If there's one thing the Final Fantasy series is renown for, it's pure spectacle. Even if you're not a big fan of the series, you still can't help but appreciate the effort and imagination that goes into their memorable world building and outlandish characters. I've been a fan of the series since the release of Final Fantasy VII back in 1997 and from the first time I saw the massive Titan rip the ground from underneath his enemies, I fell in love with the summons.
With each and every FF experience, you battle all manner of strange and mythical entities and monsters, so it goes without saying that if you get the chance to call in a little extra fire power of your own, in the form of God-like deities or legendary creatures to blast your foes with ice or engulf them in flames, then you're going to do it.
The summons (also known as Astrals, Eidolons or Espers) were first introduced in the third game of the long running series and represent everything that has become synonymous with Final Fantasy. They are spectacular to watch and usually have beautiful and memorable character designs.
Many of these summons have become as iconic as the amazing soundtracks or stunning visuals that we have come to associate with every new entry. However, there have been a few we'd rather forget or that just don't measure up to everyone's standards. Here are ten Summons in the Final Fantasy series that were great and another ten we'd rather forget.
20 Worst: Valefor
Valefor was originally featured in Final Fantasy X and was Yuna's first summon - which were also referred to as Aeons in the game - and despite appearing again in some capacity in other Final Fantasy titles, she is generally seen as being a faithful companion to Yuna.
Putting her on the worst list was a difficult choice, as she will remains one of the more memorable and significant summons in terms of the story. Valefor will likely be a go-to summon for lengthy amount of time in the early parts of the game.
A major difference between FFX and others in the series is that you get to actively control the summons, so you experience their shortcomings on a more personal level. Valefor has a powerful 'Overdrive' move called 'Energy Blast', which is one of the most powerful attacks in game and if/when Yuna obtains the 'Nirvana' 'Celestial Weapon' and upgraded it, Valefor will gain the 'break limit' attack and can deal over 9999 damage.
Yet, despite all the potential Valefor has for attack damage, she has the lowest HP even at maximum level and fairly low physical and magical defense. So if you summon her when faced with an extremely powerful enemy, you run the risk of her getting destroyed early in the battle.
19 Best: Alexander
Alexander is a gigantic robotic entity that resembles a fortress or cathedral. Alexander didn't officially make his first appearance in the series until Final Fantasy VI, but he has definite connections to The Giant Of Babil in Final Fantasy IV -- this was confirmed when the super-boss Proto-Babel casts Divine Judgement, the Holy spell that Alexander is known for. Like Alexander, The Giant Of Babil is also a huge walking fortress that functions as a dungeon, in the same way Alexander does in Final Fantasy XIV.
Alexander is a great summon to use in the series and dwarfs every enemy you'll encounter. Without getting into spoiler territory, he has some truly memorable moments, especially in Final Fantasy IX where he a plays a key moment in the game's story. He's even used as a weapon of Mass Destruction in Final Fantasy Type-0.
18 Worst: Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh is a long-running character in the series who appeared as a major villain in Final Fantasy V and returns as a summon in Final Fantasy VIII. He has similar characteristics to a Ronin, a Samurai without a master and who's obsessed with finding the mythical weapon Excalibur.
What puts Gilgamesh on the worst list is that he's a completely random summon and, as a result, you have no control on whether he shows up or not. Adding to the randomness, he uses one of four swords, Excalibur, Masamune, Zantetsuken and the cheap knock off Excalipoor. What seems to make the summon quite irritating is when he does decide to appear, you'll likely find him using Excalipoor far more often than than the other weapons and, as the name suggests, it's completely useless.
Despite his shortcomings, it was good to see Gilgamesh return again in Final Fantasy XV, as the final boss in Gladiolus' DLC episode.
17 Best: Phoenix
The Phoenix made its first appearance in Final Fantasy V and was another summon based on Greek Mythology. His/her most commonly used magic is the Flames Of Rebirth, which revives all knocked party members and sometimes causes fire-elemental damage.
I've always been a fan of the Phoenix in the Final Fantasy series. It can show up unannounced and really pull your party out of a bind, especially when dealing with a difficult boss or even the deadly Malboro -- which had a nasty habit of wiping out my entire party.
