The Final Fantasy series has gone through its fair share of ups and downs, so we've put together this list of the 10 Best Final Fantasy Games in order to remember why this series resonates so well with gamers. Final Fantasy 7 may have helped move role-playing games into the spotlight, but that doesn't mean that there weren't other classics in the series before it. With Final Fantasy 15's release still far away and the broken opening of the previously-horrid Final Fantasy 14, we want to remind the gaming world that we expect the highest quality for each entry in the series, because Final Fantasy has become synonymous with raising the bar. Be ready for androgynous protagonists with identity issues and social disorders, because we're reaching the limit break in our list of the 10 Best Final Fantasy Games!
Final Fantasy 13PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
A lot of players disagreed with the liberties Motomu Toriyama took with Final Fantasy 13. The first 20+ hours of progression in FF13 revolved around exploring hallway after hallway with a large boss at the end of each section. Its Paradigm Shift fighting system put much of the battling on auto and focused on having the player quickly swap between party class presets. Twin-Shiva-scissoring motorcycles and other weird Transformer-summons, along with an underwhelming plot, convoluted script and atrocious voice acting led to the most beautiful title of the series scoring so low on our list of the 10 Best Final Fantasy Games.
Final Fantasy 12PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy 12 was Square Enix's attempts at trying to move the series into a new direction. In an attempt to cater more towards fans of Final Fantasy 11 and other MMORPGs, FF12 had your party exploring vast landscapes filled with various monsters. Unlike the first 10 titles of the series, the monsters in FF12 were not random encounters, but occupied the field map. These monsters would aggro you (again, in MMORPG-fashion), if you got within range. We'll never forget how much we hated Vaan for the mindless, tag-along mentality he held throughout the entire adventure. But that's fine, because Balthier, Fran and Ashe were the real stars of the show.
Final Fantasy 5SNES, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation
Bartz' meteor and crystal-chasing adventure was memorable due to Final Fantasy 5's capacity for customization. The job system of FF5 allowed players to make their party members perform roles according to however the player saw fit. Another excellent concept was the secondary job system, where you were able to add the skills of an alternate job onto your character's class. It was great experimenting with each character, since each job would look different depending on who selected it. A team consisting of a mime and ninja should win on its premise alone.
Final Fantasy 8PlayStation, PC
While we weren't particular fans of the Junction system, we loved everything else about Final Fantasy 8. From Seifer cutting Odin in half to the first time we saw Eden break the 9,999 damage limit, Final Fantasy 8 had numerous moments that left us at the edge of our seat. You could even drive cars on the field map! But driving in a car paled in comparison to flying through the sky in the Ragnarok. By the end of the adventure, Squall had us doing the time warp again for Edea - it's just a jump to the left!
Final Fantasy 10PlayStation 2
Final Fantasy 10's bittersweet ending left us saddened for a hero whom we saw mature from loudmouthed sports star to being a selfless hero. Blitzball seemed like an excellent replacement for the card games of FF8 and 9, for a while. We can't wait for HD version of FF10, and its controversial sequel, which will be coming to the Vita and PlayStation 3 sometime in 2014. We'll soon be able to watch Auron steal the show and keep Kimahri on the sidelines in 1080p.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the LionsPSP
In the middle of our list of the 10 Best Final Fantasy Games, we have a Fantasy title that borrowed from both real-time and grid-based strategy games. The Ogre Battle and Fire Emblem series' influences can be seen over much of FFT, along with various Final Fantasy staples mixed in. Delita's treacherous rise to power and Ramza's resistance both intertwined on a Final Fantasy unlike any of its brethren. We consider the updated version of FFT on the PSP to be the best way to get through the Zodiac Brave Story. Cidolfus Orlandeau should go down in Final Fantasy history as Cid's most badass incarnation.
Final Fantasy 4SNES, PSP & Nintendo DS (remakes)
You spoony bard! Of course Final Fantasy 4 would make this list! Cecil's transformation from a reluctant dark knight to a protectant paladin was amazing. This was the series' first title for the SNES, so it would only make sense that the FF4 would drive the entire RPG genre forward as much as the original title did. We consider Final Fantasy 4: The Complete Collection for the PSP to be the definitive version of FF4 for the inclusion of all the secondary tales which expand on Cecil's story through his son, Ceodore. We hate to quote Savage Garden, but Final Fantasy 4 took us to the moon and back.
Final Fantasy 9 PlayStation
Final Fantasy 9 attempted to bring the series back to its roots, and that's why we love it so much. A problem with FF8 was that playing as each of the characters felt very much the same, especially by switching Junctions and abilities from character to character. FF9 brought the series back to the short, deformed characters we have come to expect. We also had a crystal-oriented plot, which was gone from FF6, 7 and 8. But the best thing we loved about Final Fantasy 9 was that it had heart. You felt for Vivi's questioning the meaning of his existence, Zidane's random thievery evolving into a world-saving mission and Steiner's debate of right and wrong in the face of sworn duty. We'll always love FF9 for being the last "traditional" entry of the series.
Final Fantasy 7PlayStation, PC
Going from 16-bit to 32-bit graphics, it was expected that the next Final Fantasy would try to be different, but we never expected how amazing it would be. Final Fantasy 7 provided just as many narrative breakthroughs as it did for its technical prowess. The in-game cinematics, combat system, story, minigames and various other aspects of Final Fantasy 7 were all nothing short of magnificent. From the fast-paced escape from Shinra towers to Barrett trying on a sailor suit, Final Fantasy 7 introduced many of us to the series and moved the franchise (and RPGs in general), into the spotlight.
Final Fantasy 6SNES, Game Boy Advance
Sitting atop the throne of the 10 Best Final Fantasy Games is one that reverberated change more so than Final Fantasy 7. Even from a narrative standpoint, Final Fantasy 6 redefined the RPG experience. We started off in a world where magic was long-extinct while steam-powered machinery, war and industrialization took its toll on the world. Final Fantasy 6 had over a dozen party members, but each one was intriguing and exhibited a distinct personality and back story. There are just too many breathtaking moments in FF6 to even consider any of the other titles in being superior (e.g., Celes' opera, Cyan finding his family, Kefka poisoning the river, the ghost-train, and the demise of General Leo). If you're one of the many fans to have started the series from beyond FF7, we implore you go back and play one of the greatest RPGs ever made.