Let's hear it for the girls! Final Fantasy X-2 was not only the first direct sequel to a mainline Final Fantasy game, but it was also the first to feature an all-female main cast. Fans of the game all know it was about YRP: the kindhearted, yet fragile Yuna, the sassy and feisty Rikku, and the tough, mysterious Paine. X-2 put a lighthearted spin on Yuna's journey, a character whose vulnerability was always so touching, but many were waiting for her to let loose, set aside all her deep emotions, and just have some fun. X-2 definitely succeeded in showing another side of her, and it certainly didn't take itself too seriously in the process. Nobody will ever forget the opening featuring a popstar-like Yuna singing and dancing as if she was a member of the Spice Girls. In X we had a girl who had to dance when people died, but in X-2 we had a Yuna who not only danced for fun, but spouted words like "disasterriffic."
If you're going to commit to theme of a girl's night out, you might as well go all out, and that's exactly X-2 wasn't afraid to do. Dresspheres and the Garment Grid, anyone? The developers took the series' staple classic character system and played dress up with it! Giving players the ability to put on up to six dresses, which all featured different abilities during battles, was unique and interesting. X-2 capitalized on its "Girls Just Want Have Fun" motto because it was just that – fun and full of laughs. At the end, though, those invested in the love story of Tidus and Yuna were treated to a very special secret ending that just pulled at the heart.
In recent years, thanks to the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, we've seen the story expanded, extended, and retconned into what some would call an unrecognizable mess. Dirge of Cerberus and Advent Children gave us sequels, and both were love it or hate it experiences. One aspect of VII's story that always intrigued many players was the history of Zack Fair, the black-haired boyfriend of Aeris/th whose life and personality were "borrowed" by a rather not-all-there Cloud Strife. We had a movie, Last Order, that detailed these events, but that movie has since been replaced in the canon by our pick for number two among the best Final Fantasy spinoffs: Crisis Core.
Crisis Core offered challenging action-RPG gameplay with the innovative (or infuriating, depending on the outcome) DMW reel system, a great soundtrack by Takeharu Ishimoto, a lengthy main story, and lots of side quests. The popular materia system was back and repurposed for an action RPG, giving lots of customization to players. Perhaps most importantly, though, was what this game did for the backstory of several characters. It gave Sephiroth a likeable personality and, as a result, a more sympathetic background. It gave us a protagonist who, by all accounts, was more charismatic and likeable than Cloud ever was – so much so that by the time the inevitable conclusion rolled around, many players were hoping for the impossible and that this spiky-haired goofball just might make it in the end. The finale is a heart-wrenching affair, utilizing the actual in-game systems for storytelling so effectively that some players thought that maybe, just maybe, they could save Zack after all.
Final Fantasy Tactics arrived in North America in 1998 and immediately took fans of Final Fantasy VII by surprise. One of the first Final Fantasy side-games in the West, Final Fantasy Tactics offered a very different gaming experience than its predecessors. Yet Tactics quickly gained a legion of dedicated fans of its own, owing to remarkably deep gameplay and a sophisticated, dark narrative. The grave conflict between childhood friends Ramza and Delita and their opposing ideologies gave a human face to one enduring fact: in war, there are no winners, only losers. In a short time, Final Fantasy Tactics grew into a template of sorts for strategy RPGs. While there have been many imitators, too few SRPGs have featured FFT's signature combination of a brilliant Job system and a story full of energy and style.
In 2007, Square Enix re-made Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP, and the result was another resounding success. With new classes, characters, and stages, as well as gorgeous new cutscenes and (most importantly) a brand new localization, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is the definitive version of this RPG classic. Most telling about this game's appeal was the voting amongst our editors; only two editors who cast a full ballot did not place FFT at the top of their list of best sub-series. Complexity, style, wide appeal, and fun-factor: Final Fantasy Tactics has it all. Not merely the best FF-branded game outside the main series, Final Fantasy Tactics is considered by some to be superior to many of the "numbered" Final Fantasy games.
#4: Final Fantasy Adventure
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#5: (tie) Final Fantasy IV: The After Years & Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
#6: Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
#7: (tie) Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers & Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire of the Rift
#8: (tie) Final Fantasy: Chocobo's Dungeon & Final Fantasy: Chocobo's Tales