Best Handheld Final Fantasy Games In The Series (Ranked)

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Having an exciting fantasy adventure to defeat a demon lord is more accessible than ever.

What used to require a Game Master, some rulebooks, and a group of like-minded individuals is now possible on any video game console – including handhelds.

After 30+ years of pumping out influential JRPG titles, the world-famous Final Fantasy franchise has amassed a wealth of handheld games ranging from ports and remakes, to unique spin-offs that stretch the definition of “RPG” to its limits.

Final Fantasy is tough to rank when it comes to handheld titles, though. mostly because almost every single entry in the franchise has been ported to at least one portable console.

Still, every one of the following games brings something new to the franchise.

Even the ports and remakes have at least a couple of extras!


15. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls (2004)

Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls gameplay / GBA

Available on Game Boy Advance

Looking back at your favorite series’ beginnings is always a worthy cause, and Dawn of Souls is a great way to rediscover the origins of Final Fantasy.

This GBA compilation’s greatest appeal is the updated combat mechanics, which preserve the core gameplay but make it palatable for modern gamers.

It also adds four new Soul of Chaos dungeons on the original and a new boss rush final dungeon on the sequel.

If you’ve ever wanted to try FF1 & FF2 on an actual console, Dawn of Souls is the way to go.


14. Final Fantasy V Advance (2006)

Final Fantasy V Advance gameplay

Available on Game Boy Advance

This enhanced port Final Fantasy V brings in a lot of value, along with letting you play on the go.

It adds a bestiary, a quick save function, and even an entirely new bonus dungeon – The Sealed Temple.

It also adds some new classes to its excellent job system, including the Cannoneer, the Gladiator, the Necromancer, and the Oracle.

My favorite part about FFV Advance is the new translation, which fixes many mistakes and removes Faris’ pirate mannerisms, making it easier to take them seriously.

And if you’re just getting into this title, maybe take a look at some of our suggested tips for newcomers.


13. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (2007)

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings game screenshot

Available on Nintendo DS

Fans of FFXII’s Esper summoning system should check out Revenant Wings, a solid real-time strategy RPG known only to a small fraction of the fanbase.

That’s in part because it’s on the NDS, with FFXII being notoriously PS2 exclusive, but also because the gameplay is so different.

Instead of fighting directly, you’ll summon and direct an army of Espers (and some heroes) using your stylus.

I had a ton of fun trying to unlock more Espers – though the game’s Nintendo-hard difficulty made it an uphill climb.


12. Final Fantasy VI Advance (2007)

Final Fantasy VI Advance Game Boy Advance game

Available on Game Boy Advance

Most people who played Final Fantasy VII think it’s the best game in the series.

But their nostalgia goggles are on a little too tight.

Final Fantasy VI may not have the iconic chunky, low-poly graphics of FFVII – but in terms of gameplay and story, FFVI is in another league.

If you’ve never played it, this GBA version is a fantastic way to discover this dark but exhilarating storyline, and meet Kafka, the best villain in the series.

Fans of the SNES original should also consider the sound and color restoration patches for a more authentic experience.


11. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (2007)

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on PlayStation Portable

Available on PlayStation Portable

If you like strategic gameplay that takes your brain to the limit, Final Fantasy Tactics will provide the challenge you crave.

The War of the Lions is an enhanced remaster of the 1997 PSX original, improving the translation and introducing some incredible new animated cut-scenes that do a lot to set the story’s tone.

It’s one of the best stories in the franchise, with dark and political themes throughout.

Magic crystals are definitely a significant factor too. But it’s much more grounded than any Tactics game before or after.


10. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007)

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII PSP gameplay

Available on PlayStation Portable

I’ve always felt skeptical regarding Final Fantasy VII, but the universe Square Enix has built around this famous story is nothing to scoff at.

Crisis Core explores the events leading up to FFVII from the perspective of Zack Fair, a SOLDIER with a heart of gold who wielded the Buster Sword before passing it on to Cloud.

The game looks absolutely gorgeous, bringing the PSP’s powerful hardware to the forefront.

The real-time combat system is also pretty exciting, and it’s an excellent way for people who can’t stand turn-based combat to enjoy some Final Fantasy.


9. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (2012)

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy NDS gameplay

Available on Nintendo 3DS

Fans of rhythm games and classic JRPGs will love Theatrhythm, a love letter to the franchise’s characters, bosses, and well-known musical excellence.

In this rhythmic adventure, you’ll explore every main Final Fantasy game up to FFXIII from a musical perspective.

Each game-specific campaign features three rhythm mini-games – Field, Battle, and Event.

You’ll use rhythm to explore the overworld, defeat famous bosses and play through the most iconic scenes of each title.

The more hardcore rhythm game enthusiasts will find a lot to love in the game’s Challenge Mode.


