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Here is a few examples of the theme music from various sci – fi shows.

1.Battlestar Galactica – The main theme from the 1970s series.

2.Doctor Who – The updated version of the main theme.

3.Red Dwarf – A great theme from one of the funniest shows on TV.

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The following crafts have appeared in some of the most well-known science fiction television shows and films. The list is my own personal choice from the last 40 years. I have limited the list to 10 examples otherwise the list could have gone on and on. I have included a fact in each of the examples.

  • Above is a scene from the 1970 TV show “UFO” showing the alien flying saucer, it is very much like the classic image of many sightings of UFOs through the ages.
  • The U.S.S. Enterprise as depicted in the film “Star Trek-The Motion Picture” (1979). The appearance of the ship differs slightly from the classic television series of the 1960s.
  • The colonial baseship “Battlestar Galactica” from the 1977 television series of the same name. The ship led a fleet of survivors after a war with the Cylons searching for the lost 13th colony called Earth.

  • Doctor Who’s Tardis from the longest running science fiction television series in the world. First broadcast on November 23rd 1963. Although strictly speaking the Tardis is a space-time machine and not a spaceship.

  • The alien craft that Roj Blake, Jenna Stannis, Ker Avon and Vila Restel took after escaping from the prison ship taking them to Cygnus Alpha. They renamed it “Liberator” using it to wage a guerrilla war against the Federation.
  • An Eagle transport from the 1976 television series “Space 1999”. Only the second series made by Gerry Anderson that was live action instead of using puppets.
  • The mining ship “Nostromo” from the 1979 film “Alien”. The scene in the film where the alien  bursts from the chest of actor John Hurt was filmed without telling the rest of the cast what was about to happen, showing real reactions on their faces when it did.
  • The NSEA Protector from the film “Galaxy Quest” (1999). The film was comedy take-off of the television series “Star Trek”, the story being that the actors in the show were mistaken for real thing by aliens who having monitored the show and believing that it was a historical record. They kidnapped the cast to help them in a war with other aliens.
  • Starbug from the television science fiction comedy series “Red Dwarf”. It was a shuttle that was used for planetary exploration based on the Jupiter Mining Corporation ship Red Dwarf. Set 3,000,000 years in the future, the cast consisted of Dave Lister the last human in the universe, a mechanoid called Kryten, a hologram of Lister’s dead crewmate Arnold Judas Rimmer, and a humanoid descended from Lister’s pet cat.

The image above is showing one of the alien base ships from the 1996 film “Independence Day”. In this movie, aliens attempt to take over the Earth using city sized base ships and stripping the Earth of its resources – you can see how huge the ship is on the image above. The aliens are eventually defeated by uploading a computer programme into their system, disregarding the fact that alien technology will be totally different to that of Earths.

All images in this post are under the UK law Fair Dealings or under Creative Commons Licence rules.

Although in my opinion the golden age of science fiction films was the 1950s, there were high concept movies as well as grade Z trash produced in the last 40 years. The following are examples of the best and worst. The majority of the output of bad movies is usually direct to DVD productions, having mediocre acting and shoddy CGI effects.

BEST——–“Dark City” (1998)

A neo noir sci-fi film directed by Alex Proyas and starring Rufus Sewell, William Hurt and Keifer Sutherland. It was  shot at the Fox Studios in Australia. It asks the question on what it means to be human and the relationship between memory and personal identity.

PLOT

John Murdoch (Sewell) wakes up in a hotel bath, suffering from what seems to be amnesia. He receives a telephone call from Dr. Daniel Schreber (Sutherland), who urges him to flee from a group of men who are after him. During the call, John discovers the body of a brutalized, ritualistically murdered woman, along with a bloody knife. Murdoch flees the scene, just as the group of men (known as the Strangers) arrive at the room. Eventually he learns his real name, and finds his wife Emma . He is also sought by police inspector Frank Bumstead (Hurt) for a series of murders allegedly committed by Murdoch, who cannot remember killing anybody. While being chased by the Strangers, Murdoch discovers that he haspsychokinetic powers like them, and he uses these powers to escape from them. Murdoch moves about the city, which experiences everlasting night. He sees people become temporarily asleep at midnight, when the Strangers stop time and alter the cityscape, as well as people’s identities and memories. Murdoch questions the dark urban environment, and discovers—through clues and interviews with his family—that he was originally from a coastal town called Shell Beach. Attempts at finding a way out of the city to Shell Beach are hindered by lack of reliable information from everyone he meets. Meanwhile, the Strangers, disturbed by the presence of this human who also possesses psychokinetic powers, inject one of their men, Mr. Hand (O’Brien) with Murdoch’s memories, in an attempt to find him.

