I’ve been playing Final Fantasy games for more than 21 years. I’ve still got a backlog of them to get through. But in the meantime, here is my current ranking of Final Fantasy games including all mainstream and spin-offs that I have played.
Final Fantasy II
Unlike the first title in the series, the party contains named heroes. Which would have been great if I felt any personal connection with them, but I honestly don’t. The level-up system is also like The Elder Scrolls, where repeated use of skill improves it. This is a great system if it included an overall level. But you don’t and have no idea if your party are strong enough to take on the next set of enemies. It’s also quite easy to deviate from the path and end up fighting stronger monsters that one hit KO your team. On top of this, the story involved a lot of back and forth between different cities. Due to this, it is my least favourite.
Final Fantasy I
Even though this title rescued Square from bankruptcy it’s not amazing. The RPG elements are very basic. There are countless random encounters. You play a party of four who are the heroes of light. Apart from that, you do not learn anything additional about them. The story is about protecting four crystals which at the time was interesting. But playing it now is predictable. The only reason this is higher than II is the level up system works and I felt motivated to complete it. Could you imagine if this title was never developed? The gaming industry would be in a different place. At least the games only get better after the second title.
Final Fantasy IV
I played this title on the DS and the graphical updates really bring the game up a notch. The music was beautiful and very familiar. The story was also way more interesting than the two previous entries in this list. I completed and enjoyed every minute of it. The character of Cecil was interesting as well as complex. It was awesome to see him change both emotionally and physically. The battles were standard fare. This isn’t a bad thing if it works, and it certainly does. I will probably pick this up again sometime in the future as I want to play it again.
Final Fantasy Tactics
These are both entries in this standalone series. You position your party members then select them to attack the enemy. Depending on your position affects the chances of hitting the target. It also affects the chance of counterattacks. It is far more tactical than any of the titles released at the time. The stories are interesting. I haven’t completed either of the titles so will try and find some time to play them soon. The only factor I don’t like is they are so slow to get going. But my main draw to this is the job system. You can set up your party any way you want with few restrictions.
Final Fantasy IX
This was my very first Final Fantasy game back on the PlayStation One. I rented the title from a rental shop and only got so far before the scratched disc failed. I did enjoy this title and loved getting to know Zidane, Steiner and co. Seeing Steiner soften up as time went by and the love that blossomed towards the end of the game was perfect. There was also some amazing cutscenes. Some scenes even mixed CGI with the game graphics. The learning of abilities was also unique in which it depended on your equipment. Each battle would award you EXP and AP. AP would then be used to master the abilities of the equipment you have selected. Once mastered you could then use those abilities without said equipment. So sometimes it paid to use a weaker weapon just to learn its abilities.
Final Fantasy X-2
The sequel to Final Fantasy X, and the first-ever sequel. Many characters return from X, including Yuna, Rikku, Lula and Wakka. The party now only consists of three characters: Yuna, Rikku and Pain. On top of the limited number of characters, the game introduces a new job system that ties into dress spheres. During the battle, you can select one of these dress spheres and the selected character transforms into different attire and with different equipment. Like Final Fantasy IX you earn AP, but this time it is used to unlock abilities for each dress sphere. Each dress sphere has its own independent list of skills. They are also specific to each party member. On top of the gameplay mechanics, this game was pure fan service. Which at the time I was embarrassed playing, but not so much now. I wanted to get back into the world of Spira and this was the only option. Here’s hoping X-3 does get made.
Final Fantasy XII
After Final Fantasy X-2 was released followed the next mainstream entry. Final Fantasy XII followed Vaan as he exacted his revenge against the Imperials after losing his brother to them during the great war. Along the way, you meet a colourful band of characters. Some kept secrets close to their hearts. Including a princess and the murderer of your brother. The combat system had also changed. Unlike FFIX to FFX-2 you are free to move during battle, so you could get away from AOE attacks if you were quick enough. There were also no random encounters. Monsters appeared on the field and if they touch you, you battle out in the field. Rather than be sent to a battlefield which was a cool feature. I got close to the end but didn’t finish it since I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters yet. Maybe I will this year.
Final Fantasy X
Finally made it to the best of the lot. There is so much I love about this title that I may have to replay it again and do a full review. You play as Tidus a blitzball player (underwater basketball) who has it in for his deceased dad. During a blitzball match, Sin, a massive water entity, destroys Zanarkand and absorbs Tidus and his old acquaintance Auron. When Tidus wakes up he finds himself in a world called Spira. What follows is a huge story involving a religion that hates technology and non-believers. A guy that is just trying to go back home. And Yuna is a summoner on the quest to bring down Sin and save Spira from doom. The characters are interesting and each have their own motivations for what they are doing. Plenty of end game content. A turn-based combat system was perfected. It is an amazing game and you need to play it. It’s available on Steam, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.
Any others that I’m missing from the list? What should I play next?