By William Haderlie / October 10th, 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
21. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
20. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
Less surprising than its place on this list, to me, is how many people forget that this game ever existed. Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings was a quasi-sequel to Final Fantasy XII, an already decisive game. But with the sequel, not only did they change systems to the Nintendo DS, but they changed the gameplay entirely. For those paying attention, it wasn’t too much of a surprise for them to go tactical with the sequel, given that the main title was set in the world of Ivalice. And the world of Ivalice was the location of the Final Fantasy Tactics side series of games. But, what was really shocking, was that this was not a Final Fantasy Tactics turn and grid based SRPG, this was closer to real time strategy (a first for the Final Fantasy series).
The most common complaint I have seen online about this game, for those that acknowledge it’s existence at all, is that it features Vaan and Panelo as the main characters. I’ll get to the characters a bit later in the list when I tackle that particular game, but those two characters were generally widely panned by the Western audience. I have two issues with that complaint for my own personal tastes, however. The first issue I have with it is that I never actually minded Vaan, and I genuinely like Panelo. But regardless, in the first game they were not actually the main characters, Vaan was on the cover but Bausch and Ashe seemed much more like the main characters to me. And that brings up the second issue for this game, yes you will see Vaan and Panelo a lot, but Balthier and Fran and several other characters (some new) will be also featured prominently. And most people who enjoyed Final Fantasy XII really love Balthier and Fran.
So why isn’t this game ranked higher on this list? Well, I would remind you the same thing I have said for the past several games, on any other list these games would rank much higher. And that applies to this one as well, this is definitely one of my favorite Nintendo DS games, it’s right up there with the 3 Dragon Quest remakes on the system and the Etrian Odyssey games. But the reasons why this isn’t higher on my own list are twofold. The first is that the combat system was pretty fun, but it lacked some of the depth that I enjoyed in both the Final Fantasy Tactics games and Final Fantasy XII. Those games, even among all other Final Fantasy games, are very notable for their depth and systems, so the absence is felt even harder. The other issue I had was my lofty expectations. You will see much later in this list why I had such high expectations for a sequel to Final Fantasy XII, but I won’t spoil that discussion for now.
Even with my couple issues, this is a game that I would really like to see have new life. Whether that is some sort of Virtual Console release or an entire remake. I would love to play this game again, especially if I could get slightly upgraded graphics, even if only through some rendering tricks. But, either way, this is a really underrated entry in the Final Fantasy canon. And I’m happy to give it a little daylight on my list. Perhaps with the Final Fantasy XII remake coming next year, this may see some new life on the secondary market as well.
Final Fantasy XII Revenant WingsFinal Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownNintendo DSreal-time strategySquare Enix