The Final Fantasy franchise is one steeped in thunderous praise from critics, immense adoration from fans, and has earned the legendary air that surrounds its hallowed name every time it is spoken. For many, the Final Fantasy games are the quintessential role-playing game, as it is (and Dragon Quest) an entire generation’s introduction to the once-titanic genre.
While nearly every game in the franchise has a lengthy, well-developed and emotional plot to go along with its by-the-numbers RPG gameplay, the series also has a penchant for incorporating side quests and mini games to varying degrees of success. To make it into the better portion of our list, the contenders needed to be fun and creative enough to separate them from the pack, be it through a minigame or otherwise, and also offer an appropriate and satisfying reward. For a side quest to land on the undesirable section of our list, the quest had to be pointlessly difficult, overly obscure, extremely frustrating, and offering a reward hardly worth the trouble. To properly compile this list, we decided to stick with the well-stocked main line entries of the franchise, meaning that none of the series’ spinoffs or MMOs are included (although one of the few direct sequels does make an appearance).
In our list of 15 Side Quests Every Player Needs To Complete (And 10 That Aren’t Worth It), we’re looking at a nice slice of available games and picking some of the best (and worst) quests available. With all that settled and down, let’s get started with something that’s not quite a side quest, but still worth seeking out:
25 FF1's Warmech - Worth It
Honestly, Final Fantasy I's Warmech is much less of a side quest and more of an unexpected treat, but this encounter is nonetheless a storied legend among the most seasoned of franchise fans. With an encounter rate of 3 in 64, the extremely powerful Warmech is not only the most powerful adversary the Warriors of Light could face off against, but also the rarest; making finding him a journey.
In fact, its appearance is so rare that Nintendo even once held a contest to photograph the mechanical beast.
24 FFVII's Ancient Forest - Worth It
The seventh entry of the long-running JRPG series needs no introduction, nor does its side quest involving the optional location known as the Ancient Forest. Able to be accessed only after defeating the Ultimate Weapon or breeding a Mountain Chocobo (something we’ll touch on a little bit later), the Ancient Forest contains a plethora of powerful items, weapons, and Materia that’ll make any player’s adventure much less harrowing.
That said, the area does contain some unusual methods for navigation, but the sense of wonder, along with the lovely awards that await those who trek through its dense foliage, make the hike worth it.
23 FFXV's Let Sleeping Mountains Lie - Not Worth It
We’ve harped on this particular encounter before, but we’re compelled to do so again. Players waited for Final Fantasy XV, originally known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, for what felt like centuries and, when it finally released, many were absolutely stunned by not only its quality, but the breadth of content that made its world and characters feel alive.
Unfortunately, there was also a prevalent sense of immense feature creep, and this preposterously long-winded boss encounter is a prime example. While you waste your time whittling away five million HP, ask yourself why the developers wasted precious development time to even put this battle in here.
22 FFXV's A Behemoth Undertaking - Worth It
Chocobos are a staple of the Final Fantasy franchise and have become something of a mascot for it; with the little, yellow chicken-like animal getting a few spinoffs to call its own. It was only natural that these critters would make an appearance in the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV, so the developers made sure to give them a little more pomp and circumstance than usual.
In order to mount and ride these loyal beasts, you’ll need to face off against Deadeye in a desecrated lair, all while the drama is heightened by a super musical score. Again, all in the name of rideable chickens.
21 FFIX's Chocobo Hot And Cold - Worth It
Speaking of those very same rideable chickens, they’re featured in an excellent side quest within the comparably excellent Final Fantasy IX. You’ll have to pay off a Moogle to let you ride this famed chicken and, while doing so, you can seek out treasure while also building up the strength of your birds' beak. Before you know it, your mount will be learning to climb mountains and fly, in the name of seeking out greater fortune.
Finding buried treasure is almost always fun, but when that’s mixed with some light virtual pet elements, things get taken to the next level.
