Deep Look: Final Fantasy 9- Why Vivi is the Best FF Character

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thatpinguino

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Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

Hey Duders,

Here is the latest Deep Look! Deep Looks are largely gameplay and commentary like a Giantbomb quicklook; however, I try to cover games that have been out for a while and I intend to use the videos to highlight moments and mechanics that I found particularly worthy of highlighting and exploring. Also I aim to keep the videos under 20 minutes.

Join me as I reminisce over Vivi, the best Final Fantasy character. I go over some of the turns his story takes and enumerate the may ways Vivi is awesome. I cover how he differs from the traditional child mold that most FF kids are forced into and how his story syncs perfectly with FF9's larger themes. I explain how Vivi is a little bit of everyone and how that makes him so great.

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Fredchuckdave

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#1  Edited By Fredchuckdave

Do you mean playable character or just character in general? You'll run into trouble at some point when Delita shows up and stabs Vivi in the back then tells Kuja he's a retard and promptly takes over the world by moving the protagonist around like a pawn. Also Kain, Cecil, Rosa, Edge, Yang, Sabin, Locke, Celes, Gilgamesh, Balthier, Cyan, Cid, Cid, Cid, Cid, Cid, Cid, Cid, and Cid.

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TruthTellah

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#2  Edited By TruthTellah

I don't know... Vivi is cool and all, but Tellah is preeeettttty great. http://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/scale_super/9/92448/2605824-2572336-1121187965-25033.png

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I_Stay_Puft

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Vivi has game, I saw all his kids at the end.

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Jesus_Phish

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Vivi is easily the best in 9, I don't know about over all though. When he see's all his black mage bros getting thrown off the airships, I've never felt so bad for such a faceless character before.

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MancombSeepgood

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Final Fantasy IX is my favourite game in the FF series. Vivi is probably my favourite character in that game too. He definitely went through the most character development. It's almost like he is the main character, despite Zidane's development as well. The whole story about the black mages and their inevitable doom is just brilliant.

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thatpinguino

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#6  Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

@jesus_phish: That scene is just some of the best character building that FF9 does and it still holds up. Him going into trance in the following battle is just the cherry on the game-design cake.

@truthtellah: Tellah is a really small player in the grand scheme of things though, and he doesn't get to do nearly as much. Story-wise he is a specialized tool that fills a specific role while Vivi shows a much wider range of human experience.

@fredchuckdave: Delita is definitely up there if you want to include FF spinoffs (which I don't). But I don't think those FF4 characters actually hold up if you go back and replay that game. They are largely one note characters that finish their stories by sacrificing themselves. I would say Kain and Rosa are a little deeper, but Edge and Yang are really not a whole lot beyond their premises. I really feel like Vivi perfectly walks the line dealing with difficult topics without being melodramatic and without becoming entirely about his issues.

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geirr

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#7 geirr  Online

I did like Vivi but based on retro feelings alone most of the cast of FF6 are the ones closest to my heart.

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thatpinguino

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#8 thatpinguino  Staff

@geirr: It is hard to overcome those nostalgia ties. I find Squall more tolerable than I should for the same reason.

@mancombseepgood: I would say that Zidane and Vivi are co-main characters like Celes could be the main character of 6, and anyone but Vaan and Penelo could be the main character of FF12. I love the black mage story and the parallel genome plot. Vivi is an exceptionally long-lived black mage and Kuja is an exceptionally short-lived genome.

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MechaMarshmallow

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I'll agree that Vivi is a very strong character and I certainly won't begrudge anyone who thinks he's the best. But personally I found Steiner a much more interesting character. I'm not going to go as in depth about why I feel that way as your video (because I've not had breakfast yet!) - but I find his mere inclusion as a kinda sucky middle-aged screw up who no one takes seriously to be pretty unique among protagonists in video games alone. The focus of his arc being upon what essentially amounts to him having a mid-life crisis is more unusual still. Maybe it's just that his growth feels more grounded and three-dimensional than Vivi's fantastical nature, but I enjoyed following Steiner's struggle to rethink his identity in the face of more and more things happening that undermine the assumptions he's based his life off of far more than Vivi's arc.

