Final Fantasy is arguably Square's most successful series by a country mile. The JRPG behemoth has sold over 130 million units worldwide, amassing a dedicated fan-base in the process that prides itself in playing any game that has the Final Fantasy tagline attached to it. These include the various sequels and spin-offs that Square Enix has churned out as well. Some of these games have been quite impressive, others... not so much.
It's no secret that corporate greed has taken over the AAA gaming industry, and Square Enix is no exception. There have been tons of games that have shamelessly taken the Final Fantasy name and butchered it with sub-par titles that don't do justice to the historic series. What makes it worse is that some of the titles on this list are part of the main Final Fantasy series, further besmirching the glorious reputation of the franchise. Millions of gamers shed a collective tear playing these abhorrent entries. They are even worse when you look at them from a modern perspective. Here are 15 of the worst games ever to use the Final Fantasy name.
15 Final Fantasy II
Following in the shoes of the breakout success of the first Final Fantasy was never going to be easy. To be honest, Square deserves some credit for trying to change the formula from the previous game in order to provide an epic story with a different method of character progression. While they might've succeeded when it comes to the former, the latter turned out to be an unbridled disaster.
Character progression is completely broken — a stat increases based on how you play with a particular party member. While this might seem like a good method on paper, in practice it's anything but. In order to increase their stats efficiently, one could break the system by attacking their own party member with physical or magical attacks in order to increase HP, MP, Attack, Defense, and a number of different stats. This makes the game highly ridiculous — and quite broken to boot.
14 Dirge Of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
Here's one among the many crappy spin-offs that Square Enix has released for the sole purpose of the raking in that sweet, sweet cash without providing anything that might resemble a decent gameplay experience. Dirge Of Cerberus is the perfect example of this — a shameless, forgettable cash-in on the popularity of Final Fantasy VII.
Dirge Of Cerberus received a large amount of criticism upon release, mainly directed at its mediocre level design, disappointing gameplay options, sloppy pacing, overload of cutscenes, and poor AI to list a few. While the game's story has received some praise for building on the lore of Final Fantasy VII, the issues present in this title are too overwhelming to simply be overlooked.
13 Final Fantasy All The Bravest
Square Enix's initial forays into mobile gaming were anything but perfect, seeming more like nostalgia-driven cash grabs rather than a genuine attempt to create a great Final Fantasy game for mobiles. These failures are personified by Final Fantasy All The Bravest, a game so flawed and shameless that many fans were surprised that it even managed to secure a release to begin with.
What was meant to be a game in which you fought iconic villains and monsters with a massive party featuring mainstay characters from the series turned out to be a tapping simulator, where all your party could do was attack and nothing else. The worst part was there were 35 unlockable characters in the game that would be provided to you at random for $0.99 per character, meaning that you would end up paying well over $20 before getting the party you desired.
12 Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
In order to familiarize players with the mechanics of RPGs (a somewhat new genre that gamers outside of Japan weren't particularly accustomed to), Square decided to release an RPG under the Final Fantasy name, specifically made for these players. While the sentiment can be appreciated, the end result was nothing short of a train wreck.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was a game that tried to familiarize new players with genre... by stripping off anything that might seem too complex for Western gamers — a baffling design choice that basically turned Mystic Quest into an easy game with repetitive combat and a boring story to boot. The craziest thing is that the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy IV had already been released in North America, which begs the question as to why Square didn't design a game in that vein to begin with.
11 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
The Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is one of the rare instances of a spin-off series that actually manages to do right by its parent franchise. However, just like in the Final Fantasy series, the Crystal Chronicles series also has its fair share of bad apples, and one particularly rotten apple is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers.
While the story in The Crystal Bearers is passable, it's the sub-standard action-adventure gameplay and the constant barrage of annoying mini-games that really bog down the entire experience. These compulsory mini-games can range for the fairly tame Chocobo Racing to the weird, Dead Island-esque battles. Perhaps the worst part about these mini-games is that you just can't lose, which basically negates any challenge that the game could've thrown at you.
10 Final Fantasy Explorers
Monster Hunter is one of the most successful titles released in Japan, with a fairly sizeable popularity worldwide as well. Inspired by this success, a bunch of titles with similar gameplay mechanics were released for various platforms (mostly portable ones) like God Eater, Toukiden, Soul Sacrifice, and Freedom Wars. Square Enix wasn't far behind, releasing a game called Final Fantasy Explorers for the Nintendo 3DS.
Unfortunately, Final Fantasy Explorers failed to encapsulate the main reason as to why most people like playing Monster Hunter games to begin with — fun factor. Instead of the fast-paced, exciting gameplay, one might expect from Monster Hunter, gamers were forced to abide by long cooldown times as the pace of battle pretty much grinded to a halt. Adding to this was a frustrating level of repetitiveness that would infuriate everybody except for the most devout Final Fantasy fans.
9 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes Of Time (Wii Version)
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes Of Time is a decent addition to the Crystal Chronicles series, and attempted to allow cross-platform gameplay between the Nintendo DS and Wii. While the Nintendo DS release was favorably received by critics, the Wii version was a whole another story.
