Final Fantasy is a Japanese RPG series that began in 1987 and was created by Hironobu Sakaguchi. The game was originally meant to be named Fighting Fantasy, but Sakaguchi changed the name to Final Fantasy because in addition to wanting to go back to college Square was about to go bankrupt, and the game was intended to be the company’s last game.
Thankfully, the game was a huge hit, and, along with Dragon Quest and the Tales series, is one of the most successful Japanese RPG franchises in the world. In addition to the fifteen mainline entries with two being an MMORPG, the series has spawned several spin-offs, remakes, remasters, and ports. Some entries are among the all-time greats but not all of these games have been the hits that Square Enix or its millions of fans were expecting.
10 Best: Final Fantasy VIII – Metascore 90
Final Fantasy VIII was the second to be released on the PlayStation in 1999. While it was still very well received with critics, some fans didn’t quite take to the game the first time because many were expecting a direct sequel to Final Fantasy VII.
However, with the recent remaster on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, many gaming fans found that it was still a solid entry in the series with a compelling story and great soundtrack. In addition, the combat system is one of the most intuitive in the series, even if it can be exploited early to give the player an advantage.
9 Worst: Final Fantasy XIV Before Realm Reborn – Metacritic Score 49
When Final Fantasy XIV was released in 2010, but its reception was so bad that fans thought it was the beginning of the end for the series. It was the second time the mainline series took the MMORPG approach and carrying over a huge fan base from Final Fantasy XI expectations were exceptionally high.
Unfortunately, those expectations were not met, and the original version of Final Fantasy XIV remains the worst scoring game in the series on Metacritic. Of course, this was rectified in their Realm Reborn expansion and the launch version of Final Fantasy XIV has since become a distant memory.
8 Best: Final Fantasy X – Metascore 92
Final Fantasy X was the first entry in series to arrive on the PlayStation 2 in 2001 and was one of the first games to really show what the console was capable of. Even today in the remaster, the game still looks fantastic, owing a great deal to its stunning art design.
For many fans that complained about Squall and Cloud’s dry personalities Final Fantasy X’s protagonist, Tidus was the antithesis of this who’s positivity was the party’s driving force on their journey. In addition, the combat felt like a natural evolution of the Active Time Battle system with the Conditional Turn-Based Battle.
7 Worst: Dirge Of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII – Metacritic Score 57
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII was released in 2006 on the PlayStation 2 and was a part of the expanded Final Fantasy VII universe. It was a third-person action RPG with Vincent Valentine as the lead protagonist.
As far as the story is concerned, Dirge of Cerberus is a lot of fun for Final Fantasy VII fans. It is filled with cameos from the main game, and the cutscenes are fantastic. Unfortunately, the gameplay isn’t very much fun and drew instant comparisons to more competent action-adventure games like Devil May Cry.
6 Best: Final Fantasy VI – Metascore 92
Final Fantasy VI was originally released on the Super Nintendo in 1994 but later ported to the PlayStation in 1999 (bundled with a demo of Final Fantasy X) and the Game Boy Advance in 2006.
It is still hotly debated among fans as the best game in the series, and it features the most diverse cast and next to Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth the most iconic villain in the franchise. Final Fantasy VI’s story was incredibly mature for its time, dealing with difficult relatable themes and issues, and the character development is arguably the best in the series.
5 Worst: Final Fantasy II PSP – Metacritic Score 63
Released as a stand-alone game, Final Fantasy II on the PlayStation Portable was a port of the same game that was bundled together with the first game in Final Fantasy: Origins for the PlayStation. The game featured improved, redrawn 2D visuals, improvements to the dialogue, and FMV cutscenes to help flesh out the story.
It was already unfortunate that Square Enix decided to sell it as an individual title, but the mechanics of the game haven’t aged well. More specifically the Romancing Saga style leveling system where character’s stats increased depending on their actions on the battlefield made fights tedious forcing players to grind for hours to level up.
4 Best: Final Fantasy VII - Metascore 92
Final Fantasy VII was originally released in 1997 on the PlayStation and is still considered by many to be the best and most influential Japanese RPG of all time. Like Final Fantasy VII the game is filled with real-world themes and issues and has one of the most memorable and lovable casts of all time.
Additionally, the game has arguably the most popular protagonist and antagonist in the series with Cloud and Sephiroth. The rivalry and imagery were inspired by the legendary duels between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro, and the paintings they were depicted in. Furthermore, Final Fantasy VII is getting the first part in the long-requested remake for the PlayStation 4 in 2020.
3 Worst: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII – Metacritic Score 66
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was the third and final part of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, and it was released in 2014 on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the PC. The game was developed by two teams, Square Enix’s First Production Department and tri-Ace, who are best known for the Star Ocean series.
Despite the talent, the game was a divisive entry in the series that was either loved or hated by fans of the series. However, many fans agreed that the apocalyptic time limit gave its players more of a sense of frustration rather than the intended urgency.
2 Best: Final Fantasy IX – Metascore 94
Final Fantasy IX, released in 2000 for the PlayStation, was the final entry for the series on Sony’s first console and is the highest rated Final Fantasy on Metacritic. The game went back to its almost pure medieval fantasy roots after the sci-fi fantasy settings of FFVII and FFVIII.
Visually, it was one of the best-looking games on the PlayStation and still looks beautiful in the remastered versions released on modern machines. Combat was more tactical than prior entries and the setting character development harked back to prior entries like Final Fantasy IV.
1 Worst: Final Fantasy: Dissidia NT – Metacritic Score – Metacritic Score 67
Final Fantasy: Dissidia NT was a sequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy on the PlayStation Portable and port of the Japanese arcade title of the same name. The game was co-developed by Square Enix and the fighting game veterans developers of Dead or Alive series and resultantly expectations were high.
Unfortunately, the game was too focused on trying to be a success in eSports events, and the single-player story mode was a huge letdown. Battles are now 3 v 3, and, bafflingly, there’s no local co-op or versus mode, which is a problem when participating in online battles can be so unreliable.