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thatpinguino

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#10  Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

@mechamarshmallow: Honestly the entire cast of FF9 is well done and I agree with your evaluation of Steiner. He gets to have much more pathos than your average stick in the mud and his struggles to accept Zidane's goodness and his Queen's evil are really well done. I think Vivi is a little more developed than Steiner, but not by much. I mean Steiner (and actually every main cast member other than Quina and perhaps Armarant, though he seems to end up with Lani) actually gets to have a some real romance. Most of the time side characters don't get to have relationships beyond the main party. Steiner has grown on me every year and I think that that is no coincidence considering he deals with largely adult identity issues. But with all that said Vivi is still my favorite.

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thatpinguino

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#11 thatpinguino  Staff

@slag: Hey duder, I had to go through FF9's final dungeon to make this video and I ran into some of the backtracking you mentioned on my FF9 world map video. Only the last save point in Memoria lets you warp back to the start of the dungeon and there is no way to warp forward. So leaving is easy once you get to the end, but getting back to the final boss is tedious. If only they took one more step towards ease of use.

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DeadpanCakes

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@truthtellah: Tellah is a really small player in the grand scheme of things though, and he doesn't get to do nearly as much. Story-wise he is a specialized tool that fills a specific role while Vivi shows a much wider range of human experience.

I think you might be trying to convince a biased party there :P

Anyway, Vivi is one of my favorite video game characters. I think a lot of that has to do with playing FF9 when I was really young and it blowing my mind that there was an interesting character around my age.

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Shindig

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#13  Edited By Shindig

I might just replay FF IX again. Don't think I have in nearly 14 years. Jesus, that's a lot of time. Kids have been born and had kids in that time.

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TruthTellah

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#14  Edited By TruthTellah

@truthtellah: Tellah is a really small player in the grand scheme of things though, and he doesn't get to do nearly as much. Story-wise he is a specialized tool that fills a specific role while Vivi shows a much wider range of human experience.

How dare you.

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thatpinguino

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#15 thatpinguino  Staff

@shindig: Do it! FF9 holds up to replays better than most FF games and its story gets better with time.

@thatpinguino said:

@truthtellah: Tellah is a really small player in the grand scheme of things though, and he doesn't get to do nearly as much. Story-wise he is a specialized tool that fills a specific role while Vivi shows a much wider range of human experience.

I think you might be trying to convince a biased party there :P

Anyway, Vivi is one of my favorite video game characters. I think a lot of that has to do with playing FF9 when I was really young and it blowing my mind that there was an interesting character around my age.

That is a huge part of what makes Vivi work for me. He is much more fleshed out than most child characters get to be in games, let alone media in general. He gets to have child-like wonder and contemplate mortality at the same time.

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FrostyRyan

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I don't have time to watch the video now but just as a quick response I'll just say Vivi has been my favorite FF character since I was a child. I'm 21 now and he's still my favorite!

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thatpinguino

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#17 thatpinguino  Staff

@frostyryan: I'm in pretty much the same boat age bracket wise. Vivi was pretty much the only kid in games at the time that didn't suck. Let me know what you think if you give the video a watch!

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Slag

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#18  Edited By Slag

@slag: Hey duder, I had to go through FF9's final dungeon to make this video and I ran into some of the backtracking you mentioned on my FF9 world map video. Only the last save point in Memoria lets you warp back to the start of the dungeon and there is no way to warp forward. So leaving is easy once you get to the end, but getting back to the final boss is tedious. If only they took one more step towards ease of use.

Ah ok, that sounds right.

Yeah not sure what the thinking was there clearly they could have made it 2 way if they had wanted to, glad that 1-way port out convention got removed in later years from a lot of JRPGs.

