Thursday, September 3, 2009

Magical, More Magical, Most Magical: Spell Suffixes in Final Fantasy

A quick post here on an aspect of the Final Fantasy games that might have gone unnoticed by many players but stands out to me as an unusual staple of the series. I’m talking about spell suffixes. In nearly all of the games, characters who use magic can learn multiple versions certain spells: the base level, a stronger version, and even stronger version and the strongest version yet.

In the early days, when the English localizations of these games were less than stellar, these gradations were represented by numbers. (In the first English version of Final Fantasy IV, for example, the lightning magic spells are known as Lit1, Lit2, and Lit3.) But in the original Japanese and now in more recent releases here in the U.S., a spell’s power is indicated by suffixes. The base level is just the name of the spell: Cure, Thunder, Blizzard, Fire. The second level gets the suffix -ra: Cura, Thundara, Blizzara, Fira. The third level gets the suffix -ga: Curaga, Thundaga, Blizzaga, Firaga. And the fourth level, which appears in only a few entries in the series, gets -ja: Curaja, Thundaja, Blizzaja, Firaja.

magical zapping, but before the suffixes came stateside

It’s a curious convention, this set of comparative suffixes that seem to be specific with the series. I don’t speak Japanese, and for all I know -ra, -ga, and -ja could be straight out that language. I tried looking into the matter online and didn’t find all that much helpful, perhaps because it’s something most people don’t think about and perhaps because it’s not the easiest subject to find using a search engine. So I’m throwing this up here in hopes that someone else curious about the subject will come along and explain this little system to me.

Anyone? Anyone?

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