The Big Question: The Best Final Fantasy

Some people will say it's 7. Others swear by the pre-PlayStation era. Some misguided folk think roleplaying as Tidus qualifies as fun.

And with 15 out this week, the question arises once more. What is the best Final Fantasy game?

Having never thoroughly enjoyed FF8 and still all too happy to ignore the overtures of the chibi-fied FF9, FF7 is the benchmark for me.

I didn't grow up on the franchise, so I still have a healthy aversion to some of the plot-sized holes and how silly some of it all becomes. But you've got to respect the sheer scope and ambition, not just of FF7 but all of the games.

Except FF13. Terrible title. Possibly the worst in the franchise. But that's just me.

But what do you think? What's the best Final Fantasy game for your money - and, just for fun, what's the worst?


    7,12,6,10,8,4,9 "and the rest" - Homer Simpson
    15 is a contender for top 3 for me

      I didn't think I'd like 15, but holy shit within a few hours of gameplay I'm loving the combat, loving the magic use, the characters are actually funny and endearing. I'm quite liking it a *lot*.

    7 - daylight - 9 -6 -5 - the rest can fight for the scraps

    And right above with zico and claymore35 you see the problem with this sort of question. Its going to come down to personal taste. Most will have 6 and 7 somewhere near the top of their list (if they dont, they're wrong), but the rest will be highly subjective.

    Zico puts 9 down around his 7th favorite, without considering 15, while clay has it second.

    I'd probably be the same and put 6 and 7 right up there for the memories, but every FF game I've played has entertained me, right up to the point I stopped playing. So why measure?

    The whole FF13 series

    Edit: 12 is actually the one I enjoyed playing the most.

    Last edited 30/11/16 11:34 am

    Final Fantasy XIII.

    Come at me!

      I still say 13 got a bum rap. It was far from a series highlight, but nor was it as wretched as the internet would have you believe. Nonsensical story, some next-level bad characters, (I still want to throw Vanille in a volcano) but the core game and combat was surprisingly satisfying. I blew about 200 hours on it, almost platinumed it too.

        It's painfully linear though. Games are all about making interesting choices and you don't get to make any of those for about 15 hours. Even the character leveling was basically a straight line until toward the end when it opened everything up for you.

        Nonsense story, unlikeable cast, no direction, poor protagonist, stupid terminology everywhere... You could basically turn the first half of the game into a giant cutscene and get the same payout as actually suffering through playing it. No, it deserves the reputation it has. If you understand how they developed it you can understand why it's a mess (turns out if you let artists go create crap for years with no direction and no one looking at how to tie things together and make a game out of it until the last minute it doesn't produce a particularly good game) but that doesn't change how much of a mess it is.

          I agree that it is linear to a large degree, but I don't mind that at all. I think it allows more focus on the characters. The story was more about characters than events for me. Lightning in particular goes through a massive transformation when she goes from having to rescue her sister to having to save the world. Vanille has this whole internal conflict and guilt thing going on. Hope struggles to cope with his mother's death. Snow is dealing with trying to save Serah while butting heads with Lightning and simultaneously wanting her approval. Sazh has his chocobo chick are just touching. Fang is trying to protect Vanille and maintain the facade that nothing fazes her.

          I don't think you could focus as much on the character interactions if this were a more choice-driven game.

          Character progression is somewhat linear, but not entirely so. Again, I don't think it matters as much since the game is fairly linear.

          The battle system was simply awesome, and the paradigm customisation and swapping kept the battles really interesting.

          People who dislike this game may not appreciate these points, but for me, they are what make FF-XIII special.

            Fang was my favorite. She was badass. Also the tank for my holy trinity team of Fang, Lightning and Hope. The way their skills and roles were structured, the 3 of those were the perfect team for any situation. Fang Tank, Lightning DPS and Hope buff/debuffer. Switch roles for pure dps or 'oh shit' tank/heal scenarios and they were unbeatable.

              Yeah, they were the best team in terms of effectiveness. I still have a soft spot for my 'Claire's Angels', being Lightning, Fang and Vanille. Unfortunately Hope is a bit better than Vanille for buffs/debuffs, but Vanille put out better healing if I remember correctly.

                Late game I had Vanille just spam Death. Fang would tank and Hope would debuff/heal.

