There was a period of time when the Final Fantasy series was at war with the Dragon Quest series for the title of most popular JRPG of all time. The Dragon Quest series is practically a national institution in Japan, while the Final Fantasy series was far more popular overseas. The company that developed the Final Fantasy series is known as Square Enix, as it's the combination of the two companies that developed the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series—Enix and Squaresoft.
The Final Fantasy name was once considered to be a seal of quality in the days before Square Enix sold out hard with some terrible phone games. This meant that an otherwise unrelated project could receive a sales boost if the Final Fantasy name was put onto it. The Final Fantasy name would become fluid in nature, meaning that any project could be molded into the next Final Fantasy title with the right restructuring. This is in contrast to the Dragon Quest series, which has fewer cash-ins & side-games and has maintained its beloved status as a result.
We are here today to see which Final Fantasy games were once unrelated titles and which Final Fantasy games were almost completely different—from the floating islands that once replaced Ivalice, to the world where Noctis would have sung his way to victory. Here are Twenty Final Fantasy Titles That Were Almost Totally Different Games!
Squaresoft released a lot of awesome games for the Super Nintendo which never left Japan, due to the belief that Westerners weren't fans of the JRPG genre.
Bahamut Lagoon is an incredible tactical RPG for the Super Nintendo, where your party fights alongside a crew of dragons that you can evolve into various different forms.
Bahamut Lagoon was almost a part of the Final Fantasy series, as it was called Final Fantasy Tactics during its development. This name would go on to be given to a totally different game on the original PlayStation.
Final Fantasy XV technically spent a decade in development, as it was announced as a separate title, called Final Fantasy Versus XIII at E3 2006. It would later be rebranded as Final Fantasy XV and was finally released in 2016.
Square Enix's original plan was for Final Fantasy XIII to be part of a loosely connected trilogy, along with Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII. These plans never came to pass, as Final Fantasy XIII was turned into its own trilogy and the other two games were rebranded.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII shares a lot of similarities with Final Fantasy XV, but there are a few key differences, such as the main characters having a different design and Lunafreya not existing at all, as she replaced a different character called Stella Nox Fleuret.
Final Fantasy VII underwent numerous changes to its storyline throughout the development of the game. The original plan for Final Fantasy VII is that it would be set in New York City and star a detective, who was hot on the trail of AVALANCHE.
Jenova was not an alien in the original outline of Final Fantasy VII—instead, the term Jenova was a name given to a part of the brain which unlocked magical powers, which would be artificially awakened with the use of Mako. A lot of these unused story elements were reworked into another RPG on the original PlayStation—Parasite Eve, which was set in New York City and starred a police officer who dealt with a villain who could use special abilities by altering her DNA and the DNA of others.
Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII were set in worlds that fused magic and technology together and played with the conventional rules of an RPG, such as how the party acquired new special abilities.
Final Fantasy IX was an intentional throwback to the old days of Final Fantasy, which is why it is filled with fanservice to the Nintendo-era of the series.
The fact that Final Fantasy IX was so different from its immediate predecessors almost led to the game being branded Final Fantasy Gaiden, which would have marked it as a separate entity from the mainline series of games. It was later rebranded and turned into Final Fantasy IX.
Xenogears is beloved by many fans of the original PlayStation, but it's hard to ignore the significant flaw that it was shipped unfinished, as the developers ran out of money during production and had to wrap everything up in an unsatisfying way.
We may have seen a complete version of Xenogears had it retained its original name, as it was originally pitched as a possible story for Final Fantasy VII when that game was still in its early stages of development.
Xenogears was changed into a separate game from the Final Fantasy series, even though there are lots of shared references between the two games.
Final Fantasy X started out as a totally unrelated project called Seventeen, which some pieces of concept art showed had a sub-title of Angelic Impact/Devil's Shock.
The plot for Seventeen was that everyone would succumb to a mysterious illness when they turned seventeen, with Yuna being a nurse who was trying to help people as much as she could before her seventeenth birthday.
Tidus was originally planned to be a plumber in this early version of the story and he was the one who was going to be the unsent member of the party. The release of The Sixth Sense and it's famous twist meant that the developers switched the role of undead party member to Auron.
The first three Final Fantasy titles were limited by the hardware of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, which meant that it was difficult to create an action RPG on such a primitive system.
The more advanced hardware of the Super Nintendo allowed the people at Squaresoft to create more dynamic games that still included RPG elements.
The original version of Final Fantasy IV was an early action RPG, but the developers realized that it was too different from the previous games in the series, so it was rebranded into Seiken Densetsu 2, which became Secret of Mana outside of Japan.
When the game that became Secret of Mana stopped being called Final Fantasy IV, it was briefly called Chrono Trigger, which was a name that would go on to be used for another famous game.
Squaresoft would almost exclusively with Nintendo until they defected to Sony in the 32-bit era, which was prompted by a desire to work with the CD based format and to escape from Nintendo's strict content guidelines.
The jump to the PlayStation didn't happen straight away, which meant that Final Fantasy VII was originally planned to appear on the Super Nintendo as a 2D game with an isometric perspective.
There isn't much known about this early version of the game, save for a few tidbits in interviews and a single screenshot showing Locke from Final Fantasy VI in a game that used an isometric perspective.
