Top 10 Worst Final Fantasy Dungeons

One of the joys of any Final Fantasy game is exploring new dungeons. Fighting stronger monsters to level up more, new gear to equip your characters with and maybe an awesome boss battle or two. While there are many well-crafted dungeons in the Final Fantasy series, there are some real stinkers. From very strong enemies to ridiculous conditions you need to follow and very confusing layouts, here are but a few terrible dungeons from the Final Fantasy series and I'm counting on the community to add in a few of their own as well.
The Top Ten
1 Escape from Karnak Castle - Final Fantasy V

This is probably the first timed segment in the Final Fantasy series and it definitely wasn't going to be the last. When you're able to explore the castle after being let out of the dungeon, you'll see many treasure chests that you can't open because of the fire blocking them. So how do you get to them? You need to defeat the Liquid Flame at the end of the fire ship and then watch as the fire crystal is destroyed just like the other two before it. After that happens, you're then told that you have ten minutes to escape the castle before it blows up. It's only then that you're finally able to collect these goodies but there's another problem; with the exception of the chests that contain money, all of them have monsters that you must fight and kill before the loot is yours. Not to mention that this place now has random encounters. And guess what? The clock will still countdown in the middle of a fight so if you want that loot, you need to finish these fights fast. And then there's the boss at the gates. He starts out as the sergeant with two Cur Nakks. If you kill the Cur Nakks first, then the sergeant turns into Iron Claw, and this is the only opportunity to encounter one if you're going for a full bestiary. Needless to say, Square's first attempt at a timed segment was severely lacking in polish.

2 Cavern of Earth - Final Fantasy 1

The first entry in this franchise was groundbreaking, but it was also made in a time where video games were designed to be difficult. The Cavern of Earth is one of the earliest and most frustrating dungeons in the game. To the left of the dungeons are fixed encounters with Gigas' and Lizards, two of the strongest enemies up to this point. Good for grinding levels and getting money, but I prefer the peninsula of power north of Pravoka. It also has a frustrating layout full of winding pathways and dead ends. But the most frustrating part is that you have to traverse this level twice. Once to get the Star Ruby to feed the Stone Golem to the west to get the Sage's Cave to obtain the Earth Rod which lets you go deeper into the dungeon to fight the Lich, the real cause of Melmond's woes. The worst part is that your party can't learn Exit at this point so after you defeat the Vampire, you have to exit the cave on foot. Yes, the Exit spell is located at Crescent Lake. But you need to upgrade your White Mage or Red Mage to White Wizard or Red Wizard for them to learn it. You can only upgrade your classes after obtaining the Airship and you need the canoe to do that. And the canoe will only be given to you by one of the elders in Crescent Lake AFTER clearing the Cavern of Earth. It's dungeons like these in early NES games that makes me very thankful for the internet.

3 Ultimecia's Castle - Final Fantasy VIII

Many people consider D-District Prison as one of the worst dungeons in the Final Fantasy franchise. But those who were able to make it to this point might beg to differ. For starters, the following commands and abilities are locked when you enter and can only be unlocked after defeating one of the eight bosses; Draw, Save, Resurrect, GF, Item, Command, Magic and Limit Break. Second, your party splits in half and you need to interact with green lights to switch between them and you'll need both parties if you want to beat all the bosses and unlock all your abilities. The reason this mechanic worked in Final Fantasy 6 was because players could switch between parties at any time outside of battle. One of the good things about this dungeon (at least in the versions released outside of Japan) is that there were seven GFs that were missable and this dungeon gives you one last chance to snag them. So if you missed any of them, you'll want to take on Sphinxaur and Sphinxara first to unlock your draw ability as that's the only boss fight in the castle before the final boss that doesn't have a GF you can draw. But even then, it might be too late to make good use of them.

4 Pitioss Ruins - Final Fantasy XV

Even though this dungeon was totally optional, I almost developed a hernia trying to beat this place. For starters, it's located in an area in Hulldagh Pike that's only accessible with the Regalia Type-F and if you land in an area where there are no roads, it's an automatic Game Over. Needless to say, the landing strip is quite short. Secondly, you can only enter the ruins at night. But what makes this place a nightmare is that it's pure platforming hell. You need to make precise jumps onto many small platforms and you also need to avoid these red spikes. Otherwise, you can get teleported a fair way back. Furthermore, there's no map to help you and you can't save your game while in here. But the worst part is the dungeon's exclusive treasure, the Black Hood. It's suppose to allow you to evade attacks automatically, but it doesn't work all the time. Many people think that the stealth sections in Zegnautus Keep in Chapter 13 was worse, but Square Enix thankfully introduced a patch that let people bypass that by playing as Gladiolus and Ignis. This is what happens when you let one person design an entire dungeon (seriously).

