Tag Archives: Balthier

30 Days of Gaming, #7 – Favorite game couple

Mario and Princess Peach, Sonic and Amy, Solid Snake and Meryl Silverburgh, Cloud Strife and Aeris Gainsborough, Mr. Pac-Man and Mrs. Pac-Man. These are some of the most famous gaming couples. Many are borderline platonic; others are not.

It’s unclear to me, and maybe most of the Internet, if my favorite gaming couple loves one another romantically, or if their friendship, their dependence on each other is what rings truer in their hearts. Certainly there’s some past adventures they do not speak of, some tension and flirting. Hard not to charm it up when one half of this equation is the suave, cocky Balthier, and the other is the super old, but super vivacious viera warrior Fran. Together, they try to rule the skies.

First, some Final Fantasy XII backstory. Balthier is a young sky pirate and the pilot of the airship Strahl. His copilot is seemingly the complete opposite, an otherworldly viera—that means rabbit-like—woman named Fran that is extremely sensitive to Mist magic, as well as a truly seductive lisp. They depend on each other, and they depend even more on their ability to take from anyone what they want, and it’s this blatant thievery that gets them mixed up with Vaan and Ashe during the chaos of a rebel assault on the palace.

And so they are a team, a couple. Pilot and copilot. Voice and reason. Hume and viera. It’s never openly said that they love each other, that their feelings drop deep, but the subtle looks they share speak volumes:

You meet them as one entity, and you’ll never see them as anything else but together. There is no Fran without Balthier, and the other way around. When out grinding for bazaar items and experience points, you’re allowed to use a three-person team. This usually meant Vaan and two others: Ashe, Basch, Balthier, and Fran. Sorry, Penelo. Battling monsters and using gambits isn’t for kids. Anyways, I never separated the combo, and they worked well with each other, both offering ranged attacks and strong Quickenings. However, come the end of the game, I had to rely on Basch the Tank for most of my boss slaying. Still, these two characters remain my favorite gaming couple for what they don’t say and are only closely followed in the franchise by Zidane and Garnet from Final Fantasy IX.

So far, a severe lack of Fran in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Granted, I’ve only played roughly an hour and fifteen minutes of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings so far…but come on! Out of that time chunkage, Fran was only on screen for about less than 60 seconds, uttering maybe two lines or so of dialogue. The Mist made her woozy. Yeah, it always does that! She’s allergic! Then her and ever-charming friend-at-hand Balthier disappeared from the story as Vaan and his cohorts went on adventuring and stealing an airship of their own.

As the only non-Hume character playable in Final Fantasy XII, Fran really stood out. Also probably because of the bunny ears, revealing outfit, long legs, and devilishly good lisp. Seriously, one could listen to her talk all day. Get that woman a phonebook to read from! She made playing FFXII feel like an actual fantasy game; sure, the other citizens of Rabanastre helped, as did magically ornamented locales and flying ships…but Fran, as a part of your active troop, helped seal the deal that you were on a quest of a special kind, with a special kind of people. Visiting her fellow viera in the hidden land of Eruyt Village was one of my favorite parts of the game.

And so, Revenant Wings is not doing her justice. Not one lick. Spoiler alert for an old game!

See, at the end of FFXII, it’s believed that both her and Balthier perished during the final battle craziness. That terrible thought was dashed as Vaan later learned–much later, like almost a year later–that the two partners-in-crime were still at it, and that they wanted to meet up to go treasure-hunting, thus giving us the starting point for Revenant Wings. This really short meeting of Vaan and his old friends lacks oophm; it’s supposed to be the first time they’ve seen each other in awhile, since one party thought the other dead actually, and there’s no reunion-like talk, no “hey, remember how Ashe was actually the main character and not you, Vaan?”, nothing; only tips on being a sky pirate from Balthier, a complaint about the Mist from Fran, and then a TTFN (ta-ta for now) if ever there was one.