RANKED: Final Fantasy titles coming to Nintendo Switch
By Antonio Guillen
What is it about Final Fantasy titles that hold fans’ attention for years after release? Why do we purchase them again and again as they slowly trickle onto every platform under the sun? I have no definitive answers.
Final Fantasy devotion has baffled the scientific community for decades. Objectively each entry is a solid JRPG but even within the community fan favourites run the gamut. That makes sense considering most games offer distinct settings, art styles, and battle systems. What’s certain is that when you find the entry with the perfect mix that speaks to you, a zealot is born.
Nintendo was fully aware that fans would be pumped that a slew of Final Fantasy titles are headed to the Switch. Did you notice the dramatic change in tone during the Direct? The music volume dropped, the announcer eased his pace... and delivered the news... nice... and… slow. Nintendo has learned a lot about showmanship in recent years.
Fandom can not be quantified... but that’s never stopped me before! So below are the Final Fantasy titles coming to the Switch ranked by my personal hype level.
Which game are you most excited for?
P.S. Nintendo Village is offering a reward for any information related to the disappearance of Final Fantasy VIII (a personal favourite of mine).
#8 - Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition
Coming to Switch: 2019
Original Release: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (Gamecube 2004)
Other Crystal Chronicles releases (spin-offs of spin-offs anyone?): Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (Nintendo DS, 2008), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (Wii, 2008), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord (Wii, 2009), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (Nintendo DS and Wii, 2009), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii, 2009)
“Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles doesn't contain any of the Final Fantasy staples. There isn't a detailed story arch, there aren't any full motion video sequences, there isn't a deep experience/upgrade system, and you won't find a wide variety of magic spells.” - Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles reviewed by Mary Jane Irwin for IGN (2004)
Coming in at the bottom of the heap we have the multiplayer-centric action RPG Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. This Final Fantasy spin-off originally released on the GameCube in 2004 and sparked heaps full of spin-off games of it own. It allowed for solo play, but the bread and butter experience was rolling through the campaign with a 4 player crew.
How did they handle multiplayer in the days before Nintendo properly supported online gaming you ask? Local. Couch. Co-op. That’s right, and on top of that, GameBoy Advance controllers were used in tandem with the GameCube to finagle your way to the optimum multiplayer experience with a series of cables.
The main gimmick involves battling through dungeons filled with a destructive ‘miasma’ while you carry the ‘Crystal Chalice’, an item that projects a protective bubble around itself and your party. Now here’s the rub; in single-player, a Mog NPC helps you move the item, whereas in multiplayer, your group must nag and shame your most unpopular ‘friend’ into lugging it through the level while the rest of you enjoy the combat.
It will be interesting to see what improvements the remaster will bring, how the game performs when using Nintendo Switch Online, and how the use of Joy-Con compare to using wired GBAs. I’m far from a single player RPG purist, I love the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, but I’m very hesitant to jump in on a game that relies so heavily on me relying on others. Please take a moment and Google ‘Trust Fall Fail’.
#7 - Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon Everybuddy
Coming to Switch: Winter 2018
Other Chocobo Mystery Dungeon series games: Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon (PS One Japan 1997), Chocobo's Dungeon 2 (PS One Japan 1998, PS One U.S. 1999), Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon (Wii Japan 2007, U.S. Wii 2008), Cid to Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon Toki Wasure no Meikyū DS+ (Nintendo DS Japan 2008)
“The central theme of the game is pretty much exploring dungeons, collecting treasures, and killing enemies. The dungeons are randomly generated; hence the game's replay value is potentially limitless because no two games will ever be exactly alike. The downer is the fact that the random dungeons don't really offer that much in variety as the floors all seem to look very similar and the designs are rather boring.” - Chocobo's Dungeon 2 reviewed by David Zdyrko for IGN (1999)
OK, follow me on this one. The long running ‘Mystery Dungeon’ series of games out of Japan are roguelike games in which you battle through dungeons with randomly generated layouts. There are multiple ‘Mystery Dungeon’ off-shoots featuring well known franchises like Dragon Quest and Pokémon.
There have been four entries in the Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon series so far. Not all have made their way to the west, but you might have played or at least heard of Chocobo's Dungeon 2 (PS One, 1999).
What has me interested? Well I know very little about the series, I missed the PS One entry, I expect the game has only evolved and improved over time and well... I love Chocobos! Kweh!
