The internet exploded following this morning’s announcement by Square Enix that the newest playable character to be revealed in the latest installment of the much-loved Final Fantasy franchise (Advent Calendar) will be the World Map, seen here walking on the face of a man.

ff world map face

Screenshots from Final Fantasy: Advent Calendar, billed for multi-platform release later this year

The World Map is a long-running fan favorite who has been omitted from the popular franchise for some time. Though the more recent Final Fantasy titles have included open-world roaming and destination-picking of sorts, the beloved character has been absent since Final Fantasy IX, originally released in 2000 for PlayStation.

Despite consistent public rejection of a format that many fans have deemed to be “linear” or “push X to win,” Square Enix has been vocal in defending the newer mechanics that give players the freedom to not worry about where they’re walking to next. We reached out to Square Enix’s CEO, Yosuke Matsuda who simply explained “we found too many instances of players being discovered brain-dead or mentally crippled due to the sheer psychological exertion it took to pick a destination. The lawsuits came thick and fast. We really had no choice but to remove the World Map from the game.”

Originally intended and conceived as an experimental sex icon developed by Square for the NES in 1987, the World Map found some small commercial success in spin-off titles produced by subsidiary developers in the late 90s for handheld. As popularity for the 71% water-covered character grew, soon every other teenager could be seen wearing one of the many official World Map T-shirts available at the time. The World Map even began making brief television appearances, culminating in a guest appearance for Star Trek: Deep Space 9 as a Ferengi ambassador, though interest was already beginning to wane as newer concepts, such as Blitzball, took root in the younger generation’s expectations of what constitutes a decent Final Fantasy game. Finally, in a desperate attempt to maintain relevance, the World Map tried branching out to music, releasing an experimental techno track titled Random Encounter that failed to rank on U.S. billboards.

Though little is known about upcoming title Advent Calendar, fans of the long running series have expressed nought but joy since the announcement was made and the screenshots released.

Final Fantasy: Advent Calendar is due for release later this year for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Closed Beta is set to begin this summer, available for those who pre-order the game, which will appear in PlayStation and Xbox stores next week. In addition to Beta-access, pre-ordering players will receive exclusive cosmetic skins for the World Map on launch, including “Blushing bride” and “Commando Mappy.”

Ian McGill

Engaging with all things gaming. When I'm not writing I can usually be found up to my unmentionables in Adventure / RPGs or emulating some ancient rom on turbo. Tweet me your favorite in-game music.

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