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Since its introduction in 1987, Final Fantasy has been revolutionary in the evolution of RPG games across several platforms, never failing on providing an immersive story with diverse characters, beautiful worlds that draw from both fiction and reality, intriguing conflicts between the protagonists and antagonists, and most of all, some of the most memorable characters in video game history. The below characters are my favorites from each main game released so far.
WARRIOR OF LIGHT
GAME: Final Fantasy I
Enemy: Garland - Chaos
The first one of many, the one who started all the cycles of battles between light and darkness, the Warrior of Light is the cornerstone of all main characters that appeared in the next installments, with most of the characters primarily belonging to the Warrior class with a few adjustments. Relying mostly on pure physical strength and defence, the Warrior of Light is the perfect go to man in terms of battle for quick heavy damage.
GAME: Final Fantasy II
If David Bowie was produced by the Japanese. Emperor Mateus is well known for his rather glamorous design, but beneath that lies a vile lost cause whose arrogance knows no bounds, being an extreme judge of humanity and declaring that he rules above all out of spite. With a specialization in lightning based magic, and an overall adept range of black magic, Emperor Mateus proved to be one formidable foe to Firion and the gang in the second installment.
THE ONION KNIGHTS
GAME: Final Fantasy III
Enemy: Cloud of Darkness
Utterly cute and brave, the Onion Knights are the classic job class of Final Fantasy III that you start with in the game. As the Knights level up in the game, each are able to learn abilities and wield weapons from several different classes which offer endless strategies in battle to defeat all sorts of monsters and bosses, making them some of the most unique characters in the FF universe.
GAME: Final Fantasy IV
Enemy: Golbez - Cecil Harvey
Speed, Rage, Denial and a hunger for power, Kain is an elite Dragoon and one of the Royal Guards of the Kingdom of Baron. Caught up between serving the Kingdom, growing stronger and protecting the world from darkness, Kain's crisis plays an integral part in making his character stand out among a lineup of well written personas in Final Fantasy IV, playing on his temporary betrayal of Cecil, serving the evil Magician Golbez, then joining Cecil again to restore order to the world.
GAME: Final Fantasy V
Enemy: Bartz Klauser - Exdeath - The Void
Named after the legendary king of Mesopotamia, this warrior roams different worlds and dimensions, seeking the ultimate challenge of defeating the mightest warriors in existence. How do you know he's defeated them? Well, he collects all the swords of the mighty warriors that he's defeated, AND, uses a handful of the strongest ones he's gathered to defeat his next opponent. Talk about adding salt to injury, Gilgamesh was such a fan favorite, that Square-Enix decided to include him as an ally, villain, summon, secret boss in several titles of the Final Fantasy universe.
GAME: Final Fantasy VI
Enemy: Terra Branford
Wait a minute.... The Joker is in Final Fantasy??? Well, Kefka does share some of the Clown Prince of Crime's antics and mannerisms.... except amplify that with magic and super strength which is used on poor Terra and her party throughout the game. Kefka will stop at nothing to torture mankind, showcasing multiple tendencies to end lives and physically abuse anyone just for the fun of it, but as you fight him several times in the game, you realize that this embodiment of madness and spontanity is what made Final Fantasy VI one of the best titles in the franchise, owing a lot to his character portrayal.
GAME: Final Fantasy VII
Enemy: Professor Hojo - Genesis - Sephiroth - Shinra Corporation
Hold on, you mean to tell me Cloud, Sephiroth, Aerith, the Turks and Rufus weren't chosen? Yup, because guess who stood out and marked his way as the ultimate hero for the Final Fantasy VII masterpiece to take place.... that's right, Soldier 1st Class: Zack Fair. The man with the heart of gold was involved with a lot of the major plotpoints that shaped the epic clash between Avalanche, Shinra, Sephiroth, the Wutai and Deepground, and guess who did he side with.... NO ONE! What stood out with Zack is that he always brought the greater good before anything, forcing him to do all the following: Kill his corrupted mentor, turn his back on his lover, spare his conflicted enemy, save his best friend and most of all go out like a complete boss fighting Shinra's entire army! Pure altruism from the ultimate goodie two shoes.
