We've come to the final chapter of my Favorite Games on the original PlayStation. As you may have inferred from Parts One and Two (and the games listed in this iteration), the original PlayStation was very much my RPG-console. As a result, many classics of the system like Crash Bandicoot, PaRappa the Rapper, Metal Gear Solid, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night never made it into my system (though I did finally play Castlevania on my Vita last year for the Kinda Funny Book Club). So these games not appearing isn't a condemnation on them, I was just not fully in the PlayStation ecosystem back then.
Final Fantasy IX - As I touched on in Part One, Final Fantasy VII was an early front-runner for favorite game on the PlayStation. And when Final Fantasy VIII came out as the first game in the series I didn't like, my hopes for Final Fantasy IX dwindled a bit. But from the games first moments where you play as a member of a theatre troupe, I knew I was in for a treat with this one.
While Final Fantasy VIII was filled with mopey, dour characters, Final Fantasy IX was vibrant and joyous. The Draw system of FFVIII was tedious and discouraged actually using magic because you'd lose the character boosting benefits, while the characters in FFIX received their skills and magic through equipping the right gear. Basically, Final Fantasy IX fixed everything I hated about Final Fantasy VIII and was a great, enjoyable throwback to the classic "fantasy"-based games of the series. As a result, Zidane, Vivi, Dagger, and come in just below the SNES games as my third favorite entry in the Final Fantasy series.
Final Fantasy Tactics - One of the first departures from the core, numbered series, Final Fantasy Tactics offered one of the deepest narratives ever in a Final Fantasy game as well as pitch-perfect turn-based strategy role-playing mechanics. I spent countless hours with this game trying to maximize the skills and equipment earned in each fraught battle. And because the enemies leveled up alongside main character Ramza, that often would up making the end game near impossible so it was that much more satisfying clearing a battlefield with all party members intact. Given the direction SquareEnix has taken the Final Fantasy franchise, it seems almost certain we'll never get a proper follow-up outside of the Game Boy Advance games, which I found lacking the complexity of this original. What a shame. At least they touched it up and gave us some new content in the PSP port a few years back.
Final Fantasy Origins/Chronicles/Anthology - Mashed together as one entry, these three two-in-one collections are included because they brought some of the greatest RPGs ever to the PlayStation.
Origins brought me Final Fantasy I (which I had never played on the original Nintendo) and Final Fantasy II (which had never been released in the U.S. to that point), allowing me to finally play the games that established the groundwork for the entries I grew to love on the Super Nintendo.
Chronicles, as mentioned in yesterday's post, gave us the phenomenal one-two punch of Final Fantasy IV (which I had fallen in love with as Final Fantasy II) and Chrono Trigger (which I had somehow missed on Super Nintendo). Unfortunately, the disc-based nature of these iterations does mean that the load times are somewhat more noticeable than their cartridge-based counterparts. But still, that's two of the best games the JRPG-genre ever saw in one package, right there.
And Anthology gave me a new version of my all-time favorite Final Fantasy VI as well as the first appearance stateside of Final Fantasy V, which was a solid game with a focus on the classic Job System of earlier entries. All told, I was finally able to play nearly every single Final Fantasy game from I through IX on one system. Why Final Fantasy III didn't get released to the U.S. until the Nintendo DS version remains a mystery to me.
Suikoden II - The last of my entries also happens to be the last one I played chronologically. Having been firmly in the Square and Enix camps during the original PlayStation era (before they merged), I didn't really venture outside their catalog all that often. I wasn't yet the well-informed gamer I am today so a lot of games just never made it onto my radar. I never even heard about the Suikoden games until Jared Petty sang Suikoden II's praises on an episode of Podcast Beyond. But I wasn't about to spend an obscene amount of money on a physical copy of the game. So when they announced it was coming to Vita at the inaugural PlayStation Experience, I picked it up and played through it.
The fact that the game stayed with 2D-sprites instead of going the Square route of polygons immediately made it more timeless in terms of playability in a modern setting. But the vast cast of characters, complex story of brotherhood and betrayal, and dynamic combat played right into the things I love about the best RPGs. If you never played the game, allow me to join the chorus beating the Suikoden drum and insist that you try to play this game if you are able.
So there you have it: the final (fantasy-heavy) entries in my Favorite Games of Sony's first PlayStation. What classics did I miss? I know there are a ton. Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.