I never thought I'd see such a detailed discussion of Hope's character!
@hailinel: I just don't buy that someone would think that way, and if they did, I'd think they were a sociopath, an idiot, or both. I get that his whole world was turned upside down and inside out, but the point where he abandons rationality in favor of a homicidal fantasy is the point where he's lost either believability or sympathy. I even would have excused it if he had tried to kill Snow right after in a fit of emotional insanity or whatever, but the first time he saw Snow after that, he didn't say a thing about it, he barely even objected to Snow being around. Then he harbored this grudge for days (maybe even weeks) while he was on the road with Lightning, that's plenty of time to consider the alternative even in his state.
Others have made similar points, but just to put in my two cents, I'd argue that a significant number of 14-year-old males are to some degree sociopathic and idiotic. It's been a while since Psych 100 and much longer since I was 14, but from what I remember, the 14-year-old male mind is fairly incompatible with emotional reason. You're (I assume?) an adult and (I assume!) didn't watch your mother die, so you're applying way too much logic to his behaviour.
Hope's character wasn't perfect, but I think there's a case to be made that he's one of the more realistically-portrayed teenagers in gaming in the sense that, from an adult perspective, he's often exasperating to watch fumble his way through life. It also helps make his eventual maturation more apparent -- he undergoes the largest transformation of any character in the game, and that wouldn't be possible if he didn't start off as immature as he did.
@slag: I can definitely acknowledge that your interpretation of the events is totally valid. I just don't think that's how they were trying to portray him. I don't think the writing in any other part of the game is indicative of that level of competence, vision, or cohesion. If they actually did intend for Hope to be an unbalanced teenager deluding himself into believing something as a coping mechanism, then I think the eventual confrontation with Snow would have gone quite a bit differently. As the scene eventually goes, it's actually much more about Snow's character arc, Hope barely says anything, it's all about Snow learning how to apologize. Maybe it's due to some cultural difference, but it seems to me like the developers genuinely felt that Snow was the one in the wrong, but personally I don't think Snow had anything to apologize for, in fact it they did everything in their power to make Snow come across blameless right from the get go. It's because of this clash between what happened and the way the characters perceived the events that the whole arc felt totally fumbled to me. It just seemed like they weren't willing to compromise on Snow's heroism whatsoever, and this made Hope's reaction just kind of ridiculous. Like I said though, I think your interpretation is totally reasonable, I wish I shared it because I'd rather enjoy the game then criticize it, but it just didn't come across that way to me.
As for the likability thing, I'm totally with you that a character doesn't have to be likable to be good. The tricky part is in order to get someone invested in a story, you have to make them care about something, and it's very tough to make an audience care about an awful person. I bet this is why you don't see a lot of unlikable protagonists. Those kinds of characters usually just work better in antagonistic or ancillary roles, and that's okay.
Just out of curiosity what did you think they were going for with Hope? I know he's partially in there just there is a young pre-teen for young Japanese boys to identify with, but I never considered that they maybe they were trying for something else entirely and failed that badly.
I wasn't too keen on Snow either, but I felt like mainly that was due to him representing a very Japanese character archetype (cheerful boisterous tough guy)that doesn't really resonate with my western sensibilities. I think @stubbleman nailed the rest of his character, seemed liked a pretty clear cut of case of Survivor's guilt (another thing you see fairly rarely in games).
you're right that's why you almost never see unlikable protagonists. There's too much money riding on these games for that kind of high risk creative choice.There will be times you play as horrible humans (GTA games e.g.), but they usually play them as likable in some fashion (power fantasy, witty etc). If Hope was the only playable character that would have likley been financial suicide for the game.
With respect to Snow, I assumed that the writers were playing on that "cheerful, boisterous tough guy" stereotype, because to some extent, it was a coping mechanism for Snow to deal with his guilt about Nora. They were saying that Snow used heroism and bravado as a coping mechanism just as Hope used resentment and revenge fantasy. Both characters' arcs were about how they reacted to Nora's death, and how they came to realize how facile, irrational, and cowardly those reactions really were.
@hunter5024: I'm not very clear on what you mean by them not compromising on Snow's heroism. It's true that he doesn't shed it, as that selfless bravado legitimate part of his personality that continues into XIII-2, but he and the game do acknowledge that he used it as an emotional crutch. At the same time, because Hope's a child and Snow only just became aware of the extent to which Hope was torn up, I think Snow realizes that he's got to make the more dramatic gesture.
To be clear, I'm not saying FF XIII is a masterfully written game. Not everything I'm saying about the game is conveyed perfectly by the writing, but I do think the writers intended for Snow and Hope's characters to have more depth than they usually get credit for.