Final Fantasy Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Final Fantasy RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Classic Final Fantasy Titles to Hit Modern Consoles by Next Year Mon, 17 Sep 2018 11:21:54 -0400 Allison M Reilly

Square Enix announced earlier this week that several Final Fantasy titles are coming to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD is out now, while other titles will be released later.

World of Final Fantasy Maxima is coming to all three consoles and PC on November 6, while Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! will be released on Switch and PS4 later in Winter 2018. All the other titles are coming to consoles in 2019. Below is the full list of Final Fantasy games and their respective consoles:

Nintendo Switch
Xbox One
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Final Fantasy IX
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
  • Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age
  • Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD
  • World of Final Fantasy Maxima
PlayStation 4
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition
  • Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!
  • Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD
  • World of Final Fantasy Maxima
  • World of Final Fantasy Maxima
Final Fantasy 15 Has Four More Episodes Incoming Mon, 09 Apr 2018 11:12:17 -0400 Lewis Parsons

Final Fantasy 15 is nowhere near final according to a Square Enix panel held at PAX East on Friday, April 6, 2018.

While discussing the Windows version of the well-received JRPG, Square announced multiple further pieces of content for FFXV. This includes two expansions to the game's "Comrades" multiplayer mode as well as four, yes four, additional episodes of character- and story-based content to be released in 2019. These are:

  • Episode: Ardyn -- “The Conflict of the Sage”
    Possibly the most demanded piece of content, this story puts you in the shoes of antagonist Ardyn. Experience his seething resentment towards the house of Lucis and his battles with the Astrals.
  • Episode: Aranea -- “The Beginning of the End”
    A side story about the Starscourge depicted from the Niflheim’s perspective. See the final day of the Empire from the enigmatic Aranea's perspective. 
  • Episode: Lunafreya -- “The Choice of Freedom”
    Another anticipated piece of story content, play as Luna as she battles to save the one she loves and change fate.
  • Episode: Noctis -- “The Final Strike”
    Offering an "alternative grand finale" to the game, embark on Noctis' final battle for the future of his people.

Square Enix still sees value in FFXV, so if you were thinking of playing a complete run through, you might want to wait to see what these episodes have in store. They started off a bit rough but have been building in quality, and hopefully this trend will continue. Stick with GameSkinny for more Final Fantasy 15 news and information as it develops.

What's New in Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition? Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:41:57 -0500 Andrew Krajewski

Final Fantasy XV keeps getting new content! After a shaky launch, FFXV felt ... underwhelming. But after many updates and content that addressed early criticisms, the game today is much more fulfilling than when it first came out. Royal Edition, which comes out today, March 6th, offers the complete experience for anyone who hasn't given the game a shot yet. Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition, for both Xbox One and PS4, includes the complete game, episodes "Gladiolus," "Prompto," and "Ignis," and the Multiplayer: Comrades DLC. 

The Royal Edition also includes a bunch of new content for players, which can also be bought as the Royal Pack DLC if you already own the base game. The new content highlights include:

  • New trophies and achievements for all the achievement hunters out there
  • A first-person mode and a whole new fighting mode called Armiger Unleashed 
  • A new map called the Insignia City Ruins, which leads players to the end of the game (so it might be best to play through the game once before giving this area a go)
  • New skins, weapons, and quests for the characters
  • The ability to navigate the Royal Cruiser

Will you be picking up Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition? Let us know in the comments below. As always, stick with GameSkinny for more Final Fantasy news as it develops.

7 Best Bosses in Final Fantasy Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:22:41 -0500 wlkrjesse


Boss fights are designed to be memorable because great villains always stick out in your head, no matter what the reason is, and that's the beauty of a boss fight. It can range anywhere from the brutal simplicity of an overwhelming foe to a climactic battle that caps off the entirety of the game.

And sometimes, you're lucky enough to get both.


Kefka Palazzo

Final Fantasy VI

The greatest video game bosses, like any villain, are ones that are made and not born. I find an end boss far more engrossing if I can see what they were like before they were such a horrible fear, and Final Fantasy VI is a documentary on Kefka.

If we break down the actual gameplay, Kefka's fight isn't really phenomenal in terms of raw gameplay. What makes this fight insane is we know Kefka. You know Kefka. Think about who he was when you first saw him. A weird little jester? Almost like an Ultros? And what is he now? God. Halfway through the game, Kefka turns into God.

I'll never forget this fight simply for that weight behind it, the weight that Kefka accomplished his goal. Kefka isn't Sephiroth, a tragic mistake who just couldn't accept his faith. Nor is he an Ozma, a natural force that you were unfortunate enough to disturb. Kefka is the God of Magic, and his rule is marked by an unstable disgust for the world around him. He got his hands on the statues of the Warring Triad and made the conscious decision to plunge the world into darkness. And he started as a joke, a character who the game he is in seems to care little for.

You really can feel a sense of agency behind Kefka, almost like Lucas in Mother 3. Lucas is NOT supposed to be the protagonist of Mother 3. Flint is. All you hear about at the start of the game is how much reverence everyone in Tazmily has for Flint, similar to Ness at the start of Earthbound. But Flint isn't the protagonist. Lucas has to accept this reluctant role, one that he is very much not suited for. The game tells us as much when it calls him a crybaby at every turn. Kefka is NOT supposed to be the villain. Gestahl is. Why would it be the weird clown, right? You just never see it coming. The story is written in such a way that it feels like it was hijacked. Kefka's rise to power (at halfway through the game) is such a fantastic bait-and-switch. And having to climb that tower to get to Kefka on his throne, this Luciferian figure? There's really nothing quite like it. 



Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy XIV

My favorite entry on this list: The Ball.

Ozma is strange, and I think legitimately frightening when you give it some thought. Really think about Ozma. A completely optional fight that you only encounter if you trade in years off your life to complete the Chocobo Hot and Cold treasure hunt side quest, which is the longest side quest in Final Fantasy IX, which is already full of long side quests because it's a Final Fantasy game. Once you've successfully cashed in your human energy for a digital reward in an old, old PlayStation game, you are granted admission to a cave tucked away in the back of the Air Garden. And there's Ozma.

Ozma doesn't talk. Ozma doesn't heal. Ozma does nothing but try to end your life. Just non-stop, never-ceasing dull thuds coming straight at you and your party the moment you're in the same zip code like nuclear god damn bombs. And Ozma is aiming for the throat. Ozma casts Curse? You're dead. Meteor? Dead. Have a party member susceptible to Lv5 Death? Not anymore because they're dead. Or it'll just cast Death and skip the formalities altogether. Oh, and Ozma has counter attacks, so watch out for Berserk and Curaga because they're in the mix once it hits a certain HP threshold. This thing has no brakes and no interest in explaining itself to you or anyone else, so your victory must be earned.

What I find especially cool about Ozma is how little we know about it. Just to reiterate, this is not the final boss or a mandatory boss or anything. Ozma is a completely 100% optional fight. Mene warns you when you approach the cave and says he "feels a strange presence...not of this world," but that's it. Eidolons are creatures that come from people telling legends, similar to personas, but Ozma is just a colored sphere. Maybe it's a legend so old that everyone who exists has simply forgotten what it is, and it's attacking you because you came into its home as the first visitor in eons, Shadow of the Colossus style.

Creepy, beautiful, mysterious, and a giant pain in the ass, Ozma certainly makes its ancestor Warmech proud.



Final Fantasy V - XIII-2

Gilgamesh is a combination of Ultros and Goku, and that's OK with me.

All he wants to do is fight -- so much so that he'll follow you into different games after being sucked into a dimensional portal. It is this tasteful repetition, not unlike our octopus friend from earlier, that makes Gilgamesh so memorable. However, what really lands him on the list is the fight in Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Gilgamesh being back, with yet another new arrangement of his theme song Pokey's March style, and ready to get right into it with you and the party. But this battle isn't just another fun but silly fight with Gilgamesh; it's a celebration of the character and the series as a whole. He comes equipped with famous swords from the Final Fantasy series, fourth wall breaks and references galore.

Gilgamesh has been with the series since Final Fantasy V, and to see such a lovingly crafted fight for him shows a real level of reverence for how far Final Fantasy has come since then. This is Final Fantasy's Liquid Ocelot v. Snake.



Final Fantasy VII

It's impossible not to have Safer-Sephiroth (or Seraph-Sephiroth if we believe the mistranslation fan theory) on this list somewhere. He's legendary, a member of the Ivy League of boss battle alumni along with Jubileus from Bayonetta, Liquid Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 4, and those ducks that Warren Robinett claims are dragons from Adventure.

There's nothing I can tell you about Safer-Sephiroth that you don't already know. He looks like Tetsuo by way of Angel's Egg and can hurt you with a short film Supernova. One-Winged Angel is one of the most recognizable songs in video game history, and it was the first Final Fantasy song to include vocals.

While some people might say that Safer-Sephiroth has lost some bite so many years later, I disagree. The buildup to this fight is excellent -- you've spent all this time grasping at Jenova's clones, and then, when you finally come face to face with the man himself, you aren't shown a radiant, heavenly beauty but are instead confronted with a twisted quasi deity crafted out of jagged polygons. It's haunting, but you're unable to look away.



Final Fantasy

Whether you prefer "Warmech" or "Death Machine," just don't call it the wrong thing, or it might show up at the worst possible time.

You only have a 3-in-64 chance to encounter Warmech, and it only appears when you get into a random battle in the Flying Fortress, but I love everything about it: the weird choice of salmon pink for the color scheme, its one big eye just right in the center, always looking slightly up and to the corner. It reminds me of a bad early-gen Pokemon, but it certainly doesn't fight like one. Warmech is a beast, and it's called the first "superboss" in Final Fantasy, referring to optional fights against massively difficult monster. It boasts the same HP as the end boss, not to mention the ability to regenerate 5% of its massive health pool every round. Not only that, but it also has access to Atomize, an incredibly strong non-elemental spell that hits the entire party.

