final fantasy 10 screenshot

The Top Ten Greatest Final Fantasy Games of All Time

Final Fantasy has been the torch bearer for Japanese Role Playing Games since the 90’s (at least in the Western markets), and has spawned a long running series with 15 numbered entries accompanied by a number of side games based on the property.

This top ten will do away with side stories, and sequels – so no Final Fantasy VII Remake, FF  XIII-2, FF X-2, etc. The list also won’t take into consideration the numbered games which are MMORPG’s like Final Fantasy XI, and XIV.

After all of the subtractions we are left with 13 entries that will be taken into consideration. The list contains some spoilers, and some humor. As always, the list is subjective, and the comments section below presents an opportunity for your agreement or disagreement with it.

So, without further ado:

10. Final Fantasy (NES) 1987

final fantasy 1 screenshot
And to think that this game might have been called “Fighting Fantasy”…

NER Score- 8.0 (Origins Edition)

Metacritic- 7.9

Overview:

The first Final Fantasy almost never got made, and after it did, it was almost was called ‘Fighting Fantasy’. Licensing problems made Square switch the ‘Fighting’ into ‘Final’ which I believe was for the best.

Preposterous as it might sound, Square was near bankruptcy in the late 80’s, and they really didn’t want anything to do with Hinorobu Sakaguchi’s  RPG idea, for two reasons: Sakaguchi wasn’t liked in the company, and the executives at Square thought Final Fantasy would flunk in sales.

Enix’s Japanese success with Dragon Warrior (Quest) however, prompted Square to green light Sakaguchi’s project, and the rest as they say is history. With over 1.90 million units sold (counting various remakes and ports) FF was a commercial success during the NES era.

Why it deserves the ranking:

While I wouldn’t call Final Fantasy a revolutionary game even for its time (Ultima and Dragon Quest are worthier of such praise), FF did something that DQ could not. It made JRPGs accessible to worldwide audiences, and popularized the genre as a viable one on home consoles.

While the game’s storyline can be considered basic, and simplistic in contrast to subsequent FF games, and JRPGS as a whole, no one can deny than in 1987  FF was as epic as games got. An easy to get into, but deep Turn Based combat system, and the use of vehicles to traverse the over-world made it a special experience in those early gaming days.

Even if the game as a whole didn’t age well, many of the concepts that it introduced were series mainstays for more than a decade.

Why it might not:

Basic story, and pedestrian translation. FF is an example of an early game in the genre, and it would be a boring (if tedious) experience to play today.  A 79 Metacritic score isn’t impressive either.

Mont Cessna’s take:

It might have been fun back in the NES days, but it’s almost unplayable now, compared to FF 10.

9. Final Fantasy V (SNES) 1992

final fantasy 5 screenshot
Despite the simple graphics, the combat system is complex.

NER Score: 8.5

Metacritic: 8.3

Overview:

The fifth installment in as many years since the original Final Fantasy, is perhaps the most complex Final Fantasy of them all. Yoshitaka Amano returns for the fifth time as the character designer, and FFV keeps the tradition of a story revolving around the Crystals.

What differentiates Final Fantasy V from other entries in the series is its Job/Class system which is deep and allows for unparalleled customization. The game sold 2 million units in Japan, and according to one of the game’s translators the game was never sold in America (Until the Anthology PS1 release) because Square deemed the game ‘inaccessible’ to the average (western) gamer.

Why it deserves its ranking:

The Job system. The series never featured such a complex character progression system before FFV, and certainly never went back to the same system afterwards. Killing the last boss with a ‘Coin Toss’ ability (after getting whooped a few times before trying that approach) shows the amount of diverse skills that can be used after Mastering a variety of Job Classes. Like every other  Final Fantasy game, the music is top notch, and the story is decent enough.

