View Full Version : Wolf Kanno Ranks the Final Dungeons

Wolf Kanno
05-12-2017, 05:29 AM
Yes, I'm going to rank the final dungeons. I originally was going to do a point system for this one as well, but figured I knew where the results were going. The Final Boss thread mostly went the way I imagined, barring two entries. With all that said, I feel it's safe to assume that the opinions stated in this topic are simply my own subjective feelings on the matter so if you disagree, feel free to voice your own ranking. It should go without saying that there are SPOILERS in this thread, so keep back if you still want to be pleasantly surprised with some of the entries you haven't played yet.

As usual, to make this simple, I'm ignoring the MMO entries, as well as side games; simply sticking to the original numbered titles. My boss rankings will partially play into my choices, but I'll explain now that I prefer involving dungeons with great design and good story build-up. I'll try my best to explain my rational. So let's begin with Final Fantasy XIII's Orphan Cradle.... :wcanoe:

13. Inside Sin - PSYCH!
Had you there didn't I? No, I've said it once and I'll say it again, Inside Sin has to be one of the weirdest and laziest final dungeons in the series. This is coming from a guy who's favorite game also involves crawling inside the corpse of the big bad to beat his true form, but at least Lavos had the decency to not have you trudge through a boring psychedelic Hodge-podge of various areas in the game. FFV already did it, and it wasn't exactly thrilling back then either. The first area is an annoying lake with invisible walls, the second area is a maze with structure from Zanarkand, and the final area is the Macalania Woods with a baffling out of place crystal puzzle which comes out of nowhere, requires no thought to really solve, and largely serves the general feeling I have for the whole dungeon. Twilight is a boring ambient piece that just makes the foggy lake zone even more boring. The Unsent Laugh is a bit nicer, but it's likely because it's a pretty trippy arrangement of the crystal theme from the earlier entries. Seymour graces us with his fourth and thankfully, last boss battle, which is an absolute joke compared to every battle preceding it. While I consider Braska's Final Aeon the high point of the whole deal; it doesn't save it from being sandwiched together with the boring gimme fight with Yu-Yevon and the Aeons. Overall, FFX just kind ends with a giant "Huh?"

12. Sky Fortress Bahamut
I always go back and forth with this one. I feel it's obvious the area is a rush job and was likely meant to be a more involving and grandiose final dungeon. Still, there is a part of me that is kind of thankful that the dungeon is criminally short, especially after the grueling Pharos dungeon that proceeded it. The issues is that the Pharos easily feels more like the "final" dungeon than the short Sky Fortress Bahamut. Course, I feel the battle with Vayne is pretty awesome, but it's a bit sad that it's easier to die in the dungeon by getting overrun with the unending spawning guards than through the actual final boss battle. The theme for the dungeon is also a bit boring, being more ambient and too similar to several other themes associated with the Imperials to really stand out on its own; which is an absolute shame for something that should have been the penultimate theme for the game. Then again, the boss fight does make up 90% of the dungeon and Struggle for Freedom is epic. See what I mean when I said I go back and forth on this one. The issue is that it's short and has little to no content, to the point I wonder why they didn't just use cutscenes to segue into the final boss battle instead of making part of it playable. It largely ranks higher than X's because I needed something short and sweet after the Pharos and I feel the dungeon works better as a build up for the story than Sin's Dream Guts which could have also been better had it just been cutscenes segue into the boss battles.

11. Orphan's Cradle
Higher than I'm sure many of you expected, this dungeon ranks this high because it's one of the only memorable locations in XIII for me. Largely because the place is an honest to goodness dungeon, and not a road or twenty in-game miles of open space. It actually has a bit of substance to it with various boss battles, an actual puzzle component to the whole thing, and while it's weird as hell, it's still interesting to look at and works to show us how alien the fal'Cie are to humans. Granted, I still feel the whole place was unnecessary and the 12th chapter storming of Cocoon works better as a build up, but I appreciate the fact that after all the trudging I had to do through the pretty, but utterly sterile environments, I was finally rewarded with one of the game's two actual dungeons. Shame the battle with Orphan and the ending ruin it for me, but I'll give extra credit for actually including the area seen in some of the promotional art for the game. The Cradle Will Fall, is a nice eerie track, but it's too quiet and still missing that epic vibe I'm looking for in my finales.