                  Death was good to kill certain enemies like Adamantoises (to farm CP and gil).

            I think your argument would be stronger if the characters actually had a bit more depth to them rather than being cardboard cutout anime stereotypes. I didn't mind the linear bit the first time through though. Gran Pulse's big open nothingness was what killed it for me. However I tried to re-play the game 3 or 4 times and I never make it more than a few hours in, and the older it gets the worse the game ages.

            Adding more interaction would in no way detract from the character interaction. That's nonsense.

            Character progression is linear. You can level up in 2-3 classes per character at most, pouring AP into a given class which unlocks whatever the next ability is. You get enough AP from killing monsters while trudging through the massively long, linear corridors on your way through the chapter that by the time you hit the boss, you will have unlocked everything available on them. It's not until nearly the end of the game before this stops being the case, but even then, you don't get to pick or customize anything but how leveled up each character is in each class.

            The battle system was good, I'll grant that. I like the classic ATB way more, but XIII's is fine and much better than XII.

              I find that the 'cardboard cutouts' leave more room for each player to put his or her own colour on each character's personality. I might have a totally different interpretation of Lightning's personality to you, but in my view that is great. I still wouldn't say the characters are empty shells though, not by any stretch of the imagination. They are rather Japanese though (and designed mainly by middle-aged men), which means that outward displays of emotion are not as common as in Western games. The concept of heroic tragedy is, I find, quite central to FF-XIII, and there are many instances of the nobility of failure, such as Lightning's failure to rescue Serah. How the heroes deal with these instances may not conform to Western norms of character exposition, but is nonetheless quite revealing.

        I platinumed it but I don't think I put in more than about 100 hours or so. Farming adamantoises was pretty time-consuming.

        Also, I loved Vanille's character. She had that kind of outwardly cheerful / inwardly sensitive thing going on. I also played it in Japanese with subs, so I avoided the English VA for Vanille, which many people find grating.

        Lightning's my favourite character though, maybe because she is so taciturn. She's kind of the reluctant hero to Snow's gung-ho hero. The conflict between the two, especially concerning Hope, is really touching for me.

          Japanese VA is so much better.

          Except the tradeoff for not having porno-moaning from Vanille all the time is that you get an even whinier Hope.

            What!? You mean the English VA for Hope is not whiny? I'll have to check this out. Hope's Japanese VA has all the whininess of an adolescent boy learning to internalise and harness his grief, which is to say, it's significant :-)

      While I have a soft spot for VII (the first FF I played), FFXIII is the first one that I actually finished and I quite liked FFXII. I also "finished" FFXIII-2 (which eliminated much of the linearity of FFXIII) but was pretty unhappy about the ending.

      A lot of it comes down to random encounters. They were eliminated in FFXII and later, and it really cut the frustration factor enormously.

      FFXV's real-time combat is taking some getting used to but I've been a fan of the Tales games (which also have real-time combat) for a while so adjusting isn't as painful as it might have been.

      Basically the combination of random encounters and grinding sucked a lot of the fun out of the earlier games for me. Plus Aerith's fate in FFVII was a bit of a shock at the time... I kept playing partly in the hope that she would be resurrected somehow.

      The problem I found with criticism of FFXIII being linear is that most of the FF games are just as bad, but they hide it with a nominally "open" world. However, unless you go through the towns and dungeons in a largely fixed order, you WILL run into something you can't handle and die. This only really ceases being true towards the end of the game.

      It's very common in JRPGs in general. Really open worlds, in JRPGs or in western RPGs, are a fairly new thing, but JRPGs in general tend to be more linear because of the stronger story focus.

        The older FF games aren't linear the way that XIII is linear. Linearity isn't about whether there's a straight-line sequence for you to go through, in that way most story-driven JRPGs are the same. It's specifically the moment-to-moment gameplay in XIII that's linear. In previous games, you'd be confronted by a dungeon that would take a good amount of time to traverse. It'd have passages going here and there to treasure, maybe a simple puzzle or to to progress further eg a series of locked doors you'd have to find the keys for scattered about. In between the dungeons you'd often have an open overworld area to cross over which allowed and rewarded exploration by having various things scattered on it. You'd also have towns which would have stores in them where you could upgrade your gear (and you'd rarely see a vendor outside of a town) and the towns had people you could talk to to start sidequests, maybe some scattered minigames, collectables, rooms you could go into to find loot. Character development would usually be a complex system of equipping gear and obtaining and optimizing progression.

