The Best PS1 Final Fantasy: The Definitive Answer

Hey fellow bomba-deers,

I have spent inordinate amount of time writing about Final Fantasy 8 and 9. I have written at least 5 blogs on Giantbomb on both games and I have played through each game at least 4 times each. At this point I think I am Giantbomb's resident expert on these two games in particular and I would like to provide you with the DEFINITIVE HOT TAKE on which game is the best. But first...

FINAL FANTASY VII IS NOT THE BEST PS1 FINAL FANTASY!!! JUST STOP IT!-- a ton of the writing and story in that game does not hold up. Cloud is a pretty flat character who's defining characteristic is not remembering things. Sephiroth is over-rated; he just goes from ordinary soldier to psycho killer way too abruptly. The materia system is fine but 8 and 9 have combat systems that are equal to or greater than 7's. I'm not a real graphics person, but 8 and 9 look like they were made for a different system in a different generation than 7 (and considering 7 was originally an n64 game, I suppose, they were). In short, 7 is the most iconic Final Fantasy game of the PS1 era largely by virtue of it being the first Final Fantasy of the PS1 era; it is by no means the best and if you think it is the best try to play it again and then see how much your nostalgia holds up.

(Sorry FF Tactics people, but that game is not a numbered member of the series. I know it is good and I know that it is the monkey wrench that people love to throw in this discussion, “Yeah Cloud, Squall, and Zidane are fine… but what about Ramza!” That game is great, but it is the king of its own little FF spin-off hamlet with Chocobo Racing and Chocobo’s Dungeon. Honestly the game is just completely different from a gameplay perspective and from a story perspective from anything else in the main line. If you prefer it to the main line Final Fantasies that is cool, but that means you like turn based strategy games and political dramas more than you like the character driven and turn based games of the main line.)

Now it is time for the main event: 8 vs. 9, reluctant hero vs. a thief with a heart of gold, and future steam punk vs. Elizabethan steam punk. To handle this as scientifically as possible I’m going to dissect each game into its essential parts, judge those parts, and then assign a winner. The game with the most points wins!

Best Story: In 8 we have five amnesiac orphans and one general’s daughter- turned terrorist- turned sorceress fighting against a sorceress from the far-flung-future to prevent the total smushing of all time into a single moment of frozen oblivion. Subtlety and restraint are not FF8’s strong suits, but what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in balls-to-the-wall craziness. You get a school that turns into a flying bomb shelter, a half-disc long coma, and an impromptu rock concert. 8 somehow merges the cliché and the absurd into a surprisingly believable love story that moves you one way or another, it’s a real love it or hate it story. The biggest achievement in 8’s story is its use of playable flashbacks to slowly fill in the hidden and forgotten backstories of the games two main characters. Through controlling Laguna Loire and his friends the player is allowed to learn the history of Squall’s father and his failed relationship with Rinoa’s mother, Julia Heartilly. Thus, the player is allowed to play through both the forgotten romance of Laguna and Julia as well as the new love of Squall and Rinoa.

In 9 we have a tailed genome thief and a cavalcade of loveable misfits fighting against the living remains of an advanced alien world that is attempting to consume their planet by siphoning out all of the planet’s souls and injecting alien souls in their place, like changing the jelly filling in a donut. 9 also has its fair share of absurdity what with a princess that is revealed to be the last of a dying race and an underground mine that links two continents, filled with giant aquaphobic bugs. 9 takes its fantasy setting and uses it deal with mature topics like war, weapons of mass destruction, arms dealers, and genocide. Of course, the game deals with these topics by making all of the weapons magical and the victims of genocide rat people. 9’s story does not do anything as crazy as 8’s flashback gameplay, but it does do a great job of diversifying its story. Where 8 had a laser like focus on Squall and Rinoa’s relationship, allowing little breathing room for the rest of the cast, 9 gives the entire cast some moments of story focus to develop. Freya gets to react to the ruins of her home of Burmecia, Amarant rebels at Ispen’s Castle; heck, even Quina has some scenes here and there. It is also worth mentioning that 9 has a bit of a meta-story since it is the last FF game that Hironobu Sakaguchi worked on. 9’s story is as much about celebrating the history of the FF series as it is about the main story of Zidane and his party.

The Verdict: 9 definitely has the more mature story and the more varied story, but the singular focus of 8 on the relationship of Squall and Rinoa definitely has its own appeal. In the eternal struggle between soap opera and pure drama I am going to have to go with 9’s mature story by committee over 8’s love novella.

Best Cast: 8 has 6 main party members and really only 2 of them develop: Squall and Rinoa. Selphie stays a bubbly caricature. Irvine stays a lecherous ladies man. Zell stays a spaz. Quistis stays a bookish big sister. Laguna is more developed than any of the main cast members not named Squall or Rinoa and he is definitely my favorite character in the entire game for his mixture of a bumbling personality with strange political competence. At the end of the day 8’s cast isn’t great and its villains are not that compelling. The cardboard cutout cast fits the soap opera story well, but they don’t hold up when examined seprately.

Look, Vivi all by himself is a more compelling and endearing character than anyone in FF8. Vivi is the youngest character in FF9 and he is forced to grapple with his mortality and being created to kill. Spoiler Alert: 9 actually has the stones to kill off its youngest and most vulnerable character at the end of the game AND SHOW YOU HIS DYING THOUGHTS AS A PORTION OF THE EPILOG! Vivi is so well developed that he might even be the main character of the game. As I mentioned in the story portion, the cast of 9 is very well developed and each of the characters shows some form of growth over the course of the game; they make mistakes and actually grow from them, unlike the majority of 8’s cast. Kuja is a much more compelling villain than Seifer or Ultimecia and Queen Brahne is a much more compelling villain than Edea.

