It is hard to think of a role-playing series that is more iconic than the Japanese phenomenon Final Fantasy. A brainchild of Hironobo Sakaguchi, an ex-developer from Squaresoft/Square Enix, Final Fantasy initially took shape as a frantic attempt to carve a niche in the massively competitive games industry.
Today, we will be taking a look at the Final Fantasy franchise by remembering some of the best games in the series. I’ve tried to make the article less confusing since some games in the series were released in Japan as one title. Then the game was released in the United States as a different title. Let us begin.
Final Fantasy – The Original NES, 1987
The first entry in a series has a lot to accomplish, and Final Fantasy managed to do it mostly right. A sprawling RPG adventure that had emotional moments as well as exciting combat, Final Fantasy was a bold new entry into a crowded genre.
The game hasn’t aged particularly well, but subsequent remakes like the PSP one offer players a smoother experience to a historical game.
Final Fantasy II – Super Famicom, 1988
The game was later released on the PlayStation 1 under Final Fantasy Origins. It was also in on the GameBoy Advance under Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls. Hot on the heels of the first Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy II introduced some fresh new mechanics such as the ability to upgrade individual stats and skills. This might sound like a basic feature now, but it was quite a revelation back in the day.
Final Fantasy II also included a dramatic story arc which gave players a sense of pride and accomplishment as they journeyed through the game. While the game definitely has its share of rough edges, Final Fantasy II gave players an exciting RPG experience that they wouldn’t easily forget.
Final Fantasy III – Super Famicom, 1990 & Nintendo DS 2006
This game was released on the Super Famicom in 1990 but didn’t get a remake until 2006 for the Nintendo DS. Final Fantasy III was a huge leap forward for the series and introduced a lot of innovative features. The major new addition was the Job System which allowed four distinct playable party members to change their character classes on the fly provided you are out of combat. This created a slew of challenging scenarios and boss fights where players had to change their character classes to adapt to the enemies they were facing.
The game also offered more explorable continents and fresh dungeon designs that kept things interesting all the way through. Subsequent games in the series owe a lot to the template that Final Fantasy III laid out.
Final Fantasy IV – Super Famicom, 1991
This game in Japan was known as Final Fantasy IV, but in the United States, it’s better known as Final II. Final Fantasy II is memorable for having one of the most memorable narratives in the series. With interesting characters and updated graphics, Final Fantasy IV was a bold new step for the series.
The added power of the SNES allowed Final Fantasy IV to push graphical boundaries and introduce the Active Time Battle system – a game-changing mechanic that is now a staple of the series. The new combat system made things fast and furious unless you chose to go back to the turn-based mode. But why would you do that?
Final Fantasy V – Super Famicom, 1992 & PlayStation 1 in 1999
This game was released in the United States under the title of Final Fantasy Anthology for the PS1. Final Fantasy V basically took everything that was great about Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy III and created an exhilarating and much more balanced experience for gamers. It was also Sakaguchi’s last FF as game director, and it was a brilliant game to sign out on.
More Jobs meant more flexibility for players. Enemy types and diverse boss battles made things consistently challenging, requiring frequent job changes to deal with specific dungeons and enemies.
Final Fantasy VI – for Super Famicom & Know as Final Fantasy III, 1994
This game in Japan was known as Final Fantasy VI, but in the United States, it’s better known as Final III. Final Fantasy VI is not just one of the best Final Fantasy games, it is one of the best RPG games of all time. It holds up even today as a great example of a series maturing, embracing its flaws and playing to its strengths with polished production and intelligent game design.
Some of the things that are notable about Final Fantasy VI.
- The world literally ends, and your party has to split up into three groups to tackle the last dungeon. Fun times ensue.
- The main villain makes the perfect heel turn from bumbling clown to cackling megalomaniac and actually succeeds in his plan to take over the world.
Final Fantasy VI stands out among JRPGs for taking bold risks and therefore still holds a fond place in gamers’ hearts. Final Fantasy VI also has the single-largest roster of playable characters of any Final Fantasy game. Unlike other games that employ a large cast, Final Fantasy VI fleshes out all of its characters and gives you enough emotionally resonant moments with each of them. Final Fantasy VI is undoubtedly the best of the classic Final Fantasy titles. It delivers a moving story, fantastic characters and epic combat that requires quick thinking and creativity.
Modern games in the Final Fantasy series have taken the franchise to bold new heights, delivering expansive worlds and cutting-edge graphics that are worthy of the sprawling adventures these games contain.
What are your favorite Final Fantasy titles? Do you prefer newer games or classic adventures? Let us know in the comments!
Until next time, happy adventuring.