Who are the Best Final Fantasy Characters?
There are many things to love about Final Fantasy. From the stunning immersive world created to rich emotive storytelling compelling players to go back time and time again. Characterisation is today’s topic. Specifically the best Final Fantasy Characters from across the universe.
What makes great Final Fantasy characters?
Firstly we must discuss what makes the character stand out from his comrades.
Aesthetics – It is not all about looks but style and appearance do feature heavily in how we favour particular characters. The design must be engaging without appearing out of place.
At the same time it must must fit the fantasy genre whilst still achieving that realism allowing the audience to empathise with the characters plight.
Personality – How the character communicates and interacts with comrades is also key. Many players appreciate an air of confidence minus arrogance.
The best Final Fantasy characters tend to have a clear personality trait that defines them and often hinders them through the story allowing them “go on a journey” so to speak.
One area I would love to see more in Final Fantasy are protagonist with “grey” characters whereby their actions are morally questionable.
Ability – Think back to your favourite Final Fantasy Characters. Usually they possess abilities and statistics to ensure they are part of your main party without discuss.
Interesting characters with overriding weakness will never form part of your team. Even if they look ridiculously cool or have engaging personalities.
Characters with hit or miss specialisms also fall victim to this category. Characters like Cait Sith have limit breaks that whilst fascinating, are too risky, random and unreliable to make him a worthwhile character. Especially when you consider the powerful limit breaks offered by other characters.
Motive- A sense of purpose. There must be a clear end goal for the character be it villain or hero. An intent so to speak that even when mysterious is clearly present.
Who are the worst Final Fantasy Characters?
Before we get into the best Final Fantasy characters. It would be remiss not to talk about some of the worst.
Kimahri Ronso (FFX) –
It is just very difficult to care about Kimahri! His lack of exclusive sphere grid path suggests he is almost shoehorned into the party dynamic.
Some may say this makes him malleable as a character. On the other hand it means I have no reason to pick him over other characters in the game. He is hamstrung in battle by his irritating blue magic overdrive.
His character shows little development later in the game and by this stage I am past caring about him at all. Perhaps his muteness and lack of expression in his character design contribute to this. There are just better characters in the game.
Quistis Trepe (FFVIII) –
It must be something about the blue magic users, I just don’t enjoy their brand of magic. The only blue mage I have ever been able to get on board with is Quina from FFIX. Useful abilities, clear personality traits, and distinguished appearance are all areas where Quistis’ character fails.
She narrowly edges out Selfie as worst character in Final Fantasy 8 by virtue of Selfie having a clearer “happy go lucky” personality. Both live in Rinoa’s shadow when it comes to character and story arc.
Unfortunately Quistis cannot decide whether she is the bossy big sister or the whiny repressed secret admirer of Squall. Perhaps it is the writing but she is stuck in the middle of the two resulting in a shallow character.
Amarant (FFIX) –
Late to the party so to speak. There is little to warm to with this character. That is not necessarily always a bad thing. Except his abilities are outshone by Steiner and Freya with ease.
With a rather odd visage and no clear intent in the story, he is a character impossible to engage with. Even Quina has an intent albeit a slightly lighthearted comical one. Furthermore you could ask is “would the story be any worse without this character?” Probably not… it may even be better.
Anyway enough negativity. We are here for the best Final Fantasy character.
Firstly I will only be including the mainline series i.e. the numbered ones. Sequels and spin offs are except simply because the majority of the characters are built in the main series.
Secondly, this my opinion. You don’t like it? Great. Let me know why in the comments section but please refrain from abuse. No one likes a sore whiny character.
Best Final Fantasy Characters
Tifa Lockhart (FFVII)
It seems shocking that Tifa was introduced after the other characters. Designed by Tetsuya Nomura (brilliant character designer, lousy director and writer) She has strong fan service appeal; as far as a heavily pixelated characters can be.
A quick google search of Tifa will show endless pages of Tifa cosplay. Her design is simple yet strong.
