Best Final Fantasy Games
Image: Nintendo Life

Update: 2nd April 2024 is the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy VI — originally known as Final Fantasy III — on the SNES. And to celebrate, we've completely revamped our Best Final Fantasy Games list to include not just the mainline games, but also the spin-offs.

Don't worry, though, this is still a user-ranked list — we've just expanded this massively. Now you can vote for every version and every spin-off in the Final Fantasy franchise. Enjoy!

As one of the biggest RPG franchises in the world, Final Fantasy has a boatload of titles under its belt. Starting in 1987 with the original Final Fantasy on the NES, the franchise has simply exploded over the years and introduced many watershed RPGs to the world.

Not content with sticking to a turn-based system, Final Fantasy has always been an innovator. The Active Time Battle system in Final Fantasy IV introduced a new layer of strategy to combat; Materia allowed you to customise your party and their skills in Final Fantasy VII; and Gambits meant that Final Fantasy XII took on a bit of an MMO sensibility.

But to truly rank every single Final Fantasy game released on a Nintendo system, we're not just looking at the mainline RPGs. We're also including the spin-offs, the different releases, and the lot! So is Final Fantasy III Pixel Remaster better than the DS Remake? Or is Theatrhythm truly the best Final Fantasy game? There's only one way to find out.

Final Fantasy II / IV SNES
Image: Zion Grassl / Nintendo Life

We asked you, lovely Nintendo Life readers, to rate every single Final Fantasy game that you've played. As long as they've been on a Nintendo console, and been released in English, they're game. So Final Fantasy V came out on the GBA and Switch in the West, but the SNES (Super Famicom version) can't be voted for here. And of course, there are plenty of FFs that have never been released on a Nintendo system.

We've also excluded the Final Fantasy Legend games (on account of these being a part of the SaGa series), Final Fantasy Adventure (which is the first Mana game), and the Bravely series (which started life as a sequel to The 4 Heroes of Light, and while it feels like classic FF, it's its own series).

Remember that the order below is updated in real time according to each game's corresponding User Rating. Therefore, it's entirely possible to influence the ranking even as you read this. Simply click on the 'star' game you wish to rate and assign a score.

Now, Warriors of Light, it's that time — here's your list of the best Final Fantasy games on Nintendo systems...

47. Chocobo GP (Switch)

Beneath the microtransaction controversy (which was eventually removed from the game) and the lacklustre story mode, Chocobo GP was a delightful surprise from Square Enix. It's a slick and addictive effort that serves up chaotic kart racing action featuring a generous roster of Final Fantasy characters battling it out on well-designed tracks inspired by locations from across the franchise's history. This should've been a slam-dunk for Square, but the early game missteps did a disservice to what was otherwise a solid and fun kart racer.

46. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD (Switch eShop)

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD isn't a bad game, but it feels superfluous — it's hard to imagine the audience being served here. While it captures the spirit of the full game well enough, it's an undeniably inferior version of a series entry that wasn't the most celebrated to begin with. It has its fans, of course, but hardened Final Fantasy enthusiasts won't be satisfied playing through this lighter mobile version as a substitute for the 'proper' experience, there's little reason to dive in if you've already played the original, and there are better options for curious casuals looking to dip their toe into the Final Fantasy pool.

45. Crystal Defenders R2 (WiiWare)

It's difficult to rate both Crystal Defenders games as separate entities because we can't help but feel that they should have been included in the same package. Crystal Defenders R2 features a bit more challenge and just feels a little meatier overall than the first release. If you enjoyed Crystal Defenders R1, you'll likely enjoy this second title as it's basically more of the same with a little more of an edge to it. However, if you're only going to purchase one of these titles, you'd probably be better suited to choosing this second release as it just feels like a stronger package overall.

44. Crystal Defenders R1 (WiiWare)

While it isn’t as feature-rich as its brethren, Crystal Defenders R1 supplies enough value to be worth a download for fans of the ‘Tower Defense’ genre. There are a few annoying niggles that prevent it from being a must-have purchase, but if you look past these you’ll find an addictive and ultimately entertaining experience. So break out the swords, shields, and magic. There are crystals in need of defending!

43. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition (Switch eShop)

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is the kind of game that will unfortunately only appeal to a relatively limited demographic. Enjoyable co-op chaos with your friends is the main draw here, but the lack of same-screen or even local Switch multiplayer substantially hobbles that appeal. Couple that with simplistic gameplay that fails to provide you with much of a hook to stay with it long-term, and you’re left with a rather middling experience that doesn’t do much to incite strong feelings one way or another. It's far from being the worst co-op focused game on the Switch, but it’s far from the best, too, leaving it somewhere in the middle of the pack.

42. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (Wii)

While the DS version of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is a great dungeon-crawling game, the same certainly cannot be said about its Wii counterpart, which is nothing but a quick cash-in for Square Enix. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be difficult to see that the Nintendo DS version is certainly the way to go if you’re planning on picking up the game. Unless you don’t have a DS, you shouldn’t really consider spending your money on this one.

41. Final Fantasy (NES)

No one could've predicted how successful Square's Final Fantasy series was going to be, and it's all thanks to the foundations laid in the OG Final Fantasy. Sure, the game is showing its age and does feel a bit sluggish by today's more efficient RPG standards, but you still can't deny the importance and impact the game has had on the RPG genre and console gaming in general. If you've become used to the brisk pacing of the more modern RPGs you'll likely find this release somewhat tedious, but series fans will find it worth investigating or revisiting. It's available in various forms, and is one of the titles on the NES Classic Mini.

40. Final Fantasy II (Switch eShop)

Final Fantasy II is often one of the hardest games in the mainline series to recommend, and it's pretty divisive even among hardcore series fans. That being said, this is arguably the game that gave us the SaGa series. It's the first entry to give us a truly deep story, and also provides interesting mechanics and ways to level up that truly challenge you. This is also the game that introduced us to Chocobos. While this wouldn't be at the top of our list of recommendations, if you like SaGa, or you really love the series and want to play them all, this is worth giving a shot.

39. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii)

In ditching the RPG elements and moving to fully real-time combat, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers loses a bit of its charm. It's a great-looking Wii game, and a pretty unique entry in this Final Fantasy sub-series with lots of engaging minigames and side activities to jump into. But there's a distinct lack of polish holding Crystal Bearers back, as well as forced (and inaccurate) Wii Remote controls. Still, there's some fun to be found in the combat, so if you can live with a little bit of jank, then Crystal Bearers might be worth a cheap pick-up.

38. Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)

Final Fantasy Explorers feels like an entry point for the genre rather than a true rival to Monster Hunter. While the Job system isn't as deep and involving as Monster Hunter's weapon-based classes and the short quests quickly descend into repetition, the online side of the game is solid and the allure of forging new items ensures that the desire to find the best loot is always at the front of your mind. There's also a generous helping of fan service for long-time fans. Overall, then, Explorers is accessible and enjoyable, but the shallow nature of the gameplay might leave seasoned players feeling a little cold after extended play.

37. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SNES)

Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest's low level of difficulty and overly predictable storyline might prove to be a bit too minimal for long-time Final Fantasy fans. Of course, those who've never really given the series a chance or those who've found the standard releases a bit too difficult might want to check out this far more accessible title. At the very least it's a fitting introduction to the world of RPGs and a nice starting point for those looking to delve into the world of Final Fantasy and all that it has to offer.

36. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (WiiWare)

The Wii isn't the most ideal way to play Final Fantasy IV: The After Years — particularly with the closure of the Wii Shopping Channel. But fans of 16-bit Final Fantasy will find plenty to wrap themselves around in this continuation of the Final Fantasy IV storyline. The classic gameplay elements on display here might prove to be a bit too simplistic for modern RPG fans, even with the new additions. But ultimately, The After Years offers up a lot of content for its price tag.