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The Best of the Final Fantasy Series

Updated on November 29, 2012

How We Rank the FInal Fantasy Series

Guest writer "Free Parking" chimes in to talk about one of his favorite video game series with ChemKnits. ChemKnits has never played any of the Final Fantasy games herself, but she has spent a lot of time knitting while watching the plots unfold. Her commentary is strictly based on entertainment value of the storyline, not gameplay.

This lens is currently a work in progress, the reviews will be coming soon to support the rankings (shown with the best first). Feel free to give feedback already!

#1 - Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI is an amazing experience from start to finish. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of modern games but it still achieves a really high level of immersion. For example, the music in this game is among the most memorable even though it's only midi. The gameplay is also great, varied enough to avoid being grindtastic. The special abilities keep the characters unique, especially surprising since the game has 14 characters, including several secret characters.

Pro's

Characters

Plot

Gameplay

Music

Con's

Graphics

Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI

Nintendo Final Fantasy VI (for Game Boy Advance). An ancient war rekindled: The Gestahlian Empire threatens to enslave the world. Command Terra's magic, Edgar's tools, and Sabin's fists, do battle against Kefka and the forces of the Gestahlian Empire. Summon a variety of powerful espers to aid you in battle, and to tackle new challenges like the Dragon's Den. Prepare for continuous battle in the Soul Shrine; or enjoy your favorite songs with the music player. Additionally, a host of brand-new elements have been seamlessly merged with the original game, providing unexpected surprises for longtime fans. With new dungeons, new job classes, and other exciting features, both old-school players and newcomers can enjoy this genre-defining Final Fantasy title in a portable format! -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

#2 - Final Fantasy VIII

Another truly great Final Fantasy game, VIII is a great experience. It was amazing in its time, seamlessly blending full motion videos into gameplay. The six main characters are relatable and deeply explored. The memorable story centers around a romance between the two main characters. The game is long and has varied settings and it follows in the final fantasy tradition of not revealing the arch nemisis until nearly at the end. Two criticisms are that the characters blend together because of the GF game mechanic and that this final fantasy is particularly guilty of the "why are we using swords and fists when everyone else has guns" syndrome. The draw mechanic really rewarded extensive grinding but enemies difficulty adjusts with your level somewhat mitigating the boost from grinding.

Pro's

Characters

Story

Music

Con's

Gameplay

Note from ChemKnits: This game was my favorite because we were able to name the two main characters whatever we wanted (this was before voice acting.) I liked watching "me" run around!

Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII

Excerpts from Editorial Review: SquareSoft has always had a sure-fire hit when releasing any of their Final Fantasy titles, and Final Fantasy VIII should be no exception. The basis of a good RPG (role-playing game) has always been the story; spectacular graphics are secondary. Final Fantasy VIII's involved and interesting story line is filled with great twists, well-developed characters, suspense, and romance. As an added bonus, the graphics are beautiful. Everything--from the low-lit jazz club to the steam-filled railroad tunnels--is gorgeous and perfectly sets the mood and tone of a scene.

The game mechanics are standard fare for an RPG: acquisition of items and spells, turn-based combat, experience points earned in combat allowing advances in levels. From exploration to battles to dialogue, Final Fantasy VIII has it all. However, Final Fantasy VIII falls to that great weakness of RPGs: random battles. While necessary for advancing in levels, the battles occur with such frequency that they can grow annoying, making for a tedious game experience. You could complain of limited replay value, but this gripe is of no consequence: the game is such a satisfying experience, it doesn't require replay. Final Fantasy VIII is easily worth both the hype and the wait. You can't buy a much better game. --John Cocking

 

#3 - Final Fantasy VII

VII is a classic with one of the most evil villains and heart wrenching twists I've ever played. The gameplay mechanic is fun and interesting and the epic music really sets the mood. This is was the first truly 3D Final Fantasy game and it made up for lack of polygons by making the characters cartoony. The game isn't exactly short and rewards grinding greatly. For example, after earning the Knights of the Round, the best summon in the game, no enemy even the final boss stood a challenge. But to be fair, I never beat the Ruby Weapon. All in all a great game definitely worth replaying.

