When it comes to role-playing games, the attractive qualities of the male leads are generally given little thought compared to their female companions. They might never get the attention that Tifa's shining personality enjoys, but I would say it's important to reflect upon the physical and mental merits of our underappreciated boys.

No list like this would be complete without your typical bad boy. Albel, despite being an ill-conceived mash up of every archetype and cliché out there, still manages to wrap his weird pudding head tentacle braids around your heart. Even though you don't want to, it's hard to resist his charm, and even harder to resist his boy-skirt and nicely toned tummy.

You've got your troubled bad boys, your mysterious brooders, your selfless heroes, and often behind all of them, your well-meaning clumsy companions. Despite being weak, easily distracted and kind of shaggy, Maeda plays a critical role in the story. As time goes on we start to see his past his flaws and appreciate his intelligence and his geek-chic good looks. Somehow Maeda bumbles his way into our hearts, and leaves us a useless good luck charm that, while taking up precious space, comforts us with thoughts of his smiling bespeckled face.

There are a lot of guys like Levant. Kind of quiet and forgettable. Maybe even a little bland. But look a little closer, and you'll see the true stud within, desperate to break out. Levant is an atypical hero for a couple reasons. For starters, he's actually in a rocky, fairly realistic relationship for most of the game. The fact that he has a woman already also increases his allure. I mean, if he's good enough for her, maybe he's good enough for us, right? He also looks his age and is fairly compact and tight in terms of body type, which is kind of exotic. Above all else, the game implies heavily that, unlike most heroes, he isn't saving the joint for the sake of everyone, even if it is a result. Levant does it for love, baby.

It's hard to explain the allure a character like Lejes has. He might claim to be an evil power-hungry demon, but he's still the hero if you want him to be. Maybe it's the fact that he's slick, sleek and aerodynamic. Maybe it's the fact that power is pretty sexy. Or maybe it's the fact that the only other male characters in the game are either old men, chumps, dim-witted robots or y'know, made out of molten lava (or something, it's best not to even think about it).

For a game that tried to be so historical and distant, I didn't expect one of the main characters to be so insanely manly. Wil Knights was more of a standard hero, and I guess that's why he got so much more attention, but Gustave was a bad ass since he was a little kid. Not only possessing classical Nordic good looks, Gustave made a name for himself in the world by stepping up to the warlock-esque wood weapon wielding wussy armies of his enemies and annihilated them nothing but pure steel and resolve. Assertiveness is an attractive quality, and Gustave is the definition.

Bowman is pretty much the definition of loveable. Not only is he a pharmacist who gets involved with the lives of his customers, he is also a dedicated husband. The appeal of a married man is often under-looked, and most importantly, proves he can go the distance in a relationship. Not only this, Bowman owns his own business AND has a university education. It's easy to forget about his wife once you consider his dashing, lean and mean physique and collegiate fashion sense.

Will is just a sweet guy. It's refreshing to have an RPG hero that's actually an "every-man", your boy next door. He also makes looking cute extraordinarily easy. Whether it's his hobby of jumping down from high places, twirling his silly flute or just standing in the breeze, Will always looks pretty fresh. One of the most attractive things about Will is his earnest, honest personality. It's a kind of sweet goodness that a lot of heroes tend to lack.

I don't know if it makes me shallow or whatever, but Cliff lands this spot solely on his magnificent body. He has a lot of other great qualities, of course; his amiable personality, his quick wit, his boyish good looks and unexpected intelligence. Add that to his usefulness in battle when it comes to stun-locking and other strengths, and you have one hell of a catch. Even so, all of his attractive qualities are overshadowed by how good he looks in his tight jeans, and that's okay with me.

Alex is one of the most suave characters around. It's rare that upright, justice-types are attractive, but Alex pulls it off with a mastery that would make King Arthur swoon. His motivation stems from his desire to save his childhood sweetheart from the clutches of evil, a classic situation. Pretty much throughout the entire game women fall for Alex and his charms. Shopkeepers young and old offer him their love as well as discount goods. Little girls express their wish to marry Alex when they get older. Little boys want to emulate him and grow up to be as big and strong as Alex. It's hard to blame them. While seemingly average in a lot of ways compared to other heroes, Alex possesses an overwhelming amount of something many of them lack: charisma.

If, somewhere in the world, there was a kingdom inhabited entirely by silent protagonists, Vahn would rule as king. He's like Travis Bickle or something, a walking contradiction. He's a blue-haired silent hero that somehow avoids the stereotypes and predictable patterns of his peers. The fact that Vahn is actually considerably buff sets him apart from his thinner, more androgynous contemporaries. There's no way anyone would be mistaking Vahn for a woman. The guy is ALL man. He uses a sword but isn't a swordsman. He doesn't even need it. All of his physical attacks either utilize his muscular arms, powerful legs, or his own burning determination.

I know that most people still believe that gaming as a whole remains a gentleman's pursuit, and there's nothing wrong with that, just like there's nothing wrong with finding beauty in a man. Heroes are heroes, folks, and attractive qualities aren't always about looks. Try and take a gander now and then, for your own sake.

List by AUNAO (07/20/2007)

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