I’ve been a huge RPG fan my entire life, and I lay that blame on the Final Fantasy series. Through the years I’ve played almost every one of them, and have gotten to know the characters that populate them pretty well. While some entries in the fabled series are closer to my heart than others, I’ve usually found something to like in all of them.
One area that has been particularly down lately is the characters that populate your party. That’s not to say that recent Fantasies haven’t had some good characters, I just feel they are fewer and farther between then they used to be.
That said, I wanted to put together the ultimate Final Fantasy party. Using a variety of criteria, such as ability, potential story threads and party dynamics., I went about creating my group of ten. Below is my ultimate Final Fantasy party, separated by roles.
Fighter (I): The penultimate paragon. He has everything I could want in a leader; tip-top HP levels, can equip all the best gear, hits for absurd amounts of damage and, oh yeah, can learn white magic. What’s not to like? Even better he has the perfect personality to build a compelling main character from, that is to say none at all. Besides his quest for some crystals, he has no discernible personality, making him the perfect blank canvas to create my main character.
He also makes sense in a practical way. His high health bar means I won’t be going down, and his selection of white magic means he can step into a secondary medical role as well. Offensive magic capabilities are lacking, but I have other people to fill that role. In my mind, there is no better choice for the leader role.
Lightning (XIII): In more than a few ways, Final Fantasy XIII was a disappointment. However, sometimes its easy to forget there were good things to be had in that polarizing entry. The combat was one, and the protagonist was another. When you mixed those two elements, you were looking at true Final Fantasy magic. Lightning may not be your average female, but I count that as a point in her favor. Also, she is capable of kicking major ass. Like, epic level ass.
Again, she has a number of attributes that make her ideal for this role. Like the Fighter, she too can use white magic, and can help my healers out in a pinch. Her main role as damage-dealer, however, is where she truly shines. Her acrobatic moves and slick blade merge to create a whirlwind of destructive power, and she has good leadership qualities. Say what you will about her game, but Lighning is my firm No. 2
Orlandu (Tactics): For those of you who have played through Final Fantasy Tactics, you can go ahead and switch to the next entry. You already know what I’m about to say. For those of you who don’t, all me to educate you. Orlandu, also known as Thunder God Cid, is a character you pick up about three-quarters of the way through Final Fantasy Tactics. His starting equipment is Excalibur, he can use a variety of other characters attacks and basically makes the game easy from that point onward.
He is an absolute lock for a DPS role. And when I say he can use a variety of other characters attacks, I mean he has access to some of the best abilities available, virtually making half of your party obsolete. Couple that with his high health and honorable disposition, and he will make a great front-line addition to my party.
Auron (X): Every team needs a solid backbone, and Auron is my man for that. Not only can he deal massive damage with that sword of his, he can withstand the hardest of hits. The fact that he does all this with one arm should serve as inspiration for the rest of my team to rally around. He basically fills the role of tank, but he is also so much more than that.
His biggest strength is that he brings some important intangibles to the squad. He has already saved the world once, and that experience, plus his wise and protective manner, will almost certainly come in handy in the inevitable dark time for my team. Eventually we will need someone to turn to, and Auron will be there.
Sabin (VI): I need one more good all-around fighter for my party, and the choice I settled on is Sabin. Besides the fact that his just awesome, Sabin brings a variety of much- needed attributes to my party. His high health and attack make him a great front-line fighter, and his versatile blitzes allow him to be effective in almost any situation. From healing to attacking multiple enemies at once, his long line of abilities will definitely help me out of a few jams.
Sabin also brings some much needed comic relief to my group. His light attitude and comical surprised expression bring a smile to my face every time he has a scene, but he is still capable of taking care of business. Also, he suplexed a ghost train. End of argument.
Vivi (IX): Obviously I need some offensive firepower on my team, and that is where my black mages come into play. And what better black mage than Vivi, one of the precious few good characters in Final Fantasy IX? Not only does he look cool, harkening back to the old school design of the black mage, but he is capable of delivering some bombastic offensive spells. Every team needs a solid mage, and Vivi is one of the best.
It also can’t be understated the role he plays in my team dynamic. I’ve filled my team with a lot of huge egos, and Vivi’s quiet and shy demeanor could be the perfect foil to those clashing heads. He’s so adorable! But never let that distract you from the fact that he can freeze you, electrocute you and/or burn you to death with his mind.
Rydia (IV): Another cute but deadly character, Rydia was an absolute no-brainer for me. Yes, she ably fills her offensive magic role, particularly with her nasty Summon attacks, but she also brings great story threads along with her. Final Fantasy IV featured one of the best storylines to date, and Rydia’s tale of coming to age and dealing with her demons was beautifully realized.
Did I mention she can summon, too? Because that’s kind of important. Also on the plus side, this time I don’t have to wait for her whole “kid phase” to end, her body is already grown up and ready to help me in my quest. Score! Rydia is a glass cannon to be sure, but she makes a great specialized nuker, filling a small but vital role. Rydia is my big gun.
Aeris (VII): In my mind, Aeris is just the ultimate healer. While everyone in Final Fantasy VII can technically heal, Aeris’s high MP, extreme proclivity for magic and incredible limit breaks make her a perfect choice for that role. The fact that she has good offensive capabilities as well is just icing on the cake. Obviously she is lacking in the attack power and HP departments, but that isn’t the point of a healer is it? She can restore people’s HP, and her limits can make them invincible for a short time. Yep, sounds good.
Since this is my dream game, I don’t have to worry about any pesky character deaths to hold Aeris back from her full healing potential, and Cloud won’t be around to f**k things up this time. Yeah, things are looking up.
White Mage (I): Just in case Aeris isn’t enough, I decided to bring the original healer. The White Mage. I mean, who better to fill this role? I considered Rosa from FF IV, but ultimately went with the healer because of his high theoretical potential. I can’t imagine a white magic spell he couldn’t learn, and his access to Holy by itself gives him formidable offensive capabilities.
I also like the idea that he, like the Fighter, starts with no personality, so his character could go in any direction. He has extremely high HP and MP, and can even deal moderate damage with physical attacks if need be. I mean, he wields hammers and staffs. That’s pretty cool. He may not have the stand-out abilities that Aeris does, but he is a great healer with a ton of potential.
Celes (VI): To round out my party, I decided to go with one more healer, or in this case a quasi-healer. Yes, I may be going a bit overboard with my defensive capabilities, but I’m of the opinion that you can never have enough good healers. What if I have to break up my party? In that vein I’m taking Celes. Yes, she has healing capabilities, but she also has huge offensive capabilities. And a little ability called Runic.
Runic, in case you don’t know, allows Celes to raise her sword in the air, and absorb any magic attack directed at her as MP. Yeah, it is as awesome as it is practical, and it’s nice that she can equip swords. She is a general after all, she knows what she’s doing. I like the variety and support options, not to mention story possibilities, so Celes squeezes in at the last spot.
Well that’s my ultimate Final Fantasy party . I put a lot of thought into it, and feel pretty good about what I chose. Do you like my team, or would you pick a completely different squad. Let me know!