With the recent release of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Originthe final-fantasy franchise continues to prove the old joke that it’s anything but final. Not only does the 35-year-old series boast 15 mainline RPG titles (with another currently in development), the franchise itself contains a multitude of spin-off titles, ranging from RPGs, fighting games, and even rhythm adventures.
While some of these spin-offs were simply retitled and repackaged in the West as final-fantasy games, the true ones were developed purely to expand the franchise beyond the mainline adventures in the form of direct sequels, team-ups, or wholly original stories.
10 Theater Final Fantasy (2012) – 78
An absolutely integral element of final-fantasy is its music and soundtracks. Celebrating the soundtracks from final-fantasy I-XIII, the 3DS’ Theatrhythm is a rhythm game, uniting characters from across the franchise as they fight to restore a crystal with the power to control music.
Released at a turbulent time in the franchise, Theatrhythm reminded players why the series is so important and beloved. Cutscenes or gameplay footage play in the background alongside the music as the player character, a chosen, chibi-fied hero from games past, races to complete their task. While avoiding a typical, epic adventure with high stakes, Theatrhythm is a love letter that fans would do a disservice to themselves to miss.
9 Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008) – 79
Released in 2008 on the PSP, Dissidia is the first fighting game in the franchise, showcasing the battle between the first 10 games’ heroes and villains. Dissidia‘s story resembles Marvel’s original Secret Wars miniseries, as the gods of harmony and discord (Cosmos and Chaos, respectively) draft heroes and villains from the FF multiverse to fight in their ongoing war with one another.
aside from Kingdom Hearts, this long-awaited massive crossover was the first time players got to see these characters alongside one another, as well as showing many characters in 3D for the first time. With the combat and cinematography resembling that of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Dissidia was a chaotic blast for players, successfully kick-starting its own mini-franchise.
8 Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (2007) – 80
2007’s DS title A2: Grimoire of the Rift continued the strategy-RPG spinoff series tactics with the story of a young schoolboy spirited away to the world of Ivalice via a magic book. While a sequence to Tactics Advanced, A2 presents Ivalice as an actual world rather than as a dream-like in its predecessor.
Like the first AT, A2 is much more light-hearted and fun than players were used to seeing in the franchise, portraying Ivalice through the wide-eyed innocence of its young protagonist, Luso Clemens. While only a small bit of the game’s missions are vital to the story, the rest flesh out the world and allow the player to live out the desire to go on an isekai adventure inherent in all fans of fantasy, young and old.
7 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2003) – 80
Marking the first collaboration between Nintendo and Square since their falling-out during Final Fantasy 7‘s development, the GameCube’s 2003 title Crystal Chronicles tells the story of four adventurers traveling in a caravan, helping to find fuel for the crystals that protect the world. While it can be played in single-player mode, the game also operates via multiplayer, utilizing the GameBoy Advanced.
Crystal Chronicles’ proved to be quite the experimental title. Its action-RPG elements marked a welcomed change-up to the menu-based combat the main series was known for, and it was the first game to implement the GameCube’s multiplayer with the GBA’s link-cable, a feature that would lead to Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure. While certainly not perfect, Crystal Chronicles paved the way for both Nintendo and final-fantasy to expand their horizons, leading to many great games from both.
6 Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (2007 – 81
A direct sequel to the Playstation 2’s final fantasy XIIthe DS follow-up (that deserves a remaster) Revenant Wings shows XII protagonist Vaan’s evolution into a full-fledged sky pirate, possessing his own airship and sailing the skies for treasure. Stepping away from the battle system of XII, Revenant Wings incorporates combat that more closely resembles its cousins in the tactics series.
tactics and XII have always been closely related as they both take place in Ivalice. While Revenant Wings is a sequel to XII‘s story, using the same characters and aesthetics, it’s an entirely different game and play style, from its combat to the way the story unfolds via missions and exploration. All the same, it’s a worthy entry in XII and Ivalice’s stories, and a worthy final-fantasy game overall.
5 Theater Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (2012) – 83
A sequel to the aforementioned Theatrhythm, Curtain Call is another rhythm game, doing what any good sequel does and building upon the foundations of its predecessor. Now boasting 221 songs, Curtain Call updates the soundtrack with at-time newer titles like Final Fantasy XIV, as well as some of the spin-offs such as Crystal Chronicles and some of the direct sequels.
While the first was wonderful in its own right, it did prove to be clunky and somewhat restrictive, particularly with its unlocking process and its use of the 3DS stylus. Curtain Call improved on these aspects by allowing for different playstyles not completely dependent on the stylus, as well as allowing for more content upfront so the player can pick and choose how they go on their journey. Another love letter, certainly, but another befitting of its subject.
4 Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007) – 83
Released as part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII wave, the PSP’s Crisis Core is a prequel to the massively successful FF VII. Balancing both turn-based and action RPG mechanics, Crisis Core tells the story of Zack Fair, a minor flashback NPC from 7thas he rises through the ranks of the SOLDIER program on his journey to embrace his dreams and become a true hero.
While some of the game’s mid-’00s influences haven’t aged well, Zack’s tragic coming-of-age story proved to be a height in the franchise’s storytelling, making players fall in love with the naive and charming soldier. Building up until it reaches the emotional end promised in the events of VII, Crisis Core leaves players with a sleek and emotional journey and one that very much deserves a remaster as soon as possible.
3 Final Fantasy X-2 (2003) – 85
The first direct sequel to a mainline title, Final Fantasy X-2 picks up two years after its predecessor, telling the story of Yuna, one of the best characters in Final Fantasy, as she navigates Spira’s new normal and tries to find the whereabouts of a fallen love and ally. The game plays similarly to X, using classic FF-style turn-based combat, but now utilizing in-battle job changes for its three leads.
Initially dismissed by hardcore fans for its seemingly superfluous plot, fondness for X-2 has grown in the nearly twenty years since its release, being a fun alternative to an often dour and emotionally heavy series. Given its success, it also paved the way for more mainline titles to receive world-expanding entries, a practice that continues in the franchise to the present da
two Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (2003) – 87
The first tactics game since the original, the GameBoy Advance’s Tactics Advance tells the story of four school children thrown into a dream world called Ivalice via a magic book. Players once again use the strategic combat elements to fight their way through the dream and return home to the real world.
Not only a welcome return to the strategy RPG styles of Tactics, but TA also proved to be a welcome return to the franchise’s more childlike elements common to its Nintendo roots. While final-fantasy had become more popular than ever before between 7th and X, it had also become a lot heavier of a story experience. AT proved that final-fantasy could still be lighthearted and fun, as well as successful.
one Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions (2007) – 88
An update on the original PS1 tactics (and the reason that title is not also on this list), PSP’s Tactics: The War of the Lions is a recreation of the game that brought strategy RPG mechanics to the beloved franchise, bringing new jobs and CGI cutscenes to the beloved original title.The War Of The Lions was a welcomed update to the beloved original.
While held in high regard, the original tactics on the PS1 was also a niche hit compared to its PS1 siblings in the mainline series, and more difficult to find on the secondhand market. The War Of The Lions served to not only reaffirm Tactics’ legacy but improve upon it, making for a remarkable and essential gaming experience in the franchise.
NEXT: The 10 Best Mainline Final Fantasy Games For Beginners
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