Ranking All of the Final Fantasy Games on Switch – SwitchArcade Special Edition

After ranking all of the Mario games on Switch last week, where else could I sensibly go next but to the Final Fantasy series? Look, it makes sense in my head. There are a lot of Final Fantasy games on the Nintendo Switch. Mainline games, spin-off games, and… well, that would by definition be all there is, I suppose. Since Jared is off the planet right now and Mikhail is battling ferocious tigers in my underground lair, this is the perfect time to go for it yet again. Just like last time, I’ll be ranking all of the games from the very worst to the very best. I take sole responsibility for these potentially bad opinions. Let’s embark on a ranking adventure!

19. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition

Every list needs a game at the bottom, and here is this one’s. What could have been a fun throwback to one of the quirkier spin-offs of the series quickly turned sour when basically nothing worked the way it was meant to at launch. For such a multiplayer-focused game, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is incredibly fussy about how you can play with others. Even setting all of that aside, Crystal Chronicles has never been one of the bright spots of the franchise. More interesting than good, but perhaps worth it if you can gather up enough people and meet the game’s requirements.

18. Chocobo GP

This game met with a lot of controversy at launch for feeling very much like a free-to-play game with its service focus and monetization. Recently, Square Enix updated the game to remove all of that cruft, allowing players to finally enjoy the game without any fuss. So how is it? It’s a rather middling kart racer with some average track designs and some Final Fantasy fan service. Not bad, but within these rankings, that isn’t good enough to come in higher than this.

17. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD

Sure, Square Enix might have been able to bring the big-pants version of Final Fantasy XV to the Switch with a fair bit of effort. But instead the Switch got this mobile take on the game, which swaps in exaggerated versions of the characters for the realistic models and greatly simplifies the gameplay and world. It’s certainly interesting, sometimes feeling like a nod to classic Final Fantasy, but a mere shadow of one of the lesser games in the main series can only go so far.

16. Final Fantasy II

Argh, it pains me. But we have to start putting the mainline games in here somewhere, and despite my affection for the charms of this curious game, even I have to admit it’s probably the last game in the series I would recommend. Its counter-intuitive mechanics, annoying monster closets, and troublesome difficulty curve make this one that a lot of players are likely to bounce off of. If you do take to it, you’ll probably like it a lot. I might have been persuaded to put this one up a little higher if it had the Soul of Rebirth epilogue from previous versions, but it doesn’t. Worth trying, but it’s an acquired taste on its best day.

15. World of Final Fantasy Maxima

It feels like making a spin-off of Final Fantasy that is itself a turn-based RPG is a little odd, but I guess there are at least a few of those. World of Final Fantasy is a strange little game, but it’s one that a person could love if they were inclined to. Created as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the series, it’s filled to the brim with nods to the various mainline games and even a few things outside of that. As a crossover game, the story isn’t the best. But it does bring back the Active Time Battle system from earlier games, and the whole thing is just a nice fluffy RPG to pick your way through.

14. Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend

Okay, this one is only getting in on a technicality. It has Final Fantasy in the title in the West, so we’ve got to address it. Many people know now that these aren’t truly Final Fantasy games, but are instead the first three games in the SaGa series. But wait! It could be argued that the SaGa series itself spawned from series black sheep Final Fantasy II, so maybe they’re Final Fantasy games after all? Either way, this gives you three fine Game Boy RPGs to play. They’re tough as nails, but persevere and you’ll find the treasure within.

13. Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy!

You either like Mystery Dungeon games or you don’t. The Japanese-style roguelike is something most Western players would be familiar with through the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, and while the broad roguelike genre has caught on like wild of late, this specific branch seems to still only get the occasional release. Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon is an odd one, sitting between the total accessibility of the Pokemon games and the deeper, more punishing Shiren games. It uses the Final Fantasy brand well, however, and it’s almost worth it for the soundtrack alone. Plus, who doesn’t like seeing Chocobo dress up as various Final Fantasy job classes?

12. Final Fantasy

Another mainline entry, and this ranking is already getting really hard. I enjoy playing through the original Final Fantasy and do so at least once a year. It has a nice pace to it, and for its time it is certainly ambitious in terms of storytelling and customizability. But part of being the first step on a journey is that many of the steps that follow are more exciting, and that’s the case here. I should note that we’re well into the portion of the list that I would say are really good games, so I would still vigorously recommend you play this.

11. Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion

I may catch some heat for putting this as high as I am, but I really like Crisis Core. It added context to Final Fantasy VII that genuinely made the game better for me. It also added context that made it worse, but we don’t talk about Genesis. He does plenty of that on his own, thanks. All joking aside, the breezy missions are a good match for portable players, the silly story is oddly compelling, and the ending is a genuine all-timer. Zack for life.

10. Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

There are parts of Final Fantasy XII that I think represent the peak of the series, but there are also parts that just don’t work well at all. I will say that this Zodiac Age version of the game fixes a lot of issues with the original, so if you’ve never tried it I do recommend it. Owing to the team behind it, Final Fantasy XII has a feeling quite unlike any other game in the series, and its offline MMO feel is a fascinating marker of its era. Balthier and Fran alone make this game worth playing, but I think more systems-oriented players will appreciate the complexity of the Gambit System and the License Board.

