Every self-respecting gamer has a set of favorite characters to go along with her set of favorite games. I am no exception to this rule. My list, perhaps unfortunately, is an ever-evolving and ever-changing creature, liable to shift form and color faster than a hummingbird can flap his wings.
Fran and Balthier, however, have managed to win themselves a position as my favorite gaming duo. These partners in crime are inseparable; you cannot have one without the other. Balthier is the dashing, gentlemanly sky pirate and self-proclaimed “leading man.” Fran is his mystical, somewhat aloof and certainly dangerous companion. Admittedly, I fell in love with these two the moment they appeared in FFXII.
Part of what drives them to work so well together, is that their characters complement one another throughout the game. Balthier is, in every way, the brazen and charming pirate. Fran, on the other hand, seems to become a foil for this brazenness offering a sort of rational stability to the sometimes-irrational actions of her partner. She is the one who maintains the ship, after all. The player comes away with a sense that these characters have a history together, and though that history remains a mystery, it adds depth to their relationship. This is something that I found rather lacking in the interactions between, say, Panelo and Vaan.
Why do I love them? I love them because they were the only characters in this game that I could come away caring about. Balthier’s dialogue was masterful and the voice acting made him all the more believable. Yes, he was very much your stereotypical charm-filled pirate immortalized by Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean–but it worked for me. However, it might just boil down to Balthier reminding me of some of my favorite literary characters.
So, readers, what are your favorite gaming “partners in crime”? Mario and Luigi? Ratchet and Clank? Link and Navi?