Although the Final Fantasy series has maintained its fame over time, not every title stands out equally. Square Enix, the studio behind these games, has provided players with a wide range of unforgettable experiences, including touching love stories and exciting combat systems. However, given the vast collection of games, it is inevitable that some fail to meet expectations. This leads us to the question: “What is the worst Final Fantasy game”? Let’s explore this matter further.
1. Final Fantasy II
Released in 1988, Final Fantasy II was a significant departure from its predecessor in terms of gameplay systems and storytelling. The game introduced a unique leveling system that increased specific character attributes based on their usage. While this concept was unique, it led to imbalances and tedious grinding, resulting in an unsatisfying player experience. Additionally, the story suffered from a lack of character development and an overly complex plot, making it difficult for players to connect with the story.
2. Final Fantasy XIII
Launched in 2009, Final Fantasy XIII divided the fan base due to its linear gameplay design. The game’s first half confined players to a series of narrow paths, limiting exploration and stifling the sense of adventure that the previous games had embraced. Furthermore, the story was criticized for its complex terminology and heavy exposition, alienating both newcomers and long-time fans. Despite its visually stunning visuals and impressive tunes, Final Fantasy XIII failed to capture the magic of its predecessors.
3. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII deviated from the traditional RPG systems of the series, attempting to blend in third-person shooter elements. The game focused on Vincent Valentine, a side character from Final Fantasy VII, and expanded his story arc. However, the shooter elements felt clunky and unfinished, detracting from the overall experience. Despite its interesting premise and the popularity of its main character, the game fell short due to its ultimately boring gameplay.
4. Final Fantasy XIV (Original Release)
The original release of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010 was marred by numerous issues regarding the gameplay experience. The game suffered from severe server instability, frequent crashes, and an underwhelming user interface. These problems were further put in the spotlight by an unfocused story and unengaging quests, resulting in a frustrating and lackluster MMORPG experience. However, it is important to note that Square Enix later relaunched the game as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, successfully redeeming the franchise with significant improvements.
5. Final Fantasy XV
With its highly anticipated release in 2016, Final Fantasy XV fell short of its potential, leaving fans disappointed. The game’s development cycle was plagued by delays and changes, leading to a disjointed narrative that felt rushed and incomplete. Despite its stunning visuals and a captivating bromance between the main characters, the gameplay was criticized for its repetitive side quests and shallow exploration mechanics. The storytelling also suffered from plot holes and missed opportunities for character development, leaving players wanting more.
6. Final Fantasy III (Original Release)
Originally released in 1990, Final Fantasy III suffered from a lack of localization outside of Japan. That is until its remakes in subsequent years. The original version faced criticism for its simplistic characters and minimal character development. The story lacked depth and failed to engage players on an emotional level. Additionally, the job system, while innovative at the time, felt unbalanced, with certain jobs being significantly more powerful than others, leading to limited strategic choices.
7. Final Fantasy X-2
As a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X, released in 2003, Final Fantasy X-2 disappointed fans with its departure from the somber tone and poignant storytelling of its predecessor. This Final Fantasy game took a lighter, more whimsical approach, focusing on a pop-star-inspired theme and a mission-based structure. The storyline was often considered convoluted and lacking in coherence. It ultimately fails to provide a satisfying continuation of the beloved characters’ arcs. The game’s emphasis on “dresspheres” and changing outfits during battles also polarized fans, detracting from the traditional RPG experience.
8. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest
Released in 1992, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest was an attempt to introduce the series to a younger and less experienced audience. While the intention was noble, the game suffered from oversimplification and a lack of depth. The gameplay was overly linear, with limited exploration and shallow dungeons. The story was very straightforward to the point of insulting. It lacked the intricate plots and character development that fans had come to expect from the franchise. As a result, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest failed to resonate with both new players and long-time fans.
9. Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light
Released in 2009, Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light was an attempt to return to the series’ roots with a simpler, old-school approach. However, the game received mixed reviews due to its punishing difficulty, lack of character development, and shallow storyline. The absence of key features commonly associated with Final Fantasy, such as a robust job system and memorable side quests, left players feeling underwhelmed. Despite its charming visuals, the game failed to capture the essence of the series. All in all, it left many longing for a more fulfilling experience.
10. Final Fantasy: All the Bravest (The Worst)
And alas! Here is the worst Final Fantasy game! Launched in 2013 as a mobile game, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest faced severe backlash due to its exploitative and monetization-heavy gameplay mechanics. The game heavily relied on microtransactions…like so much. In fact, players need to purchase “Premium Characters” and “Premium World Passes” to access additional content. This pay-to-win approach severely impacted the overall experience, leaving players feeling frustrated and betrayed. Additionally, the gameplay itself lacked depth and strategy, relying on mindless tapping without engaging RPG elements. This game is so bad that it not only belongs in the worst Final Fantasy games list. It should definitely also be among the worst JRPGs ever made.
While they may not have made it into the top 10, there are a few Final Fantasy games that deserve an honorable mention due to their mixed reception or controversial elements. These games have aspects that polarized the fan base or fell short in certain areas. Although considered among the poorest, they still managed to have redeeming qualities.
Final Fantasy XIII-2
As a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2 introduced a non-linear narrative structure and attempted to address some of the criticisms of its predecessor. However, the game still faced criticism for its convoluted storyline, disjointed pacing, and lack of character development. Despite these flaws, Final Fantasy XIII-2 implemented some improvements to gameplay mechanics. This includes monster capturing and a more open-world feel, which garnered praise from some players.
Final Fantasy Type-0
Originally released in 2011 for the PlayStation Portable, Final Fantasy Type-0 received a mixed response due to its dark and mature themes, complex plot, and real-time combat system. The game’s somber tone and mature content, including violence and political intrigue, deviated from the traditional Final Fantasy formula. While some players appreciated the game’s departure from conventions, others found it overwhelming and difficult to connect with the vast ensemble cast of characters.
Final Fantasy VIII
Considered a polarizing entry in the series, Final Fantasy VIII, released in 1999, struggled to live up to the expectations set by its predecessors. While the game boasted impressive graphics and a unique junction system, its complex mechanics and convoluted storyline proved divisive. The love story between the protagonist, Squall Leonhart, and the heroine, Rinoa Heartilly, failed to resonate with players due to its inconsistent development and lack of emotional depth. Additionally, the draw system for magic felt tedious and monotonous, detracting from the overall gameplay experience. That said, Final Fantasy VIII still has its fans worldwide.
The Final Fantasy series has been a cornerstone of the role-playing genre for decades. However, even the greatest franchises stumble occasionally. The games mentioned above represent instances where the series failed to meet fan expectations. Whether it was due to flawed gameplay mechanics, underdeveloped narratives, or technical issues, these games left a lasting impression on players for all the wrong reasons.
However, it’s essential to acknowledge that Final Fantasy as a whole has had far more successes than failures. These missteps serve as reminders of the high standards the series has set. With each new release, fans eagerly anticipate the next epic adventure, hoping that it will recapture the magic that has made Final Fantasy an enduring franchise.