#10: Alana Il Vanya
"You're still not showing your true strength!"
Ah, Kartia: The Word of Fate. If there was ever a poster child for an underappreciated and underrated strategy RPG, then it would be this. This PlayStation classic features a rich world, amazing music, and some unique mechanics. The game has two scenarios that are best played back-to-back. One scenario stars a shrine maiden named Lacryma Christi. The other stars a newly anointed knight named Toxa Classico. No matter who you start with, you will get to meet our first dancer: Alana Il Vanya.
Crowd Favorite: While Alana is a member of the peace brigade called Vigilance, Alana's other job is a dancer in a pub. Her lovable personality, luscious brown locks, and warm heart allow her to make friends with anyone she meets. Sadly, due to Kartia's limited graphical capacity, players don't get to see any actual dancing. We just have to take Atlus at their word that her swordsmanship is as elegant as her dancing.
Sword Dancer: Similar to most of the cast in Kartia, Alana is a solid party member that can do it all in battle. Her best trait is that she's gifted with the use of Kartia. Not only can she summon Phantoms to help her out in battle, but she really comes into her own when she uses magic. In Kartia, magic can turn the tide in battle whether it's blasting a groups of foes or altering the terrain. Alana might not be showing her dancing moves on the battlefield, but she's still pulling her weight to make sure her party is victorious.
Something I always found amusing about Kartia was the fighting stance animation each participant had on the battlefield. I guess, in some way, everyone in Kartia: The Word of Fate has a little bit of dancer in them.
"Dancing with sincerity."
When it comes to adventure, no series does it better than the SaGa series. This series typically allows players to mold a party of their choosing on a quest that can last long as they please. Over the last few years, SaGa titles have been gaining more and more popularity in the west. I'd like to think that the release of the PlayStation 2 remake of Romancing SaGa was the catalyst that initiated this. Romancing SaGa lets you pick one of eight playable characters that travels through the world of Mardias in an attempt to stop the resurrection of a wicked god named Saruin. One of the heroes you can select is a traveling dancer named Barbara.
Minstrel's Dance: Once you take control of Barbara in Weston, you will immediately get to see her hypnotic dancing. A minstrel will clock her as a dancer and ask if he'll give the audience a show. She performs a sultry dance that combines the Flamenco with belly-dancing. As a reward, she'll get an amethyst. It's a nice introduction to her story, and also a great way to kick off her adventure.
Jane Of All Trades: Whether you start the game as her, or recruit her when playing as someone else, Barbara doesn't get to show her dance moves in battle. While this comes as a downer, it's good to know that she's still able to hold her own. Every character in Romancing SaGa can be trained to perform how you like. So, if you wanted Barbara to be an archer, then that's possible. If you wanted Barbara to concentrate on axes, then that's possible. Barbara begins the game with a short sword and the ability to cast magic in the Demonology family. These are all fine options to set her up to be a powerful warrior, but really, the choice is up to you.
As great as she is, selecting Barbara as your main character is not recommended for beginners. Get to know the game before adventuring through Mardias as this entertainer.
"Andre, go on ahead and get them!!"
The Shadow Hearts series is amazing for a multitude of reasons. It has exciting combat, wonderful atmosphere, amazing characters and fantastical settings that take place within our own world. In Shadow Hearts: Covenant players are reunited with the lovable Yuri Volte Hyuga. Yuri needs to break a curse that was placed upon him by the religious cult Sapientes Gladio. While investigating in Italy, Yuri and his friends meet a woman named Carla that used to be a member of the cult. Carla instructs her best dancer, Lucia, to assist Yuri on his adventure.
Fortuneteller Fantasies: We first see Lucia performing a dance where she slithers and sways her hips to onlookers waiting to be told their fortunes. As she performs her number, tarot cards begin surrounding her. Ultimately, they end up dancing along with her in a performance that is equal parts entertaining and sexy. Yuri is completely mesmerized by her beauty. Even after the dance ends, he can't take his eyes off of her. Karin Koenig ends up smacking him back to reality so the party can carry on with their mission.
Risky Gamble: Lucia won't do any dancing during battle, but she does have unique actions. The first is Aromatherapy. By mixing two oils together, she can provide useful boosts and/or healing to the entire party. The second is more risky: Tarot. Lucia will randomly select a tarot card. If it appears upright, then the party receives a bonus. If it appears downward, then the party is negatively impacted. While Shadow Hearts: Covenant is an easier game, it's not worth the risk to draw a card. Along with the right combinations of aroma oils, Lucia is best used when you load her up with Crests and let her unleash magical terror on the enemies.
Fans of Shadow Hearts: Covenant know that Lucia is part of one of the most hilarious moments in RPG history. I won't go into it because you need to see it for yourselves.
