With the huge anticipation surrounding the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, let’s take a look to the best Final Fantasies that have made this franchise the most popular since the dawn of video games.
5. Final Fantasy V
Originally unreleased in the US, this little gem is one of the greatest Final Fantasies ever made, the story is top notch, simple enough at first but then quickly transforms into an epic adventure to gather the earth’s crystals and vanquish the most destructive evil the world has ever seen (much like every other Final Fantasy), what sets it apart from the rest is probably dynamic the characters manage to establish between each other, there are funny instances like when they discover the tough pirate party member is actually a female, and emotional scenes such as Lenna risking her life to save a wind dragon.
The game features a heavily customizable Job System; any character has the chance of choosing between 22 specialized classes in the original version. It’s a great fighting mechanic that has since been revisited in following Final Fantasies.
Favorite Moment: Galuf’s Death
Before everyone’s favorite Ancient girl was stabbed by a huge katana in FFVII, Galuf was already the most significant death in any Final Fantasy. Nearing the end of the game, the party enters a confrontation with the main villain Exdeath, as they are about to be crushed, the elder Galuf (who has been a party member since the beginning), sacrifices his life to let his friends escape, the heroes are devastated by this event, but they manage to carry on with the help of Galuf’s young niece who inherits all of his skills and stats and finally avenges her grandfather.
4. Final Fantasy X
This entry in the series usually receives a lot of mixed reactions from players, it seems for every right thing it does, like the music or combat system, there are tons of awkward plot events and quirky voice acting (HAHAHA scene anyone?). The main character is Tidus, the ghost of a hotshot underwater football player dreamed up by the elders of the future, on a mission to overcome his daddy issues and save the world from an endless cycle of doom, it’s ridiculous to say the least, it made the fans wish for a simpler time when the Final Fantasy plot concerned gathering elemental rocks to save the world.
Despite the over the top plot, this game is absolutely brilliant in most aspects, the soundtrack is one of the best in the whole series, it was the first one to feature full audio dialogues, the combat system is dynamic, providing the ability to change party members in the middle of the battle, and the grid sphere used to level up abilities was truly innovative, not to mention the graphics were terrific for the time, also Blitzball was really enjoyable.
Favorite Moment: The Opening
The player meets Tidus as this arrogant and successful Blitzball player, he’s the star of the team; the crowd goes nuts when he enters the futuristic stadium, a heavy metal song playing in the background. Just as he’s about to score a goal with an impressive Bicycle kick – Boom! - The doomsday arrives in the form of a giant wave shooting lasers and destroying the whole city… And then the game starts.
3. Final Fantasy VII
This is the big one, the fan favorite that changed it all, before this game pretty much every Final Fantasy had a distinct medieval look with some crazy steampunk magic inventions here and there. Then FFVII arrived with an industrial futuristic look that follows the series to this day. It changed so much, added many layers of gameplay and storytelling to the saga, and made the jump to 3D. Sure, the character models look terribly blocky to this day which is probably why fans have been begging for a remake since the PS2 era.
The story is dark and interesting; Cloud is a blonde spiky hair character (that seems as though he just went supersaiyan), hired as a mercenary by a group of rebels determined to bring the man down in the name of ecology, since the evil big corporation keeps draining earth’s natural resources for progress and technology. Along the way Cloud meets a cast of colorful characters, each with their own captivating backstory and personality, cures his own amnesia discovering the truth behind his dark identity and squares off against his nemesis Sephiroth, which has one of the most badass musical themes in history. The story is good, the gameplay, the music, the scenery, all fantastic. Truly one of the best RPGs ever made.
Favorite Moment: The Death of Aeris
Every great game has a great moment that sticks with the player, for Final Fantasy VII, it most definitely is Aeris' death, this innocent flower girl was the last of the Ancients, kind of like the chosen one, the one that understood the deep connection between magic and the earth. Her life ends when sephiroth comes from out of nowhere to stab her in the back with his katana, leading to what is probably the most emotional moment in any game in this franchise.
2. Final Fantasy VI
When one enters a discussion about which Final Fantasy is the best, it usually boils down to the sixth versus the seventh; one marks the end of the classic games while the other is the beginning of the new era. Well, I love FFVI, it counts with several main characters, a complex plot, a demented evil villain dressed as a clown, family intrigues, spirituality, it has it all.
The game is set on a steampunk world conquered by an evil empire that’s draining all the power from an ancient race of supernatural magic beings called Espers, and of course it is the objective of the party to put an end to their evil plans. The story in this Final Fantasy was superior to any other at the time, this was serious, it felt real and relatable, and each of the twelve characters had its own backstory, sometimes even more engaging than the main plot itself. It was the last 2D game in the main series, and they went out of this style with a bang.
Favorite Moment: The Opera Scene
Of course the Opera Scene, its emotional and beautiful, a 16-bit representation of art in the world of videogames, it features a fragile Celes playing her part as a damsel waiting for her loved one to return from war in one of the most dramatic and memorable moments in any Final Fantasy. It’s a classic.
1. Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics is a Masterpiece, it captures the best aspects of all the classic Final Fantasy games, it features fun and addictive tabletop gameplay, the job system is varied and deep, the battles can be fought in any number of ways, the music is superb, and the story is probably the best I’ve encountered in any JRPG, that’s saying a lot.
The plot is lengthy and epic, it features Ramza, a young bastard boy born in a noble house in the kingdom of Ivalice. In the first act he’s in charge of suppressing the uprising of the poor class while questioning the true intentions of the ones in power, the story eventually escalates to a war between two kings with the main character stuck in the middle of it all and fighting for truth between the complicated political and religious intrigues, all with a touch of supernatural demons and magic. It’s worthy of being a bestselling novel and truly one of the best examples of storytelling in the history of videogames.
Favorite Moments: All of them
The game is divided between five acts, and each one has at least one memorable event. Ramza’s best friend captures the princess and yells back “Don’t blame us, blame yourself or God!” At one point Ramza has to kill his own brothers, as one of them was a scheming villain all along, there is a fight against a powerful priest of the church at the top of huge cathedral.
But maybe the most epic moment comes in the form of a gameplay maneuver, where the party has just one chance to finally beat a fight and manage to hit a critical at the last turn.
It really is an epic game and one that I seriously recommend even if you’re not a fan of the series or RPGs even, if you love video games, you just need to play it.