The fantastic thing about Warmech is that it's this odd robot monster that launches nukes, and Final Fantasy 1 takes place in a medieval fantasy world. This would be like if in the original Dungeons & Dragons, there was a secret entry in the Monster Manual for Tinker the Robot.


Neo Exdeath

Final Fantasy V

While Exdeath's gimmick of wanting to end reality by bringing the existence as a whole into the void was never really the most compelling goal (in Final Fantasy V, a game that wasn't really all that compelling to begin with), Neo Exdeath makes the list solely on the virtue of looking like a high-ranking Berserk apostle. Just look at this dude. This is monster design by way of the electric kool-aid acid test. There's a skeleton, he's got some kind of the Predator in there, a bunch of ladies, and a big ol' bat up top to bring it all back home. Neo Exdeath looks like something Ultraman would fight if Ultraman was created by Jan Švankmajer.


Throw in the fact that the Neo Exdeath boss fight actually has separate attack patterns that revolve around his jigsawed appearance, and it's a neat battle.



Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy XII-2, Final Fantasy XIV, and a whole mess of other appearances.

Writing in RPGs can be tricky. Jokes don't always age well, and a joke character can very easily tread into stale. In Final Fantasy VI, I believe that Ultros comfortably falls into the former and not the latter.

Truly an anomaly, Ultros has no reason for doing what he's doing other than to just mess with the party, and it just never gets old. I have no idea why "big purple octopus who keeps threatening to eat the player" works as well as it does, but it does. It sticks, and they play it just long enough. The sixth entry in the Final Fantasy series is one of the heavier ones in terms of story, so Ultros' comic relief role always comes off as more entertaining than annoying.

That being said, he's no Negative Man, but who is?


The video game end boss, what should be a great achievement in monster design, is a dying art form. Games are always changing, bringing new ways to confront aspects of humanity that need to be addressed, and these are not always in the shape of ghoulish fantasy visions.

Final Fantasy, for all of its ups and downs, never forgot the importance of truly climactic end bosses. They're able to both satiate a desire for terrible beasts and, at times, bring about an emotional depth. Here are seven that I think deserve particular praise.

Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia Released for Mobile Devices Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:02:11 -0500 Andrew Krajewski

In a press release today, January 31, Square Enix announced their highly anticipated, free-to-play Final Fantasy mobile game, Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omniahas officially released for iOS and Android.

Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia is a spin-off of the fighting game Dissidia Final Fantasy: NT for PS4 and continues its story. The game blends the bravery combat system from Dissidia with more traditional JRPG turn-based combat. You can watch the trailer for the mobile game above.

Additionally, Square Enix announced launch bonuses during the month of February for the RPG. The first time players log in during February, they will receive 5,000 gems (in-game currency) and can earn 300 bonus gems a day, up to 6,000 during the launch period. Square Enix is also promoting specially priced gem bundles, a half-priced summon, and an All-Stars Draw (loot box) with gear for the playable characters in the game. 


Will you be checking out Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia? What are your initial impressions of the game, and what do you think of the gem rewards offered by Square Enix? Let us know in the comments below!


Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Patch Brings New Features and Content Wed, 31 Jan 2018 11:15:23 -0500 Nicolas Entrabartolo

Raise yourself and prepare: Patch 4.2 has arrived for Final Fantasy Online XIV: Stormblood. The update, known as "Rise of a New Sun," is the second-largest patch to date for Stormblood. Bringing about the next chapter of the Omega high-level raid series, the developers say that "Omega creates a new group of legendary foes to test the skills of players in battle." Here is some of the new content that released with the patch.

In a new scenario, you can now return to Doma, where a looming threat broods tension in the air. You will meet faces new and old to help you along the new story. Omega: Sigmascape brings a whole new raid to the scene for players, allowing them to explore Omega's new challenges on normal and savage. A new trial also looms on the horizon, as The Jade Stoa offers a new side quest for those seeking a challenge. There are also rumors of new weapons to be obtained through the hardest difficulty. Additionally, there's been a complete overhaul of the dress system, allowing for simpler customization and saving of outfits, making it easier for players to show off their own style.

Here are some of the other updates from the press release:

  • Housing Updates – Beginning February 6, six new wards will be added to each of the four residential districts, all of which include a subdivision and apartment buildings.
  • New Beast Tribe Quests – Assist members of one of the tribes of the Ananta—the Vira—in a new questline that offers rewards to players who forge strong bonds with these snake-like allies.
  • The Feast PvP Updates – In addition to an updated PvP ruleset, enhanced visual cues during matches, and a new map inspired by the legendary Crystal Tower, players may now form PvP teams of up to six players to compete in ranked matches. Additionally, a new PvP Team chat channel allows for quick communication with other team members.
  • Subaquatic Voyages – Free company members may work together to craft a submersible—an underwater exploration vessel—which can be sent to explore uncharted waters and collect various treasures.
  • Performance Actions Updates – An updated UI and additional instrument options further expand the musical possibilities for aspiring bards.
  • Gameplay and System Updates – Additional inventory space through the Chocobo™ Saddlebag feature, increased limits to stackable items per inventory slot, balance adjustments to jobs, and a number of other quality of life improvements are introduced in the update.
  • New Equipment, Mounts, Emotes, and more

On the Square Enix site, you can find the official patch notes. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more updates and news on Final Fantasy XIV.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Coming to PC in February Tue, 23 Jan 2018 11:59:52 -0500 buymymixtape123

Final Fantasy fans on PC rejoice, as Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Remastered is coming to PC on February 1st. The title will be available on Steam, where all the other Final Fantasy PC ports can be found.

Final Fantasy XII first came out on PS2 in 2006 and was well received by fans of the series. The remastered version came to PS4 last year and brought significant improvements to the PS2 version in gameplay and graphics. 

The PC version will expand upon this, with it being able to be played on ultra-wide monitors and running at 60 frames per second. You will also be able to play "New Game Minus" and "New Game Plus" modes right when you get the game.

Square is also selling a Collector's Edition for the PC version of Final Fantasy XII, which will include everything the PS4 collector edition had.

This is just the start of what Square Enix proclaimed as "a big year for Final Fantasy," as Final Fantasy XV is coming to PC later this year.

Final Fantasy XV : Most Improved Game of 2017 Sat, 30 Dec 2017 19:00:01 -0500 Lewis Parsons

Final Fantasy XV is aging like a good wine.

Since the game's release for Holiday 2016, Square Enix has been adding large amounts of content to the latest title in the long-running series.

FFXV had a troubled history, originally starting life as "Final Fantasy Versus XIII," and under enormous pressure to carry the franchise forward after a decade of disappointment, delay, and the (relatively) poor reception of its predecessor. The series was looking like it might be fading away unceremoniously.

The Tetsuya Nomura-headed project was released in November 2016 to good, if not spectacular, reviews, particularly considering its namesake. It was found to be uneven, with exceptional moments of story and gameplay, and not-so-great grinds through poorly designed areas. The promise of the game's beautiful open world and deep lore and characters was unrealized and felt rushed and unfinished. Reports at the time claim the game was unfinished by Nomura's standards, and DLC would be needed to finish it.

Despite these challenges, fans stuck by the game, and the developers promised to make good on the potential of the game. (To be fair, they also had a season pass to provide content for.)

And as we approach 2018, Final Fantasy XV is better than ever. Four major pieces of DLC have been released, all included in the season pass. Tweaks and adjustments have also been made.

The heart of these DLC releases improves the game's strength, the main cast and the relationships between them. Episodes Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis all take the members of Noctis' bachelor party and give them much needed context and depth. While the gameplay of episode Gladio was frankly disappointing, Square Enix stepped up their game for Prompto and Ignis, giving them the treatment they deserved.

More of these guys, please!

Outside of the "episodes," the game has also added a major multiplayer component, with one of the finest character creators in a recent release. The "Comrades" expansion teams you up with other members of the elite Kingsglaive to have more monster-hunting fun, filling the 10-year time jump taken by the game near the climax. 

Perhaps best of all, Square Enix has taken the most interesting gameplay element of the episodic content, the new battle mechanics, and seamlessly integrated them into the main game, completely changing up the game's already fluid and fun battle system into something with considerably more depth.

In addition to these major changes, a number of quality of life improvements and welcome features have been added over the course of the year. You can take the Regalia off-road with the Type-D update. Tracks from the DLC made their way into the game's radio, and even alternate paths through the dreaded episode 13 have been added.

Don't want to battle? There is even "Monsters of the Deep," a fully fleshed out VR fishing game featuring the crew.

Even with all of this, the game is not done. Rumors of a second season pass are floating around, possibly giving players even more "episodes" around major characters like Luna or one of Final Fantasy's greatest antagonists, Ardyn. 

If you haven't picked up FFXV, or if you put it down, 2018 is a great place to rejoin the Chocobros on their road trip.

Final Fantasy V By Chris Kohler Review -- How Influential A Game Can Be Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:11:05 -0400 Erroll Maas

Final Fantasy is one of the most recognizable franchises in video game history. Ever since the first -- and at the time thought to be the only -- entry in the series, a plethora of Final Fantasy games have mystified players around the world for several decades. Perhaps one of the entries with the most compelling history is Final Fantasy V.

Chris Kohler, Features Editor at Kotaku, has written extensively on the subject -- and in his new book on the game, he closely examines the development and localization of Final Fantasy V, and the legacy it has created.

How FFV Brought New Features to the Table

Final Fantasy V was the first game in the series to have a more cinematic introduction, so the credits felt similar to watching a movie and instilled the player with the sense that they were about to go on an incredible journey. In his book, Kohler goes into even more detail about how the director and writers had to work with the programmers to make sure important scenes came alive in the best way possible so they were more impactful. Through the use of various interviews with the developers, Kohler craftily explores the way the story of the game was conceived.