Pro's

Gameplay

Music

Con's

Plot

Characters

Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII

Editorial Review:Long recognized as role-playing games par excellence, the Final Fantasy series gets a technological makeover in this installment (and series debut on the PlayStation). Shedding the two-dimensional graphics and limited sound capabilities of its predecessors, Final Fantasy VII features lush 3-D graphics, beautifully animated "movie" sequences, and soundtrack-quality music. Coupled with the game's intricate storyline, endearing characters, and immense yet highly imaginative world, these new advancements make for a quite an engrossing experience.

The story of Final Fantasy VII centers around a solider named Cloud Strife, who joins forces with Avalanche, a group of resistance fighters, to take down an evil mega-corporation known as Shinra. (The fate of the world hangs in the balance, of course.) Truly epic in scope, this four-disc game requires a considerable amount of time to complete---this reviewer gladly gave up over 80 hours of his life to finish it. But it's definitely a rewarding adventure that every PlayStation owner should consider undertaking, especially since it's now one of the low-priced "Greatest Hits" titles. --Joe Hon

 

#4 - Final Fantasy XII

Note from ChemKnits: This was the first game in the series that I ever watched/played. Because of the gambit system, I felt comfortable playing since I had no real time pressure to act. I was therefore permitted by Free Parking to spend some time running around and exploring new areas.

Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy XII

Square Enix Final Fantasy XII Since 1987, the FINAL FANTASY series has sold over 70 million units, making it one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. FINAL FANTASY XII carries on the tradition of gaming innovation, fantastic graphics and epic storytelling. With a brand-new battle system bringing more realistic and seamless action to the player’s fingertips, this latest installment promises to take role-playing games to the next level through a beautiful and heart-stopping adventure. The story of FINAL FANTASY XII takes place in a world called valice, in an age when magic was commonplace and airships plied the skies, crowding out the heavens. War was on the horizon. Seeking to strengthen its base of power, the great Archadian Empire had been invading and subjugating its neighboring kingdoms one by one. The small Kingdom of Dalmasca was one such kingdom. Our story follows Vaan, a young man living on the streets of Dalmasca's Royal City -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

#5 - Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X

Excerpts from Amazon.com Review: Each installment of the Final Fantasy series has featured strong storytelling, characterization, and strategic combat, fun minigames, and hours upon hours of captivating gameplay. The 10th title in the series is no exception. This is the first time a Final Fantasy game has appeared on the PlayStation2, and it takes full advantage of the increased technical capabilities.

The story this time concerns Tidus, a blond-haired star of a sport called Blitzball. While he is playing in a match, Tidus's city is attacked by an evil force called Sin, and everything is destroyed save Tidus and his guardian Auran. The adventure begins as the pair are somehow transported to another world. From here on, it's standard Final Fantasy gameplay: fight battles, manage experience points, learn new powers, and recruit a motley crew of nonplayer characters to join your quest.

The graphics, however, take things to a new level. They are amazing not only for their realism, but also for their imaginative art design. The world these heroes inhabit is breathtakingly beautiful, flowing, and full of inventive surprises. You haven't lived until you've surfed cables high in the air, or ridden a graceful airship through the clouds. The stunning effects are on display when you use magic in combat, summon gigantic monsters, and use fire columns to devastate your foes. One new element is voice acting. The innovation yields predictably mixed results: it's wonderful to hear spoken dialogue rather than read subtitles, but as with most games translated from Japanese, the acting is mediocre and sometimes unintentionally hilarious. --Andrew S. Bub

 

#6 - Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy IV

The dark knight Cecil, stripped of his command of the Red Wings, set out for the distant Valley of Mist. Together with Kain, commander of the Dragoons, he would pursue a faceless quarry and a chance for redemption. The advent of the airship had marked the realization of mankind's most ancient dream. But man is a creature seldom sated, and he was quick to dream anew. With the unparalleled might of the Red Wings, Baron's military soon reigned supreme. Why, then, does its king now seek the Crystals? And why have fearsome monsters suddenly begun to overrun the once calm land? If the Crystals know, they share no answers only their pure and silent light.

