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- See also: List of Summons.
Summoned Monsters (幻獣, Genjū?, lit. "Phantom Beast") are a recurring element in the Final Fantasy series. They are powerful monsters that can be called into battle to fight by Summoners. The exact nature of summoned monsters varies from game to game, but in some they are depicted as gods or demigods, and their role in the storyline has grown as the series has progressed.
In earlier titles summoned monsters merely appeared to perform a single attack, but in later games act as temporary party members, being able to be called into battle and fight alongside the summoner in place of the rest of the party for a period of time. Two common themes are that the player must best a summoned monster in battle before they can summon it, and that the summons live in an alternate dimension from the normal world.
The names given to summoned monsters in English releases are varied: most commonly they are called "Eidolons" or "Espers", but other terms are used. In the Japanese games they are usually referred to as phantom beasts (幻獣).
In the original NES release there are no summons, but in the 20th Anniversary addition the optional Arcane Labyrinth dungeon introduces Deumion, who has the power to summon monsters. Phrekyos is one such monster.
In their first appearances as proper summons, they can be called into battle by Sages, Evokers and Summoners. Summoned monsters have one of three effects when called, either a weaker offensive attack, a healing or buffing spell on the party, or their ultimate attack, a powerful offensive spell.
Lower-level summons can be purchased in shops, but higher level summons require the player to find and defeat the summon to earn their spell. There are only eight summoned monsters in this game, which would become the iconic recurring summons of the series - Chocobo, Shiva, Ramuh, Ifrit, Titan, Odin, Leviathan, and Bahamut.
- Main article: Eidolon (Final Fantasy IV)
Summoned monsters play a major element in the story. They were known as Call Beasts in the original version, Summons in the PlayStation and Advance versions, and Eidolons in the Nintendo DS release, a naming convention carried into the The Complete Collection release of the game and its sequel Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.
Eidolons can only be summoned by the Summoners of the village Mist. At the beginning of the game, the King of Baron tricks Cecil and Kain into delivering a ring to the village that unleashes monsters to burn it to the ground. Rydia is the village's only survivor.
Summoned monsters live in an alternate world called the Feymarch, accessed by a cave deep underground. They are ruled over by Queen Asura and King Leviathan. The King of all monsters, Bahamut, lives on the Red Moon.
A few Eidolons from Final Fantasy IV returns; these eidolon are Shiva, Ramuh, Ifrit, and Titan. The Goblin, Cockatrice, and Bomb summon can only be found as enemy drops. Once the appropriate boss of the first four floors of the Tower of Babil have been defeated, Rydia will be able to summon them again in battle. Once Edge confirms she's an imposter, she battles the party and summons her four previous acquired Eidolons against the party. Once the party defeats these four, she tries to finish off the party with Bahamut, but the real Rydia appears and summon the Mist Dragon to knock some sense into Bahamut who after dismisses himself from battle.
Once the real Rydia participates in the final battle, she has all her Eidolons at her disposal minus Goblin, Cockatrice, Bomb, and Mindflayer. Once the imposter is defeated, she will informs the Creator that "the Eidolon project is complete".
All of the Eidolons from Final Fantasy IV return in the sequel, and are given even more importance in the storyline. Rydia and her summoner abilities return for this game, which she shares with the Mysterious Girl, an antagonist who uses Eidolons against the heroes.
As in Final Fantasy III, summoned monsters can be called into battle by Summoners and are purchased in shops and won by finding and defeating a summoned monster in battle. This game would introduce additional series staples such as Carbuncle, Phoenix and Golem.
- Main article: Esper (Final Fantasy VI)
For the first time, summoned monsters are given an official name and a full backstory. Known as espers, they were humans and animals caught in the magical crossfire of three feuding gods known as the Warring Triad. The espers eventually fled to another realm to avoid being hunted by humans and having their powers exploited. Prior to the events of the game, the Gestahlian Empire locates the gate to the esper realm, allowing them to capture several espers and imbue humans and machines with magical energy, creating Magitek.
