When it comes to gaming, one of the most prominent names out there is Final Fantasy. This beloved franchise has spawned numerous games, movies, animes and more. A gamer isn’t completely a gamer unless he’s played any of the games in the series and this is a very possible feat considering the series’ influence in gaming.
It’s pretty weird why the series has been called Final Fantasy despite having a new release every once in a while. However, the story behind the name is worth mentioning. Series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi was on the brink of leaving the gaming industry for good. In a last ditch effort, Sakaguchi created a little RPG game called Final Fantasy.
The game launched in 1987 for the SNES and since then, the series has become one of the pillars in gaming. Up until now and definitely in the future to come, we’ll be seeing countless Final Fantasy games to come and we can’t help but get excited for the future of the franchise.
There are a ton of good Final Fantasy games out there but there are a few bad ones as well. Both the main entries and the spin-offs aren’t immune to having bad days so fans have probably played a bad Final Fantasy during one point in their lives.
This list will be counting down the best and worst Final Fantasy games. It includes spin-offs and the main entries in the series. Here are some of the Final Fantasy games you must play and some that you shouldn’t even bother to pick up.
14 Avoid - Final Fantasy 13
Let’s be fair about this. There are three Final Fantasy 13s, the first one is aptly named Final Fantasy 13. The second and third being Final Fantasy 13-2 and Final Fantasy 13: Lightning Returns. On this list, it’s best to separate the entries in the series as there are some better than the others. Way better.
Unless you absolutely want to play through Lightning’s entire trilogy, it’s better to just skip out on the first entry in the series. Final Fantasy 13 was Square Enix’s first Final Fantasy main entry during the PS3 and Xbox 360 days and it was a bad start for them.
Many fans considered the title as one big cinematic movie only as players can get by in the game with a press of a button. There’s not much to do but watch and watch and watch as the game’s lackluster story unfolds. To be fair, the game does get better after 20 hours or so but let’s face, who would want to sit through a boring game for that long?
13 Must Play - Final Fantasy 6
Fans have debated over which Final Fantasy game is better; is it Final Fantasy 6 or Final Fantasy 7? Regardless of what the answer may be, the only thing certain is that both of these games are amazing. Final Fantasy 6, despite its 16-bit graphics, remains to be the bar set in JRPGs.
Final Fantasy 6, much like other games in the series features a turn-based combat system. The heart of Final Fantasy 6 lies within the story rather than the gameplay. Square Enix placed a big focus on the stories of each of the game’s numerous party characters and fans are really thankful for the effort.
The game also featured one of the best video game villains ever; Kefka. This crazy clown really has no ultimate motive in the game as all he wants is to just destroy the world and cause suffering. To this day, fans are still hoping that Square Enix will remake this game. The game was re-released for smartphones and PCs with a few improvements but the changes don’t sit well with fans.
12 Avoid - Final Fantasy Explorers
Released on the 3DS, Final Fantasy Explorers is expected to compete with Capcom’s Monster Hunter but it fails horribly. While it’s still a pretty decent game, many players won’t spend hours upon hours on it unlike other entries on this list.
It’s an adventure game wherein players can pick from a list of jobs for their characters. The job list includes standard Final Fantasy jobs like Black Mage, Knight, Thief and many more. Players get to improve their characters by crafting equipment made from gathered materials.
Final Fantasy Explorers’ lackluster story only adds to one of the many reasons why fans don’t like this game. Perhaps one of the most annoying things in the game was that it was too repetitive and it offered no replay value. Square Enix could’ve done well with the game if they hadn’t riddled it with repetitive quests and an unfair amount of grinding.
11 Must Play - World Of Final Fantasy
This is a must play for any die-hard Final Fantasy fan. World of Final Fantasy is played similarly to the early Final Fantasy titles but there’s more to the game than meets the eye. Story-wise, the game isn’t as serious as other entries on this list. The game takes jabs at the series and genre from time to time and it’s a pretty funny game at that.
Lann and Reynn are summoners who can employ the aid of various monsters caught in the world. They can transform into chibi-versions of themselves called Lilikins for a few bonuses. The game centers around monster capturing to create the ultimate team.