20 FFIX's Tetra Master - Not Worth It
Final Fantasy VIII had an intoxicatingly addictive and prevalent card game in it, which we’ll be talking about a little later, so we guess it only made sense that the developers wanted to craft something similar for the follow-up entry: Final Fantasy IX. We kind of wish they didn’t.
Where VIII’s Triple Triad was easy to learn and fun to play, IX’s Tetra Master is cumbersome and boring. Then there’s the matter of what you get (or don’t get, rather) for mastering it. In Triple Triad, you could earn some sweet rewards. For Tetra Master, you get… pretty much nothing. Fun!
19 FFX's The Monster Arena - Worth It
Pokémon is currently flying high with the legitimately surreal trailer for Detective Pikachu making the rounds, simultaneously enrapturing and confusing audiences who lay eyes upon it. Pokémon was also flying rather high during the era of Final Fantasy X, so it kind of makes sense that there is a surprisingly engaging monster-capturing side quest.
Working for a strange guy who catches and breeds monsters, you’re tasked with capturing 10 of every monster you come across. You’ll get rewarded for your efforts, and you’ll also be able to fight the beasts he breeds with the monsters you bring him!
18 FFXV's Scraps Of Mystery - Worth It
Even detractors of the overly expansive Final Fantasy XV are likely to admit that its greatest strength is the relationship shared among the main characters as they go on, what is essentially, a road trip. Players are treated to candid photos, stops at diners, new recipes, and tons of fun banter. It’s because of that particular element that Scraps of Mystery is such a fun quest.
With nothing but a series of clues, you’ll slowly find, and then follow, a collection of 14 pieces of a map. Naturally, the map leads to some sort of treasure, and you’ll be bonding with your bros the entire time.
17 FFX's Butterfly Catcher - Not Worth It
Final Fantasy X has its high points, which are pretty darn high, but it also has its low points, which are unpleasantly low. Unfortunately for the game as a whole, it contains some of the most putrid side quests in the series, and the innocuously named “Butterfly Catcher” is one of them.
With a cripplingly minuscule amount of time, you’re asked to capture butterflies all around the area. Sounds fine in theory, right? Wrong. With the lousy time limit, the fact that some butterflies lower the time further, and the general displeasure that the minigame causes, you’ll give up well before you acquire the means to Kimahri’s special weapon.
16 FFXII's Clan Centurio - Worth It
The video game landscape is filled with quite a few bounty hunters, with some examples being Samus Aran or even Red Dead Redemption’s John Marston. Sometimes, it’s just fun to hunt down the villains of a game’s universe. Final Fantasy XII helps you live out that fantasy with the Clan Centurio side quest.
You’re able to get started with these quests early on in the game, which will give you plenty of time to seek out the various contract targets given and allow you to rise up the ranks of the organization. You’ll be showered with rewards and it’ll help you get strong without the soul-crushing feeling of endless RPG grinding.
15 FFVII's Gold Saucer - Worth It
In a game that’s already loaded with a beloved main story and other side-content, the developers saw fit to go even further with the Gold Saucer Battle Arena in Final Fantasy VII. Within these hallowed halls, an enormous amount of mini games await your perusal.
Will you snowboard? Perhaps you’ll engage in some casual motorcycle riding? Or, if you’re so inclined, you can test your luck in the battle arena. Here, you’ll be randomly slapped with some kind of handicap and then forced to engage in a series of battles. Each victory earns you points, which after accruing a considerable amount, can be traded in for excellent prizes, including the Omnislash Limit Break.
14 FFIX's Frog Catching - Not Worth It
While some of Final Fantasy IX’s side quests are excellent, such as the Chocobo Hot and Cold treasure hunt, others, like Tetra Master, are painfully dull. Alas, the Frog Catching quest is of a similar quality.