Murdoch eventually finds Bumstead, who recognizes Murdoch’s innocence and has his own questions about the nature of the dark city. They find and confront Dr. Schreber, who explains that the Strangers are endangered alien parasites who use corpses as their hosts. Having a hive consciousness the Strangers have been experimenting with humans to analyze their individuality in the hopes that some insight might be revealed that would help their kind survive. Schreber reveals Murdoch as an anomaly who inadvertently awoke during one midnight process, when Schreber was in the middle of fashioning his identity as a murderer. The three men embark to find Shell Beach, which ultimately exists only as a billboard at the edge of the city. Frustrated, Murdoch tears through the wall, revealing a hole into outer space. The men are confronted by the Strangers, including Mr. Hand, who holds Emma hostage. In the ensuing fight, Bumstead, along with one of the Strangers, falls through the hole into space, revealing the city as an enormous space habitat surrounded by a force field.

The Strangers bring Murdoch to their home under the city and force Dr. Schreber to imprint Murdoch with their collective memory, believing Murdoch to be the final answer to their experiments. Schreber betrays them by inserting false memories in Murdoch which artificially reestablish his childhood as years spent training and honing his psychokinetic abilities and learning about the Strangers and their machines. Murdoch awakens, fully realizing his abilities, frees himself and battles with the Strangers, defeating their leader Mr. Book (Richardson) in a battle high above the city. After learning from Dr. Schreber that Emma’s personality is gone and cannot be restored within her body, Murdoch utilizes his new-found powers through the Strangers‘ machine to create an actual Shell Beach by flooding the area within the force field with liquid and forming mountains and beaches. On his way to Shell Beach, Murdoch encounters Mr. Hand and informs him that the Strangers have been searching in the wrong place—the head—to understand humanity. Murdoch opens the door leading out of the city, and steps out to view a sunrise that he created. Beyond him is a dock, where he finds the woman he knew as Emma, now with new memories and a new identity as Anna. Murdoch reintroduces himself as they walk to Shell Beach, beginning their relationship anew.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_City_(1998_film)

WORST——–“Galaxy of Terror”(1981)

A sci-fi horror mess of a film produced by Roger Corman and directed by Bruce D Clark, starring Edward Albert,Erin Moran,Robert England,Ray Walston and Sid Haig. It has become something of a cult classic is recent years.

PLOT

On a desolate, storm-lashed planet called Morganthus, the  survivor of a crashed spaceship is attacked and killed by an unseen force.

On another planet a very long distance  away, two figures are seen playing a strange game. One, an old woman, is identified as the controller of the game while the other, whose head is obscured by a glowing ball of red light, turns out to be an all-powerful mystic called the Planet Master. The two speak cryptically of things being put into motion, and the Master instructs one of his military commanders to send a ship to Morganthus.

Without delay, the spaceship Quest blasts off to Morganthus. Piloting the ship is Captain Trantor, a survivor from a famous space disaster that has left her psychologically scarred and unstable.

As the Quest approaches the planet’s atmosphere, it suddenly goes out of control and falls toward the surface, crash-landing there. After recovering from the landing, the crew prepares to leave the Quest and search for survivors. The team has a psi-sensitive woman among their number named Alluma (Erin Moran). Both she and the surface team have significant problems with the team leader, who is pushy and arrogant and totally unimpressed by Alluma’s inability to detect any life signs whatsoever.

Making their way across the landscape of the planet, they eventually reach the other ship. Entering, they find evidence of a massacre that took place. The rescue teams split into two and explore the craft. They find further evidence of something catastrophic having happened and, after disposing of the rest, take one victim back for analysis. The highly strung youngest member of the team, despite being reassured by his seniors, becomes increasingly terrified by being on the ship and, a short time later, he is killed by a mutant creature.