Kohler also discusses how some of the gameplay of Final Fantasy V was heavily influenced by both Final Fantasy III and Dragon Quest III. Both of these games allowed players to switch character classes whenever they wanted, and Final Fantasy V built upon this element. It took this mechanic a step further by allowing abilities to be carried over when switching characters from one class to another, putting more freedom and more interesting combinations at the player's disposal. The additional information Kohler provides about the best class combinations and most useful skills offers helpful insight for any intrigued player.

Final Fantasy V Becomes a Best Seller in Japan

Although a more brief section in the book, Kohler talks about how Final Fantasy V became a top seller and the best-selling game in the series at the time shortly after its release in Japan. Kohler then continues to talk about the competition between Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy and how one series always seems to have an edge over the other depending on the region. Despite its brevity, this section helps illustrate how different the significance and popularity of a game can be throughout separate parts of the world.

Dedicated Fans Can Make All the Difference

Kohler himself was heavily involved in the story of how Final Fantasy V first reached North American fans. He takes us through how the original Super Nintendo version of Final Fantasy V never had an official release outside of Japan, how he and plenty of other Final Fantasy players modified their systems to play the Japanese version of the game -- despite lacking of basic understanding of the language --- how it led to the creation of an (international) online guide, and even an unofficial fan translation of the game still considered by many to be the best version. The story is an inspiring read for anyone seeking a career in video games,  showing how admirable achievements can be accomplished through enough dedication and effort.

A Monumental Legacy

Through plenty of later Final Fantasy games, to crossover games such as World of Final Fantasy and Dissiddia NT, the impact Final Fantasy V had on the series itself is clear. But the game's impact goes far beyond just the Final Fantasy series.

While previous games helped future JRPG creators get their start, Final Fantasy V was the first game people like Tetsuya Takahashi (the creator of Xenoblade) and Tetsuya Nomura (creator of the Kingdom Hearts video game series and The World Ends With You) really had a hand in creating. The impact of Final Fantasy V goes even further than leading to the creation of later JRPGs, as many of the people who imported and/or helped create the fan translation of Final Fantasy V (including the author) now work with video games in some way.

But the legacy of Final Fantasy V doesn't stop there. An annual charity event has also been created around Final Fantasy V known as the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta, where four jobs are randomly selected for a player who then must complete the game using only those jobs. Kohler goes into detail about the event's creation, the different four job combinations, useful skills, and the benefits and drawbacks of having four characters with the same job, further encouraging curious players to try it out for themselves.

Final Fantasy V may not be as beloved in other countries as it is in Japan, but the development of the game and the overall impact it has had on video games is fascinating. Whether you're a fan of Final Fantasy,  are seeking a career in video games , or just like reading about video game development in general, then this book is highly recommended.

Final Fantasy V by Chris Kohler is available on Amazon and Boss Fight Books.

A digital eBook copy was provided by Boss Fight Books.

Has Final Fantasy XII Aged Like Milk or a Fine Wine? Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:00:02 -0400 daisy_blonde

Let me take you back to March 2006. The PlayStation 2 is in its twilight years, and soon to be replaced in Japan by the PlayStation 3. Because Final Fantasy XII released relatively late in the PS2 lifecycle, it was largely overlooked – especially in Europe and America, where the game came out just a month before the PS3 was released.

Although generally well-received and garnering a perfect score from Japanese magazine Famitsu, many fans criticized the game online. The critics picked flaws such as the slow start to the story, the vast array of characters and places to remember, and the new battle system -- which was a move away from the turn-based mechanics of its predecessors.

The recent release is a bit more than just a lick of HD paint, as it includes the previously Japan-only International Zodiac Job System (hence the title of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age). This addition aside, it's pretty much the same as the original game, which is now 11 years old. Unlike linear RPGs, this installment brought open, sprawling worlds and lots of freedom, which are a dime a dozen nowadays with the likes of Skyrim and The Witcher 3.

Being the pioneer, does that mean that Final Fantasy XII has aged compared to its modern day counterparts?

We pick apart the various aspects of the game to find out.

Battle and Job System 

In a marked departure from previous entries in the franchise, there are no random encounters in Final Fantasy XII. This makes the battle system similar to other Square Enix games, such as Kingdom HeartsThe system was certainly the template for future entries in the franchise – I’m sure the Final Fantasy XV developers took notes. You can see your enemies, and if you're not strong enough to fight, you can also avoid them. 

Another innovation was the Gambit system. By using a series of menu commands, you can concentrate on fighting enemies without worrying about your other party members getting in the way. For example, you can set your allies to concentrate on the enemy attacking the party leader, or you can ask a party member to heal you if you are under 40% of your total HP.

As explained in the PlayStation official TZA promotion video, the Gambit system is actually based on the enemy AI in earlier Final Fantasy games, meaning that this is also a link to past themes (as with chocobos, a character called Cid, and certain enemies appearing in each title).

The Gambit system makes combat fresh and has certainly helped the game to age well in comparison to the earlier additions in the franchise, such as Final Fantasy VII’s turn based battle system. Like Final Fantasy X, you also have the option to switch out characters in your party, which allows you to level up more characters in a single battle.

In addition, Final Fantasy XII has admirably matured in linking the combat to the story. Early on, you get to control Vaan, a street urchin who is excellent at stealing. You will control him for most of the game. Utilizing his skill is important in progressing your characters as you won’t get much Gil from just defeating monsters. We may be used to the combat and the story being inextricably linked because of games like Bioshock, but 10 years ago, the practice was less common. 

The PS4 remaster includes a refinement to the International Zodiac Job System. Your characters can gain specialized skills for individual classes through licence boards. Unlike the original International Zodiac Job System, which only let you choose one class per character, the new Zodiac Job System lets you have two classes assigned to each party member. For example, you can have a White Mage healer who can also deal damage with their bow and arrows as an Archer. This system can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re used to the more pedestrian turn-based JRPGs, but this level of customization certainly marks this Final Fantasy installment as one of the most timeless, tactical and varied. Indeed, this game is a good stepping stone for the level of strategy and planning you need if you’re yet to check out the Final Fantasy Tactics spin-off series.


Like most Final Fantasy games, the story can be difficult to follow -- especially in the first few hours, when you switch from one set of characters to another. In Final Fantasy XII, the small kingdom of Dalmasca is a neutral party in a war between the Archadian and Rozarrian empires. Tumultuous events at the start of the game -- which in some ways are pretty similar to Final Fantasy XV’s Kingsglaive movie -- leads to Dalmasca's occupation and rule by the Archadian empire.

The story has been favorably compared to Star Wars with a captured princess, a sky pirate, and an evil Empire to defeat – which almost seems a blueprint for the Niflheim Empire in Final Fantasy XV. The story is refreshing, and sets itself apart from the franchise by remaining grounded in the war between two empires. It doesn’t suddenly have conventional memory loss for plot reasons and monsters landing from the moon at the eleventh hour (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy VIII!). Although my opinion may anger some JRPG fans who adore fantastical stories, I appreciate this entry’s simplistic nature.


There’s something more grown up about these characters compared to the Dawson’s Creek -esque teen drama in Final Fantasy VIIIor Final Fantasy IX’s protagonist Zidane, who inexplicably has a tail.

Vaan is much like the player. He is an observer who is somewhat detached from the main plot. This fits well in the story, as it is very unlikely that one street thief would be able to influence a huge war between two empires. Balthier is essentially Final Fantasy XII’s Han Solo. Although we see most of the story through Vaan's perspective, Balthier often amusingly refers to himself as "the leading man."

Ashe is a very strong female character, and potentially could have been the template for Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII. Like Noctis in Final Fantasy XV, she needs to avenge her besieged kingdom and reclaim her throne.

What I liked most about the characters in Final Fantasy XII was the excellent voice acting. Personally, I found the voice acting in Final Fantasy X a bit jarring and melodramatic at times. Arguably, this is understandable as this was the first fully voice acted entry in the series.

Since then, Square Enix seems to have learned from their mistakes. As a result, the voice over in this installment is subtle yet powerful. The PS4 Zodiac Age remaster now lets you switch to the Japanese voice actors, although the English voice actors still portray the characters well. The more realistic characters is another reason why this game has aged well, and has arguably been copied by other games (such as the great voice work in Life is Strange) and even other entries in the franchise.


This is the first Final Fantasy that didn't prominently feature composer Nobuo Uematsu. After his departure from Square Enix in 2004, his sole contribution was the ending song, Kiss Me Goodbye. Instead, most of the score was composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, who is best known for his work on the music in Final Fantasy Tactics.

Some fans have criticized the music in this game, saying that it is one of the weaker in the franchise. FFXII still has great pieces, such as the excellent Little Thief and the more laid back feel of the Chocobo theme, Chocobo FFXII Arrange Ver. 1. Since Square Enix improved the sound quality, FFXII has a more HD audio experience.

On reflection, I would say that this is the only part of the game that hasn’t aged well. Generally, most big budget games use orchestras for the entire soundtrack.


A decade ago, Final Fantasy XII represented a leap that some fans were not prepared for. Being ahead of its time has helped this game to age like a fine wine, and has perhaps led other games to imitate it poorly.

The brave decision to ground the story as a war between two empires may lead some to question where the "fantasy" is – but what piece of fantasy literature or other media can you name that doesn't have some sort of "normal" conflict?

Gone too are the lost in translation text errors of Final Fantasy VII, and the amateur dramatic voice acting of Final Fantasy X. Here, you have great voice actors such as Kari Wahlgren (who plays Ashe, and most recently Graham’s potential partner in the Sierra King’s Quest reboot) coupled with good localized text that makes perfect sense. Both are essential if you want to understand the intricacies of the story.

The sheer scale of customization and tactical nature of battles is a refreshing change from the "just spam X" controls of other entries in the series, and the mindless nature of shooters such as Call of Duty.

