When Final Fantasy III released in 1990, developer Square Enix had no idea that the pastille-shaped, cave-dwelling Moogles it introduced would inspire decades worth of commemorative figurines and nightlights on Etsy. These paunchy creatures existed for so long in designer Koichi Ishii’s imagination, how could anyone have known they’d become the franchise mascot as soon as they leaped out of it? Moogles have become synonymous with the Final Fantasy series, appearing in every mainline game and several spin-offs since 1990, and now there are more than enough of them to rank in a slideshow. So I’m going to do that.
Ishii came up with the idea for Moogles in elementary school, as he said in a 2020 interview, so they’re the kind of fucked up, anthropomorphic chimera a child’s natural god complex leads to. They are part white koala, part bat, with a nose that looks like a persimmon and wimpy, but utilitarian, wings (“Those wings are for controlling direction in the air, not flapping around to fly,” Ishii said).
Some fans have complicated theories about Moogles’ trademark forehead pom-poms, which bobble from a wobbly black antenna. Does it house the Moogle brain, fans wonder? Would it dissolve into dandelion tuft if you tried to eat it? Really, it was a modification added by famed Square Enix artist Yoshitaka Amano, which Ishii accepted graciously. “I imagined the Moogle blowing up that puffball and carefreely floating around,” Ishii said in that 2020 interview.
Because this is Final Fantasy, a series that holds onto mascots (like Moogles and giant chicken Chocobos) and themes (like blinding-white magic and crystals) but has otherwise unrelated main games, Moogles have plenty of variation, too. They were introduced as quiet bodyguards but have since acted as talkative savepoints, summons, and even sword-wielding enemies, delivering their favorite neologism, “kupo,” like any other four-letter word.
But I don’t have much allegiance to any particular Moogle iteration. The just-released Final Fantasy XIV is the first in the series I’m really dedicating myself to, and I feel that puts me in a unique position to rank main game Moogles judiciously, without bias.
For my ranking, I will assign each Moogle scores out of ten based on two important factors: how terrified I would be if the Moogle was the first thing I saw upon waking up (scariest gets a 1), and how likely I would be to make the Moogle breakfast after that (10 being the most likely). Both numbers will be averaged for a final score, and the koala-bats will be arranged from lowest to highest total score.
May the best Moogle win.