She serves to rival Aerith for Cloud’s affections, acting the motherly influence in the group simultaneously tugging on the Freudian hypothesis’. Her motivations are to care for Cloud whilst seeking clear retribution for the burning of her hometown and murder of her Father.
Finally in battle she is a perennial powerhouse. Her limit ability stacking is of great benefit allowing cumulative damage to be inflicted outstripping many of her counterparts.
Kuja and Zidane (FFIX)
It may seem odd of me to pair them but essentially these two characters are almost two sides of the same coin. Kuja is a victim of circumstance as much as Zidane is nurtured by those around him to become a force for good.
Both are clever, witty and confident. Both are big time damage dealers and fast. The character design of both is daring yet subtle to their roles in the game. Kuja as menacing as Zidane is good-natured and charismatic. Whilst both have clear intent with Zidane’s gradually becoming more serious as the game progresses.
All these reasons meant it is impossible for me to split them apart and I genuinely feel you could reverse their roles and the game not suffer.
As much as I enjoy the story of Tidus. He is by no means my favourite character of ten. Stoic, strong and designed to be the ultimate bad-ass. I mean the guy literally hitchhikes on Sin!
Everything about his character exudes coolness in abundance. Further accentuating his coolness dark red design to his almost idiosyncratic way he holds his arm in a sling. Vocally he is mesmerising yet soothing.In battle he is a tank if not a little slow, however this suits his character as you almost feel the monsters will wait for him. He is in no rush.
Once again intent is clear as he is there to look after Tidus, the main protagonist before bringing him to Spira. To summarise, he is probably one of the best Final Fantasy characters of all time.
Once again torn between Balthier and Basch from Final Fantasy XII. Another magnificently voiced character by Gideon Emery who described him as “Hans Solo meets James Bond”. What is not to love eh?
Along with this he is dashing, cunning and articulate. Balthier dials up the cool factor to 11 as he and Basch carry the characterisation in FFXII. The main protagonist (Vaan) is quite a weak character in FFXII therefore Balthier carries the burden to support the story. Appearance wise he dons a traditional high style garb with pirate undertones.
In battle he is blessed with high strength and speed whilst lacking in magic ability. As a result he favours weapons such as Katana and Ninja swords focusing on a combination of speed and strength.
Before Yuna and Princess Garnet there was Terra. Earlier than both, she is such an influential character I even named one of my cats after her. The daughter of an Esper and Human, she exemplifies the ongoing battle between magic and technology in Final Fantasy.
For the most part the 18 year old is shown to be quite vulnerable in the early stages of the game as she is controlled by the slave crown. Terra becomes more assertive as the story rolls on and develops as a character absolving many personal battles throughout. Her appearance is that of a young girl. Pale skin and blonde hair contrasting with red garb is very striking. Beyond this in battle she is one of few able to use magic without magicite.
Furthermore her motives are key in her being one of the best Final Fantasy characters of all time. Torn between discovering herself and using her powers for good. The writing of these two motives coming together is paramount to her story and position on this list.
Finally the revered antagonist himself. From his spine shaking theme to his clean, dark aesthetic. In brief Sephiroth oozes menace and coldness.
His character design is quite simply darkly beautiful to behold. He is a tall and strong soldier. Garbed in a long black coat with long silver hair and equipped with a seven foot Katana (the masamune). Consequently as a player you instantly sense the strength and ruthlessness from within him. Absurdly powerful, he is a master swordsman and proficient with the use of Materia. In one of the few times you get to play as him he is invulnerable and attacks devastating.
In addition to this despite his later madness he is coldly professional. He evidences this by the way he interacts with others and even being programmed to revive Cloud if he should fall.
Incidentally there is no debate surrounding Sephiroth’s motive. He wants to summon the Meteor with the Black Materia, and harness the planets healing life force to emerge as a God.
The final battle with Safer Sephiroth is one of my favourite battles of all time. All hail Sephiroth! The greatest villain and possible the best Final Fantasy Character of all time.
Which characters do you consider to be in the running for the best Final Fantasy characters of all time? Let me know in the comments below.