Because Final Fantasy XV was in development for 10 years, everyone was understandably surprised when it turned out to be pretty good. Taking the Final Fantasy franchise in a different direction, it provided an open-world environment to explore, alongside an action-based combat system. It was an ideal modern introduction to the long running series, meaning plenty of newcomers gave it a shot.
So, what do you do now that you’ve wrapped it up and still got an urge to play another Japanese RPG? Here’s a look at some suggestions for scratching that new found itch.
Final Fantasy VI
One of Final Fantasy XV’s biggest criticisms is that it was primarily male-focused. With no significant female characters, and a hefty sense of bromance, the lack of a strong and interesting female role easily grates as you play. Final Fantasy VI is the ideal antidote for that. The starting character, Terra Branford, becomes a pivotal part of everything here, with her presence backed up by the rebellious Celes Chere. It’s a typical tale of good versus evil, but it’s well told.
Over 20 years later, Final Fantasy VI remains one of the finest titles in the franchise. Its combat is turn-based, and it might feel more linear than you’re used to, but it’s a fantastic story. It’s easily available through iOS and Android too, saving you the effort of tracking down old consoles.
Final Fantasy VII
Is Final Fantasy VII the best Final Fantasy game out there? Maybe, but it’s aged a little more noticeably than Final Fantasy VI (also vying for the title of ‘best’). Its 3D graphics might have looked great on the PlayStation 1 nearly 20 years ago, but it’s looking pretty dated now. Its occasionally obtuse design doesn’t help matters either.
Where Final Fantasy VII does stand out is its wealth of side quests. There’s so much more to do here than simply follow its familiar tale of love and loss. You can spend time exploring a huge world, participate in many mini-games that are vastly superior to Final Fantasy XV’s, and you can even breed and ride Chocobos.
A tweaked version is available for iOS, Android, PC, and PS4, meaning you can easily still play it.
Final Fantasy IX
A much underrated part of the Final Fantasy franchise, Final Fantasy IX had the unfortunate history of being placed between two more memorable Final Fantasys. VIII has aged badly, while X has remained a memorably attractive proposition. So why choose IX over X? It’s both familiar yet so very different from anything else in the franchise.
Utilizing more old fashioned graphics, it’s aged rather well visually. Opening up with the quirkiness of putting on a play for royalty, it’s instantly distinctive. That sets the scene for a delightfully engaging game that also provides a wealth of humor. It might only be similar in name to Final Fantasy XV, but it’s well worth devoting time to.
Its recent ports to iOS, Android, and PC, ensures it’s an easy title to get hold of too. Much like Final Fantasy VII, it’s benefited from some important improvements too.
Kingdom Hearts series
One of the most surprising twists for Final Fantasy XV is its inclusion of an action-based battle system. It was a huge departure from previous games that have always featured menu-based forms of attack. If you particularly enjoyed that change of pace then Kingdom Hearts is a perfect series to dip into.
It’s a crossover of various beloved Disney settings and familiar characters from Square Enix games. Not all the titles are as great as each other but the first two installments are greatly worth your time. Rich with cameos, it’s perfect for those looking for hack n slashing, alongside a compelling storyline.
Tales of Vesperia
The Tales series of JRPGs haven’t reached the same level of success as Final Fantasy, but some are very much worth your time. Tales of Vesperia is a perfect example of that.
Its combat is a mixture of action and menus, with you able to inflict various combo attacks, while still retaining a certain level of strategy to how you do things. It’s not as non-linear as some other games here, but it gives you a sense of freedom anyhow. Best of all is its gripping storyline. In a move that’s common for the franchise, you can gain extra tidbits of storyline through occasional chats while out on the field.
The only downside? It’s pretty hard to get hold of these days, despite its relative youth.
Bravely Second: End Layer
I’ve discussed how great Bravely Second: End Layer is before, but it really is the perfect JRPG for those new to the genre. The story is fairly typical and more than a little sentimental, but it’s how everything is implemented that will draw you in.
Simplifying the combat system by allowing you to automate certain parts of it immediately makes things faster. That’s reinforced by the ability to save almost anywhere in the game. A fast travel system further speeds things up, and an in-game journal means you’ll never be lost.
It’s also easily acquired, being available for the Nintendo 3DS.