I’m back again this week to talk about another one of my most beloved video game characters. Nostalgia hits us hard sometimes, and this week I was particularly reminiscent of my GameCube years. This was when I felt like video games were now part of who I was, and it all started with my first GameCube game, Tales of Symphonia.
I was 12 years old when TOS came out, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve beaten the game over 10 times and still love it every time I revisit it. But nothing shaped me more than my first ever video game crush. Which was one of the most popular characters in the Tales Franchise, Zelos Wilder. When I first played the game, I absolutely hated him. His outfit was silly, his identical build to Kratos was a waste of time. But after I went out of my way to learn more about him, I’ve loved him since. It’s been over ten years, and my adoration of him is stronger than ever.
Please, please let me explain how amazing he is.
Does the name “Idiot Chosen” Apply?
From the beginning, it doesn’t seem like Zelos is a very intricate character. He’s a horrible flirt and seems to revel in the fact that he’s rich and famous. He’s the Chosen One of Tethe’alla; basically, the Messiah of the world’s religion, and his words have weight to both commoners and royalty. Within the games narrative, you discover that Zelos’ position in the Tethe’allan government is just below the royal family. Though the Church of Martel has a Pope, the Chosen is considered the true figurehead of the religion. Zelos has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Yet he can often be seen ogling every pretty girl that passes him. Many characters in the game, especially the ones in the party, wonder why he ended up being Chosen even though he acts like an “idiot”.
But it isn’t until you put in the effort to explore his character that you realize that Zelos is incredibly clever. Even though he’s a bit of a philanderer, he handles diplomatic meetings and discussions with care. He’s so aware of how much of an influence he has over people that he knows exactly when to reveal his identity. There’s not a place in his home city that he doesn’t know about, and can easily help his friends find their way back in when barred from entry. When it comes to wordplay, he’s second to none, as he manages to hide many secrets about his motives behind verbal shrewdness.
He’s not only intuitive, but he’s an academic success. In a conversation with Genis and Lloyd, Zelos discloses to them that he’s brilliant at math (though not many other school subjects); despite the claim, in a minigame where you’re able to test the intelligence of the playable characters, Zelos’ scores are noticeably high.
His intelligence shouldn’t be called into question. The man is phenomenal. But this is just the tip of the iceburg.
Zelos is the Loneliest of All
In Tales of Symphonia, you can form a bond with certain members of your party (who it is ends up being your choice), and Zelos is included. The more you discover about him, the more you realize this guy has a lot of demons in his closet. He’s hiding a lot of mental and emotional abuse; it’s even implied by him that he was also sexually abused. All because he was not only the Chosen, but a handsome and talented one at that.
And let’s not forget Zelos’ mother. She was murdered by the mistress of his father, though she had intended to murder Zelos. His mother just got in the way to save him. Regardless, she spends her dying breath telling him that he shouldn’t have been born. This scars him for the rest of his life; colors the view of his status as Chosen as well as an entrenched self-hatred. Zelos is even given a hatred of snow, as his mother died on a snowy day.
In his mind, it’s his fault that his mother died, that his half-sister is locked in an abbey for her entire life, that there is no person alive who loves him for who he truly is. Due to this overwhelming negativity, it can lead him down a path of destruction if the player choses, but helping Zelos discover his own worth is one of the most rewarding parts of the game.
I could go on and on about how wonderfully multi-faceted he is, but this article would end up becoming an essay. If you haven’t played TOS, I highly recommend checking it out; it’s literally the best RPG that came out for the GameCube. And if you dislike Zelos, I implore you to do some more digging about his character. There is so much more hidden behind his goofy grin.
Thanks for reading this, everyone. Please keep an eye on us; more awesome NWG content is on the way!