Final Fantasy Friday: Keep Your Options Open

A Final Fantasy (et al) post to welcome you to the glory of Friday (if you don’t have weekends off then may this hopefully brighten the midst of your work week) with more located here!

The side quest question stirred up many great conversations.  During one “side” bar with Mr. Panda, we started discussing optional characters, and I thought that would be an excellent question.  I suppose we should first discuss what the definition of “optional” entails.

FFVI had 12 mandatory characters (at least in the first part) and two optional ones: Gogo the mimic and Umaro the yeti; however, you could argue that even more characters were optional as it wasn’t a requirement to find them all in the World of Ruin in order to finish the game.  I could also argue that the fan favorite Shadow is an optional character, though in my opinion he’s more mercurial than anything else.  Though if you *spoiler* don’t wait for him on the Floating Island before Kefka moves the statues and destroys the world, you never see him again, which could be an argument for his optional status. *end spoiler*  It also must be said that Final Fantasy VI did an amazing job juggling so many characters.  Each one was not only had an individual skill, but also an individual characterization and narrative that fit seamlessly with the plot as a whole.  DC movies could take a tip from FFVI, as I’ve heard of (and seen) their struggles with maintaining enough story for their many characters (or they could take some points from Marvel.  Comic nerds, please don’t kill me!)

There’s also a selfish reason I wanted to propose this question, because I came to it prepared.  I don’t even have to think about it.

Behold my favorite optional character…

Vincent portrait sketch1 by soanvalentine

If it wasn’t for Sephiroth, Vincent Valentine would easily be my favorite Final Fantasy VII character and possibly favorite Final Fantasy character overall (he’d definitely be a contender).  If you looked up the definition of sob story, you’d probably find this picture.  Do I even need to go into it?  The woman he loved was not only married to a monster, but was arguably forced to give birth to one.  Vincent himself was turned into a “monster” by Hojo for daring to interfere, and his last name is just a cruel mockery.  I have absolutely no idea why my and a good deal of fans have a head canon about him being a vampire, but it exists.  It might because you find him in a coffin, but he also has that forlorn, “I hate what I am” vampire vibe that was really popular in the 90s (none of that sparkling bullshit either).

The fact that he’s an optional character also speaks to the silent, secretive nature of VII’s story line.  What Vincent saw and experienced is monumentally important to the foundation of the game, yet he’s an optional character.  What Lucrecia saw and experienced is the catalyst for the entire game, yet finding her is a side quest and GOD DAMMIT!  How the hell did I forget about the Lucrecia side quest????  Ooooommmmmggggggggg D: D: D D:  I put the Stellazio quest down as my favorite, but obviously finding Sephiroth’s real mom is it ;_;  I wrote an entire fucking story about this!  I…I…have no words.  The only defense I can give is that I don’t think of finding Lucrecia as a side quest, because it’s so integral to the foundation of the narrative, but ugh…I need to hang my head in shame for a while ;_;

So who is your favorite optional character?  I’m willing to accept arguments/justifications if the character is not generally considered optional.  Let’s discuss!

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15 thoughts on “Final Fantasy Friday: Keep Your Options Open

  1. Vincent is a great optional character. So great that he got his own spinoff where he was the main! Wait, does that make him technically canon then? And then Advent Children. Hmm.

    This is tough for me too, mostly because I don’t know of that many optional characters besides the ones you mentioned from VI and VII. In the spirit of continuing the controversial “side” bar, I will say Terra is my favorite optional character. She is not required during the second half of the game, which means you can beat it without her. Yes, I know you have to use her early on. Yes, she’s the main character (Is this also controversial? Do people consider Celes the main?). But if I had to choose a favorite character who is not required to beat the game, Terra is my favorite. She’s my favorite in VI and one of my favorite FF mains (I mean, optional mains) of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s such an important character it’s hard to imagine that he’s option in the original game. Yuffie is optional, too, but I’m okay with that. She’s my least favorite character in VII (yes, even worse than Cait Sith lol. At least that was really Reeve who’s a decent guy). So annoying. I HATE when they make teenagers purposely annoying.

      There are so many loopholes to this! You’re right, you don’t need to have Terra to finish the game in VI, and I always considered both her AND Celes as the main characters. I didn’t realize until years later how awesome it was that a video game had not one but TWO arguably female main characters. Celes is my favorite, but she’s in no way optional in the second part hehe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love that that VI had two female main characters. Personally, I consider Terra the main because she’s usually the single representative from VI in games like Dissidia or Theatrhythm. I still love Celes though. I get confused when people say that Locke is a main. I mean. He’s one of the more important characters, but he is in no way one of the two possible mains in VI.

