By William Haderlie / November 19th, 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
12. Final Fantasy VII
11. Final Fantasy XIII
10. Final Fantasy VIII
09. Final Fantasy X
08. Final Fantasy XIII-2
07. Final Fantasy X-2
06. Final Fantasy IX
Even to this day, I’m still a bit flabbergasted that Final Fantasy IX sold so fewer copies than it’s two PlayStation 1 predecessors. And while it is certainly the case that people tend to forget games over a short period of years, this one seems to be even more widely forgotten than all but the NES entries. As you can tell from my list, this game ranks several spots higher than either Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy VIII, but when people think of the PS1 Final Fantasy games, this one usually only comes up if that person was a Final Fantasy fan before the 32-bit era. Perhaps some of that has to do with the fact that the PlayStation 2 was already being sold by the time this game was localized in the United States. But most of it seems to be about it’s aesthetic and style, which were a decided throwback to the Final Fantasy games of yore. This was the last major project the original creator was a part of before he left the company, it was another team that was making Final Fantasy 6-8. But I dearly love his last hurrah.
Much like several other recent games on my Countdown, this game has recently been re-released with a nice HD upgrade. The upgrade was not as significant as the one done to Final Fantasy X and X-2, but it was even better than the recent Final Fantasy VII upgrade to PlayStation 4 and Steam. One reason it was even better is because this game was at the very tail end of the 32-bit console era, so it was designed remarkably better than their two entries before on the system. Even on the PlayStation one, these characters bled personality and charm. Part of that was due to their caricature design, and beautiful art aesthetic. But what has lasted over the last decade plus about these characters is that they were just really interesting and very fun characters to spend time with. Unlike many other less memorable Final Fantasy characters, those who played this game to completion always have a soft spot in their hearts for this rag tag group of miscreants. Vivi still remains the most popular, but Princess Garnet and Zidane and all the cast are immediately recognizable and well loved. This is one of the very few casts of party members in a Final Fantasy that I cannot say I disliked any of them. Even the giant he/she amorphous chef has some really great moments of comedy and self-reflection.
As I have said in my last entry to this list, music is extremely important to me in my video games and especially RPGs. So the fact that this game has, in my opinion, the second best soundtrack in the entire series weighs strongly in how much I love this game still. One of the reasons this game has such an amazing soundtrack is that there are a ton of tributes to earlier music from the series. Overall this entire game was both a throwback in style, and also an ode to the games from Final Fantasy past before they moved on into the future. But even the songs that were not remixed from the past, like the one above, were sheer musical mastery. If you ever get a chance to see what the full soundtrack to this game looks like, you should check it out. It’s hard to believe that they fit all those songs in this game, even with 4 discs of gaming content.
One of the primary complaints about this game has always been that its combat system is a bit slow. While I agree with this to a limited degree, where I do have an issue with the combat is that there are not many enemies ever on the screen (due to technical limitations) and there is a bit less strategy to your fights than are in other entries in the series. Even though there is one seriously difficult optional fight in the game, it’s not nearly as much a part of the game as the two games previous or the game after. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of bonus content to do, there are more mini-games and optional content in this entry to the series than any of the other games. And that’s basically the point, they spent their time on making a large variety of interesting things to do instead of focusing so much on combat. That works for the game’s favor, and against it. As someone who prefers crazy battles with god characters to fun mini-games, that prevents this game from ranking higher on my list. But it was not bad enough to make me dislike the game.
I recently completed the game again this year, this time with the upgraded version on PC Steam. The game really holds up, and if anything has gotten better over time. Even better are the (now standard) bonus features that they added to the HD upgrade to increase the speed, which entirely negates the issue with the battle pace. You also have a few other features to make grinding quicker and easier, and while there are bonuses to give you super characters with the push of a button, I always prefer to create my own gods through grinding. But the lasting impression is that the characters look amazing with their new polish, and it helped tell the story even better than it was before. This is a very long game, but there is not much lull in the storytelling, and very little backtracking through the entire game. So really you have just a polished and well told example of what made classic JRPGs so special. If you have not played this game yet, or have not played it in a long time, I cannot recommend the new version enough.
Final Fantasy IXFinal Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XV CountdownJRPGPCPlayStation 1PlayStation 3PlayStation VitaSquare EnixSteam