Final Fantasy XV
Released Sept. 30, 2016
PlayStation 4/Xbox One, $59.99

At the ripe old age of 13 (late 1997), a friend of mine brought over his PlayStation and a copy of Final Fantasy VII. “You’ve got to try this!” he said, and although he’d made me sit through hours of SimAnt, the peak ant simulation video game of the ’90s, I trusted him.

From the moment I landed in the role of our silent protagonist Cloud and his merry band of terrorists, I was hooked. From the music (a score by Nobuo Uematsu, who would become very dear to me) to the story of a ragtag group of individuals taking on an otherworldly menace, I knew that I wanted more.

So it is with great joy that I share the news that this year Square Enix, developer and publisher, announced a future Final Fantasy VII remake across next-gen consoles. Joy! But first, the 15th installment, Final Fantasy XV, to be released on Sept. 30 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

If you’ve never played a single game in the series, don’t sweat it; Final Fantasy is simply a title, much like the R. L. Stine-penned Goosebumps.

The first thing you’ll notice when watching the trailer is that the protagonists cruise along what looks like the PCH in a modern car. Prior installments have melded futuristic technology with fantasy elements, such as giant flying airships and guns with swords and magic, but this is the first to give our heroes a freaking convertible.

Second, you’ll notice that the world of XV is Earth-like and made up of several kingdoms. The main character, Noctis Caelum, the crown prince of Lucis, has control over the world’s last remaining “crystal.”

The story, to sum it up, pits Lucis against the Empire of Niflheim (try to pronounce it), and you’re Noctis, crown prince, caught in the middle with three of your digital camera-wielding friends while on your way to a wedding.

To be frank, I wasn’t sold on the game initially. Four hip fashionistas in a convertible screamed J-Pop road trip to me; the fantasy elements seemed tacked on. It wasn’t until I bought into Square Enix’s Final Fantasy blitz in other media that I was sold.

Square has gone all out, releasing a six-part anime series titled Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, which delves into the relationships of everyone in that car: Noctis and his friends Gladiolus Amicitia, Prompto Argentum and Ignis Scientia. (Once again, try and pronounce them.) It’s a touching series and one that doesn’t deserve to be as good as it is. (Seriously, check it out on YouTube or Crunchyroll.)

Second, the film Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV, due out in theaters in limited release on Aug. 19, looks like the Final Fantasy film we’ve been waiting for since 2001’s The Spirits Within. (We do not talk about that film.) Boasting a star-studded voice cast of Game of Thrones alums Sean Bean and Lena Headey, and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) as Noctis, the film takes place at the onset of XV. The only thing guaranteed is that Sean Bean’s character will die, as is tradition.

In a world that has seen everything since Final Fantasy X arrive with a firm “meh” (XIV online), it’s nice to have a Final Fantasy arrive with the same fanfare as VII, the most popular title in the franchise to this day.

You’ve got my attention, Square Enix. Now, fulfill the promise of another great Final Fantasy.

Chris O’Neal is hoping for a wider release of Kingsglaive but isn’t holding his breath. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.