My favorite game series are the Final Fantasy games, particularly the later games (VI-XII). The reason for this is that, unlike the earlier games that use mostly classic fantasy aesthetics, they brilliantly utilize science fantasy through each of the bridging genres I have gone through in the previous posts. For instance, Final Fantasy X is the best example of a post-apocalypse fantasy I can think of, where VI, VII, IX and XII, borrow many elements from the steam, cyberpunk, and space opera genres. So why worry about the genre ‘science fantasy’ if you can simply put them under these sub-genres? Because, as anyone who’s played these games can tell you, they never really fit under just one of them.
There is one Final Fantasy, which despite its bad ratings is my favorite as it is the closest example of a science fantasy story that I have experienced without using any of the previously mentioned sub-genres as a bridge to get there. That’s Final Fantasy VIII. Take a fantasy world and then let it age to the point that technology progresses until parts of the world resemble science fiction but still somehow keeps that Gothic fantasy, swords and sorcery charm. How? A contrast between the more post-resonance modernized Galbadia and post-information age of Esthar. These two nations are so distinct that one can’t help but see how their technology has advanced through the magic of their world.
Instead of bridging the sci-fi elements through the plot tools of these sub-genres, Final Fantasy VIII simply lets time take its natural course on the fantasy world so that technology is advanced by utilizing the magic which the world was founded on. This shows a ballance between the fantasy and sci-fi elements that is rarely seen in any medium. Some might say that the other later Final Fantasy games do this as well, but there is no post-apocalypse elements in VIII like in VI and X, no steam or cyber punk elements like VII, IX and XII, only advanced tech, the most pure science fiction plot tool there is, added to a modernized fantasy setting. Future speculation of superior tech in a fantasy world with no gimmicks or commentary, how could science fantasy be more perfectly portrayed?
In case these distinctions are too loose to be recognized by Final Fantasy fans, I will double down by extending this analysis with some analyses of the later games in the series. Remember these arguments are based upon the idea that a genre is mostly dictated by the aesthetics of a story’s setting. The science fantasy genre is used as an in-betweener for stories that contains elements of both fantasy and sci-fi, or has transferred from one genre to another by a specific sub-genre used as a plot tool, thus leaving a resembling effect or look in the setting. But where sub-genres bring these stories into the realm of science fantasy, it is easier to simply call a shovel a shovel and name it after that sub-genre instead. Referring to my original statement, this is why science fantasy is such a difficult genre to pin down.
In summary, because the Final Fantasy games borrow from so many of these science fantasy sub-genres, my next post is going to be on analyzing the dominant elements of the later Final Fantasy games. Because each of them contain many of the sub-genres mentioned above, I will try to explain how they each fit into the science fantasy genres aesthetically and story-wise… ENJOY!