Witness the dramatic and thrilling story of this mythical game world brought to life through astounding 3D graphics, gorgeous CG cutscenes and top-notch voice acting. Create a versatile party using the all-new Augment System - a dynamic system that allows the player to assign special abilities to characters. Dive into the first RPG to incorporate the innovative Active Time Battle system, now further enhanced and refined for the Nintendo DS. Navigate effortlessly through the game with Nintendo DS Touch Screen functionality and stylus-driven controls while receiving vital assistance via the dual-screen presentation. Train and customize Whytkin by playing a variety of mini-games and challenge another player to head-to-head battle via local wireless connection. -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

#7 - Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX

But even players with no experience in this series can pick this up as a new game. Final Fantasy IX's story follows a group trying to stop Brahne, the evil Queen of Alexandria, in her quest to rule the world. Zidane, a skilled thief, teams with a young mage, a royal knight, and a princess, who all soon discover that the queen's threats are fronting an even more sinister plot involving a powerful sorcerer named Kuja. It's your job to control the eight playable characters--each of whom begin the game with one weapon, one piece of armor, and one special power--and to uncover Kuja's motives before he carries out his deadly plan. -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

#8 - Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII - Playstation 3
Final Fantasy XIII - Playstation 3

From the creative minds behind FINAL FANTASY VII and FINAL FANTASY X comes the latest installment in the critically acclaimed series. As FINAL FANTASY VII was for PlayStation, and FINAL FANTASY X for PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, FINAL FANTASY XIII will be the first numbered FINAL FANTASY title for the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360, and will look to once again reestablish the series as the RPG brand. Players will follow Lightning, Snow, and the other heroes who are dealt a hand of fate by the god-like fal'Cie. Cursed and regarded as enemies of society, they have the world against them and nobody to rely on but each other. Will they find the strength within themselves to break free of their curse and determine their own fates, or will they succumb to this higher power? With a story that is sure to connect with players' hearts, diverse new characters from world-renowned creator and character designer Tetsuya Nomura, and exciting new gameplay features centered around an evolved Active Time Battle system, FINAL FANTASY XIII will be the pinnacle in gaming experiences. -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

PlayStation 3 - and accessories

#9 - Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy (PSP)
Final Fantasy (PSP)

In Final Fantasy the tale begins when four young warriors each possessing a Crystal are summoned to bring the world back to a harmonious elemental balance. During their voyage they discover a nefarious entity has created turmoil in the structure of time in order to take control of the world causing the heroes to travel to places they never imagined possible.Remastered exclusively for the PSP system this all-new anniversary edition features all-new character art updated graphics new dungeons full 16:9 widescreen presentation and an updated camera view that gives players a new vantage point on such a timeless classic RPG.Format: SONY PSP Genre: NO GENRE Rating: E Age: 10+ UPC: 662248907031 Manufacturer No: 90703 -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

#10 - Final Fantasy X-2

Final Fantasy X-2
Final Fantasy X-2

Taking place two years after Yuna's fateful journey to defeat Sin the once chaotic world of Spira has gone through a massive transformation entering a period of "Eternal Calm". The people of Spira now shun the teachings of Yevon and have opened their arms to former foes the Al Bhed and the use of machina. The Machine Faction aims to propagate the use of machina in Spira going as far as renaming "machina" to "machines" to remove the stigma. However even with the peaceful life they now live there is an emptiness in Yuna's heart that is keeping her from moving on as the others have.One day Yuna obtains a mystical sphere that contains imagery of what might be the Blitzball player she thought was gone forever. Although Yuna isn't certain that it is him or if he is even alive she's driven to seek him out. Yuna needs closure to their unexpected parting even if only to find that she will never see him again. So begins her journey...Format: PS2 Genre: RPG (VG)/ Rating: T - Teen UPC: 662248903057 Manufacturer No: 90305 -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

FINAL FANTASY VERSIONS NOT PLAYED

and therefore not ranked

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy II - Sony PSP
Final Fantasy II - Sony PSP

In Final Fantasy II a malevolent emperor ends what could have been an eternal period of peace. He has called upon monsters from a demonic realm to take over the world. Thousands of lives succumb to their attacks, leaving many children orphaned. From the destruction rise four young survivors who will take it upon themselves to stop the merciless ruler and avenge the death of their parents.

