Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.
Guest Characters in "Final Fantasy"
Throughout the Final Fantasy RPG franchise, your main team is often accompanied by guests, temporary characters who, well, temporarily help you. Guests round out your party before you've met your final team, though their exact mechanics vary from game to game. Sometimes, they take up an actual party slot, while others, they act as a bonus to your full assortment of regular team members.
Guests often carry set equipment and abilities that can't be altered, and many don't level up, so it's usually not too big a blow when these travelers leave your team. Still, throughout the years, we've seen many brave guests we hate to see go. But with dozens of wandering vagabonds, which guests reign supreme? These are the ten best temporary party members in Final Fantasy! Spoilers ahead.
10. Dark Kain
Game: Final Fantasy 4: The After Years
In the sequel to FF4, Dark Kain masquerades as Kain Highwind, one of your allies (despite a few earlier betrayals) from the original title. Reminiscent of Riku from Kingdom Hearts, Dark Kain embodies the darkness and jealousy within Kain regarding Cecil and Rosa's relationship.
You could probably tell something was fishy considering his name was spelled "Kain?", but Dark Kain offers a useful ally while available; some segments even feature him adventuring solo. Not only that, Dark Kain was a surprisingly conflicted villain, as his attempts to kill Cecil are countered by genuine moments of kindness, like his sparing of the real Kain, refusal to attack Rosa, and rescue of Porom.
Game: Final Fantasy 3
Guest characters functioned differently back in FF3. Here, they don't really enter battle, but have a chance to perform a single action at the start of encounters. While you might think one move per fight is a jip, remember that this saves your normal party slots for your other members, leaving you free to battle unencumbered.
Forced to sleep for over 1000 years (while remaining conscious), Unei's an ancient gal to be reckoned with. Both of her actions are pretty useful; she'll either cast Haste on your whole squad, letting you take actions much faster, or fling Holy at an enemy, a powerful offensive spell particularly useful against enemies weak to the light element. You can also see a youthful version of Unei in Final Fantasy 14 (or the thumbnail above).
Game: Final Fantasy 9
Marcus doesn't join Zidane's party for long, but he's a good-hearted rogue with impressive speed and attack power. In FF9, guests battle and level up like normal party members, but they can't have their equipment changed or learn new abilities.
Marcus certainly is an appreciated party member while he lasts, but he's most useful for the infamous Marcus/Eiko bug, which can greatly strengthen your permanent white mage Eiko. Basically, the more you train Marcus, the more his stats will transfer to Eiko—but not his level. Thus, if you train or cheat Marcus to level 99, Eiko will collect a staggering amount of base power and can improve further through her own leveling.
Game: Final Fantasy 4
FF4 features several characters who join you for an extended period of time before eventually leaving, making their departure all the more bittersweet and unexpected. Poor gentle Prince Edward here also happens to be the target of Tellah's infamous "You spoony bard!" insult. Never make a man capable of casting Meteor mad, Edward.
In the original game, Edward's Bardsong (sometimes called Sing) ability could inflict a random status, but in the DS remake, he gained several new and powerful melodies ranging from healing to haste to debuffs. While Edward's combat stats begin weak, they inexplicably skyrocket past level 70, ultimately making him one of the strongest warriors in the game. We also miss other departing characters like Yang and Cid, but the GBA and PSP FF4 remakes let them return for the endgame, so it's not all bad.
6. Aranea Highwind
Game: Final Fantasy 15
Bearing the same last name and dragoon fighting style of FF7's famous Cid Highwind, Aranea is an agile guest with mastery over aerial attacks. Aranea doesn't take up a party member slot in battle, and unlike several guest characters, even after her story appearance, she can still show up in random encounters, so this lance wielder is never truly gone for good.
For her speed, power, and lingering assistance even after parting ways, Aranea remains one of the best FF temporary characters, and she's even scheduled to receive her own DLC chapter.
Game: Final Fantasy 12
In FF12, guests are particularly useful since they battle by your side without seizing one of your spaces; you maintain access to all three party members. While your allies don't level up, can't have their equipment changed, and can't be directly controlled, they loyally fight by your side and bear an unlimited supply off healing items.
