By William Haderlie / September 5th, 2016
The next major entry in one of the most beloved video game series of all time was due to arrive in September of this year, after a long gestation period. However, Final Fantasy XV has now been delayed until November 29, 2016. While I, like most people, find this news to be a bit disappointing, I would also rather see this major entry be in it’s most complete form when it sees the light of day. So I err on the positive side of the delay reaction, more than the negative side. I will be reviewing the game for Operation Rainfall when it does arrive later this year (I’m going to assume for now that it will not see another delay).
In the mean time, I will be posting my top list of Final Fantasy games as a countdown until the release of the next entry. I can almost guarantee that our lists will be different, and I encourage the discussion. This will also let our readers know some of the history of this franchise, and my own personal thoughts on it. This ranking is my own opinion and does not represent the views of the rest of the Operation Rainfall staff, but it is a creation that I am proud of. So I stand behind it.
Countdown List Rules
These rules are rather arbitrary, but I had to decide on a list of them just to make it more concise and clear. The first rule is that I will only put one version, the best version I’ve played, of each game. And the second rule, and possibly most contentious, is that I am listing any game that contains Final Fantasy in the American title of the game. That does mean a couple games featuring Final Fantasy characters, but not having that title, will not make the list. Examples of games featuring characters would be Chocobo’s Mysterious Dungeon or Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring. And that also means that there are other titles which were not originally Final Fantasy games in here as well, such as Final Fantasy Legend. Other than that, this list is just to have some fun and have a conversation while we wait for the next release in this classic JRPG franchise. There are 34 entries on my personal list, even discounting the different versions, so plan on a long series of articles, and I hope that you enjoy them.
Top Final Fantasy Game Countdown
34. Final Fantasy XI
33. Final Fantasy Record Keeper
Spoiler alert, the SNES (Super Famicon) era of Squaresoft will feature very prominently in the upper echelon of this countdown. So in that manner you would think that this game would also be much higher on the list. The idea behind it is a very cool one. It combines the heroes and villains of basically every Final Fantasy game, but instead of a fighting game (Dissidia: Final Fantasy), it’s a turn based RPG. One of the greatest ideas has been seeing characters from the post 16-bit era rendered in wonderful pixel art. It can’t be easy for the team to accomplish, but the updates to the game have been very frequent and the pixel designs have been very on point.
And it has indeed been fun playing around with all these characters in a semblance of the SNES era of Final Fantasy combat. After playing this game for the entire time it’s been released in the US, though, the longest lasting enjoyment has actually been the music. There are times when I’ll load up this game on my iPad just to listen to the classic Final Fantasy music. While I’m doing so, I just let my characters sit in whatever stage I have them in. And the reason for that is my major complaint about this game. It uses that horrible Free to Play model of using a Stamina meter that limits your playing time.
And that is a huge drawback for a game like this. I want to be able to grind up my levels and make super powerful characters. I want to go in and play at any time. Some days I may not want to play at all, and some days I may want to spend 12 hours in a Final Fantasy world. This game does not allow you to do that, your Stamina pool increases by 1 unit for every 5 Stamina crystals gained. You can earn those Stamina crystals by playing through the stages. But you will never get enough Stamina that you will be able to play this like a normal RPG, especially since the farther you go into the story missions, the more Stamina points each round will use up.
The other issue I have with it is that you never will feel all that powerful. Even with the best weapons and armor and abilities in the game, you never really feel like the gods that you can be in their original games. One of the largest reasons for that is that you can only bring in 2 different abilities for each character with each stage, and they have very limited uses. You can increase the number of uses with some gained materials, and over the lifetime of the game they have improved the methods to gain those resources, but it’s still very limiting.
That being said, it’s still enjoyable enough that I will often open it once per day to just get the daily rewards and do a few missions for whatever event is currently going on. Final Fantasy Record Keeper ends up being at it’s most enjoyable that way, so that I don’t get frustrated by the forced limitation. This is the only natively mobile game on this list for good reason. I really despise the idea of a game intentionally placing roadblocks in your way to playing it the amount you want to. The music and the pixel art are enough for me to enjoy it, however, so it’s not like there are no redeeming qualities. A good, but flawed, entry into this list. Only held back by the cell phone free to play model more than any quality of game design.
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