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Ranking The Final Fantasy Main Characters
Destiny shines bright in Square-Enix’s famed and world reknown gaming franchise. No matter how many worlds and realms we crossed over the years, we manage to stumble upon a soul who has been gifted by Crystals, gods, magic, or some other form of fantastical element. Twelve non-online Final Fantasy games have graced store shelves and each of them has their main star. There may be one or two that have tried to not show someone front-and-center but it all comes down to one person in nearly every game (save the Warriors of Light). We’ve seen them fight with everything they had in Dissidia but where do they all fit in the ranking system? Twelve stars, twelve spots, but only one can reign king.
The thing about Bartz is that he stumbled upon his responsibility in the game. He wasn’t born into something or granted his mission. He technically has no reason to be there. This makes for a throwaway character which is bad to say given that Bartz is the main focus. Final Fantasy V suffered because of this and to be quite honest, V is the least memorable for me. Every Final Fantasy has something that I remember. III had the job system. VI had a great plot twist. I could go on but something I could not comment on is something that make Final Fantasy V great to me. The problem begins with a shallow main character but it doesn’t end there. As a main character for a heralded RPG series, Bartz is the end-all, be-all example of what not to do.
I really wanted to place Vaan above Luneth but he actually had a defined role in Final Fantasy XII. That being said, I really wish Square kept with the original direction of having Basch as the main character. Vaan’s nature, voice, and quirks are just so annoying and add absolutely nothing to the game. That sounds really like a personal choice then a thought out one but I remain adamant about it. Basch is a much more interesting and defined character. Also, he seems like a much more capable hero then Vaan. I didn’t feel like a hero in Final Fantasy XII. I felt like a kid with an adventurous spirit. That just doesn’t sound (or feel) good enough for a Final Fantasy game.
I’ll be quite honest, I’m not a fan of Tidus. I found him too childish and annoying but he had his moments. When Tidus got serious, crap hit the fan and I felt bad for the monsters and bosses. His athletic ability from Blitzball also made him adept during combat. Being the son of a fearsome, gargantuan beast known as Sin didn’t help his image but Tidus’ problems only stemmed from that. He lacked confidence in his own endevours but excelled in helping others. Tidus is a massive contradiction to himself and to me, that really hurt the game. This should have been Yuna’s game. X-2 was a shame and I won’t get into that but Yuna’s purpose, mission, and personality could have been much more if Square didn’t give the reigns to Tidus.
Luneth was thrown in to bring some extra personality and story to the Final Fantasy III remake for the Nintendo DS and iOS platforms. Does that mean they took great care in creating the character and its purpose? Not really. Luneth is likable, which is something Bartz doesn’t have, but his accolades and accomplishments end there. I have to admit, though, that Final Fantasy III felt better without a main face to focus on. The job system ensured that the characters would change often and give great replay value and customization to not just the game overall but especially the experience. Luneth was just kinda there and those who had played the original felt like it was an unnecessary addition to an already good game.
8. Firion (FF II)
Firion’s start in the story of Final Fantasy II feels sort of like Vaan but he quickly comes into his own. Firion is a soldier and he leads with confidence and valor. In Final Fantasy II I felt like a soldier and a damned good one. One thing that Final Fantasy II had over the first entry in the series was a feeling that your actions and the quests you did had an impact on the world. Square took a different direction with II as Firion was the series’ first main character. They did a pretty good job with Firion but the game lost its customization like what we had with the Warriors of Light. Either way, Firion did a wonderful job being the first focused character in Final Fantasy.
I’m one of those rare few that enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII. I truly believe that a lot of the gripes about it would have been completely forgotten if Grand Pulse had a couple towns or even one city and gave the heroes a World Map to traverse. Aside from that, a lot of Final Fantasy games are linear but we didn’t have a mini-map back then to remind us every waking second. XIII did a good job in revitalizing the combat engine for the series. If you stayed away from Auto Battle, XIII shined through with the Paradigm Shifts and the Crystarium. Lightning, however, felt like half a character. You could see the potential for a great character in her but it never really becomes fulfilled until, in my opinion, XIII-2. Which is a complete shame because if Lightning really came into her own earlier, XIII itself would have benefited greatly from it. Her soldier half embattled by her love for her sister was very interesting. Also, the way she keeps her mind focused on her goal and using the things and people around her as tools to get the job done really said a lot about her. The way XIII kept switching perspectives really hurt Lightning as the face of the game. She could have been fleshed out a lot more and really grew on us.
Squall is one of the rare people able to use a Gunblade with superior efficiency. He is very integral to the story but his personality of a cold shutout and loner would have made a better supporting character then a main character. That being said, Squall’s rivalry with Seifer and eventual maturing during the story make him a great character towards the end of the game. What I really enjoyed about Squall was seeing his appearances in Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia. He was the Squall that grew on us and became a leader, lover, and friend at the end of VIII. Squall’s personality in Kingdom Hearts is exactly the character we thought he would grow into after playing his game.
