@EnduranceFun: Oh I know that, I just mean that Garnet is supposed to look exactly like the Queen's biological daughter that passed away. So since the Queen looks nothing like her I wonder what the king looked like.
Kuja: The Most Human Final Fantasy Villain
@RenegadeSaint: Firstly, because I have played Final Fantasy IX many times over the course of my life and it is one of the games about which I feel the most comfortable writing. I prefer to write about games which I know inside and out, that makes for the most compelling arguments. Secondly, I wrote about Kuja because I think that he is widely regarded as a terrible villain. Thus, my opinion is a little contrary to popular opinion and hopefully more interesting for it. I also wanted to put forward this reading that I found in the game, but that seems to be missed by a lot of players. Thirdly, I originally was going to write an essay comparing Vivi and Kuja, since they both end up being short-lived artificial life forms who die at the end of the game. This connection seemed to be full of potential and I still plan on writing on it some day; however, since I am not writing these essays for a class, and thus did not have to have a thesis that passes the english class "so what test" (one of my teachers always told me that a good english thesis should always be able to answer the question "so what?" As in if the essay is making a point it should be one that the audience can read and feel that they have taken away a new perspective on a topic they may have otherwise never seen.) Instead, since I was writing this for a game site I thought that the implications that this oft disregarded villain was actually the most well constructed in the entire Final Fantasy series was enough of a "so what" to hold up an essay. Fourthly, I thought that writing an essay on who I feel is the best constructed villain in the series would spur some discussion on who other users favorite Final Fantasy villains are.
Sorry if that was a long answer, but I have a bunch of reasons for writing this specific essay. I hope you liked it.
@EthanML: Yep, in the menu under settings you can set the game to two player mode. This allows you to assign characters to either player one or player two. That way player one can control half of the party in combat and player two can control the other half. When I player with my girlfriend I controlled Amarant and Freya and she controlled Zidane and Garnet. Player one is in full control outside of combat though.
@xatmos: I didn't count delita because he is in a Final Fantasy spin-off game. Seifer is an interesting villain, except really feel like he has little to no motivation to do half of the evil things he does. During disc one and two it makes some sense that he follows Edea, but once Edea falls at the end of disc two it really makes little sense that he still follows Ultimecia. He does not seem like a deliberately evil individual and thus it is really odd that he values his "romantic dream" despite all of the pain and suffering he causes. If he is under some kind of magical control then fine, but that makes him a pretty weak villain as everything he says is just a product of mind control. If he isn't under mind control his actions make little sense.
After finishing FFVIII again I think I can reitterate that none of the villains in that game hold a candle to Kuja in terms of depth or believably. Seifer is motivated by a "romantic dream" that the player is never privy to and the sorts of nefarious shit he gets up to makes no sense. How does an 18 year old become the leader of a national military? How does an 18 year old raise a scuttled ship and pilot it across Esthar with no problems when Esthar is a country capable of space travel and mass cloaking? He acts improbably and provides little in the way of explanation.
Ultimecia is even less developed as a villain that Seifer. She is some boogey-woman from the future who has the power to possess people from the past, all in the service of her ultimate goal of time compression. Why does she want to achieve time compression? We never find out. She has about 10 lines in the entire game and none of them explain her motivations. Ultimecia is ultimately little more than a plot device with a name that provides Squall and friends with a credible enemy and a threat to conquer. Her dungeon was one of the coolest locations in the entire FF series though, so that's something.
First of all, HUGE props on your Kuja writeup. Seriously, this sounded like something that would have belonged in the textbook to my Philosophy and Human Ethics class in college. (If it were: A-old enough to be considered "classic literature" or B-culturally mainstream enough to be of "world renown." But then, it was released in many countries, so with enough players over a number of decades, some of these games just might achieve that status someday.) The professionalism with which you wrote really made this worth a read for anyone who has played the game, played other FF titles and might play this one, or simply fun-loving people in want of a story that rises above many adventuring cliches. While it uses those for sure, Final Fantasy IX also lends a surprisingly human dimension to almost every notable character in the game.
Take Lani or Quale, for example: both ornery bit-characters that could have served a baseline plot function in one or two acts before fading into obscurity without a second thought. Instead, the game's content and side-stories in the later discs offers charming vignettes into the humility and humanity at the core of both of these characters. Let's not forget Beatrix either! There is a song I found online somewhere made by a girl who did a vocal arrangement for "Roses of May" that I wish could have been in some sort of remake. In fact, the main reason FFIX is one of my favorite in the series is because most every character of great importance makes a substantial character shift at some point in the game. If we know that the world of the game appears more real when WE experience takeaway lessons from it, then how much MORE real is the setting when the characters themselves takeaway more wisdom than they seemed to expect.