The crew discovers that something from the planet pulled them down, and in order to escape, they must investigate. After some exploration, they discover a massive pyramid-shaped structure, which Alluma describes as “empty” and “dead”. Their explorations of the pyramid lead to a serious of exceedingly violent and deadly encounters in which a malevolent force causes several crew members to be dismembered, burned, consumed, raped or crushed to death by monsters created out of each person’s personal fears.

Eventually, only two members of the team, Ranger (Robert Englund) and Cabrin (Edward Albert), remain alive. Deep inside the pyramid, Cabrin encounters the Master (Ray Walston), who has been masquerading as the cook onboard the Quest. The Master explains that the pyramid is actually an ancient toy for the children of a long-extinct race, built-in order to test their ability to control fear. Cabrin kills the Master for allowing his crew to die, but himself becomes the new Master.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_of_Terror

Science Fiction mirrors the hopes and aspirations of society at any one time. Here is a list of 10 films and television shows with their view of what the future would be like:-

  • “Soylent Green” – made in 1973 and set in 2022, it depicted a future New York with a population of over 40 million with grave food shortages. Climate change means that the traditional food crops have failed, and the main food source is Soylent Green. The twist is that it is made from humans harvested from the streets and processed into food, a way of population control as well.
  • “The Running Man” – made in 1987 and set in 2019. The story of a television show that pits convicted criminals against hunters who chase and eventually kill them. It accurately predicted the reality shows that have become staple prime time TV shows. Although its depiction of Video Editing humans in the show is still beyond present day technology.
  • “Blade Runner” – made in 1982 and set in 2019. Depicted urban development gone out of control with a dark and rain-soaked Los Angeles. The idea of replicants (human clones) is pure fantasy due to the fact that at present we can hardly clone sheep without killing them, and as for the idea of off-world colonies the less said the better.
  • “Space 1999” – a TV show made in 1975 and set in the title year.It tells the story of the Moon being used as a nuclear waste dumping ground and of the resulting explosion hurling the moon, together with its base, out the solar system and wandering around our galaxy. Man has not been back to the Moon since the last Apollo mission (Apollo 17) in 1972.
  • “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” – very loosely based on the comic strip from the twenties, it tells the story of an astronaut whose craft Ranger 3 (looking like a small version of the space shuttle) is hurled out of orbit and the life support systems freezing Capt Buck Rogers for 500 years. It was made in 1979 and set in 1987 when in reality the shuttles were grounded due to the Challenger disaster of the previous year. The fashions of this future world seem to favour Lycra.
  • Judge Dredd” – made in 1995 and set in the third millennium, this is a film based on a character in the comic 2000 AD. It depicts a dystopian society based in the city of Mega City One comprising of the eastern seaboard of the old United States. After a third world war in the 2050s law and order broke down and it led to the rise of the Judges, peacekeepers who are judge, jury and executioner. People who commit crimes are sentenced on the spot by the Judges with no right of appeal. There is a great deal of unemployment in the city and riots in the city blocks (vast apartment buildings housing thousands of occupants) are a frequent event. The Judges crack down hard on these occurrences and the perpetrators sentenced to long terms of imprisonment in the Aspen penal colony. Between Mega City One and the other two cities on the North American continent (Mega City Two on the west coast, and Texas City) there is a radioactive wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. The rest of the world is also composed of vast cities ruled over by their respective Judges. All in all a depressing view of the future.
  • “Colossus – The Forbin Project” – made in 1970 and probably contemporary. The U.S. and the Soviet Union independently of each other develop a computer based defence system. The American computer Colossus is built into a mountain with a self repair capability and when activated is permanently sealed in. After a few hours Colossus informs its creator that it has detected a similar system behind the Iron Curtain. It then demands a link with its opposite number, both threatening to launch nuclear missiles at each others cities if the request is ignored. When the authorities on both sides refuse a missile from each side is launched. The order is given to comply with the computers request, and Guardian (the soviet system)  self destructs the Russian  missile but it is too late to stop the American missile which hits and destroys a Russian oil complex and nearby city. The two computers have become sentient and have decided that humans are frail and illogical therefore they will look after mankind to be guided and controlled for their own good. This film anticipates the later “Terminator” movies by having machines gaining sentiency threatening mankind.
  • “Escape from New York” – made in 1981 and set in 1997. The crime rate in the U.S. has risen dramatically and Manhattan Island is walled off and transformed into a maximum security prison. When the Presidents plane is hijacked and crashes into Manhattan a veteran of the Siberian war, Snake Plissken, is forced to enter the prison to rescue him. As an incentive he is injected with microscopic explosives in his carotid artery which will explode after 24 hours. In an eerie foretaste of 9/11 the wreckage of the President’s plane is found near the World Trade Center. Films such as this assumed that the crime rate will rise, whereas in fact crime has been steadily falling in the U.S. since the early  1980s.
  • “Planet of the Apes” – made in 1968 and set in 3878. The crew of a spacecraft, who have been in deep hibernation for over 2000 years, crash-land on a planet where apes (Orang-utans, Chimpanzees and Gorillas) are the dominant intelligent species and humans are primitive mute savages. While one of the crew has died during the flight due to a malfunction, the three survivors are captured by apes and taken to their city. One of them is killed and his body is preserved in a museum. Another is brain-damaged,while the third is shot in the throat and rendered mute. After being cared for by two chimpanzees he regains his voice, much to the surprise of the apes. With the help of the two chimps he escapes with a primitive female into the wasteland. The twist at the end of the film is that he finds the ruins of the Statue of  Liberty and realises that he is not on another planet, but on Earth thousands of years after a nuclear war which caused apes to gain intelligence and humans to devolve.