8. Final Fantasy III (2006)

Final Fantasy III / mobile game screenshot

Available on Nintendo DS

Western Final Fantasy fans have a gap in their understanding of the series.

The second and third entries were Japan-exclusive in the 90s, which prompted FFIV to be released as FFII in the English-speaking world.

As the years have passed, Square Enix has made a real effort to make it up to fans, including releasing this enhanced 3D remake of the real FFIII for the NDS.

The remake respects the gameplay of the original almost to a fault. It’ll feel familiar to fans of classic JRPGs, but modern gamers will find it more than a bit slow.

Still, it’s a great experience if you have the patience.

The job system is entertaining, and trying to unlock high-level classes like the Geomancer or Ninja gives the player a sense of progression.


7. Final Fantasy IV (2007)

Final Fantasy IV game NDS

Available on Nintendo DS

If you never got to play the SNES original, this enhanced remake of Final Fantasy IV on the NDS is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in this classic storyline.

Like FFIII’s own remake, the game features gorgeous 3D graphics and a great soundtrack that should make it much more accessible to modern audiences.

The game’s Active Time Battle system feels much less dated than FFIII’s traditional turn-based combat, and you’ll have fun with the new ability-lending mechanic.

And here’s a pretty solid detailed review of the game if you’d like more info.


6. Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (2011)

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection PSP game

Available on PlayStation Portable

If you did play the original SNES version of FFIV, or if you just want to get as close to the authentic experience as you can, then FFIV: The Complete Collection is the way to go.

Rather than giving the game a 3D makeover, this PSP title enables widescreen and features crisp 2D high-definition sprites.

While it does include a re-arranged soundtrack, you can also swap it for the SNES original.

A plus for fans who actually enjoy the classic SNES music.

The Complete Collection includes the bonus dungeons introduced in FFIV Advance (2005) and the entirety of The After Years (2007) – a direct sequel to FFIV initially released in Japan for mobile devices.


5. Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (2011)

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light game screenshot

Available on Nintendo DS

The DS was rich with great remakes of classic Final Fantasy titles, but only a few entries were made specifically for the console.

The 4 Heroes of Light follows a classic Final Fantasy storyline, but the gameplay is pretty unique.

It removes the need for MP and replaces it with an all-encompassing Action Point system. The job system is also remarkably fluid, with a character’s class changing with whatever hat they’re wearing.

The game served as a predecessor for 3DS hit Bravely Default, as you can probably tell by the visuals.


4. Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy (2011)

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy gameplay PSP

Available on PSP

Once a franchise gets big enough, it’s hard to keep it all in one genre.

And fighting games are a tried and true way of showcasing fan-favorite characters.

Dissidia keeps the game’s soul in line with previous Final Fantasy titles by introducing heavy RPG elements to its fighter gameplay.

The reality-bending storyline sees the gods of harmony and discord summon great warriors from all across the series to fight as their champions. These characters include Lightning, Vaan, Yuna, and Tifa – among many others.

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is both a prequel and a remake of the 2009 original Dissidia and features over 60 hours of gameplay spanning both games’ story modes.


3. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (2009)

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time NDS game

Available on Nintendo DS

I loved the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2004) on the GameCube, but its focus on multiplayer was more of an issue than a feature, given my lack of spare GBAs and Game Link Cables.

Making the jump to the Nintendo DS was the logical next step.

And the DS jump made FFCC a hundred times better thanks to the console’s wireless connectivity.

There’s even cross-play between the Wii and DS versions of the game.

There are also tons of dungeons to conquer with friends locally or online, and each of the game’s four classes offers unique abilities that’ll fit different playstyles.


2. Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD (2014)

Final Fantasy X/X-2 PS Vita gameplay

Available on PS Vita

The PS Vita’s catalog is rife with excellent ports of classic Final Fantasy titles – and it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the Final Fantasy X duology.

This HD remaster features all the content available for each game, including optional bosses and gameplay elements from the Japan-exclusive “International” releases.

It’s also the only way for Western gamers to play FFX-2: Last Mission, a direct sequel to FFX-2 that had never been localized outside of Japan.

You can play every FF game up to FFX one way or another on the Vita. So if you’re into classic RPGs, it’s a great console to own.


1. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (2019)

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age / Nintendo Switch gameplay

Available on Nintendo Switch

The whole idea behind the Switch is that you can grab it from its dock and take it out on the go – making it, undeniably, a handheld console.

And the Switch happens to have the best remaster of the classic FFXII – complete with the updates and changes from the game’s International Zodiac Job System version.

The Zodiac Age features updated graphics and sound that give this already beautiful title a little extra push.

Coupled with the game’s political story and strategic real-time combat, it makes it feel fresh and modern.

If you’ve never tried the incredibly detailed job system in this remastered title then it’s absolutely worth looking into.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.