9. Final Fantasy III

The best of the NES Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy III could almost trick someone into thinking it originated on a 16-bit platform. Square really swung for the stands with this game, implementing the first recognizable version of the now-famous Job System, multiple worlds to explore, and one of the coolest airships in the entire series. It also has one of the most endurance-testing final dungeons Final Fantasy has to offer. Series composer Nobuo Uematsu really started hitting his stride here, with some truly fantastic pieces that sounded great on the 8-bit console and are even better in this remastered form. If your only experience with this game is from the Nintendo DS version, I urge you to try this more faithful remake. It’s a far better game.

8. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered

Another controversial entry in the series, Final Fantasy VIII was bold enough to take a lot of Final Fantasy traditions and dump them in the recycling bin in favor of its own sometimes poorly-explained ideas. Along a similar line, the story opts to center around the romance between the two main characters first and foremost. It can feel like a lot of teenage drama at times, but there are themes here you won’t find in any of the other games. Speaking of themes, this is another game with a spectacular soundtrack. Try not to worry too much about min-maxing the game and just play it on its own terms and you might be surprised at what it has to offer.

7. Final Fantasy IX

There was a time where I probably would have put this even higher on my list, but revisiting it has pulled it down ever so slightly in my eyes. I love the art style of this game. The world and character designs are incredibly creative. The music is top-tier. The story is interesting and the characters are charming. That all being said, I have to acknowledge that the game can feel as slow as molasses at times, and you can easily see the costs of how far it pushed the original PlayStation. Still a great game that rewards series fans quite well and serves as a fine send-off for a particular era of the franchise.

6. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

On their own, neither of these games would come in quite so high on this list. Together, they’re strong. Final Fantasy X is where the series started to go a bit weirder, but its mechanics make for a more strategic game overall. The story is interesting, even if some of the characters can be annoying at times. Final Fantasy X-2 initially comes off as frivolous and systems-focused, and it is indeed both of those things, but it also has some actual things to say about the commodification of tragedy that resonate today just as well as they did twenty years ago.

5. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line

My favorite Final Fantasy spin-off series is the Theatrhythm brand of rhythm games. Final Bar Line loses some of the playability of the original and Curtain Call, but it makes up for it with an absurd track list of hundreds of songs and a lot of interesting new elements. Music has always been one of the most special parts of the Final Fantasy series, and this series and game celebrate that perfectly. It’s wild just how much of the overall franchise is represented here, along with the wider world of Square RPGs.

4. Final Fantasy IV

Okay, we’re getting to the top of the list and the hardest choices of them all. I love Final Fantasy IV. I have so many important memories with this game, and I own more distinct copies of it than any other video game. It’s a great game that gives you a little taste of everything that Final Fantasy was up to this point, and serves as a fantastic introduction to the series. It’s about as linear as it gets, and the story is perhaps a little too eager to riff off of Star Wars, but it’s hard to come away from this one with anything but grand affection for its cast and world. It’s more than thirty years old now, but it still holds up amazingly well.

3. Final Fantasy VII

I think it’s safe to say that not many people would care about a list like this in the current year if it weren’t for Final Fantasy VII. It brought the series to prominence in the West and, together with Pokemon, allowed the Japanese RPG genre to finally properly catch on outside of Japan. Visually, it isn’t the dynamo it once was, but the story and gameplay are still very good. As we get on from the PlayStation more and more in years, I find myself pining for games that give me that good ol’ PlayStation feel. This game is, for me, one of the peak examples of that. It’s also another approachable entry into the franchise, in case you need one of those.

2. Final Fantasy V

Ah, the bias. I will always, always cheerlead for Final Fantasy V. The Job System makes it almost infinitely replayable in a way few RPGs offer. The story balances the lighter and darker elements of the series well. It truly feels like the bridge between the Sakaguchi era of Final Fantasy and the Kitase era, equal parts silly slapstick and weighty introspection. It’s sandwiched between two legends in the Super NES trilogy, and it’s the one that didn’t come out in the West back in the day, so it tends to get less credit than it deserves. Give it an honest chance and I think you’ll be surprised. And if you’ve played it before? It’s Four Job Fiesta Time. Time to play again.

1. Final Fantasy VI

Here it is: the Final Fantasy game I think is best at this exact second of this exact day. It will probably be different tomorrow. But really, Final Fantasy VI has it all. A huge cast of weird and wonderful characters. A solid plot that keeps pulling you to the very end. An untouchable soundtrack. A bit of the linear, a bit of the non-linear. A pitch-perfect villain. Lots of customization in character builds. A peppy combat system. If you only play one Final Fantasy (and that is a very bad idea because you should play all the Final Fantasy), make it this Final Fantasy.

Well, that looks about right. As usual with any list, I’m sure most of you will disagree with some or all of it. Such is life. But if so, I’d love for you to comment below and let me know what your favorite Final Fantasy games are on Switch. Everyone loves to rank Final Fantasy games! Will this be my final ranking list attack? We’ll see, friends. We’ll see. Thanks for reading!