Another version of the Phoenix showed up as an incredibly difficult optional boss as opposed to a summon in Final Fantasy XII. It doesn't matter which form the giant bird of fire takes, or whose side it's on, it will always be a force to be reckoned with in the Final Fantasy universe.
16 Worst: Choco/Mog
Every Final Fantasy fan should love Chocobos and Moogles, which is why I didn't like adding them to the worst list. The big yellow birds and cute little teddy/cat creatures have been mascots for the series since Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III.
You get to summon them both as a team in Final Fantasy VII and they are the first Summon Materia you will obtain in the game. Its materia is a Wind-Elemental and has a chance of hitting deathblow or the possibility of the more damaging Fat-Chocobo, making it the only summon with two abilities.
While both versions of the summon are fun to watch, their usefulness will run their course fairly quickly when you start obtaining the more powerful Materia through the course of the game's story. Even at maximum level, they don't really deal a lot of damage and the chances of hitting deathblow doesn't increase.
15 Best: Ifrit
The Ifrit is a fire-elemental summon and is usually depicted as a rival to the Ice based Summon Shiva. He first made his appearance in Final Fantasy IV and has appeared in several of the numbered mainline games and spinoffs -- usually as a summon to help your party casting the spell Hellfire on your enemies.
The Ifrit is based on both Arabic Mythology and Islamic Theology, and is a form of Jinn or Genie. His use of the Hellfire magic when summoning is a direct reference to the Jinn known as Shaitan, the Qurʾān's version of Satan.
Although, he is usually seen to help humans in the Final Fantasy series, Ifrit is often depicted as being a cruel and ruthless entity that despises the human race, seeing them as inferior. It was this more cruel and vindictive version of Ifrit that appeared in Final Fantasy XV as one of the main bosses in the game.
14 Worst: Carbuncle - Final Fantasy XV Version
Just like Chocobo/Mog, Carbuncle is another series regular I didn't like adding to the worst section of the list, but I had to do it for his involvement as a summon.
Carbuncle is a character that has been a regular summon since Final Fantasy V and he has useful abilities like casting reflect on the party, which he does in Final Fantasy Tactics or Final Fantasy IX, where it also casts Protect.
More recently, the loveable Carbuncle acts as a guide for a young Noctis in the Platinum Demo for Final Fantasy XV and transfers over into the full game as a summon. When summoned, he restores some health for Noctis' and his team when they are in critical danger.
While that sounds useful, Carbuncle only appears if you keep the game in easy mode. It just seems like a silly design decision, when the only way to get any use out of him is to not experience the game in the difficulty it was intended, which is why the poor little guy ended up here.
13 Best: Shiva
Shiva, much like her nemesis Ifrit, has been one of the most frequently seen summons in the Final Fantasy series. Her first appearance was in the third game of the mainline series, while she's also featured in every spinoff entry in the series, with the exception of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core.
Surprisingly, she doesn't have a large backstory beyond being know as the Ice Queen or the Goddess and Empress of Ice. Although, it is also known that she once had a lover named Shivar and a daughter named Shivan, who are summons that appeared in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings.
Her most frequently used spell is Diamond Dust, which casts a great deal of ice damage, especially to any fire based enemies you encounter. Her trademark attack also appeared in Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix.
12 The Worst: Yojimbo
Yojimbo, which means bodyguard in Japanese, is a summon that features most prominently in Final Fantasy X. Like Gilgamesh, he's another Samurai type character, only here he is regarded as a "sword for hire."
Similarly to Gilgamesh, he uses differing attacks each with their own level of damage. His attacks range from using Daigoro, Kozuka, Wakizashi and Zanmato. His Zanmato attack is extremely powerful.
Unfortunately, he has very basic stats, no default abilities and he doesn't have the option to learn any later on in the game. What really lets him down is that his summon attacks are dependant on how much Gil you are willing to spend and what his motivation and relationship towards Yuna is.
This entails working out a complex mathematical formula and a hidden compatibility meter, which is an annoying amount of work and effort just for one summon.
