GameCentral readers try to decide which is the best Final Fantasy game, from the retro era right up to the modern day.
The subject for this weeks Hot Topic was suggested by reader Eggers, following the news that most of the modern Final Fantasy games are going to be made available on both Switch and Xbox One.
We expected Final Fantasy VII would probably win, and it did, but we were surprised that VIII was by a long way the second most popular, with other entries only getting a few mentions here and there. Meanwhile, XIII was the only one that absolutely nobody seemed to like.
From best to worst
In my opinion Final Fantasy VI is easily the best of the series and its a shame it never got released in the UK when it originally came out, as even today I think most people have never played it and assume it to be too old to enjoy. But its really not.
The plot makes a lot more sense that its immediate successor and the characters are a lot more likeable and interesting. I like the sort of steampunk setting as well, than the generic sci-fi of a lot of the later games. The dialogue is simple – this was only a SNES game, with no voice-acting and not much screen space for text – but to me it seems a lot more refined and mature than the tween melodrama of Final Fantasy VII.
If XIII didnt exist Id say VII was actually my least favourite. I hate all the characters, its too long, and outside of the cut scenes and pre-rendered backdrops the graphics were terrible even at the time.
Without doubt the best Final Fantasy game is… Bravely Default! A Final Fantasy game in all but name, even using most of the classic items such as phoenix downs. The beautiful visuals, interesting story, and inspired use of the traditional job system would be enough to make it a contender but the battle system is what really makes it special.
The tactical depth the fighting offers with the brave/default mechanics breathes new life into the traditional turned-based battles of the Final Fantasy series. I spent nearly 200 hours with the battle system and never got bored. What a game! I never got to play the sequel as I had sold my 3DS by then but really cant wait to play Octopath Traveler (who comes up with these crazy names anyway?).
My favourite Final Fantasy games are V and IX. Its really hard for me to choose between them.
More generally, my feelings for Final Fantasy these days are a mix of nostalgia and apathy. The last one I liked was XII, which is over a decade ago now.
It is still very disappointing to me that although he is responsible for some of the best games in the series, Square Enix hasnt assigned a mainline Final Fantasy title to Hiroyuki Ito since then (or really much of anything other than the XII remaster, looking at his credits).
The XIII games were a massive disappointment, as was XV. In the future Id like to see a return to the Active Battle System, and Id like to see the games regain a sense of fun. A lot of people consider VII the best Final Fantasy game, and I certainly think it is very good, but that is more in spite of its melodramatic story rather then because of it.
The things that made it great to me were how fun the materia system was to play around with, and all the silly mini-games and side quests – like Fort Condor, chasing Yuffie, and making Cloud look his best for the Honeybee Inn. Not all of them worked (chocobo racing was pretty clumsy), but its those kind of things that always make me happy to replay it, and that the newer games lack.
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Like a lot of people my first Japanese role-playing game, and first Final Fantasy game, was Final Fantasy VII. I played it in early 2000 and I must have started it four or five times as I couldnt get into it because it was quite different to any game I had played. What I eventually did is just kept playing and playing, as I knew it was acclaimed and eventually after a few hours I really enjoyed it and got into it as it had a good story and setting and I got hooked on customising the characters gear and weapons for fights.
Years later I heard it was one of the most returned games ever, so I could understand why it would be but I persevered and I really enjoyed it and completed the story after just 100 hours of play. I then went on to complete Final Fantasy VIII, IX, and X. I got quite far into XII but I hated the story, but the gameplay was good. But I never got round to completing it unfortunately, it might be because I played it quite late in the day and I was moving over to Xbox 360.
VII is definitely my favourite and VIII is in second place. I do own VI, which I keep on meaning to play as it is supposed to be the best Final Fantasy but I havent got round to it, I own it on PS Vita and PlayStation 3. I never played XIII because the reviews for it was so bad that it put me off it and I would like to play XV but I have got so many games in the backlog it would just be another game to play in my long list of games to play.
Just recently I have thought about getting Final Fantasy Crisis Core for PSP as it is set in the Final Fantasy VII universe.
The Final Fantasy series has a very special place in my heart. Final Fantasy VII was my very first role-playing game I had ever played when it first got released and role-playing games are now my favourite genre in gaming thanks to Final Fantasy VII, which is also my favourite in the series (although I do love Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy Tactics, which I would love to see get released on the PlayStation 4). But I now own every one digitally and on retail that have been released on PlayStation and it is my all-time favourite series.
I think Final Fantasy XV was a bold change for a Final Fantasy game, especially with the combat, but I personally really enjoyed Final Fantasy XV and the fact its continually getting updates, new content (granted paid-for in some cases) and even more DLC for 2019. Im very much looking forward to continue playing that in the new year sometime and I do believe it was a success for Square Enix as well, so I do think the series in general is in good health for future titles.
Although Id also like to hear some sort of news of a release date regarding the Final Fantasy VII remake as Im eagerly awaiting for that to be released now and just wished we had some more information about it.
I think Its good to see the majority of them are being released on the Xbox/Switch as well and will hopefully bring new people to the franchise who havent played them before and they will enjoy playing them like I have done throughout my life. And when I do ever get a Switch Ill probably pick them all up on there as well.
The series may not appeal to everybody but if you do enjoy role-playing games I recommend giving them a go.
Rawdog1985 (PSN ID)
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Final Fantasy VIII was my first experience of Final Fantasy and still one of the best alongside Final Fantasy X. Im not sure why this has been passed over for release on Switch and Xbox.
Id love to see a remake of this title. I used to like the old turn-based battle system, and calling in some help with powerful attacks from guardian forces/aeons/summons like Bahamut, something that I think the more recent titles have lost.
GC: That latest theory is that Square Enix has lost a lot of the original files and art assets.
I have played a lot of the Final Fantasy games, the first of which was VIII, which is the only one I have played more than once. As it was my first it does hold a special memory for me, something which its older sibling VII does not.
My favourites are XII and IX. I loved the exploration in XII and my favourite moment in a Final Fantasy game is stumbling across a hidden dragon boss in a sandstorm whilst exploring. I cannot remember much about IX besides enjoying it more than VII and VIII. I suspect it was not weighed down by teenage angst but I could be wrong.
And the ones I liked the least are III and XIII. I played III on the DS and despite pretty good reviews it seemed very old fashioned and I did not find it fun to play, so I gave up. (I suspect a few American sites thought it was a remake of their III and did not review it properly.) XIII is just terrible, although I liked the battle system
I enjoyed XV overall, it was a return to form after XIII and I liked the cast much more than I expected to. It was not without fault though.
As for old games I would like to play: I have never really given VI a fair chance and would like to try it again, so I am a bit disappointed that it seems to be missing from the Switch list. Also, I did not like X much at the time and gave up very close to the end, so a part of wants to give it another try. I am wary of revisiting IX and XII though as it may spoil my memories of them.
In general I like the way Final Fantasy reinvents itself each iteration and always focuses on something different. Not every title clicks with me but the way people can have vastly differing opinions (see X and XII) is great and I cannot think of another series which can generate so many arguments between fans.
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