Ever since I picked up a copy of Final Fantasy X for my Playstation 2 in the 9th grade, I've been a huge fan of the franchise. I'm not going to pretend it was FFVII that captured my heart (as I know it did for many) because honestly, when it was released, I was too young to appreciate the complexity of the storyline. I'm actually glad FFX was my first exposure to the series as it's a great entry point for those new to the genre.
There are a many things that make Final Fantasy games appeal to those who play them. For me, it was the strong female characters. Would my 9th grade self had told you that? No way. I didn't even realize it at the time, but Final Fantasy X was one of the first video games I encountered that featured characters I actually identified with. Not only that--I was captivated by Square Enix's ability to develop rich expansive worlds with developed characters and deep plots.
Maybe I'm biased, but the female characters of Final Fantasy have always been my favorite in any chapter of the series. Sure, they're beautiful and eye-catching in a majestic way, but they're also strong meaningful characters who typically have more influence in the progression of the story than their male counterparts.
Here are 6 Final Fantasy heroines I believe deserve a little shine. They are in no particular order as they each have unique attributes that make them awesome.
Terra, Final Fantasy VI
Might as well start with Final Fantasy's first female protagonist, Terra of FFVI. Although her title is arguable--considering the game was intended to have no main character, game director Yoshinori Kitase has stated,
"Terra is featured prominently in much of the game's artwork and is pivotal to its plot; she is present in the game's logo, the game's main theme is named after her, and she was chosen as the heroine to represent Final Fantasy VI in Dissidia Final Fantasy. She is often considered the game's central protagonist, which would make her the first female protagonist in the mainstream Final Fantasy series."
Should I also mention that she holds PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS?!?! No really--just watch the team fight against the final boss, Kefka. She easily does the most damage of the team. Besides doing massive magic damage and being a super strong chick, she also serves as the main motivator and source of inspiration throughout the series.
A prime example of this is at the end of the game. In response to Kefka's nihilist rant, Terra says that the inevitability of death and destruction do not matter if one has something to live for. When Kefka asks them why they bother to fight, she cites love.
Love really does conquer all <3
Tifa Lockhart, Final Fantasy VII
Tifa Lockhart is probably one of Final Fantasy's most recognizable characters, not just because the first version of her character rocked an undeniably sexy outfit, but because Final Fantasy VII was a smash-hit, selling over 10 million copies worldwide by 2010.
Although Cloud is the main protagonist of FFVII, he is without question deeply flawed and emotionally weak. In the game, Tifa serves as Cloud's backbone and stands by him as his comrade (Although never as his lover even tough there is a strong bond and some definite chemistry). Bearing the same disdain for Sephiroth after the destruction of their childhood home, Tifa and Cloud stand together to deliver justice.
Tifa Lockhart is strong for many reasons. She's the first femme fighter to use brute force over magic by delivering her enemies a brutal beating of mixed martial arts and knuckle sandwiches. Her strength isn't just physical, it's also emotional. Tifa serves as a maternal figure, taking care of ex-soliders, refugees, and orphans. She's one fierce mama bear.
Between being the rock that Cloud leans on and the bad-ass the team relies on, she is the baddest chick of Final Fantasy VII.
Rikku, Final Fantasy X
When Tidus first wakes up in Final Fantasy X, he is ambushed by a dangerous fiend in the Underwater Ruins and then rescued by a group of Al Bhed led by a girl named Rikku. The Al Bhed are a minority in the world of Spira, making up only 10% of the population. Because they use forbidden technology, they are shunned by most of Spira and face religious oppression by the dominant religion, Yevon. This makes them somewhat distrustful of outsiders and upon discovering Tidus, they want to kill him. But Rikku objects this motion and protects him, thus, a friendship is formed.
On the outside, Rikku appears to be no different than many female supporting characters in western games (or as I like to call them, accessories). She comes off naive with her cute appearance and bubbly personality, and in the sequel she even gets a sexy bikini ...but don't be deceived--She is a strong willed girl who is not afraid to speak her mind in either language. Yep, she's bilingual. This is a rare trait in such a divided world and often gives her the upper-hand in sticky situations. She is also skilled in alchemy and chemistry.
In a world so dark and full of chaos, she wields the power of positivity. Her glass is always half full and even in the darkest of circumstances, she is an eternal optimist. All-in-all she is funny, smart and sexy, all rolled up into one unforgettable girl.
