Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy

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Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy
Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy (logo).jpg
Official logo of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, depicting a deity from the series mythos.[1]
Genres Role-playing
Developers Square Enix 1st Production Department[2]
tri-Ace
HexaDrive
Tayutau K. K.
Publishers Square Enix
Creators Kazushige Nojima, Shinji Hashimoto, Yoshinori Kitase
Platforms Android, iOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Platform of origin PlayStation 3
First release Final Fantasy XIII
  • JP December 17, 2009
  • NA March 9, 2010
  • EU March 9, 2010
  • INT December 16, 2010
Latest release Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
  • JP March 19, 2015
  • NA March 17, 2015
  • EU March 20, 2015
Official website Official portal

Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy (Japanese: ファブラ ノヴァ クリスタリス ファイナルファンタジー Hepburn: Fabura Nova Kurisutarisu Fainaru Fantajī?) is a series of games within the Final Fantasy video game franchise, developed and published by Square Enix. While featuring various worlds and different characters, each Fabula Nova Crystallis game is ultimately based on and expands upon a common mythos focusing around important crystals tied to deities. The series title translates from Latin as 'The New Tale of the Crystal'. The original titles in the series were handled by Square Enix's 1st Production Department, with each development team given the freedom to adapt the mythos to fit the context of a game's story.

The series, originally announced in 2006 as Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII, currently consists of six games across multiple platforms. Final Fantasy XIII, designed as the series' flagship title, was released in 2009. The creative forces behind the series include many developers from previous Final Fantasy titles, including Shinji Hashimoto and Motomu Toriyama. The mythos was conceived and written by Kazushige Nojima. The first games made for the series were Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV (as Versus XIII), with Final Fantasy Type-0 (as Agito XIII) coming later. All three games went through delays. After XIII and Type-0‍ '​s releases, their respective teams used ideas and concepts from development to create additional games. For later games, other studios have been brought in to help with aspects of development.

As of 2015, five titles have been released in the series, and a sixth title, Final Fantasy XV, is in production. Individual games have generally received a positive reception, although opinions have been more mixed over various aspects of the three XIII games. Reception of the mythos' use in the released games has also been mixed: while some critics called it confusing or too similar to the lore of the main series, others were impressed by its scope and use. The series is complemented by works in related media, including companion books, novelizations, and manga.

Titles[edit]

Games[edit]

  • Final Fantasy XIII, the thirteenth core Final Fantasy game and the first title in the series. First released in Japan as a PlayStation 3 exclusive in December 2009, it was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America and Europe in March 2010.[3] A version of the game for the Xbox 360, Final Fantasy XIII Ultimate Hits International, was released in Japan in December 2010.[4] XIII was released as a digital download for Microsoft Windows in October 2014.[5] The game was designed to be a story-driven single-player role-playing game (RPG),[6] with a battle system designed to emulate the cinematic battles seen in the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.[7]
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2, a direct sequel to XIII, was released in December 2011 in Japan, and in January and February, 2012 in North America and Europe respectively.[14] In response to criticism the company received from critics and fans about XIII‍ '​s linear structure, XIII-2 was designed to be a more traditional role-playing game, with explorable towns, a nonlinear story structure, mini-games and other traditional features.[15]
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, a sequel to XIII and XIII-2, was released in November 2013 in Japan, and February 2014 in North America and Europe.[16] It concludes both the story of the main character Lightning and the Final Fantasy XIII story arc.[17] Lightning Returns blends several traditional role-playing features, such as shops, quests and an explorable open world, with an action-oriented combat system.[18]
  • Final Fantasy Agito, a companion title set in Type-0‍ '​s world,[19] was released in May 2014 in Japan on Android and iOS smartphones. A port for the PlayStation Vita is in development.[20][21] It is being localized for a western release.[22] Agito is an episodic game featuring single-player and multi-player modes, and a social system where the player's standing with non-playable characters advances their rank in-game.[23]

Upcoming titles[edit]

