By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of a new article series, Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I'll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. This week we celebrate the release of Final Fantasy XV with an article chronicling my favorite Final Fantasy summons.
One of the staples of the Final Fantasy series are summons. The concept of summons dates back to Final Fantasy III and the creation of the job class system. The Evoker, Summoner, and Sage all had the ability to call forth creatures to inflict damage on their foes. Moving forward into just about every oher game in the series, summons (or eidolons, guardian forces, etc) became a true mainstay.
Keeping in the Final Fantasy spirit after the release of FF XV, I have for you my top five list of my personal favorite summons! My choices are based on their use in all games, and a single summon won't appear on the list more than once. For example, I'm not going to have Shiva from FF VIII and XIII or any of the sub-types of Bahamut from FF VII.
Check out this week's Top Five by clicking below!
#5 - Anima
There are a lot of summons that have appeared throughout the history of Final Fantasy. You have your Shivas, your Ramuhs, and your Leviathans, and they are all well and good summons! However, there are some summons so cool that they just can't be duplicated again for fear of losing their effectiveness and originality.
Meet Anima, a freakish abomination from Final Fantasy X. The name Anima will appear in other games, and he'll make cameo appearances as well, yet this is the only game that he really gets to stretch his...well, not really his arms...his carapace? You know, I'm not really sure how to properly describe Anima. He seems part fish due to the strange crest at the top of his head and the scales on his shoulders. It's upper body is heavily restrained by chains, and it deals some sort of psychic damage simply called Pain.
Oh, but the weirdness does not stop there. When you obtain Anima's Overdrive, your enemies are sucked below ground, where it is revealed that Anima has a lower body that is some sort of demonic genitalia with demon horns and sharp, jagged teeth and claws. As if this thing wasn't horrific looking enough with its two sets of chained arms and glowing blue-green eyes. Oh, and then there's the fact that Anime is pulled from the ground by some sort of massive hook?
Even though Anima is such a creative summon, I hope that they don't utilize him in any future Final Fantasy games. I'm mostly afraid to see the added detail they could accomplish with the current gen graphics!
#4 - Cactuar
Sure, I know what you're all thinking. Cactuar really isn't a summon; he's more of an odd creature that you face from time to time. To that I say you are wrong, sir and/or madam! Cactuar did indeed serve as a summon, and even if it was really only in one game, he's amazing enough to make my top five.
For those of you that may not know exactly what a cactuar even is, it's exactly what the name suggests: an adorable little walking cactus. There's always been something about the cactuar that appeals to me. Maybe it's the random 3 needles at the top of its head. Maybe it's the awkward, yet addicting posture. Either way, there's something endearing about the little guy.
Final Fantasy VIII went above and beyond when they decided that the cactuar was far too damn cute to just be a run-of-the-mill monster. Oh no, they decided to unleash the master of all cactuars, the Jumbo Cactuar! And when I say jumbo, I mean jumbo!
Jumbo Cactuar was unique in that it broke one of the core mechanics of the game. Up until this point, a single blow from an enemy would max out at 9,999 damage. Sure, there were ways to get around this, such as the Knights of the Round summon of hte Omnislash limit break, both of which would hit a single enemy over and over again. Jumbo Cactuar would hit an opponent with a move called 10,000 Needles. As the name suggests, the summon flings a massive number of cactus needles at a foe, dealing over the 9,999 damage limit by exactly one point. Since your playable characters' HP also maxed out at 9,999, this meant an instant K.O. if it hit.
It may sound lame to some of you, but it's completely bad ass. Don't believe me? I'll leave you with the video below!
#3 - Ifrit
There are several monsters in the Final Fantasy universe that strike fear into the hearts of players. A tonberry starts wandering your way? You better run the opposite direction! A malboro slinks out of the forest? Hold your breath and escape! Among all the summons, there's one that doesn't fail to scare me the first time I run into him, and that's Ifrit.
Ifrit is based on the lore of Middle Eastern cultures. Holding true to their origin, these creatures were enveloped in flame and were monstrous in appearance. Little has changed about the image of Ifrit from the earlier games, but he always seems to startle me by bursting forth from the ground in a gout of hellfire.
Speaking of Hellfire, this is his signature move in the game. As one of the major elements in Final Fantasy, you normally acquire him fairly early on, and he usually remains a powerful ally. My personal favorite incarnation comes from Final Fantasy VIII, where you are tasked with besting him and having him join your squadron of Guardian Forces. He leaps into frame so suddenly that I felt legitimately afraid for the safety of my party.
As one of the core summons, it's hard to not include Ifrit on a list such as this one. I'm normally not a huge fan of fire magic in RPGs, but I'll always make an exception for this fiery menace.
#2 - Shiva
Not all the summons in Final Fantasy are completely made up or are the image of a horrifying creature. Some are literally the Gods of established mythologies. Two of the most notable are Odin, an extremely powerful Norse God, and Shiva, one of the key deities of Hinduism.
In the world of Final Fantasy, Shiva is depicted as an attractive woman with blue skin and flowing, sheer clothing. Her special move is called Daimond Dust, which in each game involves the creation of large amounts of ice to attack and freeze the enemies. Out of all the versions, I particularly love her look and attack in Final Fantasy X, which involves spinning around a ton of times, covering her enemies in ice, and then shattering it all with the snap of her fingers. Just watch it below and witness the awesome!
Shiva has become one of the most used summons in the entire franchise. She made her debut in Final Fantasy III and appeared in at least 20 games in the series when you could sequels and off-shoots.
One of the strangest iterations of Shiva has to be when she took on the role of Snow's Eidolon in Final Fantasy XIII. I don't often talk much about Final Fantasy XIII because, frankly, it's not that great of a game. The entire concept of the Gestalt form itself is part bizarre and in the case of Shiva, part fan service. Shiva, for some reason, is a pair of twins, and they morph into a rather suggestive way into a motorcycle.
Despite all that weirdness, Shiva will go down as one of the most interesting, powerful, and iconic summons in all of Final Fantasy.
#1 - Bahamut
Bahamut easily makes the top of my list of all the games' summons. What's not to like about him? He's the freaking king of the dragons! He wouldn't let some Targaryen tell him what to do!
Bahamut makes his debut in the original Final Fantasy, not as a summon but as an integral part of the overall storyline. The Light Warriors have to prove their strength to the Dragon King by bringing him a symbol of their might, a rat's tail hidden at the end of a ridiculously hard dungeon. That's something great about Bahamut: he has a great sense of humor!
From there Bahamut would show up in several other games in the series, including even getting his own game, Bahamut Lagoon. Despite the game, he's best known for his attack "Megaflare." Like any other summon, it is fascinating to watch it evolve over the course of the series. Not only does the move look completely badass, but it deals non-elemental damage, which can prevent accidentally healing an enemy with elemental absorption.
Final Fantasy VII brings some of the most iconic versions of Bahamut to life. You don't just get one, not two, but three different versions of Bahamut to summon. While it is honestly a little ridiculous to have three separate summons, the amazing visual of Bahamut ZERO's entrance and attack make it worth it.
When I think of Final Fantasy, I immediately see the image of Bahamut flying over the battlefield, raining down destruction on anyone in his way.
We'll be back for another Tuesday Top 5 article counting down the top five Final Fantasy villains! Be sure to check back and let us know what you think about my rankings in the comments below!
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