Besides being able to be summoned into battle, espers are the basis of the game's magic system. When an esper dies its remains crystallize into magicite. Party members can equip magicite to learn magic spells and receive stat bonuses when they level up.
- Main article: Summon Materia
Summons play a minor role in the game, reverting back to mere monsters that are called into battle. Summon Materia is the medium through which this is done. Final Fantasy VII is the only game in the Final Fantasy main series where none of the summons are fought in the game as bosses.
How Summons came to be is never explained anywhere within the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII releases or media except for some dummied lines from the original Final Fantasy VII. They are explained by Sephiroth in the Temple of the Ancients after obtaining the Bahamut Materia. The majority of the lines of explanation were not translated for the English version of Final Fantasy VII and can only be found in the original Japanese version. Sephiroth explains that during the times of the Ancients there were beings created by the Planet. Some of the beings sealed their life energy in Materia, the Summon Materia. It is also suggested that the creatures that protect the Temple were created by the Planet, and it could be assumed that the Red Dragon turns itself into the Bahamut Materia upon defeat.
- Main article: Guardian Force
Summoned monsters again play an important role in gameplay and story. Known as Guardian Forces, or GFs, they are entities of energy that can bond with a human host's consciousness, a process known as junctioning. Junctioning a GF allows the user to channel magical energy using the Guardian Force as a medium.
In gameplay terms, the party member to whom a GF is junctioned can draw magic from enemies and the environment, then cast it in battle or junction it to a stat attribute, such as Strength, Speed, or elemental or status properties, enhancing the party member's stats, improving their elemental and status defenses, and adding elemental and status properties to their attacks. GFs can also learn support and command abilities that the equipped party member can equip.
Because the GF's presence in the human mind takes up space, prolonged usage of them results in the user developing amnesia. This serves to conceal a plot twist when four of the game's protagonists discover a connection between them and the game's up-to-then main antagonist, Sorceress Edea, that their usage of GFs has caused them to forget.
- Main article: Eidolon (Final Fantasy IX)
In this game, eidolons can only be called by the summoners of Madain Sari. However, eidolons can be "extracted" from a summoner and bound to gemstones, allowing anyone to call them. Princess Garnet has her eidolons extracted by Kuja to be used as weapons by Queen Brahne, and Garnet is able to re-acquire them over the course of the game. This game marks the first time that the ability to summon monsters has to be learned through Ability Points.
- Main article: Aeon (Final Fantasy X)
Aeons are physical manifestations of the dreams of the fayth conjured by a link between a summoner and the fayth. As part of a summoner's pilgrimage, they must travel across Spira and pray at various temples, earning the power to summon the temple's guardian aeon. The ultimate goal of the pilgrimage is to meet Yunalesca at Zanarkand, who bestows on the summoner the power to summon the Final Aeon, the only force that can defeat the monster Sin. This is the first game where summons act as temporary party members when summoned.
- Main article: Avatar
Avatars are beings of great power in Vana'diel, divided into two different classes, celestial avatars and terrestrial avatars. Creatures from either class may be summoned by the player. Celestial avatars are powerful entities sleeping in Protocrystals hidden around various parts of Vana'diel. These include beings such as Shiva, Ifrit, Garuda, Titan, Ramuh, Odin, and Alexander.
Terrestrial avatars serve Altana, and work to protect the Mothercrystals. Carbuncle, Diabolos, Fenrir, Bahamut and Phoenix all serve as terrestrial avatars, but of those, only Carbuncle, Diabolos and Fenrir may be summoned by the player. All avatars except for Carbuncle must be defeated in combat in order for the player to win the right to call on their power.
- Main article: Esper (Final Fantasy XII)
Espers are ancient and powerful beings created by the gods (likely the Occuria) long ago. For various reasons the Espers were cast down to earth, usually for attempting to betray the Occuria or otherwise being corrupted and turned evil. Each Esper is associated with a sign of the Zodiac and an elemental force, and is represented by a glyph on a shard of crystal. Defeating an Esper allows a party member to bond itself to the Esper, allowing them to summon it in battle.
