The 10 Best Spin-Off Games, According To Ranker

Square Enix’s final-fantasy franchise is an iconic staple of the JRPG genre in gaming, and it has a rich and varied catalog to match. The anthology-style mainline entries are understandably the ones that get the biggest spotlight, but part of that variety comes from its collection of spin-off games as well.

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They provide an important change of pace from traditional mainline formulas, and the voting community at Ranker put together their top 10 list of their personal favorites. the tactics subseries expectedly has good representation there, but others are ranging from the arena-fighting games and the direct sequels to mainline entries.

10 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2013)

Lightning Returns Final Fantasy

final fantasy xiii is perhaps the most divisive mainline entry in the franchise and its spinoffs were released to diminishing returns, but fans have warmed up to the games somewhat in retrospect. This third spinoff game was the second direct sequel to XIII, with Lightning Returns‘ biggest praises being the entertaining and more fast-paced combat system.

It’s a noteworthy high mark since the first game was criticized for its slow pacing. However, Lightning Returns got an overall mixed reception for its underdeveloped story, characters, and graphics. Even still, Lightning is a cult-favorite final-fantasy character who was simply surrounded by a supporting cast that couldn’t carry their weight.

9 Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy (2011)

Promo art for Dissidia 012 featuring some of the Final Fantasy heroes summoned

strangely enough, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is simultaneously a remake and prequel to the original Dissidia, which is also on the PlayStation Portable. Nonetheless, it proved a worthwhile endeavor since it earned a slightly higher reception than the former which was well-received, to begin with.

012 goes back to the 12th war between Cosmos, the goddess of harmony, and Chaos, the god of discord, where the two gods summon classic final-fantasy characters to fight on their respective sides. The game adds further content by remaking the 13th war storyline, plus adding side quests.


8 Final Fantasy Type-0 (2011)

Ace in his uniform in FF: Type-0 promo art

Final Fantasy Type-0 is an action RPG that borrows elements from similar games in the franchise like Crisis Core. The game was released for the PSP only in Japan, though, it did receive an international remaster for PS4, XBO, and PC.

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While the latter version had a more lukewarm reception due to not fully taking advantage of the new hardware it was remastered for, both versions received praise for their story and combat mechanics. In terms of lore, Type-0 was part of the Fable Nova Crystallis collection of gamesXIII, fifteenth, etc.) due to its shared mythos.

7 Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2011)

Lightning wearing her armor in FFXIII-2 promo art

The second direct sequel to final fantasy xiii was more well-received than the third, with Lightning’s second endeavor earning positive marks mostly for its streamlined improvements over its predecessor. Final Fantasy XIII-2 featured a more engaging combat system and its world did away with the overly-linear design of the first.

However, the story and characters (bar Lightning) was criticized again for being uninteresting and needlessly complicated. That being said, XIII-2‘s generally positive reception for its mechanically cohesive gameplay was certainly a boon for retrospective fans.

6 Final Fantasy X-2 (2003)

Rikku, Yuna, and Paine as the main trio of FFX-2

X-2 is the highest-rated of the final-fantasy direct sequels, and even though it didn’t measure up to the high standard set by X, the game was well-received on its own merits. The story follows Yuna after the events of the latter game as she searches for Tidus, all the while navigating the politically tumultuous climate of Spira.

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Final Fantasy X-2 received a positive reception for its addictive gameplay and new mechanics, though, it did raise some eyebrows for being such a jarring tonal shift from ffx. even still, X-2‘s narrative earned some warm reception for how it used its upbeat tone to balance political intrigue and comedic relief.

5 Dissidia: Final Fantasy (2009)

Promo art of the villains and heroes of Final Fantasy summoned by the two warring gods as their soldiers

This was the first entry in the action-RPG/arena-fighting game series, and it made a strong first impression for such a different approach to the final-fantasy games. Dissidia‘s cathartic and excitingly fast-paced action helped garner its positive critical reception, with equal praise going to its simple control scheme to make it an easy game to learn.

Similarly, fans and Japanese critics namely enjoyed its interdimensional story for being a love letter to the franchise’s history. The game’s premise is the 13th war between Cosmos and Chaos, with the two gods summoning final-fantasy heroes and villains to fight for them. Dissidia is also one of the highest-ranking final-fantasy spinoffs on Metacritic.

4 Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (2003)

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the GBA served as an indirect sequel to the 1997 classic. The story revolved around four children from a small town called St. Ivalice who found themselves transported to final fantasy XII‘s realm of the same name.

the tactics subseries is likely the most beloved spin-off collection among longtime fans, as, like the rest of these games, Advance was emphatically well-received for its deep strategy-based gameplay, mechanical depth, and immersive storytelling. The mechanics were particularly acclaimed for the amount of freedom Advance gave players in customizing their party.

3 Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions (2007)

Promo art for FFT: War of the Lions featuring the game's cast

War of the Lions is the PSP remake of the original 1997 game on the PlayStation, giving the beloved game a welcome facelift. On top of simply making the game accessible again for the time, critical reception was even stronger this time around thanks to building upon the solid structure of the original.

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The game’s sprawling fantasy story was praised as being more cohesive than the original, and though the combat was partly criticized for being more punishing than difficult, its complexities were thrilling for those willing to take the plunge. War of the Lions also takes place in Ivalice, the land where final fantasy XII is based on as well.

two Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2008)

Arguably the most notable game to come out of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII project from the mid-late 2000s, Crisis Core easily became a fan-favorite entry among veteran fans. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII serves as a prequel to the original PlayStation game, putting the spotlight on Zack Fair as the protagonist.

The game was well-received for its experimentation with real-time action for its combat mechanics, as mainline games were largely turn-based at the time. Likewise, it was praised for its resonating and tragic story with a compassionate cast of characters. The latter point also included one of the most heartbreaking deaths in gaming history.

one Final Fantasy Tactics (1998)

Gameplay from Final Fantasy Tactics on PS1

The original PlayStation classic that started it all not only ranks among Ranker’s top spinoffs but also cracks into the top 10 final-fantasy games overall — mainline or otherwise. Final Fantasy Tactics achieved critical acclaim and cult-classic status since its original 1997 release, spawning the aforementioned successors plus the Nintendo DS game Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift.

It was lauded for revolutionizing the typical final-fantasy formula, namely for its deeply engaging and strategically demanding gameplay. Given the recent resurgence of tactical RPGs, fans will surely be hoping for at least a remastered version of War of the Lions.

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