The Verdict: 9 in a land slide. It’s not close. Squall is cool and all, but let’s be real.

Best Gameplay: This is probably the toughest category of all because each game has a great combat system, but they are each trying to achieve drastically different things. 8’s junction system is easily the most exploitable and flexible character building system in the FF series. A knowledgeable player can easily have a party with over 4000 hp per character before even fighting a single battle if they so choose. This is because levels have almost no value in FF8, all enemies scale based on Squall’s level and character stats do not grow as fast as enemy stats do. Character growth is instead dictated by the ability to gather and “junction” magic to stats. Since magic can be acquired a number of ways, FF8 is one of the only FF games where character strength has almost no correlation to the amount of battles a player completes. The wide open junction system gives FF8 a ton of replay-ability since your party configuration can be so different and so weird, it makes for fun speed runs and challenge builds like beating the game with your party at level 1.

While 8 chooses to have a system that makes the characters largely interchangeable, 9 uses its combat system to further develop its characters. 9 has a strict class based character building system where only two characters have any overlapping active abilities (the two white mage/ summoners). Each character has a defined role in combat that is tied back to the classes created in games like FF1, 3, 4, and 5. However, 9 uses active and passive abilities as tools to develop its characters. For example, Zidane is a thief with largely traditional thief abilities like Steal and Flee; however, he also learns the passive ability Protect Girls early in the game. Protect Girls allows Zidane to take damage in the place of another character, like a paladin or a knight, but he will only do so to protect a woman. This shows that Zidane will put himself in harm’s way to protect others, but it also says that he is a bit of a flirt since he will only do so for a lady. FF9 has a number of abilities that similarly help to define its characters. Now aside of these interesting story implications, 9 has a fairly vanilla combat system when compared to 8.

The Verdict: I love how 9 uses abilities to character build, but 8’s gameplay is so unique and so special that I have to give it the nod.

Best Card Game: Triple Triad is one of the many keys to breaking the combat system of FF8. The cards in FF8 can be converted into items that can be used to create broken weapons and magic that makes the combat system trivial. Triple Triad also happens to be really, really fun and addictive, at least a quarter of my play time in any FF8 playthrough is spent playing Triple Triad. Not only is the base card game really good, there are a ton of rule sets and different ways to play. If only this game had some kind of online Triple Triad multiplayer, GET ON IT SQUARE.

FF9’s card game, Tetra Master is fine. It is a serviceable card game and playing it well can earn you a good accessory at one point in the game. But it is nowhere near the game that Triple Triad is.

The Verdict: Triple Triad > Tetra Master

Best World: The world of FF8 is crazily detailed for how little the game forces you to explore. There are multiple towns, like the Shumi Village and Winhill, that you literally never have to see, several of which are homes to cool side quests and people. There are awesome side quests that are available on the world map like the creature in Obel Lake and Cactuar Island. The cities of FF8 are very imaginative and cool to see, such as Fisherman’s Horizon, Esthar, and Deling City. Even the Garden and the Ragnarok are really cool vehicles. 8 does not have the thematic consistency of 9, but it more than makes up for it in scope and creativity.

The world of FF9 is just as detailed as the world of FF8, but it does not have the sense of exploration or the variety that 8 has. 9’s towns and cities are all some variety of steam punk or ren-fair. There is no location as crazy as Esthar or the Cetra Ruins of FF8, but there is a consistency of tone and aesthetic that lends a real sense of cohesion to the world of 9. For example, the kingdoms of the Mist Continent have similar technology and cultures that make each kingdom feel distinct, but not out of place. Whereas Esthar and Galbadia seem like they are on entirely different planets. The peoples of Gaia are more interesting than the people of FF8, with civilizations like the dwarves of Conde Petit, the black mages of the Black Mage Village, and the rat people of Burmecia and Clyra. Each civilization is distinct, but they are not so different that they feel thematically inconsistent like Esthar does.

The Verdict: This is another tough, tough call but I’m gonna have to go with the world of 8. The visual creativity and the sense of exploration in 8 is just something special. Secret places like the Island Closest to Heaven and the Island Closest to Hell just are not around in FF9.

Best Side Quest: 8 has a bunch of good side quests, but no single side quest that stands above. There is the creature in Obel Lake and it’s missions. There is the Deep Sea Research Facility and the monsters there. There is the Cetra Ruins and its optional bosses. There is the Shumi Village and its strange people. All good and interesting but none as good as…

The chocobo side quest in FF9! This side quest is great, it unlocks a bunch of great equipment, it unlocks the hardest boss in the game, and it ties into the Mognet sidequest. It even has a guest appearance from Chubby Chocobo aka. Fat Chocobo aka Fats Choco. This side quest is how you unlock most of the game’s best weapons and it prompts the player to explore every inch of the world of FF9. IT EVEN HAS TREASURE MAPS!!

The Verdict: TREASURE MAPS!!!

