Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fantasy Star III: The Villains Unleashed

Fantasy Star is a 12-part analysis of the similarities between Final Fantasy XII and the Star Wars trilogies.

Gabranth

Judge Magister Gabranth clearly takes inspiration from Darth Vader. Not only does the design of Gabranth’s mask echo Vader’s, speaking through it also gives his voice a deep intonation. Underneath the mask, Gabranth resembles Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones. Gabranth’s allegiance to the Emperor is a result of a series of personal tragedies. The death of his mother and seeming betrayal from Basch influenced him to seek a path towards the Empire. Just like Vader, Gabranth is convinced by the heroes to turn on the Emperor. Again, like Vader, Gabranth is fatally injured in the ensuing battle. They are redeemed for their past actions by the surviving heroes.

Vayne

Vayne and Palpatine are introduced as charismatic politicians seeking stability among the populace. However, they believe it can only be achieved through absolute subjugation. Both ascend to higher positions of power through deception and treachery. Both characters disband the Senate after proclaiming themselves the Emperor. Like Palpatine, Vayne expects the utmost loyalty from his subjects. Vayne orders Gabranth to kill Judge Magister Drace as a test of his allegiance, much like when Palpatine ordered Anakin to kill Count Dooku. Despite his seemingly delicate appearance, Vayne is well versed in combat and the manipulation of Nethicite. Despite the overwhelming powers at their disposal, Vayne and Palpatine die onboard their respective superfortresses after being betrayed by a trusted ally.

Cid

Doctor Cid is as much responsible for Vayne’s war effort as Count Dooku to Palpatine’s. Both were once revered members of their respective organizations before being corrupted by power. Cid’s manipulation over Nethicite is comparable to Dooku’s mastery of the Force. While both characters are quite formidable in combat, they still rely on others to do the fighting for them.

Ghis

Judge Magister Ghis, like Grand Moff Tarkin, is a senior Imperial officer that answers only to the Emperor. The two share some facial resemblance. Both overestimate their safety as a result of the hulking vehicles under their command and take great pleasure in gloating to the respective princesses they have captured. Ghis died onboard the Leviathan when it exploded due to an unforeseen mechanical failure from a small piece of Nethicite. Tarkin died onboard the Death Star when it exploded from an attack by small group of starfighters.

Archadian Empire

The Archadian Empire plays the same role as the Galactic Empire. Members of both empires talk with British accents. Both share a seeming centricity towards humans over the other races. The Judge Magisters are the Archadian equivalent of Sith Lords. Judge Magisters not only hold high positions within the Empire, but they’re also gifted with magical abilities beyond that of a normal person. Along with these terrifying individuals, the empires also favor the use of superweapons against their adversaries.

Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh, like General Grievous, is a multi-limbed master of blades. Gilgamesh challenges adventurers and takes their weapons upon defeat. Grievous does the same with vanquished Jedi foes.

John DiMaggio, Gilgamesh’s American voice actor, also played General Grievous in Star Wars: Clone Wars.

Ba’Gamnan

Ba’Gamnan, along with other bounty hunters, eagerly seeks the reward for Balthier. He has a professional relationship with Gabranth similar to the one between Boba Fett and Darth Vader. During a battle with the heroes in the Nam-Yensa Sandsea, Ba’Gamnan falls off a platform to his seeming demise, just like Boba Fett’s fall into the Sarlacc Pit.

Steven Blum, Ba’Gamnan’s American voice actor, had roles in Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I and II, Star Wars: Jedi Knight I and II, Star Wars: Force Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance and Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fantasy Star II: The Emergence of Heroes

Fantasy Star is a 12-part analysis of the similarities between Final Fantasy XII and the Star Wars trilogies.

Vaan

Vaan resembles Luke Skywalker from A New Hope. Both characters are blonde haired orphans of roughly the same age. Vaan and Luke are very na├»ve about the world around them due to their sheltered lifestyles. Vaan lives in Rabanastre’s Lowtown rather than Rabanastre proper, just like how the Skywalker family lives outside of the busy Mos Eisley port city. Both characters dream of possessing flight vehicles in order to leave their homes in the desert. Through a series of events, Vaan finds himself joining up with two criminals, a forgotten knight and a princess, and getting involved in a conflict against an empire. Vaan’s first weapon is a sword, similar to Luke’s use of a lightsaber as his weapon. It’s also interesting to note that one of Vaan’s first missions is to clear a sewer of Dire Rats, earning him the nickname “Vaan Ratsbane.” One of Luke’s pastimes included shooting womp rats with his T-16 Skyhopper.

