Dragon Quest vs. Final Fantasy

Dragon Quest vs. Final Fantasy

A legendary RPG showdown

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Versus on

Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are the most iconic console RPG franchises so let's explore these historic series and choose a winner.

Screenshots of the original NES Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy VII
Both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy sure have come a long way!

Mainline games

Of course, I can discuss these series all day long but I'll keep this as brief and comprehensive as I can. First up, Dragon Quest debuted back in 1986 and although the original is super-simple, its 2 sequels that compose the Erdrick trilogy took things to a whole new level and are still great fun to play nowadays. Then, Dragon Quest IV released and knocked everyone's socks off with its campaign where each chapter focuses on new characters with the final one bringing everyone together. In fact, IV's cast is the most recognizable with Torneko, Alena, and Maya and Meena being a few fan favourites. The following 2 games only saw light in North America via DS remakes and they're both stellar while VII introduced a 3D world. VIII solidified the franchise in the west with its English voice acting and stunning anime visuals that carried over to the recent XI. Meanwhile, IX was a cool portable game and X is a Japan-only MMORPG.

Final Fantasy released in 1987 and allowed players to create their very own party which made it stand out as it felt like you were on an adventure with your friends. Final Fantasy II had a more structured story with predefined characters and plenty of fetch-quests while III implemented a revolutionary job system. It's safe to say that IV is the first entry to have a truly epic story with a phenomenal cast of characters and plenty of humour and drama throughout and V continued that trend while reintroducing the job system.

VI truly went the extra mile with its cast, story, and gameplay and VII took the franchise in a whole new direction with its more sci-fi setting, 3D visuals, CG cutscenes, and innovative Materia system. VIII offered a similar experience and introduced a junction and Guardian Force mechanic while IX took the series back to its roots with a medieval aesthetic and familiar systems. X was the first to feature voice acting and a full 3D world and it remains a superbly stylish and colourful RPG. XI and XIV are MMORPGs and XII took MMORPG-style combat and put it in one of the most epic game worlds ever and it's my personal favourite entry in the franchise. Next, Final Fantasy XIII featured a highly underrated paradigm shift combat system and although XV disappointed me, at least it offered something new.

After saying all of that, it's fairly safe to say that the Dragon Quest series has remained very consistent over its many installments as its gameplay rarely strays from the traditional turn-based formula that fans originally loved about the franchise. Heck, even the music in each game is similar with many tracks persisting throughout Dragon Quest's lengthy history. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy definitely features much more variety and is far from consistent. It's this risk-taking that has both delighted and frustrated fans with each new game over the past few decades but overall, I admire the fact that they've constantly tried new formulas and varieties of memorable worlds and stories. In the end, I have to pick Final Fantasy as the better mainline series because each game is generally a wholly unique experience.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age screenshot
The Dragon Quest franchise is filled with delightful characters

Spin-off games

Both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy have featured loads of fun spin-offs over the years. For starters, Dragon Quest Monsters is basically a Pokémon-inspired sub-series that's cute and a ton of fun. One of the best spin-offs is Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime for DS which is super-addictive and an absolute blast. However, the 2 most recent spin-off series (Dragon Quest Heroes and Dragon Quest Builders) are so well done that they rival and often surpass the mainline series in terms of quality. They're incredibly fleshed-out experiences that feel like Dragon Quest through and through while offering unique gameplay that you definitely won't find in the main series.

Final Fantasy has its fair share of spin-offs, too. In my opinion, the greatest spin-off by far is the epic Final Fantasy Tactics which features complex SRPG battles and an amazing visual style with equally awesome music. Then, there are the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII games which are pretty cool and the surprisingly dark Final Fantasy Type-0. Plus, I have to mention the action-focused Crystal Chronicles series as well as the Dissidia fighting games. There was even a kart racer for PS1 called Chocobo Racing which was impressively fun and then there's The 4 Heroes of Light, Final Fantasy Explorers, World of Final Fantasy, and more mobile games than I care to list. Honestly, there are so many Final Fantasy spin-offs that it's absurd yet very few of them actually stand out as must-have games.

Believe it or not, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy share a few spin-offs. For example, they both have rhythm games in the Theatrhythm series as well as Mystery Dungeon games in the form of 3 titles starring Torneko and 1 with Yangus plus a few Chocobo's Dungeon games. Finally, the Monopoly-inspired Itadaki Street (AKA Fortune Street) had a few games that boasted a cast of characters composed of familiar faces from both the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series. Too bad most of these titles never made it westward!

Well, this is a tough one. Final Fantasy may have many more spin-offs but the quality of the Dragon Quest ones are out of this world. Sorry, Final Fantasy Tactics; I'm going to say that ultimately, Dragon Quest has the better spin-offs, especially the recent ones.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 screenshot
For better or worse, the Final Fantasy series has always taken risks

I've been dreading this but it's time to pick an overall winner! In the end, I think the better franchise is...

Winner Final Fantasy

Seeing as it's taken great risks over the past few decades that have mostly resulted in rich and memorable gaming experiences, Final Fantasy deserves much respect even though, dare I say, the franchise isn't quite as epic as it used to be. That being said, Dragon Quest is a phenomenal series of RPGs yet I find that its consistency over the years has made the franchise rather repetitive. It's a good thing that they're creating such amazing spin-offs! Anyway, no matter which series you prefer, there's no denying that they both offer wonderful experiences in their own distinct ways.

That's just my opinion. Agree? Disagree? Vote now!

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