By William Haderlie / November 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
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
16. Final Fantasy II
15. Final Fantasy III
14. Final Fantasy
And here we have arrived to the one who begat them all, Final Fantasy or Final Fantasy I. It is simultaneously a credit to the game design, and also an indicator of my personal tastes, that the very first game in the series clocks in at #14 on my Countdown list. Most people have read about why the game was named Final Fantasy in the first place, so I won’t rehash that here. But from my own personal perspective, I actually liked the other two Square games that I had played on NES prior to this game. They were both quite a bit different, one being a racing game and the other being a top down shooter, but they were good games. So learning about the dire straights of the company (long after the fact) was a bit surprising to me. But once I opened up that Nintendo Power and saw this game, I was entranced and frankly addicted to glean every bit of information I could about this game until I could get my hands on it.
I’m old, well compared to your average gamer, and there is just no getting around that fact. So some readers might be surprised to know that my gaming hobby predates the NES. In fact, my love of the RPG predates that console as well. The first games that made me fall in love with the genre were on the PC; the Ultima games, Wizardry, Dungeons & Dragons, and various dungeon crawlers. Yes, I had played Adventure on the Atari plenty, but it wasn’t really an RPG. Something really clicked with me though when Dragon Warrior(Dragon Quest 1) came out on the NES. However, those images of Final Fantasy showed a much more vast world and a really great character and enemy design.
My favorite version of this game is the PSP version, and the character art is a massive improvement, but even the original designs still hold up really well. So those screenshots just popped off the page in that Nintendo Power. Then when they talked about all the different lands that you could travel to and they showed all the different monsters (I still remember those images of the Hill Gigas even to this day), I knew that this would be the next step past Dragon Warrior. Even though PC RPGs had allowed me to select a whole group of party members, that hadn’t been seen on consoles yet. And even though they did not have their own names or personality, the characters were full of personality.
Even though the character stories wouldn’t arrive into the series until the next game, there was a definite world story to be had. They initially play with the trope of the captured princess and the boss, Garland, but that expectation is quickly subverted. This style of playing with your expectations would become almost as much of a hallmark of the series as the changing world with every release. The magic system was a bit rudimentary, you did not originally have an MP pool (until the remakes of this game), but the magic was still a fascinating upgrade from the other games that were around at the time. Even the PC RPGs I had played did not have as fantastic of a magic system as this game did.
This game is still a really good game to go back and play. I really have no qualms about recommending this game (especially the PSP remaster) for people to go back and experience the series right from the start. Even though some of the magical experience does not hold up, because they have become tried and tested tropes, it’s still a fun time. But for my personal list, there is still a lot of fond memories there even beyond the objective quality and what this game meant for the games medium overall. One of my favorite early memories of gaming was when all my characters changed to their hero classes, such as the Warrior to Knight and the Thief to Ninja. That was such a magical moment for me that I could not sleep the rest of the night, I had to keep on playing, even with school the next day. What a way for the series to kick off.
Final FantasyFinal Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownJRPGNintendo Entertainment SystemSony PSPSquare Enix