The Top 10 "Final Fantasy" Swords
A Franchise of Big Swords
Swords have been a staple of Final Fantasy since the first game. Whether the setting is a medieval fantasy world or a dystopic future with robots and laser beams, playable characters wield ginormous swords that they magically pull out of thin air when enemies attack.
Below are my picks for the top ten blades in the Final Fantasy series. Don't like my selections? Voice your opinion in the comments or nominate your pick for the ultimate weapon!
1. Mythril Sword
This is your basic starter weapon.
Mythril Swords, Blades, Axes, Hair Clips: they're not glamorous, but they're Final Fantasy mainstays. They also begin FF's tradition of, "If you misspell it, it's not a copyright violation." (See also: Malboros.) Here are a few notable appearances:
In Final Fantasy II, the party sets out to find Mythril for Princess Hilda's brave band of rebels. After the mission's success, master smith Tobul switches from token Grumpy Old Man to Loopy Inventor and hammers out Mythril weapons for our heroes for the rest of the game—even after he's killed! Yet another not-quite-dead-guy.
In Final Fantasy IV, toads and pigs (what?) mine and forge Mythril weapons in the creatively-named Mythril Village on a remote island.
In Final Fantasy XII, the Sword of the Old Order is a Mythril Blade. Basch and most of the Knights of Dalmasca wield them during the opening mission to save King Raminas. Oops. Later in the game, Old Dalan (above) has Vaan deliver Basch a new one. Reks, Vaan's brother, carries a weaker Mythril Sword which he apparently bequeaths to Vaan.
Choose Your Weapon
Which is your favorite weapon/armor/accessory made out of mythril?
Though Tournesol (French for "Sunflower") is the most powerful sword in Ivalice, it does not have the long pedigree of the other Final Fantasy swords. Even so, I have to include it as the most difficult weapon to acquire in any Final Fantasy game (save possibly Ragnarok in XI).
Also, it kicks butt. Of course, by the time you've spent umpty hours trying to get it, your party is so overleveled that one more ultimate weapon is probably overkill.
Tournesol first appears in Final Fantasy XII as the second-most powerful weapon after the Zodiac Spear and reappears in Final Fantasy Tactics A2.
Poll: The Quest for the Tournesol
Did you obtain a Tournesol in "Final Fantasy XII"?
3. Save the Queen
General Beatrix rules!
Save the Queen is a newer entry into the honor roll of Final Fantasy swords, first appearing in Final Fantasy Tactics and making the jump to the main-numbered games in VIII as Quistis' whip crafted from Marlboro Tentacles!
Save the Queen fully establishes itself in FFIX as the weapon of General Beatrix, right-hand-woman to Queen Brahne and later to Garnet. Beatrix is last seen holding aloft Save the Queen with Steiner in a triumphant salute to the new Queen.
In a remake of FFVI, Save the Queen is Cecil's ultimate weapon—said to be the blade of a renowned general. It has subsequently appeared in a remake of III and in X through XIII (my favorite: FFXII's greatsword). It also puts in an embarrassing appearance as a staff of Donald Duck in Kingdom Hearts II.
P.S.: You have to see this fantastic Beatrix Cosplayer, complete with Save the Queen.
Zantetsuken is the "Iron Cutting Sword" (sometimes shortened to "Zantetsu"). It was mistranslated as "Steel Bladed" in FFVII. It is both the sword and the move of Odin, appearing in nearly every Final Fantasy since III. It is probably named after the sword of Ishakawa Goemon XIII, an anime samurai who practices the Japanese art of iado, efficiently drawing, striking, and re-sheathing a katana.
Odin's sword is a blueish scimitar-like weapon. In FFVIII, the Japanese kanji "Zan-tetsu-su" (cut-iron-sword) appears during the move. It epitomizes the classic samurai ideal of "one strike, one kill."
