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Top 7... Final Fantasy spinoffs

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5. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

In the mid-'90s, Square and Nintendo, once the best of friends, parted as Square brought FF and other hits to the PlayStation. For years, it seemed like they’d never make up, but in 2002 (partially thanks to the total failure of the Final Fantasy film), Square came back to Nintendo to make games for the GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Or both, in the case of the first game to come out of their renewed partnership, the connectivity-fest that was Crystal Chronicles.

To be sure, Crystal Chronicles was an experimental title. With four GBAs connected to the GameCube, each player had their own sub-screen, neatly eliminating one of the biggest annoyances of playing RPGs with friends: interrupting the game so you can wait for the other players to organize their items and sift through menus. The action might have been simple, but if you could assemble four friends and four GBAs, taking on FFCC made for a great afternoon. Each adventure was hectic, requiring constant communication and teamwork, both of which kept players committed. Square repackaged the series multiple times, but we don’t think the series, or its adorable art design, have ever been any better than they were in the GC original.

4. Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts may be the ultimate definition of fan service, but we don’t care. How else are we going to see Aerith and Sephiroth in one place? Alive? This Disney/Square Enix collaboration (under the direction of famed character designer Tetsuya Nomura) came packed with a charming Disney-themed universe and well-dressed protagonists who sported numerous belt buckles. The journey is centered around young Keyblade wielder Sora (voiced by Haley Joel Osment), as he and Disney troopers Donald and Goofy search for their respective friends.  In this magical kingdom of Disneyfied worlds, you never know who you’ll bump into next, whether it’s a cameo from a character in a Final Fantasy game, or a beloved Disney character that could potentially join your team as a summon.

The series kept fans happy between Final Fantasy releases, and boasts quite a celebrity voice cast, including musical talent from Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada. While we’re all clamoring away for any juicy tidbit on Kingdom Hearts 3, Kingdom Hearts has given us numerous spinoffs on various handhelds (which were quite good), but let’s face it, we’re ready for the next one.

3. Secret of Mana

Admittedly, Secret of Mana’s status as a Final Fantasy spinoff is debatable; in the US, the connection was never overt, unless you knew that Mana was the sequel to the semi-forgotten Final Fantasy Adventure for Game Boy (released in Japan as Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden). In spite of not carrying the series’ name, though, the game’s ties to FF are still there – and as spinoffs go, it’s still one of the best.

Widely regarded as a 16-bit masterpiece, Secret of Mana is a huge departure from what we think of as “Final Fantasy” – and especially from what we thought those words meant in 1993. Instead of turn-based battles, it featured action-oriented, Zelda-style combat. Instead of a dozen or so heroes, it featured exactly three – a boy, a girl and a sprite, all of whom were playable at once. But all that stuff – combined with an unforgettable soundtrack, memorable characters and ridiculously satisfying power attacks – turned Secret of Mana into an amazing, uniquely fun experience.

Sure, it might look a little dated now, and there are critics out there who’ll tell you it was overrated even in its day. For those who’ve revived the Mana Sword, freed Santa from a hellish existence as a giant monster and seen Flammie grow from a tiny creature into a ridable dragon who could turn the game world into a vast, freely explorable wonder, however, few games are quite as special.

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48 comments

  • amazinglover - February 4, 2012 6:56 p.m.

    Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a joke way to easy I won the vast majority of fights while pressing the attack button over and over again while using the other hand to smoke and or drink and only had to look at the screen to move my character in between fights. No way its number 2
  • Zeos - February 2, 2012 7:02 p.m.

    Kingdom Hearts will always hold a special place in my heart for sure but the FF Tactics games are indeed awesome; especially the handheld ones!
  • garyn-greene - February 2, 2012 11:35 a.m.

    jmcgrotty. you are a tool. :) I've played FFT sometime like six times through, so wouldn't that make it 600% playable for me... or at least 100%... That said, I was worried that this list was going to be messed up, as well. I read through the choices, getting more frustrated with each one... in my mind thinking you wouldn't mention SoM and FFT. But, by the time I got to #3, I realized you had done your gaming research. Good list, mad props. Couldn't agree more with the list, especially the top 3 -- and especially the top cut. FFT has a better story than basically any game in history (for me) and a complex set of plots and emotions that leave every character (save Ramza) feeling more toward the center of the moral spectrum than outright good or evil. It was one of the first games that did that, whereas most games pitted "Selfless Hero" A vs "No Compassion Fiber in Their Body Villain" B.
  • jmcgrotty - February 1, 2012 1:30 a.m.

    I was hoping you wouldn't screw up the list, but thought you would. Thank you for not letting me down: You screwed up the list. Please, PLEASE quit saying anything positive about Final Fantasy Tactics. That is almost the absolute low-point of the whole franchise. It's a pathetic POS that people only liked at release because it was different. But, when people actually got past that and into game mechanics, it was an absolute mess. Seriously, the game is 100% unplayable. Freaking pathetic, guys. But, kudos for adding Mana. I'd count it as a valid spin-off.
  • GameManiac - February 1, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    Clearly, the FFT series is far too complicated for you. I stand on the complete opposite spectrum of your viewpoint. Haters gonna hate.
  • larkan - February 4, 2012 3:51 p.m.

    Wow....sounds like you never got past the tutorial battle and couldn't figure out how to play the game? Why are you so mad? The game really isn't that complicated to figure out, I guess you should just stick to Final Fantasy XII (or mash one button constantly for win) until you get a bit of intelligence.
  • Balaska - January 31, 2012 11:07 p.m.

    I miss the good old days of beautiful box art and touching stories, good old Secret of Mana. Please Squenix, more of this!
  • GameManiac - January 31, 2012 11:39 a.m.

    Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy Tactics FTW!
  • thesteve2 - January 31, 2012 8:26 a.m.

    The first picture for Final Fantasy Tactics is identical to the Kingdom Hearts cover lmao
  • THEBIGJ3 - January 31, 2012 7:56 a.m.

    Secret of Mana :-D (Should be number one really!)
  • xarab4lyfex - January 31, 2012 6:24 a.m.

    Love Kingdom Hearts, it's my second favorite series behind the ace attorney series, and am playing through tactics now, but I could care less for Secret of Mana as I never really enjoyed the mix of RPG and Illusion of Gaia like combat. Personally I think that Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma are better games than Mana, but that's my opinion. Also, Crisis core is a great game with a great story, but pretty shallow combat.
  • sonofskywalker3 - January 31, 2012 6:01 a.m.

    I wasn't waiting for a Final Fantasy fighting game, because I played one that came out ten years before this Dissidia crap. It's called "Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring" and it rocks. You just got learned children.
  • AshLynx - January 31, 2012 4:37 a.m.

    Nice article. Are you guys going to do one for Dragon Quest spinoffs? I don't there are quite as many (and even fewer in America) so maybe a top 7 list couldn't be made, but some sort of list should be, eh?
  • DarthPunk - January 31, 2012 2:14 a.m.

    Was about to say I give up reading this website if you put Kingdom Hearts at no. 1. Thankfully you didn't
  • codystovall - January 31, 2012 1:31 a.m.

    Final has lost all meaning.
  • Oliolioliooo - January 30, 2012 9:37 p.m.

    I thought Super Mario RPG would be in this, Square Enix did make it...and a little FF in it, especially at the end. Then again, it isn't a spinoff of FF
  • TwinHallow - January 30, 2012 9:36 p.m.

    Kingdom Hearts is like in my top 5 games so i would pick that .....and yes im a fanboy and im proud haha
  • TrAnMu - January 30, 2012 9:30 p.m.

    WOOOOOO! CRISIS CORE!
  • NightCrawler_358 - January 30, 2012 8:28 p.m.

    I love Kingdom Hearts, and the other entries too, but I didn't really enjoy Crisis Core as much as I'd hoped. My favorite Final Fantasy spin-off game ever might be "Chocobo Racing" on the PS1. It's not very good, but I grew up with it, and love it to bits.
  • ThatGuyFromTV - January 30, 2012 7:13 p.m.

    My beloved Crystal Chronicles FINALLY gets some love. (The original, I never cared much for the sequels)

Showing 1-20 of 48 comments

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