10. Crystal Tower/World of Darkness
Ooh boy, just thinking about this place makes me shudder a bit. Two dungeons back to back (three if you count Eureka and you should...), one of which is long, winding, and filled with some of the most obnoxious random encounters in the game. The other dungeon is filled with five boss battles, of whom four of which can count as the game's "that one boss" status including the final boss herself. The Crystal Tower theme feels pretty epic, and correct me if I'm wrong, it feels almost like a remix of Eternal Wind, the game's world map theme. Dark World begins pretty eerie before jumping into a more heroic if frantic theme. I like the dungeon for its challenge, I also dislike the dungeon for its challenge. Technically, World of Darkness is the final dungeon, but since you have to clear the Crystal Tower to even reach it, I lumped them together as one dungeon, and dying in the later dungeon means you'll have to traverse the former. It is quite memorable for the challenge it presents, but I'm happy SE has rarely come back to this idea.

9. Pandaemonium
Ah yes, the Palace from Hell itself. While I love the story behind the place, it doesn't change the fact it's a typical FFII style dungeon of being several floors of high encounter rates, fake out treasure rooms, and if you played the Famicom version, some copy/paste job visual graphics. The dungeon has some interesting boss battles, but all but two of them actually have any story significance. Granted, it introduced to those unlucky enough to find him, the iconic Iron Giant, but it's still basically just redoing the WarMech thing from FFI. The musical theme of the dungeon is pretty nice, being a melancholic theme with a sense of foreboding to it. I love the story aspect, but the dungeon is pretty cut and dry with nothing to really differentiate itself from other dungeons in the game. Hell, even the boss battles in the dungeon largely feel the same, thanks to all of them being hard unless you over-leveled or have the blood swords.

8. Insomnia
After about 40 to 80 hours, you finally get to go home, and find out the house sitters through a kegger and wrecked the place. I can give the game high points for presentation, the atmosphere and story build up are pretty intense and the fact the dungeon theme is the awesome Somnus Theme certainly helps, not to mention most of the enemies in the are are mini-bosses. The place also has two really cool cinematic fights, which are unfortunately not nearly as challenging as the mini-boss style enemies I mentioned before hand. Part of the issue is that the boss battles are a bit too scripted, and while they look cool, it sometimes feel like you're drawing on cutscene power more than your actual hardwork to win these fights. The place is also painfully short and offers little in the way of puzzles, unless you count finding Nix's Kignsglaive daggers as a puzzle. Overall, the final story chapter of XV is way too scripted for my taste and lacks anything to make the area stand out from a gameplay standpoint.

7. Memoria/Crystal World
Okay, I may spoke too soon when I said Inside Sin was the weirdest final dungeon. Memoria is the memory of the crystal taken form, I'm not even going to bother trying to rationalize how an alien tree is transformed into a castle with psychedelic interior design, but at least Memoria has Garland and the party narrating what the smurf is going on as opposed to the eerie silence of the usual chatty FFX cast. Visually, Memoria has a lot going on and I like the Escher style imagining of old locations, and I appreciate that its also littered with new places as well. The battles against the Four Fiends was pretty neat and we also get the additional optional fight against Hades as well. Beyond that though, IX's final dungeon is a bit too straight forward for my taste. Largely linear with no puzzles and all the secrets are easy to find or involve playing Tetra Master, which is something I spent most of IX forgetting it exists. The theme, Memoria, is an eerie and foreboding piece with a bit of a mystical element to it that seems a bit fitting for the place, but again, doesn't get you feeling like "this is the end" as I would like. The Crystal World theme is a more unsettling version of crystal theme and works for me since I grew up with the series, but I can also see how it's a bit lackluster for those who don't have the nostalgia factor going for them. Course the dungeon does have Necron unfortunately, but at least he's challenging and it's preceded by the better Kuja battle. Overall, I like the visuals and music, but there is no meaty gameplay to tie it all together for me.

