Top 7 Recurring Enemies in Final Fantasy Games
List by Phil Dean
Final Fantasy XV was announced at E3 this year which met with a unanimously positive reaction and extreme excitement that the Final Fantasy series has been missing for years. The reaction was so strong that even people who actively dislike JPRGs seem to be on board for this upcoming installment. I, personally, have been a diehard fan since the beginning and I love every game in the main series (and most spin-offs) for what each of them represent. Every game. I’ve wanted to make a Final Fantasy-centric Top 7 for a while, but I was under internal debate of the topic and struggling to find motivation. However, the excitement of this E3 has restored that energy and passion to levels unimaginable.
So in lieu of the Final Fantasy XV announcement, I wanted to reflect on the series as a whole. What better way to do that than to make a list of my personal Top 7 recurring enemies in the Final Fantasy series.
Now due to the massive intricate web of this whole franchise, here are some ground rules for this list: I will only be judging appearances from the main numbered series only. That means no direct sequels or spin-offs. Also, the only Final Fantasy that I’m excluding is Final Fantasy XIV, since it technically isn’t out yet and the previous build of the game has been completely removed, so obviously I haven’t had the chance to play through it. Okay, that’s it. Here we go.
7) Flan (Appears in: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII – [12/13])Additional Pseudonyms: Pudding, Blobra, Jelly
As far as I know there is no single enemy which appears in every Final Fantasy game. I had previously thought there were only a few monsters which made every titular appearance in the series like Goblin and Imp, but on further research, it turns out I was incorrect. (Please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) So, the closest we get is twelve out of thirteen which brings us to the wonderful Flan who has materialized in every game except for Final Fantasy VII.
Flans are small gelatinous creatures most identifiable by their large eyes and grotesque mouth, but their design changes incrementally from game to game. They are synonymous with being impervious to physical attacks and are generally a covert tutorial for forcing the player to use magic. As a result, they commonly start showing up near the beginning of the game with variations of the Flan genus consistently popping up through to the end. They will always continue to challenge the player’s magical prowess.
The first Final Fantasy is the only game where they look radically different from the rest of the series, not yet adopting their token repugnant form. Instead, they adopt a more ambiguous amorphous shape, but their purpose remains the same. In Final Fantasy V and VIII there are no Flans by name, but they unmistakably exist using the additional monikers listed above, and they retain their familiar look and statistics. In Final Fantasy IX, there is only one variation of Flan and it can only be found in one area, which is a rarity for the series. Additionally, Final Fantasy VIII also features only a single variation of Flan, but due to the game’s leveling mechanic it emerges in multiple locations, as the need for palette swapping isn’t as important. Flans take a far more important role in Final Fantasy X because they serve as a literal tutorial in understanding the four elements and how to utilize Lulu. In Final Fantasy XII they are able to reproduce if you don’t eliminate them quickly and can be dangerous in large numbers. The most clever use of the Flan is in Final Fantasy XIII where they are genetically infused with other enemies, so you’ll get Flans like the Flandragora and Flanitor. However, organic Flans also exist within the game.
FavoriteÂ Flan: Jumbo Flan (FFX)
6) Bomb- (Appears in: II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII – [12/13])Additional Pseudonyms: Grenade, Balloon, Puroboros
Bombs are an iconic enemy of the series that do exactly as advertised. Blow up. Their signature move is Self-Destruct which is a kamikaze attack that can annihilate either your character or the entire party if you’re not careful. They are usually associated with the fire element, but they can also be non-elemental or affixed to another element. There are three common ways that will trigger Self-Destruct: time, critical health, and number of hits taken. Self-Destruct can also be commonly learned as a blue magic spell throughout the series. Their appearance is mainly that of a sentient and solidified ball of fire or magma. However, Final Fantasy XII and XIII deviates from this a bit. In Final Fantasy XII it is a depicted as an actual bomb which has been possessed by a magical spirit and in Final Fantasy XIII it’s a mechanical polyhedron which gradually takes the shape of a traditional Bomb as the battle wages on.
Â In Final Fantasy IV, the Bomb takes on a special role as a summoned creature for you to use, as well as an enemy. Final Fantasy IV also marks the first time in the series that the Bomb gets a variation as a unique boss monster. Final Fantasy VII starts the trend of having the Bomb physically expand when it gets closer to exploding. And by a peculiar twist of fate unlike the rest of the series, the Bomb featured in Final Fantasy XI is weak to the fire element as opposed to being immune to it.
