Original Publication Date: 11/29/2016
By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of a new articles series,Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I’ll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. This week we celebrate the release of Final Fantasy XV with an article chronicling my favorite Final Fantasy protagonists.
Greetings, fans! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Top 5 article, but I’m back with a promise of several Final Fantasy themed articles. Final Fantasy XV dropped today, and a lot of people have been eager to get their hands on the game. I may try it myself, but for the first time ever I’m not rushing out to get it on Day 1. Perhaps I was burned by every game after Final Fantasy X-2.
The first of several weekly articles will be my personal top 5 playable characters from the history of the series. I can tell you right now that my list is probably going to be VERY different from your own. As always, let us know what your own list is in the comments section below!
#5 – Vivi [FF IX]
As I said in an earlier article, the original Final Fantasy is one of my favorite games in the series. Of the 6 playable character classes, my favorite has always been the black mage. Wielding immense magical capabilities, the black mage could cut down a number of enemies that your fighter or thief couldn’t handle with sword alone.
Final Fantasy IX is an underrated game. It suffered as a successor to the mammoth that was Final Fantasy VII. That being said, the game served as a love letter to its fans, providing a story that went back to the classic formula of legendary heroes obtaining elemental crystals. Among a colorful cast of playable characters, the one party member that stood out as a true call back to games of old was Vivi.
Vivi breaths real life into the original character class of the black mage. Sporting the signature robes, staff, and tall pointy hat, Vivi is an absolute joy of a character. He’s clumsy, shy, and quiet, but as the game progresses he grows in confidence and becomes an integral role in the overall story. Add to his general nature his questioning whether he is a living being or simply an animated creation, and you have an endearing and intriguing supporting character.
#4 – Auron [FF X]
This may end up being the one brawling, true badass to make my list. I could have easily put many of Final Fantasy X’s characters on this list. Yuna is a truly sympathetic character. Kimahri is the strong, silent type with a unique character design. Wakka takes on the role of comic relief.
Then there’s Auron, the grizzled veteran that leads Tidus away from his world to the vibrant, fantastical Spira. From the first cut scene, Auron exudes machismo. He wields a massive sword and deals heavy damage, breaking through the armor of most monsters.
Not only is Auron the strength of the team, but he’s the only character to have taken on the role of a guardian not once, but twice. His knowledge of Sin and the pilgrimage of summoners places him in the role of mentor to both Yuna and Tidus. Without Auron’s actions as guardian and guide, the story could not have been possible.
Auron’s design is pretty awesome as well. The long red coat is somewhat reminiscent of Vash the Stampede, and the fact that he feigns a sort of arm injury mixed with his grayed hair might catch his foes off guard. In a series filled with fantastical and often feminine male characters, Auron is a bit of a breath of fresh air for his more mature look.
#3 – Yuffie Kisaragi [FF VII]
I tend to love characters that others may not find that appealing. There’s something about the overly quirky and sometimes annoying female support characters that I just find endearing. Selphie is one of my favorite characters from FF VIII. I’ve mastered the lethal kicks of the adorable Ling Xiaoyu from the Tekken Series. I’m an adoring fan of just about every Sailor Senshi.
That being established, it’s no surprise that my favorite playable character from Final Fantasy VII is Yuffie. She’s one of the few optional characters in the game, which by itself was such a new and crazy concept to me. My favorite JRPGs on the NES and SNES followed strict rails, and you’d get new characters when the game decided it for you. The first time I stumbled upon Yuffie was by complete happenstance. The fact that there was some character I stumbled across while wandering around forested areas pushed me to find out who she was and how I could bring her into my party.
Yuffie is a feisty ninja that uses a ridiculously large shuriken. When you try to follow her to her town of Wutai, she ends up pilfering all of your party’s materia. Many players might find that reprehensible, but you find out through the story she takes your magical orbs to restore her hometown after it was attacked by Shinra.
Once in your party, Yuffie becomes a positive voice and a spunky personality to break up the more glum and grumpier characters like Barret and Cid. It’s more than worth the time and effort to recruit Yuffie to your party and brighten up the dark world of Gaia.
#2 – Tellah the Sage [FF IV]
As a fan of magic users, there’s no doubt that the elderly Tellah made my list. Yes, Tellah is most famous for his unforgettable line of “You spoony bard!” However, there’s much more to this wise old coot.
At first, Tellah seems to be a senile retirement home escapee. He isn’t a capable hand-to-hand fighter. He has lost some of his magical prowess, most notably the knowledge to cast the almighty Meteor spell (or Meteo if you’re playing the SNES version).
Even though he is a crank and a nuisance throughout much of the early parts of the game, he is also a loving and caring father. He proves this by hunting down Edward, who he believes has kidnapped his daughter. When he loses his daughter once again, this time to the actions of Golbez’s evil, his mind becomes bent on revenge.
One of the most interesting things about Final Fantasy IV is the rotating cast of characters. Just when we think we’ve seen the last of Tellah, he comes back at the later stages of the game. He even eventually regains his ability to cast the epic Meteor spell to try and best the evil Golbez and protect the world.
Tellah isn’t your typical young and spry character, and his sincere actions throughout the story made him a really fun character to root for and watch develop and change.
#1 – Laguna Loire [FF VIII]
Yeah, I know. This may seem like a really strange choice. Just hear me out.
Final Fantasy VIII isn’t my favorite game of the series, but it will always hold a very special place in my heart. It was the first of the Final Fantasy games that felt realistic. There was just the right blending of real world technology and non-cartoony character design that made the story seem like something that could exist out there in our own world. In short, it made me believe that magic and monsters weren’t only part of Tolkien-esque worlds.
Laguna is a unique character. He exists for the most part as an inhabitant of a dream world. Throughout the game your main characters pass out inexplicably, and they would wake up in the bodies of three characters: Laguna, Kiros, and Ward. We mostly see Laguna in his role as a Galbadian soldier, and to be honest he really isn’t that much of a fighter. If we’re being honest, he’s pretty inept and bumbling.
So why do I like Laguna so much? Laguna is a sincere, kindhearted guy. I have always seen a lot of myself in Laguna. He doesn’t see a lot of potential in himself, he wants to be well known as a writer and journalist, and his impulsive and odd personality can be misunderstood by those that don’t know him.
Even though his role within the story is a bit confusing, I always got excited when I got to take a break from the main party to see what Laguna and his companions were up to.
We’ll be back for another Tuesday Top 5 article! Be sure to check back and let us know what you think about my rankings in the comments below! We’ll read your favorite characters on a future episode of Tooning Japanese!