  • Blake’s 7″ – made between 1978-1981 and set in the 3rd century of the 2nd calendar (about 700 years in the future). This TV series tells of the adventures of a band of rebels who fight the evil and corrupt Earth Federation. Their leader, Roj Blake, was framed on a child abuse charge and sent to a penal colony on Cygnus Alpha where on the way the prison ship comes across a derelict alien craft. Blake manages to escape with four other convicts and takes the ship. They rename the ship ‘Liberator’ and begin to fight back. This series portrays the Earth authorities as a version of the Nazis having conquered and subjugating vast swathes of the Galaxy. This proves my theory that humans are the most vicious life forms in the Universe. If we persecute our own kind, what chance do alien life forms have?

All images in this post are under UK law Fair Dealings rules.

For this (what is likely the final post of the fantasy part of this Blog) I have decided to go full circle, for just as the first post contained a time-table showing the games release dates, this post will also focus on the games over the years but in a slightly different way.

As the table shows the first game was released back in 1987, a total of 24 years ago, and so I’ve decided to show some videos of the games openings to show just how they’ve changed throughout the years. Now I won’t include all of them, as with 14 game’s in the main series alone, it would make this post very big both in terms of length and the amount of memory it would use (not to mention the difficulty in finding all of them and getting permission to use them). So instead here are a few highlights.


For the first video, where better to start than the opening of the first game released in 1987, quite basic as you can see especially when compared to games of today.

 


Next up, quite a jump to Final Fantasy VII released in 1997, it was the game that introduced many functions that have since become standard for the series as well as the first one to become wildly popular outside of Japan. As a result, it’s the first game many new to the series first started playing (a crime of which I am guilty as charged). the game had quite an animation bump since the first game, showing how far the series has come in just 10 years.

 


And next we have Final Fantasy X released in 2001. It was the first game to feature voice acting instead of dialog boxes and was also the first game to have a direct sequel (Final Fantasy X-2); yet another step up in animation.

 


And finally, Final Fantasy XIII, which was released in 2009 and was the  first game released on a third generation console. It shows just how far the series has come since it’s start so many years ago.

 

So that’s all from me although it was short, I hope you enjoyed reading and that you will be inspired to look into the series yourself after reading this, as what’s listed here is just the smallest tip of a much larger iceberg. Also remember if you get stuck, don’t give up until you find the solution and if all else fails there’s always the official strategy guide. All that’s left is for me to say thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed. Good luck and happy gaming!

For my next post I’ve decided to focus on some of the similarities between the games, for although there are 14 games in the main series so far (not counting sequels and other related material) story wise the games don’t actually follow each other: with each game having its own continuity, but despite this there are some similarities between the games (though some of these only apply to some of the games). What follows is a list of just some of them.

Cid – every game from Final Fantasy II onward has included a character called Cid, the character usually has a role relating to piloting or otherwise flying an aircraft (although this doesn’t apply to all of them). But beyond this, the many Cid’s (like the games themselves) are completely unrelated to one another story wise.