Why it might not:

One word, or rather name: ExDeath. ExDeath has to be the stupidest name ever given to a villain in an RPG game. Kinda sounds like a name for a failed 90’s heavy metal band. The plot itself actually nonsensical at times. However, we must remember this game was released in 1992, and it wasn’t until 1992’s Sega CD’s Lunar: The Silver Star that JRPGs actually began to showcase great dialog, and character development. From FF1-5, the series told stories, but the dialog was very basic, and the character development was lacking in several areas. Lunar raised the dialog, and scripts in the genre closer to the level seen in anime shows of the day.

Mont Cessna’s take:

An excellent entry in the series that sets the graphical groundwork for FF6, FFV’s extremely complex job system can be a turnoff for some players.

8. Final Fantasy IV (SNES) 1991

final fantasy 4 screenshot
A fleet of airships.

NER Score: 7.5 (Chronicles Edition)

Gamerankings: 8.7

Overview:

Released in 1991 for the SNES, and known as FFII in the West, Final Fantasy IV pioneered the Active Time Battle system  (time didn’t stop for enemies, and party members while taking turns during combat). The system would become a permanent staple of the series.

Final Fantasy IV is often credited for advancing the way that stories were told in the series. With a cast of characters in which each member had a different personality and back ground, FFIV added some much needed depth to series.

Why it deserves its ranking:

Out of all of the Final Fantasies prior to the release of Final Fantasy VI, FFIV is the one that tells the best story. Now, this isn’t exactly saying much, but needless to say, many feel it set the foundations that later FF’s would follow (and surpass). It is credited with being the first role-playing video game to feature a “Dramatic Storyline”

Why it might not:

The game’s story hasn’t aged that well. Most FF fans will cry in anguish screaming: “HERESY!” when told that Lunar: The Silver Star was truly the first JRPG with a story worth telling  ( and one that has aged like fine wine). Then again, most Final Fantasy fans have never played a Lunar game …and I doubt most have actually ever played Final Fantasy IV. So take their sentiment with a grain of salt.

Considering that Lunar was released a year after FFIV, it is possible that Square’s game influenced it somewhat, but the fact that it clearly surpassed it leaves me thinking that maybe FFIV is overrated when it comes to its “Dramatic Story Telling” credentials. However, I did play the game late when it was re-released as a PS1 game bundled with Chrono Trigger. Perhaps, if I had played the game back in 1991, I would have had more reverence for the title.

Mont Cessna’s take:

A decent story, basic Final Fantasy SNES combat, and a lot of familiar themes (airships, crystals, empires, etc.) make FFIV worth playing for FF fans. However, it certainly hasn’t aged as well as Chrono Trigger or the original Star Ocean.

7. Final Fantasy XII (PS2) 2006

final fantasy 12 screenshot
FF XII certainly impressed with its graphics.

NER Score: 9.0

Metacritic: 9.2

Overview:

Final Fantasy XII is the first numbered game in the series (let’s pretend FFXI doesn’t exist) in which  Sakaguchi and Uematsu (for the most part) didn’t have a hand in the development of the product.  As such, despite a long, and troubled development period the expectations for the title were high. In 2006 JRPGs were starting to lose some relevance in the West but Final Fantasy as a brand remained strong.

Final Fantasy XII delivered a very good RPG, which had more elements in common with MMORPGs of the time than with the actual Final Fantasy series. The game provided a clear shift from what was expected out of the series, and its critical reception was ( as evidenced by Metacritic) fantastic. In fact, in terms of critical reception the game equaled Final Fantasy VII, and X. Only Final Fantasy IX has been better received.

Why it deserves its ranking:

Think about this: No post Sakaguchi Final Fantasy game has broken into the 90’s on the Metacritic rating scale. Thats nearly 20 years of Final Fantasy games being made, and none has matched the quality of Sakaguchi’s 90’s FF run. None, except one. Final Fantasy XII.

The game was a refreshing turn from Square’s “Pop” culture inspired entries of FFVIII, FFX-2, and the Kingdom Hearts series.

Final Fantasy XII doesn’t play, or sound, or even feel like a Final Fantasy game, but it is definitely one of the greatest JRPGs ever made. From its politically charged war story, to the MMORPG set up, the game would have rated equally high in critic scores had it been named something else rather than FFXII.  Sales wise, it sold 6 million units (PS2) which is a decent number ( though not quite as high as FFX’s). It is an excellent game, and one deserving of praise.

