In this weeks FFF we are going a bit deeper into some of the most iconic characters of the Final Fantasy franchise.
One of the interesting things about Final Fantasy is that, up until FF10, none of the stories were direct sequels. Each game was its own unique story with the lore of the Final Fantasy world woven into it. That meant that with each new game came a new cast of characters to discover! These are a few of the most well known and iconic characters in the franchise:
Cloud Strife (FF7)
Though I don’t consider it to be the “best” Final Fantasy game I MUST start this list with the character who is probably the most well known the world over. Final Fantasy 7 is the game that took Japanese RPGs from a niche game type in the US to a more established genre.
The main character of the story is a young man named Cloud who, unfortunately, doesn’t remember much. Having once been under the employ of the ShinRa power company as an elite SOLDIER, he has since forsaken them and taken up being a mercenary. We initially meet him in what is now one of the most iconic scenes in gaming, his arrival at a mako power plant by train.
Cloud wields the immensely immense Buster sword, a massively massive weapon that seems unwieldy, but his infusion with mako energy gives him superior strength and speed, meaning he handles the thing with ease.
To say Cloud is brooding is an understatement. Indeed at the outset of the game he is somewhat difficult to connect with. Though he works in tandem with the terrorist group AVALANCHE he cares nothing for their desire to “save the planet” from ShinRa and their sucking the planet dry of mako. Indeed he remains distant throughout the entire game as he deals with the internal struggle of who, and what, he is.
Though the story of FF7 is pretty straight forward the issues with Cloud are not. As I have stated before I didn’t fully understand what was happening with Cloud until nearly ten years after I had played FF7 when I found a little document online called The Strife Manifesto, which did an excellent job of explaining a number of things about Cloud, his memory loss and subsequent recovery and his exposure to mako energy.
Throughout the years Cloud has truly become not just an icon of the FF series, but an icon to all of gaming itself! His recently inclusion in Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. game has helped cement him as a pillar of gaming, and certainly one of the most iconic FF characters.
Originally I had thought about NOT putting Sephiroth in this post, as he is also a character from Final Fantasy 7, but I find that I must. No discussion of Cloud Strife can avoid being accompanied by his antagonist, the legendary and frightening Sephiroth. Wielding a seemingly impossibly long Masamune sword, Sephiroth was once a hero of great renown. As the most successful result of the ShinRa SOLDIER program and infused with mako energy, his skill was unmatched. Unfortunately, however, his mental state was not as strong as his physical state and, upon discovering the true origin of who, and what he is, he falls into madness. Obsessed with the destruction of the planet, Sephiroth takes it upon himself to locate the Black Materia and summon Meteor, an otherworldly attack that ensures world wide catastrophe.
From the outset players find Sephiroth to be a bad dude, but through flashbacks we find that he wasn’t always that way. In fact, prior to his discoveries about his origin he really does seem like a level headed and professional warrior. We see more of this, as well as greater displays of his combat prowess, in the FF7 prequel, Crisis Core.
By the time FF7 ends we find that Sephiroth is not only a threat to the entire planet, but he has come to represent Clouds own insecurities and doubts about himself, as well as the shame over his past. This continues into the FF7 sequel film, Advent Children as well.
Sephiroth is not just frightening, but the prospect of a hero, once beloved by so many, turning into a brutal killer makes it all the worse.
Cecil Harvey (FF4)
A dark knight under the employ of the King of Baron, Cecil is a fantastic character and my first experience with the deep thought and production that goes into FF games.
When we first meet Cecil he is returning to Castle Baron from an assault on the mage town of Mysidia, where he recently killed several mages in order to acquire the Crystal of Water. Despite being loyal to his king, Cecil is conflicted about what he has just done, and that conflict is reflected in his conversation with his company of soldiers, the Red Wings, during the trip back.
Upon his return the king demotes him after a rough conversation and gives him another task, to travel with his friend, the dragoon, Kain, to the village of Mist and deliver a package. The two easily make the journey but find, upon arriving in Mist, that the package contains a number of Bomb monsters that burn the entire village to the ground!
From here Cecil goes on a journey of introspection and redemption, eventually battling his own self to relinquish the mantle of Dark Knight and become a holy Paladin.
Cecil is an incredibly unique character in that, right from the outset you feel his inner tension. He genuinely feels bad about the actions he has taken, but his loyalty and trust of his king keeps him from not doing what he is told. He is easy to relate to because everyone goes through the same thing at some point in their lives, though not typically with the lives of so many others at stake.
Cecil is a good man from the start, even despite carrying the moniker of Dark Knight (in the FF world a Dark Knight isn’t necessarily a bad person, just someone who is in touch with their inner pain, which they can use to augment their combat with). His story touched me pretty hard, particularly a few years ago when I went through some really difficult times and had to do some introspection myself.
Though he uses a sword in FF4, in the game Dissidia he uses some kind of weird spear weapon and can alternate between his Dark Knight and Paladin classes.
That’s it for today! Next week I will probably take on a few of the ladies of the FF series, whom have become legendary in the own right (if not always for the right reasons!). Until then, happy gaming!