In short, if you didn’t have the chance to pick it up on PS2 back in the day because you were more interested in upgrading to PS3, pick this game up. Its depth, score and amazing HD cutscenes may surprise you.


Do you agree with our assessment of Final Fantasy XII? Do you think this game has aged well? Let us know in the comments below!

If you want to know more about The Zodiac Age, check out these other fine GameSkinny articles:

Forget Movies, These 5 Video Games Need Their Own Comics Sun, 16 Jul 2017 12:00:01 -0400 stratataisen

Video games have some amazing stories and deep lore, most of which can be told, or retold, in other forms of entertainment. Just look at the Warcraft and Assassin's Creed movies from last year or the Uncharted movie in the works. While many games certainly have the potential to become good movies (and some cringe-worthy ones too), other forms of storytelling media are often overlooked. Comic books, for instance, are an excellent way to visually tell a story without all the cameras, actors, and expenses.

Here’s a list of 5 games that don’t already have a comic about them or their lore, but seriously should!


SOMA is from the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. While not nearly as scary as Amnesia, Frictional Games gave SOMA a thoroughly in-depth story that made the player sit and ponder the question “What does it mean to be human?”. This plus the underseas location of PATHOS-II, and the mechanical horrors lurking within its confines would make for an amazingly dark and gruesome, sci-fi horror comic. A comic of the game could follow the story exactly or even expand further into the game's lore, such as the events leading up to PATHOS-II’s demise, Catherine's struggle in trying to save the small remnants of humanity, or digging deeper into the protagonist's past.

Final Fantasy Franchise

The Final Fantasy franchise has a long history of fantasy based games--that never seems to be the final fantasy, oddly enough--with many rich stories, interesting characters, and breathtaking locations. This gives Square Enix more than sufficient material to create several great manga series. This includes squeals like X-2, Tactics, and the Dissidia games, but excludes Final Fantasy XII and Type-0 as both already have manga series of their own.

An excellent first candidate for a manga would Final Fantasy VII. It is by far the most popular of the series, with a number of prequels and sequels, as well as a remake in development. The main story would obviously make an excellent manga series, expanding on what we already know from the game. However, a perfect stand alone would be of Sephiroth's past, seeing what made the games greatest villain who he is.

There’s also some outstanding potential for very silly manga, where characters like Biggs and Wedge get together for a hilarious side character convention.


Paladins: Champions of the Realm is a team based FPS created by Hi-Rez Studios. While Paladins is a great game, there isn't much of a story, leaving a few unanswered questions. What is this realm? Who are these champions? Why are they fighting? Unfortunately, a story is something which Hi-Rez stated is not a priority for them. However, if they did decide to switch gears and start expanding on lore for this vast, vibrant world and intriguing characters -- they could easily do so through a series of comics.

Comics would be a great start for origin stories for characters such as Ying or Viktor. I know I’d like to find out more about Torvald. I mean, what is ‘power glove’? It appears magical in nature, made of stone and carved with runes. My assumption is that he’s a scholarly explorer that stumbled upon an ancient magical weapon. Am I right? I don’t know, but this is something we can find out if there were more lore to the game.


Praised for its visuals and soundtrack, this ARPG by Supergiant Games would serve as a fantastic comic series. Transistor has a phenomenal art style, color scheme, and enthralling story that would blend well with a comic format -- creating a gorgeous visual novel. It would even do well as a motion comic, so more can enjoy the amazing and beautiful soundtrack that the game has to offer.

While I would like to see the main story show in this way, there’s also the potential of seeing the story from another point of view. Maybe Red’s dead lover, or the enemies that you face as Red.


Subnautica, the crafting survival game by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, is one of those games that pulls you in and leaves you wanting to know more. In the game, the lore and story are discovered through exploration and finding data pads. If comics were made, I think they would do well as prequels, such as following the survivors of the Degasi or seeing more of the expanded universe. They could even delve into the precursor aliens and their research into finding a cure for the life killing disease.

While it’s fun to watch a video game come to life on the big screen, they don’t always delve into the story or lore as much due to time, money, and real world limitations. Comics are a great alternative to this, and all the games listed have potential to become fantastic, unique series.

Do you agree with these picks? Did we miss a game that you think would make an excellent comic? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Aren't We Seeing Movie Adaptations of JRPGs? Tue, 23 May 2017 11:00:02 -0400 Erroll Maas

Although most movie adaptations of video games are mediocre at best, they keep getting made year in and year out. Each time a new film is announced, fans get their hopes up -- but in their hearts, they know the adaptation (probably) won't do their favorite game justice.

Other than the infamous live action Super Mario Bros. movie, these adaptations are most commonly based on action games like Assassin's Creed or Far Cry, horror games like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, and even fighting games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. More recently, we've seen these types of movies expand to other video game genres, from MMORPGs like World of Warcraft to adventure-platformers like Ratchet & Clank. And wouldn't you know -- there's even a Tetris film trilogy in the works.

So with all these new video game movie adaptations, why is it that there haven't been that many based on JRPGs? Since so many of them are narrative-driven and feature fascinating characters, it seems like JRPG series would be the perfect candidates for movie adaptations -- especially for animated films. Let's investigate!

JRPG Adaptations Work Best as a Series Rather Than a Single Film

Quite a few JRPGs have seen anime adaptations, with most of them being rather successful and not straying too far from their source material. Persona 4 had two entire anime series -- one based off of the original game, and another based off of the enhanced PlayStation Vita version, Persona 4 Golden. These anime series adapted the games almost exactly as you'd expect, with a few minor differences and added filler content that's based on parts of the game.

Persona 3 also has a series of anime movies, rather than an anime TV series. And like the adaptations of the other Persona games, it follows the source material closely enough while slightly altering and expanding a few things. This is one of the few (and most notable) JRPG movie adaptations in recent memory.

MegaMan NT Warrior, an anime series based off of the MegaMan Battle Network games, is another well done anime adaptation that borrowed material from a few different games in the 7-part series. The series takes quite a few liberties, though, with some original storylines. Although it may not be as direct of an adaptation as the Persona 4 anime, MegaMan NT Warrior still successfully recaptured many aspects of the MegaMan Battle Network series.

Tales of Zestiria is a more recent anime series based on the game of the same name. This series is a special case, since many fans would argue that the adaptation actually tells the story better than the original source material. Many JRPG stories are known for being somewhat convoluted to begin with, so an adaptation telling the game's story in a more understandable way without making any massive changes -- such as completely changing or leaving out significant characters -- is a rare feat.

These anime series work because they are able to cover a considerable amount -- if not all -- of the material from the games. JRPGs are rather long games, and are only getting longer as technology improves over time. Because of this, any JRPG adapted into a film would have to be split into multiple parts. And a lot of content would probably be cut out, if not completely changed. So that makes them far more suited to an episodic format for television rather than a multi-part film for the big screen.

That's why we've seen so many adaptations in anime series instead -- because they can split the length up into several story arcs and episodes. Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona 5 are great examples of this. And with two of those games having already been adapted, it's likely only a matter of time before we see a Persona 5 anime TV series. 

JRPG Movies Are Usually Animated Supplemental Material

With the exception of the Persona 3 movie series -- and perhaps other similar ones -- movies based off of JRPGs are usually animated prequels, sequels, or general auxiliary material related to the game, which aren't necessary to watch if you just want to play it. And that doesn't bode well for being a blockbuster hit.

Tales of Vesperia First Strike, the  prequel movie to Tales of Vesperia, is a good example here. This prequel may help fans understand the story of the game better -- especially those not familiar with the stories in the Tales series -- but they can just as well play the game without watching it.

Another example is Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, the CGI animated sequel to Final Fantasy VII. This movie is also not a required watch for those who have played the game. Some fans actually completely disregard it due to Cloud Strife's characterization and the odd plot that seems a bit out of place, even for a movie sequel to a Final Fantasy game.

Even Persona 5 The Daybreakers isn't technically a prequel or sequel, but more of a sample of how the Phantom Thieves do what they do -- and a preview of how certain parts of the game works that's intended to intrigue players and anime fans.

The point of these examples is that, on the rare occasion movies based on JRPGs are made, they're usually animated additional material rather than full on adaptations of the games themselves. So even the fanbases that are passionate about these series don't necessarily have to see them -- and sometimes don't really feel compelled to. Outside those fanbases, these films have even less appeal. And that's not going to translate the volume of ticket sales that a studio would need to see in order to profit from making such adaptations.

Adaptations of Other Japanese Media Are Terrible

Let's be real for a minute. The lack of true JRPG film adaptations isn't just about the structure of JRPGs and how it doesn't always translate well to the big screen. There's also the fact that Hollywood seemingly can't produce a good film based on Japanese media (I'm looking at you, Ghost in the Shell.)

There have been plenty movie adaptations of various anime series and movies, in both America and Japan, which have ranged from decent to just plain awful. Since JRPGs are often formulated similar to anime series, why even take the chance? Technically, we already had one movie adaptation of a JRPG -- if you can even call it that --with Final Fantasy The Spirits Within, which was a massive failure in the box office and a huge disappointment to fans of the actual franchise.

Instead of expecting a proper adaptation of a JRPG from Hollywood, it would be wise to expect something more akin to Dragon Ball Evolution, The Last Airbender, or maybe even the upcoming live action Netflix Death Note series. Movies with bad acting, terrible effects, and a habit of not properly following the source material and changing things up a bit too much. This is definitely not what fans want, and many would be happy with no Hollywood adaptations at all rather than giving them the chance to dig into -- and inevitably screw up -- yet another beloved franchise.

But contrary to popular belief, shoddy adaptations aren't solely an American problem. Even Japan has had problems adapting its own anime and video games as well, although less frequently than Hollywood. 

The live-action adaptation of popular anime and manga series Black Butler was released to negative reception. Despite adapting the source material rather well -- other than changing the main character and removing half the cast -- this movie still managed to be a total flop. Which shows that even when an adaptation does some of the most important things right, it still may not be a good enough representation of the original source material to please fans or be profitable.

