Originally published on Geekdom 101 on May 27, 2016.
Having just played and finished Final Fantasy 13 for the first time, I was planning on writing my review for the site. However, there isn’t much more I can add to the excellent review of the game for the site 6 years ago. However, as I was playing the post-game with the three female characters, I soon realized that every Final Fantasy game I have played all featured three and just three females. It made me wonder if Thirteen had the best trinity of “girl power” in any Final Fantasy game. Developing my system to rate, here is my review of every grouping of females in Final Fantasy, from Six to Thirteen.
The system I devised consisted of rating each of the three girls per game in 3 categories, on a 1 to 5 rating, with 5 always being best and 1 being the worst. 2s and 4s were usually handed out when I needed a middle ground between 1 and 3, or 3 and 5:
Story: How integral is the character to the overall story. A 5 is a character who you could not tell the story without, where a 1 is totally worthless to the overall story. A 3 generally means that while the character is meaningful to the story, the story doesn’t necessarily need her either. The female love interest usually scores very high here.
Gameplay: Essentially, how good is the character as a player experience. A 5 is a character that is such a unique and powerful moveset to the game that you will want to play this character almost always. A 1 is a character that will spend all her time on the backbench because she adds nothing mechanically to the game. A 3 is a character with uses in the game, so you’ll play with her, but not necessarily all the time.
Appeal: Short for either visual appeal or sex appeal. Many of the Final Fantasy females have become sex icons for geeks. A 5 is essentially a goddess. A 1 holds no sexual appeal. A 3 is pretty, but not seen as above and beyond others. If I use this chart again, this would probably be tinkered into representing their generic visual appeal, with little sexuality to it.
Final Fantasy 6
Females: Terra, Celes, Relm
Story: 4 3 2 Gameplay: 4 3 2 Appeal: 4* 5* 1*
Summary: This game is a special case. The only one of the three I can safely rate in appeal is Relm at a 1, because she is underage and it is just plain wrong to view her as one would the other FF girls. Why is there a problem rating Terra and Celes? Because these characters were on a SNES cartridge as pixelated sprites just over an inch tall. I’d imagine Terra would be a 4 and Celes a 5, but that is mere speculation. Thus, all the appeal scores have to have asterisks. Storywise there is so many characters that it is hard to be too integral to the story, althro Terra and Celes do much better than most. While the three girls all have useful abilities (althro Relm’s is mostly to help an inadequate Blue mage), there are better choices for your usual party. Overall this trinity has a provisional 6th place.
Final Fantasy 7
Females: Tifa, Aerith, Yuffie
Story: 3 5 1 Gameplay: 3 4 3 Appeal: 5 4 3
Summary: The babes of Seven do especially well in the memories of players, althro Tifa being one of the few FF babes with an actual need for a bra has a lot to do with it. All have visual appeal and all are solid choices for gameplay purposes, althro Aerith scores higher for being the closest to a dedicated mage FF7 has. However, Yuffie being an optional character, and thus no story value, hurts the overall score. Overall this trinity is in 5th place.
Final Fantasy 8
Females: Rinoa, Quistis, Selphie
Story: 4 2 2 Gameplay: 4 5 5 Appeal: 3 4 3
With a score of 14 in Gameplay, this trinity has the highest combined score in any one attribute. Quistis blue magic is the one time I wish I could give a 6, as being able to spam Annilator is even more bah-roken than FF6’s Vanish/Doom combo, and the other two girls have power limit attacks (Rinoa’s score is padded by the fact her dog often randomly helps out). Quistis has that “naughty librarian with a whip) motif that helps her appeal. It is in Story that the girls fail, as Rinoa may have great importance, but Quistis and Selphie are secondary characters that just keep popping up. This trinity is tied for 3rd place.
Final Fantasy 9
Females: Dagger, Freya, Eiko
Story: 5 2 3 Gameplay: 3 4 3 Appeal: 3 1 1
Summary: Outside of the special case on FF6, this game ranked the lowest of all eight games in terms of sex appeal. Dagger is pretty, but has a bad costume, and the other two both score a 1, as one is a furry and the other is a 6 year old child, to which anyone finding that appealing needs to be slapped. Dagger’s story importance and Freya’s Dragon Crest ability are the only things that save the girls in the game. Out of the eight games, as much as I love this game (it is easily my favorite of the PS1 FFs), it scores seventh place.