Why it might not:

The real Final Fantasy XII was a game called “Lost Odyssey” for the Xbox 360. There, I said it. Lost Odyssey played, looked, felt and sounded like a Final Fantasy game. FFXII didn’t. Therefore, perhaps I should have excluded the game from the list, after all, I did ignore the FF Online entries (even though they are numbered).

For many fans the series ended with Sakaguchi’s departure (I was in that camp until FFXV). Perhaps, I am now a heretic in their eyes.

Mont Cessna’s take:

This is just a Star Wars ripoff shoehorned into a Final Fantasy game.

6. Final Fantasy VIII (PS1) 1999

final fantasy 8 screenshot
Maybe if as much effort had been put into the story and battle system as the video cut-scenes, this would be a better game.

NER Score: 8.5

Metacritic score: 9.0

Overview:

Final Fantasy VIII might have been the first time that Tetsuya Nomura was given complete freedom in designing the characters (complete with their back stories), and the result of it is an amnesiac cast (Equipping Summons erased their memories…) of young High School Students who are 17 in the story, but in reality look 25.  If that sounds like the premise for a Mexican Teen Soap Opera from the late 90’s, early 00’s, then you are not mistaken ( and probably watched too much Univision).

2000’s ‘Primer Amor: A Mil Por Hora’ is that Mexican soap opera. It came packed with High School Students dressed in cool black military outfits. It is truly eerie that Mexican, and Japanese pop cultures would converge in such a way in the late 90s. A Mil Por Hora came out nearly a year after FFVIII, so perhaps, FFVIII was more inspiring during its epoch than I have given the game credit for. You be the judge:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FFVIII was Final Fantasy’s first foray into pop culture inspired characters. For better or worse, it marked the start of a shift in that general (pop culture) direction by Squaresoft. Protagonist Squall Lion heart was actually supposed to be more feminine had Nomura gotten his way (thankfully Kitase had better sense).

Conceptual direction aside, FFVIII was a visual tour de force of the PS1. It is the most gorgeous JRPG available on the system, with only FFIX having a strong case as a better looking game. Final Fantasy VIII also introduced some new concepts, and gameplay shifts to the series (and JRPGs in general).

The Junction system, and the fact that spells had to be drawn from ‘draw points’ across the game world was a jarring change that some people loved, and others detested. A four Disc beast in its hey day, FFVIII was a more about style than substance, and it worked for the game. With over 9 million units sold to this day (across all platforms) the game was also a resounding commercial success.

Why it deserves its ranking:

Out of Final Fantasy VI to FFX, Final Fantasy VIII is by far the weakest entry of the series. However, being the weakest entry out of that particular all time great cast during the peak of the series is akin to being the weakest member of an NBA all star team. Said member would still kick major butt.

FFVIII brought ‘reality'( at least in terms of artistic direction), to a series that had been previously defined by  sword and sorcery (FF1-5), and Steam Punk mixed with Magic (FF6-7) settings. While futuristic in most aspects, FFVIII also has a mix modern architecture, and clothing styles for its characters. The world has rental cars, trains, machine guns, and ballroom dances.

It was a fresh take on the genre back in 1999, and truth be told it was an impressive game at the time of its release. The ‘Draw’ spell system eventually made a return in Final Fantasy XV.

Storywise, while the characters for the most part lacked interesting backgrounds, and the entire story dealt with “time compression” which is another word for “nonsensical mess”, the characters did have better written dialog. and more depth added to their personalities than the characters in previous games in the series.

Why it might not:

I had called FFVIII the black sheep or odd duck of the series back in the early 00’s. Of course, FFXIII would eventually come around, and completely take the mantle of “black sheep” away from VIII. That doesn’t mean FFVIII is a great game, it was all style, and no substance and that was enough in the early days of 3-D graphics.

