Created by Square Enix over twenty-five years ago, Final Fantasy is one of gaming’s most beloved series; to a certain extent it’s the archetype of the JRPG genre. Immersive narratives set in equally engrossing worlds full of fascinating characters backed up with highly addictive gameplay, the franchise has provided generations of gamers (myself included) with hundreds of hours of entertainment throughout the past couple of decades. But with such a long and varied history, it’s understandable there exist certain features of the Final Fantasy universe that are ripe for a spot of good-natured mockery and today I’ve chosen to focus on what are, in my opinion, the five most ridiculous weapons to appear in the main series.
- Vanille’s Binding Rod – Final Fantasy XIII – 2009
Wielded by the unbearably saccharine Oerba Dia Vanille in PS3’s severely linear FFXIII, the binding rod looks more like a bifurcated fishing rod than a weapon. The various ‘lines’ cast from Vanille’s unusual angling equipment snake towards opponents before lashing them with slow, languorous blows that, apparently, cause damage. You can’t help but think this chirpy heroine would be a more effective warrior if she put aside the binding rod and assaulted her foes instead with one of her frequent, nausea-inducing ‘inspirational’ speeches.
- Cait Sith’s Megaphone – Final Fantasy VII – 1997
Megaphones can be unpleasantly loud, but how on earth do you weaponize one? By using it as an acoustically-sound club of course. Whether the foe is an armoured soldier or hulking great behemoth, Cait Sith (a mechanised, stuffed animal) approaches every battle the same; waddling fearlessly toward his victim before slamming the full weight of his auditory device down onto his adversary’s head. It can only be assumed that the megaphones in the world of Final Fantasy VII are composed of solid marble or a similarly dense material.
- Relm’s Paintbrush – Final Fantasy VI – 1994
Relm Arrowny may well be the bravest character in the entire series. Only ten years old, this pre-teen trooper faces professionally trained soldiers and vicious beasts alike head-on, with naught but a few centimetres of wood to protect her. Striking her opponents with the brush itself is her primary form of offence, however, Relm also possesses the unique ability to paint magical portraits of her enemies during skirmishes which come to life to support her and the party by using her adversary’s own abilities against them. If not for this extraordinary skill, Relm’s mighty paintbrush would probably be at the very top of this list.
- Edward’s Harp – Final Fantasy IV – 1991
Taking the silver medal is Prince Edward Chris von Muir and his lethal harp. Though musical instruments are used as weapons elsewhere in the series (see Cait Sith above), Edward’s stands out due to an alarming lack of supporting skills. For example, unlike Eiko from Final Fantasy IX who relies on her abilities as a summoner far more than her unassuming flute, the ‘spoony bard’ (as he’s famously called by the mage Tellah) has nothing save the soothing tones of his harp to defend himself in battle. Literally attacking monsters with music, it’s hard to imagine the Prince defeating any enemy, unless he decides to start playing a vuvuzela; anyone who watched even five minutes of the 2010 world cup will know the toneless drone of a vuvuzela is as unpleasant as a gun-shot to the gut.
- Lulu’s Doll – Final Fantasy X 2001
Dressed like a goth burlesque dancer, you’d expect Lulu to be armed with something appropriately dark and arcane, instead the taciturn black mage from Final Fantasy X enters battle with a small, semi-autonomous doll as a weapon. Unleashing them at her foes like a sable-clad Pokémon trainer, Lulu’s dolls wound her enemies with a delicate headbutt possessing all the force of a particularly fluffy snowball that’s been thrown by a four-year-old. Though she has an arsenal of spells to fall back on, the bizarre sight of a grown woman defeating building-sized monsters with a plush toy is too peculiar to overlook.
There are other weapons from the series I could have chosen, but, in my opinion, these five best demonstrate the quirky, sometimes ludicrous nature of Final Fantasy; games which I must reiterate I adore despite their imperfections.