The release of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition has had us looking back over the long-running and celebrated Final Fantasy franchise. The RPG series with the title to get Lionel Hutz hot under the collar has over three decades-worth of titles to its name, with fifteen mainline entries, and a bewildering host of spin-offs, side stories, sequels, crossovers, remakes and more that form one of gaming’s biggest juggernaut franchises.
We recently asked for your help in rating all the mainline games that have appeared on Nintendo consoles–to keep things simple (confusing numbering for the West aside). Our thanks to everyone who voted. It’s no small task, that’s for sure, with twelve of the fifteen mainline games now available to play on Nintendo consoles (okay, eleven-and-a-half; the Pocket Edition of Final Fantasy XV isn’t really the full monty and its position in the list below is no surprise).
The influx of Switch ports for the later 3D games means that Nintendo gamers can now enjoy the majority of the series, with only XIII, MMORPGs XI and XIV, and XV (in its full form) absent from the mainline lineup. We discuss in the list below the various versions of each title – they can be pricey to pick up these days, but who can put a price on this incredible series?
Remember that the order below is updated in real time according the each game’s corresponding User Rating. Therefore, it’s entirely possible to influence the ranking even as you read this. Simply click on the game you wish to rate and assign a score on the Game Page.
It is time: brace yourselves for our reader-ranked list of the best (mainline) Final Fantasy games on Nintendo systems…
12. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: Square EnixRelease Date: 13th Sep 2018 (USA) / 14th Sep 2018 (UK/EU)Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD isn’t a bad game, but it feels superfluous – it’s hard to imagine the audience being served here. While it captures the spirit of the full game well enough, it’s an undeniably inferior version of a series entry that wasn’t the most celebrated to begin with. It has its fans, of course, but hardened Final Fantasy enthusiasts won’t be satisfied playing through this lighter mobile version as a substitute for the ‘proper’ experience, there’s little reason to dive in if you’ve already played the original, and there are better options for curious casuals looking to dip their toe into the Final Fantasy pool.
11. Final Fantasy II (NES)
Publisher: Square / Developer: SquareRelease Date: TBAThis is very much not the Final Fantasy II the West received on Super NES. While work on a translation of this Famicom game was apparently started, Square eventually decided to skip it and jump to the 16-bit Final Fantasy IV on the SNES instead (which was labelled as ‘Final Fantasy II’ overseas).
Final Fantasy II–the proper 8-bit one–was a Japan-only release until 2004 when Nintendo gamers around the world were able to play it as one half of Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls on GBA. That version added a bonus section after you’d completed the game, and remains arguably the best way for Nintendo gamers to play officially, although there are ways and means to play the game elsewhere, too, including ports on PlayStation and PSP.
10. Final Fantasy (NES)
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: SquaresoftRelease Date: 5th Oct 2009 (USA) / 7th May 2010 (UK/EU)Where it all began. The name of Square’s original Final Fantasy from 1987 came partly from the team’s belief that this was their last-ditch attempt to make a successful game. They may have hoped for it, but few could have predicted quite how successful the series would become.
Going back, you might not guess so either from a vintage RPG which is very bare-bones by modern standards. The kernel is there, though, so although new players will definitely need to wash this down with a strong glass of historical context, series fans will find it worth investigating or revisiting. It’s available in various forms, and is one of the titles on the NES Classic Mini.
9. Final Fantasy III (DS)
The remade DS version of this one was the first we’d seen of it in the West – the RPG which came out as Final Fantasy III here was number 6 in Japan. A missing piece of the puzzle for overseas fans for so long, Final Fantasy III is certainly a solid entry, although probably not one that casual players or those curious about the series should begin with. Its a tough cookie difficulty-wise, but this is still very a enjoyable (not-so-Final) Fantasy.
8. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (Switch eShop)
Final Fantasy VIII tended to divide opinion when it released over two decades ago. Some new ideas hit the spot while others fell flat, and the story is certainly a love-it-or-hate-it affair. The HD presentation and helpful quality of life updates featured in the Remastered version on Switch makes it more attractive than ever but, if you pushed us, we’d say it’s probably the most ‘skippable’ of the mainline Final Fantasy games on Switch. Still, it’s availability to Nintendo gamers is cause for celebration, and there are those who count this as their series favourite. Different strokes, folks!
7. Final Fantasy V Advance (GBA)
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: SquareRelease Date: 6th Nov 2006 (USA) / 20th Apr 2007 (UK/EU)Final Fantasy V expanded the series’ job system and came to the West in TOSE’s 2006 GBA port Final Fantasy V Advance. The port touched up the visuals and added a sprinkling of new content and features to make it arguably the best version to play – it remains the only way to play the game in the West on Nintendo systems, although it’s on Japanese Virtual Consoles and is widely available on other platforms (PC, PlayStation, mobile).