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Creature Comfort

Animals have long been used in the real world to help people get from one place to the other. The same also applies to RPGs, where there's an even greater variety of shapes and sizes to get people around. In this section we devote some time to those loyal beasts that ensure the heroes have a chance of saving the world; it couldn't be done without them. Flying whales, aquatic elephants, giant roosters, and, of course, dragons, we love them all.

Ba'ul (Tales of Vesperia)
Chocobo (Final Fantasy series)
Gustav (Infinite Undiscovery)
Flammie (Secret of Mana)
Mindeer & the White Dragon (Baten Kaitos)
Shoopuf (Final Fantasy X)


Ba'ul - Tales of Vesperia

Tales of Vesperia's Ba'ul is more than a mode of transportation--he's a friend. This whale-like flying creature is a member of the Entelexeia race and is the beloved companion of Judith. He starts off the game as a juvenile just large enough to carry Judith on his back. Later on, he transforms into his adult form and is large enough to carry the party's boat when he flies. Sailing the skies with Ba'ul is smooth and fast, making Vesperia's world map both convenient and fully explorable. There's even a sky racing mini game that allows the player to master giant whale flying and earn some nice costumes for Judith.

Ba'ul starts off fairly shy, with Judith only occasionally conveying his feelings to the party, but later on, he starts to offer his opinion to the group. As an Entelexeia with a mortal partner, Ba'ul has a unique point of view. Many of his fellow Entelexeia are hostile towards humans, who have either accidentally or purposefully damaged them. Although he fears for the survival of his race like his fellows, Ba'ul has compassionate feelings towards the world's smaller peoples. He bravely works with Judith and his other new friends to preserve the world in a way that works for both mortals and Entelexeia, putting his own life at risk on various occasions. You can't ask for much more than that from your sweet ride. - Becky Cunningham

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Chocobo - Final Fantasy series

Chocobos are an institution of the Final Fantasy series. Beautiful giant and intellgent birds coming in a wide variety of colours, though I always the standard golden-yellow variant to just have that little bit more majesty. Although being flightless would usually preclude them from most non-edible uses for birds in the real world, damn those things can run, even with heavily armoured adventures riding them. As such they are always one of the best transport options in the lands of Ivalice, Eorzea, Gaia, and so on.

Potential uses of Chocobos aren't just limited to transport on the ground. Certain breeds have been known to walk on water, fight with their adventurer partners, and even say "screw you" to their usual flightless status and take to the skies. Any creature that can do all that and is worthy of having around fifty variations of its own musical theme deserves its place here. The Chocobos' roles in assisting so many heroes in the series means the worlds of Final Fantasy would be much darker or even non-existent without them. Admittedly a few of them can become a bit greedy, but I guess we can't accuse them of not eating their (Gysahl) Greens. - Alex Fuller

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Gustav - Infinite Undiscovery

Infinite Undiscovery is far from perfect. A couple of the more annoying child characters to appear in the genre and clichés up the wazoo helped it nestle comfortably in the middle of the JRPG pack. That said, I still enjoyed it. One of the more enjoyable aspects was the sheer joyful presence of Gustav. Main heronine Aya's giant horned per bear, and seemingly Capelle's main rival for her affection, Gustav is both a loveable (look at that happy face!) and fearsome beast who will show utmost loyalty to those he likes and quickly make his presence known to those he doesn't.

Gustav is in fact so powerful that whenever players include him in the party, he takes up two character slots. He even allows those he trusts to ride him as a mount in the game's wide-open spaces, even smashing through rocks should it be asked of him. When you have a playable cast around the twenty mark, it's difficult for individual ones to stand out. Gustav is one of the few characters in Infite Undiscovery that manages to do it in a good way. - Alex Fuller

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Flammie - Secret of Mana

Who doesn’t want to fly from continent to continent on an adorable dragon? Soulless people, probably. Flammie (sometimes spelt "Flammy") is the franchise staple travel companion for the Mana series. First introduced in Secret of Mana, Fammie comes from a race of Mana Beasts created by the Moon Gods. In the game, your characters discover a newly hatched baby dragon in White Dragon Cave and leave the adorable creature in the hands of King Tuffle while you continue your adventure. He names it "Flammie" because he thinks the name is cute. And it is. Eventually, he’ll give you access to the "Flammie Drum," allowing you to call on Flammie to fly you to wherever you need to go.

