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Ranking 30 Years of Final Fantasy

So many crystals, chocobos, and moogles, all in one place!


The first Final Fantasy released for the SNES may have been the fourth game in the series, but it was only the second game to make it out of Japan. This led to a naming confusion that remains to this day, even though Final Fantasy IV has been re-released more than any game in the series besides the first one. FF IV boasts a ton of firsts in the franchise; the first use of the Active Time Battle system, the first (and only) time you could have five members in a party, the first time that the cast was larger than ten characters, and the first game to have the airship-loving Cid as a party member. Final Fantasy IV was a showcase of the Super Nintendo’s graphical prowess, and the game continues to be one of the most popular entries in the series 26 years later.


I…love Final Fantasy IV. It was the first game in the series that I put any real time into, and it left an indelible mark on me, leading me to a lifetime love of role playing games and cementing my passion for this hobby. It’s a game that is beautiful in its graphical simplicity, and features my favorite soundtrack in the series. There isn’t a person in the large cast of characters that I don’t regard in high esteem, from the conflicted dark knight Cecil to the wise-cracking ninja Edge who, to this day, is the name I use for nameless RPG protagonists. Depending on which version you play, this is also one of the toughest Final Fantasy games, thanks to the fast pace of the ATB system and hard-hitting bosses that require quick thinking and utilization of the correct abilities and spells for the job. I own no less than seven copies of this game across different platforms, and I can’t praise it enough. There is truth to the idea that your first Final Fantasy game is your favorite, but I can’t help but think that this game would still top my list even had I come to it later. 

There we have it; fifteen (well, technically sixteen) Final Fantasy games, all present, accounted for, and ranked according to personal preference. Of course, such a long-running and respected franchise has as many different rankings as there are fans, and I’d love to hear your own thoughts on the series as a whole. Feel free to tell me how terrible I am for putting FF V so low on the list and FF X so high; I can take it. 

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Cary Woodham

01/06/2018 at 12:46 AM

My favorite FF games are FF6, FF4, and FF9.

FF6 is on my list of my top five favorite games of all time.

Even though I had played FF1 and Dragon Warrior on the NES, FF4 is the game that got me into RPGs.

FF9 is what FF7 and 8 should've been.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

01/18/2018 at 09:18 PM

FF IV was technically my first RPG too. I played just a teensy bit of FF I at a friend's house, and when I saw the SNES game for rent I convinced my cousin to take a chance on it. We instantly fell in love.


01/08/2018 at 08:02 PM

I played some of the first FF and forget what I thought of it. Then I played FF IV and loved that, although, I didn't beat it, yet. I've always meant to get more into FF even when I bought FFXII and didn't get more than a few hours into it, being baffled by the battle system. I think I might try and get into some of these later this year when I revisit '87-91. That would be FFI-IV.  I'll take your advice and try and get that GBA version of FFI, but maybe it's downloadable on PS4? I know it was a in PSOne Classics on PS3 a while back. Oh wait. . . I just realized I still have the NES cart. Phew. That one's taken care of. 

The Last Ninja

01/08/2018 at 11:36 PM

I grew up with FF II and III (IV and VI). I have tons of nostalgia for those games, especially VI. I've beaten FF III, VI, and IX. FFVI is my favorite RPG, the story, characters, and music are all incredible. I've gotten very close to beating FFI and IV, but they get quite brutal at the end! 

It's ironic that some gamers thought FFIX wasn't "a true Final Fantasy game" when in reality, FFVII and VIII were far removed from what a FF game was. Love the series on a whole! 

Super Step Contributing Writer

01/14/2018 at 01:21 PM

I didn't know FFV was held in such high esteem, since I never hear about it. 

Julian Titus Senior Editor

01/18/2018 at 09:19 PM

FF V is the "intellectual" best game in the series, the one that fans of will use to thumb their nose at people like me who don't care for it as much. 


01/18/2018 at 10:09 PM

retronauts did a neat episode about FF V.  Their 'expert' guest wrote a book on FF V from Boss Fight Books.  It sounds fantastic form a mechanics standpoint, but only okay on the story side.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

01/20/2018 at 02:17 PM

I just bought that book recently and am lookung forward to reading it!


01/20/2018 at 07:04 PM

I have the book as well.  Can't wait to read it

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Final Fantasy V Review Rewind

There are several similarities between Final Fantasy V and its younger sibling, Final Fantasy III. Chiefly of which, both games stayed exclusively in Japan well after the series moved on to the PlayStation in the mid-90s. For a time, Square Enix (formally SquareSoft) was uncertain if western audiences would grasp the deeper gameplay mechanics that drove character growth. But after the global success of Final Fantasy VII, they decided it was time to start bridging the gap in sequels in the US lineup. As a result, Final Fantasy V was the first to be released as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology compilation on the PlayStation in 1999.