There's no easy way to put it — Echoes Of Time on the Nintendo Wii was an absolute train wreck of a port. The game looked awful on a television screen (since the Wii version didn't exactly receive a graphical upgrade from the DS version), and for some brain-dead reason, the developers didn't even bother to optimize the game to be played on a single screen. As a result of this, the game had two windows on a single screen, making things such as the text stupidly hard to read.
8 Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light
Final Fantasy has always been fairly hit-or-miss when it came to its spin-off titles. While games like Crisis Core and Type-0 were great games that did right by the Final Fantasy name, Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light didn't reach the heights of what it could've achieved.
While the game added a Job system with an interesting twist, it was bogged down with annoying gameplay elements like the inability to manually target enemies; a puzzling development decision that severely hampered a person's tactical choices. Adding to this annoyance were the stupidly hard solo quests at the beginning of the game, making the starting part of this title an absolute chore to get past.
7 Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy II (a game we've already discussed before) did a lot of things wrong, but one thing it did improve on was storytelling. While the plot of Final Fantasy II was quite generic, it was a coherent one with well-developed characters. People would've expected Final Fantasy III to have the best of both worlds — interactive storytelling and refined gameplay.
But this prediction was only half-accurate. While Final Fantasy III introduced the 'job system' for the first time in the series, the characters (and plot) were pretty much paper thin. The game was quite difficult, with dungeons that were an absolute pain to explore. The DS version didn't do much to address these issues, instead, it tried to fix a barebones story that was always bound to fail.
6 Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire Of The Rift
Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the greatest spin-off titles that Square has ever made. The success of this game spawned two sequels: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire Of The Rift. While the former was a great sequel, the latter was quite shaky, to say the least.
While Final Fantasy Tactics A2 had the gameplay depth of the previous games, the experience was marred by a lackluster story and lazy design choices. This is the only Tactics game that doesn't have Yasumi Matsuno (the genius behind the previous two games) involved in any aspect, and his absence is painfully apparent. The game also reuses tools like sprites and music from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Coupling all these issues with a mediocre story meant that Final Fantasy Tactics A2 obviously didn't have the level of care and effort put into the other games in the series.
5 Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade
Another disappointing mobile release from Square Enix, Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade is a shell of a game that decided to — you guessed it — shamelessly use the established Final Fantasy name in order to make dedicated gamers fork over their hard-earned money in order to feed the needs of a greedy company.
Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade fulfills the bare minimum requirements to be classified as a game, and nothing else. There are little to no features in the game, and the overall product lacks any polish. The fact that a Final Fantasy game has no sound or music is a red flag in itself.
Square Enix has tarnished the Final Fantasy name with other mediocre mobile games as well...
4 Final Fantasy Record Keeper
The freemium gaming model has been criticized frequently for its over-reliance on in-app purchases to get the most out of games. Specifically, things like the 'refillable stamina' system are just ways to extract more money from an unsuspecting player. It's a shame that Square Enix has adopted this model for a majority of its mobile games, and one such infamous offender is Final Fantasy Record Keeper.
Like most of Square Enix's mobile games, Final Fantasy Record Keeper uses the Final Fantasy brand of nostalgia-driven gameplay, with utilizing an invasive freemium model to its fullest extent. However, the game lacks any semblance of an interesting story or character interactivity, making it just a simple time (and money) waster.
3 Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV is a legendary entry in the series — but for all the wrong reasons. The game was critically panned upon release (in fact, it has the worst critical reception for a numbered Final Fantasy title), with criticism levied on a large number of issues that plagued the game, such as the gameplay, interface, and the overall lack of polish of the final release. The general consensus was that the game felt 'unfinished.'
If there's one reason to be happy about the release of Final Fantasy XIV, it's that a better, more enjoyable game awoke from its ashes in the form of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Square Enix learned from its mistakes, and released a game that fixed most of the issues in Final Fantasy XIV — a game that they now want you to think that it never existed.
2 Final Fantasy XIII-2
It was inevitable that a game from the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy would be on this list — perhaps the most unwanted trilogy in the Final Fantasy series, if not the entire history of video games. And in this trilogy, it's Final Fantasy XIII-2 that gets the unlucky spot due to its awkward placement between the story-heavy Final Fantasy XIII and the gameplay-rich Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 had its own fair share of issues and complaints, such as an underwhelming story, the fact that Lighting wasn't a playable character and a large amount of gameplay content locked behind additional DLC purchases (something that leaves a bad taste in any gamer's mouth). All in all, Final Fantasy XIII-2 was an under-performing title in a mediocre trilogy.
1 Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years was an unnecessary episodic sequel to Final Fantasy IV (a game that already has a pretty definitive ending), set 17 years after the events of the main game.
What makes The After Years such an unforgivable sequel is the fact that it's pretty much a rehash of Final Fantasy IV. There's barely any original elements in the numerous episodes, with elements like sounds, music, dungeons, locations, and even bosses ripped off from the main game. The After Years is a game that preys on the nostalgia of Final Fantasy fans and sullies the name of one of the greatest Final Fantasy titles ever.