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In Final Fantasy’s decades-long history, the franchise has always been at the cutting edge of graphics, music and storytelling in games. Integral to each game’s success is the summon system, by which players call upon a powerful supernatural ally to aid them in battle. Though characters and locations vary from game to game, many summons return regularly, forming a crucial continuity between old and new titles. To celebrate the imminent release of Final Fantasy XIII (and the return of some old favorites!), we’ve taken a look back at nine recurring summons and created these video documents of their evolution. On the final page, we close with a medley of summons who only appeared once, but wowed us with their weirdness.
We left no stone unturned in our quest to trace the evolution of summons over the course of the franchise. From Final Fantasy III on Famicom all the way up to the stunning new HD Final Fantasy XIII on 360 and PS3, we scrounged the internet for ROMs and save states, ripped YouTube videos, and implored our co-workers to dig out dusty old PS1 memory cards and obscure Japanese emulators. We hope you’ll enjoy the results!
Note: Our goal here is to capture the evolution of summon animations, not simply show every single time a summon appears in a Final Fantasy game or spin-off. Also, we wanted to start a fanboy flame war over which Final Fantasies “count.” Have an opinion? Leave a comment below!
As summoned in: 3, 4 (2US), 5, 6 (3US), 7, 8, 9, 10, 3DS, 4DS
Signature attack: Hell Fire
The volcanic arch-fiend Ifrit is a Final Fantasy regular. He appears in just about every Final Fantasy game that contains summons, and is usually the first one you acquire. You’ve spent untold hours with him at your side, smiting monsters from Argus to Zanarkand. Now, you can see all Ifrit’s summon animations in one place: right here on the GamesRadar.
As summoned in: 3, 4 (2US), 5, 7, 9, 3DS, 4DS, 13
Signature attack: Gaia’s Wrath
Final Fantasy’s Titan predates both the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and James Cameron’s billion-dollar film Titanic. But all three of those things were referring to something much older. In Greek mythology, the Titans were ancient gods for whom the element titanium was eventually named. It’s all a rich tapestry of historical pomp and import, which culminates in the video you’re about to see. Aren’t you lucky to live in the Information Age?