Final Fantasy: if it has big hair and an even bigger personality — then it’s probably one of the many heroes that help breathe life into the franchise. Of course, Square Enix has never exactly been shy when it comes to moulding their spiky-haired protagonists, nor have they shied away from giving them ridiculously complex backstories to decipher. Whatever the recipe for the Final Fantasy frontrunners is — something definitely works. So much that Square has managed to develop fifteen games plus spin-offs as a result.
From blitzball superstars to emotionally driven royalty — Final Fantasy has enrolled quite the diverse mixture of heroes into its wealthy roster since 1987. That being said, there are still five that shine brighter than the rest, and ultimately stand as a collective not to be reckoned with. A matter of opinion, sure. But we can’t deny these five of being worthy of the crown among the remainder. But where do you stand? Have we hit the nail on the head with this collective?
5. Tidus (Final Fantasy X)
Square Enix tapped into something truly remarkable when developing Final Fantasy X. Characters aside, the tenth major instalment brought a whole new marvel to life on PlayStation 2, with even more visually stunning concepts established through the power of the latest hardware. Of course, the characters did aid the overall premise, and we’d be lying if we said Tidus wasn’t an enormous chunk behind the global success of the game, too.
Although rather naive and somewhat cocky, Tidus is anything but wooden when it comes to his overall persona. In fact, the heartfelt connections that unravelled over our time in Spira with the blitzball superstar were some of the most genuinely inviting moments we’ve ever had in a Final Fantasy segment, and some we’re still reminiscing over even twenty years down the line. Blitzball jock or not, Tidus definitely deserves a place on this list for personality alone — awkward laugh and all.
4. Noctis (Final Fantasy XV)
Prince Noctis, although strapped to the core in charcoal wears and angsty quips, is perhaps one of the best protagonists Final Fantasy has put out to date. And what’s more — he’s essentially the most powerful, too. With the ability to wield any style of weapon without having to rack up hundreds of hours of additional training, the rebellious prince with a heartwarming motive is, in a nutshell — a force not to be reckoned with. And, to put it simply — a royal kingpin we actually enjoyed watching develop over our long and winding journey across Eos.
Reckless attitude and rebellious ways pushed aside, Noctis does actually possess a collection of likable qualities. Of course, a lot of the time we, as players, did struggle to see the character hidden behind the melancholy that shrouded his every notion. But then, when the occasional moment of joy did drop and the prince finally drifted away from his royal duties and tippled into normality — some truly blissful moments were created. Simple things, like sat around a campfire watching the stars align with friends. Admittedly, not the most threatening hero — but definitely a closed book that we were always curious to crack open and read.
3. Squall (Final Fantasy VIII)
It’s a common theme for Square Enix to shovel as much drama into a character as humanly possible. And as expected, Squall definitely wasn’t an exception from that. In fact, when it came to designing the Final Fantasy hero — Square definitely didn’t do things by halves when moulding the beloved Squall Leonheart. Of course, while he is an introvert at heart with a reluctancy to shed any form of second skin, he is a genuinely intriguing frontrunner with a fascinating hook for an origin story.
Sure, he was often locked in the emotional turmoil of his own creation, though that never seemed to divert his heroic ways when establishing a set goal. Moody personality set aside, Squall Leonheart did prove himself worthy of being a compelling character over the long haul of our journey through FFVIII. Plus, let’s not forget the fact that Squall also possessed one of the most iconic weapons in Final Fantasy history. The Gunblade — what more could you want? We’re giving extra points for that alone.
2. Cecil (Final Fantasy IV)
Because who doesn’t love a bad guy turned hero, right? It’s not very often we plummet into the shoes of someone willing to depart the world of evil in search of redemption. But for Final Fantasy IV — Cecil Harvey lit the torch for the concept and went on to execute it flawlessly. While he may not be the all-powerful protagonist you’d expect from a Dark Knight bloodline, Cecil was a genuinely compelling character to watch develop over a rather lengthy struggle between right and wrong.
Over our long and winding journey as the perplexed hero, we were able to witness the character spiral towards some truly admirable heights. From Dark Knight to Paladin, Cecil’s determination to better himself and ultimately forge a brighter future was a true marvel to watch unravel. As a result of our genuine interest in the protagonist’s story, we were quick to place him near the pinnacle of all-time favourite characters in the Final Fantasy series. Well deserved, we must admit. Lack of power aside, Cecil climbs to our second spot for ambition alone.
1. Cloud (Final Fantasy VII)
Other than being one of the most recognizable faces in all of Final Fantasy, Cloud is also a fan favourite amongst the many characters that grace the series. With one of the most complex backstories that involve lashings of pain and torment, the mysterious hero stands as an intriguing figure that players immediately feel drawn to. Top the suffering off with a boatload of style — and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success.
From the get-go, Cloud isn’t a character that sheds a great deal of emotion, nor is he a hero that ultimately wears his heart on his sleeve. Almost reserved, though eager to explore the darkness swilling around his past, the intriguing protagonist lights the way to some of the most compelling story arcs in the Final Fantasy timeline. Oh, and the weapon alone is enough to secure a top spot on this list, also. But that’s another story in itself. One we’ll look to cover next week at that.
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