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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.

48 comments

  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 48 comments

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