3 – GREAT KHARLAN TREE (Tales of Symphonia)
The Tales series features several “World Trees,” but as with Secret of Mana, I assume most of us gravitate toward one particular entry – in this case, Tales of Symphonia. Similar to the Mana Tree, the Kharlan Tree provides its respective worlds (Sylvarant and Tethe’alla) with all-important Mana. Without it, everything goes tits up. And wouldn’t you know it, something threatens that balance and blah blah yank yank the voice of Teen Titans’ Robin saves the day.
The Symphonia intro and Kharlan Tree clip, as ruined by Evanesance
I kid, I kid. Symphonia is quite cool and well worth playing to this day. And from a purely tree-based perspective, the Kharlan Tree ticks most of my boxes. It supplies not one but two worlds with energy, is tied into the game’s ancient mythology and just so happens to be staggeringly huge. The details of its creation and salvation are pretty dense, but as usual the Wiki does a decent job of summing that up.
2 – EXDEATH (Final Fantasy V)
For years, my favorite insult to end a “which Final Fantasy is the worst” argument was always “Oh yeah? Well the final boss in FFV is a GIANT TREE.” Sure, he’s a massive, world-devouring tree of pure evil, but after facing down ancient horrors and time-traveling wizards in prior Final Fantasy games, ending an epic journey with a battle against out of control shrubbery felt anticlimactic.
As with every Final Fantasy anything, there’s about 2000 words worth of backstory to fully explain Ex Death, and I doubt any of you care to know that much. But the tl;dr version is that he’s the embodiment of a bunch of evil crap all smashed into a tree, which then gains sentience and hopes to eradicate.. everything. Because reasons.
Most of the time you see him as this generic-looking knight; later in the game he reveals his true form, and true motivation. Now, it’s pretty easy to accept a Golbez lookalike as the primary villain. But when he reveals himself as a giant tree, I can’t help but wonder… why not simply cast Firaga and end this? Trees, they don’t like the fire.
Jokes aside, as a tree, Exdeath is quite formidable and acts as the game’s main antagonist – lofty goal for any tree, I’m sure!
1 – IIFA TREE (Final Fantasy IX)
When I started this damn thing, I had some kind of rationale as to why FFIX’s Iifa Tree was the number one entry. For the life of me, I can’t recall what that rationale was. Probably something along the lines of how it ties together two different planets, and acts not as a traditional power source but as a soul filter from one world to the other… yeah, something about that sounds like it’d be a number one entry.
I’m doing this fine tree a disservice, because the story behind the soul-sharing is pretty interesting. Again, there’s so much canon to go into, it’s hardly worth me regurgitating another Wiki when it’s easier just to check it out yourself. Suffice to say this thing’s big literally and metaphorically, and is the backbone for the entire story and its pre-history. Plus FFIX remains one of the most sincere, heartfelt games in the series (and the highest rated!) yet still seems to get lost in the FFVII shuffle. Well worth a look on the ol’ PSN.
So… yeah. Trees everybody.