        Also, Reeve is underrated. Like I’m not the biggest fan of Cait Sith, but Reeve is a smooth dude. I don’t like Yuffie that much because she traps us into a mandatory optional (seriously, oxymoron) quest if you happen to visit Wutai.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Terra is also on the “cover” aka the symbol for the game, so calling her the main character is totally fair. I almost see FFVI as two separate stories put together since you have the World of Balance and the World of Ruin, and in the latter Terra is optional, but I don’t think that takes away her main status, it’s more of a character development point. Locke is NOT the main character, considering the main story focuses on Terra and all the hopes of the rebellion are centered around her.

          There’s this line I remember from FFVI where Locke is trying to placate Cyan who is super pissed when he finds out that Celes, a former Imperial General, is now in their party and Terra chimes in saying she was a part of the empire, too. Locke ssays, “The empire is evil, but not all of its citizens are.” I’ve been thinking about that line a lot because it shows that you can be involved in or even work for a corrupt organization, but you yourself are not necessarily corrupt. It’s a great example of how situations are rarely simple. Reeve is another perfect example of this. He’s someone who works for a corrupt organization who’s desperately trying to do good, and needless to say, I can think of quite a few real life parallels to this. He was the good in Shinra before Shinra became good.

          I’m planning on an “annoying character” question at some point hehe.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Love how you tied Celes & Terra with Reeve. I like Reeve though I never thought to identify them with VI’s characters. It’s a shame that he never ended up being playable apart from being a doll-riding cat.

            Ooh, annoying characters. Does the-Tama the-count for the-this?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’ve been thinking about the Final Fantasies as almost like one continuous story or whisper down the lane for years! There are character archetypes that flow from game to game, and I almost think about them as reincarnation of the character, but that’s an essay for another time lol. I think it’s because they all work/worked for the “evil corporation/empire,” but were good people trying to do the best they could.

              Omg Tama the-definitely counts. I was thankfully able to play the game in Japanese, so she wasn’t nearly as annoying, but I watched a few tutorials in English and ughhhh. She may very well be the most annoying character ever lol. I also wasn’t super fond of Reynn and Lann’s voices either, but I was probably just used to the Japanese versions and could’ve learned to deal with that.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, no worries about us comic nerds coming with our pitchforks and torches over the DC film comment. 😛 It’s a sad but true fact for the most part. :/ I really hope they up their game since there are some upcoming titles I’m really jazzed for. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I figured it was a fair assessment, but I had to cover my bases lol. DC is great with the shows, and Marvel owns the movies. I’m hoping DC can start to redeem itself though, because I want the Wonder Woman movie to be good. To date my favorite DC movie is still The Dark Knight. RIP Heath Ledger 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lol My boyfriend says the same thing about DC being awesome with their shows, and Marvel owning the movies. 🙂
        Yeah, I would definitely agree. The Dark Knight was soooo good! I really hope Wonder Woman winds up being just as good. I have such high hopes for it. I’m really hoping good things for the Justice League movie too. Jason Mamoa makes me have certain feelings for Aquaman that a girl just never expects to have. lol

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s really true! I tried to get into Agents of Shield, but I had to give up. Apparently, it got better right after I stopped watching it, though I do have to say I was pretty impressed that they brought Coulson back purely on fandom power alone, which is saying a lot.

          Jason Mamoa is bae ♥♥♥

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucrecia shouldn’t have been a side quest! I missed out on that and it is so important to FFVII’s story. That is totally the reason you didn’t consider it for favourite side quest.

    Do optional summons count? If so, I’m going with Bahamut from Final Fantasy IV. His moon cave is such a pain to get through, but it was very rewarding to finally get him. He’s also quite useful against some of the crushing bosses out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually kind of love that they did that, because they made something so important seem cast off, which is what she was. She was consigned to the obscure, which is totally what happens to her. Her own son doesn’t even know she exists. It just makes FFVII even more tragic. And if you don’t get Vincent (who’s missable), she doesn’t appear in the cave behind the waterfall, so locating Lucrecia is contingent on you waking up Vincent, and if you don’t find her, you never find out that she’s Sephiroth real mom. So many tangled webs.

      They sure do now! Optional summons isn’t something I thought of, and Bahamut from IV was so useful, and such a pita to obtain. I remember saving after each behemoth fight because IV was the type of game were you could just almost instantly die. Hm, now I’m thinking of optional bosses…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point! I just wish I didn’t miss out on those side quests. Oh well. At least your NL fanfiction showed me what I missed 🙂

        I have good FFXIII related answers for optional bosses! I can’t tell you them though, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

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