Final Fantasy has become a household name among gamers who are into RPGs, in particular JRPG fans. Though curiously, the story of how the name of the ongoing series with sixteen numbered titles and numerous spin-offs and direct sequels came to be has been laden by folklore and urban legends.
One popular story is how Final Fantasy is named as such because it was supposedly the final game from the developer then known as Squaresoft, as they are about to hit financial ruin.
However, Final Fantasy creator, founder of Mistwalker, Mega64 star and avid FFXIV fan Hironobu Sakaguchi has debunked this story in a new interview to celebrate the release of Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster on PlayStation and Switch.
“For our game, we wanted it to be shortened to something using the Roman alphabet,” Sakaguchi said, in relation to seminal RPG Dragon Quest (created by Enix- Square and Enix would later merge into Square Enix) was shortened to “Drakue” in Japan. “So it came from ‘FF'”.
From there, the team wanted to go for ‘Fighting Fantasy’, though that name is already a trademark for a series of RPG gamebooks.
“So we reluctantly went with Final Fantasy as a last resort,” Sakaguchi added.
The interview also asked Sakaguchi about another urban legend behind the name, which starts out a bit different in Japan but like evolved into the myth that Final Fantasy was supposedly the final game for Square. And it started out in how “Final Fantasy” was translated to mean “the last dream” or “the last illusion” in Japan.
“There was once a primary school English teacher who wrote ‘Final Fantasy’ on the whiteboard and explained to the class that it means ‘kyukyoku no genshou’ (the ultimate illusion) in Japanese,” Sakaguchi explained.
“So the kids sent me a postcard… and it said ‘our teacher told us it means this, is that true?’ The second it arrived I said “We’re using this!”. So I told everyone present that’s what Final Fantasy really means now.”
So there you go, Final Fantasy was never a name to embody the supposedly hail marry nature of its release, as romantic as that may be. But it was the FF name that finally stuck. And thanks to a teacher enthusiastically explaining the grandiose of the words Final Fantasy to their students, and a little myth-making by the Gooch, the story somehow evolved to the Western audience in a different way.
It’s cool to see the records being set straight, but the fact that the series name has an urban legend and myth to its origins just goes to show how deeply revered the Final Fantasy series has been since its inception in 1987.
Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster, which are remasters of the first six Final Fantasy games, is out now on PS4, PC (Steam), Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The latest numbered Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XVI, is also out now only on PS5. We have a review of that game here.