There are some comments you made that I feel compelled to reply to:
"Yep, in the menu under settings you can set the game to two player mode. When I player with my girlfriend I controlled Amarant and Freya and she controlled Zidane and Garnet."
My wife played Garnet and Zidane too, lol! (Though she called them "Jessica" and "Mandark," of all names...) She also controlled Steiner (Mikey) and Vivi (Tobi) as more of "my" characters became available. So help me God, I might always remember those character names... I had to play Freya as "Fudgey" and Amarant as "Ackmen." Luckily she did not consider Quina or Eiko valuable enough, so they got to keep their real names. But that is what I would advise to anyone reading this who might want to share FFIX with a loved-one someday. LET them rename as many characters as they want, and LET (or force) them to be player 1. This is lets them own the game and will help them remember far more than they ever would otherwise. My wife rarely plays video games, and this interface made it very easy for her, where other titles (FFVII) have left her confused and bored and ultimately flustered by my "helping." I, too, wish they would put this "couch co-op" option back into more games in the franchise. It's like sharing an infinite movie that doesn't have to end until player 1 wants it to. (Very good date night option for poor people!) Then again, FFIX might have something magically warm that wives respond to better than FFVII... I've always thought that X and XII would be awesome with 2-player mode.
"As for the end of the game I think that the memoria section of the game might be the most important part of the sakaguchi love fest in FFIX. Memoria is sort of the ultimate call back to earlier ff games... I think that Memoria might be the segment of ffIX that needs the most examination specifically because of how out of place it is with every other part of the game."
"...Garnet is supposed to look exactly like the Queen's biological daughter that passed away. So since the Queen looks nothing like her I wonder what the king looked like."
I soooooo wish that i could work for SquareEnix and create FFIX-2 so that I could oblige you more on those game details. There's something eerily blueish about the hue of both Brahne and Amarant's skin (as well as an uneven enlargement of various body features) that I feel a common back-story involving Kuja's earlier meddling might explain. Ever notice that some of Amarant's early artwork portrays a much more "normal-looking" man in camo pants? And there's one feature in Memoria (specifically the "unfathomable clock room") that serves as a tempting doorway into a more "Chrono Trigger-esque" look at the world of FFIX. Eh? Ehhh?
Thanks again for the awesome Kuja article. Maybe he'll have a chance for even greater redemption if there's ever a time-jumping sequel...
@goliathassassin84: I'm glad you liked my essay. I spent a lot of time on it (though based on the quotes you pulled, not enough time copy-editing) and it is cool to hear that someone else knows about that game's co-op mode. FF IX really does an outstanding job of fleshing out its characters and its world and I feel like some of the subtler stuff in that game has been forgotten over time. I really like the turns that Lani's character took over the course of the game. I really find it remarkable that the designers at square had enough attention to detail to revamp her entire character during an optional return visit to Madin Sari. I half expected her to join the main party considering how much time they gave her to develop.
If you are looking for more essays on FFIX and the series in general, I have written a few more and I recently finished an essay on amnesia in FF VIII and IX.
Thanks for all the feedback sir or madam!
i agree with everything in this post! also you brought more enlightening to kuja although i had him understood to the T mainly. but your proposal of him defying death is a much better look on what he did to defy everything he was made to do.
i also wrote an article on not only kuja but zidane and they're connection with each other - the two sides of the same coin effect (article here:https://www.reddit.com/r/FinalFantasy/comments/8mx8u8/ff9_is_my_favorite_game_because_i_relate_with_the/). for me, you cannot talk about kuka without his brother. as zidane admitted, he would have done the same if he was in his older sibling's shoes. and in a way, he WAS becoming his brother, when he had his small breakdown ("I... I am...an... empty...vessel..."
"I don't know... who I am...") and even viciously lashed at his friends ("Shut up! Just shut up, you stupid brat!") and tried to make his individuality strictly his own ("I can take care of myself.").
what made kuja is half because of garland and half unluckiness. poor guy grew up having no friends and no-one to relate to. his is an extremely relatable character and i was so glad he regretted what he did in the end when he saw the light, his little brother.
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