Friday, June 8, 2018

The Millennium Series's Characters

Man, it’s been a while since I did 1 of these character rants. Let’s see if I still remember how to make them funny. Assuming they ever were to begin with.

Marine: Our protagonist Marine is a wonderful, positive, beautiful dreamer whose vision for a greater world makes everyone around her better.

She’s also the kind of person who will, in fact, set your house on fire while you’re in it if you’re in the way of that vision.

Jeanne: Say what you want to about how great Marine’s persistence and determination and positivity and whatnot is. The fact of the matter is that the success of Marine’s epic journey, her political revolution that changes the realms of Mystland forever, was only made possible by the mere happenstance that she one day just up and tripped, and fell face-first onto a fairy.

Benoit: A whiny, pessimistic martial artist whose talents could benefit countless people, yet who refuses to step up and commit to doing so for like 30 hours of game time? Great, like I didn’t get more than enough of Fei Fong Wong the first time around.

Karine: Does anybody find it odd that arguably the most down-to-earth, reasonable person in the cast is a woman who fights crocodiles for a living?

Hirado: Basically the most stereotypical monk ever. What do RPG martial-arts-practicing monastic orders have against shirts, anyway?

Merline: This 5-year-old who likes playing with dolls and whose weapons are mostly just various toys is straight up more deadly in combat than at least half the rest of the cast.

Dee: “Hihihihi” is not how you write laughter, Aldorlea Games!

Abu: Actually, real-talk? Joking aside? I like the fact that as the series goes along, Abu’s English gradually but noticeably becomes better as he spends more time around his new friends and hears them speak it. That right there is a touch of realism, not to mention respect for the character, that I’ve never seen grace an RPG before, and I like it. How long does Ayla hang out with the gang in Chrono Trigger without picking up a single auxiliary verb? Or Gau, in Final Fantasy 6? “Eyes shining with intelligence,” my ass. Learn a pronoun, kid!

Jezebel: Just...kind of a bitch, overall. The height of Jezebel’s decency as a human being is that at one point, she changes her mind about letting two of her friends climb a treacherous monster-infested mountain in a raging blizzard alone, and decides to go back and help them after all, which is what she’d agreed to do in the first place. What a saint. I actually had Jezebel lose matches in the tournament finale on purpose, just because she was so needlessly insulting to her opponents--opponents who are, I’ll remind you, the bad guys of the series.

Gravitron: As with any machine, you don’t realize how much you desperately needed Gravitron in your life until you get him, and when he inevitably stops working or isn’t available, you have to scramble madly to figure out how you were managing to get by before him.

What do you mean you don’t let axe-wielding laser-spewing steel automatons into your martial arts tournaments, Mystrock!?

Piu-Piu: Because every game needs a small fuzzy mascot, but not every game can get one that’s actually appealing.

Salome: Hold up there, friend. Let me get this straight. You’re telling me that you’re transforming into a cool-looking mermaid with exceptional physical and magical combat prowess, who apparently has no issue whatsoever navigating the land so there’s really nothing about this transformation that would prevent you from being able to still live in your village, and you...want to stop this from happening?

It almost doesn’t even make sense from the perspective of the narrative. Like, I know that the warriors Marine assembles are all supposed to be human, but Mystrock worships a sea god! Chances are pretty good that if Salome the mermaid showed up and said, “Lemme at that fighting tournament, dawgs,” they’d see her as a divine messenger and give her the A-OK. Hell, it’d probably make them take Marine’s cause more seriously!

Jack: “Isn’t it hilarious the way I think I’m a ladies’ man and harass them in a stupid manner? No? Well, how about if I do it 8000 more times?”

James: James’s entire character can be summarized by “Lazy,” and “Likes his hat.” Congrats, Aldorlea Games, you’ve managed to create a guy who makes Zell Dincht’s singular character trait of “Wants to eat cafeteria hot dogs” look legitimate by comparison!

Wolfgang: Rather than having gotten personally swept up in the plot’s events, or requiring you to fulfill some trial/quest that takes several hours of game time to complete, Wolfgang just joins your party because you ask him to and he’s a nice guy.

Is...Is that allowed? Someone better check the RPG Rulebook; there’s gotta be an infraction here.

Mom: Marine and Merline sure are quick to get over the fact that their mom left their family to go find a magic flower that grants her eternal youth. Oh, right, she was doing it “for them”, because she wanted to make sure she’d always be there for them. Yeah, okay. That’s definitely why anyone ever goes searching for eternal youth. Uh-huh.

Hey, here’s a thought, girls. Maybe if your mom’s priority really was making sure she was always there for you when you need her, she wouldn’t have gone on a cross-country trip into a life-threatening swamp while you were still children who needed her.

Bokden: Oh, man, you know your cause is getting desperate when you start recruiting NPCs whose only role up until this point is being the focus of gimmicky Where’s Waldo sidequests.

The Bear: The Bear is perhaps the only non-villain RPG character I’ve encountered in years who is so unreasonably hostile and insulting, so frustratingly devoid of any emotional state beyond anger, that Marine’s decision to try to burn his house down while he’s in it actually doesn’t seem too out of line.

