With the Final Fantasy VII Remake release date on the horizon, we’re all filled with some classic JRPG nostalgia right now. And so, we decided to take a look at all the numbered Final Fantasy games in order to complete our trip down memory lane.
Anyone who’s played more than one Final Fantasy game will know that no two titles are the same, and I’ve been in more than one heated discussion over which one is the best (the answer is Final Fantasy IX, in case you were wondering). Despite this, most Final Fantasy games have been great - most.
Release date: December 18th, 1987
Platforms: NES, MSX, WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, iOS, Android, Playstation Portable, Windows Phone
The game that started it all. For 1987, this was a fairly revolutionary title. The large game world and strategic turn-based combat were both fairly new concepts and brought this new genre and style of gaming to our screens for the first time. But, despite all of this, it hasn’t really stood the test of time like some of the other early Final Fantasy games.
There was a lack of customization and variety that ultimately led to tedium at times, something the later games avoided fairly well. Still, it’s a golden classic, and if you want to see where the franchise started, it’s still worth a playthrough. Due to its age, the easiest way to get hold of it if through iOS or Android stores - otherwise, you’ll need an emulator.
Final Fantasy II
Release date: December 17th, 1988
Platforms: Famicom, WonderSwan Color, Playstation, Game Boy Advance, Playstation Portable, iOS, Android, Windows Phone
The next addition to the series feels much more like the format we’re now used to. The story centered around a group of heroes taking down a villainous empire, and they followed their turn-based combat formula from the first game. Despite this, Final Fantasy II never made the impact that Square Enix hoped it would.
Firstly, the game wasn’t localized until 2002, by which point more advanced and nuanced versions of the JRPG had graced people’s gaming libraries. On top of this, they introduced an odd leveling system that didn’t click with a lot of players. Again, if you want to give this a play, you’re better off using your smartphone.
Final Fantasy III
Release date: April 27th, 1990
Platforms: Famicom, NES, Nintendo DS, Wii U, Windows, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Playstation Portable
Yet another game that didn’t reach the US until a good few years after it’s initial release, Final Fantasy III is where you’ll really start to see glaring similarities with the franchise we all now know and love. We saw the introduction of both jobs and summons in this installment, and it really feels like the first real Final Fantasy title for many.
The 2006 Nintendo DS remake saw the story reimagined with 3D graphics, but stayed true to the story and mechanics of the original, making it a much more accessible first foray into the genre for newcomers.
Final Fantasy IV
Release date: July 19th, 1991
Platforms: SNES, Playstation, WonderSwan Color, Gameboy Advance, FOMA 903i/ 703i, Playstation Portable
For many Final Fantasy aficionados (myself included) Final Fantasy IV is the game we always “count” as being the first proper title in the series. This is when Active Time Battle (ATB) was first introduced - an institution that would stick around right up until FFX.
With this game, classes also got some more attention, with each feeling like they brought something individual to the table. This is also the first game that was brought out on the SNES, and that helped catapult it into the public eye much more than the previous releases.
Final Fantasy V
Release date: December 6th, 1992
Platforms: Super Famicom, Playstation, Gameboy Advance, iOS, Android, Windows
While this game continued to improve on gameplay mechanics with updates to jobs, it remains one of the most forgettable entries in the series. Why? Square Enix put so much into the characters and story that it became way too complicated. They stuck with the medieval-style setting they were used to, but even as I was re-reading the plot to write this up, I struggled to keep up.
It’s still a fun game to play, but sticking with the story can be more difficult, so you lose some of the charm that makes these games so damn good.
Final Fantasy VI
Release date: April 2nd, 1994
Platforms: SNES, Playstation, Gameboy Advance, Android, iOS, Windows
Final Fantasy VI has been the number one choice for many fans of the series. The last 16-bit game was also the last game before the Playstation era began, but it was the first to be set in the more steampunk-esque style world we’re used to, and science and technological advances took over from high-fantasy.
They also managed to weave an exquisite storyline alongside its streamlined gameplay mechanics - helping to make this one of the most well-loved games in the series. It keeps things fairly linear for the first half, allowing you to get connected to the characters and build up their skills. Then, you get to explore a more open path into the second half to give you a bit of freedom with how you play the game.
Final Fantasy VII
Release date: January 31st, 1997
Platforms: Playstation, Windows, Android, iOS, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
One of the most beloved entries in the series, Final Fantasy VII was the beginning of the Playstation-era of the franchise, and they certainly made a big, sweeping entrance. Graphics got a major upgrade (for better or for worse) and gave us a compelling storyline with a great cast of characters.