11 Best: Titan
While he made his first appearance in Final Fantasy III, I've always been a huge fan of the summon Titan ever since I saw him cast 'Anger Of The Land' in Final Fantasy VII. The sequence saw him burst through through the earth and rip the ground from underneath your enemies, before crushing them with it, just like The Incredible Hulk. Back then, the animation was amazing for a video game and unlike anything I'd seen before. He's back and bigger than ever in Final Fantasy XV, so Titan will always rank very highly on a favourite list of Summons.
The Titans were gigantic creatures in Greek Mythology that were born of chaos and were the first generation of parentage to the Greek Gods like Zeus, Apollo, etc. His powers are like that of Gaia and he even wields 'Gaias Wrath' in Final Fantasy XV.
10 Worst: Siren
Siren released to a little bit of controversy when she made her first appearance in Final Fantasy VI on the SNES because her design had an 'exposed rear', which was censored in the original version. The censorship was later lifted for the PlayStation version of the game.
She's usually depicted as a beautiful woman or fairy type character that plays a magical harp. She's loosely based on the Sirens of Greek Mythology who were known to lure victims (usually sailors) with their beauty and hypnotic voices. Siren's main ability is to cast 'Silence' on your enemies, a spell which blocks your them from using any magic for several turns.
While she has a great summon sequence and a useful ability, your magic-wielding party members will always eventually acquire the ability to cast the silence spell using less MP. Additionally, she also does very little damage during her attacks - she's a great looking summon, but has very little substance.
9 Best: Ramah
Ramuh is another recurring summon who has made several appearances as a summon since Final Fantasy III. He is usually depicted as being an old man that resembles a wizard or someone of Norse origin who commands control of thunder and casts the 'Judgement Bolt' spell against your foes when summoned.
Rather than being based on one thunder god, it seems he has the traits of several. His previous name in the series was Indra, which was also name of the King of Devas in Hindu mythology and was the god of rain and thunder and just like Ramuh, he wields the lightning bolt as a weapon of destruction. Visually, he seems to be combination of different versions of thunder gods like Zeus, Jupiter and Thor.
His legacy lives on in other games too, as a lightning based spell known as Ramuh's Judgement, appears as a spell in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and he appears in Super Smash Bros for the 3DS and Wii U - fusing platforms with electricity, causing damage to any character that touches them.
8 Worst: Belias, The Gigas
Belias, The Gigas is a fire-elemental summon from the Ivalice series (Tactics, Vagrant Story and FFXII) of the Final Fantasy line, and he features most prominently in Final Fantasy XII.
Belius was an 'Esper' that was created by the Gods to represent fire, but as a result of his appearance in having four arms and two heads, he was cast out. Rebelling against his abandonment, he joined the other 'Espers', in a war against the gods.
Having failed in the rebellion, he found a new purpose and became a guardian to the Tomb of King-Dynast Raithwall. He acts as a replacement for Ifrit as a fire based Esper.
Final Fantasy XII came under quite a bit of criticism for its time-limited summoning system. Adding to that frustration, Belius is the first summon you encounter and obtain in the game and, by default, remains the weakest. Annoyingly, he is also the hardest Esper to get to appear in the Sky Pirate's Den page.
7 Best: Anima
Anima featured most prominently in Final Fantasy X and is an Aeon/Summon associated with darkness and death. She is one of the few summons with a deeper backstory beyond being just a summonable monster.
We're first introduced to Anima when one of the chief antagonists, Seymour, summons her in a staged political move to fight off monsters to "protect the city". During a confrontation with Seymour, she's eventually summoned to do battle against you, but the good news is, she is later obtainable as a summon for Yuna.
Anima, is the most powerful Aeon/summon in the game with a slight exception to one of the Magus Sisters. She is also fantastically designed and very unusual with its representation of pain and anguish. Honestly, it resembles some of the creatures you'd find a Shin Megami Tensei game.
6 Worst: Sylph
The Sylph is a small magical fairy-like summon that made its first appearance in Final Fantasy IV. They were based on the western mythological creatures of the same name, although unlike the FF incarnation, they are completely invisible to the human eye.
They are a prominent beast-type race in Final Fantasy XIV and played a significant storyline role in FFIV, offering themselves up as summons for the character Rydia. They are considered low level or level 1 summons across the mainline series and spinoffs.
