When it comes to classic Final Fantasy games, there are so many different ways to play them. The retro gaming community has had a thriving modding community for years, with virtually every popular game from the NES and SNES era receiving some love in the form of hacks, redesigns, or mods.
Final Fantasy has some of the biggest mods of any other RPG franchise, and they add a great deal to already memorable video games. I’ve spent years on Twitch playing these Final Fantasy mods, and this is a collection of some of the best ones that fans of the franchise should consider trying out.
What makes a quality Final Fantasy mod?
Some Final Fantasy mods are simply better than the others. There’s nothing wrong with more simple ones that change little things such as retranslations or minor balance changes. It’s not uncommon to see these styles of mods, which are perfectly fine. But I prefer something a bit more in-depth.
When I look for a mod or hack of these games, I want a huge, sweeping new adventure. Many of them are also more difficult than the original releases. Not every Final Fantasy mod needs to change the story. In particular, two of these keep the original story but make some changes to make the game more enjoyable, in their own ways.
5 worthwhile Final Fantasy mods
- FFT: Cerabow’s Mod
- FFVII: Advent Children
- FFVI: The Eternal Crystals
- FFIV: Ultima Edition
- FFVI: T-Edition
It’s also important to note that I cannot tell readers where to find the ROMs or ISO files to modify.
5) Final Fantasy Tactics: Cerabow’s Mod
Final Fantasy Tactics, while an incredible story of religion, betrayal, and political upheaval, had some pretty major balancing issues. Some classes were incredibly weak, and others were so overpowered they absolutely had to be deployed.
That’s one of the big targets for FFT mods. Cerabow’s Mod is a rebalance patch, and a major one at that. The idea behind it is that weaker skills were buffed, overpowered skills were weakened, and easy bosses were made more challenging.
One of the best things about it in my estimation is that it requires far less grinding. JP costs for abilities were reduced across the board, making picking up skills so much faster. Zodiac Compatibility was removed, removing a layer of complexity to the game. This means players don’t have to fiddle with their entire party so that an Astrological sign makes or breaks a fight.
Some of the most frustrating things about Final Fantasy Tactics happen less frequently now, such as one-hit KO moves. It’s also far more common to need healers and to be able to restore MP.
I don’t want much from an FFT hack, other than to have the game be enjoyable. While I love the game on a personal level, there are so many frustrating battles or job classes that are obviously quite weak.
This goes for the enemies as well. They have access to a greater range of abilities, and cheap tactics like spamming status ailments won’t work as easily this time around. It’s easily one of my favorite FFT mods and adds a lot without changing the core gameplay experience.
4) FFVII Advent Children
Many demakes or mods come from a crew of fans of a game who are just looking to create something new. However, Final Fantasy VII demake was created by a Chinese company, Shenzhen Nanjing Technology. It was made for the Subor, a Famicom console clone. Unfortunately, this game did not run well, and has been panned by fans and critics alike.
Nonetheless, it was an ambitious project that faithfully recreated Final Fantasy VII as best it could for an NES. Then along came Lugia2009, who took it upon himself to fix the game. He was going to create FFVII in RPG Maker originally, but when he found the Chinese bootleg, that became the project: fix this game.
Slowly but surely, Lugia2009 went screen by screen, and fixed the game. I wanted to include this FFVII Demake-Remake for the sheer amount of work that went into it. Is it the most fun version of FFVII to play? No, that probably goes to FFVII REMAKE. It’s fascinating to see how far someone can stretch the NES’s capabilities this far.
It’s a faithful recreation, and though I have not completed this particular mod, I’ve spent time with it, and watched quite a few streamers tackle it. Kudos to Lugia2009 for taking a game that barely worked, and making it into something special.
3) FFVI: The Eternal Crystals
Final Fantasy VI may have the most fan-made mods and hacks of any other game in the franchise. There’s so much that can be done with the game, and this is made clear by the sheer number of versions there are.