FFVIII started the tradition of Squaresoft elevating pedestrian games into a false pedestal of “greatness” by virtue of their amazingly well done CG scenes.  Quite simply, critics and fans alike were blinded by the flashy presentation and conned into rating the game higher than it deserved.

For starters, the Junction system turned many people off. The nonsensical story about Guardian Forces (summons) erasing the memories of those who equip them as an explanation for the amnesiac cast was an easy cop out for Nomura and Kojima. Time compression itself seemed like an odd choice for a story to be used in the FF universe (Of Course Nomura and Kojima would later screw up FFVIIR by adding alternate timelines to it). The script that eventually became Xenogears was turned down by Squaresoft as a possible FFVII story concept because it was too complex and dark. But for all of the complexities of Xenogears, its story actually manages to make sense, which is something that FFVIII never achieves.

Strip away FFVIII’s presentation, and you are left with the second worst playing game in the series, and decent card game. I have never hated a last boss (in terms of frustration)  as I did  Final Fantasy VIII’s last stretch of battles.

Mont Cessna’s take:

I’ll be honest. This is one of my least favorite Final Fantasy games.

5. Final Fantasy XV (PS4/XboxOne) 2016

 

final fantasy 15 screenshot
Yes, these are your heroes, no, really! These K-Pop band members are the heroes of FFXV!

NER Score: 9.o

Metacritic: 8.1

Overview:

A band of best buddies, which seems to be more manufactured than a Korean pop boy band, embark on a road trip that will eventually turn into a world saving quest. The premise, and the all male cast weren’t exactly well received at first, but FFXV, after being taken out of Nomura’s destructive hands flourished under Tabata, and eventually became a pretty good game.

Final Fantasy XV is the first game in the numbered series to ditch turn based battles in favor of an action system. It served the game well, as the more ‘open world’ is heavily reliant on monster hunts and – therefore – battles galore await.

Why it deserves its ranking:

After FFXIII, many would say that the series had nowhere to go but “up”. However, Final Fantasy XV did more than just turn out to be a good game. FFXV restored my faith in a series that I had given up hope for after Sakaguchi departed Squaresoft.

The game took some bold risks, and even introduced the series to a semi open world that did a good job in creating a certain atmosphere for the player. Having a car, and Coleman camping equipment made FFXV the most ‘realistic’ FF yet, and it felt like a return to FFVIII’s art style.

By including every FF soundtrack ever made, FFXV feels like a celebration of previous titles, and even Magitek enemies make a resurgence as a nod to FFVI. Considering that Tetsuya Nomura had the game under his care for 8 years, it is a miracle that FFXV was eventually saved, and turned into a very good game by Hajime Tabata.

The all male cast actually worked in terms of storytelling, and it provided a surprisingly emotional conclusion to the quest. The story is weak, and even Lunafreya which is a massively important character didn’t get enough character development for my liking. The movie Kingsglaive did a much better job presenting her character, than the actual game did.

However, the all male party, and their friendship tale pretty much took over whatever flaws the plot had, and it was probably all around the most engaging story that the series has seen since FFX. While some might have consider having FFXV ranked above FFVIII a heretic move, I have to say that Noct’s love for his friends was much more powerful, and convincing than Squall’s love for Rinoa.

Why it might not:

Final Fantasy hasn’t been Final Fantasy since Sakaguchi’s departure. FFXV is better than FFXIII, but that might not be saying much because FFXIII was a complete disaster. There is also the issue of people looking at FFXV’s cast and seeing this:

Though, to be fair, gladiolus would wreck all of the above members at once by flicking his finger. The fact of the matter is that FFXV – even more so than FFVIII’s Mexican teen soap opera cast – forgoes conventional wisdom in order to present a cast more akin to the pop culture icons of the times than an actual party of battle hardened heroes.

One of  Final Fantasy VIII’s legacies in terms of artistic direction, and storytelling is the expectancy that the world has to be saved from impending doom brought about by a terrible Villain by a cast that looks like this:

Mexican teen pop band

Rather than by a cast that looks like this:

SAS forces

The comparison is extreme, but for the sake of argument it is one that must be made. The fact that you have to watch an anime mini series, and a pretty CG film in order to ‘grasp’ FFXV’s deep story doesn’t help matters either.