5 Temple of the Ancients - Final Fantasy VII

For the most part, Final Fantasy 7 is a pretty flawless masterpiece. It can be pretty difficult to chose a dungeon I detest. But if I had to choose, the booby prize would go to Temple of the Ancients. After obtaining the Key Stone from Dio and Cait Sith giving it to the Turks, Aerith becomes locked into your party for the duration so you better level her up and get her Level 4 Limit Break. Second, once you enter the temple, there's no way to leave until you acquire the Black Materia that Sephiroth is after. You also can't change your party once you enter so you need to make sure that they're at a good high level and have the best gear up to this point if you want to avoid much frustration. And then there's the actual dungeon itself. It's one heck of a maze that looks something out of a Maurits Cornelis Escher painting. There are also some obstacle courses which are the rolling stones (not the band), the giant clock room and the gate room. The clock room was actually harder in the Japanese version because players didn't initially have the option to wind the clock so they had to wait for the hands to be in the position they wanted or let the second hand knock them off three times. Also, the Red Dragon and the Demon's Gate are the hardest bosses up to this point so if you didn't acquire Aerith's Level 4 Limit Break, you're in for a rough time. And once you complete this dungeon, you can't visit it again so you need to be thorough if you want all the goodies, such as the Morph Materia. And lastly, upon completing this dungeon, Aerith leaves your party for good and I shouldn't have to tell you why.

6 Oeilvert and Desert Palace - Final Fantasy IX

This is what you call a double whammy. After Zidane and his party is captured by Kuja, Zidane has to go to Oeilvert to retrieve something for Kuja and what makes this dungeon difficult is that you can't use any magical abilities once inside. Therefore, it's tempting to just have all your physical fighters - Steiner, Freya and Amarant - join you here but this is a beginner's trap. Once you finish your errand here, Kuja will go back on his word and try to give the other four party members a nice lava bath. You then control Cid and have six minutes to rescue the others. This is done by playing redlight greenlight with a hedgehog pie and if Cid moves when the monster looks at him, Cid will get scared and run back to the beginning. Once rescued, you have to make your way through the Desert Palace with the party members you left behind and if your party consists mostly of the physically weak magic user, you're in for a rough time. This dungeon would've been okay if it weren't for this ridiculous beginner's trap.

7 Jade Passage and Pandemonium - Final Fantasy II

There are many bad dungeons in all of Final Fantasy II, but the final two dungeons are arguably the worst of the lot. Both have the infamous dead end rooms which are prevalent throughout every dungeon in the game and if you enter one, so much as a simple about face will almost guarantee a random encounter. But what makes these dungeons so arduous is that you must first make your way through Jade Passage to get to Pandemonium and both dungeons are long and consist of the strongest monsters in the game. Also, there's no shortcut to the overworld from Pandemonium so if you use the Exit spell to escape, you have to go through Jade Passage all over again. These dungeons are a perfect combination of everything wrong with Final Fantasy II's dungeon design.

8 Lodestone Cavern - Final Fantasy IV
9 The Ancient Forest - Final Fantasy VII
10 Cultists' Tower - Final Fantasy VI

Even though many people consider Final Fantasy 6 as the best in the series, it's still not without flaws. Some dungeons aren't a lot of fun. Take the Cultists' Tower for instance. Although it's an optional dungeon, it does have some very sweet items like the Soul of Thamasa which lets the equipped character cast two spells in one turn, as well as one of the dragons you need to defeat to obtain the Crusader magicite and gain entry to the Dragon's Den in the GBA and mobile versions. But the first problem is its design. You climb four sets of stairs straight up and they're all copy and paste four times. The second is how combat works. Magic is the only way almost any of your party members can attack and you can't run from any encounters save for the magic urns. The boss at the end, the Magic Master, is also a major problem. He constantly changes his weakness and once he dies, he'll cast Ultima which will instantly kill your entire party at low levels and will spell a game over unless Life3/Reraise is already cast. And last, you can't use teleport to leave the tower. You have to exit on foot. Here's a very helpful hint; recruit Mog and equip him with Molulu's Charm to negate all random attacks.

The Contenders
11 Riovanes Castle - Final Fantasy Tactics

While not technically a dungeon, it's still an arduous part of an otherwise awesome strategy game. This is a three-part battle where you can't leave to level up between parts. The first fight is at the castle gates and it's your standard battle. But afterwards, it'll give you the opportunity to save your game and believe me when I say Save on another file. The second fight starts out with a 1 vs. 1 fight between Ramza and Wiegraf and he's very strong. If Ramza isn't a high enough level, Wiegraf can down him in one hit. After sustaining enough damage, he'll reveal his true form, Velius. When your party rushes in to help, he'll summon his own minions to back him up. And what's worse is that his HP, MP and CT are all displayed in ?s so it's a real guessing game to see how much fight he has left. And the last part, which takes place on the rooftop of the castle, requires you to keep Rafa alive and Elmdor is accompanied by two assassins that can insta-kill your party members. Like I said, if you need to save your game between these fights, do so on another file. Because if you're too underpowered to win, you won't be able to grind levels out in the field.

12 D-District Prison - Final Fantasy VIII
13 Lunar Subterrane - Final Fantasy IV: The Afteryears
14 Phoenix Cave - Final Fantasy VI
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