If you're going to play any of these, track down the REAL system the games were meant to be played on, emulation will NOT do them justice.
Avoid the PC versions of 7/8, the soundtracks were converted to Midi format which essentially sounds like it's coming from an 8-bit NES.
Have played/beat and recommend
7 - PS1
8 - PS1
9 - PS1
10 - PS2
Have played but didn't like
10-2 - PS2 - It's the lesbian/estrogen version of FF10. I said that for humor, but it just felt bland and much too girlish.
12 - PS 2 - Square's attempt at the single-player MMO style. I think I might of liked it if I had more time with it, only had 2 hours.
13 - PS3/360 - Took me a long time to get over the denial and admit to myself the combat system is utter garbage and I can't stand it.
Tactics - I hated it when I tried it, but I was 14 or something back then, so I'd probably like it now.
11 - PS2/PC - It's an online MMO
14 - PS3/PC - The online MMO that failed according to Square and most fans. I tried the alpha, it ran at 8 frames, couldn't play it. Settings weren't changeable.
Other games to consider
Chrono Cross - PS1
Legend of Dragoon - PS1
Lost Odyssey on the 360 - Made by Mistwalker studios, half that studio is original Square staff, including the creator of FF. Eventually they got Nobou Uematsu to leave Square and join their studio, he did the soundtracks for 7/8/9. Also, it's to me the best JRPG since FF 10. I hadn't played a JRPG in many years as FF10 was my last, except for my 2 hours with FF12 and it felt weird to play Lost Odyssey but after 40 minutes I fell in love as I started to remember what a JRPG felt like. It's very traditional and fun to play, features a great story too. The combat system is very traditional and not complex, but it's not simple to the point it's silly either. Essentially, if you want a new FF that feels like the old ones, Lost Odyssey is exactly what you're looking for. It just won't have pre-rendered backgrounds like 7/8/9, but you gain the benefit of modern tech such as HD resolutions, 5.1 Digital audio. I enjoyed that game so much I have an 1100/1100 achievement score in it. And one of those achievements took me an extra 98 hours to obtain. The DLC was absurdly hard and I enjoyed it.
In summation, it's an extremely rare jewel as in this current generation the 6-8 JRPG's that are out aren't worth playing, except for a few, but this game is fantastic because it's fantastic, it's not fantastic because it exists in an era of bad JRPG's.
I feel I should elaborate more.
I mentioned LO as it's essentially the current generations answer to FF seeing as how it plays and who it's made by. In this generation, sadly, the JRPG is an almost dead genre as it's loosing to the flavor-of-the-month call of duty/shooter games and western RPG's. Another aspect to consider is that developers said they don't want to keep making new versions of old JRPG's, That's why FF has gone through the changes it has as technology advances so do games. Gamers who fell in love with the old pre rendered background JRPG's still want to see those while developers simply don't want to make them anymore, or actually they didn't want to make them back then but technology forced them to. You also have to realize just like with movies, developers/studios are only going to make what will earn them money.
Don't get me wrong, I miss the days of the PS1 being fantastic and there were more JRPG's than you could possibly play. But the genre is almost dead, I hate to admit it.
Edited by Ascii Aficionado - 4/12/11 at 7:39am