Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Ultimate Fantasy Party: Radiostorm’s Entry

Following in my brother’s footsteps, I bring to you my Ultimate Fantasy Party. Some of these choices may seem strange or obtuse, and I’ll be the first to admit that my proposed roster is largely coloured by my fondness for these specific characters. Regardless, I feel that together this group forms a skilled and versatile team that is ready and willing to kick some serious ass.

Fighter: Samurai Jack, Samurai Jack

Call me a fanboy, but Samurai Jack was my first and only choice for party fighter. The wayward warrior from the Cartoon Network series of the same name is a dominating presence on the battlefield, and there’s no other man I’d want watching my back in a fight. As demonstrated by a decade spanning montage in the first episode of the series, Jack is a veritable renaissance man of punching people in the face. He spent his childhood and teenage years visiting foreign cultures and mastering their favoured forms of combat. He’s trained with Shaolin monks, Vikings, African Zulu warriors, and was even taught how to notch an arrow by Robin Hood himself. Jack is a man who is at ease fighting any opponent with any weapon under any circumstance. Speaking of weapons, Jack’s signature magic sword is an accessory worthy of note. Forged by the gods Odin, Ra, and Rama, the blade is capable of rendering all but the most ludicrously plot-laden substances in twain. It also demonstrates a strong capacity to disrupt evil in any form, making it invaluable for slicing demons and monsters to pieces (or, in Jack’s case, G-rated robotic equivalents). Couple this unstoppable martial prowess Jack’s infallible determination and code of honour, and you have the perfect tank. Not since the days of Jean-Claude Van Damme have we seen a warrior so perfectly engineered.

Rogue: Guybrush Threepwood, Monkey Island series

I’m bound to take a lot flack for this choice. Yes, I know Artemis Entreri can go toe-to-toe with Drizzt in a duel and that Robin Hood can split an arrow in half with another miraculous shot. There are countless assassins and ne’er-do-wells in fiction that can kill an opponent ten times before they hit the ground with the vigour of a young Steven Seagal, and I’m fully aware of them all. The question is, is this really the rogue’s job? The true purpose of a rogue is to handle problems that can’t be solved by swinging a sword around. He’s the party member tasked with disarming traps, picking locks, sneaking past town guards, and bartering with merchants. His indispensability lies in his ability to surpass obstacles that would otherwise be insurmountable for the combat-weighted fighter, cleric, and wizard classes. I chose Guybrush Threepwood as my rogue for this very reason. Despite his somewhat cowardly and naïve personality, the obtusely named protagonist of the Monkey Island series is a peerless problem solver. Stuck in a prison cell? He’ll effortless acquire the key from the guard. Tied up over a cauldron of boiling acid? He’ll escape using nothing but a straw. Accosted by a bloodthirsty ghost pirate? No problem, he’ll craft a voodoo doll of the villain from scratch. Give the man a random menagerie of adventure game items, and he will lead the party out of any situation with MacGyver-like resourcefulness. Threepwood is the thinking man’s rogue. He’s the public face of the party, the brains behind every cunning plan, and the key to every locked door. Sure, he may be dead weight in a fight (unless you count insult sword fighting), but for any situation that can’t be overcome with brute force, he’s the man to call.

Wizard: Edwin Odesseiron, Baldur’s Gate series

I briefly considered selecting a wizard from one of favourite Super Nintendo RPGs to fill this hole in my party. Although I hold a great deal of affection towards these pixelated magi, I realized none of them could hold a candle to the might of a Dungeons and Dragons wizard. Gripe all you want about the limitations of having to memorize spells in advance, wizards from the classic pen-and-paper franchise are the reason the Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards trope exists. Edwin Odesseiron, the not-quite-heroic conjurer of Baldur’s Gate fame, is the perfect example of this archetype. Easily the most powerful wizard companion in the series, he can cast a heinous number of spells per day and possesses full access to the ridiculously comprehensive Dungeons and Dragons spell list. Given the opportunity, he can effortlessly dispatch a group of enemies with a strategically cast Time Stop, Cloudkill, or Meteor Swarm spell. Conveniently, he also has no qualms in doing so because he is just a wee bit indescribably evil. Throw in a brilliant array of abjuration, illusion, and conjuration spells, and you have a party member that can do pretty much anything. Edwin could, on a whim, summon a squad of monsters to clear the dungeon for you, sneak everyone to the final room using Greater Invisibility, or erase the dungeon from history using a Wish spell. Let’s see a Terra Branford or a Magus do that! Simply put, Dungeons and Dragons wizards trump all, and Edwin is among the best.

Priest: Uther Lightbringer, Warcraft series

Ah, Uther Lightbringer. A pristine relic from Warcaft’s past, long before Blizzard cocked up the franchise’s lore with werewolves and kung-fu pandas. I’m actually glad that he was killed off in the early acts of Warcraft 3; the current state of Azeroth would probably bring a single tear to the noble paladin’s eyes. Mike and I are big fans of the Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition interpretation of clerics. Back in those days, clerics donned full plate and weaved into battle alongside the fighter. This interpretation has been on the wane in recent years, but thankfully paladins are as fashionable as ever. The Warcraft franchise has been especially affectionate towards them, and Uther Lightbringer is the original holy man with a hammer. While lacking the raw healing power of a dedicated caster, Uther Lightbringer still possesses all the tools necessary to keep his party in fighting shape: lay on hands to patch up allies between fights, incantations to cure disease and poison, and even the impressive Resurrection spell for use in times of desperation. Potent buffing abilities are also at his disposal, exampled in his Warcraft 3 abilities Holy Shield and Devotion Aura, and he’s no slouch in melee either. While he may not be the flashiest party member, the paladin brings a diverse range of support abilities that make him the perfect team player. Uther is a natural fit for party leader. Brimming with divine power and bound by his order’s strict moral code, he’ll always make sure no man is left behind – even if he has to drag them off the battlefield himself. What more could you ask for from a healer?

Wildcard: Cid Highwind, Final Fantasy 7

Cid was always one of my favourite characters from Final Fantasy 7. From the moment I entered Rocket Town, I was won over by his working class demeanor and strings of redacted dialogue. He wasn’t an angst-ridden fop like Cloud, and to be honest I squealed with macabre delight when Cloud died and Cid took over as party leader. However, Cid isn’t intended to be the leader of my team. The daring pilot instead serves as a jack-of-all-trades, filling in any crack that might arise in the roster. Thanks to the flexible materia system present in Final Fantasy 7, Cid excels in this utility role. Need some extra firepower? Equip him with Fire and Ice materia. How about some healing? Cure will cover that. Need extra tanking? Throw him an HP Plus and a Counter Attack materia and watch the heads roll. While it’s true that this flexibility is a perk shared by every character in Final Fantasy 7, what makes Cid stand out amongst his peers is his technical savvy. The remainder of my party, being of fantasy medieval origin, can only gawk absently at a piece of technology. Hailing from a more advanced age, Cid possesses an indispensable knowledge of mechanics, aviation, and rocketry. His skills as a pilot are also peerless, and the fact that he has his own personal airship to ferry his allies around on is simply icing on the cake.

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By Mathew
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer