Let’s be honest, it feels great to finally have a new Final Fantasy game come out this year (provided there are no more delays!) With both XV and the Final Fantasy VII Remake on the horizon, I thought I would take a look back and state my top 5 Final Fantasy titles so far.
5 – FINAL FANTASY IV
When it comes to Remasters of Final Fantasy games I think Final Fantasy IV may just win the trophy for it. It is pretty confusing for anyone new to the series to decide which version to play. The first time I played this was on the PlayStation as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology, and this version was not very different to the original 1991 release on Super Nintendo. The game still had 2D sprites, a tough as nails battle system with up to 5 characters; a great story with underworld; overworld and space travel and a level up system progression where every character is different.
There have been remasters for the game for pretty much all devices. Android, DS, PSP and PC have all seen re-releases of the game. The PSP version is closer to the original whereas the Android DS and PC versions are identical but in 3D with voice acting added to it. A great Final Fantasy game overall but very difficult in parts and considered one of the hardest of the series. If you like a challenge it is definitely worth picking up. Which version should you get I hear you ask? Well that all depends on your console of choice. All are great in their own right so choose your magic!
4 – FINAL FANTASY VIII
The second Final Fantasy I played after VII and worthy a place in my top five. An incredible story, and the music is especially fitting for each scenario in this masterpiece. It is also the first in the series where characters looked more real than ever. You could tell each characters emotions not by words alone now but by body movements such as shaking their heads, punching the ground and stomping their feet. With the active turn based combat system in play there also is a plethora of magic and summons to be obtained but no actual points to use them; instead there is a Draw system where characters can gain magic by drawing directly in battle to use at a later date or straight away.
Magic gained is stocked into your inventory. This magic could also be utilised with the Junction system and used to individually increase characters attributes such as HP and Strength. Summons also knows as Guardian Forces themselves had the power of turning items into magic thus eliminating the tedious task of spending hours drawing from enemies. While the character progression system in this game has a mixed reaction among fans; it is deniably a strong one in the series.
3 – FINAL FANTASY X
Speaking of Remasters, here is another favourite of mine that is no stranger to having the upgrade treatment. Final Fantasy X was the PlayStation 2’s first taste to the series and what a great one it is. With all important cutscenes containing voice acting, the first in the franchise to do so, Final Fantasy X does away with some of the previous features. Instead of an active turn based system we now have a conditional turn based system. This allows characters and enemies to take it in turns to initiate actions without time pressure. It also allows characters to be freely switched in and out of battle with no penalty.
There is also the introduction of the sphere grid. Instead of character levels; here we have sphere levels which can be spent moving around a grid to learn abilities and magic aswell as raise attributes. It is also the first in the series to have a true playable sequel. The remastered version is on PS3 and PS4 and both versions look incredible.
2 – FINAL FANTASY IX
While Final Fantasy IX can first seem at first glance like it’s going backwards it is definitely a step in the right direction. The game does keep some of the main features that makes Final Fantasy work such as an active turn based combat system, an open world map and plenty of mini games. What sets this game apart from previous instalments is the character customization. As the characters are able to learn a set amount of abilities from equipment; every one of them feels unique in their own way. In comparison this game has a lot more of a steampunk feel than any Final Fantasy I have seen.
The story is simple but each situation is emotional enough to keep you playing. The cinematics are great and plentiful, and as always a seriously good soundtrack to go with it. In my opinion some of the best music you will ever hear in Final Fantasy is contained in this gem. What also is great is that a PC port of this game has been revealed in Japan for a release sometime in 2016 and by the look of the video it isn’t a straight up port of the PlayStation either but a Remaster. Happy Days!
1 – FINAL FANTASY VII
Final Fantasy VII goes down on my list as the best Final Fantasy game. It was the first Final Fantasy game I had played. Released in 1997, Final Fantasy finally went 3D. This is what set the game apart from anything we have seen before. It follows the tradition of random battles and active turn based combat, it contains cinematic cut scenes that are plentiful but not overwhelming, and there is an abundance of side quests, mini games and optional super bosses to tackle once the main story is either finished or at the least almost over. Along with the great story comes an amazing soundtrack to go with it. The main character Cloud goes through many emotions some of which are hilarious while at other times being serious but it is a mix which fits perfectly together.
Final Final Fantasy VII is frequently cited as the best Final Fantasy title, and whilst this is debatable, there is no denying the impact it had on both the series and the industry itself. It has had several optional games to be released in its wake in the form of Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus, and even seen Advent Children release as a standalone movie. While the original game does have some flaws (in particular some translation errors) it did not affect it in any way. Now that these very small issues have been resolved in the Steam and PS4 port as well as some graphical enhancements have been added; the game shines and still holds up well to this day.
Do you agree with my choices? Perhaps you think another Final Fantasy title should deserve a place in the top 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.