Top 7 Best Final Fantasy games

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Written By Antoine Clerc-Renaud

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Introduction to Final Fantasy Series

Since its inception in 1987, the Final Fantasy series has become a cornerstone of the RPG genre, offering players a vast array of worlds to explore, stories to dive into, and characters to befriend. Created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and developed by Square Enix (formerly Square), this beloved franchise has spawned numerous mainline entries and spin-offs, making it one of the most influential and enduring video game series. While each game reinvents the wheel to some extent—introducing new systems, narratives, and technological advancements—the series maintains recurring themes such as the struggle between good and evil, complex character development, and grand, emotion-driven storytelling. Here, we will look at seven of the best Final Fantasy games that have left profound impacts on both fans and the gaming landscape.

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI, released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, is often hailed as one of the pinnacles of storytelling in video games. Known for its ensemble cast of characters, each with their own detailed backstories and motivations, FFVI weaves an epic tale of rebellion against a tyrannical empire. The game’s innovative “Esper” system, allowing characters to learn magic and summon powerful entities, and the dramatic “opera scene” are among its many high points. Its villain, Kefka Palazzo, remains one of the most iconic antagonists in video game history for his chaotic nature and nihilistic philosophy.

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII, originally released in 1997 for the PlayStation, marked the series’ transition into 3D graphics and cinematics. It set a new standard for video game narratives with its complex plot and exploration of dark themes like environmentalism and corporate greed. Its iconic protagonist, Cloud Strife, and the game’s exploration of his psyche, identity, and the bonds he forms with his diverse group of allies have captivated millions. FFVII also introduced the Materia system, allowing for customization of characters’ abilities, and its expansive world and optional side quests laid the groundwork for modern RPGs. The impact of FFVII is so enduring, it led to a full-fledged remake in 2020, which also received critical acclaim.

Final Fantasy IX

Released in 2000 for the original PlayStation, Final Fantasy IX served as a nostalgic homage to the series’ roots, featuring medieval fantasy elements and a return to the classic Active Time Battle system. The game’s art style, with vibrant environments and imaginative character designs courtesy of Hideo Minaba, is often praised, as is its compelling character-driven storyline. What sets FFIX apart is its focus on themes of identity, love, and the nature of life, presented through a cast of unforgettable characters like the jovial thief Zidane and the enigmatic black mage Vivi. It has gone down in history as one of the most artistically cohesive and emotionally powerful entries in the Final Fantasy series.

Final Fantasy X

Entering the era of the PlayStation 2 in 2001, Final Fantasy X made significant advancements with voice acting and a sophisticated narrative. This marked a pivot in storytelling for the series, integrating a fully voiced cast that brought the story’s emotional depth to new heights. The plot follows Tidus and Yuna on a quest to defeat the monster Sin and unravel the mysteries of their world, Spira. FFX introduced the Sphere Grid system for character skill and attribute development, and a turn-based combat system that allowed for strategic character swapping mid-battle. This game is remembered for its stunning visuals, rich world-building, and a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack by Nobuo Uematsu, which together create an unforgettable journey.

Final Fantasy Tactics

While not a mainline entry, Final Fantasy Tactics released in 1997 for the PlayStation stands out for its deep tactical gameplay and intricate plot. Set in the medieval-inspired kingdom of Ivalice, the game revolves around the War of the Lions and the young noble Ramza Beoulve’s struggles against the political intrigue and class conflict that plague his world. Its isometric turn-based battles and complex character job system have been praised for their strategic depth. The thought-provoking narrative, questioning the nature of history and heroism, has made Final Fantasy Tactics a classic among strategy RPGs and a crucial part of the Final Fantasy canon.

Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy XII, released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, introduced the innovative Gambit system, giving players unprecedented control over AI companions and allowing for real-time combat within a vast open world. Also set in Ivalice, FFXII presents a politically charged storyline rich with nuance and betrayal. Its exploration of themes of freedom and resistance resonate strongly, thanks in large part to its complex characters like the sky pirate Balthier and the princess Ashe. The combination of expansive lore, explorative gameplay, and sophisticated graphics help solidify FFXII’s position within the top ranks of Final Fantasy titles.

Final Fantasy XIV

After a rocky initial release in 2010, Final Fantasy XIV was reborn as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in 2013 and has since become one of the most successful MMORPGs of all time. Celebrated for its engaging storytelling and richly detailed world, FFXIV offers players a uniquely collaborative Final Fantasy experience. With each expansion, from “Heavensward” to “Endwalker,” the game has fleshed out the narrative and delivered content that appeals both to series veterans and newcomers. Its warm, welcoming community and ongoing developer support have made it a continuously evolving adventure that stands as a testament to the series’s enduring legacy.

Conclusion

The Final Fantasy series offers a multitude of experiences, each entry with its unique charm and distinctive approach to storytelling, gameplay, and world-building. Games like Final Fantasy VI, VII, IX, X, Tactics, XII, and XIV represent the pinnacle of what the franchise has to offer: immersive worlds, complex characters, and innovative gameplay that transcend the medium. As the series continues to evolve with upcoming titles and potential remakes, these entries remain benchmarks of excellence in the RPG genre, and their legacies continue to shape gaming history. Whether you’re seeking adventure, drama, strategy, or camaraderie, the best Final Fantasy games have something special for every player, encapsulating the magic that has enchanted generations of fans around the world.