Best Protagonist: It all comes down to this… Squall vs… Vivi? Yeah that’s right. You remember how I said you can make the argument that Vivi is the main character of 9? Well I’m gonna make that argument. Vivi is introduced not five minutes after Zidane is and he is an original party member. Vivi is as much the game’s focus in the first two discs as Zidane, with the entirety of Brahne’s war exposing Vivi to the horror that he is an artificially created tool of war. He is forced to see the slaughter his enslaved brethren enact in Bermecia, Lindblum, and Clyra. He is the focus of the entire Black Mage Village scene in the second disc. Even Zidane’s time on Terra parallel’s Vivi’s experience with Black Mages. Vivi isn’t the focus of the game’s main romantic plot, so what? Vivi isn’t the character who the player controls, so what? Vivi doesn’t get the most screen time, so what? FF9 encompasses Vivi’s entire maturation, from childhood to adulthood to death; the game begins with Vivi’s first exposure to society and ends at the end of his life. If Zidane has to be the main protagonist then Vivi is 1a. The game is as much Vivi’s game as Zidane’s.

So now that I got that off my chest I guess we can talk about Squall. Squall is a reluctant hero of the highest order and his whininess has put of plenty of people from finishing FF8. I don’t find him especially detestable, but I think that is because his brand of whininess is largely adolescent angst, and I was an adolescent when I first played FF8. He gets more melodramatic every time I play through FF8 and that isn’t a good thing. He is not a terrible character but…

The Verdict: FF9 wins, it’s over. Call it. Just to be clear Zidane is better than Squall too, but Vivi is just so much more likeable and believable.

The Final Verdict: FF9 wins by a hair 4-3. The science proves it. You can’t argue with science. In the battle between great games someone had to win. Sorry if you don’t like the outcome, but life is hard sometimes. Love 8 too, but 9 is the superior game.

121 Comments
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Edited by thatpinguino

@viciousreiven: Discounting the snes Final Fantasies is a bit absurd. They started all of this gangster shit in the first place.

Posted by Veektarius

What makes this definitive?

Posted by Video_Game_King

@karkarov said:

The best numbered FF on PS1 was 7, people need to get over it and stop trying to be internet cool/trendy by implying anything else. The sales figures, the fact that everyone who owned a ps1 knows who Sepiroth and Cloud are without any other need for explanation most of the time even if they didn't play FF... It is just ridiculous trying to argue the point.

Always an objective indicator of quality.

(Not that the rest of your argument is much better, but one at a time.)

Edited by thatpinguino

@veektarius: I have played these games a whole bunch and have written about them a whole bunch. Also I used SCIENCE.

Posted by obcdexter

I did not like 9 for various reasons and, though enjoying it, felt that 8 was a massive let-down after 7. So, nope, can't agree with you. It's 7 pour moi.

Posted by AlexW00d

@video_game_king: That is a weird rating system I've never seen before. What region is that for?

It's the pre-PEGI rating system specifically for games (I.E. not including the BBFC who rate games too) for the UK. They stopped using it in about 2002?

Posted by sonicrift

8 was so bad, I didn't play 9 till this year. I hated 8 so much that I just about entirely gave up on RPGs till last summer. Between finishing 8 and getting hooked on Pokemon Black, I played 2 other JRPGs. Whenever I thought about trying something new, like Persona or Final Fantasy XII, I'd remember how stupid this game was, and how much I hated it.

To put it in perspective, this year, I played 7 different JRPGs to completion.

Posted by egg

none of the PS1 FF's are good and I can prove it

  • FF7 - randomly triggered encounters (+load times for encounters)
  • FF8 - ditto
  • FF9 - ditto
  • FFT - get halfway through the game, lose all your progress because you can't exit in between levels

Not to mention vomit graphics for FF7, and vomit writing for FFT

Posted by PandaBear

Well, I still really like VII. Flaws and all.

X is the best though. IMHO

Edited by Darji

@thatpinguino: All these things you mentioned I have totally forgotten because I really disliked the cast. I personally play JRPGs for these cheesy and corny moments. I do not need a deep story or deep motives behind it. For me it is all how this story is told and while I agree that the other party member have almost no story, I must day that FFVIII was about Riona and Squall and of course Laguna and company and this was so much more engaging to me. The thing I really missed in FFIX was some really cheesy romance like you had in FVIII and FFX. It was way more subtle in FFIX

Oh and since I really do not like thee non human characters like Qunia or Freya which seem to me always like joke characters FFIX had not really a chance at all... Same goes with FVII which I also hated after Disc 1.

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Posted by thatpinguino

@darji: Freya is far from a joke character in IX, but Quina definitely is.

Edited by Corvak

Needs more Tactics.

The localization was trash and some of the points of no return are asinine, but breaking the game in crazy ways is too much fun.

Posted by thatpinguino

@corvak: I honestly wish Tactics was just named Ogre Battle 2 so that I could get it out of this conversation without offending anyone. Tactics is great, but man is it a different game that belongs in a different conversation.

Posted by VaddixBell

I really like IX, I'm not a huge fan of the systems utilised in VII,VIII and then XII where your character is a blank slate and can do any role you want them to. I much prefer the way IX and X did it with a character who has a defined role and for X, if you really want to; you can make them any way you want them if you over level.

I think IX just had a great set of characters which was I really invested in, great and interesting world and just a really great and fun combat system. I never took a liking to VIII's junction system and their idea of enemies leveling up with you wasn't executed particularly well. I never really cared for VIII's story as well but I do intend to go back and replay it (as soon as there's a sale on PS Store)and see what I think then. I would describe IX as being a wonderful game, something that's just a joy to play and I think VII and VIII have great quality elements, but as just a fun game with a great cast, I think IX beats them both.

