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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.
Read More: Final Fantasy XVI Devs Almost Cut Moogles Due To The Game’s Mature Tone
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.
Read More: Final Fantasy XVI Has Fans Wondering What The RPG Series Is (And Should Be)
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.
Whereas the original VII referred to Moogles as “Mog,” this remake has them as Moogles again. They are also ugly.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? What the hell is this? Is this the terrible 2012 Seth MacFarlane movie Ted, which was panned by both audiences and critics alike? The Moogle’s crepey wings and shorthair fur look like my textural nightmare. Its eyes have become beady, but not like they were before, like a bubbly cartoon character, but like a shadow making a dim room feel much smaller. 1/10
Will I make it breakfast? No. 1/10
Final score: 1/10
Moogles only exist in X and its sequel X-2 as fairy tales, dolls, or costumes.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? If this Magical Mog doll suddenly appeared at the foot of my bed, yes, I’d be terrified. Look at its crossed-out eyes, and long stomach large enough to fit me and my comforter. It’s Five Nights at Freddy’s-core, and that’s not what I want. 3/10
Will I make it breakfast? No, I’m hoping that it’s not capable of digestion. 1/10
Final score: 2/10
Moogles are again collectible toys and plushies in this 2016 action role-playing game.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? Not necessarily, but I’m not loving the spring on its head. It looks dangerous. 4/10
Will I make it breakfast? No, it wouldn’t fit in at my pretend tea party. Its stitching is too erratic, no offense. 0/10
Final score: 2/10
Moogles are adorable RAs in the online game XI, living with players and giving them access to things like gardening and storage. They also facilitate holiday events and are the crux of the 2009 downloadable expansion A Moogle Kupo d’Etat: Evil in Small Doses. The final boss in that DLC is Riko Kupenreich, a loan shark Moogle with a powerful crystal stuck to its belly button.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? It’s clearly supposed to, with its wide-leg, hands-crossed stance and thin little Matrix glasses, but no. It didn’t. I like Riko’s slicked-back pom-pom and peach-tone fur gradient on its arms, nose, and a bit on its legs. The glittery Magicite crystal on its stomach makes it look like Lil Uzi Vert in 2021. 9/10
Will I make it breakfast? Though I appreciate Riko’s outfit and chubby cheeks, it is still a capitalist villain. I will not make it breakfast. 0/10
Final score: 4.5/10
These Moogles are some of the most clever and humanoid in the Final Fantasy series, often appearing in society as engineers or mages, and are almost always modestly fully clothed.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? I think it would depend on the dream I was having. If I dreamed that a super-intelligent, alien rabbit race descended upon Earth with the goal to harvest our organs for mulch, I’d applaud it for the idea, but, yes, I’d be scared. However, I appreciate the spiky fur on its massive pom-pom. It looks like a cute keychain. 5/10
Will I make it breakfast? No, but I’d offer it an espresso. I think that’s what it would ask for, anyway. 5/10
Final score: 5/10
Mog, the first playable Moogle, is the most notable of the species in Final Fantasy VI. He can attack enemies with his jumpy dancing and is apparently four feet tall.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No. This design feels like a cross between the original’s marshmallow-y roundness and V’s more cat-like angles, so it ultimately inspires similar feelings of warmth. The puffball being yellow instead of pink is a fun variation, and it helps establish this Moogle as different from the more docile rest. However, the angle at which Mog looks over his shoulder makes it seem like he has a secret, and so I might be unnerved upon seeing him. 7/10
Will I make it breakfast? I don’t think so. I’d worry that his secret was a food allergy, and I wouldn’t want to push my luck with that. 3/10
Final score: 5/10
This marks Moogles’ second official appearance after being left out of IV. Square Enix makes up for it by giving Moogles their own village with cozy treehouses to live in.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No, I’d feel glad to wake up in the idyllic Moogle Village. This design is reminiscent of the original III art but adds more detail and shadows with its graphics upgrade. Its eyes are now smiley-shaped, its wings are more rose petal pink, and its iconic pom-pom makes its debut. I still want to hold this Moogle in my hand, but I don’t think I’d crush it this time. 8/10
