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by Laura Organa Solo, the Elven FF Platypus
When I first started playing Legend of Dragoon, my oh, fourth, (maybe fifth counting Parasite Eve) genuine RPG that I actually got very far in, I began to realize this exact same trend. Shana, the sweet, quiet archer... physically weak but of course magically strong and resilient. When Shana receives her Dragoon spirit, of course all her main skills are for healing purposes. Rose is the mysterious not-quite-bad girl, not only physically powerful but magically powerful as well (although her defenses aren't quite strong). I saw reflections of Aeris/Rinoa/Luna and Tifa/Quistis in both of them. Then came the childish Meru, who was an all too close combination of Yuffie's (and Nash's) pride and over-confidence (although somehow a bit cuter than both) and Selphie's peppy enthusiasm.
Long before Meru came into play, I gave a lot of thought to these classic archetypes that seem to be popping up: the calm, cold, stolid main guys: Dart, Cloud, Squall, even a bit of Alex from Lunar along with the above mentioned female archetypes (even Lloyd, an awesome-looking mysteriously (short) silver-haired villain with a nifty sword). At first it was a sort of an eye-rolling, this-is-too-predictable, grumbling sort of feeling but the more I played through FF VIII for the second time and Dragoon for the first, the less I didn't mind it. I found myself trying to guess each of Dragoon's characters' FF counterparts.
I really like the way Raincrystal wrote her editorial: she was not condemning Square for their archetyping, which is what I expected, just because I assumed people might get bored with the same types of characters. Maybe it's because I just have an automatic acceptance for anything with the the Final Fantasy label on it (more like automatic obsession ^_^) but I really don't mind it. Legend of Dragoon was criticized for it in two different reviews I've read, albeit indirectly (the authors both thought that it was just a low-quality game for Sony to have produced). I can understand why one might be bothered by it. A lot of people have been saying that RPGs are just too similar as of late but I don't really care. Having been exposed to only a choice few RPGs, I feel awkward playing what I consider to be unusual gameplay RPGs like Vagrant Story and Xenogears (the exception being Parasite Eve, my first console experience ever... despite it falling into the unusual gameplay category, it is the one anomaly).
I suppose I'm a "new-school gamer," as much as I dislike the terms old and new school. I appreciate graphics and FMV sequences but just because I'm new-school does not mean that's my only reason for playing an RPG. So are vaguely similar RPGs really all that bad? Are familiar character concepts boring? No, I don't think so. Because if they were, it would be impossible for RPGs to ever gain such a fan following. Almost all stories are merely elements of older myths recycled and patched together: stalwart heroes, priestess or butt-kicking or naughty heroines, and silver-haired villains with nifty swords and all.
Original Editorial : FF Females
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