ViVi is pretty rad man, instinctively I feel compelled to say another FF character is better, but I actually don't think that have an arc that come close to his. Delita & Ramza perhaps of FF tactics probably the only other two I could make credible arguments for, but they were also helped by perhaps the best plot in series history.

I really wish Matsuno had been able finish the job on Xii because I think Basch and Ashe had the potential to be some of the very best characters the series ever had to offer. But instead we got that odd Vaan/Penelo start to the game and everyone else was just kinda developed but not really?

Even if they haven't always executed to the T I love FF characters. Ever since Cecil really set the mold (although I guess you could make an argument for some characters of FFII), I've always enjoyed seeing what sort of characters Square will tell the story of in these games. They usually have storylines and are personalities you don't see many other places in games. Frankly I can't wait to see what they'll try to do in XV.

Nice vid!

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thatpinguino

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#19  Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

@slag: Thanks! I think Ramza and Delita are the characters I could see an argument for as far as being better developed or more versatile. I wish there was a version of FF12 where Vaan and Penelo weren't in it. When I played that game I couldn't follow most of the political stuff because Vaan kept pulling focus with his damn sky pirate nonsense. Replaying that game isn't especially inviting either since its beginning is so slow and bad. It is front-loaded with hours of its worst content. I don't even understand how that happens when every other FF game starts so strongly. FF12 is an outlier for so many reasons, and for some reason I feel compelled to replay it.

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TobbRobb

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VIIIIIIIVIIIIIIIIIII. YAY.

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thatpinguino

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#21  Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

I found out today that Vivi is 6 months old during the events of the game, not 6 years... The end is even sadder now.

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Thanks so much for the vid! I don't like to post much but this really connected with how I felt playing the game. FFIX was actually one of the earliest games I played growing up, and I utilized the oft-forgotten multiplayer feature to control ViVi while my older brother controlled Zidane. I still consider FFIX to have one of the best stories in Final Fantasy and possibly one of the best in games in general. Something I thought of while watching this video is that there's another famous rpg where

[Persona 3 Spoilers]

the protagonist dies at the end, which I'm playing through at the moment, which is Persona 3. Of course the MC of that game is much more of cipher for the player and all, but I still think it's interesting that so many great rpgs are about growing up and facing the world and yet most are still seemingly scared to handle issues like mortality.

Sometimes I wonder about the differences and similarities between western and eastern attitudes towards martyrdom and suicide and if they have any bearing on how fail-states are organized in games, in that western games in general seem loathe to punish the player in anyway for not being careful, but that's probably more a problem with big-budget AAA action games or whatever, rather than a result of cultural differences.

Anyhow great video! The only constructive criticism I would add is that for a Deep Look where it's assumed that both you and the viewer have extensive knowledge of the game beforehand, that maybe recording footage beforehand and editing it down to just the parts relevant to what's being discussed at the moment, though of course that would take more time which you might not have.

As for other FF characters which might be comparable in quality, I haven't played all of them but I found Kefka's arc to be amazingly well done. He was the central pin around which all of FFVI revolved! I don't really think of him as comparable to ViVi though, as they serve completely different story purposes, and I only have a figurine of one on my shelf (it's ViVi). Not being totally insane is also a point in ViVi's favor.

That said, it's been a long time since I played through FFIX (I tried once or twice, but it's a different experience after all this time and playing with just on person) so maybe I'll pick it up again sometime.

Thanks again for the good thoughts, and I hope your videos get more popular!

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Slag

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@slag: Thanks! I think Ramza and Delita are the characters I could see an argument for as far as being better developed or more versatile. I wish there was a version of FF12 where Vaan and Penelo weren't in it. When I played that game I couldn't follow most of the political stuff because Vaan kept pulling focus with his damn sky pirate nonsense. Replaying that game isn't especially inviting either since its beginning is so slow and bad. It is front-loaded with hours of its worst content. I don't even understand how that happens when every other FF game starts so strongly. FF12 is an outlier for so many reasons, and for some reason I feel compelled to replay it.

