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Final Fantasy

Composed by Nobuo Uematsu

Final Fantasy, a role playing game franchise that pushed the limits of character development, storytelling, and music....began as a last ditch effort to save Hironobu Sakaguchi's career. Sakaguchi had been making games since 1984, but none of them were hits for Square or Nintendo. Sakaguchi didn't know if he was meant to be a game designer. He had always wanted to make a role playing game, but was initially turned down by Square, for fear of losing profits. However, Square changed their mind when they saw how well the Dragon Quest series did for rival company, Enix. 

The "Final" in the name Final Fantasy was Sakaguchi's way of saying "this may very well be the final video game I ever make." Like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy was inspired by games like Ultima and Wizardry. But unlike Dragon Quest, the battle system drew more heavily from Dungeons & Dragons, incorprating actual enemy weaknesses, which had never been done before in role playing games at the time.

This game saved Sakaguchi's career, while simultaniously making Nobuo Uematsu a household name. Uematsu originally did not intend to be a composer. He actually wanted to be a professional wrestler. He learned how to play the piano at an early age, and made freelance music as a side job to earn some income. He worked at a music rental store close to Square, and when an employee heard a sample of Uematsu's music, he was offered a job. 

Three of the pieces composed for this game became recurring leitmotifs for the entire series. Battle scene, which incidently is the only battle theme used in the entire game, has an intro that is used in almost every Final Fantasy game that Uematsu scored. In future rereleases of Final Fantasy, additional battle themes were added to avoid making the battles in the game too monotonous. The opening theme, in this game, is used as the music played during the text crawl in the beginning, and during the staff roll. This piece would resurface in future Final Fantasy games, sometimes mixed in with their respective ending themes. The prelude, otherwise known as the crystal theme, the most recurring piece in the entire Final Fantasy franchise. And it was composed by Uematsu in ten minutes, as a piece to be added to the soundtrack at the last possible second.

The first Final Fantasy may not seem like much compared to future releases, but the First Final Fantasy wound up being one of the most influential titles in the role playing game genre. One that would help shape the future of the genre, one that would solidify Hironobu Sakaguchi's career as a game designer and director, and one that would establish Nobuo Uematsu as one of the video game industry's most iconic composers.

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