By William Haderlie / October 3rd, 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
23. Final Fantasy Legend II
22. Final Fantasy Legend III
Given the previous two entries, it should come as little surprise that the next title on my countdown would be Final Fantasy Legend III. Much like the previous game, Final Fantasy Legend II, I was very tempted to put this game higher on the list. The only reason for not doing so was how strong the other titles are above it. On any other list, like of GameBoy games, this one would be near the top. Actually, the only real difficulty in this choice was in deciding which one to rank higher, the second one or the third. In a move that was mirrored later with Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI, these two GameBoy games were largely produced in conjunction. In fact, there was very little time between their release in Japan. Unfortunately, in the United States, we didn’t get this one until 2 years after it had been released in Japan.
Now that I am writing about it, it strikes me as interesting how similar this situation really was to the SNES era of Final Fantasy. Much like with Final Fantasy VI, with Legend III they went in an entirely different direction. And, in many ways, this felt like a much more modern take on the traditional RPG formula of the previous game. One serious upgrade was in the graphics department. This game is actually my choice as the prettiest of all the GameBoy games. But it also released very late in that device’s lifetime, even if it was well after it’s local release.
But not only the graphics received a modern treatment. This game has far more story and character development than the previous two SaGa games. In fact, that is the reason I pushed this one over the top of Legend II. What I loved about those previous two SaGa games was the old school combat and stat building, it was a really fun old school grind fest. But this game traded that in for a much stronger storyline, and characters with their own names and their own set of classes and abilities. That did take away some of the build-your-own adventure aspect, but for my tastes, that is a net gain when it builds more story and character development.
The SaGa games were always a mix of fantasy and science fiction, particularly when it came to the choices of weapons and armor. But this game skewed much more in the science fiction direction. The main story did not involve climbing a fantastic tower, instead you gained control of a spaceship that would allow you to fly around and travel through time to fix what has been going wrong in the world. It should be pointed out that this was developed years before the eponymous Chrono Trigger.
Even if it did lose some of the old school mechanics that drew me to this series in the first place, Final Fantasy Legend III ended up the better game for the changes. So if you were to remake these games from the ground up for a modern console, such as the PS Vita or even the PlayStation 4, I would bet that this one would appeal far more to the modern gamer. To be clear, I’m very happy that the next remaster we are getting is Final Fantasy XII (more on that much later in this list), but I would definitely be on board with a remaster of the GameBoy classics as well. The other two Legend games may be for a very niche audience even among JRPG fans, but this one would have a larger appeal now than it did when it was originally released.
Final Fantasy Legend IIIFinal Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownJRPGNintendo GameBoySquare Enix