#7: Princess Suzuka
"Just call me up whenever you want to see me. I'll dance and cheer you all up!"
The next dancer comes from the award winning, super popular Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier, which is part of the equally popular Super Robot Wars series. Obviously, I'm half-joking. Most people reading this list have had little exposure to the series. While very popular in Japan, Super Robot Wars is still trying to find its audience outside of it. Endless Frontier was one of the few games that got localized. It's a fantastic game starring a bounty hunter named Haken Browning and his android partner Aschen Brodel. When their journey takes them to Megi Castle, they are joined by Princess Suzuka of the Shiki-Oni.
Chic Shiki-Oni: The graphic style in Endless Frontier uses adorable 2D sprites and gorgeous anime portraits. Sadly, this doesn't leave much room for full ranges of movement. This means that Princess Suzuka doesn't get to show her stuff. Still, she's an entertaining character. She is quick to fire off insults and easy to anger, but she will do anything to protect her friends. The writing in Endless Frontier is so good that it makes up for the graphics that aren't able to show much outside of combat.
Dance For Me: But, when you do get into combat, having Suzuka in your party will fill your heart and eyes with joy as you watch her dance. Suzuka's weapon of choice is a metallic fan with wires attached to it. With these, she performs a variety of dances while commanding her robot helper Jyaki-Gun-Oh (sometimes stylized as Jyaki-GUN-Oh) to endlessly assault enemies with bullets and missiles. Perform Jyaki-Gun Fever to launch enemies upwards to make them vulnerable to a combo. Perform Jyaki-Gun Dancer to watch Suzuka twirl gracefully as her robot unleashes its guns. Eventually, you can perform Jyaki-Gun Disco. As Suzuka jives to a hanging disco ball, Jyaki-Gun-Oh will unload all of its weapons on an enemy. Disco is still alive in the Endless Frontier.
Princess Suzuka makes a return in a sequel to Endless Frontier. Sadly, Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier Exceed was never released outside of Japan.
"Oh, Mr. Musician! I want to show you around the island!"
Ephemeral Fantasia was the first game I bought along with my PlayStation 2. The sales clerk tried his best to talk me out of it. Allegedly, the game did so much wrong that even FuncoLand employees were trying to dissuade customers from buying it. There's no denying that the game has issues layered on top of each other. But, those that persevere are treated to a whimsical and romantic tale. Ephemeral Fantasia takes place on the Island of Pandule where a musician named Mouse is trying to break a cursed time loop. After Mouse arrives at an inn, the innkeeper's daughter, Rinna, introduces herself. Eventually she can join Mouse's cause. Players can change Rinna's outfit and turn her into the next dancer: RindRinna.
Dance Team: Before recruiting Rinna, Mouse will watch a group of masked dancers perform the Holy Gem Ceremony. It's one of the more bizarre scenes in Ephemeral Fantasia, but it supplements the game's island life setting. As for RindRinna's (sometime referred to as Rindo Rinna) dancing debut, it'll happen a little later. Herself and some other girls will perform a celebratory dance that kicks off an evening festival, all while dressed in adorable garb with even more adorable bunny ears on their heads.
Tambourine Terror: If you want to have Rinna in your party in some capacity, then you should select RindRinna. Rind's skill set compared to vanilla Rinna's is like night and day. Nearly all of her abilities incorporate dancing, and each dance has something to offer. Recovery Dance gives the entire party a hefty dose of healing. Battle Dance will increase the party's offensive power. For offense, select Manic Rhythm to materialize musical notes that attack the enemy. Most importantly, Dance of Joy will increase experience point received after battle.
RindRinna isn't the only one in Ephemeral Fantasia that can dance an enemy to death. After she uses Manic Rhythm enough, Mouse will learn Rhythmical Beat. Mouse will perform his own dance to create musical notes that crush the enemy.
"Choose a scenario, kupo!"
Of all the games on this, I feel that Final Fantasy VI is the one that is held in the highest regard. The game is a classic that can be played on the Super Nintendo (as Final Fantasy III), the PlayStation, the PlayStation Network, the Game Boy Advance, and even your favorite smart phone. There's a lot to love about this game. One thing is that it features the first playable moogle in the series. This adorable creature is a dancer who is first seen assisting Locke Cole as he defends heroine Terra Branford from enemies. Mog takes our next slot.
Kupo!: You won't get to see Mog perform outside of battle. In fact, after Mog and his fellow moogles help protect Terra, we don't get to see much of him until later in the game. Often times the party will separate, and Mog will be the one who asks you to pick which scenario you want to play. Eventually, Mog will be held hostage by the villainous Lone Wolf. Rescuing him from a dire situation will cause him to join the party.