The Sylphs most commonly used magic is the 'Whispering Wind', a power that drains some of your enemy's HP and distributes it evenly between party members. While useful early in the game, they only take a small percentage of HP and your party would have an easier and quicker time casting cure spells or using potions.
5 Best: Leviathan
Leviathan began as a summon in Final Fantasy III, but its first appearance was in Final Fantasy II where the huge creature swallows the entire party and his insides acted as a separate dungeon. He also casts the 'Tidal Wave' ability (also know as Tsunami) in Final Fantasy VII.
He was titled the "King of All The Eidolons" and "The Lord Of All Waters" in Final Fantasy IV and, as a result, plays a pivotal role in the game's story -- he was responsible for training Rydia and teaching her how to use her summoning abilities.
Leviathan was also the final boss in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn after originally being shelved, as it was considered inappropriate with the timing of the 2011 Tsunami disaster.
He appears as a 'Nemesis' battle in Bravely Default and as a hazard in the Midgar level of Super Smash Bros, much the same as Ramuh did only water knocks the players from the stage.
4 Worst: Goblin
The Goblin is a common enemy in the Final Fantasy series and was originally known as the Imp in earlier translations -- interestingly the Imps return as a different looking gargoyle-type creature. The basic goblins are usually seen as low level, standard enemies in the early stages of the game and are often the weakest creatures in the games.
The little monster made its first appearance in the first Final Fantasy game but doesn't become summonable until the fourth game in the series. His summon attack is 'The Goblin Punch' and has a spell power of 8. It's the weakest summon in the series that deals little to no physical damage depending on how far you are in the game.
3 Best: Knights Of The Round
If I was to give the top spot to the summon with the most damage, then the 'Knights Of The Round' in Final Fantasy VII would likely top the bill. Unfortunately, it misses the top spot not because of its greatly exaggerated summoning time - the summon actually lasts 1.20 - but the Knights wouldn't be seen again until Final Fantasy XIV. There is also a great deal of effort, plus the patience of a saint is required, to breed a special Chocobo to be able to access a certain area of the map to obtain the 'Knights' materia.
Thankfully, the reward is definitely worth the time you put in, simply because of the sheer amount of damage they can do. Most bosses and enemies fall in one turn with the exceptions being the Ruby and Emerald Weapons, and Safer-Sephiroth.
The inspiration for the Knights Of The Round is drawn from the many King Arthur legends. And, they are seen again FFXIV as the 'Knights of The Twelve' who in turn summon the 'Knights Of The Round' against you in battle. They were more recently featured in FFXV in spirit form as the former Kings Of Lucis.
2 Worst: Remora
Remora is depicted as seven golden piranha-type creatures. It first appeared as a level-1 summon in Final Fantasy V and could be purchased for 250 gil in Walse. It appeared again in Final Fantasy X as an enemy fiend that casts 'Maelstrom' and drops some valuable armor items. The airship that appears in Final Fantasy XII is also called the Remora named after the FFV summon.
Its only ability is to slow the enemy for one or two turns, but unfortunately it doesn't do any damage at all. There's no way for the creature to develop or grow as the game plays out. Worse still, later on in the game its ability eventually has no effect on the higher level enemies in the game.
While Remora has become quite recognizable throughout the series as a summon, it's also very forgettable especially going against the likes of Leviathan or the Bahamut.
1 Best: Bahamut
Bahamut, "The Dragon King," is an easy choice for the greatest summon of them all, as he's consistently the most powerful summon in each Final Fantasy with only a few exceptions and visually has some of the most amazing summon sequences in the series.
When being being featured as a part of the one of the games story, he is usually one of the friendlier summons in the Final Fantasy universe -- usually requiring the protagonists to prove their worth to him in some way before agreeing to help or offer his support.
He was based on the benevolent Bahumat of the same name in Dungeons and Dragons and is featured in his own game called the Blood Of Bahamut, released in Japan only.
The Dragon King has only missed out on featuring in Final Fantasy II, but has appeared in the rest of the numbered series in one form or another. So if there's one summon that the fans of the series will associate with its universe more than any other, it is likely to be Bahamut. The iconic dragon has outlasted the likes of Cloud, Sephiroth, Kain, Kefka and other memorable characters, and will continue to do so for a long time to come.