Balthier

Balthier is a near match to Han Solo. Both wear similar outfits, consisting of a white long sleeved shirt, vest, dark pants, dark shoes and holsters. His initial weapon is a gun, echoing Han’s use of a blaster as his primary weapon. Beyond superficial similarities, Balthier shares the same cocky attitude as Han, as well as the tendency to use a reward to mask acts of altruism. He demands Princess Ashe to give him her ring as payment for escorting her to the Garif village but he eventually gives the ring back. This mirrors Han’s demand for a reward for rescuing Leia and later coming back to help the rebels despite having already been paid for his service. Balthier is a sky pirate with his own ship, the Strahl, just like how Han is a smuggler operating via his Millennium Falcon. Both characters have become notorious enough to have prices on their heads, causing ruthless bounty hunters to chase them.

Gideon Emery, Balthier’s American voice actor, has done work in Star Wars: Empire at War and Star Wars: Battlefront.

Fran

Fran serves as the Chewbacca to Balthier’s Han Solo. On top of the animalistic traits, Fran also shares Chewie’s minimalist approach to clothing. The two characters are adept mechanics and are extremely loyal to their respective partners in crime. Both are capable of dealing great amounts of physical damage during fits of berserker rage. Fran is also introduced in the game with a bow and arrows as her weapon. Chewbacca uses a bowcaster, a traditional Wookie crossbow, as his weapon. She is significantly older than the other members of the party. Fran is a Viera, and like Wookies, means she naturally has a longer lifespan than humans.

Nicole Fantl, Fran’s American voice actor, appeared in Attack of the Clones as Senator Lexi Dio.

Basch

Like Obi-Wan, Basch is a former knight of an overthrown government and is long thought dead by the public. Basch’s initial weapon is a sword, like Obi-Wan’s choice of a lightsaber for his weapon. Both characters adhere strongly to a code of honor, willing to dedicate themselves to a cause greater than personal gain. Basch has a personal connection to Judge Magister Gabranth in the same way Obi-Wan Kenobi is connected to Darth Vader, destined to meet each other for one final battle.

Keith Ferguson, Basch’s American voice actor, played Han Solo in Robot Chicken.

Ashe

Princess Ashe is very much like the amalgamation of the political aspects of Princess Leia and Queen/Senator Padme Amidala. She shares their dedication to the citizens. Ashe is fighting to liberate her people from the corrupt Imperial rule. To do so, she joined the underground resistance and became an important figure within the group. She values peace but also does not shy away from physical combat. Ashe is descended from the Dynast-King and therefore able to use Nethicite much like how Leia is Force sensitive due to her being Darth Vader’s daughter.

Kari Wahlgren, Ashe’s American voice actor, has done work for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Star Wars: Empire at War and the Revenge of the Sith game.

Penelo

Penelo is an amalgamation of the nonpolitical characteristics of Leia and Padme. Penelo is the most emotional and most passive member of the party. Penelo parallels Leia in the sense that she is simultaneously like a sibling and an ambiguous romantic possibility for Vaan. She also develops a friendship with the young Larsa, similar to Padme’s connection to the young Anakin in The Phantom Menace.

Cat Taber, Penelo’s American voice actor, voiced Mission Vao in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and plays Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Fantasy Star I: A Brief History

Fantasy Star is a 12-part analysis of the similarities between Final Fantasy XII and the Star Wars trilogies.

I bought Final Fantasy XII a couple months ago. I enjoyed the new developments it had from other games in the series with regards to gameplay and graphics. As for the story, there was something about it that kept me from fully enjoying the experience. It felt very familiar. I thought I was just being paranoid but the more I played, the more I realized that Final Fantasy XII is actually Square Enix’s take on Star Wars. I looked online and found that I wasn’t the only person to notice the similarities. However, these people usually only have a brief list of the parallels from the game and the two Star Wars trilogies. Since I didn’t find any in-depth articles about the subject matter, I decided to write one on my own.

Before jumping into Final Fantasy XII, it’s best to look at prior games in the series because finding Star Wars references in Final Fantasy certainly isn’t anything new. A comprehensive list of them, along with others unrelated to Star Wars, can be found at Final Fantasy Compendium. I’ll just point out several of the more notable examples from various games in the series.

In Final Fantasy VI, Locke rescues Celes and their resulting exchange echoes that scene of Luke rescuing Leia in A New Hope.
Celes: You’re awfully short for a soldier.
Leia: Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?

In Final Fantasy IX, Necron says to the main characters, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." That quote was part of Yoda’s dialogue in The Phantom Menace.

Out of all the Star Wars references found in the Final Fantasy games, the inclusion of two characters named Wedge and Biggs has become as integral to the series as those of chocobos and Cids. The pair can be found in Final Fantasy VI, VII, VIII, X, X-2 and, of course, XII.

What separates Final Fantasy XII from past games and their simple references is its incorporation of themes from the Star Wars movies. These range from characters, to plot elements, to music, to art direction. As you’ll see in the following installments, Final Fantasy XII takes things to another level.

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