route for Tifa. LicoriceAllsorts couldn’t praise it highly enough:

I never get tired of watching this. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched it and it still sends shivers up my spine. It is one of the moments I look forward to the most in the entire game. The lighting is beautiful, the animation is beautiful, the timing of the whole set piece is impeccable – especially with the apparent succeess of the first shot, followed by the revelation of its failure, followed by panic, followed by the shock when the Sister Ray blows its head off at the last moment, a shock which is hardly lessened at all by repeated viewings. I don’t think anything could improve this FMV, not even updated graphics. It’s perfect.

FINAL FANTASY VIII: OPENING

Squaresoft – as they were back in 1999, when Final Fantasy VIII was released – decided to try a different approach for their second attempt at an opening FMV. Where Final Fantasy VII’s introduction had been a model of simplicity, starting with a long shot of the stars and ending with the game’s first location, VIII’s was more of a trailer for the game itself, packed full of action, tension and more than a few hints of things to come. ForceStealer felt that it got even better with repeated viewings:

The best opening scene in the series, bar none. Helped, no doubt, by that incredibly tense, climactic song. A lot of foreshadowing goes on here, of course nothing you’ll get at all until having played the game, but it’s fun in retrospect. And it’s fun piecing things together, especially as you are introduced to characters featured in the scene. And, of course, it’s a sweet fight scene, probably Square’s first. Showing the use of magic and gunblades. Also the feather turning into the sword was a nice touch.

FINAL FANTASY IX: ALEXANDER VS. BAHAMUT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGdp_uyJ_Q4

Alexander is a recurring summon in the Final Fantasy series, but he was never more powerful than he was in Final Fantasy IX. Such was his strength that the tribe of Summoners felt compelled to split his gemstone into four pieces, which remained separate for hundreds of years, until he was called upon by Garnet and Eiko in the defence of Alexandria, the city named after him. His meeting with Bahamut was always going to be epic. Here’s Flintlock‘s take on their battle:

In most Final Fantasy games, the player has to control – let’s face it – a bunch of nobodies, trying to save the world against all odds, so it always feels pretty special to have a super-weapon on your side for a change. Alexander’s appearance in Final Fantasy IX is brief, but hugely significant. It looks like the castle itself has turned into an Eidolon to protect the city’s people. And not just any Eidolon, either, but one that is capable of defeating Bahamut. I have to salute the game designers here.

FINAL FANTASY X: YUNA’S FIRST SENDING

Final Fantasy X broke with convention somewhat by having three major antagonists: Seymour, Sin and Yu Yevon. For most of the game, however, and particularly at the beginning, it is Sin that acts as the primary villain. Despite Tidus’s two encounters with Sin in the early parts of the game, it is only when the whale-like creature attacks the coastal town of Kilika that the player witnesses its true destructive power. Shortly afterwards, in keeping with the mythology of Spira, Yuna is called upon to perform her first sending, which sends the spirits of the dead to the Farplane. Despite being an occasion of sadness, the ceremony is undeniably beautiful, and the video is executed perfectly. Quilge Opie shared these thoughts on it:

The combination of the music and the visuals serves to make this scene both eerie and beautiful. Tidus’ own narration really sells it.

FINAL FANTASY X: ENDING

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI5iI5jKbKc

There is a bittersweet feeling to this video. We watch first the end of Sin, then the end of the Aeons, our companions in battle for so long, and then, finally, the end of Tidus. As a character, he strongly divides opinion, but you’d need a heart of stone not to be at least a little moved by his last moments with Yuna and his eventual reconciliation with Jecht, his father. Their high five could be considered to be marking a job well done, by both Tidus and the player. This was also one of the few endings which shoes the game’s heroes getting the recognition they deserve after saving the world. Kuroto struggles to keep her eyes dry when watching it:

This makes me cry so bad. It is so emotional. Still, it’s probably the best kind of ending for the whole story, because even though the ending is happy and Spira is saved, it is still sad. Also, the declaration of love from Yuna is so powerful, and even though I know it wasn’t in the original version, I kind of prefer it this way.

FINAL FANTASY XII: OPENING

The final and most recent video on this list is from Final Fantasy XII, a game which provoked mixed reactions amongst Final Fantasy fans. Many felt that it showed a lot of promise and then largely failed to capitalise on it. Square Enix were being very ambitious when they started working on XII, as this video clearly shows, but a fractious development process led to changes that had a wide-reaching impact on the finished product. That may go some way to explaining why this is one of only two videos from the game, out of 45 in total, to receive nominations. Splintered summed it up for us:

It’s an epic journey in and of itself. It’s literally a wedding, a war, and a funeral, and it sets up the story and mood of XII quite nicely.

Honourable mentions

Five videos were just one nomination away from making it onto this list. They were Ending (Final Fantasy VII), Battle of the Gardens (VIII), Crossing South Gate, the Destruction of Cleyra (both IX) and Assault on Eden (XIII).

Which videos have we overlooked? Check out everyone’s nominations and add your own on our forum!

4 comments

  1. Fangu
    #1 Fangu 29 May, 2013, 20:10

    Assault on Eden is mentioned last WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED

    Edit: lol fitting gravatar

    Reply to this comment
    • Flintlock
      Flintlock Author 29 May, 2013, 20:28

      Chronological order!

    • Prince Lex
      Prince Lex 30 May, 2013, 20:17

      I really thought Assault on Eden would have been in there, didn’t it get like 3 or 4 nominations?

    • Flintlock
      Flintlock Author 3 June, 2013, 12:18

      It got three. One more would have done it, as I wrote in the article:

      “Five videos were just one nomination away from making it onto this list. They were Ending (Final Fantasy VII), Battle of the Gardens (VIII), Crossing South Gate, the Destruction of Cleyra (both IX) and Assault on Eden (XIII).”

Data protectionYour email address will not be published. No data will be shared with third parties.