One of the more interesting ones for me is version X of Final Fantasy VI: The Eternal Crystals. It’s a newer version of an older hack, which uses the base of Final Fantasy VI to create a story built around a group of Light Warriors instead of the characters fans are familiar with initially.
Many sprites of the bosses were changed, with classic sprites and palettes, as well as new battle scripts/AI. FFVI was amazing in that every character could become a powerful magician with enough work. In this case, that was changed, not every character can have magical powers to use.
Espers are still there in the game, but the original locations have changed for some of them, and several items have been reworked. This is a huge mod, and it brings together elements of FFIV and FFVI together, such as the characters.
I love the little touches of this game. Cyan is still in FFVI, but now he is a Paladin and uses a palette similar to Paladin Cecil. It does use the story of FFVI as a base, but takes it in a whole different direction.
There are new skills to use, skills to utilize, and like others, it has an increased difficulty. It’s not quite as difficult as T-Edition, but boy does it give players a run for their money.Perhaps my favorite part, though, is that it changes the World of Ruin map! It feels like a whole new experience, and it’s one I look forward to returning to. It’s not a huge change from the original game, but it’s one worth experiencing anyway.
2) FFIV Ultima
Now we’re looking at big-time when it comes to Final Fantasy mods and hacks. The last two are the cream of the crop. Courtesy of 8bitfan, comes FFIV: Ultima. It’s one of many projects the modder has created, but it’s far and away the best. It still gets semi-regular updates and is one of the best mods I’ve personally completed.
Now, there’s only so much that can be done with FFIV in the world of modding, but he’s done some exceptional things with the game's world. There are of course, more story-based events, quests, bosses, and hidden areas. There are even ultra-challenging superbosses! That was one of the only things I didn’t especially care for, as some of those final bosses can become infuriatingly difficult.
That’s okay though, there are ways to best all of them, with the right party and strategy. There’s even a Wiki now with optimal gear, level recommendations, and strategies for some of the hardest bosses in the game. I could have used that back when I first played.
The characters in FFIV were pretty simple in the original game, but they’ve changed in lots of little ways. Kain has magic now, Dark Knight Cecil can dual-wield, Rosa has combat spells too! In general, every character has been improved and updated.
There are secrets to uncover, and just so many new weapons, bosses, spells and summons. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and as one of my favorite games in the franchise, I cannot stress enough how great this game is. It’s another fine example of how far a classic game can be stretched and updated.
1) FFVI T-Edition
Full disclosure, I have never beaten FFVI T-Edition. Due to technical difficulties, the game was never defeated and the save file was lost.
Developed originally by Tsushiy in Japan, it’s had a few developers come along and translate/update it for American audiences over the years. Mato, perhaps best known for the Mother 3 fan translation, is among those, as well as KainStryder and many others.
For the most part, the story is intact in FFVI T-Edition, but it’s been wildly expanded. A costume system has been added to give characters new looks and adjusted stats, and dozens of new side quests. Areas from classic Final Fantasy games return (Matoya’s Cave, Eureka) and there are new summons, items, spells, and balance changes.
The game’s difficulty is similar to the original at first, but it slowly ramps up. Things get really rough in the World of Ruin though. Plenty of bosses from other games appear, such as Cloud of Darkness and Ultimecia. It’s the most difficult but rewarding mod I have ever played.
It is satisfying to overcome a boss with new game mechanics, such as having to fight Seraph, Catoblepas, and Carbuncle Espers.
FFVI T-Edition is a tribute to the Final Fantasy franchise in general, and also has its own list of bug fixes and updates to the game.
Final Fantasy has dozens, if not hundreds, of mods that vary greatly in scope. While this list talks about just five of them, there are so many more that are worth giving a shot, such as the wide variety of randomizers and difficulty mods that have been made for the games. Some are better than others, but all of these are excellent offerings for fans who are looking for something new.