The Debate Over the Final Fantasy Series

The Debate Over the Final Fantasy Series

What’s your favorite Final Fantasy? The most common favorites are VI and VII, but opinions vary wildly. You ask someone to rate any game in the series (whether you’re online or off) and you’ll never get two of the same answer.

No one can agree on which Final Fantasy games are good and which ones aren’t, let alone the best and worst. The below (in-character?) rants give you just a sample of the snide comments you’ll see on the internet when you bring up the subject. Everyone has an opinion on every game, especially VII, whether they worship it or despise it. Whatever Final Fantasy you like, people on message boards will line up to tell you your opinion is wrong.

Believe it or not, this isn’t a completely bad thing. It doesn’t bother me because (as with most of the Zelda series) the lack of total consensus on every game in the long-running series means that you can find actual debate instead of everyone without fail agreeing that Final Fantasy Other XIII: 80 Hours of Lightning was unquestionably the best and that you’re a big stupid if you disagree.

Here’s how the internet will probably respond if you dare admit that you liked one of these games (opinions not necessarily my own):

———-

I – “INEFFECTIVE. INEFFECTIVE. INEFFECTIVE. The fact that every remake had to change half of the gameplay elements should indicate that your favorite game sucks. Garland is about as classic and memorable a villain as Rita Repulsa.”

II – “Forcing your characters to smack each other for hours so they can have enough HP to survive imps? Sounds like the kind of logic Kawazu would use, all right. Good thing they gave him the SaGa series to screw around with so he’d stop ruining Final Fantasy.”

III – “Lookit this hipster scum who picked the game the west never got until 2006. A pathetic alpha version of V’s class system, more grinding than a jonesing crack addict’s teeth, and annoying mini-dungeons. The final boss is a cloud, which is almost as dumb as a tree. The DS remake barely even made this playable.

IV – “Yeah it looked good for an early SNES game, but the stifling linearity and lack of options more than bring it down. Hardtype, easytype, how about badtype? The story isn’t as cool as you think, either. It’s just Star Wars with chocobos. NO GOLBEZ I AM YOUR BROTHER”

V – “A huge guy in black spiky armor wants to steal/destroy four crystals? Then he does steal/destroy them, and it turns out there’s another set? Yeah I’ve never seen this before. You can break this game open easier than a rotten walnut. Tell us more about how you played it before it ever got an English translation, too, liar.”

VI – “Quit praising Ted Woolsey long enough to realize how formulaic this game is. Having a grimdark story where the world blows up doesn’t make it the masterpiece you thought it was when you were 10. Shadow’s mysteeeeeerious past is stupid, too. B… but… it’s a metaphor!!!”

VII – “Listen noob, just because VII was your first RPG doesn’t make it a good game. Near-identical-in-combat characters, dumb Livejournal dialogue, anime gibberish, idiotic waifu arguments. You are blinded by graphics (which look terrible today) and nostalgia. Keep petitioning Squeenix for that remake, haha.”

VIII – “Leftovers from VII, rips it off in almost every way. Have fun spending all day Drawing and Junctioning instead of playing a video game you pleb. Dumb J-pop songs, idiotic plot twists about memory loss, and x-treme angst. They should have just made Triple Triad its own game. Everyone hates VIII for a good reason.”

IX – “Just because it sold under par doesn’t make it ‘underrated’ you hippie. IX unnecessarily relied on old stale tropes and the already bad/generic plot got hilariously bad/generic in the last disc. And the Triple Triad imitation, ugh. You basically just want to play IV and VI again, you nostalgia-worshiping cretin.”

X – “Forced Blitzball games. Having to spend an eternity in the Sphere Grid to get anywhere. Only three characters on the battlefield at once. The laughing scene. Plus Tidus is the least likeable Final Fantasy protagonist, and the competition is fierce; that’s like getting the most beheadings at the Rape of Nanking. Hey, I think they made that the plot of one of the FF spinoffs.

XI – “Yeah I played Everquest, too. But I never came to the conclusion that it needed more grinding and more penalties. How’s Pandemonium Warden’s fifty million forms treating you while you run that hamster wheel you pay every month for?”

XII – “Final Fantasy? More like Aryan Fantasy. And never mind what I said before, Vaan is an even worse protagonist than Tidus. XII is focus group-approved teenybopper garbage for idiot weeaboos and Japs who think every character should be a weak-willed emaciated albino elf. At least Nintendo learned from the Gambit system that you can sell games that play themselves and call it a feature.”

XIII – “Lightning is such a cooooooool character! Let’s give her over 9000 spinoffs while ignoring the good… what’s that you say? All the other characters in this entry are stupid, too? You don’t say. And how about that handholding? I’ve seen more non-linear paths inside my intestines. And speaking of colons, you are the cancer that has killed Final Fantasy.

