final fantasy xiiSquare-Enix's Final Fantasy XII is, quite obviously, the twelfth installment of their insanely popular RPG series. The last of the main series of games to be seen on the PS2, FFXII kept fans waiting for years. But it was well worth the wait! After the linear nature of FFX, XII literally lets you travel to the ends of the earth and back, gave you full control of your characters, and more. I think it was an all out attempt by the creators to make an amazing last showing on the PS2, and they achieved just that.
So! The game. You're first put in control of Vaan, a young orphan who dreams of becoming a sky pirate. He lives in a city under the streets of Rabanastre, capital of the kingdom of Dalmasca in a land called Ivalice. Two years prior to the start of the game, the kingdom fell to the Archadian empire in a twisted war full of backstabbing, lies, and all that fun stuff. Vaan's older brother, Reks, died after witnessing the death of Dalmasca's King Raminas of at the hands of a supposed traitor. The Empire, under the control of House Solidor, practices a largely oppressive rule, and the imperial desires of the Emperor's son, Vayne Solidor, mark them as a threat to the entirety of Ivalice. This sets the stage for the adventures of Vaan and his childhood friend Penelo, who soon get caught up in the Dalmascan liberation alongside the sky pirates Balthier and Fran, the knight framed for King Raminas' murder, Basch, and the Princess of Dalmasca who was said to have committed suicide at the fall of her kingdom, Ashe. The focus never remains entirely on Vaan, so he really can't be called the main character; he's more of an observer to the events than a catalyst or a leader. As the game progresses, the group finds themselves fighting not only against the Empire but the mysterious beings who determine the fate of mankind. But no matter the enemy, the party fights on for the ultimate goal and major theme of the game: freedom.
I usually find myself urging my visitors to play the game I ramble about on this sort of introduction page at my other character shrines, but I'm pretty damn sure that people have actually played this one. If you haven't, I'd suggest you go pick up a copy and stop living under a rock ;).
Ashe has also appeared in a few titles following FFXII, such as...
ffxii internationalAshe and co. return in the International version of FFXII, entitled Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System, released in 2007. The game is identical to the original story-wise, but there are a few gameplay changes. Most notably is the job system. Instead of the License Grid of the original, there are twelve grids which correspond with a certain "job" and zodiac sign. There are no default jobs, but due to Ashe's relatively high magic growth, she's most popularly classed as a mage (Red, White, or Black). Players also gain the ability to control guest party members and summoned Espers. There's also some New Game+ options, a Trial Mode challenge, new items, Magicks, Gambits, and other goodies. Sweet. Pity it's only available in Japan.
itadaki streetAshe makes an appearance as a playable character in two games in the Itadaki Street series. The games are essentially board game-like, similar to Monopoly. Only with adorable Squeenix characters instead of boots and battleships. Ashe first appeared in 2004's Itadaki Street Special for the PS2, alongside a number of other Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest characters. She and Vaan actually appeared in the game before FFXII was even released. Ashe is also a character in 2006's Itadaki Street Portable for the PSP. Neither game has been released outside of Japan, sadly!
revenant wingsFinal Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings is a direct sequel to FFXII, released for the Nintendo DS in 2007. Gameplay is best described as real time strategy, and the gambit system makes a return. The game focuses on Vaan and Penelo and their sky pirate-y adventures, roughly one year after FFXII. It takes place mainly on the floating continent Lemurés, where Vaan and Penelo help defend the lands from marauding sky pirates and the mysterious Judge of Wings. Ashe makes an appearance as Dalmasca's queen, who reunites with her old comrades to defend Ivalice as the threatening forces from Lemurés reach the land below. I liked the game quite a bit; it certainly has a lighter feel than FFXII, but that was kind of refreshing. The gameplay reminded me a lot of Pikmin. And it's super cute. I've detailed some of Revenant Wings' plot and how it relates to Ashe here.
mangaFFXII was adapted into a manga series in 2006, drawn by Amou Gin and published by GanGan Comics. Currently, there are five volumes. Personally, I found the artwork kind of... fugly and I wasn't a fan of the characterization. I enjoyed the subtle character development of the original game, but the manga seems to take the cast's personalities to the extreme (see: Vaan is a complete dumbass 24/7). As for Ashe, the manga does give her some interesting backstory; the second chapter gives a bit of insight into Ashe's life before her marriage to Rasler (though I wouldn't consider it canon). But her personality seems really off, especially in terms of her composure. Ashe was never overly emotional in the game, but the manga presents her as borderline hysterical at some points. Overall, I wouldn't consider myself a fan of the manga. But hey, different strokes. There's currently scanlations floating around, or you can buy it here.
fortressAshe is apparently set to appear in Fortress (tentative title), an action game set to take place in Ivalice some time after the events of Revenant Wings. Development of the game began in 2008 under the Swedish game developer GRIN, until Square-Enix withdrew the project and the developer eventually declared bankruptcy. The status of the game was in limbo for awhile, but apparently it's still being developed by a new studio. In January 2010, some tech demo footage of the game leaked. Currently, there's a bunch of concept artwork floating around, and it all looks really awesome. Ashe is featured in one such piece, which depicts her in two new outfits.
theatrhythm final fantasyAshe (wielding the Treaty Blade) appears as a playable sub-character in the 3DS rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. The game itself features characters and music from the first Final Fantasy to the thirteenth. Vaan appears as a main character with Ashe as an unlockable one after gathering crystals during gameplay. A number of songs from FFXII appear in the game, and enemies resembling a Judge (who looks like Gabranth), a Bangaa, and some Mandragoras appear as enemies.
otherAshe doesn't appear in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (which takes place after Revenant Wings), though her companions Vaan and Penelo do. But she is referenced! During Mission E5-11: Pirate Problems, the protagonist, Luso, fights against two individuals posing as "Vaan?" and "Penelo?". The two impostors are backed up by a team of fighters who resemble their FFXII companions. Ashe is referenced via a Gria Ravager named "Arshe."
Ashe (well, her appearance) also makes a small cameo in Square Enix Members Virtual World. Both her wedding dress and original outfit are available as costumes that (I guess) members can buy for their avatar.