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Paige FTW: ‘Ultimania’ Redefines Definitive 

As a longtime sucker for all things Final Fantasy, I could hardly resist the first-ever American release of Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Vol. 1.

The Ultimania books are supplements, of sorts, to the games themselves. Each is chockfull of art, developer interviews, background information and other tidbits to satisfy even the thirstiest of fans. None have ever been translated officially, so most of my knowledge of their contents comes from the Final Fantasy Wikia. 

So — at long last — when I saw Square-Enix was releasing an English version, I just bought it. I didn’t even read the product description. I just went for it. 

The product is not … quite what I expected, but it remains an impressive piece of work. Solidly bound in hard cover by Dark Horse Comics, the all-color book, clocking in at 336 pages, is loaded with concept art, screenshots, character relationship charts and more. It’s a feast for the eyes.

The game even includes information from recent remakes or alternate versions — so yeah, you can find even the remastered PSP sprites for the first two Final Fantasy titles contained therein. Visually, it has no parallel in its sheer breadth. 

What it lacks, however, is … text! There are little sentence biographies, sure, to go with all that nice character concept art, as well as little captions that explain some of the screenshots. But the book lacks the meaty textural depth that made the Japanese editions so compelling.

In fairness, this is just Vol. 1, which covers the first six titles in the series. It’s quite possible that there just … isn’t a lot of textural depth to a title like Final Fantasy III. In fact, I suppose I should taken into account that Vol. 2 only covers VII-IX, in presumably the same number of pages. 

Maybe that’s where the meat lies. I suppose I shall find out in December. In the meantime, I do recommend Ultimania Archive Vol. 1 as a must for any Final Fantasy fan.  

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