The other problem with FFXV is its actual open world, which isn’t really open.

FFXV’s game world is large, but largely restrictive in the things that you can and can’t do. It pales in comparison to The Witcher 3’s world, and Zelda’s own foray into the “western” open world style with Breath of the Wild.

In many ways FFXV succeeds at modernizing the FF series, and making it a better game than FFXIII was, yet in many others the series remains behind every modern Western Open World RPG that has been released over the last decade, and way behind Zelda’s own reinvention of itself.

Mont Cessna’s take:

Kill it with fire. Final Fantasy has gone so far off the rails from what made 6, 7 and 10 great, and gone full boy band.

4. Final Fantasy X (PS2) 2001

Final Fantasy X fixed Square’s butchering of FFVIII’s love story.

NER Score: 9.5

Metacritic: 9.2

Overview:

Final Fantasy X marked the first entrance of the series into the PS2 generation, and Sakaguchi’s Final, Final Fantasy game.  The visuals were impressive back in 2001, and case can be made for the game still looking pretty good. The CG scenes were more advanced than anything seen in the industry at the time, and it had engaging love story between protagonists Tidus and Yuna.

Final Fantasy X did away with the miniaturized world map, and instead was largely linear and focused affair, though towns and NPCs were present. The game also introduced voice acting to the series and it also had one of the most memorable soundtracks in full orchestrated glory.

The game ended up selling 8.5 million units on the PS2 alone.

Why it earned its ranking:

Final Fantasy X delivers on Final Fantasy VIII’s failed promise of an epic and touching love story. Final Fantasy X also delivered what I find to be the series most enjoyable brand of turn based combat, as it is fast paced,  and you can swap characters in and out. The Sphere grid progression system was also a blessing and I find it to be my favorite way of leveling up characters in an FF game alongside FFVII’s Materia system.

On the music side Uematsu says goodbye to the series with one of this best soundtracks ever, ‘Suteki Da Ne’ is one of the most beautiful tracks that you will ever hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Fantasy X got pretty much everything right. The story as a whole is not as memorable as the more iconic stories of Final Fantasy (VI and VII), but Tidus and Yuna left an impression on me. The heart wrenching finale is probably the best in the series along with IX’s memorable ending. Final Fantasy X also gave us Auron. If you need an explanation of  Auron’s  awesomeness, then it means that you never played the game.

Why it might not:

Two words and two numbers: FFX-2. The game ruined FFX’s open ending as a stand alone story, and started the tradition of Squaresoft milking the franchise. The travesty that was FFXIII (and XIII-2, XIII-3) had its roots here. Truly this isn’t FFX’s fault, but the blame has to fall somewhere. Some would say that Final Fantasy X was too linear, and streamlined in nature.

Mont Cessna’s take:

FFX is the best game in the series, in my opinion. The first in the series on the PS2, the visuals are a big upgrade from FFIX. Combat is also excellent, and fast paced. Think of all the good things about PS1 FF games, except on the PS2. My only gripe is that the game isn’t longer.

3. Final Fantasy VI (SNES) 1994

One of the most iconic introductions ever…

NER Score: 9.5 (Anthology Edition)

GameRankings Score: 9.4

Overview:

Final Fantasy VI was known as Final Fantasy III in America back when it was first released on the SNES in 1994. The game was truly the culmination of the series during the 16 bit era, it was incredibly polished and remains a standard for 2-D JRPGs to this day.

The game featured improved graphical fidelity from its predecessors, and a more dramatic way of storytelling, perhaps the first cinematic JRPG without the use of actual FMVs. The game introduced a likable cast of characters, all with their unique backgrounds and stories to tell. FFVI would also mark the first departure of the series from the Sword and Sorcery themes in relation to the Crystals and into a new mix of technology and magic closely resembling a Steam Punk setting. The series wouldn’t return to its roots again until the 9th installment.

