Countdown to Final Fantasy XV

Friday, September 9th, 2016

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Final Fantasy XV Countdown Feature Image

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 mean time, 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

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Countdown Image

This was quite possibly the most difficult game for me to place on this list, but not because it didn’t deserve a place. The difficulty for me was in wanting to place it higher on the list, but where to fit it in. I genuinely love this game. Unfortunately I did not pick up the original Theatrhythm Final Fantasy game, mostly because I was so deep into an MMO at the time, that I was really only purchasing other games very rarely. Honestly, if I compare the monthly subscription fee, I end up paying less on games per month and per year when I’m invested in an MMO, although my gaming experience is less varied. But that is a discussion for a different time. But I had a good idea that it would be a game that I would be into. The music of the Final Fantasy games have been one of my favorite aspects of the entire series.

Even though I did not play the first one, it is more than likely that I would prefer this version. They actually bothered to add some pretty nice RPG mechanics onto the core experience of playing a rhythm game featuring your favorite Final Fantasy tunes. You had some control over how your song performance turned out by which characters and which abilities and equipment that you featured. And even though leveling up did not make a huge difference, it made enough that it changed how difficult certain missions were.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Countdown Screenshot 1

But that mostly applies to the battle type stages, as seen above. The game also featured exploration stages and stages that featured fully animated cut scenes from their respective games. Unfortunately the latter type was almost too interesting. The most difficult part of those stages was in wanting to pay attention to the cinematic going on in the background, and so missing the notes. The exploration stages were very easy, and mostly served as a way to recover or get a free pass through the map that you are traveling in. You can equip abilities that make it easier to get a high score and more loot in any of the stage types, but it worked out best to equip battle abilities.

So there was a lot positive to enjoy about this entire game, and I ended up playing it until I unlocked all the songs and stages and characters. Even beyond that I went through hours and hours of Challenge stages to get even better loot and to level up my characters to get even better abilities. But also, frankly, to just enjoy all this wonderful music. That is a lot of positive to be had for such a relatively simple concept, so why is this title ranked so low?

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Countdown Screenshot 2

What held this game back in my own experience was the experience was a bit vapid. As enjoyable as the music itself is, there was very little new or innovative. That’s not a strong issue, even as a member of the Gaming Press, I don’t really feel the need to search out new experiences all the time. But this one has been done a few times, and within the game itself there is little variety other than the music itself.

What could have made this game climb higher on my own list would have been to have it’s own story. If there was a long and interesting story mode that made even more use of the RPG mechanics, then I would have loved this game even more. Final Fantasy without the story and without the exploration feels like I am missing a lot of what I love the most about the series. Also, like with the previous game on this list (Final Fantasy Record Keeper), there was no major way to create the godlike characters that is one of my favorite differentiating characteristics between this series and other JRPGs. Still, this one was definitely more than worth the price of admission. And even writing about it now makes me want to put that cartridge back in and experience this music some more.

About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.