World of Final Fantasy also features almost all of the popular names in the franchise including Cloud, Lighting, Tidus, Squall and many more. They come in Lilikin form of course but they still pack a mean punch.
10 Must Play - Final Fantasy 7
Nearly every JRPG player has played Final Fantasy 7. While the first entries in the series were great, Final Fantasy 7 was a big turning point not only for the Final Fantasy series but for the entire genre as well. It revolutionized RPGs and without it, most of the games on this list would’ve been completely different.
The game tells the story of Cloud Strife, an ex-Shinra Soldier with a pretty jumbled up memory. He’s joined by a ragtag team of allies including Barrett Wallace, Tifa Lockheart, Aerith Gainsborough, Red XIII, Cait Sith, Cid Highwind, Vincent Valentine and Yuffie Kirasagi. The ensemble cast is just the tip as the game had amazing graphics (for its time) and gameplay.
Lucky for those who missed out on the original game, Square Enix is set to launch a remake of the series sometime soon. It’s a different game this time around but it’ll still feature the same great story from before.
9 Avoid - Final Fantasy 2
Okay, the first entry in the series ever was well-received. Fans back then expected that the second entry would be better but it’s actually quite the contrary. Final Fantasy 2 was first exclusive to Japan (thankfully), and while it did retain most of what made the first game great, the improvements made by Square Enix wasn’t well-received.
Final Fantasy 2 scrapped the traditional XP and leveling system from the original title. Instead, characters will develop, based on what players do with them. For example, a character who uses magic often will further develop his magic attacks. It was an experimental move by Square Enix but it didn’t sit well with gamers then.
On the bright side, the game’s story, visuals and a few other things are significantly better than the first. However, the tweak to the gameplay was just too bad to make this game worth playing.
8 Must Play - Final Fantasy 15
This entry serves as one of the most recent as well as one of the most different games in the series. While still carrying the RPG genre mechanics, Final Fantasy 15 brings so much more to the table as compared to other entries on this list.
The game underwent a decade-long development process. It started out as Final Fantasy Versus 13 before it was titled Final Fantasy 15. It tells the tale of Prince Noctis on the road to reclaiming the throne of Lucis. Joining him are Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto. Most Final Fantasy’s somewhat put the lead’s love interest at the forefront but with this game, the brotherhood of the group is the center of attention.
The game features a massive open-world filled with creatures ranging from regular wolves to mountainous turtles. It also features some neat gameplay mechanics that can draw in both old and new Final Fantasy fans.
7 Must Play - Final Fantasy
There's a reason why there have been countless Final Fantasy titles out there, and it's all because of the successful first entry. What was geared to be the last resort of one game developer turned out to be a 30-year franchise that has wowed generations of gamers.
The first game in the series became the gold standard for JRPGs at the time and without it, we couldn't have gotten other amazing RPG titles that we've spent countless hours on. The set up was simple, four heroes were called upon to save the world. That's it. Behind the simple premise is a huge thing waiting to happen.
Final Fantasy introduced most of the things we see in the series today. A class system, secret weapons, optional bosses, and so much more. Without it, the genre would be completely different today.
6 Avoid - Final Fantasy 14 (The First One)
Final Fantasy 14 serves as Square Enix’s second foray into the MMO series. The first was Final Fantasy 11, a game that has been played by numerous players and has provided thousands of hours of game time. While Final Fantasy 14 is a big hit with players now, players still remember how horrible the first release of the game was.
Final Fantasy 14 was originally launched for the PC only. The game was plagued with countless bugs and the game was unplayable. Fans were disgusted with what Square Enix has done. The game lasted only two years before Square Enix officially shut down servers in 2013. By then, Bahamut destroyed the game’s world, thus ending the game’s run.
One year later, Square Enix relaunched the game as Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. It’s a whole lot better than the original game and it’s still beloved by fans to this date.
5 Must Play - Final Fantasy 12
Final Fantasy 12 is the definition of underrated. The game launched in 2006, only a few months before the release of the PlayStation 3. This is probably the reason why fans didn’t notice this amazing title that pushed the PlayStation 2 to its hardware boundaries.
