It's a big day for Final Fantasy fans, with today's release of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One being accompanied by a demo for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is already bringing in some respectable review scores, with many critics saying the game is a refreshing change of pace for the franchise.
Square Enix's "Day One" edition of the game is an interesting package, as it features a remastered title from the past (Type-0 first released in 2011 on the PlayStation Portable in Japan), combined with a much anticipated look into the series' future with the Episode Duscae demo. Given this unique mix, it feels like a good time to take a look back at some of the titles that have helped make Final Fantasy into the franchise it is today. Here, in no particular order, are Game Rant's 5 Favorite Final Fantasy Games.
Any "Best of FF" list that doesn't contain this title immediately loses all credibility in the minds of just about every fan, so let's get this one taken care of right off the bat.
Final Fantasy VII isn't just one of the best Final Fantasy games, it's also one of the most iconic and influential RPGs of all-time. It was the one of the first RPGs to have full 3D cinematic sequences in the middle of gameplay, and the ATB combat system took the best of what the series had done in the past and perfected it. The 2D Final Fantasy games were already quite popular, but VII is the game that elevated the franchise to rock star status.
And of course, any discussion of Final Fantasy VII is never complete without bringing up the death of flower girl Aeris (or Aerith, if you're fancy). Plenty of major titles these days have used the death of an in-game character to get an emotional response out of players, but Aeris/Aerith is the one video game death that some fans will just never get over. She was pretty, she was important to the story, she was clearly going to hook up with Cloud... and then she was gone. Video games just weren't supposed to do that back then.
Some gamers roll their eyes at VII today and claim that a large part of the reason it ends up on so many lists like this is largely due to nostalgia, and maybe there's some truth to that. But even still, there's no denying the milestone that this game is, both within the history of Final Fantasy and video games at large.
Final Fantasy Tactics was a major curveball for the franchise when it was first released on the PlayStation in 1997. It was the franchise's first attempt at a strategy game, and the change of pace was well received by many. Simply put, Tactics was the best strategy RPG on the market at the time of its release, and it's a title that many would still put up against any strategy RPG that's been released since. The unique mix of typical strategy gameplay, like moving characters around on a grid, combined with classic Final Fantasy job classes made for some interesting decision making.
Final Fantasy has always had some mature themes, but Tactics featured an especially strong story with plenty of dark overtones. The story of post-war struggle and political intrigue in the land of Ivalice was solid enough to keep FF fans playing, even if they weren't a huge fan of strategy-based gameplay. It could also be argued that this is the game help fans realize that they actually enjoyed the slower pace and methodical planning the genre is known for.
Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI is widely viewed as the best 2D game in the franchise. The story is epic, the characters are easy to love and the soundtrack is one of the best in any game ever, culminating of course, with the much beloved "Opera Scene." Square essentially took everything it had learned from the previous five main games in the series to create an absolutely perfect swan song for the 2D era.
It's VI's story in particular that makes this game a favorite of many. This is one Final Fantasy game in which the heroes actually fail to save the world, and are left to push back against the villain Kefka, in an attempt to avenge those who were lost. The story has multiple moments that tug at the heartstrings, like Gau reuniting with his father or Terra finally becoming fully human. This game proves that you don't need fancy graphics, only solid writing backed up by a emotional score to make people connect with a story.
Final Fantasy IX holds a notorious spot in franchise history, as it was one of the best FF games ever made, and yet it didn't come close to reflecting this fact on the sales charts, at least when compared to the other releases of that era. The title came out when the original PlayStation was on its death bed, and many gamers had moved on to the PlayStation 2. If there was ever a game that truly deserved a current-gen remaster so that it could be fully appreciated by the masses, it would be this one.
Whereas VII and VIII featured more realistic graphics in a modern setting, IX returned the franchise to its fantasy roots. The game is beloved for the many Easter eggs Square put in as a homage to the 2D era games. The game's story is also a standout, forcing both the characters and the player to reflect inward at the meaning of this thing called life. One Winged Angel from VII will likely always be the most well known song in franchise history, but IX's "Melodies of Life" can make a good argument for a spot on the podium.
Final Fantasy X
This game built on everything that Square had learned in the previous 15 years and used the extra power of the PlayStation 2 to usher the franchise into the modern era.
There's a reason this game was the first Final Fantasy to get an official sequel and the first to get a full HD remaster. The story of Tidus and Yuna was compelling, and one of the best relationships ever developed in the series, even if Tidus did have the world's most annoying laugh.
While the voice acting left a bit to be desired, it offered a new layer of immersion for gamers, in the same way that VII's 3D movies did back in the previous era.
X's mini-game, Blitzball, would have been good enough to be released as its own title. The game's battle system featured a return to simple turn-based combat, like the games of old, and yet was still entirely engaging. The title's sphere grid was a fresh and interesting take on the leveling experience, and one that has proved to be influential on other RPGs.
Do you agree with the games on this list? Did we slight your personal favorite Final Fantasy? Let us know in the comments!