By William Haderlie / September 26th, 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
26. Final Fantasy XIV
25. Final Fantasy Adventure
I’m going to be really starting to show my age with these next few titles. Not only do I have vivid memories of the Final Fantasy games released on the Nintendo GameBoy, but I was earning a paycheck and purchased the system and the games with my own money. So, sit down next to my rocking chair, you whippersnappers, and let this old man fill you in on some Square history. Final Fantasy Adventure was released in late 1991 in the United States, but given the way circulation was back then, it took a while to proliferate around the country, especially in the back woods where I was from.
This game was quite the departure from the Final Fantasy games that I had played previously. But I had no way of knowing that prior to purchase, the internet wasn’t a thing and I didn’t have any magazine subscriptions. But I already loved Final Fantasy Legend on the GameBoy, and was already a huge Final Fantasy fan, so I picked it up based on the name alone. When I booted it up I was surprised to see that it went into an all-new direction, it was like the love child between Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda.
The Japanese title of this game was Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden, so it started out life as a Final Fantasy offshoot. Seiken Densetsu 2 ended up dropping the Final Fantasy moniker and branched out further than this title. But this game even had several Final Fantasy elements in it, such as Chocobos and a few other familiar creatures and names. Because of the naming conventions, it took me several hours into Seiken Densetsu 2 until I figured out that it was the sequel to Final Fantasy Adventure. Because they renamed the game when it was released in the United States.
Secret of Mana was the name of the sequel, and Mana became what this whole series has been known as in the US. It should be noted that this game was known as Mystic Quest in the PAL territories, creating much confusion between this game and the SNES game with the same name in the US. With the most recent versions of this series (new and remakes), they are now just officially calling this whole series Mana across all the territories. So, due to the rules that I established for this countdown, this is the only title that will appear here as it was the only one with Final Fantasy in the title. Rather unfortunate, since The Secret of Mana would rank very highly on this list. I love that game.
This game may not be as much of a classic as it’s sequel, but I still do love it. If I separated it from the Final Fantasy lineage and put it up against other handheld exclusives, GameBoy exclusives, or action RPG games, this one would rank even higher. It was difficult but fair. It added a lot of fun RPG mechanics into a classically Zelda style of gameplay, which was way ahead of its time. And really its greatest strength was how absorbing and fun it was on the simple gray brick GameBoy. If you wanted to spend a fortune on batteries, all you needed to do was purchase this game.
My favorite memories of this game were playing this game while I was riding the bus to work (about a 2-hour ride) and having to worry about getting that next boss down before I had to stop and get off the bus. Those hours just melted by with this game, and they were torture without it. Believe me, I started always carrying an extra 4 AA batteries around in my backpack to make sure nothing would interrupt me. I had the best of both worlds, the level grinding and stat building of an RPG, and the absorbing action of fighting bosses that you really had to pay attention to lest you die. I have not played the new versions, including the very recent iOS version, so I’m only including the original version on this list. But I doubt that I ever will play the new mobile versions, I would rather keep my experience with this hidden gem the way they were.
Action RPGFinal Fantasy AdventureFinal Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownGameBoyNintendoSquare