Let me preface this by saying that my tortured relationship with the Final Fantasy series really started with FF4. I adored FF4, and FF6 and FF7 only cemented the love and OCD that lead to countless purchases all over the series. In fact, my entire game soundtrack collecting hobby started with trying to get all of the FF OSTs. My special relationship with this series had been about music more than anything, and I love many of the soundtracks to games that you will see me deride in the below. My falling out with the series began with FF8, and Square's subsequent milking of FF7 and the Nomurageddon that followed put the final nails in the coffin. That said, the series will always have a special place in my heart even though I know its current forms are just not for me.
Final Fantasy I
My first experience with this was watching a friend play it. I had no idea what was going on, but it looked tedious. I didn't really play it myself until the PSX version was released (long after I had already played many other FF games), but there wasn't much story so I gave up on it quickly. I later put some time into the GBA version which was a lot more fun, but still largely unsubstantial, so I dropped it. I also picked up the PSP version for my collection but never got around to trying it.
Final Fantasy II
I tried this for the first time when it came to the U.S. on the PSX, but the weird leveling system was an immediate turnoff. Although I later purchased the GBA and PSP versions for my collection, I never revisited the game.
Final Fantasy III
I bought the DS version on release as a curiosity, but the high difficulty and job system were both turnoffs for me, and I never played much more than an hour or two.
Final Fantasy IV
My first real Final Fantasy experience. The same friend who showed me the original NES Final Fantasy showed me this one on SNES and I immediately fell in love with the world, story, music and characters. This was an epic fantasy the likes of which I had never seen in video games. I later borrowed it from him and played all the way through. I hated the grinding, but I loved everything else. Even later, I bought his copy from him to have for my personal collection. To do this day, I still consider FF4 to be the prototypical JRPG. Since then, I've bought the PSX, GBA, DS, and PSP versions as well. Of those, the only one I put much time into was the DS version which I thought was a pretty nifty remake.
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
I picked this up when it finally came to the Wii after years in mobile exile. I played a little bit of it, but it was readily apparent that it wasn't nearly as good as FF4, and I abandoned it quickly.
Final Fantasy V
By the time I was old enough to understand how the U.S. missed out on this game, I had already finished FF4, FFMQ, and FF6, so I wanted to track this one down. I imported an SFC copy, printed out a English guide, and gave it a go. I eventually lost patience with having to constantly try to translate things and gave up on it, but I picked the game up again when it was finally released in English for the PSX a few years later. I played halfway through the game until my OG PSX broke down. The flat story, dull characters, and job system all wore on me, and I didn't like it anywhere near as much as FF4 or FF6, so I wasn't motivated to continue playing it after I got a new PSX.
Final Fantasy VI
After loving FF4, I was so pumped for this one, and it was the first FF game I purchased at launch. $75 was a sh!t ton of money for a poor teen in the 90s, but it was worth every penny. I played the crap out of it, and I was completely immersed in the world, characters, and music. The switch from linear to non-linear halfway through was totally unexpected, and the myriad secrets and tricks kept me busy for months. I still maintain that this is the best mainline FF game. I later picked up the PSX and GBA versions.
Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII
I played this terrible Feature Phone game at E3 once. Enough said.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
By the time this reached U.S. shores, I was so burned out on FF7 related products that all I could muster was a brief playtest at a friend's house. It seemed decent from the little I played.
Final Fantasy VII
Oh, FF7. The PSX's killer app, and the game that made JRPGs a thing in America. I have mixed feelings about this game mainly due to what happened after it. The game's legacy is a victim of its own success with spinoff after spinoff further dragging its name through the mud. That said, I loved the game when it first came out. It did so many things that had never been done before, and it amazed on so many levels. Before Square systemically destroyed my love for it with all the pimping, my main criticism was how convoluted the story became in the second half. I never liked that, but FF7 remains the last FF game I truly enjoyed.
Final Fantasy VII Dirge of Cerberus
I always liked Vincent in FF7, so I was curious about this, but I never got a chance to try it, and the damning reviews didn't give me much reason to seek it out.
Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding
Another terrible Feature Phone game, this was basically the minigame from FF7, and it was pretty bad.
Final Fantasy VII G-Bike
I haven't had the chance to try this FF7 minigame spinoff. I wonder if it's any good.
Final Fantasy VIII
After enjoying FF7, I went into this with an open mind, and I eagerly played the demo that came with another Square title (I can't remember which). I was immediately turned off by the Draw System. It seemed so grindy and disrespectful of the player's time. I later bought the game for my collection, but the thought of dealing with the Draw System made it a low priority and I never got around to playing it seriously. FF8 also marked the moment where my current hatred of what Nomura has done to the Final Fantasy series began.
Final Fantasy IX
When FFIX was announced, I was overjoyed to see a return to a more classic style FF game, and I eagerly picked this one up. Unfortunately, the game came out at the wrong time, and school, work, and real life never made room for it. I was deep into my game CD hobby by this time, so I mostly experienced this one through the soundtrack. The same would later prove true for the remainder of the series.
