Oh I’ve been waiting for this one!
Welcome back, NPCs, for what should prove to be a highly discussive and maybe even controversial challenge. The Final Fantasy franchise is undoubtedly one of the monuments of gaming. Ever since the very first influential game came out on the good old NES in ’87, Final Fantasy has been at the forefront of the gaming world, pushing hardware to its limits, defining the genre of the RPG, driving creativity, building timeless archetypes that has endured the years.
In case you can’t tell, we really love Final Fantasy here. Though the series has had its ups and its downs, its highs and its lows, its Airships and its Lightnings, Final Fantasy has earned its place in our hearts. A whole ton of factors go into our personal choice of which FF we deem our favorite: our age, the first FF we played, the protagonist we identify with, the antagonist we love to hate, the plot, the graphics, the gameplay, the console, etc. But today we get the chance to tell the world which one is the best and why! Doesn’t matter if you’ve beaten it or not.
“Which is your Favorite Final Fantasy?“
And let’s not demean ourselves with reading without the iconic music…
The Timely Mage
VIII. Beyond being my first Final Fantasy, it has a unique protagonist that I totally related to, great visuals, exciting and innovative interactive cutscenes, a compelling story, and sci-fi elements that I find very interesting. I can write an essay on why it’s my favorite (ask my fellow mages, I practically already have) but I’ll leave it at that. However I just wanted to add that while VIII is my favorite I think XII might be the best.
The Black Humor Mage
Although I’ve never played a Final Fantasy, the one I am most interested in is VII. I plan to play most of them, and I think I’ll like VII the most because of the scifi elements and characters.
The Rage Mage
Give me Lightning Returns any day. It’s better than morphine with the painless synapse-killing monotony of the main character and her very unwelcome return. The time limit is just there to remind you that it’s almost over. If Square Enix had any brain cells left in their pretentiously misguided, cryogenically frozen, octogenarian brains, they’d give us another sequel to this sequel of a sequel of a bowl of lukewarm tapioca. Call it Serah Returns: Definitely the Final Fantasy.
The Green Screen Mage
Story wise it’s Final Fantasy IX. In terms of games that I’ve beaten, it’s FFVII Crisis Core. Okay, I’ll admit it. I have only beaten Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus. You may have guessed from my Day 4 answer. I just lack the attention span for games that are that long, but I would sit and watch my dad play through VII-X when I was younger. Something about IX stuck with me. I adored Zidane and Vivi and the world was just so incredible. That ending though. My dad and I were a mess of tears.
The White Out Mage
My hubby and I played through Final Fantasy X together and it was my first Final Fantasy. I cried at the part when Yuna broke down in front of Tidus. I can identify with her sense of duty. We had to pause the game. I admire the story and the interesting characters.
The Well-Red Mage
I can say without a doubt, unequivocally, indisputably, incontrovertibly, indubitably, other-big-wordibally that my favorite Final Fantasy is Final Fantasy VI. Arguably, it’s the greatest FF ever made and the greatest that will ever be made. Bring on your argumentation. FFVI is the greatest for several reasons, which I shall neatly list for your convenience:
First, its protagonists. Yes, that’s plural. Several of the game’s characters take center stage and we get to see into their minds and motivations clearer than in nearly any other RPG that has come before (and a few RPGs that have come after, too). Terra, Celes, Edgar, Sabin, Locke, Cyan… they all share the limelight and we’re treated to their tragedies, their joys, their triumphs, and their drives. They are characters who are great because of their weaknesses (without being “emo”). As the main-main character, Terra also represents a prototypical Cloud as a former Magitek soldier.
Second, its antagonist. We’re not talking about a “surprise-I’m-here” final boss (sorry, VIII and IX), or one that’s overrated, over-hyped and over-dramatic (poo on you, Sephiroth). We’re not talking about a villain that’s so “on the nose” that every moment and every scene he’s got to tell you he’s the bad guy by walking through flames, scowling, dressing in all black, wielding a gigantic sword (again, a poo on you, Seph). We’re talking about the equivalent of the greatest comic book villain in existence: The Joker, in a Final Fantasy. Kefka is the maniacal and nihilistic god-clown that does what no villain ever gets to: he actually destroys the world. Spoilers. Complete with his iconic laugh, Kefka stands apart from every other FF supervillain because of his personality, his charm, his sadistic mind, and the scope of the damage he causes. Sympathetic villains are for nerds! Bring on the irredeemable evil!
Let me summarize the rest, otherwise… TL;DR! Third, the gameplay is the highest possible reach of the turn-based Active Time Battle formula. Fourth, the best possible 16-bit graphics. Fifth, the numerous playable characters. Sixth, the immersive and character-driven storyline. Seventh, the reinterpretation of the classic job system. Eighth, the challenge. Ninth, the side quests. Tenth, Espers! Eleventh, the fact that it landed on the greatest console ever made: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (go ahead and dispute that, if you dare). Twelfth, advanced graphics didn’t overtake the game’s characters and plot. Thirteenth, its not unfairly overrated by fanboys and fangirls. Fourteenth, the music is some of the most emotional and diverse by Uematsu. Fifteenth, the plot is coherent, yes, even in a Final Fantasy game! Sixteenth, the iconic scenes like the Opera House, Phantom Train, World of Ruin, raising the airship, fighting Ultros, and so on. Seventeenth, the most successful fusion of high fantasy and science fiction in the franchise. Eighteenth, complex themes like the value of existence over nihilism, suicide, ethics of warfare, identity, coping with loss, responsibility. Nineteenth, “Dancing Mad” is Uematsu’s personal favorite song he ever wrote (sorry “One Winged Angel”! Go back to DeviantArt!). Twenteeth, no lifeless voice acting to trash the whole experience. And Twenty-Firsteth, a little word called “prestige”. Final Fantasy VI is widely regarded as not only one of the best games (if not the best) on the SNES, but one of the best RPGs (if not the best) of all time and one of the best games of all time (if not the best).
FFI may have started it all, FFII may have been innovative for better or worse, FFIII may have expanded the job system, FFIV may have begun a revolution in narrative, FFV may have brought in complexity of character, FFVII may be famous and beloved, FFVIII may have its introspective characters and scifi, FFIX may have its return to fantasy roots, FFX may have its voice acting, FFXI may be an MMO, FFXII may have the gambit system, FFXIII may have… well… uh….. FFXIV may be a second and better MMO, and FFXV may have its astounding graphics and strange pop culture referencing… but FFVI has it all and more. An exemplary RPG if ever there was one. It’s the FF I recommend first to anyone new to the series.
If you think any other one is the best, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Wink.
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to entertainment journalism. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a podcast and webzine with paid contributors! See our Patreon page for more info!