Sort Out the Series: Final Fantasy

Welcome to a new feature! In Sort Out the Series, I'll take a look at the games in one of my favorite series, and rank them in order from least to most favorite.

If you've read a good number of my previous articles, it's probably fairly apparent that I love Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy IV was one of the first RPGs that I ever played and it left quite an impression. Oddly enough though, my top 2 RPGs aren't Final Fantasy games, but I'll talk about that another day. First off, I'm only talking about the main series of FF games and I'm not including XI or XIV since they're online games and I haven't played them anyway. No spin offs of main series games either, like Crisis Core or Final Fantasy X-2. Just Final Fantasy to Final Fantasy XIII.

Final Fantasy II
I have tried several times to really get into this game but I just can't do it. I've tried with the GBA version and a translated ROM of the NES version and I just don't enjoy either of them. I don't think I ever even got to the first boss in either version. It bores me that quickly. One of these days, I'll just force myself to play the GBA version since it's a little more streamlined than the NES one but it's gonna take a lot of willpower.


Final Fantasy III
This one is pretty much in the same boat as FFII. I just don't have the patience for it. I dunno what it is but Final Fantasy II and III just bore the shit outta me. Not much more to say here. I played through the NES version a bit longer than FFII but I have yet to try the DS one. I may pick that one up someday.


Final Fantasy XII
This one I actually got fairly far into before giving up. It isn't really a bad game and by all logic I should love it since it plays so similarly to Knights of the Old Republic which is one of my favorite games ever. I think its biggest problem is that its story is God damn awful. I don't remember a single thing about it, just that it was boring as yard work. I remember all the playable characters names, but that's about it. Also, Final Fantasy XII probably has my least favorite soundtrack of the whole series. Only one song was done by series regular Nobuo Uematsu and pretty much every other song is just terrible.


Final Fantasy V
I am very torn on this one because the characters are fantastic, and the story isn't half bad either. This one also contains a death that I found much more sad than Aeris'. My problem with this game is that it is horrifically balanced. Unless you really know what you're doing or do a lot of grinding, you're just gonna die over and over. I actually did beat this one, and I even beat that damn near impossible robot boss, but it took freakin' forever.

One thing of note in FFV is something that I mentioned in my Persona 4 article. Final Fantasy V contains one of the only transgender characters in gaming that isn't a gag character, and like Naoto in Persona 4, the character is female. I still can't think of any respectable male transgender video game characters. Maybe Poison counts but her gender is kinda disputed, and I'm not sure what Capcom's stance on her is.


Final Fantasy IX
Yep, I went there. I have tried on no fewer than five occasions to play this game, and I've never been able to get through disc 1 before I get bored. Actually, the first 4 times were from boredom, the most recent time was last year when I rage quit after a boss sucker punched me and wiped out my party. It normally wouldn't be so bad but I hadn't saved for a LONG time and I wasn't expecting a boss. I'll definitely try this one again though because it's one of the most beloved in the whole series so it deserves a fair chance. Or rather, a sixth fair chance...


Final Fantasy
The first FF game is actually quite good, I just find it to be a bit bland, especially compared to the first Dragon Quest (a very similar game that I adore), which came out a year prior. Like FFII, I've played the NES and GBA versions and I vastly prefer the GBA one since it actually uses MP rather than that stupid charge system in the NES version. It's kinda funny though because I've actually beaten the NES one but not the GBA version. Go figure.


Final Fantasy VIII
Believe it of not, this was the first FF game that I beat. I bought it right after it came out, and did pretty much everything the game had to offer. I got three of my characters to level 100 before finally finishing the game and man was I proud of myself when I finally did. In retrospect, the game is an oddity to say the least. The magic system is just plain stupid, and having enemies that scale to your level is just annoying. The story also had a LOT of dumb points, and I couldn't have cared less about Squall and Rinoa's romance. FFVIII does have one of my favorite soundtracks in the series however, and the battle system is quite fun other than the stupid magic shit.

Final Fantasy X
Hmm. Talking about this one again already. I think I covered it quite well in my article but I'll hit the finer points. The battle system is my favorite in any RPG and the soundtrack is amazing like every Uematsu composition. The story was pretty lame and the sphere grid was pretty pointless, but overall I think the game's strengths outweigh its faults.


Final Fantasy XIII
Yep. I actually like FFXIII so much that it's this high on the list. Throw any argument you want at me and I'll just shrug. I just really enjoy the game. The only negative thing I can really say about the game is that it's not very well written or directed with soooooooo many lines being repeated ad nauseam. I'm not talking about stuff that the characters say in battle either. I mean in cutscenes. Just count the number of times that Snow talks about their focus or Hope bitches about his mom. Don't play a drinking game with this unless you want a liver transplant.

