Final Fantasy: Is It Fantasy or Science Fiction?

Final Fantasy airships look more retro than futuristic.

This discussion is up for grabs, since I’ve only really gotten into Final Fantasy XII. (Yes, that will change!) But in the FF series, you’ve got everything from magic to robots, with characters wielding swords one minute and pistols the next. And those airships — sci-fi at first glance, steampunk on the double-take — run on magic, not technology.

Of course, each game is different. Some of the older FF games feel more like medieval fantasy, while VI, IX and XII blend fantasy and sci-fi for a steampunk feel. After all, technology driven by mist is very close to machinery powered by steam, which defines the steampunk genre. (So it’s mistpunk?) Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XIII2 is all about time travel and putting the timeline back in order — a very sci-fi idea.

And then there’s VII, which some call cyberpunk. Midgar — where a fantasy setting meets industrial reality — is more steampunk than anything. Or maybe the game’s televisions, cars, helicopters, submarines and mid-game space rocket launch are just modern-day technology set in a world that we don’t recognize, in spite of all of these familiar things. (Though we can’t forget about the robots — they’re game-changers.)

Maybe the FF series is both fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe it’s just one or the other in any given game. I’d say it’s steampunk, but not every game bends to that genre.

And honestly… do we even care? If a game is fun and the setting is imaginative, I don’t think it matters if it plays nice with genre labels. But I still like to ponder… and let my mind wander…

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