This is Objection Network’s countdown of the top 25 video game series of all-time. We’re counting down to the best franchise ever on March 31. For more info on the voting process, click here.
4) Final Fantasy (6 votes, 333 points)
Chris: Final Fantasy might have been the most difficult series to decide where to put on our list. Every panelist voted for it, but like the franchise itself, it was all over the place — from a couple of second-place votes to a couple in the low teens. Keep in mind that this is essentially the main series titles and its spin-offs (so X-2 and the dumpster fire XIII trilogy and Crisis Core count here, but Crystal Chronicles and Record Keeper and Theatrhythm do not).
That result makes sense; some people love certain Final Fantasy titles and can’t stand others. The franchise has undergone a whole boatload of change in the last 30 years, from being one of the earliest turn-based RPGs to spearheading the spread of the genre in the U.S., from MMOs to more action-based adventures, from guns and blades to…gunblades.
Personally, VI is my favorite, and a pick for one of the best games ever made. I also enjoyed X and VII quite a bit, and XIV turned out to be a pleasant surprise. But I never really connected with VIII and couldn’t get through the original game — it just felt too dated by the time I got around to it.
It’s stunning to think how different the series has become since 2001. That was the year X released, and before that there had been four main titles in the last five years. After that, if you disregard the MMOs and sequels, there were two main titles in FIFTEEN years. XV’s perpetual development cycle didn’t help, but that’s a stunning dropoff for one of the juggernauts of gaming.
The days of the franchise being turn-based seem long over, but that doesn’t mean the more recent games have been bad. XII is beloved by a subset of the fans, and XV was a success in a lot of ways. Now that XV has finally been released, it does raise the question: what’s next for Final Fantasy? Does it continue down the action RPG path, or look to innovate in new ways? XIV continues to churn out new subscribers and expansions, so will another MMO be on the horizon in a couple years? Does the success of the orchestral concert series mean good things for fans in America? The only thing that seems certain is that the “Final” in the title, the word the creators thought would be true in the 1980s, won’t come to fruition any time soon.
Michaela: Final Fantasy has the unique advantage of featuring new characters and stories with each installment. It’s allowed the series to evolve and change as much as it has, largely with positive results. The series as had its ups and downs, but with each installment, there’s something in each one that fans can enjoy. It makes the games very accessible, and despite how different the series may seem now, at its core, Final Fantasy is a series about adventure and immersion.
Cary: It’s no surprise to see that Final Fantasy made it so high in the list. It’s such an influential series, one that’s seen countless clones and wannabes — some good, some not so much. It’s also one that’s extremely polarizing, probably more so than any one series listed so far. People seem to either praise it with all their might or curse it to the very depths. A simple question like “did you enjoy Final Fantasy VII?” can flare passions and break friendships. Not many games can lay claim to such a deep and devoted fanbase as Final Fantasy can.
Christine: I’ve always been very aware of Final Fantasy before I became a gamer. I had some knowledge of the characters and some major plot points in games like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X. Even before I discovered I would end up becoming a lover of video games, I think I always knew Final Fantasy would be a series I would love to play. From the cool battle system to the cinematic style quality of each game’s cutscenes, it’s undeniably an immersive game experience from start to finish. Final Fantasy is another series where I own some of the games that aren’t exclusive to Playstation (I only own an Xbox, Wii, and two Nintendo portable systems), but I haven’t finished one game from the series yet. With the recent release of Final Fantasy XV, it’s the game I’m betting on will be the first game from the series I’ll actually finish. How can I not when this game is an example of beautiful graphics, great music, and likable characters who have the cutest bromance ever to exist. If Square Enix continues to make more Final Fantasy games, I’ll be there to play most of them. At least as long as they make it available on the Xbox or something.
(5) Mass Effect
(8) Kingdom Hearts
(9) Mario Kart
(10) Smash Brothers
(11) Fire Emblem
(12) Street Fighter
(13) Batman: Arkham
(14) Metal Gear
(18) Saints Row
(20) The Sims
(21) Grand Theft Auto
(23) Animal Crossing
(24) Silent Hill
(25) Donkey Kong
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