The DS introduced a lot of new entries into the Final Fantasy series. Some games were remakes, some were sequels, and others were completely new spinoffs. Square Enix overall had a great revival on the platform and it is easy to see why.
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Most of the company's bread and butter games are RPGs or at least that’s what Square Enix is known for. That genre is perfect for portable hardware as they can involve a lot of mindless grinding one can do in the background while doing something else like watching TV. There are ten main Final Fantasy titles on the DS, all of which have something positive to offer. However, which is the best Final Fantasy Nintendo DS game?
Updated November 11, 2021 by Mark Sammut: The Nintendo DS got a whole lot of Final Fantasy games, even if only a handful were notable releases. The console provided Final Fantasy 3 with its official Western debut, a game long-time fans of the franchise had long hoped would make it out of Japan. Final Fantasy 4 DS is one of the best ways to experience that entry in the series, and Chocobo lovers are well served by Nintendo's handheld console.
Although not technically Final Fantasy games, SaGa 2 & 3 both received remakes on the DS. Earlier in 2021, Square Enix released the Game Boy trilogy as Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend on Steam; consequently, it seems only fair to include SaGa 2 & 3 in this article. After all, they are pretty good JRPGs.
12 Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales
- Release Date (NA): April 3, 2007
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales was released in 2007 on the DS in North America. There is somewhat of a story in the game represented by a storybook, however, there isn’t much to it. The title is mostly a series of mini-games starring the iconic Chocobo. It’s not bad but there have been better mini-games in the Final Fantasy universe.
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales is a charming game that offers a different type of experience for this franchise. Die-hard Final Fantasy fans are the only ones who should consider giving this game a look.
11 Chocobo And The Magic Picture Book: The Witch, The Girl, And The Five Heroes
- Release Date (NA): N/A
- Japanese Title: Chocobo to Mahō no Ehon: Majō to Shōjo to Gonin no Yūsha
- Release Date (JP): December 11, 2008
Chocobo to Mahou no Ehon: Majo to Shoujo to Go-nin no Yuusha is a sequel to Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. This one was more ambitious in terms of trying to tell a more serious or at least focused, story. However, it ultimately still boils down to another mini-game collection. Chocobo to Mahou no Ehon: Majo to Shoujo to Go-nin no Yuusha has been released only in Japan on the DS and there is no complete fan translation yet.
10 Cid And Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon: The Labyrinth Of Forgotten Time DS+
- Release Date (NA): N/A
- Japanese Title:Cid to Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon: Toki Wasure no Meikyū DS+
- Release Date (JP): October 30, 2008
Cid to Chocobo no Fushigi na Dungeon: Toki Wasure no Meikyū DS+ is an enhanced port of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon made for the DS. In 2007, Chocobo's Dungeon came out on the Wii in Japan only, with the game coming out in the West a year later.
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As the DS title came out the same year in Japan as the Wii version came out in the West, the enhanced port was not released internationally. The ports don’t stop there because there was a remaster of it in 2019. It is the third and so far final entry in the Chocobo’s Dungeon series.
9 SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha: Shadow or Light
- Release Date (NA): N/A
- Release Date (JP): January 6, 2011
Outside of Japan, the Game Boy's SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha was published as Final Fantasy Legend 3, a connection that did little to help establish the series' identity in North America. Despite this change in name and the fact they are still JRPGs, the SaGa games differ quite a bit from Square Enix's mainline Final Fantasy titles, and the DS remake highlights the series' unique elements.
SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha: Shadow or Light swaps out the original game's traditional leveling up system for one focused on stat improvement through actions taken in battle. This change brings this entry's progression system in line with other releases in the franchise. In SaGa 3, players constantly have to keep in mind how they use their resources, and the game is quite a grind even for the JRPG genre. The remake also expands the personalities of the characters, along with streamlining the world map. It is also a decent-looking DS game.
Sadly, SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha: Shadow or Light was not released outside of Japan. As an alternative, Game Boy's Final Fantasy Legend trilogy is available on the Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mobile devices.