Posted by thatpinguino

@vaddixbell: I think X handled the defined classes vs. customization battle pretty well. They give you the tools to go nuts, but they do so in small doses and they do not give you the keys to the sphere grid until later in the game. VIII just gives you every tool from the word go, to the point that 30 minutes in you can have 100 water spells per character and everyone has a ridiculously high hp pool and strength stat.

Edited by Verendus

@thatpinguino said:

Cloud is a shitty protagonist. Sephiroth is over-rated.

Your thread is shit and opinions are wrong and overrated. Want me to elaborate? You start.

When it comes to VI-IX, there is no best Final Fantasy. You can keep calling certain characters, weapons, music tracks on OST, cutscenes whatever "shitty" and it won't bring your point or opinion anywhere.

I think we can all agree that VI-IX are brilliant games, especially when you compare to shit SE has been pushing on X360/PS3 gen.

VII is my favorite, I consider it the best and there are a lot of factors to it that can't be used as solid arguments. (My first FF game, nostalgia, how great it felt back then etc, I prefer the atmosphere in FFVII etc.)

Posted by thebunnyhunter

You cant dispute this science, this is Rorie level of science here and cant be wrong.

Also i agree that IX is the best ps1 Final Fantasy. After playing a ton of 7 and 8 i liked the return to member specific roles, with all of them being useful (even Quina....eventually). The materia and draw systems are good but they pushed me into using 3 core sets of basically the same abilities...barring summons. Characters also resonated more with me in IX, they were all fleshed out and grew throughout the games....Also Vivi is my favorite character in any FF game.

I might be biased because this was the first Final Fantasy i played, but i only got up to where Vivi was trapped in the plant and couldn't get past it because i didn't know you could heal him. After that i played through most of 4,5...then 7 and 8, then 10....Finally after that i went back and play IX again and got through it.

Posted by LVL3Bard

@karkarov: Yeah, fuck every other opinion but your own, right?

Posted by Elwoodan

sure the best numbered FF game, but that's like picking the best giant robot movie and only picking from the transformers films.

Tactics has the best combat, story, and even the randomized generic soldiers have more personality than Squall.

Posted by StarvingGamer

@thatpinguino: It sounds like we have the same opinion of the combat in VIII, just approached from different sides. That's fine, it works for you which is great, but fuck all does it not work for me.

Posted by SarcasticMudcrab

I agree with this blog.

Edited by GERALTITUDE

lol thanks for the write up. Interesting thoughts.

And here's why you're wrong yo.

Best Story: Ok maybe you're not wrong about this one. haha. FF8 is the better story. The end of the game is basically that Inception movie folded in on itself a few times over. Wait, am I fighting my necklace right now?

Best Cast: Why are you people still using the Old White Man's Guide to Reviewing Characters? Look - fuck what you learnt in literary school. The measure of a good character isn't actually how much they change - the "character arc" is an old, lame tool made to help boring people write interesting stories. Videogames aren't literature and they should not follow those lame rules.

My favorite thing about FF8 is it really matters which characters you take on which missions. There's so much dialogue and everyone brings a very different perspective and also has a unique relationship with other characters on the team. You're also flat out wrong about some character's staying the same. Maybe you just forgot the scene where Irvine repents his ways, or how Quistis confronts the weirdness of her relationship with Squall and just her general unhappiness/happiness as an instructor. Both Squall and Seifer have huge moments where they wrestle with ego (or simpler things, like Death). Unlike IX which gives each character 1 big moment/environment, the characters of VIII develop more slowly over time (Vivi is the exception). The conversation at the destroyed basketball court is where alot of it comes together as I remember.

I think Vivi and Freya are the only standout characters in IX. VIII has Squall and Rinoa yes but it also has Laguna and Zell (he's so likeable come on!) plus there are so many random characters you meet and love over time (Raijin and Fujin? Biggs and Ward? Headmaster Cid? The Queen of Cards?)

Best Gameplay: This is a hard one. I really love the limit breaks in VIII but IX has an honest-to-goodness Dragoon Class character and that nearly takes the cake all it's own. On the flip side pulling R1 to shoot the gunblade as you attack never gets old, even on attack number 1 000 003. And Squall's limit is intensely satisfying. As well, the simplified relationship you have with limits is really exciting in VIII. You can purposely keep your health low and try and get a limit break, but of course you're risking your life.

Best Card Game: Yeah this is easy. Triple Triad is the shit.

Best World: VIII by a landslide. The number of places to explore and the detail therein is shit you didn't see back then and don't see now. Also Encounter None makes exploration actually fun too.

Best Side Quest: DUDE WHAT!? WTF?? The Chocobo quest? No. Just no.

Best Protagonist: Vivi's certainly better than Squall, but Laguna's better than Vivi. Yeah, that's right.

In closing, it's obvious that VIII is better IX, and both are better than VII, but none are better than XII.

Posted by Darji

Man I would really love an opposite thread which discusses the worst ff Main games. I wonder If I am alone with 9 and 7 being the worst ff main games^^

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Posted by thatpinguino

@geraltitude: I think you are short selling the characters in IX, there are just as many likable side characters in IX: Lani, Cid, Beatrix, Blank, Cina, Marcus, Baku, and Quan. I will agree that some of the traits of the characters in VIII are more memorable because they are so one note and easy to understand. My argument is largely that the characters in VIII are 1 dimensional caricatures, rather than fleshed out characters. I prefer complicated characters with strong motivation and growth, VIII has tons of moments of high drama, but it lacks the depth and breadth that IX has. It is a case of soap-opera melodramatics vs. more varied and complex characters; thus, I think that the cast of IX is the more compelling group.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

@darji: You're always alone duder. Lol. But seriously: 7 and 9? Have you played III? It's sooo boring. But it must have been less boring than II which I basically erased from my mind. I at least was relatively short.

