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The Top 7 Final Fantasy Games

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Ranking the Best Final Fantasy Games

Final Fantasy is one of the most financially successful video game franchises of all time, and perhaps the most important Japanese role-playing game series of all time, next to Dragon Quest.  While it was initially supposed to be the last game ever released by Squaresoft in general, and one Hironobu Sakaguchi in particular, there turns out to be nothing final about this fantasy, as the official 15th game in the series is set for release later this month. That’s not even taking into account the spawn of a couple of movies, and the numerous spin-offs, like the Mana and Kingdom Hearts series, the latter of which has become a grand legend in its own right. Now it is time to do the near-impossible: ranking the best amongst this storied franchise. Here are the top seven Final Fantasy games of all time.  Why seven?  Because everyone does a top ten!

Note: There’s no rule about this list that doesn’t include any spin-offs or direct sequels, but it just turned out that way… except for one entry.

Ranking Final Fantasy Games

7) Final Fantasy X

Breaking the mold of fantasy by utilizing Eastern architecture and influences as opposed to Western, and with a thought-provoking story and a revolutionary new battle system that’s still exclusive to this title, Final Fantasy X is the closest thing to a modern masterpiece that Square Enix has made so far.  While not perfect (the voice-acting is hit-and-miss across the board, it’s surprisingly linear, and it could have done without the daddy issues subplot), it’s worth checking out either in its original PS2 release or its HD variant on PS3 and PS4.

Final Fantasy VIII

6) Final Fantasy VIII

Granted, this one is a personal choice but is still warranted a spot on the list with easily one of the best love stories ever told in the medium, along with its bold gameplay idea. Adopting a more modern palette to stand out amongst its contemporaries, even within its own series, and standing as the first Final Fantasy to use realistic proportions for its character models, VIII marks the moment where Final Fantasy began to push the boundaries of what fantasy actually is. Expanding on the materia system of Final Fantasy VII, VIII’s Junction system makes for one of the easiest game in the franchise so far, utilizing spells to boost stats. And the ballad of Squall and Rinoa is so relatable, it’s a wonder how this game is often in the series’ dog house. It’s available on Steam and the PS Store and is definitely worth a second look.

Final Fantasy VII

5) Final Fantasy VII

Hold the phone; why is Final Fantasy VII, the title that practically put Final Fantasy on the map, only ranked #5?  Basically because, despite its strong moments that have lived on, through infamy or otherwise (Aerith’s death, the discovery of who Cloud really is, the omnipresent meteor drawing ever closer to planet Gaia, Knights of the Round), the technical selling point of the game doesn’t hold up as well as its other Playstation counterparts, especially it’s blocky character model. That said, VII stills rock in its own right.  It’s rather under-appreciated narrative touches on environmentalist issues, as well as new age spiritualism that would be inspired by the game’s conception (along with the death of producer Hironobu Sakaguchi’s mother). And it’s materia system makes managing spells less of a chore. On a technical level, the Playstation Final Fantasy entries would only get better, but there’s a reason why the first one still resonates with many people.

Final Fantasy Tactics

4) Final Fantasy Tactics

Taking cues from Square’s Ogre Battle series, Final Fantasy Tactics shattered the mold by taking the series’ board game inspire battle system to its logical extreme. There are classes aplenty to keep dedicated players busy, with 20 classes in all (22 in the PSP version), to say nothing of a number of secrets to find throughout the game, including one main series that won’t be spoiled here. Combine that with one of the most complex stories in the series, Final Fantasy Tactics is one spin-off that every fan of the series should check out.

3) Final Fantasy IV

Considered to be the true starting point of the series, Final Fantasy IV is a precursor of the medium’s capabilities of storytelling, with its narrative rooted in revenge and redemption.  It’s the first and only game in the series to have a party of five doing battle against evil, and the first game to introduce the Active-Time Battle system, which would become a series staple.  The SNES is a hotbed for high-quality JRPGs, and Final Fantasy IV is one of its first, as well as one of its best.

Ranking Final Fantasy Games

2) Final Fantasy IX

Often erroneously remembered as a “return to form” of sorts, largely due to its art design, Final Fantasy IX is a masterpiece that stands well enough on its own. At once one of the most lighthearted and darkest stories ever told, focusing mainly on the struggles of identity (struggles that every central character has to grapple with on a certain level), all of its callback are just surface dressing masking a far deeper core underneath. That said, it does hearken back to the SNES days with its increased party count and returning the series back to medieval fantasy roots after the last two games journeyed to the future, and VI to the industrial revolution. Even characters like Garland and the antlion return to heighten the game’s nostalgia factor. One of the most challenging games in the series, Final Fantasy IX is also the best game in the series not to premiere on a cartridge.

Ranking Final Fantasy Games

1) Final Fantasy VI

This may seem obvious, although others may make the case for VII. While Final Fantasy VII did revolutionize the series and take it to heights once unimagined on a graphical level, Final Fantasy VI is notable for being a damn near perfect version of exactly what it wants to be. With an easy-to-use (and abuse) magic leveling system, a well-told story about rebellion and self-acceptance, with an undertone commentary on racism, an aesthetic that mixes futuristic steampunk with the industrial revolution of the 19th century, and the most likable cast of character in the series so far, with unquestionably the greatest villain in the series in Kefka Palazzo, Final Fantasy VI remains one of Square Enix’s masterworks.


And that’s our list.  Feel free to list your own favorite Final Fantasy games in the comment section.

Lifelong gamer since the days of the NES, retrospection is the bread and butter behind the writing, loyal Nintendo and Playstation fan, ol' school movie buff, part-time writing, part-time cook, full-time student, full-time cool dude.

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Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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Games

‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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