10 Must-Play Square Games

| Video Game Reporter

Square-Enix is a monolith of the Japanese game industry, best known for their mega-popular “Final Fantasy” and “Dragon Quest” series of role-playing games (or “RPGs”). Even before merging with Enix in 2003, Square was a force to be reckoned with. But as good as Square is, I’m in a love-hate relationship with them. They consistently put out amazing RPGs. But therein lies my trouble. RPGs have an annoying habit of taking an ungodly amount of time to finish.

I recently went through my memory cards, and what I found was astounding. I’ve spent over 1200 hours playing Square RPGs. That’s equivalent to 50 days of my life. 50 days—that I’ll never get back—have been spent leveling up, killing monsters, and saving worlds. In the time that I played through “Final Fantasy X” (110 hours), I could have done millions of other things. But I didn’t. And “FFX” isn’t the only game in which I’ve logged over 100 hours. So, here’s your warning. If you don’t feel like becoming a college shut-in, do not take my suggestions. Go out and get a life. If you really want to continue reading, please do. I will see you and your pasty whiteness sometime next year.

10. “Dissidia: Final Fantasy” (PSP)

“Dissidia” is one big shout-out to the “Final Fantasy” fandom. Honestly, there’s no reason to play it if you haven’t played the other “FF”s. But to be fair, this RPG/action-adventure hybrid has been getting rave reviews. Play it if you have reason, otherwise, don’t bother.

9. “Dragon Quest VIII” (PS2)

“Dragon Quest” is one of the most popular RPG series in Japan. If you’ve never played any of the “Dragon Quest” games, “DQ8” is a good representation of what you can expect. Some may fault the series for being repetitive from game to game, but I actually don’t mind it.

8. “Secret of Mana” (SNES)

A spin-off of “Final Fantasy Adventure,” “Secret of Mana” is still a good game in its own right. If you have a Super Nintendo, it’s a must-play.

7. “Final Fantasy VI” (SNES)

“FF6” is a monumental game. With one of the better stories in videogames and a ridiculous number of controllable characters, it’s easily the second best game for the Super Nintendo, right after “Chrono Trigger.”

6. “Final Fantasy Tactics” (PS1)

A complete break from the other “Final Fantasy” titles, “Tactics” is still amazing in the fact that it has an amazing story line and an insane amount of customization. For fans of the “Fire Emblem” or “Advance Wars” series, this game is a must.

5. “Final Fantasy VIII” (PS1)

This is a controversial pick, but “FF8” is great because it ignored the standard RPG formula and tried something new. This game is less about how much you have leveled up, and more about how skillful a player you are. If you don’t like standard RPGs, try “FF8” sometime. It might surprise you.

4. “Final Fantasy X” (PS2)

The only “Final Fantasy” of note for the PlayStation 2, “FFX” really pulled it off. Square finally decided to implement voice acting, and what a game to do it in. Just a warning, if you have never played this game, be prepared to hate the main character.

3. “Kingdom Hearts” (PS2)

Disney + Square = Awesome. This game deserves a big WOW. Yes, it was designed for a younger audience in mind, but it doesn’t feel like it. If you can’t stomach the slower pace of turn-based RPGs, “Kingdom Hearts’s” action-packed combat might suit you better. (Plus, who doesn’t want to play a game with Donald Duck and Goofy as the main supporting characters?)

2. “Chrono Trigger” (SNES)

I don’t even know how to begin describing this one. It’s the best game for the Super Nintendo, and is the second-best RPG ever made. This game had it all. If you have never played “Chrono Trigger,” please, for the love of God, go play it.

1. “Final Fantasy VII” (PS1)

For RPG fans, this is no surprise. With one of the best storylines ever written, and some of the deepest gameplay ever, this is simply the ultimate in RPGs. If you haven’t played “FF7,” I would actually recommend buying a PS1 just for this game. My absolute favorite game of all time.

  • Fred

    Ahem…the best Dragon Quest, that is. FFVI is clearly the best FF. If you don’t think so, you must be a commie.

  • Fred

    This list is full of fail. The poster above me is far, far closer…my top 4 are identical, with the exception that Dragon Quest IV was the best, IMO…

  • Dudelio

    My list would be:

    10) Vagrant Story
    9) The World Ends With You
    8) Star Ocean
    7) Secret of Mana
    6) ActRaiser
    5) Valkyrie Profile
    4) Dragon Quest VI
    3) Xenogears
    2) Chrono Trigger
    1) Final Fantasy VI

  • Cobalt

    Final Fantasy IV needs to be there.

  • http://fujaenquantoehtempo.blogspot.com Marcelo Zepka Baumgarten

    No FFIV NDS? BAD LIST!

  • linkstunic

    i cant believe chrono cross isnt on this list i always felt the final fantasy series was boring the only ones i sorta liked was 9 and 10, my list would be.

    10.parasite eve
    9.final fantasy 9
    8.final fantasy 10
    7.final fantasy
    6.secret of evermore
    5.xeno gears
    4.chrono trigger
    3.super mario rpg if that can be named
    2.secret of mana
    1.chrono cross

  • http://razaki.us Razak

    I fifth the motion that VI is better than any other of the Final Fantasies out there. I also think IV is better than VII and it isn’t even on this list. I feel you put too much emphasis on graphics which is really where the breakthrough of VII was but bears no importance on RPGs in particular.

    The World Ends With You is also a worthy RPG by SQUENIX. Not one of t heir top games but still a good one.

  • http://aerinofsiren.blogspot.com Aerin of Siren

    No love for Vagrant Story or Valkyrie Profile? I think I have as much time in Vagrant logged in the workshops as I do playing the actual game ^^

    But I’ll forgive you for passing on “Driving Emotion Type-S” – beautiful sim-racer ruined by awful controls…

  • Ludist210

    Final Fantasy VIII and X are not better than Final Fantasy VI. Neither is VII.

  • Jsk

    FFVII is overrated as usual.

  • dragon_bid

    Chrono Trigger rules.

    You don’t need a PS1 to play FFVII…it’s now on playstation network so just download it for your PS3!!!

  • A

    Are you talking about Square-only RPGs, or are Enix and Square Enix RPGs also included? Most of the games you listed are from Square before it got absorbed by Enix, but Dragon Quest VIII actually came from the Enix side of the company, and was released by Square Enix, post-merger. If it’s only about Square RPGs, then Dragon Quest and any game released post-merger (Dissidia) should be removed from the list, as Square technically doesn’t exist anymore since 2003.

    If Enix-published RPGs are also included in the list, then there are a whole bunch that are at least better than, say, Dissidia.

  • steiner

    The fact that Final Fantasy IX is not in that list is major fail. How can a game like Dissidia get in front of it?! Dissidia is a fun game, but its nothing like the sheer genius of FFIX which is, in my opinion, the greatest game of all time.

    Personally, I think Kingdom Hearts is not that great either. Its an overly cheesy game which fails to utilise the Disney liscencing to its full extent. I was really disappointed with some of my favourite characters actually appearing to be rather boring in the game. I’d have liked to have seen FFXII in there instead.

    Other than that, it seems like a decent enough list (no idea how good Secret of Mana is though). But the glaring omission of the best reviewed Final Fantasy game of all time, FFIX, demotes this list into mediocrity.