@thatpinguino: Yeah I just disagree about the analysis completely. I read the IX characters as very one-note and 1 dimensional, with the one single exception of Vivi. You say complicated, I say simple.

Edited by DifferenceEngine

I never really understood what people saw in IX. It was hyped as a return to classic FF, and in many ways it was, in other words, BORING. The gameplay felt like it was too old schoolish for its own good. The game as a whole was neither good nor bad, it was just kinda, there. It also didn't help that the game's aesthetic was so archaic IMO, better suited to a portable game.

Perhaps IX's gameplay design was the result of the backlash from the unusual interface of VIII? I get the feeling that FFVIII was like the Windows 8 of its time for fans of Final Fantasy. On that account, I can understand why gamers are so put off by VIII. One trend that didn't change in IX was the decidedly over the top approach to plots from VIII, Square seemed to double down on this in IX. VII had a mostly solid foundation without being too "out there", same with VIII although a bit more strange, IX was just plain bat-shit crazy to me. But hey, at least no one that I recall had amnesia in IX (feel free to correct me on this, it's been over a decade since I played these games) unlike the main characters from seemingly most other Squaresoft RPGs at the time even going back to FF III/VI. So ditching the amnesia angle for once was nice.

I couldn't care less about the characters from VII-IX. Though Barret, Vincent, Cid, Zell, Quistis, and Freya weren't so terrible by JRPG standards. Not any one of the characters from the PSX FF games stand out much IMO, save for the female protagonists from each game which excelled at being so damn irritating and forced. Oh how grateful I was at the time for the lack of voice acting in Square's games in the 32-bit era. When I played VIII and IX, I made it a point to never use Rinoa or Dagger/Princess unless absolutely necessary. As already mentioned by someone else, the reluctant hero bit was getting lame. Cloud and Squall were the same cut outs with different coats of paint. Zidane was an admirable attempt at a different approach for a protagonist, but I can't quite decide if his character was meant to be a mockery of the game's genre or not.

Looking back on VII, I really wish that Square had spent more time with it in production, especially when you can see the improvements in VIII. At times, VII is such an eyesore. No wonder fans of VII are begging for a remake.

Between the three games I'd probably have to give a slight edge to VIII over VII with IX in a distant third. Between VII and VIII, both were a boatload of emo either way (yay for the 90s!), but bonus points for VIII for attempting to go in another direction and it has the least number of flaws of the three games.

Posted by thatpinguino

@geraltitude: But why do you say they are simple? You mentioned that you like the characters of VIII better and that you appreciated how they grow, but I don't see how IX's cast can be discounted.

Edited by GERALTITUDE

@geraltitude: But why do you say they are simple? You mentioned that you like the characters of VIII better and that you appreciated how they grow, but I don't see how IX's cast can be discounted.

Oh sorry I don't mean discounted at all. Like I said I love Vivi and Freya is a huge favorite of mine. Amarant is cool. But Zidane, Garnet, Echo and the rest just didn't move me in the sense that I didn't usually care if they were in my party or not. I always wanted Freya and Vivi in my party just like I was always so excited when I played as Laguna. Steiner looks great and is fun mechanically but he's just a knight to me. He's obsessed with protecting the princess and can't understand she needs to feel free. That's nice and all, but it doesn't seem especially complex (though again, I don't think complex = necessarily better ) or different to me.

Vivi is special for obvious reasons (including that he is a Player Character at times - which happens often enough in FF games but is still pretty rare; note that in VIII you play as the people in your team more often than in other FF games thanks to missions with multiple teams/flashbacks, etc, so that could be a reason I'm more attached to them as well). Freya was my favourite because she's not only a super fun class but her story is actually emotional. Few characters in FF have had anything so awful happen to them. You're told to feel bad for other characters (Garnet, for example), but something happens to Freya that is so massive you can't help but feel for her. It's that same scene that makes Queen Brahne a great villain (and Odin such a terrifying baddass).

So to try to summarize that, I feel that Garnet, Zidane, Echo, Steiner and Amarant are all characters who I like, but ultimately go and do what I expect them to. I never felt like I missed out by choosing X character over Y character for any given section of the game, which I felt constantly in VIII. One of the things we both like about Vivi is that he questions the world and his place in it a lot. I'd argue that this is the central theme of Final Fantasy VIII, and that nearly all the characters go through this. I think that's why many characterize VIII as "emo" or "teen angst", because it really is all about love, death, ego and what people think about each other. I feel I should add here that Squall gets asked a lot of questions by party members that you can answer how you feel. I can't prove that there are more dialogue options in VIII than other FFs, but that's certainly my gut feeling, and I would say that contributed to my attachment to those characters too.

Posted by Darji

@darji: You're always alone duder. Lol. But seriously: 7 and 9? Have you played III? It's sooo boring. But it must have been less boring than II which I basically erased from my mind. I at least was relatively short.

@thatpinguino: Yeah I just disagree about the analysis completely. I read the IX characters as very one-note and 1 dimensional, with the one single exception of Vivi. You say complicated, I say simple.

I played and finished every main FF game including tactics. So yes I think for the time it was a good game while 7 and 9 do not ave any excuses for this since one of my most favorite FF is in between these two.