6. Northern Crater
Like Memoria, I feel this dungeon is more style than substance. Visually, there are some cool set pieces in this place, especially at the end, but the opening parts just feel like a redo of the Great Glacier area. There isn't really much in terms of puzzles, and having all three of the bosses at the end makes for a rather boring slog through the place. I do give it props for the party split up section, but would have preferred if they had taken a page out of VI's book and made the split up a playable part of the dungeon. Luckily Judgement Day is a real cool track, and if you love the Enemy Skill Materia like I do, you can spend time mastering it since all of the last skills are found here. At least the final stretch was pretty epic. Overall, the mostly linear layout, and lack of puzzles and boss battles make it bit too dry and boring for my taste.

5. The Temple of Fiends
I will always smile at the novelty of the idea that the game's first dungeon is also the final dungeon. The Temple of the Fiends is easily the best of the NES era final dungeons, striking the perfect balance of challenge that FFIII had with a better story impact of FFII. The rematch with the Four Fiends was epic, the revelations about Garland and Chaos were cool, and the dungeon had a cool maze like layout without the irritating elements FFII introduced. Long enough to test your resource management skills, but short enough to not feel like an utter chore to backtrack through if you suffered a defeat. It was a fine conclusion to the series first entry and explains why Final Fantasy is still going on today. My major gripe is that Chaos is pretty easy and the real final challenge is probably Kraken and Tiamat.

4. Interdimensional Rift
The first dungeon to pull the whole "let's make the dungeon a mix and match call back piece to every previous dungeon" dungeon. V is still the most memorable for me and the place is filled with challenging random encounters, awesome boss battles, the fateful end to Gilgamesh, my two favorite optional super bosses in the series, and my favorite final boss fight in the series. Battle mechanic-wise, there is nothing to hate about this place. With that said, I did kind of hope the dungeon had more to offer in terms of puzzle solving, and the musical themes, while heroic, are not the soundtrack's best. It's a damn shame that Musica Machina (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc-DAnIygJI) wasn't the final dungeon theme, because it feels more fitting. Hell a remix of X-Death's Castle theme would have been cool as well. The place will test your skills with the Job system and it has tons of really cool and memorable boss battles, it's just a bit boring in presentation.

3. Kefka's Tower
Might surprise some of you that this wasn't number one considering my love for the game. I do enjoy Kefka's Tower immensly for the awesome party switching mechanic to the whole thing, which allowed you to use most of the cast and work with some unconventional groups. It has some excellent boss battles sprinkled throughout and some great enemy encounters as well; so overall the dungeon is great for having fun battles and a cool core puzzle mechanic. It falls short of top glory for having a somewhat boring visual design since it's basically the trash heap version of Vector, and the main theme is cool but not great. The real issue is that the difficulty of the dungeon really comes down to how well prepared you are. If you stuck to using only four or six characters and have to run this place with underdeveloped party members, this place can be a nightmare, especially if you try to exploit Mog's Moogle charm to avoid battles only to be flatten by the unavoidable boss battles. On the flip side, if you kept everyone up to par, get ready for one of the easier dungeons in the series. Kefka makes for a great finale as well as finally taking down big names like Ultima Weapon, Crusader, and the Warring Triad.