Keep On Dancing: Mog learns new dances by fighting in various terrains. Once he's finished a battle in a new terrain, he will master a dance based on his surroundings. Finishing a battle in a cave will teach him Twilight Requiem. Finishing a battle in the desert will teach him Desert Lullaby. Each dance has four abilities attached to it. When Mog begins a dance, he'll use one of those four abilities at random when his turn arrives. It's one of the most entertaining things about this already entertaining character. Not only is Mog precious, but his ability to literally control nature with his dance moves makes him a unique party member. The downside to this is that Mog won't stop dancing until the battle ends or he gets knocked out. If you're in the middle of a tough boss battle, make sure Mog keeps his dancing shoes off.
Mog is the only character on this list that is a male. It just goes to show you that that males, females, and all preferred pronouns can enjoy dancing.
"Then allow me to come with thee, sweet sir..."
When it was announced that a sequel to the legendary Chrono Trigger was in the works with the same dream team at the helm, the hype was palpable. Chrono Cross was one of the most hyped games I have ever seen. While it was a fun game, it had a weird character growth system, clunky menus and a hefty cast of undeveloped characters that joined leading man Serge. It lacked the same charm and magic from Chrono Trigger. Some view the massive cast as one of the game's most glaring flaws. I go back and forth on this aspect, but that won't stop me from shining the spotlight on a dancer of said cast: Miki
Magical Dream Girl: Players first hear of Miki when they reach the town of Termina. The townsfolk admire her for both her beauty and her moves. We really get to see her sparkle during one of the most memorable moments in Chrono Cross. Along with rest of the Magical Dreamers performance troupe, Miki puts on a show that brings peace to an island called Marbule. Not only do we get to see her dance, but we get to see her put her acting chops to work. After the concert is finished and Marbule is cleared of all threats, Miki can join Serge and his team.
Dynamite Dancer: One unfortunate thing about Chrono Cross is that the cast of party members experiences what I like to call "Suikoden Syndrome." Serge will get joined by a bunch of characters in rapid succession. It makes Miki easy to overlook, which is a shame. Miki is a fun character to have in battle. Her unique techniques combine her dancer ability with graceful martial arts. Slap on some high powered red spells and utilize high magic power to really burn the dance floor. Just make sure she's able to get healed since her petite body can't take much punishment.
Miki is one of the few characters in Chrono Cross that can perform a double technique. When Miki and Niki have both of their level seven techniques, they can perform the entertaining Flamenco. The Flamenco is one of the most popular dances, so it's neat seeing it trickle into the video game world.
"And until I avenge you...I will dance."
The term "big things come in small packages" could not ring more true with Octopath Traveler. This throwback to the golden era of RPGs has a look in which 2D style combines with modern, HD graphics. The combination of old and new, plus a massive world to explore, tons of discoveries, and excellent battles make it one of the best titles on the Switch. When the game begins, you select one of eight characters that are about to begin a personal journey. One character has sworn revenge for the murder of her father. Her name is Primrose Azelhart, and she is a dancer.
Pray Come Hither: Primrose's first chapter shows her performing a dance that enraptures her audience. As she uses her body to hypnotize onlookers, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her revenge on the men that killed her father. She knows she has the goods, and she flaunts them accordingly. To supplement this, Primrose's Path Action allows her to seduce townsfolk into joining the party. Have Primrose use Allure to bring along an NPC to assist in battle.
Darkness Dance: The Dancer class in which Primrose is locked into has a variety of useful active and passive abilities. Moonlight Waltz will cause dark elemental damage to an enemy. Panther Dance will increase an ally's speed. Second Wind allows a certain amount of SP to recover each turn. The list goes on. The interesting thing about Octopath Traveler is that the Dancer serves well as both an attack role and a support role. Thanks to a fun job system in Octopath Traveler, Primrose isn't the only one that can bust both moves and heads. You can make another character undertake the Dancer as a sub-class so Primrose doesn't have to dance alone.
Even if you don't select Primrose as your main character, you can still see her journey through to the end. The way Octopath Traveler's story structure is set up allows for you to see all eight heroes reach their goals.
"Well, my name is Jean. I'm the star dancer!"
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete is my favorite game in the Lunar series. It's like they amplified all of the good stuff from Silver Star Story, and then sprinkled some extra love and care onto the finished product. Taking place 1,000 years after Alex's and Luna's story, Eternal Blue stars an adventurer named Hiro. After a chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Lucia, Hiro and his partner Ruby decide to travel across the world to assist the maiden in the search of the goddess Althena. While in a forest, the group encounters a traveling circus. The leading lady of the circus is a dancer named Jean.
Fan Dancer: Jean's introduction is one of my favorite parts of Eternal Blue Complete. In an animated cut scene, she's seen dancing her butt off with grace and skill. After introducing herself to the party, it becomes pretty clear that she's someone you always want to have around. Her big sister protectiveness and fun personality help shape the cast of already excellent characters in Lunar 2. Eventually, Jean's dancing becomes an after thought when she revisits a part of her past she tried to cover. I won't get into the details for the sake of spoilers, but it's at that point she hangs up her dancing shoes.
Gypsy Magic: Jean performs fabulous footwork in battle. Her fans let her attack from a distance, and her dancer abilities lets her summon a variety of insects. It all comes together to create a valuable party member. Use Swarm Dance to summon a group of stinging bugs to paralyze a group of foes. Use Butterfly Dance to beautifully poison a group of enemies. Other abilities allow her to cause confusion or sleep. Over time, her skills will morph into more powerful versions of themselves. Sure, status ailments are a more technical way to go about battle. But, in a challenging game like Lunar 2, having extra options is helpful.
After Jean joins the party for good, you can acquire a bromide of her from one of the caravan members. Jean's Bromide 2 shows her with an infectious smile and a killer pose. You can view the bromide when you need your fix of dancer Jean late in the game.
#1: Hinako Shirai
"I felt so free and powerful."
I doubt many people are familiar with Blue Reflection, an RPG from the developers of the Atelier series. It's a game with major niche appeal. However, its protagonist is the perfect fit for the top slot in the list. Hinako Shirai devoted her life to art of ballet. It was her raison d'etre. Sadly, her career came to an abrupt end after an accident. Now, she suffers from a permanent leg injury which prevents her from dancing. The game begins with Hinako starting the year at a new school. While wandering the hallways, she gets transported to a strange world and acquires the powers of a Reflector: magical girls with the ability to restore emotional power to individuals. The biggest surprise is that she is able to move like she used to; her leg injury is gone. After returning to the school, she meets sisters Yuzu and Lime Shijou. This encounter will change her life and, just maybe, allow her to dance again.
School Days: Blue Reflection is best described as a game that combines modern day Persona with Sailor Moon. There are times when Hinako tries to dance, but most of her days are filled with going to class, hanging with her friends, and participating in extracurricular activities. As she does these, she slowly discovers more about the mysteries of the Shijou sisters and why she was chosen as a Reflector. Each chapter of the story allows her to meet new classmates. Some of them require Hinako's help: when a friend begins to overload on emotional energy, Hinako, Yuzu and Lime will perform a Sailor Moon inspired transformation and transport inside said friend's heart. These dungeon areas are known as The Common.
Dancing Queen: I'll try to keep it short since Blue Reflection's turn-based combat is a delight. I won't gush about it too much. Instead, we'll look at Hinako as she combines her magical girl powers with her trained ballet techniques. Nearly every move that Hinako makes in combat has elegance and poise. Whether she is using a simple sword technique (Ciel Mois and/or Rafale Gemeaux) or powering up her teammates, (Misericorde Caprico and/or Veri Tour) Hinako dances around the battlefield like the star she used to be outside The Common. As the game continues, players earn Growth Points that let her unlock new maneuvers that get more powerful, graceful, and fanciful. Enemies get a show before getting cleaved by Hinako's sword.
The top entry had to be filled by someone who loved dancing. It had to be more than a side job or something fun to pass the time. For Hinako, it's everything. Thus, she's the perfect candidate for being the top RPG dancer. One final note: Blue Reflection's flawless soundtrack compliments Hinako's passion for dance. Even if Blue Reflection isn't the game for you, at least check out its music.
Before our time dancing together ends, I'd like to let the spotlight shine on a some honorable mentions.
Meredy: The purple haired visitor from another world in Tales of Eternia enjoys dancing at random moments. Later in the game, you can have her participate in a fun dancing mini-game in the town of Jini.
Noa: The heroine from Legend of Legaia is a seasoned fighter. However, she can cut a rug at the Sol Fever Disco in one of the game's most difficult but rewarding mini-games.
Musashi: When the hero of Brave Fencer Musashi encounters Topo of Leader's Force, he needs to go toe-to-toe with her in a life or death dance-off. Fittingly called "DANCE OR DIE!!" this is my favorite part of the game.
I had a fantastic time writing this list. I love talking about RPGs, but I wanted to (once again) do something that was different than the usual swords and sorcery. Did I miss an entry? Is there an entry that you disagree with? Feel free to leave an anonymous comment pouring with your raging fanboyism below. But, most importantly and as always, thanks for reading!
List by Kashell Triumph (09/26/2019)
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