Final Fantasy X
I was nearly done with college when this was released, and the Nomura designs, Tidus, and Blitzball all turned me off. I know I played a demo of it and was underwhelmed. I now have it my collection for PS2 and PS3.
Final Fantasy X-2
I liked the cheeky, light-hearted approach to this one, and the dress system sounded interesting to me. I liked the little I played of my copy, but I didn't want to dig into it without having first played through FFX, so it ultimately ended up as another one for the collection where I now have it for PS2 and PS3.
Final Fantasy XI
I played this once at E3. Once I saw it had the standard MMO battle system and was in fact a full blown MMO, I knew it wasn't for me.
Final Fantasy XII
I first played this at E3 years before the demo that came with DQ8 was released, and thought it was quite promising. In that early demo, the battle system was more like Parasite Eve or Vagrant Story, and I liked it quite a bit. Once I got my hands on the demo that came with DQ8, however, any warm feelings I had towards the game evaporated. At that moment I made the decision to stop collecting mainline FF games after the FFX series.
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
I was always a bit curious if this RTS was better than the disappointing Heroes of Mana, but sadly never got a chance to try it.
Final Fantasy XIII
When this one was first announced, I was blown away by the quality of the graphics and was actually a bit curious about the whole Fabula Nova Crystalis concept. My distaste for Nomura and the mixed reviews kept me from buying it, but I tried it a friend's house and enjoyed the battle system.
Final Fantasy XIII-2
I tried the demo for this one, and played all the way through it. I really liked the battle system, but the story and Nomura-isms were utter nonsense, so I didn't purchase it.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
I also tried the demo for this (just last year!). Again, the battle system was very enjoyable, but nothing else about the game made me want to buy it.
Final Fantasy XIV
I don't like MMOs, so I've had no reason to try this. I have the two original soundtrack CDs that were released for the original FFXIV, but I'm still disappointed that Squenix has only released subsequent OSTs on Bluray, ending my FF music collecting ways.
Final Fantasy XV
I'd like to try this, but I'm not buying FFT0 for the privilege of doing so. The character design for this one has me at full on Nomura hate, but I would like to try the battle system. Maybe someday.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
After completing and loving FF4, I borrowed this from a different friend and was disappointed that it was so simple, but the fantastic music kept me going and I played through to the end.
Final Fantasy Tactics
I bought this on release on the strength of the Final Fantasy brand with no idea of what I was in for (SRPGs weren't common in the U.S. in 1998). I remember being intrigued by the story, but I hated how there was no exploration and how the enemies were scaled to your level. I really tried to like it and get into it, but I just didn't have the patience for it, and ultimately gave up after 7-10 hours.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Another FF game I probably shouldn't have bought, this one was always destined for the collection. I played a little of it and I remember thinking it was ok, but not for me.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
Bought this as a gift for my sister, but never tried it myself.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
This game was a BIG DEAL when it came out because it signaled Square's long awaited return to making games for Nintendo consoles. Sadly, it wasn't very good. I love me some Action/RPGs, but there was nothing fun about this, and requiring GBAs for local multiplayer made things even worse. I eventually sold my copy as it really had no place in my collection. I never tried Ring of Fates, Crystal Chronicles, Echoes of Time, or My Life as a King.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Dark Lord
Actually a really solid, somewhat different take on the tower defense genre, I remember enjoying the demo for this one quite a bit.
An ok Tower Defense game, but the demo never motivated me to buy it. I haven't tried All the Bravest, Record Keeper or any of the other recent mobile-only ones.
Dissidia Final Fantasy
A nice excuse to remix FF tunes, the game itself is a dreadful fighting game that I wouldn't wish on anyone. I never tried its followup. Was that any better?
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
I wasn't expecting to like this one, but I tried it and I did. The aggressive DLC and my lack of time for this type of game kept me away from buying it, but I broke down when the sequel came out.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call
After enjoying the demo, I picked this one up but haven't had much time to play it. I'm still not thrilled with all the DLC, but I'm glad this tribute to FF music exists.
Final Fantasy Type-0
No demo has been released for this one, but everything I've seen and read makes me pretty confident that I would not enjoy it.
Chocobo Dungeon 2
I remember freaking out when I heard this was coming to the U.S. I had the soundtrack for the original and this sequel for awhile, and my excitement was largely based on the music. Back in the late 90s/early 00s, I had no idea what a Mystery Dungeon game was, and I had no idea what a Roguelike was. All I knew back then was that Chocobos and their music were amazing. I was in for a huge rude awakening, and I soon regretted my purchase.
As one of the first FF spinoffs to really remix FF music, I was crazy about the soundtrack to this game. Like, really crazy. My sister and I would play the OST constantly and we loved it! Fortunately I had the opportunity to play this horrible game at E3 before it reached U.S. shores and I saved $40, but I still love the soundtrack!
Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden
The first and only SD game that is related to the FF series, and one of my favorite games of all time. I got this when I was in middle school for Christmas and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. I poured over the included map, adored the heart wrenching story and beautiful music, and have played through it so many times. Too bad the GBA remake didn't do the original justice.