By William Haderlie / November 4th, 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
13. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
This was honestly the most difficult game to place on my list. At various times it ranked higher, and at other times the game ranked lower on my list. I’m not known for my indecisiveness, as anyone who knows me personally can attest to, so this indecision was a bit out of character. This is entirely attributed to the fact that I am of two distinct minds when it comes to this game. There is a lot that I really love about this game, and I’m super glad to own two versions of it (the PS3 original in special edition form, and then the PC re-release). But there is also one part of the game that I really cannot stand.
The Final Fantasy XIII era of the series is probably the most contentious period in the series’ history. The general Nova Crystalis overarching initiative did also produce Final Fantasy Type-0, and what eventually became Final Fantasy XV, as well. But the games with Final Fantasy XIII in the title ended up being 3 in total, this was the final release. Initially, Lightning’s story was meant to be DLC to Final Fantasy XIII-2, and that game did have a lot of arena combat and character based DLC. The word from Square Enix was that this was turned into its own release because it grew too big to be added on as merely DLC. Many people at the time considered that to be just a cynical cash grab, but once this game was finally in my hands I had to agree with Square Enix’s version of the story. This really would not have fit well within the world, combat style, and story of Final Fantasy XIII-2.
The story of Lightning Returns takes place thousands of years after the events of Final Fantasy XIII. Even though you are eventually going to see everyone that you spent that adventure with, they have all changed a lot. You know that is going to be part of the story when from the very first stage you end up fighting Snow in a very grim sequence of events. The time jump is only really extreme, and the change in story tone, if you did not completely play through Final Fantasy XIII-2, or if you did not pay attention while playing it (a common thread I found in reviews at the time). Personally, I had earned the Platinum trophy for both Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, so I was very well acquainted with their story, and quite fond of it. Given that you have not seen those games on my list yet, I’ll leave the world story discussion for later.
Much harder for me to get used to was the change in combat. It was less the fact that you were now playing Lightning as a solo character, and more the fact that I had spent over 200 hours with the previous combat system. Initially, it seemed like they had gone into a more action oriented direction, similar to Final Fantasy Type-0 and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. But once you wrap your mind around it, other than utilizing your reflexes to defend against enemy attacks, it really is the combat system of the other two Final Fantasy XIII games, just all wrapped into one party member instead of 3. This does change up your strategic style quite a bit, but the strategy is most definitely there, and it can get quite fun.
But that is where my one strong dislike comes in with this game: time. I would have loved to spend as much time as I wanted to, practicing the combat and raising the ranks of my gear with impunity to try many different combinations. But the game actively wants you to spend less time with it by using the timer system. Now it’s not like you always have to complete all the objectives and end on the final bonus day. But to ostensibly fail due to wanting to play the game in a more methodical way really grates on my RPG instincts. I do play some games with timers, but that is not how I want to play RPGs. Even in the Persona series, the calendar is my least favorite part of those games. But they are much more forgiving of your time use than this game is.
The timer system isn’t completely bad, they do give some major story reasons for it to exist, and it does lead to the capability for multiple endings. But without that system, this game would have possibly ranked much higher on the list. I really love the combat system, I really like the story, and there is a ton of really great fan service content (meaning special outfits from the series past, not nudity). I would not give up the contents of my Collector’s Edition of the PlayStation 3 game, but for playing the game itself I would recommend the PC version, it looks quite a bit prettier. Even though there are ways that you can extend the time in the game itself, I’m hoping for a PC mod that will allow me to turn that clock completely off. I want to spend more time with Lightning, she is a pretty great hero for the series, even if she was initially a hard sell for me in the first game.
Final Fantasy XIIIFinal Fantasy XVLightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIIIPCPS3Square EnixSteam