Retro Game B*tches: The Ladies of Final Fantasy IV (II US)
By Laura T.
In 1991, I was 9 years old. That was when I picked up Final Fantasy II.
This was a mind-blowing experience for me. Suddenly, I could read an adventure book by watching television.
Role playing games = genius.
I actually had my dad play the game FOR me for awhile (what? I was NINE), until I realized that, yes… by God, there were FEMALE HEROES.
One day, when Dad left the game on to go fix dinner or something, I picked up the controller and started playing.
It wasn’t until I fully understood how to play the game that I realized… something was not quite right here.
Okay, honestly I probably just played the game and had an awesome time when I was 9. But when I look back on it now, something is not right with the ladies of Final Fantasy II.
The battle system for II is really basic: the only strategy you can employ is what “row” to place your characters in (back or front). Naturally, you put the stronger characters in front, and weaker ones in the back.
Well, this meant that the ladies always had to go to the back, because they just happened to have fewer hitpoints than the dudes.
Oh yeah… the other “back row” characters were the sniveling bard who sucks at fighting with his HARP.
And an old man who is reminiscent of Santa Claus.
Really? Rydia can summon monsters that are as big as the battle screen, but she can’t whack anything for sh*t with her staff?
That was the other big problem: the ladies can’t even hold swords, they are relegated to using only the magic staff and the bow-and-arrow weapon varieties.
In the next FF game released in the US (FF III/VI), women were allowed to use swords, NAY, they were kick ass and actually stood on the same if not higher footing than the male fighters. Terra, a female, was the main character and this obviously had something to do with it.
But gender inequality in games seemed much more prevalent in the beginning. I was actually lucky just to see female characters fighting, and not being the “princess” or some other non-playable role.
So, beggers can’t be choosers?
Now that we’ve progressed into the 3D age, Rydia and Rosa are all sexy and are now, also, for porn.
But they still seem to be classified as “ladies” rather than “b*tches.” Almost as if there is something sacred about them. Is this because the designers put them into a different category in FFII? Are they just more delicate, more refined, than their male counterparts?
Or were they just so unimportant compared to Cecil and Kain that they’ve faded into the background of retro gaming?
Regardless of gender inequality, this game was the most important of my life. I learned how to play the franchise from this game, and have continued to do so for 18 years. I even got teary-eyed and giggly when I saw Lightning from FFXIII step onto the scene…
Which turned out to be the most tedious game I’ve ever played.
I guess it goes to show you that just because you’re a lady, it doesn’t mean you’re going to make a good game.
That goes for you too, FFX-2.