Favorite Bomb: Mom Bomb (FFIV)
5) Adamantoise– (Appears in: II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII – [12/13])Additional Pseudonyms: Adamantortoise, Tortoise, Gil Snapper
The name Adamantoise is a portmanteau of the words “adamantite” and “tortoise”, which defines this creature as an extremely strong and resilient turtle. This gargantuan beast is always imposing to the party and gigantic in scale, although how domineering it is dramatically ranges from game to game. It always surfaces as a hefty quadruped and armored reptile, but regardless, it is always a breathtaking sight to behold to say the least.
The Adamantoise gradually gets more and more threatening as the series goes on. From Final Fantasy II, they start as mid-tier enemies, although they’re usually still the strongest enemy in the area. In Final Fantasy V is it a mandatory boss that your party has to fight which actually yields a physical piece of adamantite. This grandiose beast takes a strength dip in Final Fantasy VII and you can also induce an easy glitch if you so choose. The glitch involves you casting Barrier on the creature before it gets a chance to cast it on itself, and it will either crash the game or give you a data error. From Final Fantasy X forward, they start appearing exclusively near the end of the game in rather spectacular fashion. They are granted the title of Notorious Monster in Final Fantasy XI which is a rare high-level monster that consequently requires large parties to take down. Final Fantasy XIII puts the Adamantoise on a pedestal as it’s the strongest enemy type, not only in the game, but in the entire series.
Favorite Adamantoise: Long Gui (FFXIII)
4) Behemoth- (Appears in: II, III, IV, V,VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII – [12/13]*)Additional Pseudonyms: King Behemoth, Humbaba, Catoblepas
*There are a couple things to note here. If you have ever played Final Fantasy Origins for the Playstation, you might notice that the Behemoth is right there on the cover of the game as artwork, however, said monster does not actually appear in the game itself. (Darn, so close.)
The Behemoth is an incredibly powerful and intimidating beast much like the previous Adamantoise, but unlike the Adamantoise, the Behemoth is exclusively found near the end of the game. If it’s not found near the end then it’s either unbelievably rare or featured as a boss enemy. These creatures are always among the strongest type of enemy in the games that they appear in and it is arguably one of the more synonymous brutes to the Final Fantasy series. Every Final Fantasy fan knows that when you start encountering these wonderful specimens that things are going to get rough from here on out. Behemoths are large feral beasts sporting two great horns and exceptional muscles. They are consistently purple in color and will sometimes stand on two feet instead of four and wield a colossal sword. They are infamous for their ability to counterattack.
The Behemoth makes its first starring role as a boss in Final Fantasy II. In Final Fantasy IV they have the ability to cast Maelstrom which brings your party’s hit points down to extremely critical levels. The Behemoth makes an appearance in Final Fantasy V as the Kuza Beast and once again at the very end of the game with the fearsome King Behemoth. Beginning with Final Fantasy VI they start become known for casting Meteor, or an attack similar to it, which can easily wipe out your party. Final Fantasy X takes this one step further in which the Behemoth will also cast the powerful Ultima spell upon death. Naturally, Behemoths are Notorious Monsters in Final Fantasy XI. Out of all the monsters on this list, the Behemoth is the only one that’s already confirmed for Final Fantasy XV.
Favorite Behemoth: Behemoth King (FFXII)
3) Malboro– (Appears in: II, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII – [9/13])Additional Pseudonyms: Morbol, Great Malboro, Malboro Menace
Ah, the Malboro. This grotesque monstrosity is definitely the most disgusting and unpleasant monster on this list. It is plant-based polyp formed as an anemone and it exhibits a colossal mouth covered with tentacles all around it. More often than not, it is found drooling and radiating toxic chemicals. This disease-ridden horror has a revolting signature move known as Bad Breath, which can and will inflict up to dozens of negative status effects on your party. Preparation is absolutely essential in taking these bad boys down. If you’re not prepared with various remedies or spells beforehand then you’ll find that the battle will easily go south right before your eyes.