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Edited by believer258

9 actually has the stones to kill off its youngest and most vulnerable character at the end of the game AND SHOW YOU HIS DYING THOUGHTS AS A PORTION OF THE EPILOG!

GOD DAMN IT, MAN, I WAS JUST NOW PLAYING THROUGH THIS GAME. WE HAVE SPOILER BLOCKS. WE. HAVE. SPOILER. BLOCKS.

(Referring to FFIX, just incase you need to know).

Edited by thatpinguino

@believer258: Oh my God!!!! I'm so sorry. I didn't think that I could spoil a 14 year old game for anyone so I didn't use the blocks. My bad.

Edited by believer258

@believer258: Oh my God!!!! I'm so sorry. I didn't think that I could spoil a 14 year old game for anyone so I didn't use the blocks. My bad.

It's all right. I was half-joking anyway.

(Though, you should probably still put a bombshell like that in spoilers if it's not an "it was his sled" type of spoiler".)

Edited by MormonWarrior

I was the perfect age for these games when they came out and I never understood why anyone would like VII. I thought it looked like garbage back then, Barrett was a racist stereotype, and all the other characters were lame. So yeah it's VIII versus IX.

Ultimately, I like playing IX better than VIII for its varied combat system, bombastic areas and enemies and sheer fantasy fun...but the story literally just stops going anywhere about halfway through. I'm convinced there is no plot to that game. Things happen, you learn about the interesting characters, and then...I dunno, end boss or something. VIII was more cohesive in that respect, even though it was insane. The playable characters beyond Squall and Rinoa aren't terribly developed, but side characters like Edea, Laguna, Seifer, Julia, Ellone and Raine are pretty well developed and interesting. The whole "GFs give us amnesia" thing was a dumb plot contrivance that's always bothered me, but I liked the summon designs best in that game and the sidequests were pretty awesome. Therefore, VIII is ultimately the better game, or at least the one I'm most nostalgic for.

You didn't bring up music, and VIII beats IX handily in that regard. I like the main menu theme in IX and that's about it...the rest is kind of bland in comparison to VIII or VI.

EDIT: Oh, and I discount Tactics as an option because, frankly I don't think it's as good as the other three Final Fantasies on the PSone. So there. I think it's pretty overrated, honestly.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

@darji said:

@geraltitude said:

@darji: You're always alone duder. Lol. But seriously: 7 and 9? Have you played III? It's sooo boring. But it must have been less boring than II which I basically erased from my mind. I at least was relatively short.

@thatpinguino: Yeah I just disagree about the analysis completely. I read the IX characters as very one-note and 1 dimensional, with the one single exception of Vivi. You say complicated, I say simple.

I played and finished every main FF game including tactics. So yes I think for the time it was a good game while 7 and 9 do not ave any excuses for this since one of my most favorite FF is in between these two.

I wasn't questioning your FF experience, but I still disagree. III pales in comparison to IV way harder then VII or IX pale to VIII. I remember clearly thinking that I ("one") was really cool (at the time), II was more of then same and III was way too much of the same. I bet it holds up better now then it did at the time. Either way yes, VIII is amazing.

Posted by cfilipec

nope

Patrick got it right the first time =P

cmon people. Humans look more like Squall than Zidane (a little more at least)

and this

Posted by Nightriff

Fantastic writeup. I don't like FF games but enjoyed reading your write up. Seemed like a fair analysis. Maybe I should've tried to play either 8, 9, or 10 instead of 7 and 13. That could be why I don't care for the franchise

Posted by gokaired

If I remember my gaming history I got into FF real late 2004ish late and I've been playing games since the early 90s.

I only really got into RPG at 13ish, the first I remember playing was 7 partly because back then not a lot of people where calling it what it was (not that good ;) ) and it felt super duper awkward, the mechanics the story. I played 10 and it was worse, busy work with the worst characters I've seen in a popular franchise, the thing is though the plot is actually interesting and clever but it is dragged down by very bad inconsistencies and other silly stuff 10-2 was better barring all the dumb fanservice.

When the GBA got all the old FFs then I started to get into it, working my way up to 6 that game felt tight, the mechanics, the story and graphically sharp, almost all FF music is wicked but was more memorable, Melodically I suppose it was superior. Played 3 on the DS then went and played the original, vastly improved.

I was then inspired to play the other PS games, fully, 8 was embarrassing, an uninteresting main character, a non-sense plot (even for FF) the only one worse was 13, that series is balls. For all those who ever claimed the Nintendo FF where simplified at least they required some thought and strategy you don't need either in 13 and that's just talking about the combat everything else is just as bad, some of the music is okay though I'd talk about Graphics but you only see the benefit in cutscenes which takes up most of the game.

12 was cool, Vaan shouldn't have been the main character though, he was the least important to the plot.

If I'd rank the games though in overall quality

6

9

4

12-series (that DS game was cool too)

3 (mainly the DS version)

7

5

1 and 2 (hard to place) (GBA versions)

8

10 series

13 series

Posted by Superkenon

@darji said:

Man I would really love an opposite thread which discusses the worst ff Main games. I wonder If I am alone with 9 and 7 being the worst ff main games^^

There's always someone to hate something, so I'd bet you're not alone. A thread with the purpose of shittalkin' sounds like the worst idea, though. Giant Bomb tends to have my favorite Final Fantasy threads precisely because folks are usually more positive than negative, or are at least discussing their likes/dislikes in a cordial manner. (Kinda wish Mr. Penguino hadn't started off his post with inflammatory remarks, because the rest of his post is actually an interesting and thoughtful analysis, even if I don't agree with all of it.)

