Miraculous as it may be, Final Fantasy XV (formerly Final Fantasy Versus XIII) is being released this year. It's an exciting time for franchise fans and cynics alike. It's also a great time for Square Enix to crank out a handful of tie-ins related to the next installment of cactuars, chocobos, and confusing plots. Since the Uncovered event, we've seen the release of the Platinum Demo, the episodic YouTube anime Brotherhood, and some teases of a movie called Kingsglaive, which seems to have taken a few notes on Advent Children. It kind of reminds you of Final Fantasy VII.
Remember when Final Fantasy VII was just a game that was released in 1997? When Cloud was just an angsty, polygonal cross-dresser? As I recall, the days before the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII were remarkably simplistic. Well, as far as Final Fantasy narratives go.
Few gamers would consider the Compilation to be a great addition to the lineage or lore of Final Fantasy VII. The anime, Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, contradicted events in the game and has since become non-canon. Advent Children makes no goddamn sense unless you're a fan of the game (and it really doesn't add to the experience). Before Crisis never came westward and the ho-hum Dirge of Cerberus was about as fun as its title was sensible. Truly, Crisis Core was the saving grace of what was otherwise a dreary, self-indulgent cash-in.
The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII was a disappointment that didn't come from a place of love. I state this without hesitation or bias. It was a repugnant form of opportunistic capitalism and we gamers were foolish enough to eat it up. Not so with Final Fantasy XV.
The Compilation capitalized on nostalgia and the strong feelings so many RPG enthusiasts have for a genre classic that broke a lot of ground. The multimedia that has tread ground before the release of Final Fantasy XV is of a different ilk.
How often do we get to play a new game that already has an expanded universe? For obsessive dorks like myself, there is something really appealing about having a number of different avenues to introduce yourself to a game's universe before it is even out. I don't love anime or melodrama, but these slices of Final Fantasy XV's world hit the right spot for me, and I think I know why.
The Compilation of Final Fantasy XV (as I call it) fleshes out the story and world without feeling like fanfiction. It's clear that the narratives and perspectives we are being presented with tie into the game in a way that doesn't seem cheap or easy. It can be ignored, but it's there if you want it, and for those of us interested in being fully immersed in the events of the next numbered Final Fantasy, that's a big deal. This is the world of Final Fantasy XV and you can choose to dip your toes in before diving into the crystalline waters of the Luminous Studio game engine this September.
It's easy to take the cynical approach and just look at this media blitz as a PR campaign or a quick cash in, but there are two major problems with that perspective: (1) this game, which has been in varying states of development for ten years, was bound to get a lot of coverage anyway, and (2) cashing in on a game that hasn't been released with an expensive-to-produce animated film doesn't make a whole lot of business sense.
Choose to buy into the hype and check out the media or not. That is your right as a gamer and consumer. However, I assert that Brotherhood, Platinum Demo, and Kingsglaive might enhance your gaming experience. They might even sync up with the events of the game they are tied to, and at the very least that's more than you can say about the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.