Hollywood Shouldn't, But Will Try Eventually Anyway

Frankly, it might be better not to adapt JRPG's into movies at all, unless they're animated movie series that don't stray away from the source material much -- like Persona 3. But these movies would likely be made in Japan rather than America, and even then there's no guarantee that they'll at all capture what fans want them to. There's something magical about JRPGs that filmmakers just can't seem to capture, no matter how hard they try. And that really says a lot about how unique these games and franchises really are.

This would have been a plea titled "Hollywood, For the Love of God, Just Don't Do It," but it's doubtful they would pay attention.

Just look at all the studios that fought over film rights for Pokémon recently --specifically for a Detective Pikachu movie which many fans agree would probably only be watchable if Danny Devito provided the voice of the electric rodent. So it's only a matter of time before Hollywood tries and fails at adapting game series like Persona, Tales, and Dragon Quest into live action features on the big screen.

For now, let's just hope that this article hasn't given them any ideas...

JRPGs Aren't In Decline... It's Just Square Enix's Offerings That Are Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:00:01 -0500 Kris Cornelisse (Delfeir)

The JRPG genre rose to prominence almost entirely off the backs of two notable game development companies; Squaresoft and Enix. Responsible for bringing us the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series respectively, a huge amount of the most notable RPGs (and a number of less notable or unlocalized games besides) were created or published by these two developers.

Prior to the release of the PlayStation, you would be hard pressed to find a JRPG released in English-speaking territories that didn’t brandish either the Squaresoft or Enix logos. There are exceptions of course, notably on Sega systems -- I’d be loathe to ignore Phantasy Star or the Shining series -- but many would be unlikely to name those at first if asked for a JRPG series title.

More companies would start to join in the JRPG market throughout the PlayStation era, such as Konami or Monolith Soft, and the market quickly saw a boom of new titles that would continue well into the late PS2 era. But all throughout, many walked in the shadow of these two giants, or owed their continued existence to Squaresoft publishing for them. Every Suikoden or Xenosaga that was released would still never be held to the general pedestal that games such as Final Fantasy VII or Chrono Trigger stood upon.

Then, in 2003, the unthinkable happened: Squaresoft and Enix joined forces, merging into Square Enix and remaining as such to the present day.

One would think such a monumental occasion would change the landscape of JRPGs forever, and Square Enix would catapult themselves even higher to the top echelons of developers unopposed.

Did that happen? Nope. Not even close.

If anything, the vast majority of offerings in the JRPG genre since then by the company have been... well, questionable. In fact, I’d argue that since the merger, there have been almost zero titles from them to match their respective high points while separate. There was even a stretch of time where the vast majority of games from Square Enix weren’t JRPGs, almost as if they’d abandoned the genre entirely.

Does that mean that the JRPG has since died out, then? Nope. Not even close.

Despite some inklings that JRPGs are lacking in innovation or have declined in quality, the genre continues to see numerous excellent titles released from a range of companies.

Innovations and developments continue to be made, yet the core of the genre remains present, and many classic elements are still revisited in new and interesting ways. Thanks to the increased size of the gaming market in recent generations, more and more games of all genres are being made by companies new and old -- and JRPGs are no exception.

No, dear readers, it is not the JRPG that has fallen into disarray -- it is merely Square Enix’s offerings to the genre that are in serious need of improvement. Let’s dive deeper.

Classical History

Since Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are the classic series most are acquainted with, we’ll start with those. For those familiar with the respective series, I offer a question: Which of the numbered games in those series was your favorite?

(Yes, Final Fantasy Tactics and Dragon Quest Monsters were great, but humour me here and pick a number.)

Were I to survey or inquire the answers to that question, I think you’ll find that the vast majority of people offering favorite Final Fantasy titles will say somewhere between VI and IX, with occasional outliers between IV and X. Dragon Quest is most likely to be a toss up between V and VIII, though any between III and VIII could also be selected. Does this sound about right?

How many of these particular titles were released prior to the merger of Squaresoft and Enix, though? Excluding Dragon Quest VIII, all of them.

The first numbered non-MMORPG Final Fantasy game to be released under the merged banner was XII. While reasonably well received, it had a lot of mixed opinions on it, and it’s rare to find people who would hands-down consider it their favorite. Since then, we had XIII and its sequels, and while there are occasional defenders or proponents of parts of those games, the overall opinion is that they were a massive misstep.

Not convinced? How about XIV, also an MMO? Well, on release, the game was universally panned and responses were massively negative, so much so that Square Enix had to bring down the game and rebuild it entirely from the ground up with a new team. A Realm Reborn turned out to be quite good, but we cannot ignore that initial disaster; Square Enix is quite possibly the only company in gaming history to salvage a game like that, and most others would simply consider the expenditure too great and cut their investment right there.

Last chance, then... FFXV? Well... I could write many, many things about FFXV, and there’d be plenty of negatives in there to talk about. There’s decent gameplay, but the story is an utter mess and the open world is graphically pretty but largely devoid of things to do. It’s a flawed and unfinished game, regardless of whatever positives you might take away from it.

Now for Dragon Quest, almost all of which were developed prior to the merger. The first to be released under the Square Enix banner was Dragon Quest VIII, which would be the best offering but for one catch: it was actually developed by Level 5, rather than a studio within Square Enix.

Lest we think that it’s just their flagship RPG series effected, let’s try another example: Star Ocean, created by Tri-Ace and Enix before transferring to Square Enix. With five major games in the series, it’s widely regarded that the first three are considerably stronger than the latest offerings. Guess what? Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time was released shortly before the merger. Compare most of the RPG series released by Square Enix and similar trends will be evident.

What about Kingdom Hearts, I hear some people asking? That is something I will concede as breaking the trend, but only in part. The first game was released before the merger, but Kingdom Hearts 2 was some time after, and it was received quite strongly.

But as a whole, I would say that the series is still hardly an exception to Square Enix’s declining offerings to the JRPG genre. While it does have good games, it’s also had some pretty weak ones as well. In addition, it seems like the company is doing everything in their power to hold off releasing Kingdom Hearts 3, with countless remasters adding tiny little details and padding out anything they can.

People bought PS3s under the assumption that it would be on it, after all...

So what happened? Well, if anything, the merger saw Square Enix become more of a publisher than an in-house developer. A massive number of games from a large number of companies worldwide are published under the Square Enix banner. This initially focused more on JRPGs, but has grown to include many varied genres and notable series, including Tomb Raider, Just Cause and Deus Ex.

An epic quest in the palm of your hand

If there was a decline in the number and quality of JRPGs available, it would probably fall within the previous console generation. Many are quick to highlight the number of quality RPGs available for the PS2 -- and earlier consoles -- but you’d be reaching a little further to list an equivalent number of solid PS3 or Xbox 360 titles.

But that’s not to say that they weren’t there; rather, they were to be found on handheld gaming systems. With the rising costs of quality game development, many smaller developers turned to the DS or PSP, as well as their successors, to develop their RPGs.

Square Enix was no stranger to this trend as well. Two of their most successful JRPGs released since their merger -- The World Ends With You, and Bravely Default -- were released on handheld systems. Dragon Quest made the switch to DS with the release of IX, and the upcoming DQXI is slated to arrive on 3DS and PS4.

Those who considered there to be a dearth of quality JRPGs were probably focused more on home consoles, but the genre has been alive and well in a portable form throughout.

Admittedly, many larger JRPG series fell dormant during this time period from other companies as well. While there was a spinoff Suikoden game on DS, no numbered title has been released since V on the PS2; the same can be said of Breath of Fire.

Which leads into the next point: many JRPG series are actually seeing new titles and rebirth on smartphones. Unfortunately, many of these are little more than name drops in order to attract a quick dollar, even by notable companies -- anyone who says Breath of Fire VI is worthy of that number is, I’d argue, completely delusional.

Failing that, they often are freemium Gachapon games with minimal gameplay and little more than a theme connected to the series in order to lure fans. Even Nintendo has started to fall into this trend; Fire Emblem Heroes fits this bill to a tee, though in its defence, it is of considerably higher quality and has stronger gameplay than many other alternatives.

However, despite my cynicism and the existence of some blatant cash grabs, there are admittedly more and more JRPGs being developed for smartphones that are actually worthy of attention. Are they quality enough to compare to games on other systems? Your mileage will probably vary on that, but there are certainly some that are worthy of attention, such as the recently released Dandy Dungeon.

Square Enix has been quick to jump onto this mobile bandwagon, too. The number of freemium titles they have is quite frankly excessive, but there are a whole slew of their titles available on smartphones that range from ports of classic Final Fantasy games to wholly original titles or remakes. They’re often extremely pricey compared to the wealth of cheap competitors on systems, but a handful of them are arguably quality enough to justify a purchase.

The point is that the JRPG is (and has always been) alive and well on handhelds and mobile, even if not on home consoles. But it’s not as though the consoles have been bereft of quality titles, either.

Square Enix aren’t the only JRPG developers

With all the money and attention that Square Enix receives, it’s understandable that their projects are the ones in the limelight -- that’s AAA gaming in a nutshell. They are effectively the JRPG developing and publishing equivalent of Electronic Arts or Activision Blizzard for first-person shooters.

But a big budget and high profile isn’t necessary for making quality games, as the growing indie scene can rightfully attest to. It’s not uncommon for some great JRPGs to emerge on PC from relatively unheard of developers; Zeboyd Games, the makers of Cthulhu Saves the World, are currently close to release on Cosmic Star Heroine, which is a love letter to the classic Phantasy Star games.

Failing that, there is a thriving scene of developers utilising RPG Maker or other engines to craft JRPGs by the droves, many of which are quite innovative or put interesting spins on classic concepts. Consider Undertale, or any of the games like it.

