Most important game of my life. Ever. In 1991, I was 9 years old. That was when I picked up Final Fantasy II. This was a mind-blowing experience for me. Suddenly, I could read an adventure book by watching television. Role playing games = genius. I actually had my dad play the game FOR me for awhile (what? I was NINE), until I realized that, yes… by God, there were FEMALE HEROES. One day, when Dad left the game on to go fix dinner or something, I picked up the controller and started playing. It wasn’t until I fully understood how to play the game that I realized… something was not quite right here. Okay, honestly I probably just played the game and had an awesome time when I was 9. But when I look back on it now, something is not right with the ladies of Final Fantasy II. These cosplayers went all-out to become Rydia and Rosa. The battle system for II is really basic: the only strategy you can employ is what “row” to place your characters in (back or front). Naturally, you put the stronger characters in front, and weaker ones in the back. Well, this meant that the ladies always had to go to the back, because they just happened to have fewer hitpoints than the dudes. Oh yeah… the other “back row” characters were the sniveling bard who sucks at fighting with his HARP. And an old man who is reminiscent of Santa Claus. Really? Rydia can summon monsters that are as big as the battle screen, but she can’t whack anything for sh*t with her staff? That was the other big problem: the ladies can’t even hold swords, they are relegated to using only the magic staff and the bow-and-arrow weapon varieties. Say WHAAT? In the next FF game released in the US (FF III/VI), women were allowed to use swords, NAY, they were kick ass and actually stood on the same if not higher footing than the male fighters. Terra, a female, was the main character and this obviously had something to do with it. But gender inequality in games seemed much more prevalent in the beginning. I was actually lucky just to see female characters fighting, and not being the “princess” or some other non-playable role. So, beggers can’t be choosers? Now that we’ve progressed into the 3D age, Rydia and Rosa are all sexy and are now, also, for porn. Not really porn. Just boobies. But they still seem to be classified as “ladies” rather than “b*tches.” Almost as if there is something sacred about them. Is this because the designers put them into a different category in FFII? Are they just more delicate, more refined, than their male counterparts? Or were they just so unimportant compared to Cecil and Kain that they’ve faded into the background of retro gaming? Regardless of gender inequality, this game was the most important of my life. I learned how to play the franchise from this game, and have continued to do so for 18 years. I even got teary-eyed and giggly when I saw Lightning from FFXIII step onto the scene… Which turned out to be the most tedious game I’ve ever played. I guess it goes to show you that just because you’re a lady, it doesn’t mean you’re going to make a good game. That goes for you too, FFX-2. Alexandra Hinton Oh my God X-2. My brother was so excited to play that game…until he realized it was Barbie’s magical mystery playhouse, also that it sucked. Watching his face slowly crumble gave me a warm feeling in my heart. Chris This is true however, Barbariccia/Valvalis is the 2nd most powerful elemental lord, which is high ranking in the villains’ side. She and her minions The Magus sisters were bosses without any male support. (Unless you count when Zemus resurrects the four lords, and you fight them all, one after the other.) The nation of Troia are matriarchal, having female soldiers, and is led by the 8-member all-female Eppots. So there some examples of women’s rights in FFIV, though the main party is not one. JohnG It’s been so long since I played FF IV that I’ll take your word for it. I’m glad you mentioned VI (I just replayed it, and it still holds up as the best RPG ever), as I think it has the best female characters in the entire series. Granted, there’s only three of them (maybe four, depending on what you make of Gogo) in a cast of 14 playable characters, and one of them (Relm) is an annoying character that has a skill that can actually ruin your save files. Still, Terra and Celes are the two of the three best female characters that the series has ever done (Yuna from X–NOT X-2–is the other), which makes them two of the five or so best characters in the history of the franchise, and two of the 10 or so best characters of any RPG. They’re the two main characters of the game, they have the most developed and best-written stories, they have the best theme songs (in a game full of great ones), and they’re two of the three most indispensable characters in the game (the most indispensable is Mog, but that’s because his Moogle Charm eliminates all random battles, and he can be turned into a nearly indestructible tank with the right setup, even in a low-level game). Not only can they use all the best armor and equipment (like the Illumina–the best sword in the game), but they’re the only two characters that have inherent magical ability. And magic in this game is way better than physical attacks unless the characters are severely over-leveled. They are slightly weaker than the male characters physically, but it’s not that noticeable. And they both are strong female characters (Celes was a general at a very young age, while Terra is a half-human/half-Esper that is a symbol of hope for peace and understanding between the races) who manage to also maintain their femininity (Celes in the opera, Terra taking care of the orphaned children in the World of Ruin). And since it was the SNES, they weren’t turned into sex objects either (I love Tifa from FF VII, and she’s a strong character, but only Lara Croft was more disproportionate). Not by the writers, anyway. Unfortunately, there are perverts who have made porn out of them. As for X-2, that is one of the worst games I have ever played. It’s right up there with Rocky V, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Major League: Back to the Minors, the second and fourth Indiana Jones movies and the first two Star Wars prequels as the worst sequels/prequels ever made. And I can see why women were appalled. Frankly, I was appalled. They have an all-female cast with zero interesting female characters. Rikku stayed the same, but Yuna had undergone a complete personality transformation that essentially turned her into Rikku 2.0. It was terrible what they did to her. It would be like if they made a FF VI-2, and Terra and Celes were suddenly touring the world as beach volleyball players and posing in the Final Fantasy version of Maxim. And Payne is probably the worst character in the history of the franchise. The Gothic thing did not work. At all. And there’s a particularly cringe-worthy sequence in which you have to “massage” the moaning female antagonist. I was terrified that my mom was going to walk in on this and think I was watching porn. It’s only saving graces are the awesome concert scene midway through the game (where was that the whole time?) and the ending if you did enough to get the good one. What a disaster.