Variations: At the end of FFVIII, in a dramatic reversal, Seifer Zantetsukens Odin. Then Gilgamesh appears, seizes Odin's sword, spanks Seifer, and provides a new, improved Zantetsuken for the remainder of the game. In Final Fantasy XII, the "Mystery Man" (Gilgamesh) has Odin's sword among several other famous Final Fantasy swords (Buster Sword, Gunblade, Brotherhood). In Final Fantasy X, Yojimbo performs a similar move, Zanmato, named after a Chinese "horse cutting sword" that could supposedly slice through horse and rider in one stroke.
I'm gonna sing the doom song!
Ragnarok, named after doomsday in Norse mythology, first appears in Final Fantasy III (it's in I and II, but only the remakes). Ragnarok is often the most powerful or second most powerful sword.
It is Cecil's ultimate weapon in IV, the ultimate weapon in FFV, Cloud's second most powerful weapon (six materia slots!), Steiner's ultimate weapon, and the best greatsword in Dissidia. In FFVI, the Ragnarok sword is itself a summons.
In FFXI, Ragnarok is a "relic" Great Sword which has received some criticism for not being as powerful as one would expect. In VIII, the Ragnarok is the ultimate airship, a dragon-shaped vehicle that Selphie enjoys flying at high speeds.
6. Excalibur and Its Bastard Cousin, Excalipur
Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur, shows up in nearly every Final Fantasy as a paladin sword or powerful weapon. It often inflicts Holy damage. It often requires a few odd key items or ingredients to unlock: Adamantite and a Rat Tail (what?)
In a few games, Excalibur is tucked away in some of the most powerful summons. The lengthy Knights of the Round summons culminate with Arthur giving a vertical slice with the greatsword. In FFVIII, Gilgamesh performs Zantetsuken with one of four swords at random: one is Excalibur.
In fact, Gilgamesh's obsession with Excalibur is a running gag throughout the series. He first appears as a hilariously campy villain in FFV, but his wimpy sword Excalipur is no match for Our Heroes. In FFVI, he challenges the party for "Excalipoor," losing as usual. In Final Fantasy VIII, one of the four versions of his Zantetsuken is Excalipoor, doing a mere 1HP damage. In IX, he is the "Four-Armed Man," a treasure-hunter. When you find Excalibur, there's a note on it from "Enkido" saying he'd found the sword "Gil" was looking for, but since Excalibur looked flashy and gaudy, he would bring back the sword next to it, Excalipur, instead. Excalipoor is probably one of Gilgamesh's fake swords in FFXII.
Oh, THERE's Excalibur!
"FFVII" is the only "Final Fantasy" title lacking a sword or move explicitly named Excalibur, but it turns out, it was hidden in the game after all.
This official Square-Enix sculpture of "Final Fantasy VII's" Knights of the Round identifies the impressive-looking central figure as King Arthur himself. Which means he was the one wielding it . . .
The Multi-Armed Sword Collector
Did he steal a few limbs from Odin's horse, or what?
In real life, Gilgamesh is a Babylonian hero much like Hercules, with a sidekick named Enkidu. Enkidu sometimes shows up with Gilgamesh in Final Fantasy as well, but they seem to have ditched their monster-slaying heroics for sword collecting.
If you've played the PS1 Anthology version of Final Fantasy V, read the FFV Game Boy Advance translation which is more accurate, more amusing, and more faithful to the zaniness that is Gilgamesh. (E.g., "But enough of this expository banter! Now, let us fight like men! And like ladies! And like ladies that dress like men!")
7. Auron's Katana
Katana?! It looks like it could seat six for dinner!
Auron's big, black katana is a unique BFS that looks awesome. Mostly that's because Auron's holding it, but his other swords aren't half as impressive-looking, in my biased opinion.
This katana may be a starter weapon, but its piercing edge works suspiciously like an iron-cutting-sword. It figures dramatically in Auron's moment to shine, "The Legend Returns." Its blade is much broader than that of modern katanas, but in fact, it resembles some medieval Japanese swords made by none other than Masamune!
