The evolution of Final Fantasy summons

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?


  • ora-gilbert-hendershot - December 25, 2013 11:02 p.m.

    Titan was in Final Fantasy Tactics. Yes it didn't have a number but still a game of the series no matter how you look at it.
  • ora-gilbert-hendershot - December 25, 2013 11:08 p.m.

    Take that back they just forgot FFT!
  • Doro_MMOSITE - August 12, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    What's this!? No FFXI Ifrit and other summons!? They were in that too y'know! (Or do you people still consider 11 a non-numbered title just because it's online?)
  • Palitroke - April 22, 2010 6:16 p.m.

    Sad that there is no FFXI summons here....sure that is "the online one" but nonetheless a Final Fantasy videogame WITH summons
  • avanent - March 13, 2010 1:58 a.m.

    You missed FFXI. While the GBA titles were nice to include, they're just remakes of previous titles. I understand not having the spin-off and the tactic titles... but to not have FFXI at all? Wow... come on guys.
  • rxb - March 9, 2010 2:39 p.m.

    The effort I went through to get Knights of the round in VII was too much.
  • Trrnc11 - March 9, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Seven words Knights of the round, mime, mime, mime
  • teke367 - March 8, 2010 10:21 p.m.

    Wasn't one for changing the names of the characters (ever since I realized I didn't know who people were talking about in FF7 because I changed all their names), but I did tailor Yojimbo's name a little to Yo'JimBob, I liked to think I had a redneck wizard on my side.
  • IHateMakingUserIDs - March 8, 2010 8:37 p.m.

    In the one of category there should have been a spot for Diablo from VIII i believe. He was pretty sweet.
  • philipshaw - March 8, 2010 5:44 p.m.

    cool article and I can't wait to see how awesome the summons in FFXIII will be
  • pin316 - March 8, 2010 4:51 p.m.

    @reveffect yeah man, by far the two best summons in the game. forget details as it's been ages, but Anima is at some random temple you find once you have the airship....think it's the underwater one you mentioned as you have to fight the underwater boss before you can get it. there's also something you have to have done at the other temples as well. Magus Sisters are bad-ass. something to do with that optional fight where you have to fight crazy versions of all your own aeons, and also the monster arena. Defo remember this - if you get Magus Sisters and get them to overdrive, Delta Attack was insanely powerful! Oh, other awesome thing about 10 - the whoel linking of aeon max damage exceeded when you get ultimate weapons for characters - that was a nice bonus when it happened
  • pin316 - March 8, 2010 3:31 p.m.

    is it just me who during reading this realised just how awesome the summons were in ffX? Both the regular ones (Ifrit in particular was badass), and the crazy new ones (Anima, Yojimbo, Magus Sisters all pretty wicked). Just wish they had gone with Ramuh instead of the skeletor-wannabee unicorn Ixion...
  • alfonso.hdez - March 8, 2010 4:05 a.m.

    What, no Crisis Core? Those summons were great!
  • BobertTheNinja - March 8, 2010 2:11 a.m.
  • Conman93 - March 7, 2010 6:58 p.m.

    Great article! I almost felt sorry for the monster getting attacked by the knights! Anima is freaky but still awesome! Doomtrain...posssible inspiration for spirit tracks!
  • EnragedTortoise1 - March 7, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    the wheels on Bahamut go round and round...
  • Mirako - March 7, 2010 7:34 a.m.

    Why the hell is Bahamut a Transformer in XIII? Do all of the summons do that now? It looks ridiculous!
  • linkganon - March 7, 2010 7:09 a.m.

    sorry for double posting, but forgot to mention, the videos for a certain ds game had bad sound, and one of the videos on page 2 does not seem to work.
  • linkganon - March 7, 2010 7:06 a.m.

    The attack the Knights do on final fantasy 7 summon appears to be like 3 minutes of a long string attack, but i don't know if that is a string or not, is it?
  • ZukotaIsoba - March 7, 2010 6:41 a.m.

    @darkknight03 Must be your computer; they sometimes have difficulty loading. @Yaro I agree; eight is the best.

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