#6 - World of Final Fantasy Maxima
Coming to Switch: November 6th 2018
Original Release: World of Final Fantasy (PS4 and Vita 2016)
Other Notable Releases: World of Final Fantasy (Microsoft Windows 2017)
“For those invested in the series up to this point, it's so worth playing. It'll mean a lot to the fans to go on an adventure, fight, and grow with the monsters that were only ever enemies in the past. Its weak story detracts from the experience a little, but the power of well-done nostalgia farming overshadows it easily.” - World of Final Fantasy reviewed by Darren Nakamura for Destructoid (2016)
The Final Fantasy franchise has built a rich history with a myriad of games and spin-offs released over multiple decades. What’s followed are mashup games that feed off of fan nostalgia.
One of these culprits, World of Final Fantasy, released in 2016 on PS4 and Vita. This cute-as-a-button, turn-based RPG tasked you with a world-saving adventure revolving around collecting chibi versions of Final Fantasy monsters called ‘mirages’ Pokémon style, and summoning ‘champions’ (famous FF protagonists) to aid you in battle.
Can I take adorable Final Fantasy games seriously? No. Do I love the Active Time Battle system and the idea of calling in a mini Tifa Lockhart to assist me in battle? Yes. A million times, YES! Plus, constantly rearranging and stacking ‘mirages’ to alter your two main characters’ (siblings Lann and Reynn) stats and abilities sounds like fun.
Fresh additions to the game include new monster companions and a fishing mini-game featuring Noctis from Final Fantasy XV.
#5. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD
Coming to Switch: Available Now!
Original Release: Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (iOS, Android, Windows Phones 2018), Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD (PS4, Xbox One 2018)
Other notable releases: The full blown ‘adult sized’ version of Final Fantasy XV (PS4/Xbox One, 2016), Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire (iOS, Android 2017), Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition (2018)
“It’s nearly identical to playing the console version in many ways, minus much of the complexities, but as an abridged version it’s actually a pleasant and engaging experience.” - Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition reviewed by Brittany Vincent for ShackNews.com (2018)
Final Fantasy XV had a somewhat rocky launch, but SquareEnix continued support, changed parts of the game and released multiple patches and DLC offerings leaving fans with a solid title.
Surprisingly, FFXV has spawned two mobile games. Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire - a poorly received free to play MMO - and an outright condensed version of the console release in Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition.
That’s right FFXV... on the go... in full chibi style, featuring the same characters, story, locales, music and voice acting. I know what you’re thinking… Why?!
The main problem is that I’ve experienced the ‘adult/console’ version of game already with graphics turned up to 11 with Xbox One X enhancements. In fact the visual fidelity was one of my favourite aspects of the game. I’m left with muted enthusiasm for the Switch release of the Pocket Edition, and dream of the console edition being ported to the Switch. If only...
#4- Final Fantasy VII
Coming to Switch: 2019
Original Release: PS One (1997), PC (1998)
Other Releases: PC release with new new features (2013), iOS port (2015), Android port (2016)
“It’s still a somewhat dated experience, so if you are one of the few who have never experienced Final Fantasy VII before, it might feel like a step back compared to modern day releases. But I think it’s a game that is well-worth experiencing, especially in light of the remake announcement that came out of E3 this year.” - Final Fantasy VII iOS reviewed by Dustin Chadwell for Gaming Age (2015)
Fun fact, according to Wikipedia, “within three days of its release in Japan, Final Fantasy VII sold over two million copies. This popularity inspired thousands of retailers in North America to break street dates in September to meet public demand for the title. In the game's debut weekend in North America, it sold 330,000 copies.”
FFVII holds a special place in my heart. Like many, it was my first introduction to the Final Fantasy series and my very first JRPG experience. I was blown away by the FMV sequences, I fell in love with the characters (I’m looking at you Tifa), the music, the story, it was all so fantastic. In short, I couldn’t put the controller down and it will go down as one of my favourite games of all time.
We’ve learned that these FF classics (7,8,9,10 and 10.5) will be the same version as their most recent port iterations. In the case of Final Fantasy VII that means the Switch version would include some modern conveniences and features including the ‘character booster’ ability to max out your stats and gil, and allow you to plough through the game with limit breaks.
All that being said, I’ve already come back to FFVII a few times over the years and I can now see its flaws, but pacing issues and cross dressing segments can’t dampen my mood too much.
I’m fully on board the Switch release hype train, however, I worry the wild hope of seeing the FFVII remake (currently only announced for PS4) has raised my expectations a little too high.
