The Final Fantasy franchise is one of the most popular and successful role-playing series in the history of video games.
While experienced gamers are well acquainted with the Final Fantasy games, it can be overwhelming for beginners to this series.
If you’ve just purchased a new Nintendo DS or Playstation console and looking for the best Final Fantasy game to start with, you’ll find many options within the series, which includes an impressive total of 95 games, with fifteen of these considered the primary games of the series.
Which Final Fantasy games are ideal for beginners? What are the best games to start with, and in which order is it best to explore the series?
We reviewed the entire Final Fantasy series to review each game and what to expect as a beginner or novice player.
Also, if you are a fan of Final Fantasy, you can join me on my Twitch stream.
The Original Final Fantasy Games
The Final Fantasy franchise began in 1987, the original release date, on desktop computer systems. This PC version of Final Fantasy I was the first game in the series when it first became available in December 1987, which was followed by the release of Final Fantasy II in and Final Fantasy: Legend I as follows:
- Final Fantasy I (1987)
- Final Fantasy II (1988)
- Final Fantasy Legend I (1989)
These games were initially available on Famicon and Game Boy, then later released on the first Playstation version and the Super Nintendo console.
Over the past several decades, these original FF games were remastered and formatted for Wii U, Playstation portables, Steam, and iOS and Android mobile devices.
The first Final Fantasy game and the early sequels are often the first played by diehard fans of the series, either on a home computer, the Nintendo entertainment system, or the PlayStation console.
Many newcomers to the series prefer to start with the original games, or at least one of the remastered versions of Final Fantasy I, II, or Legend I, then progress through the main games to appreciate the technological advancements over three decades of video game development.
Final Fantasy games I and II are among the top main games of the series and most popular for new franchise fans.
Final Fantasy Releases in the Early 1990s
As gaming systems gained momentum in the early 1990s, the Final Fantasy series continued to release sequels following the original game in 1987:
- Final Fantasy III (1990)
- Final Fantasy: Legend II (1990)
- Final Fantasy Adventure (1991)
- Final Fantasy IV (1991)
- Final Fantasy: Legend III (1991)
- Final Fantasy V (1992)
- Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (1992)
Since the Final Fantasy series does not follow an order or have continuity, beginner and novice gamers don’t have to play each game in sequence.
If you choose to start from the first Final Fantasy game and progress through each primary game, you’ll notice how the series adapts and advances in each storyline, character development, and mechanics, which provide more options for gaming as you move from one game to the next, from Final Fantasy III, IV, and V.
Final Fantasy Games Released Between 1994 – 1999
Throughout the mid and late-1990s, Final Fantasy releases were primarily introduced on Anime, Playstation, and Super Nintendo.
- Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals (1994)
- Final Fantasy VI (1994)
- Final Fantasy VII (1997)
- Final Fantasy Tactics (1997)
- Final Fantasy: Anthology (1999)
- Final Fantasy VIII (1999)
The core games released during this time frame include Final Fantasy VI, VII, and VIII, which are recommended if you aim to progress through the main stories of the series before you explore different games, including the Legends series, Tactics, and Anthology.
According to many fans of the series, one of the top-ranking games, Final Fantasy VII, is considered one of the peak points of the franchise.
Final Fantasy Releases Between 2000 to 2004
At the start of the new century, Final Fantasy continued to evolve and release direct sequels and spin-offs for fans of the core games and gamers looking to explore more side stories, quests, and character developments.
These games became more widely available on newer consoles and gaming systems, including Xbox 360 and Game Boy Advance, with the introduction of a mobile version of the series with Final Fantasy: Unlimited with U as a mobile game.
- Final Fantasy IX (2000)
- Final Fantasy: Chronicles (2001)
- Final Fantasy: Spirits Within (2001)
- Final Fantasy X (2001)
- Final Fantasy: Unlimited (2001)
- Final Fantasy XI (2002)
- Final Fantasy: Unlimited with U (2002)
- Final Fantasy: Origins (2002)
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (2003)
- Final Fantasy X-2 (2003)
- Final Fantasy: Unlimited on PC Adventure – Labyrinth (2003)
- Final Fantasy XI: Rise of the Zilart (2003)
- Sword of the Mana (2003)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2004)
- Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls (2004)
- Final Fantasy XI: Chains in Promathia (2004)
- Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII (2004)
Final Fantasy’s core games in the early 2000s include IX, X, and XI. If your focus is to follow each series, you may deviate from the core games and start playing Tactics Advance, which scores highly as a companion to the main games.
If you prefer solo gaming to multiplayer options online, you may want to skip XI, released in 2002, and XIV, which veers away from the single-playing JRPG platform.
Final Fantasy Games Released from 2005 to 2009
As the Final Fantasy franchise developed into a top-rated series for fans of the Japanese role-playing game genre, many final fantasy games, remakes, and spin-offs were released between 2005 and 2009.
Many of these releases became widely available as mobile games and newer consoles, including Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, and Microsoft Windows.
- Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding (2005)
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
- Last Order: Final Fantasy VII (2005)
- Final Fantasy IV Advance (2005)
- Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (2006)
- Final Fantasy XII (2006)
- Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan (2006)
- Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII (2006)
- Final Fantasy III DS (2006)
- Final Fantasy V Advance (2006)
- Final Fantasy VI Advance (2006)
- Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition (2007)
- Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (2007)
- Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (2007)
- Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition (2007)
- FF Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (2007)
- Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core (2007)
- FF Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (2007)
- Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess (2007)
- Final Fantasy IV DS (2007)
- Crystal Defenders (2008)
- Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (2008)
- FF Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (2008)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008)
- FF Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (2009)
- Crystal Defenders: Vanguard Storm (2009)
- FF Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord (2009)
- FF Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (2009)
- Final Fantasy XIII (2009)
Until 2009, many Final Fantasy games were released as 32-bit on Playstation, including the top-ranked VII, VIII, and IX.