8 SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu: Goddess of Destiny
- Release Date (NA): N/A
- Release Date (JP): September 17, 2009
Known to Western Game Boy owners as Final Fantasy Legend 2, SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu was a solid JRPG when it came out in the '90s, and the DS remake retains and enhances what made the original so much fun to play. While the story is nothing to write home about, the gameplay is a lot of fun and quite deep.
Players put together a party of four from a range of races – Humans, Espers, Robots, and Monsters – and there is quite a bit of variety here. Each race develops differently; for example, a Human's physical stats will increase following battles, while an Esper's growth will predominantly come in the form of magical spells. The game's systems are complex, but players should be able to come to grips with them after a few hours. Compared to the Game Boy release, the DS remake is considerably more inviting. It also adds plenty of new content or gameplay mechanics like Combo Threads.
7 Final Fantasy 12: Revenant Wings
- Release Date (NA): November 20, 2007
Final Fantasy 12: Revenant Wings is a Nintendo DS sequel to Final Fantasy 12 which was released in 2006 on the PS2. It stars Vaan and Penelo who are finally able to accomplish their dreams of grabbing a ship and becoming sky pirates.
The sequel's gameplay is very different not only from Final Fantasy 12 but from the franchise as a whole. Revenant Wings is an RTS game that is fun to play but the DS’s screen size makes it a bit too cramped to play on.
6 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring Of Fates
- Release Date (NA): March 11, 2008
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates was the first sequel to Crystal Chronicles, a 2004 North American game that was released on the GameCube.
The gameplay in Ring of Fates is similar to its predecessor as both are hack and slash RPGs wherein players get to choose a race/class. The crystal bucket mechanic is not as complicated in the sequel as it was in the original game, which is a change for the better. While this is still very much a multiplayer-focused game, there is a single-player campaign as well.
5 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes Of Time
- Release Date (NA): March 24, 2009
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is the last core-focused multiplayer game in this sub-series, and players have the option to select from four tribes: Yukes, Selkies, Lilties, and Clavats.
What made this one unique was that there was a simultaneous Wii release so that both systems could play together. That was good on paper but the graphics were barely changed for the console version, making it a weird port by comparison.
4 Final Fantasy 3
- Release Date (NA): November 14, 2006
Final Fantasy 3 was released in 1990 on the NES in Japan only. The game received fan patches into English in the absence of an official release, but it wasn't quite the same thing. Western fans had to wait until 2006 to finally play the real Final Fantasy 3.
The remake improved a lot of features that would have made the NES game seem archaic by 2006. Notably, this was the first entry in the Final Fantasy series to allow players to change Jobs.
3 Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light
- Release Date (NA): October 5, 2010
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light was almost like a reboot of the franchise, going back to more traditional gameplay values compared to what its home console contemporaries were doing at the time. This means a turn-based battle system, four "hero" characters, and random battles. It is also a pretty difficult game.
The features implemented in this game would later go on to influence Bravely Default, an RPG that was also seen as a throwback or spiritual reboot to the Final Fantasy series.
2 Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire Of The Rift
- Release Date (NA): June 24, 2008
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift is the final core tactical RPG in the series, much to the disappointment of fans. While the style, world, and jobs resemble Final Fantasy Tactics Advance’s more whimsical nature as opposed to the original’s dark demeanor, Grimoire of the Rift is seen as a better game than its predecessor.
That’s because the Judge system is critically lowered, which is something that frustrated players before due to strict limitations. If this will indeed be the final entry, Grimoire of the Rift at leastgave the series a worthy send-off.
1 Final Fantasy 4
- Release Date (NA): July 22, 2008
Final Fantasy 4 was originally a 1991 SNES game. Before this DS remake, Final Fantasy 4 received various ports and updates. The GBA port, for example, added in more content as well as tweaked some mechanical issues.
This remake tried to emulate the PS1 and PS2 generation of entries in the series with voice work, a stronger overall story, as well as a more epic presentation. It did so to great success, making this remake a fantastic way to experience Final Fantasy 4.