Character Spotlight: Aqua from Kingdom Hearts with Mod Aria!

Hello all Nasties! Mod Aria with a Character Spotlight today. Since I had a lot of Kingdom Hearts on my mind after this year’s E3, I decided to take some time this week to talk about my personal favorite character: Aqua.

Aqua originally debuted in the Kingdom Hearts PSP game Birth By Sleep. She was shown as a companion to Ventus and Terra; all three were students studying under a Keyblade Master named Eraqus. While Ven was still a young student, both Aqua and Terra were tested in the beginning to see whether or not they could have the title of Keyblade Master as well. Though Terra did not make the cut, Aqua passed her test and is technically the first Keyblade Master among the Kingdom Heart’s protagonists.

An adept mage and a kind soul, Aqua is the bane to her enemies and beloved by her friends and comrades. She herself holds Ventus and Terra close to her heart, as she wishes for the both of them to succeed. Protecting them comes second nature to her, and she enjoys encouraging them to fight for their dreams. I appreciate that about Aqua, but I also find it a bit frustrating.

I can admit the concept of Aqua’s character is a bit confusing to me. I do enjoy her; I find that she is a refreshing female character in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. However, I also find myself unsatisfied with her characterization. Aqua’s skill as a Keyblade wielder is evident, but I feel as though she was made as a mere afterthought in comparison to Terra and Ventus. It’s obvious that Terra was meant to be taken by Xehanort, and that Ventus is the connection between Sora and the Keyblade. But Aqua’s goals and aspirations about her own Keyblade talents hasn’t really been touched on.

Who is Aqua outside of Terra and Ventus? What is it that drives her forward? If it’s just her own relationships, I can’t help but call her a bit of a one-dimensional character. And that idea saddens me. Female characters suffer so much in large gaming franchises because they are often made as support and/or complimentary characters, not characters in their own right. This way of thinking will never allow female characters to have stories of their own. Female gamers struggle to connect with characters like this, and you would think these game developers would understand that by now.

The questions about Aqua’s goals are the questions that I wish Square Enix would allow us to know more about her. Kingdom Hearts 0.2 was not enough detail. Though I did like seeing that Aqua had a hand in the final outcome of the first Kingdom Hearts game. Perhaps the next Kingdom Hearts might shed some light on all the characters, but I have low expectations.

Until next time! Thanks everyone!


Character Spotlight: Sazh (with Mod Syrup!)

Hey guys! Mod Syrup here back with another Character Spotlight! Today I’m talking about Sazh Katzroy from Final Fantasy XIII!

Now if you’ve read my Problematic Fave article on Final Fantasy XIII you would see Sazh was a BIG pro for me on that game. (If you haven’t read it, please do read it here!) So let’s start with first

So let’s start with first impressions, shall we? When we first see Sazh, you see a baby Chocobo pop out of his afro and for me that was adorable. I instantly fell for the character just because of that scene.

Now, aside from that, I love Sazh because he breaks from the stereotype of black fathers not being a good father figure or to even be in the child’s life. How so?

Well, before we even learn about his backstory, we see how Sazh interacts with the other protagonists. But, more specifically, how he acts with Vanille. Vanille acts like a child despite appearing to be a young adult (and actually being a lot older). Sazh, being the eldest, quickly takes to trying to lead the party and keep them safe. This is especially shown with Vanille since those two get separated from the other members of the party.

As you gather more flashbacks that show you Sazh’s story, you learn that he is a single father to Dajh. When Dajh gets turned into a l’Cie and taken by the government, Sazh is heartbroken. Sazh’s whole purpose of this game is to find his son again and make him safe.

Despite showing his fear and concerns with going against Cacoon. He struggles with what his initial instincts are and what he knows he needs to do to not only survive but have a chance to be reunited with his son.

Aside from the father aspect on Sazh, that clearly isn’t his only amazing quality. I could easily argue that Sazh has the most depth out of all the other characters in this game. Literally, the only one I think could rival him would be Vanille, and that is because she is on the other side of this scene I’m about to explain. (Spoiler alert).

As you continue through the story, you find out that Vanille and her partner Fang were the reason the Fal’Cie at Cacoon turned Dajh into a l’Cie. Vanille and Fang were coming to attack the Fal’Cie, so to protect itself it turned the closest person into a l’Cie; who happened to be Dajh.

After Vanille revealing this to Sazh, he initially wanted to kill her. I find that because he had been such a father figure to her, he couldn’t do it. Instead, he turned the gun on himself because he couldn’t handle that his comrade was the one that took away his son.

Image result for sazh and vanille cutscene

Luckily, Sazh does survive and by the end of the game he is reunited with his son. Sazh from the beginning had to deal with so much turmoil. Beside having his son ripped from him, he also had to deal with his wife’s death and having to be a single father.

Sazh is a great edition to the POC of the gaming community and I love that he has depth and isn’t just a blank Greg who is just strong because he’s the main character.

This has been Mod Syrup and I’ll see you in my next article!