Flammie works in a similar fashion to the Airship in Final Fantasy VI; by using the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 graphical capabilities, players can control his direction and elevation as he hovers above the world's flat surface. It can take some adjusting to at first, but it makes travel about a thousand times more convenient than relying on Cannon Travel.

The biggest question people tend to have after the events of the game is "what happened to Flammie?" The final boss — a Mana Beast sent to destroy the Fortress — looks astonishingly similar to your fuzzy, friendly companion. Did Flammie become this Mana Beast or is it just his more highly evolved cousin? Moreover, is Flammie a he? Did he also disappear like the Beast and Sprite at the end of the game? So many questions. - Trent Seely

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Mindeer & the White Dragon - Baten Kaitos

The humans of the Baten Kaitos world may have Wing of the Heart, but they still rely on ships to get from one floating continent to another. According to lore, people were once able to fly from nation to nation with their own wings, but their hearts have since grown weaker, so most are only capable of short flights. In Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, after leaving Diadem, the nation's King Ladekhan gives Kalas and the others his private ship, the Mindeer, in order to continue collecting the End Magnus. It’s certainly nice of him, but by about half-way through the game, the party gets access to a much cooler ride, the White Dragon.

The White Dragon is the last of her kind and also the national symbol of the ice nation Wazn, so she is kept safe at the palace of Kaffaljidhma. In the past, though, this dragon (or possibly others of her kind) was the loyal mount of Wazn's knights, and Xelha's adviser Barnette suggests that she and the party ride the dragon from then on (presumably, there’s no point in preserving the species if there is only one surviving member). After a short quest to prove themselves to the dragon, this majestic flying reptile becomes theirs to command.

The White Dragon is admittedly not all that different from the Mindeer function-wise, but there are other aspects that make her a memorable form of transportation. She has a unique design, clearly draconic, but with touches like tusks, a tufted tail, and long purple spines on her back, which make her stand out among RPG dragons. The White Dragon will gladly carry six people on her back and travel to such perilous places as the long lost surface and Cor Hydrae, the wicked god Malpercio's stronghold. She is seemingly tireless, as even when docked at a port, the dragon will continue to hover in the air. Lastly, she is fond of Xelha, as she looks happy to see the young queen when first introduced to the player. The White Dragon's (if it is indeed the same individual) role is greatly diminished in the prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, as she only shows up to roast some menacing monsters, then flies off. It's a neat bit of fan service for those who love the original game, but having her "reprise" her role as a living airhship would have been great. - Cassandra Ramos

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Shoopuf - Final Fantasy X

A lot of people like to make jokes about how ridiculous the platypus looks. These people haven't seen Final Fantasy X's Shoopufs. Used as pack animals across the beautiful Moonflow, these chucky beings are somewhat akin to Elephants. However, their small ears, large tail, and spiraled trunk make them a true sight to behold. The weirdness factor of these baby-blue floating vehicles is cranked to eleven due to the oddball riders known as the Hypello. I’ll be a happy man if I never hear another Hypello say "Ride ze Shoopuf?" again in my life. There’s a ten-hour loop of it on YouTube if you ever want to test your mental limits.

Regardless, what makes the Shoopuf special isn't its odd design or even more odd caretakers. It's its place in the history of Spira. Specifically, how one was attacked by an inebriated Jecht — an event that led to his sobriety. Ten years before the events of Final Fantasy X, Yuna's father Braska, Auron, and Jecht went to the Moonflow to use a Shoopuf to cross the river. Jecht was hammered and, this being his first time seeing this creature, had mistook it for a fiend and attacked it. Embarrassed, Jecht used all of his travel money to pay for the medical bills and promised to never drink anything stronger than Shoopuf milk again. Which I think is hilarious. Really, this is one of the reasons why Final Fantasy X deserves a prequel detailing the events of Braska's pilgrimage. - Trent Seely

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