Gaming's 19 most impractical swords: A metalworker and master fencer weigh in

Key to My Heart (Sora's Keyblade, Kingdom Hearts)

The statement this sword makes: You've been to Disney land and back--not the theme park, mind you, but the actual animated universes themselves. Your body can shapeshift to match your surroundings, making you a merman in Atlantis or a spiky-haired lion in Pride Rock. You are arguably the best character ever brought to life by Haley Joel Osment's voice.

Should you wield it in a fight? Yes, just don't call it a sword. As Johnson explains, the name Keyblade is a fallacy. "This is a mace. It's a single-flanged mace--I wouldn't even call it a sword," says Johnson. With that out of the way, it would actually make for a pretty effective impact weapon. "One of the key things for impact weapons is mass distribution," says Johnson. "A lot of times, maces are much lighter than [you'd think]. But if you hit somebody with a pound-and-a-half chunk of steel in the head, it hurts." Makes sense to me.

Excessively Fancy (Auron's Masamune, Final Fantasy 10)

The statement this sword makes: You're the strong silent type, with a knack for always showing up in the right place at the right time. You've got an aura of grizzled, old warrior cool about you, what with the kickin' shades and bottle of sake always at your side. And you're probably one of the most mysterious swordsmen in the world.

Should you wield it in a fight? Go for it--but don't be shocked if your weapon bends or breaks during battle, provided you haven't diced up your own hand before then. "You've got a couple problems here," says Johnson. "For one, the points coming back towards the handle: even though they're kind of out there, you're still going to catch yourself on them. I recently did a piece that had similar attribute, and cut myself about five times [just while] working on it." And the ornate design would definitely create some structural weaknesses. "The circle at the base, right in front of the guard, is going to be inherently stress-orientated," notes Johnson. Block an incoming attack at the wrong angle, and the blade might just break right off.

The Quintessential Video Game Sword (Cloud Strife's Buster Sword, Final Fantasy 7)

The statement this sword makes: You are the poster boy for angsty, brooding JRPG protagonists. People know you better for your gravity-defying hairstyle and inexplicable sword size than your actual personality. And you seemingly never, ever smile.

Should you wield it in a fight? Noooooooope. "I've quoted this one out for a lot of people over the years," Johnson says with a knowing laugh. "Again, you're running into the whole weight issue. No matter what material you make it out of (that isn't Styrofoam), the mass-to-weight ratio is just all out of whack." Even if the blade was tapered from the hilt to a razor-thin tip--like, a millimeter thick--it would still be extremely difficult to use (not to mention being woefully floppy for a metal blade). "You could [make it hollow]," says Johnson, "but it's just not going to be durable enough to do anything with. The physics of it just really fight against it actually working as a three-dimensional piece."

Blunt Rectangle (Sol Badguy's Fireseal, Guilty Gear)

The statement this sword makes: You're such a bitchin' swordfighter, you don't even care whether or not your weapon actually has a sharpened edge. Not only that--your rectangular blade is fully capable of blasting out flames, with a construction that could double as a Zippo lighter. And despite your bad boy appearance, you're a diehard Queen fan.

Should you wield it in a fight? Only if you've got the skills to pay the duelist bills. "It's probably not a great thrusting weapon," says Johnson. "Depending on the mass distribution and the material, that's where something like this can work. If the red [section] has more mass towards the hilt, then it's just a big chopping weapon." But it brings up a point that applies to every sword in existence, video game-related or not. "How a sword works is way more dependent on the user than how it was [made]," muses Johnson. "The best swordfighter in the world [can turn any material into a weapon]. Who would you rather fight: the worst swordfighter in the world with the best sword ever made, or the best swordfighter in the world with a stick?" Yeah, I picked the first one too.

Stonehedge (Holy Order-Sol's concrete sword, Guilty Gear XX)

The statement this sword makes: Before you became a rockin' bounty hunter, you were a man of the church, fighting on the front lines of a religious crusade. You're a bit like Evil Ryu: just different enough from the original to justify your inclusion in a limited roster.

Should you wield it in a fight? No--because wielding it would actually be impossible. Johnson is no stranger to concrete: "I used to work in construction and stuff, so I'd say that thing's got to weigh 40 or 50 pounds," he says. "The weight is all in front of the hand, and you've got a hugely wide bladeunless you're somebody with superhuman strength, there's no way you could pick it up, even with two hands," says Johnson. "The physics are all working against you; you've got the short end of that lever." It's like the difference between picking up a 50-pound dumbbell and a 50-pound, five-foot-long bar of steel from one end--physics dictate that the latter will always be more difficult.