It’s not just indie companies making JRPGs, either. Square Enix may have the limelight, but perhaps you’ve heard of a series called The Legend of Heroes? My love for Trails of Cold Steel is well documented, but Nihon Falcom has been producing quality RPGs of all kinds for as long as Squaresoft was. Thanks to the hard work of companies like XSEED, these series are finally starting to see more of a resurgence in the West or on home consoles.

You can also look to the absolutely staggering number of games that are localised and published by Nippon Ichi to find a number of JRPGs that you might have otherwise overlooked. Seriously, there’s a lot, coming from a number of development companies such as Gust or Compile Heart.

There are other high-profile JRPG developers that have been constantly working on their craft, too. Bandai Namco and their Tales franchise are usually the ones held up in comparison to Square Enix’s offerings, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the work of Atlus during all of this. Anyone who stated that JRPGs were a dying breed needed only to look at the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei games to know that wasn’t the case.

Even Mistwalker Studios, formed by ex-Squaresoft veteran Hironobu Sakaguchi -- the creator of Final Fantasy -- has been going strong. Lost Odyssey and The Last Story were both very good games, though due to their exclusivity to certain consoles their audience has regrettably been smaller than deserved. Sakaguchi-san is hardly the only developer to have left Square Enix and gone on to continue making great RPGs outside of their banner.

Bored of the main quest? Start looking for side quests

The gaming landscape is only growing larger every day, with a broad library of titles available to explore across all sorts of platforms. Regardless of platform or where you look, however, the JRPG continues to thrive and expand. Whether nostalgia-laden throwbacks or cliched affairs to innovative twists on plots and mechanics, they’re there in force.

But just like for other genres, sometimes you need to look past the AAA developers of Square Enix to see it.

Think of it like the grand RPG tradition: sometimes you need to go off the beaten track and explore away from the main quest in order to find the truly valuable treasure. It’s the same in finding games to play. You might find something good to play amongst Square Enix’s offerings -- and there are some good titles from recent years, don’t get me wrong -- but the hidden gems can only be found by looking around, asking questions, and delving into the side quests of other developers in order to find something you truly love but rarely hear about.

Give it a shot. Forget the Final Fantasy series. Instead, go play Ys! Swap Dragon Quest VIII out of your 3DS in favour of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse! Forget I Am Setsuna and try Trillion! Live a little, explore, and expand your horizons. Who knows, you might surprise yourself with what you find.

It’s not that unheard of for the main quest to be pretty bad in comparison to the side quests, anyway. Right, Final Fantasy XV?

A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV to be Released for Free on March 1st Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:21:18 -0500 Unclepulky

Previously, A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV was only available to play for those who pre-ordered Final Fantasy XV at Gamestop. However, on March 1st, the game will be made available as a free download for PS4 and XboxOne.

For those who live in the United States, A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV's announced release date is only for Europe. The game is expected to release a day prior, February 28th, in the United States.

This side-scrolling action title is set 30 years before the events of Final Fantasy XV. Centered around King Regis and his companions, Weskham, Cid, and Clarus, A King's Tale is all about defending the royal capital from raiding monsters.

To save the kingdom in this adventure, you'll utilize an intricate combo based fighting system, magic attacks, and a variety of Astral entities which you can summon.

Has the Evolution of the JRPG Come to a Grinding Halt? Fri, 10 Feb 2017 08:00:01 -0500 Bryant Pereira

The JRPG genre is one that is fueled by nostalgia, and most fondly regarded through older titles like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 7. Once remembered as the dominant, most progressive type of game, the genre has seen better days in terms of sales and popularity.

The past two home console generations have seen a much smaller number of AAA games in the JRPG genre than previous ones, as it has mostly shifted towards the handheld market.

Ask nearly any JRPG fan what their favorite game is, and you will almost always garner an answer from before 2006. The last generation saw a few successful hits like Final Fantasy XIII, Tales of Vesperia, and Xenoblade Chronicles, but other than that the PS3/360/Wii era saw very few JRPGs. While Final Fantasy XIII evolved the formula the most, it was met with backlash from the community and mixed reviews due to linearity. Tales of Vesperia received stellar reception but followed many of the standard JRPG tropes found in previous entries in the series.

While JRPGs were stumbling to make an impact on the home console scene, the handheld market was a thriving ecosystem for those types of games. Bravely Default mixed classic JRPG elements like job classes and random encounters with a brand new battle system and engrossing story. Etrian Odyssey 4 was the best-selling game in the series, despite playing very similarly to previous entries in the series. The 3DS and Vita show that interest in old-school JRPG titles is thriving, and the low-cost for developing on these systems makes it the best environment to do so.

Some console games, like I Am Setsuna and Tales of Berseria, exemplify JRPG gameplay are still in high demand, but that doesn't mean there's no room for advancement. Final Fantasy XV is the best example of a rooted franchise expanding past what it’s known for. A pioneer of JRPG gameplay, the Final Fantasy series continues to break the mold and redefine the genre. Just like Final Fantasy VII did in 1997 with its jump into 3D and introducing the Materia system, Final Fantasy XV changes the way JRPGs are meant to be played. The game mixes action RPG elements along with deep character progression through skills and experience. The game also pushes Square Enix’s reputation of bringing cutting edge graphics to the next level, with stunning character models and a vast detailed world.

Other than a few key titles here and there, the JRPG formula remains mostly untouched. Protagonists are still mysteriously being struck by amnesia, a huge world-ending twist is almost guaranteed in these games, and grinding continues to be hugely prominent. JRPG developers could take a lot of cues from western RPG games like The Witcher 3 and Mass Effect that are booming right now. These western RPG games generally have more open-ended stories, impactful decisions, and thriving living worlds.

Luckily, JRPG games are by no means doomed. The handheld market keeps the market alive, and with huge games like Persona 5, NieR: Automata and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 coming out, there are many opportunities to evolve the genre. The original Xenoblade Chronicles showed that JRPGs don’t have to follow a specific formula to be successful. The Wii game has no random battles, a completely unique combat system that mixes real-time with MMO-style commands, and a completely non-linear explorable world. The game was adored by JRPG fans along with people who don’t normally play those games.

Games like I Am Setsuna and the recently announced Octopath Traveler emphasize the demand for SNES-era JRPG games. Nostalgia has proven time and time again that it sells, and developers like Square Enix will continue to release remasters and remakes of games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy as long as they keep printing money. However, the JRPG genre is not completely trapped in the 90’s. As developers see success through games like Xenoblade Chronicles and Final Fantasy XV, they will continue to evolve to meet customer expectations. Money talks -- and as long as developers are profiting from ambitious titles like the upcoming NieR: Automata and Persona 5, the genre can prosper with new ideas and execution.

The Seven Best Armor Sets in the Final Fantasy Universe Thu, 09 Feb 2017 08:00:01 -0500 Michael Llewellyn

The Ribbon/Super Ribbon

While it doesn't look like much as a line of defence The Ribbon is a long standing accessory and piece of armor in the Final Fantasy series, and is one of if not the most reliable and powerful defensive items in the entire series.


It usually protects the characters against all status effects with the exception of death related status effects such Instant Death or Doom, or in some cases slow and stop as seen in Final Fantasy VII.


The Super Ribbon is an upgraded version of The Ribbon and similarly protects against all status effects and in some games prevents Instant Death.


The Ribbon has also made it on to the Kingdom Hearts series and provides 20% elemental resistance which can be upgraded to 25% with The Grand Ribbon in Kingdom Hearts 2.


What is your favourite Final Fantasy armor set? Do you disagree with any of the picks here? Let us know in the comments below!

The Genji Armor

Appearing in almost every Final Fantasy game the Genji armor is almost always the most powerful equipment set you can find. It is rare and is usually either stolen from or dropped after defeating a recurring boss/character known as Gilgamesh, a travelling samurai/swordsman who is searching for the ultimate weapon known as Excalibur.


A good example of the Genji's power can be seen Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core with the armor, which when equipped sets the HP limit to 99,999 and grants auto-Endure and Regen. The Genji shield is incredibly powerful in this game too because it absorbs all elemental attacks and makes Zack immune to all status effects.


Gilgamesh is set to return in some Final Fantasy XV DLC in the near future so it's very possible that he will bring along the Genji Armor he is famed for carrying.

The Ziedrich Armor

The Zeidrich Armor is one of the most powerful in the series providing high stat boosts and protection from all elemental attacks. 


Next to the Mystile Armour it is the most powerful in Final Fantasy VII with massive defense stats in both magic and physical attributes. Combined with ability to half all elemental attacks it is an extremely effective line of defence only rivalled by the Mystile.


It has appeared in Final Fantasy X as Atlas which is a shield for Rikku that is obtained when the dominant set up is Break HP Limit. In a more recent appearance it is the best shield for Noctis and Gladiolus and is one of the rare legendary weapons in Final Fantasy XV.

The Grand Armor

 The metallic Grand Armor is one of the best in the series although it hasn't been seen a lot in many of the mainline titles it has featured in spinoffs like Final Fantasy: Explorers and Final Fantasy: Dissidia.


In Final Fantasy XII it is the strongest heavy armor in the game and requires quite a bit of effort to obtain being an extremely rare drop.


The armor is described as "the greatest armor" and can only be worn by Steiner and Freya in Final Fantasy IX. It can also be worn by heavy armor wearing classes like the dragoon, knight and samurai in Final Fantasy Tactics: War Of The Lions.

The Crystal Armor

The Crystal Armor is one of the stronger equipment sets in the Final Fantasy universe and one of the most recognisable but often falling short of being the best when being surpassed by more rare items found later on in the game. Although it is lead protagonist Cecils most powerful armor even surpassing the Dragon Knight Armor in Final Fantasy IV.


The armor and other defensive items are seen throughout the series but the full range of Crystal equipment has been seen with the appearance of the Crystal sword too.


The Crystal bangles seen in Final Fantasy X-2 are the strongest in the game for its positive effects on a character's status such as large boosts to HP and MP.