2. Lunar Subterranane
When I first started this list, I figured it was going to be this game or the next one to reach the top spot. The Lunar Subterrane is such a cool and tightly designed dungeon with my possible favorite collection of optional boss battles in the series. The main theme is The Red Wing Theme, and the other theme used in the last stretch is the equally awesome Inside the Giant theme, so musically FFIV nails the final dungeon theme for me. What I love about the place is how deceptive it is. Technically, reaching the final boss isn't actually that hard to do, and can be pretty quick depending on what you encounter. The real challenge is exploring the final dungeon to find all of the sealed weapons, and this is what makes this dungeon stand out for me. The fact it is a dungeon that encourages you to explore in search of hidden pathways to the myriad of cool bosses. Said bosses are also quite powerful and will test all of your skills with the game mechanics. Considering how much I liked the Zeromus fight, the final battle is also a great selling point. One element that isn't spoken of too often is how Square used the Mode 7 effects to give the dungeon a really eerie design that VII would reuse later on. Basically, the glowing core of the dungeon can be seen from the first floor and you watch as you get closer to it the deeper you travel. It's a bit more subtle than how it was used for the same purpose in the Land of Summoned Beasts, but it really works for the dungeon, since the crystal tiles on space background has kind of been used before in the last two games. What keeps this from number one for me is the fact that the dungeon itself is pretty straightforward and it's greatest challenge is largely optional.

1. Ultimecia's Castle
Surprise surprise, the easiest game in the series has probably one of the coolest final dungeons. So let's get the negatives out of the way, I'm not a huge fan of the concept from a story point of view. I've traveled to space, the castle of hell, a junkyard dystopia and the planet's core; and this dungeon is basically just a slick castle the big bad lives in. I'm not saying it doesn't make sense, I'm just saying its bit boring and practical considering previous final dungeons, and even some future ones, tried to be over the top. My other beef is that I'm not terribly in love with the dungeon theme. It starts out pretty promising; but almost feels like Nobuo had Frankenstein together some scraps of pieces he intended to use for VI and VII as it has some odd light-hearted sections and mood changes between the menacing organ playing. It's hard to get the vibe going when you're exploring a Gothic castle with great organ music only for a strange musical interlude that feels like it should be used for some quick throw away joke skit. I guess the only other complaint I have is that switching out Junctions can be tedious if you go that route...

Now onto the good. I absolute love the theme of this dungeon, and after a pretty easy ride to reach this place, it was interesting to get nailed with a dungeon that will challenge your skill and builds by stealing away all of your assets and you have to earn them back by beating bosses. I have no idea why SE or anyone for that matter hasn't copied this idea, because it was pretty cool and I feel it should have been used more often. Throw in the fact the bosses are designed to be weak or strong against certain builds and you've got a serious test of your abilities waiting for you as you carefully map out the order you need to acquire everything back. Extra points for making revival abilities a separate category as well. The dungeon also incorporates VI's party switch puzzle, but it's a bit less involving since the cast is smaller and in the end, your Junctions are what matters, but it's still pretty neat to actually take the dungeon on with your resources spread across the board instead of just switching the inactive parties junctions to the active one. It's easily the coolest puzzle dungeon in the series and the battles within can be pretty challenging when your abilities are limited.

So those are my rankings, agree? disagree? Then tell me your rankings and why. :wcanoe:

05-12-2017, 09:04 AM
Ultimecia's Castle is definitely my favourite, I love the look of it and The Castle is a great piece of music. And it helps that it's followed by my favourite final boss battle in the series.

Memoria is pretty straightforward but does at least give you the funny bit where Quina thinks he's drowning even though they're not actually underwater.

05-12-2017, 09:57 AM
Oh man, it's only on my last few playthroughs of FFVII that I've attempted to master all the enemy skill materias. It's hard work but very satisfying! I remember Shadow Flare and Roulette being particularly troublesome though.

I agree Ultimecia's Castle was an excellent final dungeon. I remember spending a ridiculous amount of time there on my first playthrough due to the handicaps. It was only on subsequent plays that I appreciated the challenge.

05-12-2017, 07:55 PM
Ultimecia's castle is definitely my favorite too. I can probably agree with all of your thoughts, but I'd have to play through some of the games again.

I can say orphans cradle was a bit of a highlight for me with XIII. One of the best parts of that game gameplay and visual wise. It's just a shame I'd have to play through the whole game again to see if my thoughts of that area are the same. Every time I try to play through the game again I get bored probably halfway to 3/4 of the way through and stop. First few hours are such a drag until you get more control of your party and have more abilities. I'll eventually make it through it again though.

