With the release of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV approaching, let's revisit some of our favourites in the Final Fantasy series!
Most video game related websites would say that Final Fantasy VI (FF6) is the best instalment of the Final Fantasy series. However, as FF6 was released in 1994 and only on the SNES, unlike most games which have gone multi-platform for quite some time, most of us would have been too young to have played or understood the game. Myself, I am born in 1987 but at the age of six, I still was too young to appreciate it. Besides, I didn't own an SNES back then, just a Sega Mega Drive.
FF6, and all of the other earlier Final Fantasy games, are now available on the App Store. But I am not someone who would enjoy a classic game on a tiny little screen.
And for most of us 90s kids, FF7 is most likely the first Final Fantasy game we had our hands on. It might be the most memorable, but is it gonna make it to the top of Marvelous Toys' list of Final Fantasy games? We shall see.
Before we start, don't forget to check out our Final Fantasy collection here!
6. FINAL FANTASY VIII
Its extremely complicating levelling up and "Junction" magic system aside, FF8 would be remembered most for its graphics, soundtrack, and storyline. Its cutscenes were breathtaking; the music was emotional, and even spine-tingling at times; and the storyline, though has several plot holes, is still pretty mind-blowing.
Who can forget the very opening cutscene of Squall's sword fight with Seifer, which starts off with the chilling choral introduction of "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec". And the one in which the camera zooms into the face, and then they eye of the gargantuan Sorceress Adel, and the moment she opened it... Oooh... It unforgettably sent shudders down my spine!
The soundtrack, I'd dare say, is one of the best in the series. The theme song, Eyes on Me, written by Nobuo Uematsu and performed by Faye Wong, became a hit among gamers, otakus and fangirls alike. I remember it being a contestants' favourite in my secondary school's karaoke competition! The background music to Balamb Garden and Fisherman's Horizon left a deep impression too.
The story, though often confusing and riddled with a few convenient plot holes (e.g. how the use of Guardian Forces diminishes one's memories), provided many "what the heck?!" moments, especially the part when the party realised that the sorceress Edea was the matron of the orphanage they were in. I liked too how the game moved progressively towards the horror RPG genre as it progressed, which I think is a deviation from almost every other entry in the series.
5. FINAL FANTASY XII
Like FF8, I'd start with the less memorable parts of the game.
To be completely honest, I have completely no recollection of the plot of FF12! I know many gaming sites have praised its storyline but personally, nothing stood out for me. The soundtrack was largely disappointing too as it was the first Final Fantasy that was produced after Nobuo left Square.
However, I found the gameplay extremely fun and enjoyable! Gone were the random encounters in which the screen suddenly goes into a swirl. And gone too were the turn-based fighting, which was replaced with an active time battle in which you could control individual party members. It was also beautiful to watch too, with nice visual effects of slashing and hitting when targets or party members took damage.
And because of the action alone, I spent way much more time exploring the world in this game on this game as compared to others in the series, as I simply enjoyed it!
4. FINAL FANTASY XIII-2
Unlike it's predecessor, the main entry FF13, this sequel emphasised on gameplay over plot. But that's not to say that the storyline was mediocre. Those who played FF13 would have felt nostalgic revisiting the locations in FF13 (even though from a production point of view, this helped a lot in cost-cutting measures). The idea of travelling back and forth in time to fix time paradoxes was also gratifying and refreshing.
I'd say that this game is felt like one of the more "Japanese-y" and anime-like in the series, with an emo main character and an emo villain fighting over an emo goddess girl. However, it's mindblowing that Serah, who is engaged to Snow, spends the entire game with a guy who she barely knows travelling through time and the world, while leaving her fiancé stuck in a particular timeline. That just didn't make sense...
But the battle system, though only slightly changed from FF13, was never not fun and utterly entertaining throughout the game. In fact, I went around the in-game world to defeat every single monster and got a 100% trophy completion! It is my only 100% trophy completion on the Playstation to date.
3. FINAL FANTASY VII
It'd be a cardinal sin to not include FF7 in any list of Final Fantasy's top games. It has had such an impact on FF fans that it led to the production of a CGI movie and a couple of spin-off games. Loved by many, Square Enix has even announced a HD remake of the game and it is already in production.
Compared to other Final Fantasy games, the fighting in this one might be a little boring, tedious, or even repetitive. However, it's levelling up and Materia magic system were easily understood and enjoyable to play around with too.
And who can forget that it is the only Final Fantasy game that kills off one of your party members in the middle of the game?! That moment alone makes this game stands out from the rest.
On the whole, FF7 is best remembered for its overaching plot, fun side quests, in-depth character development and probably one of the most remarkable video game villains of all time, Sephiroth.
2. CRISIS CORE: FINAL FANTASY VII
Crisis Core is definitely one of best prequels of all-time. Set before the events of FF7, you play the role of Zack, who though was only briefly mentioned in FF7, still played a crucial role in it.
Though Zack would be the only controllable character in the game, the fighting system is this game is still rather pleasant. The "dodge" command played a large role in it.
Like FF7, the best part of this game was also the plot and the storytelling. Though gamers would already know what happens to Zack in the FF7 universe, this game is still full of surprises and delivered a surprising awesome and emotional ending. Not only did it tell the backstory of Cloud, Zack and Sephiroth, but also introduced Angeal and Genesis, whose image is based on Japanese celebrity Gackt, and will also go on to play a role in Dirge of Cerberus, another spin-off FF7 game set after the events of FF7 in which you play Vincent Valentine.
Crisis Core basically expanded the entire FF7 mythology and made it the largest and most intriguing one in the series.
1. FINAL FANTASY X
With the perfect balance between amazing storytelling and impressive gameplay, FF10 easily tops this list. It is so well-loved that it became the first Final Fantasy game to have a direct sequel, with the release of Final Fantasy X-2 two years after FF10's release. It is also the first FF game to receive the HD remaster treatment. AND, it is also the first to have a plot that centres around the romance between its two main characters!
The element of romance proved to be popular among female gamers. Many of my schoolmates of the fairer sex who might not even had been a gamer got addicted to this game!
It would prove to be the final main FF entry that has its soundtrack written by Nobuo, and it sure left an impression, with its main theme To Zanarkand and its theme song Suteki Da Ne leaving a last memory on all FF fans.
The battle system and levelling up was fun too! The use of Aeons and the ability to control them directly for the first time in Final Fantasy proved to very enjoyable. And the sphere grid system of levelling up was very easily understood and allowed party members to expand beyond their assigned roles of a warrior, long distance fighter, white mage or black mage.
FF10 may not have been as significant as FF7 to the hardcore 90s FF lovers, but it sure proved to be a hit among many audience groups and comes in at an extremely close second to the FF7 universe!
Do you agree or disagree with our list? Do leave a comment! And don't forget to check out our Final Fantasy collection on sale!