Final Fantasy 12 strayed away from the standard turn-based formula in the series and it took a gamble with a new combat system that could be likened to the ones found in MMOs. The game featured a huge world rifled with monsters to face and it’s a shame that the game didn’t get the attention it deserves.
Lucky for players who missed out on this game, there will be an HD re-release of the game set to launch July 2017. There will be a few changes in store for the game but the important thing is that it keeps its core features that made the original title one of the best Final Fantasy titles to date.
Square Enix likes taking gambles with their Final Fantasy games. There are hits and misses in their gamble and if the gamble pays off, the game turns out to be one big hit. This can be said for Final Fantasy Tactics. Fans love this game so much; it has been re-released several times already.
True to its namesake, Final Fantasy Tactics removes the usual combat from the series and replaces it with a more strategically inclined gameplay system. The Tactics series is Square Enix’s foray into the genre and it’s one of the best strategy game there is.
Aside from the usual strategy game set up, Final Fantasy Tactics also carries with it everything we love about the series. The theme and the job system of the early Final Fantasy games carry on in Final Fantasy Tactics and we can’t help but love the slow but unnerving gameplay brought about by this strategy game.
4 Avoid - Dirge Of Cerberus: Final Fantasy 7
While Final Fantasy 7 is a revered entry in the series, Dirge of Cerberus is something the developers want to forget. In this entry set after the events of the original game, players will have to take control of Final Fantasy 7’s optional character, Vincent Valentine.
The twist is that this game isn’t exactly and RPG. It’s more of an action-shooter that highlights the gun-toting skills of Vincent. Fans didn’t like the radical change all too well and the game wasn’t received pretty well. It’s still a pretty decent entry in the franchise but thanks to the huge jump in gameplay, RPG fans don’t want a hand on it.
The only good thing about Dirge of Cerberus is that it tells the story of Vincent Valentine in great detail. Since he was an optional character in the first game, his story wasn’t told that well. Luckily, we get to see his sorrowful past in the game.
3 Must Play - Final Fantasy 9
Final Fantasy 9 is the last main entry Final Fantasy’s released on PlayStation. It featured the best graphics there is on the console and it also had one of the most diverse casts than in any of the games in the series. Each of the characters had their own distinct personalities and players had a fun time uncovering more and more of the game’s stories.
Though it’s not as well-received as Final Fantasy 7, die-hard RPG fans still refer to Final Fantasy 9 as one of the best entries in the series. Aside from having amazing graphics and an expansive storyline, Final Fantasy 9 also had some solid gameplay mechanics. Fans could still remember playing the ever annoying Hot and Cold Chocobo minigame and Tetra Master. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in the game is beating Ozma, who is considered as one of the toughest bosses in gaming.
2 Must Play - Final Fantasy 10
Along with Final Fantasy 12, Final Fantasy 10 has been considered as one of the best games on the PlayStation 2. This expansive tale features a ton of twists and turns in the story that revolves around Tidus; a Blitzball star, and Yuna, a summoner with a heavy burden on her shoulders.
Final Fantasy 10 features a ton of things to do for die-hard RPG fans. There’s a monster arena, a ton of minigames and it even has its own playable sport. Blitzball is made in detail and players can even create their own team through trades and recruiting.
The game has been re-mastered and re-released on new gen consoles. Lucky for us, we get to experience Tidus’ heartbreaking story yet again but with a ton of improvements. Sadly, its sequel was a bit of a major letdown but the first time is all fans really need to get their RPG fix.
1 Must Play - Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy serves as a major fan service title from Square Enix. This action-packed fighting game features characters from several Final Fantasys; from Final Fantasy 1 to Final Fantasy 13. Its expansive roster is accompanied by some pretty solid gameplay mechanics that is sure to be loved by fans.
Aside from being more action oriented, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy also features a few core RPG elements. Players can level up and equip their characters so everyone else is given a chance to customize the heroes and villains.
Lucky for us, there’s a chance for the game to step out of Japanese arcades and into consoles. The next entry in the series is looking amazing might we add. We can once again recreate some fantasy battles we have dreamed of when and if the next installment in the fighting series reaches consoles.
Sources: finalfantasyxii.com, kotaku.com, ign.com, finalfantasyxiv.com
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