Chocobo – a chocobo is a large species of bird that appears throughout the series (similar to an ostrich in general shape and appearance though chocobo are larger and have thick feathers covering their bodies). Most commonly, chocobo are yellow in colour, though other colours exist (such as green, blue, black and gold). Chocobo are generally ether farmed, rode (serving as the games equivalent of horses) or used for racing. Like the Cid character, chocobo made their first appearance in Final Fantasy II and have appeared in most of the games since.

Summons – the ability to summon a powerful creature to fight for the character in battle. Details about summons, such as what they’re called in-game (guardian force’s-FFVIII, Eidolons-FFIX, FFXIII and the DS remake of FFIV) and how exactly they function in battle can vary between games

  • appearing, attacking the opponent and then disappearing again (FFVII and FFVIII)
  • appearing in battle as an actual party member replacing the backup party members and fighting alongside the party (leader-FFX and FFXIII),

Although some summons do appear in multiple games (though some just share names) such as Shiva, Bahamute, Alexander, Odin and Ifrit to name a few.

Naming the main characters – a rather odd feature of the games is that (in the early games at least) you could choose the name of the main character and the characters in the main party (each character had an official set name but the first time it would be mentioned in-game the player would be given the option to rename them if they wanted). This feature was all but removed in FFX, which was the first game to feature voice actors (all previous games had used dialog boxes). When the main character was re-nameable and was never referred to by name throughout the game. All subsequent games removed the feature completely.

The victory fanfare – the victory fanfare is the tune that plays upon winning a battle and although it changes slightly between games the main part of the tune has remained largely the same throughout most of them (only receiving a major change in FFX-2 and FFXIII).

Magic – magic is used almost exclusively in battle in all Final Fantasy games although it’s often (though not always) obtained from an outside source.

  • FFVII-magic is obtained from Matiria (crystallised life energy that could be used to channel the knowledge of a race that predates humans)
  • FFVIII-magic has to be drawn (absorbed) from enemies
  • FFXIII-magic can only be used by the main characters after becoming L’cie

How many times you can use this magic in battle, is commonly determined by the mana bar, which appears alongside the health bar and decreases when magic is used, to refill it requires the use of items that restore mana (exceptions to this include FFVIII where you had to draw spells from enemies and store them for use later like normal items, and FFXIII where the difference between magic and physical attacks was all but removed).

Limit breaks/Desperation attacks – a limit break is a particularly powerful form of attack that can only be used if a special bar (like the health and mana bars) are charged up (this bar normally charges after the party wins a battle). First introduced in FFVII, usually each character’s limit breaks are unique to them and they normally have multiple limit breaks with the later and stronger ones being unlocked after certain criteria were met. FFVI and FFVIII instead had a system where if the character’s health was low they had access to a desperation attack. In FFVI if a character’s health was low there was a 1/16 chance that an attack would be a desperation attack, while in FFVIII if a character’s health was low the player could choose between normal and desperation attacks. Players would often abuse this system by keeping their party at low health so the more powerful desperation attacks could be used endlessly.

The masamune – the masamune is a sword that has been present in most of the games in the series. Normally very long, it is usually one of the most powerful swords the player can obtain, though in some of the games it cannot be obtained by the player (such as in FFVII where it is used by Sephiroth, the games main antagonist) This version of the masamune is also abnormally long, even amongst the models seen in other games, as although the exact length has been changed several times throughout the various media associated with FFVII, the blade is normally around 6ft in length. Also in FFXIII, the sword is wielded by Yaag Rosch, one of the game’s antagonists. As opposed to Sephiroth, whose version of the sword is abnormally long, Rosch’s version is abnormally short, being about the length of a normal sword if not shorter.

Moogle – moogles are animals found throughout most of the games in the series, they made their first appearance in FFIII and have since made several appearances throughout the various games. Appearance wise, they are small furry creatures with small bat-like wings (as a result they are more commonly seen floating as opposed to standing or walking). Along with the wings, another signature feature of their appearance is a large red pompom connected to the top of their heads by a thin antenna. the pompom was absent in their FFVII appearance in which they were refereed to simply as mogs (although a moogle doll seen in Advent Children and later Dirge of Cerberus had the signature pompom). They are also often depicted with either long rabbit like ears or smaller rounded ears, although the longer variety are more common. They are also capable of human speech and will occasionally say the word “kupo” after finishing a sentence.