  • Final Fantasy XV (originally known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII), the fifteenth core Final Fantasy title and the third main title in the subseries, was announced in the same year as XIII and Type-0, and is currently set for release in 2016.[24] The game is an action role-playing game with a battle system similar to those from the Kingdom Hearts series and Type-0. The game uses open world exploration using both a vehicle and chocobos, along with a camping mechanic linked to gaining experience levels.[25][26] A report by GameSpot in 2015 sated that XV had been removed from the mythos, but this has yet to be confirmed by other sources.[27]

Related media[edit]

The games have been complemented and expanded upon through other media. For Final Fantasy XIII, a small book of short stories titled Final Fantasy XIII - Episode Zero was released, first through the game's website and then as a print release in December 2009. It shows events prior to the game's opening.[28][29] A second novella, Episode i, was published via XIII-2‍ '​s official website, bridging the narrative gap between XIII and XIII-2.[30] After XIII-2‍ '​s Japanese release, two books were released detailing events not shown or described in the game: Fragments Before, released in December 2011;[31] and Fragments After, released in June 2012.[32] Only Episode i has received an official English translation and release, as a pre-order bonus for the game from American electronics store Best Buy.[33] Lightning Returns was also set to receive a prequel novel by Benny Matsuyama alongside the game's Japanese release in November 2013,[34] however this was later cancelled due to the author falling ill.[35] A three-part novella exclusive to Famitsu Weekly magazine titled Final Fantasy XIII Reminiscence: tracer of memories was released across June and July 2014. It was written by Daisuke Watanabe, who handled the scripts for the XIII games, and takes place immediately after the ending of Lightning Returns.[36] Reminiscence was later released online.[37]

Final Fantasy Type-0 received a manga adaptation illustrated by Takatoshi Shiozawa. It began publication in the November 2011 of Young Gangan and was collected into a single volume and released in April 2012.[38][39] The manga was translated into English and released as part of the western collector's edition for Type-0 HD, available exclusively through Square Enix's online store.[40] A second manga following one of the game's secondary characters, Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: Reaper of the Icy Blade (ファイナルファンタジー零式外伝 氷剣の死神 Fainaru Fantajī Reishiki Gaiden Hyouken no Shinigami?), began serialization in May 2012. The latter manga was created by Shiozawa under direct supervision by Tetsuya Nomura.[41] The manga ended in January 2014, with a bonus chapter released in February of the same year.[42][43] It will be released in the west in July 2015, licensed by Yen Press.[44] Two novels detailing an alternate version of Type-0, titled Final Fantasy Type-0: Change the World ( ファイナルファンタジー零式 Change the World?), were released in April and June 2012.[45][46] Agito received another Change the World novel adaptation focusing on two of the game's supporting characters.[47] Ultimania guides and companion books have been released for the majority of released games.[48]

Themes[edit]

The entries in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series share the same mythology, interpreted differently and referred to in varying degrees for each of the game worlds.[49] The universes of XIII and Type-0 are unrelated to each other, though common elements and themes are present.[50] The first is a common narrative theme of harmful interference by the mythos deities in the affairs of humans, and those humans' choosing whether to accept or challenge the predetermined fates given to them.[51][52][53] Nomura defined this theme as "a battle of the gods that lies behind each tale and gives it inspiration in a different way."[54] The second common element is the structure of the Fabula Nova Crystallis universe, which is divided in two: the mortal world, where humans live, and the afterlife or Unseen Realm (不可視世界 Fukashi sekai?, lit. "Invisible World").[55]

In the mythology, the god Bhunivelze (ブーニベルゼ Būniberuze?) seizes control of the mortal world by killing his mother, the creator goddess Mwynn (ムイン Muin?), who vanishes into the Unseen Realm. Believing that the mortality of the world is Mwynn's curse, Bhunivelze creates three new deities to search for the gate to the Unseen Realm so he can control both worlds. The first deity, Pulse (パルス Parusu?), is tasked with terraforming the world; the second deity, Etro (エトロ Etoro?), is discarded because of her resemblance to Mwynn; the third deity, Lindzei (リンゼ Rinze?), acts as his protector. Bhunivelze then enters a deep sleep, while Lindzei and Pulse carry out their missions. Distraught at being abandoned, Etro kills herself, and humans are born from her blood. Once in the Unseen Realm, Etro finds Mwynn being consumed by a force called chaos, which threatens to destroy reality. As Mwynn fades, she tells Etro to protect the balance between the worlds. Etro gives humans pieces of chaos that become their "hearts". Because humans held chaos within them, they maintained the balance through their death and reincarnation. Since then, humans have either worshiped or feared Pulse and Lindzei, and refer to Etro as the goddess of death.[55] The deities, such as Etro, hold similar roles in the games, but are not the same characters in a narrative sense.[50]

A recurring race in the games are god-like beings created by Pulse and Lindzei to act as their servants in the mortal world. In the original mythos and the XIII games, the demigods are called fal'Cie /fælˈs/. They take the form of crystal-powered mechanical beings in the XIII games.[56] In the universe of Type-0, they are both semi-sentient crystals and humanoid beings living among the people.[57] The fal'Cie have the ability to imbue chosen humans with magical powers and assign them a task to complete either willingly or unwillingly. XIII and Type-0 refer to these people as l'Cie /ləˈs/ and the task given to them as a Focus. In the worlds of XIII and Type-0, there are two possible outcomes for l'Cie: once their Focus is fulfilled, they can go into 'crystal stasis', transforming into a crystal statue, and gain eternal life, but if they fail they become mindless crystalline monsters.[58] In Type-0, l'Cie are chosen by the crystal of their country, and given great power to fulfill their assigned Focus, but lose their memories if emotionally unstable.[59][60]

A common element not related to the mythos, themes or plots of the series is the use of Latin in the games' titles or worlds, often as key words to describing themes and story points: the series title translates as 'The New Tale of the Crystal',[61] 'Agito' roughly translates as "to put into motion",[62] while 'Versus' translates as both "to turn around" and "against", which were described as representing key narrative concepts.[63] 'Agito' was kept within the Type-0 universe with both an in-universe concept and the title of its prequel.[64][65] 'Versus' was used in early trailers for XV the game after its re-reveal in 2013 carrying the tagline 'A World of the Versus Epic'.[66] Commenting on the high use of Latin in XV prior to its public name change, Nomura stated that he wanted a language that was no longer used on a daily basis and that people "won't be able to understand and yet appreciate", desiring a sense of general equality.[67]

Production[edit]

Creation[edit]

The concept for the Fabula Nova Crystallis series originated while Final Fantasy X-2 and the original Kingdom Hearts were being completed. Discussing what to do after the completion of Final Fantasy XII, Nomura, Shinji Hashimoto and Yoshinori Kitase decided to build upon the idea of multiple games connected by a single "central theme". This came from the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, a multimedia subseries featuring the world and characters of Final Fantasy VII. Whereas the common link in the Compilation was VII, the three chose to use "the tale of new crystals" for the new series, with the mythos connecting the games rather than an overarching narrative.[68] Another key idea behind the mythos was to ease the production of future Final Fantasy games by providing an established mythos.[69] Scenario writer Kazushige Nojima started writing the original mythology for the Fabula Nova Crystallis series in 2003, finishing it by February 2004.[70] During his work, he received creative input from game producers Hashimoto and Kitase, as well as Nomura, Motomu Toriyama and Hajime Tabata.[63] Nojima wrote a series bible about the mythology, explaining concepts such as the fal'Cie and l'Cie and the feelings of the gods who created them.[1][70] This bible became the basis for a video animated by Yusuke Naora's art team to showcase the Fabula Nova Crystallis story in 2011.[1]

The individual directors are allowed to freely interpret the base mythology when they create their games.[49][69] When referring to this freedom, Tabata has compared the mythos and the concept behind it to Greek mythology; a mythology with common themes and deities, but featuring a large variety of unrelated stories.[64][69] Toriyama conceived a story for Final Fantasy XIII set primarily around the mythos' deities and their direct relations to the world.[64][70] Tabata and Nomura both focused more on the human side of the story.[64][71] Tabata chose to portray the divine elements from a historical standpoint in Type-0,[64][72] while Nomura created a modern day setting similar to contemporary Earth in XV, referring far less to the mythos' terminology.[63][73] Nomura was also appointed as the main character designer for all entries in the subseries.[54] In a 2007 interview, Hashimoto compared the planning of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series to film franchises such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings: an expansive brand on which to build multiple Final Fantasy titles planned in advance.[74] The development of all games connected to the mythos was handled by Square Enix 1st Production Department.[2]