#3- Final Fantasy IX
Coming to Switch: 2019
Original Release: PS One (2000)
Other Releases: PS One Classic (2010) compatible with PSP, PS Vita, PS3 (2012) PC, iOS, PS4 (2016)
“The pre-rendered backgrounds, meanwhile, are so exquisitely drawn as to push the limits of the system's resolution, forests and cities and otherworldly realms filled to the corners with beautiful artwork, interactive elements, little bits of animation and huge swaths of movement laid over the backgrounds, and on and on. Most of the areas have to be seen to be believed - there is not much more detail that can be stuffed into a TV screen at this rate” - Final Fantasy IX PS One (2000) reviewed by David Smith for IGN.
The reason I’m hyped for Final Fantasy IX is because I’m certain I didn’t give it a fair shake the first time around. After FFVIII’s more ‘realistic’ look and futuristic setting (which I loved), IX marked a return to classic FF games in reverting to a medieval art style and featured short cartoonish looking characters.
Aside from the adorable and interesting Vivi, I didn’t connect with the characters or plot. I found the combat that shoe horned each character into a very specific job with limited skills stiff and limiting.
I know that at the time I didn’t fully appreciate the fantastically colourful pre-rendered backgrounds and I’m determined to understand why so many others have fallen in love with the game over the years.
#2- Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD Remaster
Coming to Switch: 2019
Original Releases: Final Fantasy X (PS2, 2001), Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2, 2003)
Other Releases: Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD Remaster (PS3 and Vita, 2014, PS4 2015, Microsoft Windows 2016)
“Both games stand the test of time and are worth the admittedly significant time investment, even if you don't hold a deep-rooted, nostalgic association to the original releases.” - Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (PS3) reviewed by Josiah Renaudin for GameSpot.com (2014)
I can’t express how much Final Fantasy X means to me. I love every character, the turn based combat, the sphere grid upgrade system, the amazing story (one part perilous pilgrimage, one part love story) heck I didn’t even mind the broken Blitzball mini-game.
It just hit at the right time I guess. By the end I wasn’t satisfied, I needed more Tidus and Yuna, I wanted to see more of the world of Spira, I needed closure. I guess I wasn’t the only one, because in a departure for the series (that would soon become a common occurrence) a sequel was released.
Interestingly, the second installment was vastly different from its predecessor. FFX-2 brought us back to Spira for a non-linear adventure featuring Yuna, an all-female party, Active Time Battles and the Dressphere job system. The tone was upbeat, the combat was flashy and... I wasn’t a huge fan. But I didn’t hate it either.
Lo and behold, a decade later, not only did we get both games re-released, but they came in a remastered bundled package. Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD Remaster featured a resolution upgrade, remastered music, and an audio drama filling in the story gap between the games.
Now THAT’S a lot of good game in one package, and it’s Switch bound. I am beyond excited.
#1- Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Coming to Switch: 2019
Original Release: Final Fantasy XII (PS2, 2006)
Other Releases: Fantasy Revenant Wings (Nintendo DS, 2007), Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System (Japan Only, 2007), Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4, 2017) (Microsoft Windows, 2018)
“The game's visual engine is among the best ever seen on the PlayStation 2, and the incredible amount of detail, activity, and fluidity of everything seen on the screen at once is quite a technical feat. Each and every model, down to the most obscure NPC, an immense level of attention paid to them.” - Final Fantasy XII reviewed by Jeremy Dunham for IGN (2006)
At the top of my hype list sits a crowning achievement of the franchise. A title that received multiple game of the year awards upon its initial release in 2016, and whose remastered version has only sweetened the deal with visual enhancements, new game + options, and a slew of improvements to the license skill upgrade system. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age.
The story was deep and mature, the world felt large and alive, the combat fast and fluid... FFXII and I were best friends.
I explored Ivalice in amazement, taking in its open vistas littered with roaming monsters. I tweaked the gambit system constantly, striving to equip each party member with orders to cut down enemies and bosses as quickly as possible.
FFXII was one of the games that helped convert me into a lifelong zealot for the series. I’ve yet to experience the game again since the PS2 so I’m incredibly excited to jump in again next year. I can’t wait, Kupo!
Antonio specializes in video production, audio engineering and graphic design, and co-hosts the Switch Talk podcast. His love for the Switch has brought him back to his first love, Nintendo. He turns to gaming for escapism and gravitates towards RPGs, FPS and Action/Adventure games. His favorite game of all time is Super Mario World.