XIV – “Listen you dumb shill, no one liked this game, not even on the internet. Not even on GameFAQs, and they have lower standards of quality than Japanese nuclear reactor inspectors. XIV had a worse launch than the Challenger and has fewer players worldwide than cricket. Squeenix has done nothing but damage control on this failure ever since.”

———-

The heavy disagreements over the quality of the Final Fantasy series foster genuine discussion since there aren’t sheep braying that one game or another is automatically best/worst. Well, actually, there are people like that, but at least there aren’t enough sheep in this fandom to form a hivemind of sheep bleating at you that the grazing grass on their side is the greenest and you are cattle if you don’t eat it.

Since there isn’t a universally-praised entry in the Final Fantasy series (not even VI, or whatever your favorite one is), you actually have room to explain yourself. I appreciate that. This is one of the few series there is that people have real discussions about.

Next time: The actual best Final Fantasy. I have proof.

About Lee

Lee Laughead writes stuff about video games. Read his Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mesarphelous even though Twitter sucks.
Comedy, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, RPG or thereabouts, Video Gaming

2 comments


  1. Main-line Final Fantasy Games I’ve Played, Ranked from Worst to Best:

    II: The second FF game introduced a lot of the current series mainstays and is worth playing for historical reasons, but IMHO it’s the weakest entry of the series. Some of its shortcomings were corrected in later remakes, but others were not.

    I: Rating this low will be controversial, I’m sure. At its core, it’s a pretty straightforward NES-ish level grind; I understand that it was the first introduction to the series for a lot of people, but everything FF1 did, FF3 did better.

    VIII: I have a certain soft spot for this game; looking back, it seems pretty clear that Square, in the wake of FF7’s success, bit off way more than they could chew with it. I feel like I almost like this one more for what it could have been than what it is- better budgeting and a few gameplay tweaks colud have made a lot of difference- but I have to admit that the actual game that exists is objectively pretty weak.

    III: I will defend this game to the death. It’s definitely an artifact of its time, which is a polite way of saying that you’re going to spend way too many hours grinding levels and it’s still hard as nails. That being said, I’m not going to hesitate too much to call it one of the best NES-style grind-heavy RPGs there is, along with Dragon Quest 3 and 5.

    V: This one’s fun to play through occasionally, and the job system is brilliant. The plot isn’t really strong enough to hold it together, however; it’s a solid (and, in the US, often forgotten) entry, but it’s not one of my top choices.

    X: Another controversial choice. Despite this game’s shortcomings- the linear dungeons, the obnoxious main character- it had a lot of really cool, clever systems in it, and I really liked the look-and-feel of everything and felt that the plot was pretty solid overall. The Sphere Grid was a good compromise between having characters with unique abilities and characters who were customizable, and I rather enjoyed how they handled equipment and battle, as well. Maybe not Square’s best work, but I feel like it’s a consistently underrated game. I should note here that I have an inhumanly high tolerance for obnoxious main characters (I am even willing to defend Shinji Ikari in this regard), which may figure into this.

    IX: Another often-underrated entry, I always parsed this one as a farewell to the SNES-style, four-characters-in-a-fantasy-setting style games which incorporates everything Square had learned by the time about making PSX games good. Despite some weird glitches with the ATB, it’s a solid entry that I’ve really got to play through this again sometime.

    IV: My own first experience with the series; this was one of the games that turned me on to RPGs in general. Because of that, I’m loath to rate it too low, but there are a lot of things in the game that haven’t aged terribly well- the lack of any customization of your party is something of a sticking point, and the plot was amazing at the time but doesn’t compare that well to later games in the series. On the other hand, it’s pretty important historically- in many ways, this is the game that showed us what a 16-bit RPG should be.

    VII: I’ve written a couple long pieces about Final Fantasy 7, which I’ll try to summarize here. While there are many who feel that it’s an overrated game, I’m personally of the opinion that it had a ton of historical impact which can’t really be discounted. It was, for better or for worse, the game that showed us what a 32-bit RPG should look like the same way that Final Fantasy IV showed us what a 16-bit RPG should look like. It was one of the games that helped the Playstation win out in the 32-bit generation, especially compared to the more powerful N64. It was the first ‘blockbuster’ RPG in the US- many of Square’s previous projects being cult hits at best- and paved the way for a massive increase in the number of Japanese RPGs localized. Even if it’s not the Greatest Game Ever that many fans will attempt to sell it as, there’s no denying that it was a major influence on RPGs as a whole.

    VI: Pretty much the best RPG ever.

    – HC

    • As an addendum: I do think that VII gets unfairly maligned sometimes both because it introduced a lot of new fans to the genre and because it was enough of a paradigm shift that it’s easy to use as a signpost marking the end of the Good Old Days.

      Taken in a vacuum, I still think it’s a good-to-excellent game. That being said, there is a very vocal group of people who think it’s the worst game ever and a very vocal group of people who think it’s the best game ever, and real discussion of it tends to get lost in the noise created between the two.

      – HC

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