It’s been two years since I first stepped into the world of Final Fantasy. What started with one game’s port to PlayStation 4, and ending with a library of multiple games on different consoles. Some were clear winners for the top five, others were just forgotten or left a bad taste in my mouth. While I was not able to play every Final Fantasy released, I played a good amount to gauge which are the best in the series. Many of the usual suspects are on this list, but there can only be one favorite Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X is the first game in the series to have 3D models and voice work. While this game is a staple for this reason, I had few dislikes with this game. The English voice work is laughable at times, and the linear story progression can be a bit dull, as you spend your time walking along a pre-determined path.
Not all is bad about this game, the turn-based battle system differs from previous game as you can swap out characters mid-battle. This will become necessary as you soon learn some enemies can only be defeated by certain party members. Wakka uses his blitzball to hit flying enemies, Lulu use her black magic to exploit enemies’ weaknesses, and of course, Yuna can summon her Aeons to deal heavy damage.
The game’s blitzball activity is also a unique add-on to the game. Who would have thought you could play a competitive sport in a Final Fantasy game?
Despite being number five in this list, Final Fantasy X is a game you should check out if you’re new to the series. Tidus and Yuna’s relationship is one of the more memorable from the franchise, and it’s perfect for those who dislike the sprite or PlayStation One-era graphics.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV describes itself as a “Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers,” and that’s exactly what it is. Final Fantasy XV stripped away the linear progression of previous games, as well as the turn-based combat to bring a fresh new experience for the player base.
The first open-world Final Fantasy – although some might argue previous games in the series were open-world – offers a whole region to explore. The world of Eos has different regions to visit, and each greatly differs in aesthetic. Each has its own set of side quests and NPCs to talk to, and all can be reached by driving in the Regalia with your party members.
What makes XV’s party members so enjoyable is they’re all familiar with each other. They each develop in their own way (more so in their character DLC) and all want what’s best for Noctis. Perhaps the best thing about your new party members are their unique abilities. Prompto can take photos during battle, Ignis can cook stat boosting food, and Gladio picks up items after each battle.
But there are dull moments in this game. The story is lacking and needed additional patches to make it flow better, combat can be too easy, and magic is overall confusing. I hardly use any magic due to the poorly-explained tutorial.
Nevertheless, it’s worth checking out with the upcoming Royal Edition.
Final Fantasy VII
Perhaps the most famous Final Fantasy of all-time, VII was a smash hit when it first released on the PlayStation One. The game left its sprite-based artwork from the cartridges behind, and enter it’s infamous “clunky” looking aesthetic, and introduced pre-rendered cutscenes to the franchise for the first time.
What makes Final Fantasy VII so memorable, is its great cast of characters, great music, and unforgettable moments that fans will never forget. Plus, who could forget one of the most famous Final Fantasy antagonists of all time, Sephiroth.
As we enter the top three of this list, there isn’t much negative to say about this game. Some may be turned away by the visuals of the game and may hold out until the remake, but those things should be ignored, so you can experience this great game.
Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI is my favorite inside a cartridge. Known as Final Fantasy III in North America, it’s an all-around blast to play.
Like Final Fantasy VII, VI has a great cast of characters and memorable moments. Edgar and Locke’s reaction to Terra using magic for the first time, and Cyan’s depressing moment with the Phantom Train are just a few that come to mind.
Music is a staple in every Final Fantasy game, and VI’s soundtrack is far from a disappointment. It’s fun to explore the world just to hear the soundtrack.
Storytelling in VI is one of my favorites. The branching story after meeting Banon is something I wish more games in the series did. The overall plot of the game is overall engaging and well-written.
Like Final Fantasy X mentioned before, the party members in VI also have unique abilities. Sabin’s blitz ability, Edgar’s use of tools, and Locke’s ability to steal from enemies are just a few I can mention.
All I can say is thank you Nintendo for including this in the Super Nintendo Classic Edition.
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX is definitely the one that grew on me. But what eventually made me realize it’s my favorite is the likeable cast of characters.
Zidane grows to care about Dagger/Garnett, Vivi strives to be more than just a puppet, and Steiner can’t believe he got dragged into all this, but he’ll protect Garnett to the end. And I can’t forget to mention Beatrix’s love for frogs.
Final Fantasy IX had some of the best areas I’ve been to in the franchise. Alexander, Dali, and Lindblum will always be in my memory. What makes these areas so great is they each had a unique objective in each one. Lindblum had the Festival of the Hunt and Cleyra tasked you with saving its resident; hopefully you can successfully guide them to safety.
The ending of IX, is without a doubt my favorite in the franchise. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s one of the happiest.
Final Fantasy IX will be tough to beat. Its characters, story, and music might always remain number one.