By William Haderlie / September 20th, 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 its 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 meantime, 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 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
32. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
31. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
30. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
29. Dissidia Final Fantasy
28. Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
27. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
To call Final Fantasy Mystic Quest a divisive entry in this list would run the danger of overstating the general tenor in the positive direction. Frankly, you would be hard pressed to find any commentary that would say anything good about the title. Here is the thing, though, this was a struggle for me to place in the #27 position on my list, but not for that reason. In fact, it is quite the opposite, I wanted to place this game higher on my list. I just could not find a spot for it higher than this. I genuinely enjoy this game, shocking as that may be.
One very interesting bit of trivia about Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is that this was the first Final Fantasy game to ever be released in Europe. It had quite a small run, so good luck finding many PAL copies, but Europe did not officially receive any of the NES editions of the franchise, or the fantastic first SNES entry. However, I am not from Europe, so I had played several Final Fantasy games on the NES, GameBoy, and SNES before this one arrived. So you may, justifiably, ask why I would enjoy such an entry.
One of the primary reasons why I still love this game is the music. The music above is just it’s normal battle music, and there are many tracks that are even better than that. If it wasn’t for the fact that later Squaresoft games ended up being some of the greatest soundtracks of all time (Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Xenogears) this soundtrack would have already marked them as a master of the video game soundtrack. It may seem a little strange to state that a video game soundtrack makes a huge difference in a game, but for an RPG or Visual Novel fan, that is very much the case, for the most part.
It is true that this game is a little light and simple on the story. And that is the primary reason why I can not justify ranking it any higher on my own list. Granted, this is my own list and I’m not making any attempts to being objective about which game is “better”. But any person’s general opinion can change day to day, let alone year to year. The story may have been simple in the efforts to make this a good entry point to develop new RPG fans, but the characters were still fun and endearing in their own way. And I have never been a huge fan of my RPG characters being overly maudlin or emo, this is an issue that will definitely come up later in the list and probably offend a few of our readers with where I place certain popular entries (buckle up folks).
The battle system was also simple, but only in comparison to some of the other Squaresoft RPGs of the same era. Realistically it was not nearly as simple as many other RPGs of the same era but from different companies. In fact, it bore a remarkable resemblance to the Lufia battle system. And later on in the game you definitely had some challenging and interesting battles. My one major complaint with the battles was that you could not grind levels because there were no random enemy encounters. So really you advanced at a fixed level. Yes, there was no real options to how your characters developed, but that was not really a common practice until Final Fantasy VI or games with a Job System (Dragon Quest III, Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V).
Even though it was a bit disappointing that there were no random battles (a practice that has become much more common now), that does not mean that exploration was boring. In fact, exploration was much more interesting than most console RPGs were for that time. That is because this game introduced some Action-RPG (Zelda) elements such as puzzles and destructible obstacles. Some of these elements have entered into the Final Fantasy games since then, but not quite to the degree of this game.
So the general distaste for this game has always been a bit puzzling to me. It almost makes me want to overreact and push this up higher on my list. But I generally disagree with the prospect of overreacting to an overreaction. And, to me, the argument that this is a genuinely bad game has always seemed to be hyperbole at best. But, opinions are just that. I will always have a place in my heart for this little underdog game that could.
Final Fantasy Mystic QuestFinal Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownJapanese RPGSNES