Will I make it breakfast? Not willingly. In Moogle Village, I’d like to be treated as a guest, but I’d pitch in for breakfast if I had to. 5/10
Final score: 6.5/10
Moogles are legendary creatures in XIV. Like brownie elves, few understand or see them, but they’re willing to provide assistance, including in delivering letters.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No. I’d call this a traditional Moogle, a direct descendent of the kind found in III. I’ve seen it before—I’m not scared, but I’m not particularly moved, either. 6/10
Will I make it breakfast? I have no reason not to. I’d give this Moogle blueberry pancakes with salted butter—it’s on the smaller side, and it could use some bulking up. 7/10
Final score: 6.5/10
In this game, all Moogles are called “Mog.” You can summon one that rides a Chocobo.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No. This Choco/Mog summon has the same vibe as inspirational posters where a bird sits on top of a lonely elephant’s head. It makes me feel less alone, and the steely determination in the Mog’s now wide-open eyes makes me feel safe. I miss his pom-pom, but I don’t mind the fluffy chest hair as a replacement. 8/10
Will I make it breakfast? Sure, why not. Nothing fancy, though. I’d probably blend some kind of kale-based green juice so it could speed off to its next battle. 6/10
Final score: 7/10
Moogles are particularly useful in IX, where they act as save points, item shopkeepers, and mail carriers.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No. It appears to be sleeping itself, with its scrunched-up eyes and teeny frown. Though this Moogle’s more consistent body proportions make it seem more dignified and less helplessly cute than other versions, I still want to pat it on the head encouragingly. It helps that its pom-pom looks so giant and squishy, like a clown nose. 7/10
Will I make it breakfast? Why not? This Moogle seems like it would really enjoy a bowl of oat milk and frosted wheat cereal, and I’d be happy to serve some up. 7/10
Final score: 7/10
The first-ever Moogles acted as pixel bodyguards.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No, these Moogles are small and silent. I know they’re supposed to be bodyguards, but I feel like I could crush them in my fingers like a piece of chalk. This endears me to them. 7/10
Will I make it breakfast? Yes, I’d make them overnight oats so they could grow big and strong. 8/10
Final score: 7.5/10
This game has more of a Moogle-adjacent creature, called the MiniMog.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No. The MiniMog looks both wise and euphoric. It appears more catlike than many Moogles are, with thick whiskers at its cheeks, but it still crucially retains Moogles’ typical stubby arms and legs. I want to let this Moogle play with a laser pointer but also become its disciple. 8.5/10
Will I make it breakfast? Sure. I’d whip out my finest tinned salmon for MiniMog. 7/10
Final score: 7.75/10
Moogles barely made the cut for this new, more adult Final Fantasy game, but they did make it, in the end.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No. This is another typical-looking Moogle, with notably tiny legs and a big belly. Since it’s optimized for PlayStation 5, though, it does look especially cuddly, and I like how subtly pink its nose is while its pom-pom is a traffic-cone orange gumball. The contrast is charming, and it makes for a memorable design. 7/10
Will I make it breakfast? Yes, of course. I’d make this Moogle Eggs Florentine, and I’d keep a cold glass of orange juice on standby in case it asked for it. 9/10
Final score: 8/10
Moogles only really appear as insignia in the 2009 role-playing game XIII, so let’s skip it and look at 2011 sequel XIII-2 instead. In this game, Mog the Moogle acts as a companion and transformable weapon.
Did it terrify me out of slumber? No. With its time-keeping staff, Mog appears as an idealized Sandman, the physical embodiment of all the sheep I’ve been counting before I drift off. Its squishy-looking but glistening cheeks remind me of a bao bun, while its crystalline pom-pom is like a rhinestone bead, and its shiny nose is like a pink pearl. This is a fantastic Moogle, grounded both in dreams and reality. 10/10
Will I make it breakfast? Yes, this Moogle deserves a hot plate of bacon and yolky eggs. 8/10
Final score: 9/10
What’s your favorite Final Fantasy Moogle?