All you do is visit various marshes and sluggishly attempt to catch speedy frogs. Catch enough of the hopping green things and you’ll get some underpowered items. Cool. But wait, there’s more. While it’s possible to power up Quina’s frog-related skill by partaking, you also run the risk of taking too many frogs of a single gender, causing a shortage of what to catch.
13 FFVII's Optional Characters - Worth It
Final Fantasy VII strikes again with even more content that is not only enjoyable, but also possibly game-changing if it’s pursued. The game’s main cast has many iconic characters, including Cloud, Aerith, and the villainous Sephiroth, but it’s possible to add to this by seeking out a duo of optional characters.
One of these is Yuffie, a young ninja found in the woods. Following the proper steps will allow her to join your party and avoid getting your money stolen. Then, there’s Vincent, who can be acquired by following a series of hints and engaging in a battle with Lost Number.
12 FFXIII-2's Casino - Not Worth It
The entire trio of Final Fantasy XIII games are not very fondly viewed by not only the hardcore fans of the franchise, but also the population of game players as a whole. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the worst of the trio for many reasons, such as the unpleasant Hands of Time minigames, but even those are less offensive than the casino. To make matters worse, the disappointing casino is implemented in an even worse way: you have to buy DLC to play cards.
Yes, in a casino, you had to spend real money to bet fake money on fake cards in a JRPG. Awesome.
11 FFXV's Stealing The Past - Worth It
Only unlocked after the main story, and after you’ve acquired the series’ staple airship, you’ll be able to partake in one of the most unique side quests in the franchise. After listening to the hushed discussion of bandits in Lestallum, you’ll get a lead on a lost dungeon that contains the Magitek Core.
When you reach the destination, you’ll be surprised to discover the Core simply waiting for you. That said, don’t let that deter you from exploring the dungeon and gaining another powerful item. Instead of combat, you’ll be greeted with a maze with a huge collection of puzzles to solve and even platforming challenges. It’s totally worth the time to fully explore.
10 FFV's Learning To Play Piano - Worth It
Final Fantasy V is usually in the debate for the “best of the best” regarding the Final Fantasy series, but it’s in a tough position thanks to the juggernauts of both VI and VII that almost always take the cake. That’s okay with us, though, since Final Fantasy V has a delightful little side quest that involves learning how to play piano.
Throughout the game, players can seek out eight separate pianos in various locations, and by playing each of them, you can musically master the instrument. Upon becoming a maestro, you’ll be able to impress the bard in Crescent, and receive a spell that raises the maximum level of your party to 99.
9 FFXII's Hunt Club - Not Worth It
So far on this list, we’ve mentioned a few side quests that involved being in some sort of arena to have showdowns with monsters both meek and menacing. Even with Final Fantasy XII, we mentioned how much we enjoyed the bounty hunting missions. Now, you’re probably asking yourself what makes the bounty hunting so great, but the regular hunts that are ranked as a quest aren't worth partaking in.
The sad truth is that everything involving the Hunt Club is just redundant. While it’s true that there is some high-level loot to enjoy, it’s all just a little less fun and a lot more tedious than hunting marks.
8 FFX's Blitzball - Worth It
Aside from some story foibles and one incredibly awkward laughing scene, Final Fantasy X has a wonderfully developed and unique world, rivaling some of the best and most creative of the franchise. Part of what makes the world feel so alive is Blitzball and, surprising countless gamers experiencing Final Fantasy X for the first time, you’re able to actually play the sport. And it’s actually good.
Who would have thought that a legitimately fully-fleshed out version of a fictional sport in the middle of a JRPG would be so much darn fun to play?
7 FFVIII's Chocobo Forests - Not Worth It
Ugh. We’ve sung a lot of praises for the golden-feathered, chicken-horse-whatever things that populate the many worlds of Final Fantasy, but this particular incarnation is a black mark on an otherwise pristine gem.
