There is no harder list for a Final Fantasy fan than a favorite games of the series list. It’s hard to sit down and really figure out which ones you loved more than the others. Because of the different opinions of each game, every fan ranks the games in different places on their list. That being said, I’ve taken the time to narrow down my top five favorite games of the series.
And for kicks, I will also add a special section for Moogle Content.
#5 Final Fantasy X
If I have to be totally honest, I didn’t like FFX as much at first. The first playthrough I was a bit irritated by the characters and found the story to be missing something. I admired it’s faster-built battle system and well-crafted gameplay, but the rest of the game felt awkward and annoying.
My views changed when a few years ago I revisited it. The second playthrough really opened me up to the game a lot more. I’ve grown to appreciate it’s rather abstract storyline and unique world. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the world in FFX is the most interesting and beautiful of the entire series. The characters are still a bit lacking, which is why I bump it down a bit on the list. But the very polished battle system, excellent character development scheme, and impressive world make FFX a very solid entry in the franchise. It’s a great starting point for people who want to experience how unique the FF games can get.
Moogle Content: Fuck all. (The closest the game comes to a moogle is a doll that Lulu uses as a weapon. And it’s not even that good. )
#4) Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI has one major issue holding it back from the top of the list: The ass-end of it could have been ripped out and it’d have been better off. The end drags on a bit and it sorta ruins the flow of the game, but then again, any excuse to be in the excellent world of FFVI isn’t all bad.
That being said, FFVI is the quintessential Final Fantasy game. It’s considered by many to be the best FF, possibly even the best RPG of all time (going toe-to-toe with Chrono Trigger for that honor). And for very good reasons. It’s one of the key reasons RPGs became what they became. It blew open the concept of epic story and character development, and introduced a world full of story. It has a spectacular cast of memorable and useful characters and a lot of room to build your own parties and play with your own style. It’s loaded with memorable boss fights and excellent moments that really showed a maturity for the genre and gaming in general. Not to mention, the FFVI music set the bar for musical scores in video games at the time.
It’s often considered the perfect summary of the FF series, and it was the first game that took the series away from just castles and dragons more prominently.
Moogle Content: Moogle Army! (There is a scene where you literally get to command a small army of moogles! And you even can recruit one into your permanent Party. Mog likes to dance. It makes him delightful!)
#3) Final Fantasy XIII
That’s right. I said it. This one is going to raise some eyebrows, but I’m dead serious when I say it. I loved FFXIII, and I still support it’s choices. Square took some mad risks making this game, knowing full well it’d piss off some core fans. Of course, sometimes great risk pays off.
The battle system is easily my favorite aspect of FFXIII. It’s quick-paced strategy makes battles exciting and fun. Even random encounters and leveling were far less tedious than in other games. Of course, it’s linear nature and stat-raise capping makes sure you don’t over-level and keeps the game easy enough to play but still providing enough challenge at times to keep you focused and interested.
The game’s story is solid. Delivered in a unique way that reminded me of the movie Memento. The story isn’t super-complex or as large-scale as some of the previous entries, focusing more on character’s personal struggles and development. This means the game relies heavily on it’s cast, and for the most part it pays off. The characters evolve and face down their own personal demons and insecurities throughout the game’s breathtaking cinematics.
My one gripe is that it was over a bit soon and lacked some of the deeper content of the other games. It’s not enough to make the game any less well made, and it seems to be something they’re focusing more on in FFXIII-2. That being said, there is nothing wrong with the more precise delivery of FFXIII. It works out pretty well.
Moogle Content: Abos-fucking-lutely none. (How did I manage to play a Final Fantasy that has no moogles in it?! Luckily, they’re fixing this issue with a moogle as a main character in the sequel. Happy days are here again!)
#2) Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII is a head-scratcher. It’s more tutorial than game at first, and this can scare a lot of people away. It’s definitely not a good starting point, but for the hardcore RPG fan, it’s spectacular. The junction system alone is a perfectionists system that you can lose hours to as you try to turn your characters into fucking super soldiers. The battle system is customizable enough that it gives you plenty of room to build your characters the way you’d like and also adjust them when necessary. This gives you a remarkable amount of freedom to approach the battles, which is good since the monsters level up with you!
The story is where FFVIII either makes or breaks itself for the player. It’s a massively complex story that can leave you drooling and staring at the screen half the time. Any time you throw the concept of time into a story, you’re bound to open things up to complexity. In short, the game plays out like an opera love-story mixed with an insane sci-fi time loop plot. It’s unlike anything in any other FF game, and it has left itself open to interpretation and theory ever since. If you’re scared away by emotional characters and “WTF is going on…?” moments, it may be best to steer clear. If you’re looking for more than “kill the bad guy and save the girl” style plots, FFVIII is a very different take on the RPG story.
Other highlights include an awesome summon monster system. A world full of great side quests. And a soundtrack that’ll leave you teary-eyed at times.
Moogle Content: I saw a few somewhere… (There are a few moogles here and there. You can summon one. You can get a card for the mini-game with one. But really, they’re still fairly MIA)
#1) Final Fantasy IX
This isn’t much of a surprise since I’ve been more than vocal about my absolute love for this game. Final Fantasy IX is everything you want from a FF game. Amazing story. Fantastic cast. Beautiful world. Excellent soundtrack. Great set pieces. Solid battle system.
But FFIX really sticks with me because of a few key reasons. There is so much subtly to the story that you can play it several times and find new scenes and moments that stick out. The ATE (Active Time Event) system allows you to trigger cut scenes and events that are happening away from the character you are controlling. This means there is a lot of story pieces and events that showcase the game’s stellar supporting cast. The characters each have very different reasons for being there, and some of their stories are as sad as they are great. Zidane’s shocking revelation. Vivi’s sad feelings of disillusionment and his questioning of existence. Freya’s search for her lost love, only to find him forgetting her very name. Eiko’s search for a place to belong and people to care for her. Everything in this game builds up for emotional moments.
It’s story shifts tone and changes pace quite frequently, choosing to really focus on characters and throw you curve balls when you think you’ve got things figured out. Of course, this doesn’t really blow open until late in the game when the real powers that be are revealed. Kuja is one of the most incredible villains in the series, leaving you almost feeling sorry for him.
The game’s world is filled with great environments. Loaded with secrets and side quests, and mini-games galore, it’s one of the FF games that can really eat up a lot of time.
Moogle Content: MOOGLES EVERYWHERE!!!!!! (If anything, FFIX is the game of the moogles. They are everywhere. They have several side quests devoted to them. A tag-along character who is a moogle. They even act as the games save points. There is so much moogle action going on it’s rather over-whelming. It really makes them into a fully functioning race instead of just cute tag-along critters. Maybe this is another reason I love this game so much.)
Speaking of FFIX and Moogles, I shall leave you with a picture of Stiltzkin!