As iconic as it is, it’s not necessarily one of the better titles in the series. Hear me out on this one. The battle system was clunky and slow, there weren’t any real advancements in terms of gameplay, and the 3D graphics were supremely ugly (I mean, look at their hands!). One of the main reasons this stuck with so many people was mostly down to the storyline twist that had us all staring blankly at our screens with tears in our eyes. (If you know, you know).
Of course, with the Final Fantasy VII Remake just around the corner, a lot of these issues will be fixed. We have seriously upgraded graphics, a new battle system, and who knows what else.
Final Fantasy VIII
Release date: February 11th, 1999
Platforms: Playstation, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Final Fantasy VIII is the odd one out for the Playstation. They changed up a lot of the usual gameplay elements and made something pretty unique. A greater emphasis was placed on summoning, and each character worked with a dedicated weapon, supplemented by Junctioning. No longer did you have to restore your MP to be able to cast your spells - you had to collect enough of each of the magic to use it before you ran out.
I really enjoyed this game, and I often go back to it, with the opening hours spent in the Garden being my favorite opener of all the titles. The graphics also took a major step up from VII - no longer were we plagued by spiky, well, everything. The cut scences also leveled up in a major way, adding a deeper level of story immersion.
Final Fantasy IX
Release date: July 7th, 2000
Platforms: Playstation, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
We took a trip back to a more medieval setting for IX, and it worked amazingly. This is my personal favorite title in the series, and the first video game I ever completed - so it holds a special place in my heart.
What really makes it special is how it managed to use the medieval settings we saw back in the early days, combined with the exquisite storytelling of the more recent titles to create an epic adventure that felt both modern and nostalgic.
Final Fantasy X
Release date: July 19th, 2001
Platforms: Playstation 2
The first game on Playstation 2, understandably, saw an incredible leap in graphic quality. They also decided to update the combat system for this new era. They did away with the ATB system we were all so used to, and switched to a more conventional turn-based approach.
The cut scenes also included the first-ever voice acting moment from the Final Fantasy series and did wonders to enhance the story, and allow us to become more and more invested in the relationship of the two main characters Tidus and Yuna.
The sequel (Final Fantasy X-II) was an interesting addition that focused on Yuna after the events of the main game, but it never really gained enough traction from the dedicated Final Fantasy crowd.
Final Fantasy XI
Release date: May 16th, 2002
Platforms: Playstation 2, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Final Fantasy XI was the first MMO that the series brought out, so it’s hard to compare to other titles on this list. Unfortunately, it remained decidedly average throughout its lifespan with the console servers being turned off back in 2016. You can still play on PC for those who want to dive in, but you’d be better looking elsewhere for your MMO needs.
Final Fantasy XII
Release date: March 16th, 2006
Platforms: Playstation 2, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
This was the first title in the Final Fantasy (MMO aside) that dropped random encounters and turn-based battle in favor of real-time combat. While this was a big shift for fans of the series, they executed it perfectly, and this game really is worthy of so much more attention than it’s gained over the years.
The only part that lets this game down is it’s opening few hours. They just don’t manage to grip your attention like so many of the other Final Fantasy games.
Final Fantasy XIII
Release date: December 17th, 2009
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows
As the first game to be released on the Playstation 3, expectations were high for this game. The improvements we saw in previous titles when they transitioned to next-gen consoles had set pretty high standards for XIII. Sadly, the game underdelivered in so many ways. That isn’t to say it’s a bad game necessarily, it just didn’t make the impact it should have.
The story was too linear, you could set it to automatic battles, and generally, it just left you feeling like something was missing. It was nice to get back to the game’s more Japanese roots in terms of setting and style, but the gameplay really let this one down.
Final Fantasy XIV
Release date: August 27th, 2013
Platforms: Playstation 3, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, OS X
The second MMO game from the series was even worse than the first when it first came out. If it wasn’t for the Realm Reborn release in 2013, this game would have been even more hated than it already is. Which is a shame.
The setting for this game is one of the best in the series as the world of Hydaelyn is diverse and interesting to explore, and the story and lore are top-notch too. Now that Realm Reborn has been re-released, it’s once again become an MMO you can really sink some hours into.
Final Fantasy XV
Release date: November 29th, 2016
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Stadia
The most recent game in the series took a more laidback approach to its storytelling which has definitely divided fans. They took a big risk with this game, showcasing much more of a western RPG style than usual. This made it all just feel very un-Final Fantasy.
Despite this, some of the new skill additions and individual missions for the characters makes for some intriguing gameplay and allows you to feel like you can invest more energy in characters other than the lead.
So, there you have it. All the Final Fantasy games in order. Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments, or head over to our Community Hub to discuss more.