In Final Fantasy VIII, you can find certain areas on the world map called “Chocobo Forests,” where you meet some strange kid who’ll sell you a whistle to summon the titular bird. In an excruciatingly obtuse sequence, you’ll have to blow the whistle so that all the Chocobo show themselves, making the mother emerge, who you can then mount. The description doesn’t do justice how lousy it is to actually play, so you’ll have to trust us.
6 FFVIII's Triple Triad - Worth It
Where Final Fantasy IX’s Tetra Master was a pointless diversion and a complicated pain in the butt, Final Fantasy VIII’s excellent Triple Triad saves the day.
The card game, which can be played virtually anywhere with anyone (if they’re a card player) is very simple to learn, as are its multiple rulesets and it's legitimately fun to play. Our advice is to master the game as best you can early on, because the more cards you earn, the easier it will be to transform them into critical and rare items to help you power yourself up throughout every step of the journey… something you’ll need to do.
5 FFX's Al Bhed - Not Worth It
Final Fantasy X’s weird flaws strike again. We’re not really sure what the developers were thinking with this one, although we’re inclined to believe it’s some kind of elaborate trolling for loyal fans who live to fully complete each of the games. If that’s true, the developers are a mean, mean lot.
In short, there is a fictional language called “Al Bhed” that you can’t understand, so you have to seek out 26 items that’ll help you translate the words… one letter at a time. There’s very little real reward for doing this incredibly annoying and missable quest, aside from understanding Al Bhed and allowing you to add “Double Overdrive” to your weapon.
4 FFVII's Chocobo Breeding - Worth It
Final Fantasy VII’s Chocobo breeding might be a controversial choice in this list, mainly because there is a sizable amount of fans who seem to abhor everything to do with it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that’s fine, but for players who enjoy the raising of virtual pets through games like Pokemon or Monster Rancher, this side quest is an awesome addition to this lauded JRPG.
With a little time and effort, players will be churning out Gold Chocobo in no time, and then, with a little more time and effort, they’ll be breeding this Gold Chocobo into the ultimate Chocobo who can unquestionably crush any and all competition.
3 FFX's Thunder Plains - Not Worth It
Even if you felt that we were being unfair to Final Fantasy X in this list, or that anything we critiqued really wasn’t “that bad,” we’re absolutely certain you’ll agree that the frustrating, nigh-pointless, repetitive, and mentally torturous lightning-dodging quest is one of the worst things in not only this particular game, but the franchise as a whole.
In order to unlock Lulu’s ultimate weapon, you’ll have to dodge 200 consecutive lightning bolts. Yes, 200. And one mistake means you’re going to have to start over. If you’re a diehard completionist, we will keep you in our thoughts as you go through this meaningless and agonizing process.
2 FFVIII's Optional GFs - Worth It
Final Fantasy VIII has unusual battling, magic, and summoning systems, yet, despite all that, it might have some of the most engrossing series of side quests in the franchise, and it’s all thanks to optional GFs.
Finding the ultra-powerful optional summons requires wonderfully engaging exploration. Most of the time, you’ll get to explore a unique location that adds some excellent world-building into the game and then face-off in a unique boss battle that is both difficult and strategically satisfying. In the end, tracking these beasts down and having them join forces with you after exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat is immensely enjoyable and meaningful: far more than dodging 200 lightning bolts could ever be.
1 FFIX's Lost Nero Family - Not Worth It
In truth, the “Lost Nero Family” might not actually be the worst offender on this list, but going with the headline of quests that aren’t worth it, it’s hard to choose anything else.
In a nutshell, this side quest was so obscure and complicated that it took approximately 13 years for anyone to figure out it even existed. Through a series of seventeen separate events, you’re able to slowly add to the Nero family. When all seven of them are united, you’re rewarded with a Protect Ring. That’s all okay, but the fact that it was complicated and unknown for so many years makes that Protect Ring hardly worth it. Still cool though.
What other side quests in the Final Fantasy series do you think need to be completed, or avoided? Sound off in the comments to let us know!