Final Fantasy 10
Females: Yuna, Rikku, Lulu
Story: 5 4 4 Gameplay: 5 5 2 Appeal: 5 5 3
Summary: Now we are on to something. Yuna’s personal total of 15 is the highest score any one female received in this game, and Rikku got 2nd place with that with 14 points. Yuna’s summoning and Rikku’s mixes are the most powerful effects in the game, they are both integral to the story, and they would both be excellent candidates if they were real people to help with some, uhh… penguin breeding, shall we say. *wink* Lulu is the weak link. While she served the story well as a narrator, informing Tidus of Spira’s history and taboos informs the player as well, but her black magic and overdrive are fairly worthless once you get back Yuna in the game, and her outfit is a mess that hides the fact that she is the only girl off FF besides Tifa to have more than an A-cup.
Final Fantasy 10-2
Females: Yuna, Rikku, Paine
Story: 5 3 3 Gameplay: 3 2 3 Appeal: 5 5 3
Summary: It is curious to see how X-2 received lower scores than X. Yuna and Rikku definitely bought out the fan service for the game, to the point where Paine always looks so drab compared to them. However, the game is very much Yuna’s story, with the other two mostly along for the ride and received the scores they have simply by being Yuna’s bodyguards, and the girls are mostly indistinguishable for the others, with Rikku getting a lower score because her Mascot dress sphere is no where as good as Yuna’s and Paine’s. This game is tied for 3rd place, althro if one really puts emphasis in fan service than it would probably be a tiebreaker.
Final Fantasy 12
Females: Ashe, Penelo, Fran
Story: 5 1 2 Gameplay: 2 2 2 Appeal: 4 3 2
Summary: if the late, lamented (at least by me) Pixels & Bits had just viewed this game by its female trinity, then their dim view of this game would be justified. Only Relm of FF6 had a lower combined score than Penelo and Fran. Ashe’s value to the story (she’s the true lead character) and looks (ridiculously small bust, but some like Darkkefka love her booty) are the only saving grace. (Of the 6 PCs in the game, only Ashe, Bach, and Balthier have any relevance.) Gameplay is going to be a bad score for all PCs in this game, as there is no real game play difference between the six, althro Penelo does manage to (barely) have the highest magic skill. In overall scores this game ranks the lowest, at 8th place overall.
Final Fantasy 13
Females: Lightning, Vanille, Fang
Story: 5 5 3 Gameplay: 4 4 4 Appeal: 3 5 3
Summary: This trio does do strongly, as there are no weak scores among the three. Lightning and Vanille are both very important to the story, and all three offer strong gameplay value, to the point where this is the team I use when I have a choice (the only weak spot in this group is that there is no synergist…at least not a primary one). Lightning does well in the three main roles of the game (fighter, mage, healer), Vanille is a strong mage with a Death spell that can get you victories you’d otherwise wouldn’t get, and Fang is the strongest commando and is very good as a Sentinel. Lightning and Fang are attractive, but with less typical feminine appeal, the overall score is “hurt”, but only marginally.
As you might deduce, the top scorers are Ten and Thirteen. While the girls of Thirteen are excellent and are the main thing to enjoy the game for, the Ten trio shines in having two excellent characters in Yuna and Rikku, plus being in a far superior game. So, by two points, the trio of Yuna, Rikku, and Lulu is the greatest female trio in any Final Fantasy.
If I bring back this system again, I would probably rename the Appeal character as “Visual Design”, so I could label males, females, and asexual characters (Quina, I’m looking at you) with it, as well as add an Originality/Uniqueness quality to it.
Just for fun, I’m going to rate 5 other females in other games, to see how they compare.
Name Game Story Gameplay Appeal Jessica (Dragon Quest 8) 3 4 4 Marle (Chrono Trigger) 4 4 4 Lucca (Chrono Trigger) 2 3 2 Ayla (Chrono Trigger) 3 5 5 Serah (Final Fantasy 12-2) 5 4 4
Quoth the penguin…evermore.