        XIII has none of this. Towns are just areas where you can walk around and overhear conversations. Dungeons are straight lines with quick detours off to the side of the critical path to pick up chests periodically. There's no minigames. 'Sidequests' aren't until you reach the 'open' world area and are just monster hunts. Vendors are faceless menus at the save points, and your gear progression is pretty much entirely by upgrades from drops.

        While most JRPGs are a bit linear, they actually at least offer the illusion of choice. FFXIII stripped away even that.

        "It's very common in JRPGs in general. Really open worlds, in JRPGs or in western RPGs, are a fairly new thing"

        I'd like to present you to Romancing SaGa, from 1992

    6 or 9 is best. I'll never be able to decide. 12 is the most underrated in the entire series.

      6 is the best for sure then 8, 11, 10, 14.

    Since you're asking in a primarily Australian context, it'll be 7. That was our first and the one that most people have nostalgia for. It's also very good. But it's also a bit of a mess in a lot of places, with inconsistent graphics and style, a very bad localization and some narrative bits that are pretty ropey. It'd probably still be my pick as the best. Absolutely one of the most important gaming moments for me personally, I'd never played anything like it and it had never even occurred to me that a game could tell a story in that way with that sort of scope.

    There's strong arguments for 6 and 9 I think, but the bulk of the people that swing for 6 played it before 7. 9 has a lot of charm and an incredibly good soundtrack and is by far the best executed and polished FF game of that era, but I always found the plot to be a bit meandering and it never grabbed me like 7 or 8.

      9 was also surprisingly easy. I just adored the soundtrack, the characters, the style. It just put a huge smile on my face. That whole fairy tale quality was well executed. Nice change up for the series too. They really pulled it off.

      Plus I've never wanted to hug a video game character and tell them everything's okay as much as I did Vivi.

      My first FF was actually a US import of FFIII on SNES, so that explains the FF6 thing for me.

      Also, 9 Moogles are best Moogles. Fact.

      EDIT: To this day, I'v never finished FFX. The only FF I've started and not finished because I just couldn't bear it. Tidus made me want to claw my face off, and who ever included Wakka (Jar Jar) needs a fucking lobotomy, stat. Also the color palette, the story, the characters. I tried 3 times, and the furthest I got was 9 hours before giving up for the last time.

      Last edited 30/11/16 12:40 pm

      Since you're asking in a primarily Australian context, it'll be 7. That was our first and the one that most people have nostalgia for.

      Are you sure? I mean I seem to remember friends owning 6 on the SNES... Bloody hell was that an imported copy??? It musta been? My memories so foggy now it's like 20+ years :O

      Personally I only ever owned 6's rerelease on the DS I think it was, and then on the iPad from memory? Or was that IV... Im so confused!

      Last edited 01/12/16 12:45 pm

        Import. FF6 didn't release in PAL areas until 2002, on PS1.

          Wow, I honestly can't even remember the shape of the cartridge...

    In terms of personal significance, VII. In terms of enjoyment, 4 Heroes of Light. I did also enjoy FFTA a lot though...

    Last edited 30/11/16 11:39 am

    I would suggest VII is the most Important, VI the most nostalgic. X, X-2 & XII as the most experimental with XIII the most disjointed.
    For me the best was VIII (c'mon people!) And XIV was also pretty awesome. Yet it's safe to assume we all have our favourite and we all have our reasons.

      Triple Triad alone is worth the price of admission for VIII.

    Rating the games in terms of personal significance, X is the winner. After that it has to be VII and then VIII.

    FF Tactics, 9, 7 and 12 next very closely clustered then probably 8 (if you ignore the story mostly) followed by 10. I have been meaning to play 6 but never gotten more than about 20 minutes in. I also quite enjoyed FF Dimensions

      Since you put FFT a top, I know you are a person of distinction with a discerning character and an eye for great storytelling (and addictive game mechanics). As such, let me tell you this: Play frigging FF6 already!