GAME: Final Fantasy VIII
Enemy: Squall Leonhart
Whatever.... it only takes a million times to say the word before you snap at Squall, but guess who wasn't buying the attitude from the start? Seifer! From being two sides of the same coin with Squall, albeit contrasting color of clothes and goals, the 2nd Gunblade wielding swordsman is an embodiment of conflict throughout the game, who is more than willing to keep kicking Squall down to make sure he's always better than him, even if it is turn to villainy, but was it worth it? to side with Edea and Ultimecia to destroy Balamb Garden and destabilize time as we know it? In the end he sure didn't think so!
GAME: Final Fantasy IX
Enemy: Kuja - Garland
One of the most beloved characters in the entire Final Fantasy universe, Vivi is a black mage who is a master of various types of magic from the FF lore, making him instantly one of the most powerful characters in the franchise. However, behind all this power, lies a shy, gullible marshmallow who mixes up his words frequently, but with an absolute sense of justice and commitment to his friends and the Kingdom of Alexandria. Caught up between his duty as a protector of the Kingdom and discovering how he came to be, Vivi's adventure in FFIX is one of the most heartwrenching experiences you will get in gaming.
GAME: Final Fantasy X
Enemy: Yevon - Sin - Lady Yunalseca - Seymour Guado
A Guardian of the High Summoners of Spira to the core, the strength, grit, justice and level of badass is heavenly with this veteran warrior. From serving under High Summoner Lord Braska and being left undead without a sending off, to keeping his promise to his best friend Jecht of watching over Tidus in Dream Zanarkand, to joining Tidus and becoming guardians of High Summoner Yuna throughout the events of FFX, Auron growth in character from a firm believer of the manipulative of the Yevon faith to completely bashing through the lies of the higher ups including Seymour and Yunalesca and finally destroying Sin gave the players a pure sense of joy and satisfacation to see the legendary finally rest in peace.
GAME: Final Fantasy XI
What is it with Square-Enix making such cute characters absolutely sassy and powerful? Well this Black Mage is the utter definition of "Boss Lady". Shantotto definitely does know her own worth, not taking orders or bowing down to anyone (only exception was showing respect to Cosmos in Dissidia.) A Doctor and professor in her own right, owing to years of both Black and White magic apprenticeship by her parents, Shantotto's combination of might and charm make her a standout in Square's first MMORPG.
BALTHIER AND FRAN
GAME: Final Fantasy XII
Enemy: Gabranth - Vayne
A non-lead who is the "lead", or the opposite? Final Fantasy XII was all sorts of jumble with an epic storyline and great battles, but one thing for sure that was above all was this duo: Balthier and Fran! A sky pirate and weapons master come together the form the ultimate duo of speech and silence, strength and speed, cockiness and respect. They both balance each other quite well which makes them the most formidable duo of characters to appear in FF, making their gameplay one of the most fun as well.
OERBA YUN FANG
GAME: Final Fantasy XIII
Enemy: PSICOM - Dysley - Orphan
Another Dragoon goes on the list, and one that is overly confident, sassy but deeply caring for her fellow L'Cie. Fang was the most impressive character to come out of the Final Fantasy XIII series of games, being extremely determined to overthrow Primarch Dysley's control of Eden and Gran Pulse, even if it cost her and Vanille's own life to do so. Her introduction showed her as a rock hard, cold and cocky individual who nevers shy away from a fight, even getting a slap from Lightning for going overboard with her comments about them being L'Cie, but deep down, her suffering from exile in Gran Pulse made her much more adamant on avoiding the world any experience of what she went through. A hero from start to finish.
GAME: Final Fantasy XV
Enemy: Ardyn Izunia - Niflheim Empire
Who wouldn't want a brother like Ignis? The Retainer of the House of Lucis and one of Noctis's best buddies is the embodiment of loyalty, grace and class. From being sent to raise Noctis during his school days and getting off to a rocky start with the spoiled young crown prince, to becoming his most loyal subject who devoted his life for his rule, going all the way to wield the Ring of Lucii to save him, ultimately blinding him. Episode Ignis shed light on how far the Dragoon himself would go for Lucis bloodline, making him the ultimate party member to depend on. and how can we forget that the man is an absolute gem of a cook, as shown by his "NEW RECIPEHS!".