Suzuki: Man, he may not look like much, and his Skill Points actually decrease on each level up to indicate that he’s losing his mind in his old age (I can’t determine whether this is in poor taste or hilarious), but give Suzuki a little decent training and a couple speed boost items, and this geriatric murder-factory might just be able to win a round at the end of the game against Lord Dragon. On Hard Mode.

Just what the hell kind of crazy super-genes are in Marine’s bloodline, anyway? I mean, between her, her sister, her mom, her cousin (Benoit), and gramps here, Marine’s family fills out a quarter of the entire party. More than a quarter, in fact, if you don’t count Jeanne as a party member!

Blondie: You know, when you think about it, the fact that the dark-skinned inhabitants of the settlement which adopted a white, fair-haired girl all decided to call her ‘Blondie’ is actually kind of messed up.

Borgon: Basically what happens when you mix Jafar and President Snow together.

Lord Dragon: Okay, I know that Millennium obviously wants us to believe that Dragon is a decent, wise ruler and an upstanding human being in general, but I contend that this guy is a moron. I mean, come on. How on-point of a ruler can he possibly be when he has no idea that the entire countryside surrounding his town, whose residents Mystrock does business with and, I think, technically rules over, is existing in crippling poverty, is overrun with monsters in like 2/3rds of its regions, and totally hates his entire town’s guts?

And how wise, just, and decent a man can he be when he staffs his government with bigots and asswipes? Not every member of his political team is evil (Mai and Giselle seem quite decent human beings, actually), but dude, come on. 1 of your most trusted generals is a scowling monosyllabic bloodthirsty troglodyte who may actually be under a spell that prevents him from opening his mouth if it’s not to either insult someone or demand more violence. The guy straight up has fucking fangs!

And even if we’re charitable enough to assume that maybe Borgon does a hell of a job hiding the fact that 75% of Lord Dragon’s staff are complete assholes, there’s still the tournament itself to consider. While Dragon has enough presence of mind to rebuke his underlings for their stream of verbal abuse during the tournament, it never seems to once enter his head that, gee, maybe the peasants are upset and saying that he and his administration are morally wrong because every word out of his administration’s mouths to these people is a prejudiced slur.


  1. Hirado - He put in the work, let him show it off.

    Abu - That Gau is capable of any communication is probably one of the more suspension-bending things of FF6. Still, I'm pretty his intelligence is oriented toward him being as versatile as the entire Pokémon roster. His adoptive parents are Sabin and Cyan. Poor bastard never had a chance between all the thous and exclamation mark spam.

    Ayla is probably articulate as hell in her language, and thinks everyone else is fucking weird. Food for thought.

    James - Zell is into antique guns and skateboarding, and his fighting style is self-taught. Hot dogs get too much attention, granted.

    Mom: So this is how every RPG parent dies: dumb shit. Probably explains why the surviving parent never brings it up.

    Bokden - Great potential for a satirical stealth sequence.

    Suzuki - Tellah in FF4 loses stats should he level up. Considering that you actually have no reason to look up a character's base stats, this is so subtle I don't think anyone knew of this before ROM hackers were a thing.

    Lord Dragon sure does sound like a moron. He probably gave himself that cringey fucking name.

    This cast actually sounds servicable. Arsonists, pickup artists, a bitch named Jezebel, and a death robot pulled from the cover of an 80s metal album. This game is covering a lot of bases.

    1. It's diverse in that RPG way, I'll certainly give it that. That does sound like a rather fucking awesome album cover, though...

      Also, okay, yes, Zell did technically have those character traits, but the fact of the matter is that they're basically never brought up or a focal point in any noticeable conversation with or about him. They don't enter into what he's doing or what topics of conversation he brings up/engages in during the real events of the game (not even in the sense of him using his fighting style, since the self-taught nature of it isn't really lauded or examined as being all that important or special). Without actually digging up the tiny side information about Zell through optional little NPC-style dialogue, would we know any of those other things? The hot dog thing, on the other hand, gets more reference and time devoted to it than his goddamn romance subplot.

      But okay, yes, I guess I have to admit that you're at least correct in that even Zell has comparative boatloads of diverse character lore compared to James and his goddamn hat.

      I didn't know that about Tellah. Huh. Guess Suzuki's thing isn't as novel an idea as I thought.

      Also, I object to the idea of calling Jack a Pickup Artist. Pickup Finger Painter, maybe. Pickup Connect-The-Dots Doer, perhaps. Pickup Greg Land, absolutely. But Pickup Artist? Way too much competence implied by that term.

  2. Benoit's description reminded me more of Citan than Fei b/c of this exchange from the script:

    "Doc! A sword...?"

    "... Yes. Yui gave it to me as I was leaving.
    I used to use it before I met her. For a long time I vowed not to use it for killing though.
    But now is not the time to contemplate morals. It is not fair for me to be the only 'innocent' one."

    but I haven't played any of the Millenium games so maybe Citan is an inaccurate comparison.

    1. Ah, yes, I'd almost forgotten how Citan refused to actually try in every life-threatening battle in the first half of the game. I'd still say Benoit is closer to Fei, though, because even if Citan didn't deign to give 100% for the majority of the playable portion of his adventure, he was at least not running away from every problem he saw because he didn't feel like dealing with it, which is what Fei tries to do and what Benoit wants to do.