reader discussion

Building An All-Star RPG Party

by Joe Juba on May 11, 2011 at 10:26 AM

The ensemble cast is part of what makes role-playing games great. How the characters interact with each other and work together in combat helps give each RPG its own identity. But what if you didn’t need to worry about that? What if you could just cherry-pick your dream party from the entire catalog of the genre’s history?

Sure, the story wouldn’t make much sense, but that doesn’t matter when you’re rolling with an all-star posse. Below are my favorites for a team of MVPs drawn exclusively from playable characters (this isn't just "My Favorite RPG Characters Ever"), each one chosen to fulfill a specific role within my hypothetical party.

What would you do differently? As you can see, I stuck to Japanese role-playing games, but you should feel free to branch out to include party members from western RPGs (like Mass Effect or Knights of the Old Republic). Include your own picks in the comments below!

Leader: The Hero (Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne)

I’m pretty tired of silent protagonists in story-driven games, but since that’s not a concern for this list, I’m going to put the hero from Nocturne front and center. He can fuse and summon an army of demons, and his customizable skillset makes him a versatile and adaptable warrior. Of course, let’s not forget that he is the Demi-Fiend and destined to decide the fate of the world. Also, this dude just looks awesome.

Mentor: Auron (Final Fantasy X)

His glory days may be behind him, but Auron has years of experience being an unstoppable, stone-cold champion. Combine that wisdom with an ability to swing a gigantic sword and create tornadoes made of flame, and there’s no one I’d rather have giving me advice and watching my back.

Damage Dealer: KOS-MOS (Xenosaga)

She’s more of a weapon than a woman (or gynoid, technically), and she was built with total devastation in mind. KOS-MOS can summon Gatling guns from thin air, turn her arm into a sword, and open up her abdomen to unleash a multi-dimensional energy beam. Also, she can survive in space, which could be an advantage under very specific circumstances. Whatever the problem may be, KOS-MOS can destroy it.

Black Mage: Magus (Chrono Trigger)

You don’t normally get the chance to wield a powerful villain’s awesome magical attacks, so Magus is just too good to pass up. He’s a master of elemental spells, and his array of shadow-focused abilities put any other dark wizard to shame. If you want your foes to burn, freeze, get electrocuted, or be consumed by shadow ether, Magus is your man.

Healer: Alice Elliot (Shadow Hearts)

Unless you want to burn through consumable potions, a decent healer is a must-have. The problem is finding one who is legitimately cool, and not just the protagonist's girlfriend with a staff. I enjoyed Shadow Hearts’ twist on the archetype, Alice Elliot. She may still be prone to getting kidnapped, but she makes up for it with white magic and the fact that her main physical weapon is a giant book.

Obligatory Animal: Repede (Tales of Vesperia)

No RPG party is complete without some kind of pet or animal who joins you in battle. Repede gets the coveted spot in my party because he’s one of the few characters who fulfills this duty without being stupid, irritating, or generally intolerable. Plus, he’s got a pipe!

Back on the Airship...

Not everyone can be in the active party at once. These are the honorable mentions that I still want on my team, just in case I need to make a substitution on the fly:
Kain (Final Fantasy IV)
Vyse (Skies of Arcadia)
Elwen (Radiata Stories)
Lenneth (Valkyrie Profile)
Kaim (Lost Odyssey)
Ness (Earthbound)
Chris (Suikoden III)
Harle (Chrono Cross)
Citan (Xenogears)
Charizard (Pokémon)

That's it for my choices. Now it's your turn.