Eye See You (Nightmare's Soul Edge, SoulCalibur)

The statement this sword makes: You're a big player in a tale of swords and souls, eternally retold. There's actually nothing really inside your colossal suit of armor--seeing as you're just the corporeal embodiment of a cursed weapon. You've become increasingly hard to cosplay as with every iteration of the SoulCalibur franchise.

Should you wield it in a fight? Affirmat--just kidding negative. Johnson chuckles when he sees the ridiculousness that is the Soul Edge. "Yeahhhhhhhh. The blade portion [alone] would probably be weighing in the 15 or 20 pound rangenot sure how much that bone, horn, and flesh would weigh," says Johnson, estimating a total heft of up to 50 pounds. "By the form of it, this thing would be much more [than just] a problem of weight and strength. How is the blade fused to the flesh? Is the flesh gripping the blade part? Is that bone coming out of there that's metallized in some way?" Quite honestly, Johnson, I hope to never find out how this tendony abomination came to be.

Good Vibrations (Raiden's high-frequency blade, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance)

The statement this sword makes: You're one of the most elite special forces soldiers in history, but you're a gentleman at heart, judging from the way you take the time to escort your ladyfriend over a pit of cockroaches. Being stripped naked and forced to cartwheel through sewers is just another day on the job for you.

Should you wield it in a fight? By all means--and if you're so inclined, you could probably go out and buy a similar blade this afternoon. "They have training knives that carry an electrical charge in 'em," explains Johnson, "so when you close the circuit over those two edges with your skin, you get a zap. It could be some form of that." Johnson even points out a detail I hadn't noticed before: circles on the blade that look like rivets, which could hold two blades together with some insulation between. Oh, and about those electrified practice knives? "They're fun as all get-out to play with," says Johnson. That's (turns to look at the camera with a raised eyebrow) shocking.

The statement this sword makes: You're the hero of time, destined to fight against evildoers whenever the need arises. You wield a sword that isn't terribly impractical, but is easily one of the most iconic video game weapons of all time. And your speech impediment reduces all verbal communication to a series of grunts and shouts.

Should you wield it in a fight? Looks can be deceiving--because mechanically, the Master Sword isn't all that superior. "Even if the tip is a convex fuller, you're going to carry so much weight out in the tip of this, and the handle is so short compared to the weight ratio," says Johnson. "The guard is very thickif it's solid, then you're dealing with that extra weight that doesn't get you anything." Then again, the design does lend some credence to Link's iconic spin attack. "If that was all steel that thickit would have a tendency to be so heavy that swinging it [back and forth] would be difficult, because the sword would start manhandling you in a way." Once you start swinging the Master Sword one way, it'd be hard to stop.

Docking Bay (Thunderfury, World of Warcraft)

The statement this sword makes: You are somehow able to wield a weapon that was originally bigger than a city bus. You snagged it off the dead body of a giant wind god, better known as a Ragnaros wannabe. And try as you might, you still can't transmogrify your Legendary gear to show off your old-school loot.

Should you wield it in a fight? Funnily enough, giant tuning forks don't work so well in armed combat. "Again, you've got that mass issue--this would just be heavier than all get-out in steel," says Johnson. And the split right down of the middle of the sword wouldn't be good for much, pulsing lightning orb or no. "Most people would think of [that slot] as some kind of blade-trapping device," explains Johnson. "If you were somehow able to get the other guy's blade in there, it would help you keep his blade at your strong, so you could manipulate it around. But at the same time, it limits what you can do with your sword, because his blade is [stuck] through your sword."

Purple People Eater (Caius Ballad's sword, Final Fantasy 13-2)


Should you wield it in a fight? For the grand finale, I wanted input from both Clements and Johnson. Their stunned silences did not disappoint. "That's not a sword," says Clements. "Just--it's not a sword. I could pick up a Christmas tree and [it'd be just] as effective." Johnson could barely makes heads or tails of the blade's shape. "Holy crap. Uhyeah. You've got so many layers--what bits are sharp? It would literally weigh 50 to 100 pounds, at least. And the effectiveness of it as a weaponit starts to fall apart, especially as you get more mass off your center line. These wide weapons read really cool, and look great, but the wider they get, the harder they're going to be to actually function and control." I interpret that as Johnson's nice way of saying whoever envisioned this design is an insane person.

Lucas Sullivan

Lucas Sullivan is the former US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. Lucas spent seven years working for GR, starting as an Associate Editor in 2012 before climbing the ranks. He left us in 2019 to pursue a career path on the other side of the fence, joining 2K Games as a Global Content Manager. Lucas doesn't get to write about games like Borderlands and Mafia anymore, but he does get to help make and market them.