There are some Square Enix games that are so similar to the Final Fantasy series that they are considered to be cousins and will sometimes be used during crossovers of the Final Fantasy mobile games. These games include the likes of Chrono Trigger and the Bravely Default series.
Bravely Default came pretty close to becoming a Final Fantasy title, as it started out as a sequel to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light.
There are a lot of connections between these two games, most notably in the form of some shared secret bosses that await the most hardcore of players.
It seems that we lost a Final Fantasy title along the way, as the game that became known as Final Fantasy IV (when it wasn't being Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger) was actually planned to be Final Fantasy V, as Squaresoft planned to release another Final Fantasy title on the NES.
It's not known how far this original Final Fantasy IV got into development, as all that exists are a few mentions in a Japanese gaming magazine and a single screenshot that appears to be a mockup of what the game looked like if it had entered production.
Final Fantasy XIII had a long and tumultuous development, which resulted in it being split into two games.
When Final Fantasy XIII entered development, it was originally planned to appear on the PlayStation 2. There are screenshots of the game from this point in development where the battle system appears to be the same, but the character models are reused from Final Fantasy X-2. This was likely a choice meant to save time during development and there were never plans for the Gullwings to appear in Final Fantasy XIII.
When the Japan-exclusive Final Fantasy titles were translated into English by fan projects, it became possible to complete every game in the series, which was a task taken up by many enterprising fans of the series, who tried to finish the games in chronological order.
The release of Final Fantasy XI meant it became to complete every Final Fantasy game, as it was an MMO and was impossible to finish in a definitive way.
The original plan for Final Fantasy XI was that it would be called Final Fantasy Online and take place outside of the regular series, but this idea was scrapped and it was turned into a mainline part of the series.
In 2006, Square Enix announced the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy franchise, which was intended to be composed of three games that shared overarching themes—Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and Final Fantasy Agito XIII.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Agito XIII eventually strayed from the themes of the original plan, so they became Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy Type-0 respectively. Final Fantasy Agito XIII was planned to be a cell phone game, but it was switched to the PlayStation Portable when it became obvious that the phones of the day couldn't handle it.
Not much is known about Agito XIII, save for the fact Kurasame was originally planned to be a playable character.
Square Enix made the strange decision to release the sequel to Final Fantasy XII on the Nintendo DS, despite the fact that Final Fantasy XII was originally exclusive to the PlayStation 2.
The reason for this unusual decision may have something to do with the fact that Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings originally had nothing to do with Final Fantasy XII.
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings started out as an unrelated strategy game, but Square Enix decided to increase its viability by retroactively tying it to Final Fantasy XII.
There is a strange example of a series of Final Fantasy games actually being rebranded RPGs from a totally different series.
The three Final Fantasy Legend games that were released on the Game Boy were actually games from the SaGa series, which had their names changed in the West so that they had more brand recognition.
The Final Fantasy Legend titles were actually referenced in the end boss of Final Fantasy XIII, as you could defeat it in the same manner as the last boss of The Final Fantasy Legend.
The people at Square Enix wanted to make a Final Fantasy-themed shooter, which resulted in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-. This game starred Vincent Valentine in a story that takes place after the events of Final Fantasy VII and deals with the fallout of the end of the Shinra Corporation.
Dirge of Cerberus could have looked very different, as the developers considered Irvine from Final Fantasy VIII or Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2 for the starring role.
The Dirge of Cerberus name could have been kept if Irvine was the lead, as there is a Cerberus Guardian Force in Final Fantasy VIII.
The Dissidia series is a crossover fighting game that allows the heroes and villains of the Final Fantasy series to duke it out on the battlefield in the style of the Smash Bros. series.
Dissidia Final Fantasy was originally meant to be part of the Kingdom Hearts series, with the original intention of the Final Fantasy & Disney characters battling it out around Traverse Town.
The original plan for Dissidia was scrapped when there were concerns over it being too violent for the Kingdom Hearts series, so it was repurposed into a Final Fantasy game.
Sony has been pushing the PlayStation VR for a few years now, which has meant that some games received hastily added VR functionality or new modes that were added after the fact to include some VR content in established titles.
Final Fantasy XV has a VR mode called Monster of the Deep, which allows you to play a version of the fishing game in virtual reality.
The original intention was for there to be a remake of the Episode Duscae demo that was told from Prompto's perspective, which was announced at E3 2016 as Final Fantasy XV: VR Experience. The initial reviews of this game were negative, prompting it to be remade into a fishing game.
The two Final Fantasy Tactics Advance games are lighter in tone than the original Final Fantasy Tactics. Marche and his friends may have had bad home lives to deal with, but they weren't as bad as the Game of Thrones reality that Ramza was living in.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift has the lightest tone of the three games, as it treats Luso's adventures as a fun romp, rather than anything depressing or sad.
Luso's adventure was almost very different, as the original idea for the story was for him to be a native of Ivalice who watches as the natives of his village are all slaughtered before his eyes. This darker version of the story was dropped at an early stage of development.
Final Fantasy XV had a long development in which it went through various different forms, but the most peculiar of these involved song & dance.
The storyline of Final Fantasy XV underwent many changes throughout its development, but the strangest of these happened after Tetsuya Nomura saw Les Miserables at the cinema and decided to turn the game into a musical.
The people at Square Enix shot the idea down, but Nomura has a lot of pull at the company, so it's possible that there is a reality out there where Noctis sings "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago while fighting monsters.