Not all Final Fantasy games are created equal. While the games on this list may be the worst in the franchise, they are still good games that are worth playing. However, they do sit at the bottom of the pile.
Even though some fans might disagree, it is important to note that this is only one writer’s opinion. The games that made the cut for this list mostly have at least one feature or storyline that absolutely ruins an otherwise enjoyable experience.
The weakest entries in the Final Fantasy series
Were this a list based on all Final Fantasy games and not just the mainline entries, it would be an entirely different list. These games are all playable and enjoyable in their own right. However, they all have something that drags down the overall experience.
The 5 worst FF games
5) Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII is not at all a bad game, and in fact, introduced a few unique things to the franchise. However, these new additions ultimately work against the game as a whole. The Draw system was new for its time and was not well-received by the players. Moreover, players have to needlessly grind to steal spells from a variety of enemies. It just drags out the gameplay and winds up being more annoying than an exciting new feature.
The game also never lets the player know that the enemies level up with the player. Many players have grinded to level 100, feeling proud of their accomplishments, that is until they get to the final bosses of the game, who are also level 100. Players can play the whole game at level 1, but that can be quite tedious.
Then there’s the story. Most of the game’s story is lackluster. Moreover, Squall Leonhart might look stylish and cool, but he’s so detached from the rest of the world. On top of that, his dialogues are pretty boring and meme-worthy. However, he’s is not the only problem. The big plot twist of “We were all orphans together!” was enough to turn the narrative into nothing more than a joke.
4) Final Fantasy XIII
I want it to be clear that I enjoy certain aspects of FFXIII. It’s definitely not a bad game. However, it happens to feature the most unlikable cast of Final Fantasy characters (other than Sazh). Nearly the entire cast is unlikable, frustrating, and annoying for one reason or another. I think a lot of players will agree that it is difficult to be emotionally invested in any of them.
FFXIII also suffers from poor game design. While the combat system is excellent, the actual map design is terrible. There’s nothing wrong with a game being linear, but the actual maps feel like corridors or hallways. There weren’t enough dead ends or open areas to explore.
3) Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III was the first game in the franchise to feature a job system, and for that, I’m grateful. It’s quite an innovative system. However, it is also a grindy and frustrating system. Players have two choices: grind or get obliterated by dungeon bosses.
In addition, it has a weirdly high encounter rate. Combine an uninspiring story with the highest difficulty in the entire franchise, and what you have is Final Fantasy III. While the character class/job system was innovative, many of the classes felt useless.
Not to forget, the characters had no personalities. They were blank slates like the FF1 cast. So it felt like a real step back.
2) Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy II and III are among the least-played games in the franchise for a reason. FFII is a unique experience, as players do not have a leveling system.
As players use spells, take damage, and attack, their power/effectiveness increases. It’s a unique system, but it is also a broken, frustrating, and incredibly tedious system. What adds to the frustration is that it is often not clear where the player needs to go. Players often end up wandering too far off the beaten path, which usually means a party wipe.
Another major downside of FFII is that it uses guest characters. At first glance, it doesn’t sound bad because some of them are the most powerful temporary party members in Final Fantasy history. However, in reality, you start with four party members, but one splits off at the very beginning. You don’t get the fourth actual party member until late in the game, and they’re so far behind the rest of the party that they are essentially useless.
1) Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy XII is a beautiful game. It’s set in the world of Ivalice, which immediately makes it worth experiencing. However, for every good thing in the game, there’s an awful thing. Also, there are only four real protagonists in the story - Vaan and Penelo don’t even count as characters.
They serve no purpose other than to be a Dragon Quest-esque blank slate to experience the story through. That doesn’t really work in this franchise - people expect interesting, fleshed-out characters, not whatever Vaan was.
Furthermore, the license board is atrocious. Even though some people may love it, most agree that it is not fun. Why do players have to grind just to wear gear they have purchased or found? The Zodiac Job System works better because it’s not a vast board that you have to plot your way through.
I like that the Gambit System enables non-active party members to do more, but it can often lead to the lead players automating all of the combat, taking all the fun out of combat. While I enjoy FFXII, it has too many things that work against it.
In conclusion, even though these games are indeed worth playing, their flaws are worthy of discussion. Note that this is just one writer’s opinion for whom the series has gone astray.