Development[edit]

Final Fantasy XIII began development in February 2004.[70] It began as a title for the PlayStation 2 under the codename "Colors World",[75] however it was moved onto PlayStation 3 after the positively received Crystal Tools engine demo in 2005 and the delayed release of XII.[76][77][78] The original titles in the series were XIII and Versus XIII. Agito XIII was conceived later, when Tabata was looking for a new project after finishing Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII.[63] Originally titled Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII, the three titles were announced at E3 2006: Agito XIII was a mobile phone title similar to Before Crisis and the other two were PS3 exclusives.[79] XIII was developed by team members who had also previously worked on Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X,[80][81] Agito XIII was handled by staff from Before Crisis,[82] while Versus XIII‍ '​s development was headed by the team behind the console Kingdom Hearts games.[83] XIII and Versus XIII were intended to form the core of the series, with future games each being a "facet" of XIII.[61]

Agito XIII and Versus XIII both began production in 2006.[79] By 2008, Agito XIII had been moved onto the PlayStation Portable, then later renamed Final Fantasy Type-0. The stated reason for the change of title was that XIII and Type-0 shared little besides the core mythos.[1][84][85] The title change also resulted in the "XIII" numeral being dropped from the series title as it "would have been an issue".[1] Late in its development, XIII also changed from being an exclusive when an Xbox 360 version was announced, significantly delaying its release.[86] A port for Microsoft Windows was considered, but not followed up due to platform-specific concerns and the company's view of the video game market.[87] Later, all three XIII games would receive PC ports through Steam.[5] As early as 2007, Square Enix considered re-branding Versus XIII as a numbered entry in the main series due to the rapidly growing scale of the project.[88] The game was eventually re-branded in 2011, though it still used the subseries' mythos.[89][90][91] The game was also moved fully onto eighth generation consoles and developed using the company's new Luminous Studio engine. The PS3 version was abandoned due to concerns about the console's continued viability.[91][92] Type-0‍ '​s western release was delayed due to the flagging PSP market in western territories. A high-definition port to the same platforms as XV was co-developed by Square Enix and HexaDrive, and was eventually announced for a western release. It was developed with the intention of boosting console sales prior to the latter's release.[13][93]

After the release of Final Fantasy XIII, the creators wanted to expand on the game's setting and tell more stories about the characters, so XIII-2 and Lightning Returns were developed.[94] For these games, Japanese developer tri-Ace was brought in to help with the games' design and graphics.[95][96] The three games and their respective tie-in media were referred to as the "Lightning Saga" by Square Enix staff after the games' central character.[97][98] Alongside that, Tabata created Agito around his original ideas for Type-0 as a mobile title. Agito acted as both a prequel to Type-0 and an alternate story set within its world.[64][99] The game was co-developed by mobile game developer Tayutau K. K.[19] Agito was eventually ported to the Vita.[21] According to an interview with Nomura in 2013, sequels to XV are also being considered, though XV would remain a stand-alone story.[100] A trademark for Final Fantasy Haeresis XIII hinted at another entry, but the trademark expired in 2011 and the company did not renew.[101] While there was speculation that Fabula Nova Crystallis would end with Lightning Returns, Kitase repeatedly stated that there was still room for further titles beyond the XIII universe.[94][102]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) 84%[103]
(X360) 81%[104]
(PC) 55%[105]
(PS3) 83/100[106]
(X360) 82/100[107]
(PC) 65/100[108]
Final Fantasy Type-0 (PS4) 73%[109]
(XONE) 75%[110]
(PS4) 72/100[111]
(XONE) 72/100[112]
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3) 79%[113]
(X360) 79%[114]
(PC) 69%[115]
(PS3) 79/100[116]
(X360) 79/100[117]
(PC) 74/100[118]
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) 66%[119]
(X360) 70%[120]
(PS3) 66/100[121]
(X360) 69/100[122]
Final Fantasy Agito - -
Final Fantasy XV - -

The Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos has received mixed reactions from gaming sites. Hardcore Gamer's Brady Hale called the series "anything but ordinary" in the variety of games it featured.[123] In an article concerning the 25th Anniversary event for the Final Fantasy series, Joystiq's Ben Gilbert called the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos "occasionally bizarre and often beautiful".[124] In 2014, Jeremy Parish of USGamer said that the series was "much ado about nothing", stating that since the games shared a large amount of themes and plot points with the main series, there seemed little reason for a distinction.[78]

Speaking about the XIII games in particular, Parish suggested that their mixed reactions influenced the title changes of other games in the original series, giving the teams a chance to give those games more of their own identity. He also felt that the decision to expand the XIII storyline into multiple games "probably worked out just as well".[78] The presentation of the mythos and its terms received mixed reactions in XIII, resulting in the production team toning down their use for XIII-2.[125] Siliconera writer Spencer Yip, in his review of Lightning Returns, commented that the story and pace of the game was "muddled" by the mythos.[126] In contrast, the portrayal of the mythos in Type-0 was praised by RPG Site's Erren Van Duine in an import review of the title, with him saying that "elements such as l'Cie and fal'Cie are handled in much more interesting ways".[127]

Final Fantasy XIII was positively received in Japanese magazines, garnering exceptionally high scores from both Famitsu and Dengeki PlayStation.[128][129] In the west, the game was praised for its graphics, battle system, and music,[130][131][132] but opinions were mixed about its story and it was criticized for its highly linear structure.[133][134] XIII also won an award for best graphics in GamesRadar‍ '​s 2012 Platinum Trophy Awards.[135] XIII-2 received a positive reception overall, gaining perfect scores from Famitsu and Dengeki PlayStation,[136][137] and high scores from most western sites. Common points of praise were its non-linear nature, improved battle system and graphics,[138][139][140] while the main points of criticism were its story and characters, which were often called weak, confusing or both.[141][142] Lightning Returns received mixed to positive reviews, with its combat being highly praised,[143][144][145] its graphics and time limit mechanic drawing mixed responses,[146] and the story and characters being cited as poorly developed.[147][148]

Type-0 had a highly positive reception in Japan, with it garnering near-perfect scores in Famitsu and Dengeki PlayStation.[149][150] Import reviews were also fairly positive, sharing many points of praise with the Japanese reviews.[127][151] Type-0 HD also received a positive reception in the west, with main praise going to the story, characters and action-based gameplay. Other aspects came in for criticism, such as elements of the graphics upgrade, the real-time strategy segments, and the localization.[152][153][154][155][156] Western previews of Agito have also been positive, with critics agreeing that it looked good on the platform and worked well from a gameplay standpoint.[23][157]

Sales[edit]

XIII broke sales records for the Final Fantasy franchise,[158] selling 1.5 million units in Japan on its release day,[159] and a further million a month after its North American release.[160] XIII-2 was the most purchased title of 2011 in Japan upon release, and reached second and first place in sales charts in the United States and United Kingdom respectively.[161][162][163] Lightning Returns had lower first-week sales than its predecessors, but still topped the sales charts in Japan, selling over 277,000 units in its first week and over 404,000 copies by the end of 2013.[164][165] It ranked as third and eighth in the UK and US February sales charts respectively.[166][167] Approximately 800,000 copies were sold by as of November 2014.[78] The three XIII games have collectively sold 11 million units worldwide.[168] Speaking of the decreasing success of the XIII games and their effect on the Fabula Nova Crystallis series on USGamer, Jeremy Parish felt that the initial backlash received by XIII had turned the "XIII" moniker into "box office poison".[78]

Type-0 sold over 472,000 units in its first week,[169] and went on to sell over 740,000 units in Japan.[170] The title was also added to the company's list of Ultimate Hits, re-releases of lucrative titles.[171] Type-0 HD reached the top of the sales charts in its debut week, selling 93,000 units, though it ultimately performed poorly in Japan.[172][173] It was among the ten top-selling games in March for the UK and US.[174][175] By April, Type-0 HD had shipped over one million copies worldwide.[176] Agito was highly successful in Japan, achieving 500,000 registered users within a week of release. By November of the year of release, the game had received one million downloads.[177][178]

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External links[edit]