These are typically considered among the favorite games of the franchise because they represent the best of the Final Fantasy series and what the games have to offer overall.
Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX are classic, nostalgic games widely enjoyed by new and experienced gamers.
Final Fantasy Games Released Between 2010 and 2020
From its beginning in the late 1980s, the Final Fantasy series became one of the most successful, popular, and highest-quality RPGs.
The franchise continues to rank as one of the top video games in history, and one of the best role-playing series for all playing levels, whether you start from the original release or jump into one of the newer Final Fantasy games from the past decade.
- Final Fantasy XIV (2010)
- Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (2010)
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy (2011)
- Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (2011)
- Final Fantasy IV: Interlude (2011)
- Final Fantasy Type-o (2011)
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2011)
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (2012)
- Final Fantasy Dimensions (2012)
- Final Fantasy Artniks (2012)
- Final Fantasy All the Bravest (2013)
- Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adolun (2013)
- Final Fantasy Tactics S (2013)
- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (2013)
- Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014)
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (2014)
- Final Fantasy Agito (2014)
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper (2014)
- Final Fantasy VII G-Bike (2014)
- Final Fantasy Explorers (2014)
- Final Fantasy Legends: Toki No Suisho (2015)
- Final Fantasy Type-o HD (2015)
- Mobius Final Fantasy (2015)
- Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (2015)
- Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (2015)
- Final Fantasy Type-o Online (2016)
- Adventures of Mana (2016)
- Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV (2016)
- Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV (2016)
- Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)
- Justice Monsters Five (2016)
- World of Final Fantasy (2016)
- Final Fantasy XV (2016)
- Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire (2017)
- Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood (2017)
- Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (2017)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (2018)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Omnia (2018)
- Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (HD) (2018)
- Collections of Mana (2019)
- Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020)
The number of Final Fantasy releases significantly after 2010, with an increase in remastered versions that feature improved mechanics, a remake of the original Final Fantasy VII, various editions, and mobile-based game options.
If you continue to follow and play the core games of the series, the most recent are XII, XIII, and XV, all of which were initially released on PlayStation.
Highlights of the Final Fantasy Series
Final Fantasy on PS4
With close to one hundred games released in the Final Fantasy franchise, the series has been the subject of in-depth reviews by fans and critics alike. There are many reasons why this spectacular franchise has become one of the most enduring, successful, and favorite series of the JRPG genre and a top-rated series in video game history.
Final Fantasy games made a solid impression from the beginning with superb storytelling, incredible characters, and adventures. Even in its earlier stages, the series captured fans of role-playing games while inviting many newcomers to get acquainted with the excellent storylines.
Final Fantasy has grown significantly throughout the series, with exciting changes to the story direction, character developments, and improved graphics and animation. These stories are well-crafted and easily engage players for hours at a time.
While the series is exceptional, specific stories are significantly higher than others, based on the franchise’s collective ratings and feedback from long-term gamers and critics.
Top-Ranked Games and Preferences
While Final Fantasy VII and VIII are among the top-ranked games in the series, due to their classic nostalgic attributes and exceptional stories, Final Fantasy XI is one of the few games that are worth skipping, as it doesn’t offer any new content and the platform varies from the traditional core games.
The Final Fantasy games designed for multiplayer platforms are either a welcome change to the solo-play format or best to skip entirely if your focus is on individual play.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Final Fantasy Series
Overall, the pros of this fantastic franchise greatly outweigh any drawbacks, and the Final Fantasy series has something for everyone who enjoys exploring a wide range of games, whether you invest in your character’s ability to learn and develop skills, strategies, and acquire equipment, or enjoy the storyline of each game.
There are plenty of reasons to explore the series, including:
- There are numerous locations to explore and secrets to discover
- The animation is incredible, and even in the early years, the graphics are well crafted and advanced for their time
- You’ll have many options to cast magic spells, develop alternative strategies that differ from the standard, and there are many options for customization
- It’s a well-loved franchise that’s almost legendary because it represents an era of retro-style gaming graphics and effects that are no longer made today
The number of games and stories available throughout the Final Fantasy series gives players many options, whether you’re set on moving through the core games first or prefer other games and spin-offs.
While Final Fantasy is a top favorite among many gamers, it’s limited due to the lack of mechanics in earlier releases. Some of the tasks or quests may be perceived as tedious or repetitive.
It’s an adventure-based series with a lot of artistic animation and graphics that take up a bit more time, which can be a drawback for players who want to power through each section quickly.
Final Fantasy games are ideal for all ages. However, many people consider the series primarily for teens, and some areas of the series may be too easy or difficult, depending on your playing level.
At first glance, the franchise is overwhelming and complex, though it’s also a great series to explore if you’re new to JRPGs. While this genre was barely recognized as a significant gaming style in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, today, role-playing games are one of the most popular video game genres, with Final Fantasy as one of the top choices of all time.
Final Fantasy games, specifically newer releases, are available on a wide range of gaming consoles, mobile devices, and online streaming services.
The most notable new gaming systems include innovative technology allowing excellent portable capabilities and online collaboration with teams and multiple players, including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Apple iOS and Android devices.
While Final Fantasy games represent the end of a golden era in video games, it’s also a great series to explore at every level.