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|Characters with Issues
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My second son was born today, it was a scheduled delivery, so no, I’m not publishing this manually at six in the morning while my family happily celebrates. He’s the site’s fourth First Hour baby and my second; exciting and scary times lie ahead.
Video games have a long history with children and families, as games began focusing as much on story as any other element, we learned more and more about our protagonists and their situations at home. Text adventure games, computer RPGs, and Japanese RPGs provided writers much more room to flex their muscles and give gamers as much complexity in their stories as they would find in other media.
SquareSoft is an excellent example of writing that has evolved over time. The first Final Fantasy was simple: four heroes known only by their character class save the world. Compare that with Final Fantasy VI (III outside Japan) which has feuding brothers teaming up and a knight who just lost his family and is forced to watch them march into the afterlife. And then again, with Final Fantasy X, where the final boss is the main character’s dad. As the industry grew, writing became braver and more involved and less like a simple action movie.
I started this column over a year ago with a study on Mass Effect (Electra in Space), and almost pathetically, this is just the second article written. I’ve got about five games in mind I’d like to write a feature on their daddy (and mommy) issues, but they’re a bit more involved than the typical review. The birth of my son though has encouraged me to write this on my favorite game that is simply chock full of issues: Chrono Trigger.
Hard to start a write up on Chrono Trigger without beginning with the hero himself, but though the game was developed in the middle of SquareSoft’s maturity period (in my opinion beginning with Final Fantasy IV and continuing through Final Fantasy VII and VIII), Crono is a silent protagonist with little backstory. He lived with his mother and apparently either has no father or he was out of the picture early on. Crono’s relationship with his mother seems stable, but it’s difficult to gauge when one side is mute.
As for his father, I like to subscribe to the idea that Crono was conceived by The Entity for the purpose of destroying Lavos and saving the world.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff, Marle is princess of Guardia and has a great falling out with her father, the king, during the events of the game. Her mother, Queen Aliza, died when Marle was just a child causing her and the King to drift apart emotionally. Being a rebellious teenager, the two frequently butt heads and eventually a seed was planted in Marle’s mind that the King had not been present for his wife’s deaths, instead dealing with some state business.
Marle finally ran out of her castle in a huff and the adventure wore on without a welcome mat at Guarida Castle. At one point, Marle offers up some beef jerky as a token of good will but the King yells at her for not considering his cholesterol! When the King is put on trial for stealing important heirlooms, Marle returns to right his name and the two make up. Finally, her father reveals he was there for her mother’s last words, which, of course, were about Marle and her future love.
For being a former human turned amphibian, Frog is kind of the most normal of them all. Well, his immediate family is never revealed, and he does live in a secluded hole in the ground, but as far as I can tell, Frog doesn’t have any daddy or mommy issues. Maybe a little lust for the Queen, but that’s expected.
Another example of daddy issues in Chrono Trigger, Lucca is a tomboy with an extremely close bond with her father, Taban. They are both engineering geniuses and inventors of many crazy weapons and contraptions. From some diary entries found in the game, it is revealed that Lucca had little interest in science until she was unable to stop one of her father’s inventions from tearing off her mother’s legs. Ouch.
But that terrible incident from her youth spurred her to study science and grow closer with her dad, so it was a win-win! Throughout the game, returning to Taban nets you some nice gear and a friendly smile, but the real payoff comes when Lucca is given the opportunity to turn back the clock and save her mother’s legs, thankfully though, the almost-accident still spurs on young Lucca to take up her father’s trade.
It’s clear Lucca is a big fan of Taban, but thankfully her interest seems to stop at his mind.
Another character with little background on her family, Ayla is the pre-historic wild-woman of the bunch. Due to her growing up in the time of dinosaurs, active volcanoes, and lizard men, it is likely the life expectancy of everyone not as strong and insane as Ayla is low, so her parents are probably dead.
However, Chrono Cross, the game that is always willing to kick your childhood nostalgia in the nuts, decided to introduce a six year old pre-historic girl named Leah. As you can probably already guess, Leah “off-handedly” tells Serge and company that she is going to name her daughter Ayla. Aww... how cute.
Yes, robots can have issues, especially if your mom is named Mother Brain and wants to take over the world. Robo was created for the sole purpose of destroying humans, but he experienced robot amnesia and forgot all that and instead tried to save humans. This created quite the conundrum later on when he met his sister/girlfriend/robot Atropos in the Geno Dome who still wanted to destroy all humans.
Without any other options, Robo fought and defeated Atropos and then confronted Mother Brain. During his time spent with Crono, Robo learned about friendship and crop rotation, and couldn’t possibly return to his original mission of genocide. He led the battle against his own mother and creator, allowing the dozens of humans still living in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of 2300 A.D. to finally rest easy.
Robo’s tale might be one of the most straight forward Greek tragedies Chrono Trigger has to offer: mother gives son impossible task, son rebels and kills mother. Well, I don’t know for sure if that’s actually a Greek tragedy because I was a computer science major, but I’ll assume for the purposes of this column that is.
Magus has got 99 problems, and yeah, most of them concern women. He’s the boss of a down-trodden race of short green dudes, he got tossed through time when he was ten years old, his only friend was a cat, his sister went missing in some other dimension, and his mother is the evil queen of every time period.
Queen Zeal, punch drunk on Lavos’ unending power, did a bunch of nasty stuff to her two kids, Janus and Schala. She used Schala’s innate power to summon Lavos and then cast her aside, and then opened up the world’s first time warps and sent the three smartest people alive into them along with her only son. Janus was captured by Ozzie but was able to harness his own magical power and became Magus, the dark magician.
When the opportunity arose, Magus returned to the time his mother went crazy disguised as a prophet, and used his knowledge of the future to enter his mother’s close ranks to destroy her before she could send Schala away. He failed to kill her though and she became even more powerful, creating the Black Omen, her timeless fortress of the sky. In the end, Magus and Crono can stop her once and for all, but the damage she did to the timeline is nearly irreversible.
While not as deep as Mass Effect’s gang of troubled heroes and heroines, Chrono Trigger features its fair share of messed up kids and adults. Magus obviously has the most problems, as he grew up hating his mother for what she did to his sister, but Robo didn’t do that well either. Both characters are forced to confront and kill their mothers before they can move on. Marle and Lucca have more traditional daddy issues, from Marle downright hating her father for what she perceived he did to her mother, to Lucca adoring and emulating her dad because of a terrible accident that befell her mother. Crono, Frog, and Ayla seem to get off easier, but in reality, they had parents at one point, so nothing is simple.
All I can hope for is that my kids don’t have as big of issues as Magus, that would suck.