Kawazu happened, I felt like you could almost feel his touches smeared on top of Matsuno's world. But to his credit he got finished and he got it shipped. He's probably the most infuriating designer I've ever encountered, he always creating these games that look incredibly neat or have some great ideas but somehow manages to make them entirely unfun to play. There aren't many RPGs I won't play, but the SaGa series is one that is just utterly impenetrable to me.

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thatpinguino

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#24  Edited By thatpinguino  Staff

@slag: Playing FFXII is not my issue. It is 90% the pacing and the "main" characters and it seems like the second issue caused the first. Once you start getting good gambits the game can be fun, though a little programming intensive.

@holyxion: Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you liked the video. In an ideal version of this video I would have recorded every Vivi-centric cutscene and moment, edited it all together into a nice 15 minute summary, and recorded my audio seperately, but unfortunately I have a full time job and a written blog that I keep up on GB so I can't really keep up a video and a 1000 word blog post a week, spend time with my family, do my job, and have a social life. if I spend too much more time on each video. Maybe if the editing had a higher potential return, but I'm still at the "people barely pay attention to what I'm doing" phase of internet video so I figured keeping the volume up was a better way to go. Maybe I'll fiddle with some editing when I'm covering a game with less of a time commitment.

I used the multiplayer feature to replay FFIX with my girlfriend and it was a blast! I controlled Freya and Amarant and she controlled Garnet and Zidane. I will keep shouting about that multiplayer until someone copies that idea.

As for Kefka, I think he is a great villain. It is pretty cool to see a comic relief character turn into the ender of days. My only issue with him is that he seems more like a malevolent force than a person. He kills for fun and he blows up the world because he wants to. He has no real reason to do the things he does other than he is crazy and evil. I know I'm in the minority, but I'll take Kuja over him as far as pathos and character development goes.

FFX also deals with mortality (though that gets undone in FFX-2). If you want to see some deep musings on mortality then play Lost Odyssey. The main characters are all immortals and their is a series of short stories in that game that are incredible.

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crithon

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awesome video. Just reminded how much FF9 was a fairwell to that style of game. As much as it seeing Vivi pass away the series went onto the more teenage romance, angst and melodrama of the later games would focus on.

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thatpinguino

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#26 thatpinguino  Staff

@crithon: Actually the teenage angst and melodrama really started in FF7 and 8. I would say that 12, and 13 aren't really centered on the teen experience, though they are both disrupted by it. Now the addition of voice acting definitely heightened the melodrama that was always there. I would say the FF series is as much a victim of technical fidelity in its later iterations as it was a product of technical fidelity in its early days.

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crithon

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@thatpinguino: well, that could also be the production scheduled of these games being developed 2 or 3 different teams. Remember how quick turn around these games had compared to the PS2 and PS3 era. I'm reminded the art book of FF9 being so ambitious over FF7, especially since FF7 had odd inconsistent visual problems because of being new to the technology. Yes your right it's a victim of the technology, but FF9 feels just so solid in it's presentation and story telling just feels like a goodbye the love of FF1-6 style of games.... at the time.

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JordanaRama

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No contest, Vivi is absolutely the best character. Runner up is that chocobo that sits in Sahz's afro.

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thatpinguino

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#29 thatpinguino  Staff

@jordanarama: What about Boko?

@crithon: I think it was Sakaguchi leaving that changed things. FF9 is a love letter to all of the games he made and some of his touches faded away after 9.

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@slag: Playing FFXII is not my issue. It is 90% the pacing and the "main" characters and it seems like the second issue caused the first. Once you start getting good gambits the game can be fun, though a little programming intensive.

If you've played any of his previous game, those are some of Kawazu's calling cards too. :(

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#31 thatpinguino  Staff

@slag: I'll keep an eye out in the future!

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