For a five-year stretch at the turn of millennium, the Final Fantasy series released an unprecedented run of indisputable JRPG bangers. Four games in a row – Final Fantasy 7 to Final Fantasy 10 – each its own contained adventure with a bespoke world of a particular aesthetic and vision. Uniting them all was the sheer bombast of their productions, massive disc-spanning epics filled with bleeding edge graphics and sweeping narratives.

They were true event games, something you’d go to a friend’s house just to watch the opening cutscene of. These days though, a mainline Final Fantasy is an event in all the wrong ways: an overwrought and overblown affair that goes on for way too long and just leaves everyone tired and cranky. The upcoming Final Fantasy 16 is perfectly poised to fix all of that.

In their golden age, Final Fantasy games were structured like road movies – grand odysseys where a tight-knit band of characters travel across the globe. This served as a great framework for their stories, allowing for a really compelling balance between battle-focussed caves and narrative-focussed towns. Neither element ever overstayed its welcome, and the natural pull towards the next major chunk of storytelling made these gargantuan games something you’d play through quickly – the characters and their motivations never straying too far from your mind.

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