It's a GREAT time to be a Final Fantasy fan. To be honest, it's always a good time to be a Final Fantasy fan.
Final Fantasy VI received a reboot for Android, that not everyone loves, but JRPG players are a picky bunch. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is rolling along wonderfully, boasting 600,000 active subscriptions. Not that these are Warcraft level numbers, but its a robust player base, and a pretty darned fun game to boot. Lightning returns this week to save the world of Pulse in the latest chapter of the Final Fantasy XIII Fabula Nova Crystalis franchise. Not enough? Pickup the Final Fantasy one-off, Brave/Default to save the Crystals, fight moogles, and, well, I'm not sure, but I'll ask the guy that I'm dating.
In celebration of this fantastic Final Fantasy free for all, here's who I think are the most BA characters, villains included, of the series. As you can see, I'm pretty heavily impressed by the latter games, but as someone who's been playing these games for nearly 17 years, you can trust me.
10) Cid Highwind
Cid is one of those characters who’s great just for being themselves. They’re not a talking dog, they don’t have a gun for a hand, they’re not descended from some ancient alien species.
Cid’s just a guy with a dream and morals. Since childhood, he’s always wanted to be the first man in space, and he even built his own spaceship with the help of the Shinra space program. At the last minute, he was forced to sabotage his work and throw away his dream, to save his assistants life. Now that’s character, and seems like a great starting place.
That, and he swears a lot, smokes, and has an airship.
While making this list it became seriously clear to me how many amazing women (sometimes girls) are critical to the plots of the Final Fantasy worlds. A ton of them made them onto this list, and Yuna is the first.
Yuna is an orphan with the literal weight of the world on her shoulders. Romance does play a big part of her role in the events in Final Fantasy X, but it’s secondary to the duty to herself, the people of Spira, and Spira itself. She embarks on a pilgrimage to awaken the aeons and bring a brief peace to a world in constant catastropher by sacrificing herself, like her father did, in the ruins of a dead city. So basically, she’s an orphan living under a death sentence, but she bears the weight, and smiles doing it.
Ashe. Ashelia B’nargin Dalmasca. Last survivor of the conquered Dalmascan royal family, scion of the King Raithwall, the Dynast King. Political refugee. Stabby swordswoman.
This fucking girl right here.
Ostensibly, Final Fantasy XII’s protagonist is Vaan. This twink. In reality, though, Ashe is the main driver of the plot. It’s her relentless drive to conquer her homeland that moves the central plot along. Not Vaan's wanderlust. Or Basch's urge to reclaim his honor. Or Penelo's crush on Vaan.
It's Ashe's righteous bloodlust.
Step aside Daenerys Targaeryen, by blood and fire doesn’t even apply. 90% of the main storyline follows Vaan and the remaining characters following Ashe around, trying to get her to not behead people and talking her out of using weapons of mass destruction on anyone that gets in her way.
Locke is a complex character. Like Cid Highwind, he’s one of the few characters without any supernatural abilities, but he’s still one of the most core characters of Final Fantasy VI.
Locke’s greatest strength is his refusal to let great losses hinder him. He loses the love of his life during a rebel action against the Empire, where she is hurt and loses her memory, forgetting him. He loses her again when his love’s father turns their village against him for hurting his daughter, and run him out of town. He loses her a third time when the Imperial forces torch the town, sending her to her grave never knowing how much he really cares for her.
Though his strength doesn’t lie in his blade, of all the characters, he has one of the strongest hearts.
6) Balthier and Fran
Let’s face it, these two are the same character.
They’re two wanderers in an unfriendly and uncaring world, who managed to luck out and find each other. As a child, Balthier fled a psychopathic father who makes Doctor Mengele look tame. Fran lives as an outcast from a reculsive society that turns its back on its members that look to explore the world outside of their wood.
The beauty of their relationship, I mean, aside from their amazing accents, Shakespearean style, inexplicable rabbit ears, steampunk firearms, and totally freaking awesome airship, is that there is no sexual component to what they have, and its not necessary. They complete each other and support each other, and, together, they’re out to show the world who’s really in charge.
God asked her to save the world.
4) The Occuria
The Occuria are the secret antagonists behind Final Fantasy XII. Like, super secret. Like you need to read all of the notes in the bestiary and their Wikipedia page.
Essentially, the Occuria are immortal paper mache things that created the Espers, instructed mankind in the arts and sciences, manipulates humanity ever few thousand years to keep them controlled by strategically sharing powerful magicite with select individuals. The central story involves the Occuria manipulating Ashe to create a new Dawn Shard to wipe out the entire nation of Archadia with what amounts to a magical nuke.
That’s kind of evil, but also kind of scary awesome.
I AM BAHAMUT.
I AM THE IRE OF THE USERS.
I HAVE COME TO DESTROY FINAL FANTASY XIV AS A MAJOR PLOT DEVICE SO WE CAN REBOOT THE GAME AND GIVE PEOPLE CAT BOYS AND FULLY FLESHED OUT GAME MECHANICS.
Sure Sephiroth is bad ass, but in the end, he’s just a magically empowered super soldier turned sociopath.
Same thing with you Kefka. Awesome, you messed with the gods and went crazy. Join the club.
Ultimecia? I don’t even understand what’s going on with you.
Same goes for you Kuja.
Well, Sin isn’t really an enemy as much as it is a force of fucking nature.
See that picture? That’s an airship with at least four floors, and is about the size of a 90 foot yacht.
See Sin in the background? He’s like half a mile away, and that’s an entire fucking city beneath it. It also has a city on it’s head.
It has no agenda other than showing up and ripping cities just by it being there and being its massive, apocalyptic Lovecraftian, eldritch self.
Bonus points for being Yuna’s father.
Vivi taught an entire generation about what it means to define for yourself who you are in a world where others are constantly define the boundaries of who you are and what your purpose is.
This little black mage has a very special place in my heart. I played Final Fantasy IX around the time my mom passed away in the early 2000’s, and Vivi just absolutely struck me. A huge part of his story deals with Vivi coming to terms with be an engineered soldier with a very finite life span living in a world where many people see him as a tool to harm others.
Much of this characters life, and death, comes from Vivi’s refusal to accept this life that others are trying to define for him. Instead, Vivi strives to live in a world of compassion, life, and love, and refuses to accept that this isn’t possible.