Why it deserves its ranking:

Before any praise is given to the game, you must watch the video below and listen to its melody. There is not a more haunting track in the Final Fantasy series than what perhaps is Uematsu’s best composition ever in “Aria di Mezzo Carattere”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FFVI’s soundtrack as a whole can’t be topped, and in some ways neither can its mix of magic and steam punk techno artwork. This is both Nobuo Uematsu’s and Yoshitaka Amano’s finest hour.  Some would say that the game is also Yoshinori Kitase’s finest hour as a story writer.

In short. There is too much that Final Fantasy VI did right, in fact it was a struggle for me to properly rank the game in this list simply because after all of the ‘Final Fantasy VII compilation’ garbage (including the so called “Remake” which should have been FFVII-2 instead) I feel that FFVI still keeps its mystique as a legendary game, and FFVII has lost some of its luster.

Final Fantasy VI was the first Final Fantasy game where every party member was given near equal importance, as the developers wanted to create a game where every party member was the protagonist.  The game succeeded partly at that, simply because Terra, Celes and Locke were too endearing.

I am surprised SquareEnix hasn’t attempted to milk Final Fantasy VI’s universe, which is for the best considering what has been done to FFVII. That said, FFVI is equally as great as FFVII, I just have a personal preference for the PS1 classic. FFVI could easily be the number one game on this list.

Why it might not:

There are not many good reasons for the game not earning its place in the top three…but for the sake of argument  here we go!

Kefka is overrated. One of the big contention point amongst fanboys in forums is whether Kekfa is the best villain the series has ever seen. To that I say, Kefka is as good a villain as Game of Throne’s Joffrey.  They are both wimps who somehow found themselves in a position of power, one was a pampered child, and the other is a mad scientist/wizard with a clown complex.

If Kefka was a little less cunning, a little less intelligent, and did not wear clown make up…he would be Joffrey…they are in the same stratosphere of ‘annoying’.

FFVII’s Sephiroth was a guy that you didn’t want to cross swords with from the get go, and Kefka was a guy that you regretted that the game didn’t give you an opportunity to kill his puny little behind in Figaro’s desert when the game had a chance early to end its run of lunacy. Some will point out to Kefka’s ending of the world as his trump card in the villain rivalry with Sephiroth. But Kefka didn’t end the world, he just destroyed it. The main party comes away alive and well from the predicament. Sephiroth did, for his part, kill one of the most important characters in the main party which in the end was more personal, and unforgiving (that Sephiroth bastard had to pay!) for the player.

Mont Cessna’s take:

Hate me all you want, but I think FF6 is better than FF7. It is actually my #2 FF game. FF6 had noble heroes trying to save the world, excellent music, a number of very emotionally powerful scenes, and decent combat. Well worth playing through. Also, Kefka would beat Sephiroth in a fight. Samuel’s opinion that Kefka is like Jeoffrey from GoT is heresy.

2. Final Fantasy VII (PS1) 1997

final fantasy 7 screenshot
Cloud being stopped by soldiers.

NER score: 9.5 (Switch port)

Metacritic: 9.2

Overview:

Final Fantasy VII boomed the JRPG genre into its golden era in 1997.  A massive marketing campaign, including one commercial that took shots at the Nintendo 64’s cartridge format,  help FFVII to become the highest selling (10 million units on PS1) FF in history, and the series most prostituted entry yet. Its popularity has held fast for more than 2 decades, which it’s both its blessing and curse.

Final Fantasy VII brought the series into the 3-D dimension with the clever use of  pre-rendered backdrops for cities and dungeons, and a large (at the time) traversable world map in 3 Dimensions which replaced the previous use of Mode 7 graphics for the world map trick in its predecessors.

The game also built on FFVI’s plot structure crafting an even deeper storyline, with deeper characters. The story would be aided this time around by CG cutscenes depicting some of the game’s most dramatic moments.