Dragon/Dragoon Armor

Another very recognisable equipment class in the Final Fantasy universe it is often associated with the Dragon Knight class and the similar more powerful Dragoons.


The Dragon sets are a rare item that can't purchased in town shops and usually has comparable defense stats to items like the Genji Armor.


Visually the Dragon equipment is synonymous with Final Fantasy IV because of one the characters in the game and fan favorite the Dragoon called Kain Highwind and is easily one of the more recognisable character classes in the game. The Dragoon class aesthetics and its equipment make a return in Final Fantasy XV with the character Aranea highwind.


The Dragon Knight armor is one of the most powerful in the Final Fantasy IV second only to the Cecils Crystal armor.

The Mystile Armor

They Mystile armor has only featured in one mainline Final Fantasy title and that was Final Fantasy VII, although it did appear again in Final Fantasy: Crisis Core and the Final Fantasy: Dissidia series.


The Mystile armor has gained quite a following with Final Fantasy VII fans not only because it's one of the strongest in the game next to the Ziedrich armor, but because of its useful status effects, high evasion rate, increased accuracy and when combined with Deathblow, the Curse Ring and other useful items and it allows for Materia combinations like Final Attack and Phoenix, so it becomes very versatile when compared to the Ziedrich which has no Materia slots -- especially when going up against the Ultimate Weapon bosses.


The Mystile is a very powerful armor that would have been featured higher on the list if it was featured in more than just one mainline title.


With the recent controversy surrounding Square-Enix's now delayed "Magitek Exosuit" DLC for Final Fantasy XV with its more than passing resemblance to The Power Rangers. The developers stated that after getting contacted by studios behind the new Power Rangers film, they are now having to go back to the drawing board and redesign their look in order to avoid potential problems further on.



While every mainline Final Fantasy title usually has its own unique story and setting one of the things that fans have come to love are the connections and subtle references to previous games like characters names, items, Chocobos, Moogles and equipment sets that have become a staple for the series.


Although you very rarely see your characters physical appearance change like a western RPG when equipping new items and accessories, the equipment sets names and information in the series have so many recognisable qualities that long time fans will be very familiar with when they discover them through the course of their adventures.


While we patiently wait for the new Magitek Exosuits here I am listing what I have found to be the most useful, powerful and defensive armor and equipment sets the Final Fantasy universe.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Release Date Revealed Tue, 31 Jan 2017 04:32:53 -0500 Kris Cornelisse (Delfeir)

The worldwide release date of the remastered Final Fantasy XII was announced at the Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary event's Opening Ceremony today. Originally unveiled in June last year, PS4 owners will be able to pick up The Zodiac Age on July 11th in North America and Europe, or July 13th in Japan.

Heavily updated from the original release on PS2, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is based on the improved International Version of the game that was never released outside of Japan (oh, the irony). Improvements include the addition of a revamped job system and relevant License Boards, faster movement speeds and numerous battle tweaks.

The HD remaster also includes -- naturally -- a full update on the graphics and sounds, bringing the already pretty-for-the-era game up to modern standards. Improved loading times and auto-save functionality will also be included, all of which are welcome additions.

If you can't wait that long to re-experience the wonders of Ivalice, we've already shown off some updated gameplay footage from E3 2016 for you to enjoy.

There'll be more Final Fantasy related news in the coming days as the 30th Anniversary continues, so stay tuned!

3 Reasons Dragon Quest is Better than Final Fantasy Mon, 23 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 BizarreAdventure

I've played many, many different JRPGs in my time. Some well known, others not so much. In the West, I believe one series that deserves more attention from more gamers is the Dragon Quest series.

Both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy helped define the JRPG genre. Providing gamers with magical fantasy worlds and turn-based combat that suck you in for hours. So, here are a few reasons I think Dragon Quest is the better of the two, and why it deserves more notoriety.

The Worlds

This is one of the places I believe Dragon Quest shines. Unlike the majority of Final Fantasy titles which have no involvement with one another. The majority of the Dragon Quest series is based on continuing tales. Characters can be descendants of others from previous games, or have items from previous games play important roles in another. This gives a nice feeling of familiarity between each one. That isn't to say every title in the series is interlinked. It's just that in opposition of Final Fantasy's design of creating a new world and expanding upon popular ones. Dragon Quest tries to keep a timeline for the series and has a few games that aren't related to others.

Each iteration of the game feels like it's expanding on an already vast world. Playing through them in order is like having a humongous story unfold. However, the stories that aren't directly related to any others are still very solid.

I'll use Dragon Quest VIII for this because it's one of my favorites. The quest you embark on starts simple enough. There's a hideous looking green creature, a horse and their guard. There is a king and the horse is his daughter. The two of them have been afflicted by a terrible curse cast upon his kingdom by Dhoulmagus.

You play as the guard, whose mission is freeing the king and his daughter from the curse. By doing so you traverse across vast plains and mountains meeting your additional party members -- each of whom have been, or eventually are, wronged by Dhoulmagus themselves. This all hits an apparent climax when you return to the kingdom that it all started at. Here you have your final battle with Dhoulmagus, but not everything is as it seems.

The Characters

There have been a lot of wonderful characters in the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy 15 is a nice return to that too. However, over the recent releases the series has been marred by boring, shallow or completely unlikable characters. Each new one getting progressively worse too. Here's looking at you XIII and all it's successors.

This is why Dragon Quest and it's "play it safe," characters are just a bit better to me. Excluding the main character who is often a voiceless insert for the player, which itself works in the favor of Dragon Quest making it a more immersive experience. The supporting cast is where it shines though.

I'll continue to use VIII for this section as well. The additional members to the party are some of the best in my opinion. Yangus, the former bandit who forms a bond that runs as deep as blood with the main character whom he calls "Guv" (short for governor). Despite not being the smartest of fellows, he does everything he can to help the hero and his friends. Jessica, who despite being from a wealthy family and trained to act like a proper lady decides that just isn't for her. Instead she chooses to be a tough as nails go-getter adept in using whips and sorcery. Lastly we have Angelo, one of the churches templar knights. Despite being a holy knight, he has a lust for gambling and women and although he can be condescending or indifferent at times he proves to be a dependable ally. Dragon Quest opts for a smaller cast of more fleshed out and diversified characters and it's a nice change of pace from Final Fantasy's eight-person party.

The Combat

This one may seem like a small reason. I think it's definitely important to note though. A combat system can make or break a JRPG. Dragon Quest pretty much created the idea of turn-based combat in RPGs that we know and love. In fact many other things that Final Fantasy has had in its games came from Dragon Quest. Classes, jobs, beast mastery and others were things introduced in Dragon Quest and later Final Fantasy. While Final Fantasy has tried to shake things up recently. Final Fantasy XII and XIII were probably the biggest offenders of this. XII created an almost MMO like battle system that many thought was too slow and cumbersome. XIII tried to fix that with a "fast," battle system that required minimal thought. Both of them failed to different halves of Final Fantasy's audience.

Dragon Quest meanwhile has played it safe and benefited. Taking the system it created all those years ago and refining it. Maybe trying something new here or there, but largely staying the same. Why fix what ain't broken? Basically.

Honestly though, both of these series are amazing for their own unique reasons. It's like the cliche expression "apples to oranges." Yeah you can compare the two, but the experience you have with either is going to be extremely different and enjoyable. With either series you're going to get a magical world to explore, enemies to defeat and characters to grow attached to. Not every game in either series is going to be everyone's cup of tea. But I can guarantee each series has at least one or two entries that you'll fall in love with.

Have you played Dragon Quest more than Final Fantasy? Which do you think is the better series? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Ways Final Fantasy 15's Story Could Have Been (Much) Better Sat, 21 Jan 2017 07:00:01 -0500 Emily Parker


Though Final Fantasy XV can be predictable and unnecessarily complicated at times, it is redeemed with a large sprinkle of the Final Fantasy magic fans adore. The relationship between your party members, for instance, deserves praise and really makes this game shine. 


We can argue its failures and successes, but at the end of the day, it's nice to see another Final Fantasy installment and I hope there will be many more to come.

Complicate Your Villain

There were aspects about Ardyn that I loved -- his flowing purple hair and his casual confidence.


The rest seemed incredibly predictable and cliche. Oh, he was once good and now he's bad? He's seeking revenge? Society screwed him over? He dresses flamboyantly? Stop me now if any of this sounds familiar.


Additionally, "The villain doesn't want to kill you yet, but totally could" trope is a bit tired and nobody was shocked when he revealed his true colors.


Even just disguising his actions a bit more would have had players a little more intrigued. Anyone that plays video games or watches movies could spot him from a mile away. Throw in some other motivators besides revenge, or some complications with his rise to power, and we can start to invest in our arch-nemesis.


As complicated as Final Fantasy wants to make the rest of their lore, the Accursed Ardyn was a pretty basic attempt at a super-villain. 

Stop Killing Everyone

A story has to be just fantastic (e.g. Game of Thrones) and the characters truly gripping to get away with killing a majority of the cast. If not, you really (really) risk losing your audience. And well, a lot of us just threw the controller down (or at least rolled our eyes) during our time in the world of Final Fantasy XV. Why? Because Square kept killing everyone -- and wanting us to care!


I understand this is a pretty common theme with Final Fantasy stories, but it felt really overdone in FFXV.


At least the dog lives right?

Fill Your Plot Holes

If the plot wasn't predictable or confusing, it was missing altogether. Even the most die-hard and well-read fans are scratching their heads at several missing plot points.


For instance, Luna and Noctis always seem to be within a few miles of each other, but they can't seem to meet up. Trading notes via a magical doggie is cute and all, but wouldn't a cell phone call or text message make more sense?


Another good (and glaring) plot hole is the Secretary of Altissia. Why would she bother helping Noctis awaken the Leviathan? She knew you would destroy her city, you knew you would destroy her city, and you totally end up destroying her city.


