Although the Final Fantasy role-playing games are mostly taken up with fighting monsters and saving the world, the writers often find room for a squishy romantic subplot that takes the edge off the fighting. And as the series has evolved beyond the standard knights-and-goblins trappings of its early years, its depictions of love have likewise grown more creative. We may not live in a land of mythical demigods and skittish cactus people as the Final Fantasy characters do, but their amorous exploits still offer practical tips for anyone who needs a can’t-miss date idea for Valentine’s Day this weekend.
A quiet evening by the lake is a time-tested way for a couple to bond. Final Fantasy X takes this notion further by inviting its marquee couple, lead characters Tidus and Yuna, to wade right into the water without removing any of their tassel- and buckle-festooned apparel. It’s like skinny dipping minus the unwelcome interference of sexual excitement. As their garments grow ever more waterlogged, Tidus encourages Yuna to disregard the world-saving destiny that her elders have prescribed for her and instead choose her own path—the same way he has expressed his own individuality by not even taking off his shoes before sloshing around in a pond, for pete’s sake. Perhaps you and yours can have a similar breakthrough this Valentine’s Day as you struggle to remain buoyant and fight off hypothermia. [John Teti]
2. Drift in space until you find a derelict spaceship where you can make out (Final Fantasy VIII, 1999)
Reasonable people might suggest that you shouldn’t wait until you’re suffocating in the vacuum of space to tell your special someone that you like them. Squall, the main hero of Final Fantasy VIII, is not reasonable people. He acts like a petulant jerk to everyone in his wacky mercenary high school—particularly the women who are into him despite (or because of) his sulky disposition. Yet the whole “playing hard to get” act only works for so long, and Squall knows just when to turn on the charm: when he and his lady friend Rinoa are jettisoned from a collapsing space station. Squall’s attempt to reach out and comfort Rinoa as they drift in the infinite darkness of the cosmos may seem like too little, too late, but then the characters happen to float by an abandoned, dragon-shaped spaceship. Known as Ragnarok, the ship provides a life-saving refuge—and a secluded love nest. You know what triggers insane makeout sessions? Finally confessing your feelings after too long. And surviving a near-death experience. And riding a badass spaceship that inexplicably appears out of nowhere. Perhaps this date scenario isn’t the easiest setup to replicate, but damn if it doesn’t get the job done. [Anthony John Agnello]
Like many holidays, Valentine’s Day is fraught with expectation. There is such an outsized emphasis on the intimacy and connection between couples, it’s easy to feel raw and exposed by the demand for emotional candor. Fortunately, Cecil of Final Fantasy IV knows how to protect himself from such intense feelings. After returning from a morally compromised mission, he is compelled to share his experience with his girlfriend, Rosa. The two meet alone in his chambers. They sit close, their faces illuminated by the light of twin moons. The encounter could easily result in premature honesty, but Cecil has come prepared by dressing in a full suit of plate mail, blackened by the unholy breath of demons. It’s an emotional prophylactic so spiky and resistant that when used properly it is guaranteed to stop 92 percent of all unwanted emotional epiphanies. Later, when the time is right, Cecil is ready to expose his misgivings. He goes to Mount Ordeals to be tested, and his results comes back clean. He doffs his dark armor and never wears it again. It can be tough to tell your partner about your manipulation at the hand of a devil king and your crazy moon origins, so don’t hesitate to practice safe dialogue until you know you’re both ready. Monologue as often as needed. [Nick Wanserski]
Final Fantasy loves to set the mood with fireworks, so it came as no surprise when Final Fantasy XIII dedicated one of its thousands of cutscenes to a pyrotechnics display. Yet in this flashback scene, heroes Serah and Snow take their appreciation of fireworks further than ever. Giddy over their recent engagement, Snow pilots his miniature airship through a protective force field—which, just saying, might be there for a reason—and into the middle of the bombast. The adrenaline and sensory overload delight the couple, who come close to sharing a magical kiss before they are nearly killed by the explosions taking place all around them. The danger only adds to the fun, apparently. All you need to stage your own sky-borne foreplay is a fireworks show, a heavily modified drone, and excellent health insurance. [John Teti]
Final Fantasy VII’s Golden Saucer theme park has every first-date-tested carnival attraction that a couple of sweethearts could desire. Want to have fun 1980s style? There’s an arcade. 1680s style? Shakespearean dinner theater! But your choice of companion is just as important as the setting. In Final Fantasy VII, your primary hero, Cloud, can take one of three female companions on a Golden Saucer date, depending on certain dialogue choices made earlier in the game. If Cloud declines to woo any of the women, though, he finds himself sharing a dreamy evening of awkward silences with Barret, the smoldering revolutionary, proletariat icon, and Mr. T lookalike. Should you find yourself feeling lonely on Saturday, why not follow Cloud and Barret’s lead by using Valentine’s Day to explore your bi-curious side? If your date is as hushed as Barret, they might seem to be having a bad time, but don’t let that throw you. Comfort in silence implies confidence! So just enjoy the passionate, intense quiet of norm-busting love at the psychedelic carnival of your choosing. [Anthony John Agnello]
Valentine’s Day is tough on singles. Perhaps you’re between relationships, or perhaps, like Cyan Garamonde of Final Fantasy VI, bachelorhood was forced on you when an evil empire poisoned your hometown’s water supply. While it’s easy to be jealous, why not channel that romantic energy to play Cupid and help sustain other people’s relationships? In one of FF6’s subplots, Cyan meets a young villager named Lola, and he’s touched when he hears her story: She nursed a wounded soldier back to health, and the two fell in love. Even though the trooper had to return to the field after he was healed up, he wrote Lola frequently. Cyan later discovers that Lola’s boyfriend died in a world-rending cataclysm, so he does the only reasonable thing a starry-eyed romantic would do. He becomes a mountaintop hermit who sends Lola love letters and elaborate silk flowers under the pretense of being her dead lover. This weekend, instead of moping around, put all that pain to use! If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s this: There’s nothing people find more uplifting than stories of lonely men who forsake civilization and contact young women under false pretenses. [Nick Wanserski]