1997 was an unforgettable year, we were still in the midst of the 90’s, music was still good and that particular year brought us Natalia Imbruglia and Final Fantasy VII. Thank you 1997!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why it earned its ranking:

Final Fantasy VII is every bit as great as FFVI was, but in terms of story it takes everything a little further, and little deeper. It was a literary masterpiece, at least as far as video games went, bad translation be damned Final Fantasy opened our feeble teenage minds as to how mind blowing Sci-Fi stories could be.

The game launched thousands of kids into writing careers (as evidenced by the mass amount of FFVII themed fan pics), and turned the Final Fantasy brand into a mainstream sales success (which eventually led to the its demise in quality, but that’s a story for another day).  Final Fantasy VII opened the door for JRPGs to become one of the “cool” and popular gaming genres of the 90s, it also opened the door for Square to release a vast collection of ports of previous FF entries, and even the great Chrono Trigger saw a PS1 port in the FF Chronicles edition.

Apart from its influence on the market -FFVII the game – was an absolute masterpiece.  The combination of an engrossing storyline, the most heartbreaking moment in video gaming history, gorgeous visuals, incredible music, and a refinement on the series gameplay, made FFVII the ultimate JRPG experience on the planet.

The side quests, and mini games rounded out what at the time was considered a near perfect package that would only be surpassed in its genre by our next entry in the top ten.

Why it might not:

Some of the mystique is gone now. The compilation of FFVII and the new remake/sequel have muddled the memories of how great the original truly was.  Some would say the 3rd disc was rushed, and they would be right it. There is also the issue with the blocky super deformed characters which honestly looked like utter garbage in contrast to what we would see in FFVIII’s character models 2 years later.

A case can be that made FFVI is better when taken as a whole into consideration. That is a case that I can debate against, but can also make a good argument for.

Mont Cessna’s take:

I rank this #3. Compared to a more modern FF like FFX, the gameplay is slow, the dialogue isn’t the greatest and the combat can be a bit simplistic, but it’s a solid game that really exploded JRPGs into the mainstream in the West.

1. Final Fantasy IX (PS1) 2000

final fantasy 9 screenshot
Quite a group of characters.

NER Score: 10

Metacritic: 9.4

Overview:

Final Fantasy IX was the last FF game on the PS1, one that was conceived by Sakaguchi himself, and it marked the return of the series to the sword and sorcery setting of old. The wooden flying ships were back, as were the black mages. The visual style called for Amano to return, and he did return in glorious style.

FFIX doesn’t have the fanfare of the previous two titles  as demonstrated by its more moderate 5.5 million (PS1) sales. But its critical reception in unmatched by the other FF entries. A perfect way to enter the new millenium along with Chrono Cross, Majora’s Mask, and Linkin Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why it deserves its ranking:

Final Fantasy IX is the culmination of more than a decade of game making by Hironobu Sakaguchi. The game is polished to perfection. Square showed  its mastery of the PS1 hardware, storytelling, and pacing in FFIX. None of the problems that plagued previous entries are present here, the game is excellent, and even manages to mix a few elements from previous entries into its storyline and characters.

The lack of humor, a big issue in the series prior to this entry is solved in FFIX, and even in its lighter approach it manages to deliver a compelling, drama filled story than even delivers a competent romantic pairing between our two main Protagonists Zidane and Garnet.

FFIX arrived during PS2’s  launch window, which is probably why the game didn’t sell as well as the two previous entries, because in terms of quality it is hard to point a single glaring flaw in this game. This is truly the pinnacle of the FF series under its original creator, and the series only had one way to go after it: Down.

Why it might not:

Unless you have a personal preference for any of the games on this list, I don’t see how FFIX isn’t the best FF game ever made.

Mont Cessna’s take:

A well-polished game, FF9 might be a little too polished. I found the characters and story kind of bland and predictable. The graphics are also a bit much for display on a regular, old CRT television and can be muddy at times. This is probably my #4 Final Fantasy game, as it is very polished and retains the classic style we all love.

Agree with the author? Couldn’t disagree more and are frothing at the mouth to tell him? Leave a comment below and make sure to follow Never Ending Realm on Facebook and Twitter!