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Top 7... Final Fantasy spinoffs

2. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core was a prequel to one of the most beloved Final Fantasy games ever, but rather than focus on its main characters, it told the story of the mysterious Zack Fair from SOLDIER. A friend of Cloud’s, and Aerith’s first boyfriend, Zack only made a brief appearance in the original game. But Square Enix decided to revisit the past, and we're glad they did. Crisis Core fleshed out Zack's history, and created a poignant story that was very much worth telling.

A contrast to the moody leading men of the series, Zack was likeable, friendly and easy to connect with, which made the game's ending that much more heartbreaking. (This shouldn't be a spoiler by now.) The game was beautifully done on the PSP, with memorable cutscenes and great gameplay. A fast-paced action-RPG, it was designed to be played in short bursts, and was not only an excellent Final Fantasy game, but a fantastic RPG, period. It delivered what fans had been waiting for... well, not a remake of Final Fantasy VII per se, but a return to the original universe and more screen time for Cloud and Sephiroth. 

1. Final Fantasy Tactics

Back in the '80s and '90s, RPGs were incredibly niche in the US, and tactics games were basically nonexistent. Japan got to enjoy titles like Ogre Battle, Fire Emblem and Front Mission, while English-speakers had to simply read about them in GameFan, dreaming of the day we’d finally get to play them. Then, thanks to the massive popularity of Final Fantasy VII, Square was ready to give the strategy genre a shot in the arm by publishing Final Fantasy Tactics internationally.

After grabbing Team Quest (the dev behind the Tactics Ogre titles) to create the game, Square took the isometric view, stat-based combat and other trappings common to strategy games, and melded those ideas perfectly with the Final Fantasy style. Not content with simply adding FF-themed monsters and items, Final Fantasy Tactics embraced the job system that had been so masterfully realized in Final Fantasy V and made it even better. There was a crazy amount of depth to the skills characters could earn through jobs, which made mastering a class add immense amounts of nuance to each character’s progression.

As an introduction to the genre, FFT worked great, finally cluing players in to why gamers on the other side of the world loved grid-based battles. With familiar concepts from Final Fantasy to guide them, fans of the series – particularly the new ones brought in by FFVII – came to love its tactical-RPG gameplay. Since then, strategy franchises like Disgaea and Advance Wars have been embraced outside Japan, and the formerly niche genre has grown considerably. Final Fantasy Tactics wasn’t just a great game on its own merits – it opened the door for western gamers to get their hands on dozens of other amazing games that they would otherwise have missed.

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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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