  • Mod Syrup

Character Spotlight: Genji Shimada from Overwatch with Mod Aria!

Mod Aria’s here today for another Character Spotlight installment! Since Mod Zan had the opportunity to talk about one of her favorite Overwatch characters, I figured I would follow along with that vein and talk about one of mine. Though not my all time favorite Overwatch character, Genji Shimada ranks fairly high on my list. Though, sadly, I feel like he’s certainly gained a lot of ire from the Overwatch fandom due to the way that some people, uh…play him. So today, I’d like to talk about what I think makes Genji a really interesting character!

The Tale of Genji Shimada

As Overwatch is a game that does not focus so much on it’s story or the background of its characters, lore must be searched for on the internet through the sources that Blizzard provides. Fortunately, they have given Genji a bit of a backstory via the Dragons animated short; as well as some snippets of lore that can be found in his character bio and within the game itself.

Genji was the younger brother of Hanzo, and the two were the children of the leader of the Shimada clan. This family had an enormous empire built with blood, but Genji separated himself from the crimes of his kin to pursue the life of a libertine. This angered many of the members of the clan, but his father and Hanzo were remiss to stop Genji. It wasn’t until clan leader Sojiro Shimada passed that things began to change.

Hanzo, now the new head of the Shimada clan, requested (or demanded, this part is a bit vague) that Genji clean up his act and commit to the Shimada. When Genji declined (or refused, this part is also vague), it lead to a heated confrontation between the two brothers. Somehow, Hanzo managed to land a killing blow on Genji, who would have died if not for Overwatch and Mercy.

From the information I’ve found searching Overwatch websites and such, it seems like Genji was conscious after being rescued by Overwatch. It is implied that he made a deal with Overwatch officers to aid them in exchange for robotic upgrades and implants to help him fight. Genji’s goal seems to have been hunting the Shimada, as he left Overwatch once that was complete. Genji also seems to have been a part of Blackwatch (Overwatch’s darker sector); meaning that Genji took part it some of the more sinister missions undertaken by the organization. 

It is also implied that Genji left due to his own inner demons; he hated his robot body, and felt like less of a human because of it. This inner struggle lead Genji to a nomadic life, and it was during his travels that he met Zenyatta. The omnic monk fervently pursued Genji in order to help him, but Genji declined. Through some miracle, Zenyatta was able to whittle down Genji’s hard shell and became Genji’s new master.

Reborn anew via Zenyatta’s guidance, Genji Shimada found inner peace. In Dragons, we discover that Genji had never taken revenge on Hanzo. Once the two fight, Genji notably says that he has forgiven Hanzo, and it is now Hanzo that struggles with his own inner demons.

Genji Shimada: The Meme vs The Man

Of course, it’s always fun to tease the Mercy of the group (or maybe just annoy her) buy spamming that you need healing. And the thousands of jokes made towards Genji’s backside never fail to make me grin. But beyond that, I think there is a great character that most of us have just kind of…forgotten about.

The Genji Shimada in the game is now serene and kind (while his previous self is implied to be cold and unfriendly). His battle-hardened attitude sometimes shows through, however, in his voice lines in the game. Some characters (like Hanzo, Zarya and Sombra) have some tense words between Genji pre-match. Genji can also be a bit cold when capturing a point or when losing the game. Despite that, he has many pleasant exchanges between other characters; mostly the old Overwatch crew. But he’s particularly kind to Mercy and Zenyatta, which is not surprising. Genji likely believes he owes his salvation to those two.

Other than that, Genji himself seems to be a man of few words. In a conversation pre-match with Winston, he mentions that he is uncomfortable with “awkward small talk”. His regular voice lines are usually only short sentences, and many of them are in his native Japanese. It seems to show that Genji must think before he speaks, and feels like conversations with no specified purpose are a waste of time. However, Genji is shown to have many witty retorts, and he feels quite unphased when threatened. This is a testament to Genji’s bravery, cleverness and determination.

Nevertheless, Genji still remarks during his visits to Numbani that he feels separate from both human and machine even after meeting Zenyatta. It seems like a subtle way of saying that it isn’t that Genji doesn’t continue to lament his new body. I think Genji has learned how to accept that he has no power to change what happened, and that the only road he can walk now is one of acceptance and love. By forgiving Hanzo, Genji seems to have embraced compassion; having a new relationship with Hanzo might not be something Genji would reject. However, I believe that Genji has also forgiven Hanzo as a step to find his own peace, not just to help Hanzo find his.

Suffice it to say, Genji Shimada is certainly one of the most intricate characters that came out of Overwatch. His personality has multiple facets, and a story that many find enthralling. Even if that part is glossed over for the sake of his healing line meme and his butt. I’m hoping that Blizzard will further expound upon his time spent with Zenyatta, as well as fully disclose what kind of relationship he and Mercy have. Until then, I’ll wait on bated breath for any and all Overwatch content.

Thanks so much for reading this article. Please stay tuned for more content from NWG!

