By William Haderlie / September 27th, 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
24. The Final Fantasy Legend
This game was officially released in North America at the end of 1990. But I did not see it on my first store shelf until the summer of 1991. But it had to be on a department store shelf because we did not have gaming stores in the town I was from or the town that I was working in. This is occasion is easily memorable both for the game itself and for what it meant in my larger gaming life. I was not really sold on handheld gaming until I saw this title sitting on a shelf. Handheld gaming for me was the Tiger electronic games that simulated NES titles (such as Contra or Simon’s Quest), and the very old football or card game simulators with simple red lights on them. Either way, there was not much to recommend there.
However, by 1991 I was already a JRPG fan. By that year I had already played a lot of Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest I) and Final Fantasy, both for the NES. Don’t get me wrong, those games were not my first RPGs, my first ones were on PC. But there was just something different about the ones from Japan, and in particular Final Fantasy, which really opened my mind to the possibility in console RPGs. So Tetris and Super Mario Land had my interest, but as soon as I saw a Final Fantasy game on the GameBoy, it became a must buy. Thankfully I had my first job, so I was able to immediately buy this game and the system that played it. I grew to love Tetris (which came with the system) over time, but there is no question that the handheld was my RPG machine.
This game was quite a bit different than those other two NES JRPGs that I had played. One similarity to Final Fantasy was that the characters were not given real personalities, you had a choice of which characters to build for your party. The story was also not front and center in this one, in fact, it was even less directly told than in the NES original. But there were enough elements there from the series that I was able to just accept this as a Final Fantasy game. So it was a number of years before I learned that this was an entirely different series that was actually named SaGa, and they had merely changed the name to sell it to people like myself.
However, by the time I learned of that marketing ploy, I really could not have cared less. Because I had already fallen in love with this game. I have a lot of fond memories of riding the bus to work (a two-hour trip) while playing this game religiously. I didn’t just go through this game once, I went through it many times. Over the years this game has gained a little reputation as a hidden gem. At the time, though, many people were down on it. And the people that I knew personally thought this game was way too tough. I was able to turn around some of their opinions, though. Although I remained the only one I knew personally who had defeated the Creator.
That’s right, people, your quest in this game resulted in the need to destroy the Creator (named God in the Japanese version). And a tough fight it was. In general, this game was pretty old school with its difficulty in general. Part of that was because your characters had very limited use of abilities and equipment, and once they were out of uses, they could not be restored. But another part of that was because you had to really choose strategically what character types you were going to bring along. And they were designed to be able to be killed and just replaced if you needed to. Humans had more item slots, but could only use gear. Mutants could use a combination of items (but only 4 of them) and natural spells and abilities. Monsters could not use any items but would learn an array of monster specific abilities.
There may not have been too many story trappings, but each world you arrived at as you climbed that Tower of Babel had its own style and personality. So that turn based combat, combined with the fun RPG mechanics, combined with a pretty severe difficulty level, all added up to a great recipe. And a great way to spend your time on a handheld system. Not so great was how many batteries I went through playing this game, I just started to carry around an extra 4 AA batteries with me when I was planning on playing this game. In the end, those batteries are a small price to pay for how many hundreds of hours I spent with this game, trying to go through with an all new combination of 4 warriors and take down that cocky Creator.
Final Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownJapanese RPGNintendo GameBoyThe Final Fantasy Legend