- Main article: Esper (Revenant Wings)
In Revenant Wings the Espers, called Yarhi by the aegyl, are the summons in the game. There are 51 in total and they incorporate the six elements: Fire, Ice, Earth, Thunder, Holy, and Neutral. They can be classified as either a Flying unit, Ranged unit, or Melee unit. The Espers also come in three ranks with the weakest being rank 1 and strongest being rank 3. Higher ranked Espers also cost more to summon with rank 3 Espers limited to one at a time.
- Main article: Eidolon (Final Fantasy XIII)
In this game, Eidolons appear before l'Cie who have lost all hope. An Eidolon's purpose is to deliver salvation to the l'Cie and aid them in continuing their Focus. When an Eidolon first appears, the l'Cie must fight and tame them to gain their power. Eidolons also have the ability to enter Gestalt Mode, which transforms the Eidolon into a machine for the l'Cie to ride on.
Alternate versions of the Final Fantasy XIII Eidolons have been seen in trailers, bearing different colorations than their original counterparts. The antagonist, Caius, transforms into Chaos Bahamut, and Noel and Serah fight a boss called Twilight Odin. A corrupted Shiva also appears, but assisting Lightning in fighting Caius, suggesting these "corrupted" Eidolons are not an entirely evil force.
Summons in this game are powerful spells used by Summoners. They are learned by spending JP. Summons require large amounts of MP and have long charge times, especially for the higher tier summons such as Bahamut.
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Called Espers, summoned monsters in Tactics A2 are accessible through the viera job class Summoner. They do not differentiate between friend or foe and instead affect every unit within their target area.
Summons in Crystal Defenders work as a special type of ability outside of units that causes a special effect on the battlefield, depending on the summon used. Each summon costs crystals, the objects the player is trying to defend, so summons must be used sparingly or else the player will soon run out of crystals to protect.
The summoning command has been shown in the most recent gameplay trailers, but no information on this feature has been revealed yet.
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In Final Fantasy Dimensions, the Summoner job has the ability to summon Eidolons to aid in battle.
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- Main article: Summons (Dissidia)
Summons are not given a specific name in this game. Bound to summonstones, they can be received as map bonuses or found in certain storylines. A character can equip one summon at a time, and a summon can only be summoned between one or three times. After they are summoned the max number of times the summon is depleted, and the player must fight a number of battles to recharge it so it can be used again.
The player is able to set up to five reserve summonstones, where the next summonstone marked will replace the previous when depleted. Some summonstones come in two varieties - manual, where the player calls them at any time they wish, and automatic, where the summon is immediately used under specific circumstances.
The game also implies that the recurring summons seen across the series may somehow be the same beings.
- Main article: Summons (Dissidia 012)
Summonstones reappear and function the same as in the original Dissidia. Though the game again does not assign summons a specific term, the terms "Esper" and "Eidolon" are used interchangeably to refer to summons, but "Eidolon" is used most frequently.
The Museum specifically applies the term "Eidolon" in the context of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VII, while Vaan makes mention of Yuna summoning Eidolons when neither of their original games used the term. On other occasions the museum uses the terms of the original games, for example referring to Ifrit as an Eidolon, Guardian Force and Aeon respectively for Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X.
Summons appear as the reward for completing the Feature Drive sequence in any Battle Music Stage (BMS). They boost the damage of your successful hits. They are also guaranteed to deliver their special attack, even if you do poorly after they appear. This attack typically finishes off whatever monster is present, though some monsters in Expert or Ultimate difficulty prove more resilient than others.
There are five possible summons chosen at random: Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Odin, and Bahamut. Equipping your party with a Magic Lamp will guarantee one of them will appear even if you completely fail the Feature Drive sequence. Equipping your party with the Magicite of a specific summon, such as Shiva Magicite, will force that particular summon to appear if the Feature Drive sequence is performed successfully.
A trophy is awarded for witnessing all 5 summons. As Bahamut is extremely rare, it is usually faster to wait for a Bahamut Magicite to drop at the end of a Music Stage.
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