Lightning, Final Fantasy XIII
Lightning is the first character to specifically be designed as a female protagonist in any Final Fantasy game (remember, Terra was basically an accident and FFVI wasn't meant to have a lead). Cold, seemingly unemotional, and tough as steel (much like her inspiration Cloud), Lightning is like no other female character in the realm of Final Fantasy.
Lightning is the eternal protector and gives guidance to those she cares for. She saves her sister Sarah in Final Fantasy XIII, serves as a knight guarding the goddess Etro in Final Fantasy XIII-2, and is chosen to be a savior: tasked to save humanity before the end of the world in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
What makes Lightning appear notably different than the other ladies on the list is the absence of sex appeal. While her clothing isn't completely deprived of femininity, it is much more masculine in design, almost militant. Lightning is also one of the few female characters in the Final Fantasy realm whose plot isn't somehow influenced by a relationship with a man. Her story isn't a romantic one--It's a story of strength, courage, and fighting for what you believe in. YOU GO GIRL!
Garnet, Final Fantasy IX
Garnet was born as a girl named Sarah in the land of Madain Sari and raised in a summoner tribe. When Sarah was six years old, their village was attacked by "The Invincible." She and her mother managed to escape by boat, but her mother was killed in the process.
Sarah washed up on the shore of Alexandria where she was discovered by a king. She looked almost identical to the late Princess Garnet, with the exception of her Summoner's horn. The king ordered the horn removed and that she become a replacement princess.
With no recollection of these events, Garnet grows up in a castle as a princess, but like many Princess-in-a-castle stories, she's not allowed to leave. On the night of her sixteenth birthday, Garnet asks Zidane (a thief, actor, and unlikely friend) to kidnap her from the castle. Adopting the alias Dagger to hide her identity, she journeys with Zidane to find answers to the mysteries in her life.
She goes on to join his troupe of thieves. During this time, she discovers her true identity. This jumpstarts her journey to self-discovery and inspires her to master her craft as a Summoner. She returns to Alexandria to defeat her captors and even assumes the role of queen herself.
Initially, Garnet is self-deprecating and blames herself for events beyond her control. Perhaps due to her sheltered life in Alexandria, she can be naive and rely on people too much. Despite her sheltered upbringing, Garnet is quick-thinking and finds ways to outwit others to pursue her goals and through her relationship with Zidane, she eventually matures into a more assertive individual.
For a commonly overlooked character in an often disregarded game, Garnet is one bold young lady that definitely deserves some shine.
Yuna, Final Fantasy X
In Final Fantasy X, there is a beast by the name of Sin which threatens the world of Spira. The people of Spira believe the beast is a punishment for their ancestor's hedonistic society. By following the teachings of their religion, Yevon, the people believe one day they will atone for their crimes and Sin will vanish.
The daughter of a High Summoner, Yuna, practices the teachings of Yevon on the calm Island of Besaid. It is her father's death that inspires her to embark on a Summoner's pilgrimage to defeat Sin with a major sacrifice: her life.
She accepts that this will be her fate from the get-go and faces this pilgrimage with courage. She's a girl who doesn't need the approval of those around her, yet she somehow stays loyal and dutiful to her guardians through it all. Although she doesn't challenge gender roles, it doesn't matter because she doesn't perpetuate any negative stereotypes either. She is strong-willed and brave, yet quite humble and gentle in nature.
Perhaps due to her pleasantness, Yuna is one of the most underrated Final Fantasy heroines. However, she is, in fact, the reason I'm writing this article. The depth she lends to the player experience is undeniable-- She is the yin to the yang of FFX. It was her existence that allowed me to connect intrinsically with a game in a way I had never before. I am going to end with her most famous quote that I feel truly captures her beautiful character.
"Everyone has lost something precious. Everyone here has lost homes, dreams, and friends. Now, Sin is finally dead. Now, Spira is ours again. Working together, now we can make new homes for ourselves, and new dreams. Although I know the journey will be hard, we have lots of time. Together, we will rebuild Spira. The road is ahead of us, so let's start out today. Just, one more thing... the people and the friends that we have lost, or the dreams that have faded... Never forget them."
Thank you everyone who took the time to read this article. If there's anyone I didn't mention who you feels deserves a little attention, please comment below!