05-12-2017, 10:23 PM
Agree with number 1. Ultimecia's Castle was a excellent place. I feel the Northern Cave could have lead to something of more narrative substance. The beginning of it being a cave is okay. But eventually you see the flood of life energy. At this point you should actually be entering a realm of life, energy and memories (similiar to what happened when Cloud and Tifa fell and Tifa helped Cloud curing from confabulation) and show how much trouble guys that are not Sephiroth have, resisting the amount of energy and memories and eventually end up getting Mako Poisoning/a broken mind. They somehow barely get through to the core of the planet and the "very root of the Lifestream" and find Sephiroth, the true problem. Similiar thing could have been cool for Ultimecia. They could have included more of time fusing. They already had it with the overlapping after fighting Adel and when they used the windows after fighting Ultimecia.

Counting the entire franchise, I would say Mako Reactor 0 + Above Midgar + Omega Weapon were pretty good for the finale. Though I would really not just count Above Midgar + Omega because the Reactor was the prelude to finding Hojo, who virtualized himself and Weiss and from that point really of of it is about to play a great role for the finale.

05-12-2017, 11:02 PM
Called the number 1 spot, glad to see it up there. It really deserves it.

The number 2 spot though was a total chore for me. This was around the time I just lost the patience to put up with the game as every goddamn random encounter was one of those masks or Behemoths that took freaking forever to kill and sapped my resources. I ended up just fleeing from battles and rushing to fight Zeromus. In no small part due to luck I ended up beating him on my first try, so I never had a reason to go back and I have no intention of doing so anytime soon...

Also I really didn't like the multi-party dungeons in FFVI so I can't agree with Kefka's Tower either. I'd probably put the North Crater and Memoria higher just for their atmosphere which really is top notch.

05-13-2017, 12:08 AM
Good list, but I'd put Northern Crater higher. Just something about the music and the atmosphere - like Karifean said - which really creates a fantastic finisher.

Of the other FF games I've completed: agreed with Inside Sin. Kinda lackluster. Orphan's Cradle was fun and pretty much served as a good baseline for end-dungeon enjoyment for me. The Bahamut Fortress in FFXII was pretty sure but honestly I preferred it to the 'true' end-dungeon the Pharos, which was just so damn long and confusing. They were both alright.

What else? FFX-2 had Vegnagun and the Farplane, which was pretty atmospheric and the puzzles were interesting enough to hold my attention. It gets a pass from me. FFXIII-2 had Academia which I remember more for the annoying jumping puzzles and stupid Tescatlipoca monster crystal, but it was... okay. FFXIII:LR had The Final Day, which was less of a dungeon and more an entire string of events, and was pretty cool, I guess.

In all, probably my favourite end-dungeon is probably FFVII for the overall, but I enjoyed elements of most of them.

Wolf Kanno
05-13-2017, 04:26 AM
Northern Crater isn't higher (besides my neutral stance on VII in general) because there isn't much to it and frankly the dungeon is pretty easy overall. I knocked down Kefka's Tower because it was easy as well, but it at least was a bit more involving. I guess I just prefer dungeons where I feel more active in it over ones that are completely narrative. It's the reason why Insomnia is so low because while it had a cool presentation, it just wasn't nearly as fun as other dungeon/locations within it's own game had been. I want a challenge, just not an FFIII challenge...

I'd be lying if I didn't say that part of the reason IV is so high is also due to nostalgia. It was my first final dungeon, but frankly, I do feel it has great pacing and probably some of the best boss battles in a final dungeon for me.

Depression Moon
05-13-2017, 08:07 PM
Ultimecia's Castle is definitely my favorite out of the ones I've played. I can't place much of a second though. I barely remember some due to not playing much video games in a long ass time and I feel some are least enjoyable parts of their games. XII's was just so disappointing. That airship was tiny.

05-15-2017, 01:36 AM
Yeeeeeeeeeeeees Ultis castle is the shit ! Just that music and the atmosphere and the Gothic designs. So good.