It also is strange flying through outposts and gas stations and nobody seems to care that Nilfheim has invaded Insomnia. Maybe nobody really liked Insomnia anyway. Who knows. With all the plot holes, it's easy for things to get lost...

Go With a Stronger Female Lead

I understand this is a story about bros -- and I want to emphasize that I loved that their relationship was the focus.


But did we really need the video game's version of Luna? The love story felt forced and weak. Why? Because her character was written to prop the protagonist... and very unapologetically, she had no other purpose.


Instead of some jewel Noctis chases across Eos, would it not have made more sense to give some depth to her character? Luna is better developed in Kingsglaive -- a movie worth checking out if you are a still a little confused -- but her portrayal in the game is disheartening. 


If you really want your game to so heavily revolve around a love story, let both partners have purpose and strength. It felt gross watching Luna obsess over Noctis, live her entire life (in pain) to inspire him and then get stabbed to death for (as far as I can figure out) no real reason. Meanwhile, Noctis is racing Chocobos with his friends.


And don't get me started on her dress ripping up as she was being attacked by the Hydraean -- or Shiva's and Cidney's character designs. We'll leave all of that alone.

Make It a Little Easier on Your Players

There's a reason a FFXV search yields tons of "explainer" articles when you type it into Google.


The dialogue is obnoxiously obscure when it doesn't need to be, the characters can be difficult to keep track of, and not a lot of the plot is thoroughly explained.


Quite a bit of pertinent information for the game comes from other Final Fantasy media. I really appreciate a broad lore set with plenty of options to digest more content, but what I don't appreciate is a $60 game that feels like it's missing part of its story. What happened to the old days when a story, you know, came in one piece?

A lot of other gamers share the sentiment, and this is possibly the biggest issue the community is having with the game. 


Final Fantasy XV has an engaging story. It's sometimes fun and equally quirky. It's supported by a rich environment, stunning visuals, and beautiful music. It is intricate, emotional and fairly innovative.


Unfortunately, it ended up falling flat for many players and confusing the rest. A big part of that disconnect was because Square Enix relied too heavily upon transmedia devices (like books and movies) to convey the game's overall story. There were also some questionable risks taken and underdeveloped characters that made things even harrier.


Here are 5 speculations on how Final Fantasy XV's story could be improved.

The 7 Best Final Fantasy Titles You May Not Have Played Fri, 13 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Eliot Lefebvre

It's hard not to talk about Final Fantasy XV at this point, but then, it's hard not to talk about the series in general. With the first eponymous title having released in Japan back in 1987, you can expect the year to be full of celebration of Square-Enix's flagship series, the one that came before hearts and associated kingdoms, before the merged company was questing for dragons, and long before tombs and the raiding thereof.

But here's the fun part: Even if you've already played every numbered installment, you've still probably got some titles in the franchise you've never played. After all, three decades is a long time, and there are a lot of spin-offs, side stories, and connected titles that you can jump into if you're new to the franchise or an old friend.

Here, then, are some of the better titles that are also on the more obscure side. There are lots of spinoffs for the series that span mobile phones, handheld consoles, and various re-release formats, but these are the ones you might miss outright if you assume that Final Fantasy XV just had 14 predecessors.

1. Final Fantasy Dimensions

If you're an old-school fan of the franchise from the days of Final Fantasy VI, you may also be a fan who's loudly complaining about the fact that we haven't really gotten a direct sequel to the series' SNES history. But we have! Final Fantasy Dimensions came out in 2012, and it's really more or less everything you could want if you're a fan of the days when games were cartridges, graphics were sprites, and "blow on it and try again" was useful advice.

FFD follows the story of two separate adventuring parties, the Warriors of Light and the Warriors of Darkness, as they seek to understand a magical cataclysm that has hit the crystals (and, by extension, the world). Players can swap between numerous jobs for both parties, equipping secondary abilities learned by leveling jobs; you also unlock additional levels in jobs over time, and both Light Warriors and Dark Warriors earn new (and divergent) job options during play. It's a nostalgia trip for old-school fans and a fine way to while away time besides.

Acquiring the game: Some of the titles on this list can be a bit hard to pick up, but this one is going to mostly depend on your hardware; Final Fantasy Dimensions is available for iOS and Android mobile devices, but not for any console or PC platforms. It's probably best played on a tablet, but you can manage with a phone if you don't have a tab - and it's well worth the entry price if you can.

2. Final Fantasy Adventure

The Mana series, for most people in North America, seemed to have started and more or less ended with the excellent Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo. What's easy to miss is that that game was itself a sequel to an explicit Final Fantasy spinoff, sort of a halfway point between the traditional gameplay of Final Fantasy games and the top-down adventuring of classic Legend of Zelda titles.

As you might expect, the gameplay still holds up remarkably well over the years, although what hasn't held up terribly well is the branding. Every remake of the game (and there have been several) tends to drop the Final Fantasy connection for one of several titles tying it back into the Mana franchise, which makes a certain amount of sense, but also means that you could easily miss that the game existed in the first place.

Acquiring the game: Despite the wishes of the fans, the original title is still not available on the various Nintendo Virtual Console stores, so you'll have to settle for the 3D remake Adventures of Mana on Android, iOS, and PlayStation Vita. Or you can hunt down the original Game Boy cartridge, if you feel like making more of a project out of it.

3. Vagrant Story

The answer of whether or not Vagrant Story is a Final Fantasy game changes depending on the day of the week, but the bulk of the evidence indicates that it is. The game never explicitly says where it takes place, but it's full of evidence that it takes place in Ivalice, and a lot of contextual clues support the idea that it's a sequel, in ways, to Final Fantasy XII. Considering that both titles are the brainchild of Yasumi Matsuno, this is not entirely surprising.

But even if you aren't totally sold on the connection, there's plenty to like within the game itself; it's a one-man romp through a complex city full of jumping puzzles, magical traps, and weapon customization. Figuring out the game's in-depth reforging system will take up plenty of time, and it will also be integral to properly dealing with the game's array of magical beasts. And if you like terse political stories about complex power interplays like Final Fantasy XII... suffice to say you're in for a treat.

Acquiring the game: This one is nice and easy; it's on the PlayStation Network, so you can easily download and play on a variety of different consoles and handheld devices. Although it's still a game meant for prolonged session play, so don't expect to load it onto a PSP and just pick up and go.

4. The Final Fantasy Legends series

While Final Fantasy Adventure is a title always included in the franchise that has later been excised, The Final Fantasy Legend was never part of the franchise in Japan. It's part of a wholly different series, the SaGa series which most people remember for going hideously off the rails into unplayable with Unlimited Saga. These three titles, then, are forgotten.

This is a shame, though, as The Final Fantasy Legend, Final Fantasy Legend II, and Final Fantasy Legend III are still really interesting games partly because of their weirdness. Even if they got into the franchise via backdoor branding, you can't really compare to the niftiness of a game that lets you install parts to turn your characters into cyborgs or evolve into new forms based on eating monster meat. They're far afield from the usual franchise, in other words.

(Full credit to GameFAQs for the screenshot.)

Acquiring the game: Unfortunately, this is going to be difficult. Final Fantasy Legend II had a re-release on the Nintendo DS back in 2009, but only in Japan; Final Fantasy Legend III, which may be the best of the batch, has never had a re-release since 1998. You'll need to hunt down the original cartridges and a working Game Boy to play through these, or resort to emulation.

5. Final Fantasy Tactics

If the only experience you have with this series involves the subtitle "Advance," you're missing out. Final Fantasy Tactics is a marvelous game that was still eminently playable long after its release, and its updated re-release The War of the Lions is an even better game, complete with a translation that hasn't been mangled beyond all comprehensibility.

Aside from featuring excellent tactical battles that pit players against a variety of terrain features and force you to think about aspects of jobs that you would have never otherwise considered, FFT features a complex, mature plot covering the rise and fall of nations while the player characters move on the periphery of huge events. It's a game that still has an active fan base and community nearly two decades after it came out in North America, and it's the sort of game you can lose yourself in for months... even after you've beaten it.

Acquiring the game: Fortunately, this one is easy; the remake for the PSP is a few years old, but the game is also available for iOS and Android devices, so you can doubtlessly find some way to play it.

6. Final Fantasy Explorers

Pretty much all of the titles on here are older titles, since many of them came out in a time when the game industry was akin to the Wild West, with no sort of central knowledge about what in the world was coming out for any given system. Final Fantasy Explorers, though, is just a year old, but it seems to have been largely forgotten despite that... which is a shame, as it's a fun game with lots to recommend it.

While the story is more or less purely an excuse plot, the actual gameplay is something of a fusion between Final Fantasy and the Monster Hunter series, with elements of Final Fantasy XI's baroque design. It also has a strong multiplayer focus, which encourages you to spread the game to your friends and farm up weird items together. That's always fun.

Acquiring the game: Again, this one came out in 2016; it shouldn't be too difficult to find. It's only for the 3DS, but since the 3DS is about as common as air molecules, that shouldn't pose a problem.

7. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

With the Final Fantasy VII remake on the way, it's a fair bet that Square-Enix has forgotten that the plot of that game was in no small part focused on how Cloud Strife wasn't a hero. He was some random dude pretending to be a hero for the sake of his ego. Harsh? Yes. But you can play as the hero of Final Fantasy VII; you just have to jump back to the prequel, Crisis Core. Which was released many years later, of course.

Crisis Core is an odd blend of turn-based and real-time combat set in the same world with a number of new systems derived from Final Fantasy VII's Materia system, with the story filling in the events before the start of the main entry. So you get all of the fun of swinging a huge sword without a hero who lapses into catatonia partway through. It's win-win.

(Full credit to the Final Fantasy Wiki for the screenshot.)

Acquiring the game: This one is only a few years old, but you'll need a PSP to play it, which might actually be more of a chore than finding the game itself. Gaming is weird like that.