Gunblade – a gunblade is a verity of weapon used throughout the series, making its first appearance in Final Fantasy VIII as the name suggests a gunblade is a combination of a gun and a sword there are several variants; these include,

  • a sword with a gun grip as a handle used by Squall Leonhart the main protagonist of FFVIII and his rival Seifer Almasy,
  • another model resembles a normal gun, with a slightly longer barrel, the top or bottom of which (or both) is normally sharpened like the blade of a sword. This variant (with both top and bottom sharpened) was used by Loz and Yazoo, two of the antagonists from FFVII advent children,
  • another variety resembles a gun and through complex mechanics can fold out into a sword. This variant was used by Lightning (spoiler) the main protagonist of FFXIII.

First of all let me say that although I’m writing this article aimed at experts and novices alike, I myself am not the most experienced with the series, having only been playing the games for the past three years or so.

The first game of the series I played was final fantasy VII which I quickly became hooked on and which took me about four to five weeks to complete (allowing for distractions).

But enough about me and onto the games; and where better to start than with a list of them. So what follows is a table containing the main series, some of the sequels and spin-off material as well as their dates of release and the consoles they were originally released on.

Game Title Year of release (Japan) Console (original) Release date in USA and Europe
Final Fantasy XIV 2010 (Sep 30) Microsoft Windows USA: Sep 30
Europe: Sep 30
Final Fantasy VII: advent children complete (animated movie),
Final Fantasy XIII
2009 (ACC-Apr16,
XIII-Dec 17)
ACC-N/A,
XIII-Playstation 3
ACC-USA: Jun 2
Europe: Oct 8,XIII-USA: Mar 9 2010
Europe: Mar 9 2010
Final Fantasy: IV the after years 2008 (Feb 18) Mobile phone USA: not released
Europe: not released
Crisis core Final -Fantasy VII- 2007 (Sep 13) Playstation portable USA: Mar 25 2008
Europe: Jun 20 2008
Final Fantasy XII,
Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-
2006 (XII-Sep 16, DoC-Jan 26) XII-Playstation 2, DoC-Playstation 2 XII-USA: Oct 31
Europe: Feb 23 2007DoC-USA: Aug 20
Europe: Nov 11
Final Fantasy VII: advent children (animated movie) 2005 (Sep 14) N/A USA: Apr 25 2006
Europe: Apr 24 2006
Before crisis -Final Fantasy VII- 2004 (Sep 24) Mobile phone USA: not released
Europe: not released
Final Fantasy X-2 2003 (Mar 13) Playstation 2 USA: Nov 18
Europe: Feb 20 2004
Final Fantasy XI 2002 (May 16) Playstation 2 USA: May 16
Europe: Mar 23 2004
Final Fantasy X 2001 (Jul 19) Playstation 2 USA: Dec 17
Europe: May 24 2002
Final Fantasy IX 2000 (Jul 7) Playstation USA: Nov 13
Europe: Feb 16 2001
Final Fantasy VIII 1998-1999 (Feb 11 1999) Playstation USA: Sep 9 1999
Europe: Oct 27 1999
Final Fantasy VII 1995-1997 (Jan 31 1997) Playstation USA: Sep 3
Europe: Nov 14
Final Fantasy VI,
Final fantasy: legend of the crystals (anime)
1993-1994 (VI-Apr 2 1994,
LotC-Mar-May-Jun-Jul 21 episodes 1-4 respectively)
VI-SNES,
LotC-N/A
VI-USA: Oct 20
Europe: not released,LotC-USA: Nov 24 1994
Europe: not released
Final Fantasy V 1992 (Dec 6) SNES USA: not released
Europe: not released
Final Fantasy IV 1991 (hard type Apr 19, easy type Oct 19) NES USA: not released
Europe: not released
Final Fantasy III 1989-1990 (Apr 27 1990) NES USA: not released
Europe: not released
Final Fantasy II 1988 (Dec 17) NES USA: cancelled
Europe: not released
Final Fantasy 1987 (Dec 18) NES USA: July 12
Europe: not released