For me, even my least favorite Final Fantasies (cough, FFXIII, cough) have aspects I enjoy, and I find it's more fun to talk about those aspects than harp on what I hate.

Edited by Hunter5024

Interesting write up, but these games are just so different that I have trouble arguing between them, especially if we're going to try and get all objective and definitive about it. Your reasoning is totally valid, but I'd take 8 over 9 most days, and I'd always take 7 over either one. Not because there are some objective qualities that make it a better game, but because the decisions they made appeal more to my tastes. Which is why you could say "Cloud is a shitty protagonist" and I could be all "Nawh son" and technically we'd both be right.

Edited by Pilgrimm1981

What if I don't agree with your definitive answer? The fact you don't even consider Tactics or VII totally invalidates everything else. What, is it cool these days to hate on VII? It's an amazing game, and a game that brought RPG's to a bigger audience in the West. It's not perfect by any means, but simply dismissing it because apparantly that's what the cool kids do these days, is laughable. And Tactics? That game has the best story of all and some of the more memorable characters ever. I like IX and I think that game still holds up really well today. It has a serious story brought in a whimsical way, some of the best music, good combat, but a crappy antagonist and the other characters weren't all that memorable either(save a couple)...a very good game though but VII to me is just the better game. Final Fantasy VIII on the other hand was a massive dissapointment, mainly because of the awkward melodrama, a HORRIBLE battle mechanic and angsty teenagers. it had some good moments, amazing graphics and music but on the whole, it just fell flat on it's face. The only reason it's being considered is because it has the Final Fantasy moniker, many many other rpg's on the psx are far more worthy of any sort of attention but get none. Still, it was a lot better than any of the other numbered FF games that came after IX (yes including X, I think that game is, well not good at all).

Posted by TheBlue

@hilbert: I agree wholeheartedly.

This whole "The Best" business drives me up the wall. Why can't we just like them all or just like a few without spewing hate towards things others like? Oh wait...this is the internet, where my opinion is clearly superior to yours.

Edited by Darji

@geraltitude said:

@darji said:

@geraltitude said:

@darji: You're always alone duder. Lol. But seriously: 7 and 9? Have you played III? It's sooo boring. But it must have been less boring than II which I basically erased from my mind. I at least was relatively short.

@thatpinguino: Yeah I just disagree about the analysis completely. I read the IX characters as very one-note and 1 dimensional, with the one single exception of Vivi. You say complicated, I say simple.

I played and finished every main FF game including tactics. So yes I think for the time it was a good game while 7 and 9 do not ave any excuses for this since one of my most favorite FF is in between these two.

I wasn't questioning your FF experience, but I still disagree. III pales in comparison to IV way harder then VII or IX pale to VIII. I remember clearly thinking that I ("one") was really cool (at the time), II was more of then same and III was way too much of the same. I bet it holds up better now then it did at the time. Either way yes, VIII is amazing.

Oh today it will probably not hold up anymore that is for sure especially not the first FF games but I really liked these games when they came out. And yes FFIV was better that is for sure. But with 7 and 9 I never found them good or interesting in the first place. FFVIII corny romance story was just perfect for me and what I really missed with 7 after Disc 1 and 9 completely. If i would play VIII today I am not even sure if I would enjoy it since I really can not play JRPGs without voice acting anymore. It is one of the standards in JRPG I really demand to find them enjoyable these days.

But yeah everyone has different opinions and I think it is great that each FF is always so polarizing with their fans. For Example everything I have seen of 15 looks absolutely stunning. If they just would focus on a Romeo and Juliet like story with these two I willl be in Heaven XD

Online
Edited by thatpinguino

@geraltitude: Huh, well I have never really thought of characters that way before. I usually have two boxes when I play games, the characters who I like to use and play as and the characters that I like from a story standpoint. I have never really thought of whether I like to play as a character as being central to finding them compelling. I suppose I might be looking at things too academically and too analytically then, compartmentalizing things too much. Thanks for that perspective. I can see how from your perspective the cast of 9 would be simple and boring given that they are all fairly archetypal. I wonder, in VIII did you give every character their own set of GFs that they had at all times or did you just spread all of the GFs across whoever happened to be in your party at the time. Did you make every character unique in VIII or did you just max out your favorites.

@superkenon: I started my post by dismissing VII and Tactics because I knew that my write-up was going to be several pages long even if I only discussed VIII and IX. I really don't think that VII holds up well and I don't think it would have won any of these categories. But I see your point about being less inflammatory. I'll edit the main post. I dismissed Tactics because I don't think it is even comparable to the other PS1 FF games, and honestly it is a Final Fantasy game in name and aesthetic, but everything else is completely different. I mean at that point I would be comparing across genres, not just across games, which is just really hard to do without it coming down to which style of game you prefer.

@theblue: I think "spewing hate" is a little strong. I mean I picked which aspects from each game I liked better, but it isn't like I just made fart noises at FFVIII.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

@darji said:

@geraltitude said:

@darji said:

@geraltitude said:

@darji: You're always alone duder. Lol. But seriously: 7 and 9? Have you played III? It's sooo boring. But it must have been less boring than II which I basically erased from my mind. I at least was relatively short.

@thatpinguino: Yeah I just disagree about the analysis completely. I read the IX characters as very one-note and 1 dimensional, with the one single exception of Vivi. You say complicated, I say simple.

