By William Haderlie / October 17th, 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
19. Final Fantasy Type-0
18. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
17. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
I surprised myself a little that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was this low on the list because I have a lot of really fond memories of this game. The GameBoy Advance was a really good console for a Square Enix fan, but most of that was due to the fantastic updates to the classic SNES-era RPGs on the system. But this new game was able to stand toe to toe with those classic releases and make the handheld melt through the batteries. So, even if 17 does seem a bit low, there is still a lot of love there. And this is actually the 2nd to the last game on my list that isn’t a direct mainline numbered entry or a direct sequel to a mainline game.
Given all the previous games on the list, it’s no secret that the final side series game on my list will be the original Final Fantasy Tactics. And I will just say now that I will not be getting to that game for a while, it’s one of my favorite Final Fantasy games. I say that now because it’s unavoidable to talk about this game without talking about the first in the series. When Square Enix went back to developing on Nintendo, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was an okay addition, but this was definitely more what I had in mind.
Due to the nature of the strategy RPG genre, they fit really well on handheld consoles. You can just fight a battle or two while you are on a bus ride, or you can just input all the commands you need during a commercial break. The turn-based nature just allows you to have intermittent pauses in your play, and the need for some serious grinding means that you will keep on coming back to it. So it was a natural fit, but they also added even more to the game than they even needed to. The world of Eorza received some major story development with the release of Final Fantasy XII, so they were able to add those into this release. The most noticeable changes to the Tactics world were the addition of new races and classes, and the new presence of the Judges.
While I welcomed the new races and classes, I was less of a fan of the Judge inclusion. Don’t get me wrong, the Judges themselves are awesome, from their look to the story behind them. Unfortunately, they add such a random element to the fights, that it made me not enjoy grinding nearly as much as I did with the original Final Fantasy Tactics. The journey to handheld did not always do the best for the qualities of the battles either. The stages could be pretty, but they did not seem nearly as epic as some of the first game’s battles, and they were definitely a lot shorter. Additionally, the difficulty that the first game is famous for was almost entirely gone from this game. It felt like they assumed the Nintendo audience would be younger than the PlayStation audience, so they needed to adjust for that.
Those complaints make this one a lesser release than the original Final Fantasy Tactics, in my opinion, so why does it rank down at #17? Part of that is the weight of expectation, I loved the original so much that I wanted more from its sequel. But the most prominent reason is that the story was a little disappointing to me, as well as the characters. The characters weren’t bad, but there is little doubt that they were not nearly as well developed as the first game. Most serious Square Enix fans recognize the characters from the first game when they make guest appearances in subsequent titles, but good luck finding many people who can recognize more than 1 or 2 characters from this game. The story was also much less serious, and much less interesting, this time around. So overall, I liked this game a lot and it was better than it’s sequel, but it couldn’t quite reach into my top 10 Final Fantasy games.
Final Fantasy Tactics AdvanceFinal Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownSquare EnixStrategy RPG