When Final Fantasy II was released in 1989, it was seen as a triumph in gaming. One of the first games to be appeciated for both its incredible graphics and immersive gameplay, Final Fantasy II was a fully-developed game world, one that surpassed even the amazing Final Fantasy I. Now this remastered new version comes to your PSP, with updated graphics and new content. -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III

FINAL FANTASY III has been reborn, incorporating the latest in portable gaming technology. FINAL FANTASY III features graphics that have been reworked and remodeled in 3D, while maintaining the mythical FINAL FANTASY look and feel. Format: NINTENDO DS Genre: RPG (VG) Age: 662248906133 UPC: 662248906133 Manufacturer No: 90613 -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

Final Fantasy V

Final Fantasy V Advance
Final Fantasy V Advance

The Wind Crystal Shatters... The winds fail. Ships stand still, unable to fill their sails. The world races to its end. Unless a handful of heroes can protect the remaining crystals, the world will fall into ruin. Set off on a grand adventure in the finest version of Final Fantasy V ever released!

Experience Final Fantasy V in its purest form! Improved graphics, a new translation, and a remixed soundtrack bring new life to Bartz, Lenna, and Ganulf in their fight against the evil Exdeath! Expand your enjoyment with a detailed monster bestiary and a music player. Study your foes and learn their weaknesses, or enjoy the enhanced Final Fantasy soundtrack anytime you want! Explore the Sealed Ruin, a massive bonus dungeon filled with challenges, and fight the dungeon's newly designed boss using specially added jobs like the brutal gladiator, the sinister necromancer, and the dynamite bomber! -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

Final Fantasy XI

Final Fantasy XI The Ultimate Collection - PC
Final Fantasy XI The Ultimate Collection - PC

Vana'diel — a land of magic, swords and technology — welcomes new adventurers, along with seasoned FINAL FANTASY veterans, with open arms. This land cries out for fearless warriors like you to restore the peace that the citizens dream of. Heed the call and join hundreds of thousands of players from around the world to become the hero that Vana'diel needs. -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

Final Fantasy Versus XIII

This will theoretically be released sometime in 2011.

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn - Playstation 3
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn - Playstation 3

Embark on the myriad journeys of an epic in FINAL FANTASY XIV, the revolutionary MMORPG from Square Enix. As denizens of the new and visually stunning realm of Eorzea, players will actively engage in compelling storylines narrated through high-definition, real-time events featuring the players’ own highly personalized and versatile characters. While exploring even the farthest reaches of this magnificent world, adventurers are given the freedom to entirely alter their gameplay experience by simply swapping out equipment, and realize objectives with or without the aid of others. The entire experience is crafted to accommodate the widest variety of play styles—from the lone mercenary with only moments a day to spare, to the legion of comrades campaigning for days on end, and every combination in between. Join players from around the world in an adventure of infinite possibilities. NOTICE: This product requires: (1) an active internet connection; (2) monthly recurring subscription fees; and (3) agreement to certain license and usage terms (available at FINALFANTASYXIV.COM). Currently, children under age 13 are not permitted to play; users 13-17 require parental consent. Users are granted a limited, revocable license only and do not own any data or intellectual property generated during gameplay. -Excerpts from the Official Product Description

 

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    • profile image

      InfiniteDreamer 5 years ago

      A very good list, although I must disagree with the characters of Final Fantasy VII being a labeled "cons." ;)

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image
      Author

      ChemKnitsBlog2 6 years ago

      @finalfantasyxvi: FF VII is third on his list of favorite FF games. He never played FF V. Vote them up in the plexo :)

    • finalfantasyxvi profile image

      finalfantasyxvi 6 years ago

      Why is Final Fantasy VII on the bottom of the rank. It should be near the top.

      I want Final Fantasy V and VI at the top.

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image
      Author

      ChemKnitsBlog2 6 years ago

      @mythphile: :) I'm still waiting on my fiance to write out his reviews... I got him to do the rankings, but now I'm still waiting waiting waiting :/

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 6 years ago from California

      Final Fantasy X addict checking in. ;)