I played and finished every main FF game including tactics. So yes I think for the time it was a good game while 7 and 9 do not ave any excuses for this since one of my most favorite FF is in between these two.

I wasn't questioning your FF experience, but I still disagree. III pales in comparison to IV way harder then VII or IX pale to VIII. I remember clearly thinking that I ("one") was really cool (at the time), II was more of then same and III was way too much of the same. I bet it holds up better now then it did at the time. Either way yes, VIII is amazing.

Oh today it will probably not hold up anymore that is for sure especially not the first FF games but I really liked these games when they came out. And yes FFIV was better that is for sure. But with 7 and 9 I never found them good or interesting in the first place. FFVIII corny romance story was just perfect for me and what I really missed with 7 after Disc 1 and 9 completely. If i would play VIII today I am not even sure if I would enjoy it since I really can not play JRPGs without voice acting anymore. It is one of the standards in JRPG I really demand to find them enjoyable these days.

But yeah everyone has different opinions and I think it is great that each FF is always so polarizing with their fans. For Example everything I have seen of 15 looks absolutely stunning. If they just would focus on a Romeo and Juliet like story with these two I willl be in Heaven XD

Yeah you know when I went back to VII recently it was super hard to be motivated by the story anymore. I was very young when I played it first and it just blew my mind. Now VIII is the only one among the 3 I really enjoy replaying. It may be corny but I wonder if it's the corny romance that makes it more relateable or something.

I'm also strangely excited for XV, which I think says something about the power of the franchise, that after years and years of being disappointed a FF trailer can still make me go HOLY BALLS.

@thatpinguino: It's not necessarily that I always like characters I play as more than those who are just on my team, but I can find those moments so exciting sometimes. Like playing as Vivi or Seifer (especially after you know what happens). When you think about it in most FF games we embody one person for hours. Maybe a hundred hours depending on how crazy we are. So a character change can be meaningful. I agree with you that Vivi could be arguably the main character of FFIX, but that's partly possible because we are Vivi sometimes.

I definitely tried to play to the character in FFVIII. What I mean by that is everyone got their summons, and they would keep them the whole game. I also tried to match them, personality wise. So Zell would get Brothers (because you know, it's a big boom type summon) and Squall would get Diablos (because he's a dark bummer? lol) and so on and so forth. I did the same for junctioning magic. Zell is a physical guy, so I would give him the strongest magic he needed for a high strength, but do the same for Irvine's dexterity. I never maxed out any characters because I liked the idea of wanting to trade party members. Quistis and Selphie were my main magic users. What's interesting is that at some point Rinoa became the all-around character, and because of the stats that were high across the board (but not spiked anywhere) she often saved the day. This created an actual love for the character on my part.

I've already talked your head off but I want to go back to that point for a second because I feel it's missing in this discussion. You said "maybe you compartmentalized a little too much" and I'd say I think so. Sorry if this sounds lamely profound but games are very much the sum of their parts, not their parts individually. My gameplay experience with specific characters also affects my feelings for them as much as story does. Hence my love for Freya. I love the jump ability. And every time she saved the day with it I felt the character had saved the day, know what I mean? Similarly by playing a Squall who purposely always had low health, I was hitting everything with Renzokuken left, right and centre. This created a character who was always hunched, down, weak, needed help from everybody, but was a torrent of destruction when called on.

I loved your description of IX's abilities because you talk about how they are so character specific. It's true VIII doesn't have that by default, but it does leave room for the player to roleplay that character within the system, even if that isn't the optimum choice.

Ok... so I really want to play FF now. Thanks for this thread duder.

Posted by WMoyer83

7 is the best in my opinion

Edited by thatpinguino

@geraltitude: I actually began writing this as both a way to talk about two of my favorite games of all time, and to satirize how ludicrous game arguments tend to be. That is why I went so hard on the science thing and why I tried to be abrasive early on. I tried to write a typical "which game is best" blog, but add some deeper analysis to show why I appreciate each game. I know that the way I compartmentalized everything into neat categories is absurd, that's why I included a best card game category and made it count the same as best story or best cast. I thought of maybe having a dumb formula for the thing as well to add to the science motif, and maybe that would have made it more clear that I was trying to be a little tongue-in-cheek. I have written plenty of blogs that I pour hours into only to see the reaction be one of confusion or a series of "that was good but I like this game better." So I wanted to see what would happen if I wrote something a little more straightforward and conventional.

Posted by McGhee

9 was a complete bore. 8 all the way.

Bitches.

Posted by McLargepants

Suck on that Patrick! 9 is just so much fun, and 8 just isn't a good game. 7 is too far up its own ass to even be considered.

Posted by Hippie_Genocide

@karkarov said:

The best numbered FF on PS1 was 7, people need to get over it and stop trying to be internet cool/trendy by implying anything else. The sales figures, the fact that everyone who owned a ps1 knows who Sepiroth and Cloud are without any other need for explanation most of the time even if they didn't play FF... It is just ridiculous trying to argue the point.

Always an objective indicator of quality.

(Not that the rest of your argument is much better, but one at a time.)

GT defines blockbuster as a game that sold over 1 million units worldwide, which is especially ironic considering we're discussing the merits of Square-Enix (and by extension, Squaresoft) games.

Posted by Marokai

I hate how VII just gets categorically ignored in some of these conversations when people try to be "serious." As if because it has such a loud and proud following that any preference for it is always somehow tainted and wrong. Just immediately discounting FFVII at the outset is dumb.

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