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Final Fantasy's 30th Anniversary Event Lives In The Present

by Kim Morrissy & Callum May,

Full disclosure: I'm a retro Final Fantasy fan. I haven't played any Final Fantasy game past FFVI. So I've teamed up with Callum May, who hasn't played any Final Fantasy game before FFVII. Hopefully, we've covered all the bases between us.

The Final Fantasy franchise is celebrating its 30th year anniversary with various events in and around Yokohama. Queen's Square in Yokohama is decorated with Final Fantasy posters, Final Fantasy bento boxes are on sale, and a Final Fantasy jingle plays whenever a train leaves the Minato Mirai station. And finally, there was a projection mapping of a short FFXIV film on the wall of the Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel on June 10th and 11th.

This all sounds very exciting on paper, but when we actually went to Yokohama to check it out, the result was actually somewhat… underwhelming. For a 30th year anniversary of the franchise as a whole, there was very little representation of the main entries of the series. Instead, the campaign focused almost exclusively on promoting the latest mobile games, including Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, Mobius Final Fantasy, and Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia. (The latter isn't even available in the English market yet.)

Had we been visiting Minato Mirai station and the Queen's Square for other reasons, we would probably not even have noticed that there was a Final Fantasy campaign happening in the area. While Yoshitaka Amano's art is undeniably attractive, all the posters and blinking images in the station looked like run-of-the-mill advertisements, and the same thing went for the Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia images dotting the Queen's Square. As for the projection mapping, which was by all means an ambitious venture, there were no signs pointing in its direction. We found it fairly easily because we followed the steady stream of fans from the station, but surely this event should have been easier for the layman to stumble upon.

The projection mapping, at least, was impressive to watch. It was difficult to take photos and footage of it because we were instructed not to stop walking in order to keep the crowd moving. Most people stood on the conveyer belt and snapped photos as they were carried along, murmuring words of appreciation all the while. But we all knew that none of the footage we took could possibly capture the sheer spectacle of the animated sequence.

Truthfully, there really wasn't much of a story to the film. It started off with a quirky sequence of chocobos and moogles flapping around, before ending with a climactic battle between the Warriors of Light and Bahamut. It mostly just existed to showcase some of the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn characters and some really cool special effects. That in itself was impressive, but against the backdrop of the Yokohama bay at night, the experience was extra special.

While we weren't too impressed by the rest of anniversary event in Yokohama, there will be an exhibition of out-of-print and rare Final Fantasy Play Arts figures at the Yokohama Doll Museum starting from June 24. This exhibit should feature the more iconic characters of the main entries of the series, and hopefully it marks when the anniversary celebrations begin in earnest.

In the meantime, we were left with a lukewarm impression of the Final Fantasy 30th Year Anniversary celebrations at Yokohama, which came across as less of a retrospective and more like a cynical advertisement for the biggest moneymakers of the franchise. The only reference to the old-school games was through the Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia posters, the mobile game spinoff of Dissidia Final Fantasy.

It all makes sense, of course. MMORPGs and mobile games appeal to both veterans and gamers who aren't immersed in Final Fantasy lore, so why shouldn't they be celebrated? But still, it was rather odd that Final Fantasy XV, the latest main game in the franchise, didn't even get a mention in this campaign.

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