There are several recurring summon monsters in the Final Fantasy series that are beloved by fans. The summons fight alongside the player and use some of the most impressive attacks in the series, so it's only natural that fans would appreciate them in the same way that they would for the main characters.
Shiva has become one of the most popular summons in the Final Fantasy series and she has appeared in almost entry in some form or another. Shiva is typically depicted as a scantily-clad woman with blue skin and an affinity for ice magic. The signature attack of Shiva is called Diamond Dust, which involves either showering the enemy with shards of ice or freezing them solid and shattering them.
Shiva is one of the most popular female characters in the Final Fantasy series, despite having limited roles in almost all of her appearances. As time went on, Shiva went from being a prime source of fanservice to being a pivotal part of the lore of the most recent Final Fantasy games.
The Origins Of Shiva
Shiva is the name of one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The mythological version of Shiva is far different from the one in the Final Fantasy series, as he is a male and is known as "The Destroyer". It's unclear why exactly the people at Squaresoft chose the Shiva name to go with the design that appears in the series, but the same could also be said for Ramuh, Kjata, and Bahamut.
The Nintendo Years
The ability to summon monsters didn't debut in the Final Fantasy series until Final Fantasy III, which introduced the Evoker and Summoner jobs. The Shiva spell could be purchased from a shop and she had no overall bearing on the story.
In Final Fantasy IV, the only remaining Summoner was Rydia. When Rydia returns to the party as an adult, she will possess Shiva as one of her new spells. It's possible to visit the homeland of the summoned monsters in Final Fantasy IV, but Shiva does not play a major role in the story.
Shiva started to have more of a presence in the series in Final Fantasy V, as the player actively needs to seek her out in order to summon her. The player needs to find the secret entrance to Castle Walse in order to find Shiva's location. If the player can defeat Shiva (which is no easy task if they try as soon as possible) then she can be summoned in battle.
Shiva becomes a mandatory boss encounter in Final Fantasy VI, as Kefka drains all of her magical power and leaves her to die in the Magitek Research Facility. Once she is defeated, she perishes and transforms into Magicite, which the player can then use to summon her in battle.
Final Fantasy VII - Final Fantasy XI
Shiva made her 3D debut in Final Fantasy VII as the second summon spell that the player can find. The design of Shiva was originally different, as her concept art shows her wearing a more elaborate form of lingerie. It's possible that this design was too tricky to implement, as the developers were still learning how to use the 3D technology of the PlayStation, so her outfit was changed into a bikini.
Shiva was one of the two Guardian Forces that Squall is given at the start of Final Fantasy VIII. If she is summoned during the boss battle against Ifrit, then he will comment on her presence. The power of the Guardian Forces has a special effect on those who use it, but we won't say what it is, as Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has just been released and some people might be playing the game for the first time.
The only party member who can summon Shiva in Final Fantasy IX is Dagger and she lacks the power to do so throughout the early portions of the game, due to the high MP cost of the spell. Dagger has her Eidolons taken from her at one point in the story and regains them at a much lower MP cost. Shiva doesn't have a role in the story of Final Fantasy IX outside of some mentions of her backstory in Madain Sari.
The version of Shiva from Final Fantasy X allowed the player to control her in battle for the first time, as Yuna's summons stayed on the field for a time and could use different attacks. The story of the aeons and the fayth are important in Final Fantasy X, but Shiva isn't given much of a backstory outside of being a priestess in life.
Shiva appears in the world of Vana'diel as one of the six celestial avatars. It's possible for a member of the Summoner job to summon an avatar of Shiva in battle, but they would need to complete a quest in order to do so. A player can challenge Shiva after reaching level 20 as a Summoner in the "Trial Size Trial by Ice" quest, but this has to be done solo, while the "Trial By Ice" quest can be taken on with a group at a much higher level.
The Vehicle Years
The next two appearances by Shiva in the Final Fantasy series were bizarre. Final Fantasy XII was set in Ivalice and the regular summon monsters did not appear in the game, even though they appeared in Final Fantasy Tactics. The only appearance made by Shiva was as the name of an airship in the Archadian fleet.
In Final Fantasy XIII, Shiva was the Eidolon of Snow Villiers. Snow had the ability to call on two beings known as the Shiva sisters and they could lock their bodies together into the form of a motorcycle that Snow could drive around in order to strike his enemies.
Final Fantasy XIV & Final Fantasy XV
Shiva is one of the Primals of the world of Eorzea and Lady Iceheart possesses the ability to summon her by offering her own body to the process. Lady Iceheart starts out as an antagonist of the Warrior of Light, but the two must journey together and learn the truth behind the origins of Shiva during the Heavensward expansion.
Shiva is one of the six Astrals of the world of Eos, but the player encounters her in a different form throughout the story, as she masquerades as a woman named Gentiana. Noctis is finally given the power to summon Shiva during Chapter 12, but her appearances are random. The story of Shiva and her doomed relationship with Ifrit are part of the backstory in Final Fantasy XV and she would have had an even bigger role in the story if the remaining DLC chapters hadn't been canceled.
The Story Of Shiva
Shiva started out as little more than a recurring sprite that acted as the ice version of the summon spell. As time went on and technology improved she became one of the sex symbols of the series, as the developers took the opportunity to use her limited appearances as a way of cranking up the fanservice. If a regular party member walked around in the same outfit as Shiva, then the developers would be accused of over-sexualizing a main character, but the fact that Shiva only appeared in brief bursts meant that she could be given an outlandish outfit that showed a lot of skin.
Shiva's role in the lore of each game gradually grew over time (with the exception of Final Fantasy XII), as she rose in rank to become an elemental demigod, with the player often forced to fight an avatar or aspect of Shiva, rather than the real thing. The recurring summons all grew in prominence over the course of the series, with Shiva becoming the go-to figure whenever an ice diety was needed for a role in a story.