Auron also takes his katana into the hellish nightmare of a Disney crossover where he is stripped of his sunglasses and sake and forced to wear big floppy shoes. Poor guy. One of Sora's keyblades, Guardian's Soul, is modeled after Auron's sword and has a teensy tiny replica of his sake jug dangling from the pommel, which Disney's censors missed.
8. Lion Heart Gunblade
Not quite as famous as a lightsabre, but still a great idea . . .
Squall Leonhart's gunblade is the best thing to come out of Final Fantasy VIII. His original gunblade, the Revolver, is decorated with Squall's cranky personal GF, Griever, while his ultimate weapon, Lionheart, has a classic fantasy glowing blue blade.
Seifer also wields the gunblade, Hyperion. It is not as well-known but popular with collectors. Squall's gunblades have traveled with him to Dissidia and Kingdom Hearts. Incompetent sword collector Gilgamesh of FFXII has a counterfeit Revolver with a Chocobo stamped on it in place of Griever.
Gunblades appear in the sequels and prequels to FFVII (Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus, Advent Children). Notable are the elegant Velvet Nightmares of Loz and Yazoo, which, however, Cloud slices through with his BFS. Gunswords returns with a vengeance as the versatile weapon of Lightning, the main character of FFXIII. Most of these gunblades function as ranged weapons, unlike Squall's, which delivers a point-blank shot during a sword strike.
9. Buster Sword
First Tsurugi is cool, but Cloud's original sword is an icon.
Cloud has undergone so many story arc permutations that I think it's symbolic that he finally ditched the Buster Sword and picked up a blade made of spare parts from Advent Children. Making its debut as Cloud's weapon in Final Fantasy VII, the iconic Buster Sword set the video game standard for the BFS whose near-surfboard proportions are both impressive and amusing. Many FF heroes have attempted to match it for size, but only Sephiroth and Auron have managed to do so without dropping it on their feet.
Back in the original Final Fantasy VII, the Buster Sword was bequeathed to Cloud by his dying friend Zack. Not entirely felicitous was FFVII Crisis Core's expansion of the backstory, which had Zack receive it from Angeal, for whom it was a family heirloom. Cloud abandons it to the elements after FFVII to mark Zack's grave, but thankfully it was last seen cleaned up and left in a place of honor in Aerith's church.
Other permutations include the strangely bandaged version in Kingdom Hearts (the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot acid trip of many a FF character), and of course, its replacement the First Tsurugi, Cloud's mix-and-match fusion sword in Advent Children (Which, actually, I rather like, but the man needs to stop playing with his sword(s) and spend more time with Tifa).
A Long List of Appearances
The Buster Sword appears in a surprising number of games: FFVII, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, Dirge as a cameo, FFIX as an easter egg, X as a dummied object, XII as one of Gilgamesh's fake weapons, Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, Erhgeiz, Chocobo Racing, Itadaki Street, Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, Dissidia Duodecim, Lightning Returns, Theatrhythm, and FFVII G-Bike.
How can a katana be so cool and so ridiculous?!
Masamune is the ultimate Final Fantasy sword. After all, it's been in every single numbered game in the franchise, and most of the spin-offs. It's named after Goro Nyudo Masamune, the greatest swordsmith in Japan, who worked in the 14th century to help the shoguns fend off the Mongols.
Its most famous incarnation is Sephiroth's "you have GOT to be kidding me!" six-foot-long katana (it may be as long as eight feet in some versions). Hats off to the animators of Advent Children for somehow managing to choreograph an indoor fight scene with this monster. The Masamune of FFXII appears to be a modest and real-world plausible version of this katana.
Auron's ultimate weapon is also the Masamune, a fearsome Goth snowboard broad blade with so many spikes and flanges that . . . um . . . well, I think it's hit the silly stage, but many people think it's the coolest-looking sword of all.
What Do You Think?
Which is your favorite
© 2010 auronlu