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Final Fantasy The 10 Best Games In The Series

Final Fantasy, what can I say that hasn’t already been said about this series? The series itself is a household name and is one of the most recognizable video game series in history. Just look at all the numbered sequels, and the many spin-offs and sequels… Even if we would like to forget about some of them.

The series started on the NES in 1987 and is still going. That just shows how strong the brand is and not only that the love and care put into these projects. Many of us grew up with the series and fell deep in their rich story, lore and unforgettable music. This is probably why the series is still here to this very day. It pulls on our emotions from the past, just hearing the name “Final Fantasy” can cough up a couple of memories or past conversations.

Fortunately, most games in the Final Fantasy series are at the very least good, while many are great, and others are masterpieces. I’ll be diving in headfirst; I’m excited to do this, so let’s get started!

10: Final Fantasy V

🔹Original Platform: Super Famicom (SNES)
🔹Sales: 2.45 million (SNES)
🔹Buy Now: GBA, PS1, Google Play, App Store, Steam

Final Fantasy 5 was the last we’ve seen a medieval-themed Final Fantasy game until 9, which was released in 2000. Anyways, gameplay-wise, Final Fantasy 5 is exquisite. The Job System before was overhauled significantly, which gave fans so many possibilities to approach the games ATB.

The game would’ve been much higher on this list if it wasn’t for the ‘okay’ story and ‘okay’ characters, but you can tell Square committed to giving us a better gameplay experience, and it showed. Though, I can’t seem to remember a single character’s name or any of the plot. Unfortunately, the unmemorable and uninteresting story undercuts some of the very best gameplay the series has ever seen.

09: Final Fantasy III

🔹Original Platform: Famicom (NES)
🔹Sales: 1.4 million (NES)
🔹Buy Now: DS, Steam, Google Play, App Store

Final Fantasy 3 didn’t reach North American shores until the full remake, which was released in 2006 on the Nintendo DS. This was the very first Final Fantasy game I ever played and since I was young, this was the hardest game ever. To be honest, I didn’t even get past the first cave. I know, but I did end up finishing the game back in high school. Anywho, the original Famicom release in 1990 was the first in the series to start moving towards some of Final Fantasy’s most well-known systems. Namely, the summon system, which is honestly my favourite part of the battle.

Video: Doppledumb (YouTube)

Just look at these beautiful animations and graphics. So thank Final Fantasy 3 for that!

Oh, and before I forget and move on, the DS remake was the one I played, it’s entirely rendered in 3D and primarily plays like the NES entry. The story plays out much the same as the first game in the series. In conclusion, Final Fantasy 3 is the best of the NES-era Final Fantasy games.

08: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

🔹Original Platform: PC
🔹Sales: 10.9 million
🔹Buy Now: PS3, PS4, PC

A Realm Reborn, which reappeared in 2013, was on the PC, PS3, and PS4 the following year, is terrific. Featuring a plethora of side quests, raids and engaging PvP battles, A Realm Reborn is the type of MMO that you can quickly lose hours too.

The setting of Hydalyn is one of the best Final Fantasy settings ever, and the story and lore oh boy, let me say they are one of the best in terms of MMOs. Three amazing expansions have been released of the time of this article, including the recent and excellent Shadow Bringers.

The reason why I picked A Realm Reborn over Shadownbringers is that A Realm Reborn is like a Phoenix being reborn from the ashes. If you don’t fancy MMOs, Final Fantasy XIV could very well change your mind.

07: Final Fantasy VII

🔹Original Platform: Playstation
🔹Sales: 9.9 million
🔹Buy Now: NS (Twinpack: FF 7 & 8), PS4 (digital), XBO (digital), Steam, PS1, Google Play, App Store

Final Fantasy VII (PS1) | Screenshot: Square Enix

Now, before you use that Ultima Weapon on me, let me just say. This game is arguably the most iconic entry in the franchise; Final Fantasy 7’s slotting on my list might disappoint some loyal fans, but fear not, I shall explain. Final Fantasy 7 has a brilliant story, featuring some of the most deservedly beloved characters in gaming, both good and evil, in series history. I love Final Fantasy 7.

But the nostalgia-blinded memory of the title and the endless hype surrounding it ever since would sometimes more often conceal its blemishes. For one, the jump to 3D wasn’t that great the battle system was slow and gameplay-wise, Final Fantasy VII didn’t do much to build off of Final Fantasy 6. In short, it wasn’t the most smooth move into the 32-bit era.

It’s a great game, but it’s also one of the post-NES entries that might be hard to go back to, especially since episode one of the remake is out, and my golly miss molly cloud sure looks great.

Final Fantasy 7 is probably one of the most important entries in the series, and it shows with its remake. It’ll allow a new generation of fans to experience this great game and its story.

06: Final Fantasy VIII

🔹Original Platform: Playstation
🔹Sales: 9.6 million
🔹Buy Now: NS (Twinpack: FF 7 & 8), Steam, PS4 (digital), XBO (digital)

Final Fantasy 8 is probably the boldest and oddest entry in the series, and that’s a big reason why I love it and why it’s slotted so high on my list. I was so happy when the game had finally gotten a re-release, I thought the executives at Square Enix just didn’t like the title at all, but I thought wrong.

Final Fantasy 8 reinvented active time battle without altogether abandoning the series’ roots. It’s new junction system replaced armour and other accessories for customization; also, each main character had a set weapon which drastically affected their combat style. Now the most significant change, however, was the increased emphasis on summoning. If Final Fantasy 3 started it, Final Fantasy 8 cranked it up to 1000 and then some! Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, let’s just throw in a fun collectible card game and a significantly different scaled levelling system. Final Fantasy 8 felt like the first bold step in a new direction. All of the gameplay changes the developers made worked in interesting ways, and they allowed the player to choose how they wanted to approach the experience.

The planet you are on is a futuristic set of five landmasses based on Europe; each prerendered

map was so detailed at the time. While its predecessor introduced 3D models, albeit not so pretty ones, Final Fantasy 8 significantly refined their 3D models with much greater detail so that we could see Squall and his friends in better detail. I’m delighted that Square Enix is finally showing the title some much-needed love.

05: Final Fantasy XII

🔹Original Platform: Playstation 2
🔹Sales: 6.4 million
🔹Buy Now: NS, PS4, XBO

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age | Screenshot: Square Enix

After revisiting Final Fantasy 12 via the HD remasters, it made me understand the truth about this 2006 PS2 classic: It’s a modern masterpiece. The title was the first mainline, non-MMO to drop random battles in favour of real-time combat, Final Fantasy 12 was divisive amongst fans. Since the game played so differently than its predecessors, it was really hard to compare Final Fantasy 12 to any other title in the series. More than a decade later, Final Fantasy 12 remains incomparable, and that’s the reason why it’s so high on my list.

The beautifully designed world of Ivalice is filled with exciting characters with richly detailed environments and exquisite architecture to marvel at. The battle system, formerly known as the Active Dimension Battle System, was incredibly deep thanks to the gambit system and the modified Limit Break system called Quickenings. The game also featured The License Board, which to me, furthered nuance to the levelling system, similar to the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy 10.

To be honest, Final Fantasy 12’s beginning hours don’t excite me as much as some other titles in the franchise, but once you get into it, the world opens up more. You get used to the new battle system, and the world of Ivalice gives home to one of the deepest and most rewarding Final Fantasy experiences around.

04: Final Fantasy IV

🔹Original Platform: Super Famicon (SNES)
🔹Sales: 1.1 million (NDS)
🔹Buy Now: DS, Steam, Google Play, App Store

Final Fantasy 4 was the first entry in the series for the Super Nintendo, and the title is the first Final Fantasy that mattered. Final Fantasy 4 turned the franchise into a juggernaut. Final Fantasy 4 ushered in the active time battle era, a system that will continue up until Final Fantasy X.

Final Fantasy 4 was the first entry in the series for the Super Nintendo, and the title is the first Final Fantasy that mattered. Final Fantasy 4 turned the franchise into a juggernaut. Final Fantasy 4 ushered in the active time battle era, a system that will continue up until Final Fantasy X.

The story primarily follows Cecil, his love interest Rosa, and his longtime friend Kain. Still, the game has a sizable cast of supporting characters that contribute to the story that revolves around the Lunarians, a race who lives on a fake moon near the Earth. The class system also received a nice new layer of polish, as each class felt designed to tell a specific aspect of the story.

The introduction of the active time battle system and the new focus on character-driven narratives made Final Fantasy 4 feel like a significant cut above its predecessors. Final Fantasy 4 is the most important entry in the series, and it remains one of the very best. I played the remake on the DS, and I was blown away.

03: Final Fantasy X

🔹Original Platform: Playstation 2
🔹Sales: 2.3 million (US)
🔹Buy Now: NS, PS4, XBO, Steam

Yes, the nostalgia is playing a very minimal role here, but I must say Final Fantasy 10 is as amazing today as it was in 2001. The Playstation 2 allowed the leap to the next level compared to its predecessors. The Asian inspired lands of Spira and the detail in the character models looked more realistic than ever at the time. Although it’s a mostly linear experience, Final Fantasy 10 has a spacious and diverse environment along with great dungeons that feature some excellent puzzles.

Final Fantasy 10 has the greatest relationship in series history. Watching the story of Tidus and Yuna unfold made you feel butterflies. Their bond will continue to grow as he accompanies her on a journey to destroy Sin, which is also a delight to see.

Video: Romangelo (YouTube)

The cutscenes, which featured full voice acting for the first time, made my younger self’s jaw drop. It looked mighty impressive and still looks significant to this day. Yes, we even love the infamous laughing scene.

The story is told exclusively through Tidus’ perspective and is more focused than most Final Fantasy storylines. Sure, by today’s standards, it’s a little corny at times, but the corniness winds up making it more affecting.

Moreover, Final Fantasy 10 replaced the active time battle system with a truly conventional turn-based combat. The introduction of the sphere grid added depth to the levelling system, giving you the player far more choices that will essentially let you rework a character’s intended class. And, of course, who could ever forget Blitzball, the underwater sport that made our main man Tidus is famous.

Who would be down for a standalone Blitzball game? That would be great, right? The direct sequel isn’t as impactful, but it has charm, good music, and it’s hard to obtain ending.

02: Final Fantasy IX

🔹Original Platform: Playstation
🔹Sales: 5.5 million
🔹Buy Now: NS (digital), PS4 (digital), XBO (digital), PS1, Google Play, App Store, Steam

Final Fantasy IX | Screenshot: Square Enix

Final Fantasy 9 is a delightful and near-perfect throwback to the series roots. The classic crystals, a high fantasy setting, black mages, and plenty more for one last hurrah before the franchise would return to a more contemporary setting. Honestly, guys, the nostalgia is nice on this one right here, but the true secret to Final Fantasy 9’s success is its comfort and warmth. Zidane and other members of the bandit theatre troupe, Tantulus, truly feel like really close friends by the end of the adventure, and you along with them. It is rare to see a video game feature non-romantic love and closeness effectively, but it’s almost impossible not to get caught by Final Fantasy 9’s charming demeanour.

Final Fantasy 9 is a masterpiece. The soundtrack to this title is so good and the best score in Final Fantasy history, it features a collection of cities to wander through, and a perfect ending combined to make Final Fantasy 9 a journey that will only continue to grow ever since its debut in 2000.

01: Final Fantasy VI

🔹Original Platform: Playstation
🔹Sales: 3.4 million (SNES, PS1)
🔹Buy Now: Steam, Google Play, App Store, PS1, GBA

Final Fantasy VI | Screenshot: Square Enix

The best mainline Final Fantasy game was released in 1994 was Final Fantasy 6, an absolute triumph in every single sense. The title was originally released in North America as Final Fantasy 3, I know, I’m still just as confused as you are, Final Fantasy 6 was the last 16-bit mainline entry, and it ended it with a big bang. It featured a stellar cast of more than a dozen characters and introduced the steampunk-style world design that would be an influence on the Playstation games in the late 90s. This is where high Fantasy became the stuff of legend, and magic was replaced with scientific advances and the burgeoning technology from the Second Industrial Revolution.

The game was perfectly paced; Final Fantasy 6 achieved such a high level of narrative impact because of this setup. The first half introduces the cast, from the compelling starting protagonist, Terra Branford, to the rebel treasure hunter Locke Cole, all who want to take down the Empire.

The linearity of the first half allows these characters to grow as people, to let you build connections with every one of them – an impressive feat considering there are roughly a dozen major players on your side. But the back half of the game opened things up a lot more, allowing you to complete objectives and dungeons in a non-linear order. The level of freedom was astonishing at the time. Robust customization features, including a modified summoning system, unique magic spells, and a wealth of weapons, made the traditional active time battle system feel like a constant joy.

Everything in Final Fantasy 6, from the story to its battle systems to the world, made for a nearly flawless Final Fantasy experience. This was Square at their absolute best. While it may sound bad that Square hasn’t bested Final Fantasy 6 since it launched, it’s just a true testament to Final Fantasy 6’s staggering greatness. Truly a masterpiece.

As time goes on, the Final Fantasy name will be passed on as the series that redefined the JRPG genre through multiple decades. From its humble sprite-based beginnings on the NES to its marvellous big-budget titles on the PS4, it makes me a little bit happy to see a childhood franchise still going strong this very day.

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