–Mod Aria/Sam

Character Spotlight: Tifa from Final Fantasy VII with Mod Knight!

Hey, Nasties! Mod Knight here with another character spotlight! Continuing on our theme of awesome Final Fantasy girls, I’ve just GOT to talk about Tifa Lockhart. Originating in FF7, Tifa is just and awesome, fun character all around.

Where to even begin with her, well, I feel like the obvious thing to start with is just plain and simple: how badass she is! Even as a young girl she decided to make a journey across a dangerous mountain in an attempt to find her mother. Later on, she not only survived an attack by Sephiroth, but soon after joined the resistance against the Shinra corporation, being the one who brought the protagonist, Cloud, into the group.

Despite not being the leader of the group, Tifa’s motivations for fighting are just as strong as her friends, having suffered through the loss of her father and her hometown. In battle she brings her incredible strength to bear, choosing to fight with her fists rather than a sword or magic. She’s shown to be strong enough to break herself free from industrial restraints in order to save herself and her friends from a gas chamber.

Not to mention she provides much of the emotional support that the party needs to make it through their journey; so much so that she comes off as motherly at times! Unfortunately, she has a tendency to put the needs of others ahead of her own, letting her own problems sit until she’s ready to deal with them. 

Overall, Tifa Lockhart is an excellent, well rounded character who is able to show her strength, and also her weakness without being hurt by her emotional tendencies, rather they go on to make her much more relatable!! I’m glad to have experienced a character like Tifa and hope to see many more like her in the future!

Until then, this is Mod Knight! Thanks for reading!

Character Spotlight: Rikku (with Mod Syrup!)

Hey Nasties! Mod Syrup here with another Character Spotlight! This week I’m taking a break from The Legend of Zelda to revisit an all time favorite of mine, Final Fantasy X and X-2. Final Fantasy X had some amazing characters for it’s time; but this week I’m talking about Rikku.

Rikku is a character that was in main plot of both Final Fantasy X and X-2. For this article I will be discussing her in both games and why she’s such an amazing character!

When we’re first introduced to her, she is a treasure hunter that ends up saving Tidus from freezing to death or being eaten by a monster. She quickly joins the fight, showing her skills in stealing and dealing damage with gernades. After the fight is over, it is clear she’s a bit of a leader of this group and even one-hits Tidus to knock him out. That is the strength this tiny girl has!

When she returns in the game, after Tidus was separated by Sin, you finally get to see who this cutie is. Not only was she able to survive an encounter with Sin, she also can pilot tons of machina. Furthermore, she even gets the trust of Aaron off the bat and shows how useful she is in creating gernades and other weapons AS WELL AS using alchemy to create potions! AND she’s the only party character that is bilingual! She can speak Albed as well as the regular Spira language!

Rikku is also the only female that can fight underwater in the party. I liked this fact because it didn’t leave ONLY men being able to have this skill. It came in handy as well in combat since she could steal and also learn magic if you wished her to.

Also, aside from that, she blatantly shows a phobia to the party despite not knowing them from that long! And, with the help of the party, learns to overcome her phobia of thunder and lightning enough to get through the area AND the temple so Yuna can get her next Aeon.

Rikku, despite her age, also shows major maturity. When Wakka finds out that Rikku is an Albed, at first he disregards her. He decided his prejudice about Albed overshadowed who he found Rikku to be. Rikku was extremely hurt that a friend of hers chose to hate her only because of her race.

And even though she was hurt, she chooses to protect Yuna from that pain! Yuna wants to tell Wakka that she is half Albed, but rather than wish that pain on someone, Rikku decides to keep Yuna from the pain as much as possible.

Rikku time and time again shows how good of a friend she is. She cares deeply about the party and let’s herself get hurt in order to protect the others. She also is the one that chooses to tell Tidus about Yuna’s eventual demise due to the Final Aeon. All the other guardians, AND YUNA, were keeping Tidus in the dark; but Rikku decides to tell her friend the truth. She tells him to prepare him, but also in a desperate need to try and save Yuna from this fate.

Even at the end of Final Fantasy X, in a special cut scene, Rikku brings Yuna a sphere she found that had a man that resembled their lost friend, Tidus. Yuna tells Rikku she wants to travel the world and search for her love; and without a second thought, Rikku takes her.

In Final Fantasy X-2, the developers made Rikku the main eye-candy with her character design; but I’m so glad that they never took away her quirky personality. She’s always full of all emotions and is quick to let you know what she thinks.

Rikku is by Yuna’s side in all of X-2; trying to reunite her two friends and their lost love. Time and time again, Rikku just shows how much of a true friend she is and I can be nothing but thankful for that.

Rikku is definitely one of the best things to come out of these games. She’s adorable, beautiful, has an amazing personality, and KICKS ASS! She’s a great mascot for showing that women can both look cute and be badass!

This has been Mod Syrup and I hoped you enjoyed me hyping about one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite games! See ya next time!!!