This is where it all started. One of the best things about Final Fantasy I was the selection of the Warriors of Light. We got to select their classes and set them out on their adventure. The game itself is iconic but in the realm of Final Fantasy, the first quest is nothing to really write home about. The enemy was cool but overall, the adventure isn’t as remarkable as it once seemed. Still, the Warriors of Light were main characters dictated by us and the only other Final Fantasy to allow us to do this was the original III. In Dissidia we were given control of a knight which served as the representation of the original Warriors of Light. His no personality, general looking face, and silent vigilance was a perfect way to keep the illusion of the player-driven custom heroes from the first game.
Square has noted that Final Fantasy VI didn’t have a main character but anyone who has played that game knows that Terra (Tina) was basically the focus of the story. As a child of an Esper, her role in the story was way too important and the only gripe I have with this amazing game is that Square chose not to have Terra actually be the main character. If we had followed her perspective from beginning to end, perhaps Final Fantasy VI would be the best game in the series and given the most attention. Alas, this was not so but we were still given a wonderfully woven tale filled with sadness and destruction as Kefka was the only Final Fantasy villain to succeed in his goal. Even in his success, Terra and her friends were able to overcome the mad sorcerer and bring peace back to the ravaged world.
Think Goku in a Final Fantasy game. Zidane was created for destruction. Kuja, the original “Angel of Death” was pissed off that his master created another and dumped Zidane off on Gaia and left him for dead. Zidane was raised by a thieving troupe of dancers and stage players. Zidane is very different from the other main characters. He isn’t subtle and doesn’t care what people think about him. He knows who he is and he is fine with that. However, when he is confronted with his original concept, he questions his life and everything he knows. It’s a tale of how to remember who you really are and keep on the same path no matter what adversities you come across. Zidane originally was a character I couldn’t get into but after playing through the full Final Fantasy IX, you couldn’t help but look up to the guy for his steadfast commitment to his friends and love of life itself.
Final Fantasy IV is an absolutely amazing game and Cecil Harvey is the primary reason for it. As a Black Knight and master of Darkness, Cecil faithfully followed the King’s orders and was feared by many. He was young but unmatched in combat and tactics. Cecil begins to doubt his King’s direction and in doing so is tasked with a terrible mission. As the game really ramps up, Cecil’s doubt in himself, his powers, and everything he has done weighs heavy over him. When Cecil is transformed into a shining Paladin and protector of the light, he redeems himself and is stronger then ever. Cecil breaks free of his binds and crafts his own legacy, one devoid of the Darkness.
I know what you’re saying, “of course Cloud is number 1! Ugh!” However, hear me out before clicking out of the article. The reason why Cloud is the best main character of the Final Fantasy series is because pf what he went through, what he was forced to believe, and how he overcame the kind of diversity that could otherwise crush a man. Cloud left his hometown seeking glory as a member of Shinra’s elite SOLDIER program. He believed that he made 1st rank and fought side-by-side with the legendary Sephiroth. He even thought he helped save his own hometown of Nibelheim only to see it destroyed by the very man he idolized. In reality, Cloud never did this any of those things.
Cloud never made it to SOLDIER. In fact, he was a Shinra foot soldier who befriended a 1st rank SOLDIER member named Zach Fair. Zach was the one who fought with Sephiroth and saved Nibelheim. Cloud was there and witnessed it all but he was almost brainwashed into believing he led a life that wasn’t his. In Final Fantasy VII we saw this as Cloud being confused about his own life and path. However, with Crisis Core’s addition to the story, we get to see the relationship Zach and Cloud had and how the SOLDIER asked Cloud to carry on his legacy. Cloud inherited Zach’s life and burdens in order to live out what Zach could not. It’s not that Cloud was acting like Zach. Cloud was being Zach to help the man end his life in the way he wanted to.
This is truly sad when we remember what happened to Aeris, Zach’s girlfriend and love interest. When we think about all of this, we understand that the connection that Cloud and Aeris had was purely because they were living out the relationship both her and Zach couldn’t. Once that is complete, we begin to see Cloud struggling to become his own person. He has been someone else for so long that he had forgotten his entire past and path in life. What we see is Cloud breaking free of a shadow and stepping out to claim his own life, love, and destiny.
That is why Cloud is the best of them all. His story is so complex, intriguing, and beautiful. Of course, Final Fantasy VII is the most fleshed out of all stories in the series so that may be why but it is hard to deny the struggles and hardships Cloud overcame. A lot of people hark on him for being depressed and “emo” but it is hard not to see why. The guy lived the rest of someone else’s life and then had to live with the sad endings of him and his love who he himself had grown close to. Then he had to fight “himself” to become his true self and be the hero he always wanted to be but never had the chance to.