The Malboro’s Bad Breath attack doesn’t become commonplace until Final Fantasy IV, but in Final Fantasy II it can still cause a host of status effects on your party. In most of the games where you’re able to steal monster abilities, you will be able also obtain Bad Breath. Final Fantasy X features the most dangerous Malboro in the series. Even if you’re prepared for the battle it’s not a guaranteed win, and the reason for this is because status effects are much more perilous to your party in Final Fantasy X than in other games. The Great Malboro in Final Fantasy X will always ambush you, making it a chance battle for even the strongest of parties. In Final Fantasy XI, they kick it up a notch by giving some Malboros a move called Extremely Bad Breath which is a definite instant death if it hits you. The Malboros that emerge in Final Fantasy XII are the only ones in the series that are smaller than humans, but they make some fun appearances in the game as well. They will have mustaches, or end up being pink with regal attire, or even someone’s pet. The silliness of the Malboro in Final Fantasy XII is a stark contrast to the rest of the series. Although the Malboro does not appear in Final Fantasy XIII, there is a weapon that your character Vanille can equip called the Malboro Wand.
Favourite Malboro: Carrot (FFXII)
2) Cactuar- (Appears in: VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII – [8/13])Additional Pseudonyms: Cactoid, Qactuar, Sabotender
The Cactuar is a goofy and silly little creature which doesn’t start appearing until later in the series, but even still it’s one of the more famously recognized monsters on this list. Do not be fooled by its nutty exterior though, the Cactuar is a tricky opponent and if provoked it can effortlessly overpower your party. As the name implies, the Cactuar is a cactus, and it’s quite minimalist in design. It’s small, green, has a simplistic face, as well as three quills on its head. With the exception of two games in the series, its appearance remains completely unchanged.
Cactuars are fast with extremely high agility and they are prone to running away from battle if you do not defeat them quickly enough. They have a tendency to counterattack anything that you throw at them with a move called 1000 Needles or 10,000 Needles which will always inflict said number of health from the unfortunate character it’s used on. These funny monsters are never mandatory to fight and you usually have to go out of your way to look for them. So, with all that said, why would you even bother to seek out these deceptive beasts? Well, that’s because they generally yield an amazing amount of experience and ability points if you do manage to take one down, sometimes even additional benefits. The best Final Fantasy players will try to overcome and exploit Cactuars for their wonderful gifts.
Cactuars come into fruition starting with Final Fantasy VI and if you manage to defeat one, you’ll get an obscenely high number of Gil, which is the currency, as well as ability points. In Final Fantasy VIII, you can actually dispatch an optional superboss Cactuar in order to gain the ability to use it as a summoned monster. Cactuars get a much more important role in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII with entire side quests being designed around them. The Cactuar superboss from Final Fantasy VIII makes a return in Final Fantasy XIII if you’re brave and/or powerful enough to try and fight it. The only two Final Fantasy games in which the Cactuar does not retain its iconic frame are in Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII.
Favorite Cactuar: Jumbo Cactuar (FFVIII)
1) Tonberry- (Appears in: V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XIII – [8/13])Additional Pseudonyms: Cryptonberry, Master Tonberry, Don Tonberry
And finally, this list comes to a close with the Tonberry. Another deceptively powerful little creature often found near the end of the game or in secret optional areas that only the highest leveled players will be able to reach. These devious monsters are on par with the Behemoth as they’re generally one of the most dominant enemies in each game as well as the series as whole. However, like Cactuars, they do not seem intimidating on the surface. In fact, most Tonberries will rarely attack you. At first glance, all they seem to be capable of doing is slowly walking forward. If you stick around though, you’ll find out that they’re just getting close enough to stab you with Chef’s Knife, a move that can either critically injure the character or instantly kill you. That’s not all though, they have another big trick up their sleeve. They can counter your attacks with Everyone’s Grudge, an attack that becomes more powerful with each monster that you kill. That’s right, this devil gets more and more powerful with each creature you slay over the course of the ENTIRE game in an effort to inflict karmic retribution.
Tonberries are diminutive green goblin-like creatures that usually look any but threatening. They don brown cloaks with hoods and they carry a knife and a lantern in each hand. They are the opposite of Cactuars in that they slow, calculating, and will not give up until the party is defeated.
In Final Fantasy VII the regular Tonberry only appears during the optional mini-game, Battle Square, in the Gold Saucer, but they’ll show up as a more powerful variant in the final area of the game. If you defeat a certain number of Tonberries in Final Fantasy VIII, you can obtain one as a summoned monster. Everyone’s Grudge has a much weaker effect in Final Fantasy IX as its strength is only judged by the number of Tonberries killed, not enemies as a whole. In Final Fantasy X they can instantly destroy any of your summoned monsters with an attack called Voodoo. Final Fantasy XI takes the lore of the Tonberry much further as there’s a whole layer of in-game fiction about the race of creatures. Although they do not appear in Final Fantasy XII, there is a small reference to it at the beginning of the game.
Favorite Tonberry: Master Tonberry (FFX)