3. Final Fantasy X
In hindsight, Final Fantasy X was the last hurrah for much of what initially made the series popular.
To date, it’s the last game in the series to feature (mostly) traditional turn-based combat or random encounters, and it was the last game to feature a soundtrack mostly composed by Nobuo Uematsu. But the game was also firmly facing the future, as it was the first to feature voice acting and fully 3D backgrounds. And for better or worse (possibly because of those enhanced cinematic presentation elements), this is also when the series took a much more linear turn.
Most notably, Final Fantasy X also has the best cast in any Final Fantasy game since the series entered double digits. Yes, Tidus is a dork, but a likable one, and it’s hard not to get invested in his story. Ultimately, Final Fantasy X is a game with a little bit of everything for both old and new fans of the franchise, which is one of the reasons it’s remained so consistently popular over the years.
2. Final Fantasy VII
If you enjoy playing ultra niche JRPGs in English nowadays, Final Fantasy VII is the game to thank for that.
Before Final Fantasy VII, localizing RPGs was seen as a pretty big risk for most publishers, as the audience for such titles was thought to be quite small. Keep in mind that before Final Fantasy VII, three of the games in the series hadn’t even seen official releases in the U.S. But Final Fantasy VII, with its epic plot, iconic moments like the death of Aerith, impressive world, and soaring soundtrack, found appeal with such a wide audience that it opened the floodgates for RPGs in the West.
Yes, the game looks a little dated now, but with its pitch-perfect atmosphere and writing, and surprisingly engaging combat, the gameplay holds up surprisingly well. The remake might look a lot better, but going back to the original version is still the best way to experience Final Fantasy VII.