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– by Kyle Malone

Welcome to THE NEW AND IMPROVED LRM Ranks It! This is the video feature where two LRM writers share their personal rankings for various properties! Be it comic book movies or Star Wars-related, you’d better believe we have opinions on what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s best.

In this new LRM Ranks It format, you will get shorter videos, a written argument, and the next day you will be able to listen to the classic long form discussion LRM Ranks It Podcast

Final Fantasy is a series that spans over 30 years and dozens of games. The Japanese style Role Playing Games have created loyal fans that will fight to the virtual death over their most beloved titles… What’s on your list?

Kyle: Final Fantasy is, by far, my favorite video game franchise. I love it so much I have characters and creatures permanently etched into my skin! It’s hard to cut this series down to a top three… really hard, but here goes nothing!

Kyle’s #3 – Final Fantasy VI

My third favorite is Final Fantasy VI. This game is constantly on Top 5 lists across the internet, and rightly so. With an amazing story that hits a supremely tragic moment halfway through and characters that rip at the heartstrings themselves, this game earns its keep. I can’t remember a game where the good guys lose before this one. While it didn’t bring much innovation to the battle system it executed the Active Time Battle style perfectly. The large number of characters can get overwhelming and when your team is split up it can become difficult to keep track of everything going on. This is especially true if you’re not used to JRPGs. A timeless classic that deserves a Bravely Default style remake.

Jammer’s #3 – Final Fantasy IX

Well, I can’t fault you for putting FFVI in your top three, but I CAN fault you for putting it at number three. Spoiler alert…it’s a bit higher for me, but what’re you gonna do? Anyway, my number three is one I’m currently replaying right now on The Switch: Final Fantasy IX. This bad boy was one giant homage to all the other Final Fantasy games that came before it, and as such, they nixed the more realistic looks in favor of a kind of super-deformed style more in keeping with older games. They also brought things back to medieval inspiration, which was a nice change of pace from the more futuristic settings of the previous two.

More than anything, though, this one really captures a true spirit of high adventure I haven’t seen in the series since. While the story is epic, it’s never weighty and never overly-convoluted. The characters are fun and likable, with us getting a lead that’s more Han Solo than Kylo Ren, which I’m a fan of. All in all, it’s a movie that just makes me feel good, and I can’t emphasize how important that is for a piece of escapism.

Kyle’s #2: Final Fantasy XII and XVI

Final Fantasy XII is a game that looked stunning for the PS2 era, and incorporated a  more open world feel for dungeons than any of the past games before it. It had a valiant effort to blend the ATB system with a more action RPG feel and allowed you to move freely around your enemies and take advantage of your characters positions. I actually think this system would be great for the upcoming Final Fantasy VII: Remake. The game has a great story if you ignore everything with Vaan, and the sidequests are some of the most numerous of the entire series. I have to say #2-ish because I think there’s an equally great game called Final Fantasy XV. That game wouldn’t be my #3, it is seriously tied with #2 for me. Great immersive world, an amazing villain, and great character relationships. Deal with it Jammer, it’s my show!

Jammer’s #2: Final Fantasy X

I reject your breaking of your own rules. Why make the rules if you’re just going to break them? I admittedly can’t speak to either of those, as I haven’t played them, but I look forward to playing XII for the first time when it hits Switch. But enough of that, let’s get to my number two: FFX.

I know Kyle, you’re not a fan of this one, but this is a pivotal game in the franchise. It nixed overworld maps, it added voice acting, and it brought in full 3D environments for the whole thing. Its gorgeous Asian-inspired design is something to behold, and its story, while overly-serious at times, was perfect for high school self.

But what I appreciated most out of this game was its battle system. It gave players the ability to switch out their characters mid-battle, which added a whole new unparalleled dynamic to the franchise. They also axed the Active Time Battle System, which had been a series staple for God knows how many games. It allowed players to really fully strategize their moves. In a series that was in danger of growing stale after all its entries, it was the evolution it needed to stay relevant. But f**k Blitzball.

Kyle’s #1: Final Fantasy VII

Finally at number one is Final Fantasy VII. Yes, I am being incredibly predictable, but hear me out. VII was the first game in the series for the new console generation, introduced the most memorable villain of the entire series, brought an incredibly diverse world and story to life, and subverted expectations for what happens to your party and the backstory of several key players. There were some bugs in the game, that I hope will be fixed for Remake, but it is the best game all around.

Jammer’s #1: Final Fantasy VI

Let’s admit it. At the end of the day, these lists are all irrational. Most of all this has to do with nostalgia and that warm, fuzzy feeling these games give you, reminding one of much simpler times. Such is the case with me and Final Fantasy VI. Personally, I’d put this one higher than FFVII easily for a couple of reasons. Objectively, it came at a time when devs had mastered the art of pixel design, so it holds up amazingly well. FFVII, on the other hand, came during the infancy of 3D, so it doesn’t hold up nearly as well.

But most importantly? This was my first. It was my first foray into standard RPGs and became the metric by which every other game was measured. The battle system is fairly standard in terms of Final Fantasy, but its story was top notch. How often do you play a game where the bad guy accomplishes his goal? It was a twist I didn’t see coming, and that whole third act of bringing the world back from its destroyed state is the stuff of legend. Oh yeah, and that Opera House scene was nothing to sniff at either.

So between its creation at the height of the 16-bit era, its killer story, and it being my first Final Fantasy ever…I can’t help but put it as my number one entry.

What do you think folks? What is the best Final Fantasy game of them all? Let us know in the comments below!

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Kyle is a business school graduate who loves movies, comics, and video games. He shares his passions with his wife and is raising a next generation geek.