Everything else about the game is just fine in my opinion, and I would even go as far as to call bullshit on a lot of common complaints about the game. Probably the biggest complaint about the FFXIII is that it's too linear, with some players claiming that you can win by holding up on the control pad and spamming the X/A button. I DARE anyone to do this. I CHALLENGE you to videotape yourself beating this game by only running forward and spamming X. Yes, I know what hyperbole is but I've seen it said so many times that a few of them must be serious.

People also complain that the story is too complex, which is just moronic. I can describe the plot in one sentence. A group of people are magically enslaved by a powerful entity who wants them to complete an unknown mission that gradually becomes clear to them over the course of the game. That's it. I wonder if I cleared up anyone's confusion.

I will admit that the game does have a very simple battle system, which I guess pissed off a lot of people who enjoyed the complex systems of yore. By that logic though, Super Mario Bros is the worst platformer ever made and Wolfenstein 3D is a steaming pile of shit. Anyhow, your characters chose their actions automatically, though you can chose what your lead party member does if you want to. I don't see anyone bitching about Phantasy Star II or Persona 3 which did the same damn thing but whatever. The main thing you have to worry about is the paradigm system.

There are six classes that each character can choose from and you can create several combinations of these classes, which are called paradigms. You can swap your party's paradigm any time during battle, so for example, if you need to heal you would switch to a paradigm with a medic and maybe even a sentinel who can soak up a lot of damage. If you want to beat a boss quickly, you'd switch to a paradigm with a saboteur who can weaken enemies and a synergist who can strengthen your party, then switch to a combination of commandos and ravagers, the two damage dealing classes.

One thing I'd like to quickly mention is that the music is actually really good despite no involvement whatsoever by Uematsu. Saber's Edge is one of my favorite boss themes ever, though I will admit that most of the songs aren't quite as catchy as before. It seems that with access to an orchestra, a lot of composers just try to make every song sound epic and not worry about making them catchy. Shadow of the Colossus is always my go to example of a game with an orchestrated soundtrack that is still very catchy.

I'll talk about this game much more in depth in the future so I'll shut up now. My point is that FFXIII gets too much shit for really weak reasons. I don't expect everyone to love the game but for God's sake people, spend a little more time talking about games that you like and don't be so negative all the time.


Final Fantasy VII
I am in a unique position on this one. I didn't play Final Fantasy VII until years after it came out. I first played it whenever they put it on PSN. Hell, I didn't get my PS3 until 2008 when Metal Gear Solid 4 came out so it was at least 11 years after the game was released that I finally played it. My point is, I have no nostalgia attached to this game, so I can say from an objective standpoint that it just about lives up to its immense popularity.

There's only two games left on the countdown and one of them is this game's direct predecessor, FFVI, so you know that it had a lot to live up to for me. First off, Final Fantasy VII has one of my favorite casts in the whole series. It's kinda weird finally seeing where they originated after how much I've heard about them over the years. I mean, is there a single gaming forum in existence that doesn't have a guy named xXDarkSephirothXx or some shit like that? Hell, not just one guy, I swear on GameFAQs there's an endless supply of Sephiroth based usernames. Anyway, my point is that Sephiroth is actually a pretty interesting villain in my book. I find it fascinating to watch his descent into madness over the course of the story.

Beyond the story, FFVII is quite a fun journey. There's a few cheap bosses but it's a pretty well balanced game overall. It also has the highest number of songs of any game in the FF series on my iPod so yeah, the music is pretty damn good. This one will definitely be in my top 5 games of 1997 (spoilers: maybe even at the top of the list) so I'll talk about it much more then.


Final Fantasy IV
With the first 3 Final Fantasy games being kinda mediocre to me, the fourth entry in the series is quite an improvement to say the least. I already wrote quite a bit about this one but like FFX, I'll hit the finer points. FFIV is pretty much perfect in every way, other than having some cheap bosses at the end. It isn't very impressive visually but it WAS released in the console's first year so it kinda gets a pass on that one. As always, the music is amazing. I've said it before: Uematsu is the man!


Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI is the only game on this list that I would argue is perfect. I can't think of a single thing to complain about other than the fact that there isn't really a main character. Rather, there's an ensemble cast of heroes who all have their own personality and story arc. The game does have a great main villain in Kefka though, and they do a great job establishing what an asshole he is early on. This one will get an enormous article eventually so I'll shut up now.

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