Reddas is the last guest you'll accompany, and he's also the fasted character in the game. While you can't level him up, his default level is based on your two highest party members, so if you're diligent with training, you can have a 70+ warrior accompany you to several optional bosses. Reddas joins with some helpful dragon equipment, and in the Zodiac rerelease, he gains extra magic spells like Holy and Arise. As useful as guests in FF12 are, note they seize a portion of your experience (but don't level up), so your other members will level a bit more slowly.
Game: Final Fantasy Dimensions
A lesser-know title, FF Dimensions nonetheless offers several guest characters. In this 2012 episodic role-playing game for mobile devices, the series returns its roots, utilizing 2D graphics, the job class system, and a plot involving heroes and villains clashing over crystals.
Sophia represents the Seer class and has access to level 8 white magic as well as level 6 black, making her an incredible healer and decent mage. While guests in this game can't level up, she joins at a base level 60 and her awesome MND (mind) stat further strengthen her healing abilities. You'll get an experience bonus if you exempt your guests from taking part in battle, but with support this impressive, Sophia's worth the price.
3. Seifer Almasy
Game: Final Fantasy 8
Seifer serves as protagonist Squall's rival in both swordplay and clashes over Rinoa's love. He undergoes an interesting plotline that takes him from anti-hero to villain and back again, and I kept expecting him to rejoin the party eventually—but he never does. Still, Squall and Zell join him for an early mission, and just like Squall, you can increase the power of Seifer's gunblade attacks by correctly timing the trigger (R1) as you attack.
Even better, Seifer is the only character who can unleash Limit Breaks at 84% health (rather than needing to be in the critical HP levels), letting you regularly use his "No Mercy" attack. As a reoccurring boss, Seifer gains new Limit Breaks like "Zantetsuken Reverse", an attack so powerful it one-shots your Odin summon! Thankfully, you'll obtain the Gilgamesh guardian force to replace Odin, but this indicates the strength we're missing out on by not regaining Seifer.
2. Seymour Guado
Game: Final Fantasy 10
The half-human half-guado antagonist is a very temporary party member, as he joins your team (specifically, Yuna and Auron) for exactly one boss fight against the second form of Sinspawn Gui. Still, with his incredible stats, he's fun while he lasts. Seymour not only wields 1200 HP and 999 MP, he can use both black and white magic, something no other character will attain until late-game leveling with the sphere grid.
Additionally, Seymour enjoys a huge magic defense stat, and hacking reveals that he possesses the strongest aeon summon, Anima, although it's not playable during your battle. Seymour even harbors his own Overdrive, Requiem, which deals non-elemental damage to all enemies.
Game: Final Fantasy 7
Seifer, Seymour, and Sephiroth—oh my! The bad boys of FF always make enticing guests, and the one-winged angel was the best of the bunch. During an extended flashback in FF7, you control a younger "Cloud" (it's actually Zack) alongside renowned hero Sephiroth during one of their missions as Shinra's elite SOLDIER unit.
While he doesn't level up and acts of his own accord, Sephiroth has fully mastered his materia, and his stats are great; compared to Cloud's abilities at the same level during my playthough, Cloud only won in Spirit, or magical defense. Best of all, Sephiroth is completely invincible, always taking 0 damage from enemy attacks. He's temporary, he's wild, but he's completely unstoppable in battle, making this Jenova witness the best guest character in Final Fantasy.
How to Use Your Guests
Temporary team members come and go with different mechanics, but having one around can help quickly grind levels. Even in games where they take a share of your earned experience, their extra actions and heals speeds up leveling and let you adventure longer before returning to an inn. Guests are also useful for tackling optional and secret bosses, so try to undergo as many sidequests as possible while they're around.
From one-shot attacks to extra fighters to invincible warriors, guests have been assisting our teams for years, and they contribute to camaraderie and world-building. It's not just your main party against the world, guests do their best to assist you when they can. But for now, as we eagerly await more limited companions in future Square games, vote for your favorite ally and I'll see you at our next Final Fantasy countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill