Top 7... Final Fantasy spinoffs

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.


  • Caenlen25 - January 30, 2012 2:46 p.m.

    agree with this list. cheers.
  • garnsr - January 30, 2012 2:54 p.m.

    I never knew that Seiken Densetsu was supposed to be a spinoff of FF, I thought they just called the American Gameboy game Final Fantasy Adventure to bank on the name, like they did for Legend, instead of calling it SaGa here. I sure loved Secret of Mana, though, and FF Adventure, for that matter. Tactics is the only other game here I've played, and it was pretty good. I'd played Shining Force and Vandal Hearts before it, so I was familiar with the style, but having the FF world was nice.
  • CrKnight - January 30, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is my all time favorite Final Fantasy game. As the prequel to FFVII, you see the origin of the classic characters and are introduced to a few new ones who get some great development. The story really is well done, explaining everything that didn't make sense in FFVII and creating an even greater attachment to them.
  • FlyinMachine - January 30, 2012 3:06 p.m.

    I love Tactics SOOO hard. One of my favorite games of all time! Thought Kingdom Hearts should've been number 2 or so but oh well! Great list, GR!
  • Errrrbo - January 30, 2012 3:09 p.m.

    Crisis Core? Seriously? I didn't like it that much. To each his/her own, though.
  • Ilyere - January 30, 2012 3:10 p.m.

    I love Crisis Core and Dissidia so much. =w=
  • Ilyere - January 30, 2012 3:23 p.m.

    And Kingdom Hearts. Duh. Wish they'd stop with the spin-offs though...
  • D0CCON - January 30, 2012 4:29 p.m.

    It does get odd when you have a crap ton of spin offs for your spin off series.
  • Will.E 304 - January 30, 2012 6:01 p.m.

    I remember i first got my PSP when Dissidia came out. I bought it, as well as Crisis Core and then bought FF7 on PSN. Good times...
  • slimjim441 - January 30, 2012 3:11 p.m.

    Props to Tactics, but I f*cking love Kingdom Hearts.
  • BladedFalcon - January 30, 2012 3:21 p.m.

    Tactics is first place. Good, all is as it should be. FFT is arguably even better than most core games save perhaps FFVI in my opinion. I did shake my head slightly at Crisis core though... Honestly? that game bored me to tears, didn't even finish it. Combat, exploring and side-quests are annoyingly repetitive and story's contrived and not that good. But eh... I didn't finish it, so I can't slam it down completely without knowing the ending.
  • darkrider105 - January 30, 2012 3:22 p.m.

    Gotta say that Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced was one of my most played gameboy games besides Advanced Wars. Never got to play the original :( Great list GR great list
  • MeTimeFreeTime - January 30, 2012 3:26 p.m.

    Absolutely loved the story for FF Tactics Advance on the GBA! The story was simple but the amount of depth to the characters was amazing.
  • Mezolitik - January 30, 2012 3:29 p.m.

    Crisis Core made me cry. I was a 25 year old man, drunk out of my face, crying my eyes out at a video game. I loved Sephiroth in CC. He was such a nice, friendly guy. Then, well...everybody knows the rest. Good times. I remember FF:T fondly too. I was stuck on that bastard Velius (who is now Belias, I believe) for something like three weeks. I had the game on import on the PS. I bought a PSP just to play it again.
  • Darkhawk - January 30, 2012 3:45 p.m.

    Ugh I tried FFTactics but couldn't stand it. It's sitting unplayed on my PSP. I get WHY people like it, but definitely not for me. Also, reC: goatsuckers
  • Yukichin - January 30, 2012 4 p.m.

    Er... you got Utada's name wrong. It's Hikaru, not Hikari.
  • ThatGamerDude - January 30, 2012 4:07 p.m.

    Kingdom Hearts and FFT are my two favorite from this list. Memories!
  • ssj4raditz - January 30, 2012 4:14 p.m.

    I honestly didn't know Secret of Mana was related to FF... You learn something new every day!
  • evilmajikman - January 30, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    Man, I must be the only person in the world that hates Tactics. That game was so freaking boring.
  • Triscuitable - January 30, 2012 4:58 p.m.

    You're not alone. I liked the "spinoff-off" for the iPod (and eventually, iPhone, and yes, it was on the iPod), "Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes". That game actually let you take songs you listen to constantly, and make units out of them, varied by the pitch and BPM of the song, and even genre. The more you listened to a song, the better the unit got. It really made my over-listening of "Ride the Lightning" all the more sweet.

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