    Crisis core then Crystal chronicles. I know both not main but they are the best. Crisis core for story and gameplay. Crystal chronicles because of local mulitplayer. Main series 7, 8, 10, 14, 11, 12, and the rest. Haven't played 6 as waiting for a remake.

      Yeah I think similar to your ranking but didn't get to play the online ones. Yeah hope 6 gets a remake, should play it anyway before its remade

    FF8 - Triple Triad. Even the mini game music was awesome. I loved the dancing scene at the end whilst credits rolled.The junction system was interesting and different. And Squall with the gunblade. Typing this keeps reminding me of more and more great things for FF8.
    FF7 is special, but I do feel was greatly eclipsed by 8.
    Worst FF - FFX - Hated the voice acting and freakin' Wakka!

      Wakka was alright, ya'know?

        Mongrel!! Now I've got his freakin' voice back in my head!!

      Lots of people pay out the junction system because it was too complicated but I thought it was the most fun system out of all of them.

    Final Fantasy VI
    Final Fantasy VIII
    Final Fantasy IX
    Final Fantasy VII
    Final Fantasy X

    I'm sorry to say, but everything post Final Fantasy X is just not Final Fantasy to me. The 2 MMO experiments (FFXIV isn't too bad, but I'm a WoW addict first, so it's hard to spend time with a second MMO) are not main-game worthy. XII was just a single player MMO, XIII & X-2 are just outright terrible. Hell, I don't even think FFXV is a real FF game. FFXV is just a side-experiment that was renamed because Square-Enix could not afford to have 2 FF games in development at the same time.

    FFIX has always been my favourite. Whether it's objectively better or worse than the others, I couldn't say.

    For me, it's 7 by miles, then 8.

    10, 12 and 13 were ok.

    I didn't even finish 9.

      When was the last time you played 9? When it first came out it looked really kiddy and I had a hard time getting into it however going back to it when I was a few years older I found it to be really excellent.

      Its pretty much the opposite experience I had to FFX, going back to FFX as an adult the teenage idiot characters really annoy me despite the gameplay still being excellent.

        Probably 16 years haha! You're right, I should re-visit it sometime and finish it!

    I'd be interested to know what percentage of people think the first one they played is the best. My pick is VIII, but that's because it's the one i owned first, and the one i spent the most time with.

      VIII was my first too, which is why I rate it higher than most do but VII is my #7.

      So of our sample set of 2 you have a 50:50 ratio!

      Kotaku should make an actual poll for this that we can click on and see results. One for First FF game and one for Favourite FF game.

      7 was my first and favorite, 8 was the second one I played and 2nd favorite!

    8 has the best music, I liked the characters in 13, 3 was most nostalgic because it was the first with the job system, 7 had a cool modern dystopic setting, all 3 tactics games have the best mechanics and Brave Exvius is the best mobile game by far. I also played 11 and 14 for way too much time.

    I can't rate them in a linear way, so I'll just say:

    Great: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
    Good: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 14
    Participation award: 13

    I haven't played 11 or 15 so can't place them.

    All that MMO bullshit ;)

    7 made me buy a PS1. 9 I pretended to have returned to the video store months before - scored a free copy. 12 was nigh on impossible to find, so I chipped my Ps2 especially. 10 - got ALL the best weapons via a series of stupid tasks (dodging lightning? Really?). 6 was a ROM. 8 was the most drab, uninteresting world. 5, 4 and 3 were ok. 13 can eat all the dicks.

    Done :-D

    7, 6, 8, Tactics (both), 9, 10....the others....then 12.

    12 Killed my love of FF.

    Last edited 30/11/16 1:32 pm

      There were 3 Tactics games: Tactics, Tactics Advanced and Tactics A2.

        ...I only knew of two. Never heard of Tactics A2.

        Guess what I'm spending my spare time tracking down over the next week thanks to you!

          I highly recommend Tactics A2, although if you do buy it, I suggest paying attention to later side-quests because one makes a later boss so much easier. Hope that isn't too spoilery.


    Fite me IRL.

      8 totally underrated.
      8 had awesome cards.
      8 had pretty cool story.
      8 had best limit breaks.
      8 had a gun-sword.
      8 had kissing in space.

        Whenever I sang my songs,
        On the stage,
        On my own...

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