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

Feminism in Gaming: Final Fantasy 7 with Mod Loser!

Trigger Warning: Discussion of Sexual Assault appears in this article.

Hey Nasties, its once again Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me; I’m just going to jump right into it. Square Enix has a terrible history regarding female and LGBTQA+ representation. To put it bluntly, its been downright offensive in multiple games, and Final Fantasy 7 is no different. I’ll start with some of the obvious negatives. For example, to complete Cloud’s “Drag,” Costume, one mission involves winning a squat contest with a man who is very much a gay stereotype. 

You have to win his “Pretty wig,” after which he gets very upset and storms off. This implies that homosexual men are innately feminine, and he is painted in a comedic and honestly antagonistic light. The fact remains that forcing Cloud to “crossdress,” if you even care to gender clothing, supposedly paints him in a very demeaning and frivolous light; mocking the very idea of a man wearing feminine clothes.

Yet still, the dialogue options allow Cloud to come very close to engaging in sexual intercourse with the mob boss should you form the whole costume, after which Aerith and Tifa burst in, horrified, and demand to know what was happening. Another scene that once again paints gay man in a very antagonistic light is the hot tub scene, where Cloud is forced to sit in a hot tub with multiple gay men to get a “Rub down.”

The scene itself implies that Cloud was violated or sexually molested, and paints homosexual men not only in a “Bad,” light, but implies they also will rape or molest straight men when given the chance. These stereotypes are incredibly toxic to the LGBTQA+ Community and truthfully make me sick.

Aerith is clearly a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who exists only to give Cloud motivation to push forward, and dies for the very same reason. You may be saying “But only she can use white materia!” Yes, and other than that, what depth did she have? She was supposedly an ancient Cetra, but we only get that information when she’s not in the party. She’s supposedly incredibly powerful, but her “Power,” ends up being a Deus Ex Machina at the end to save the day.

As you can see, Final Fantasy 7 has a lot of negativity, but I can say one thing that was positive. When you go on the date, you can choose Barret. What do you know, you suddenly drop the “Haha, Gay!” jokes. While the experience is still a little silly, at the very least you got to have what was implied as a normal, non-sexualized or demonized homosexual experience.

Whew, the negative articles take a lot out of me! Thanks for tuning in, Nasties! This is Mod Loser, signing off!

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!

Top 5 Favorite Heroines (With Mod Syrup!)

Hey Nasties! Mod Syrup is back with another Top 5! Normally, we do Top 5 Best and Worst of a topic, but unfortunately, out of the games I’ve played, there isn’t a lot of Heroines to choose from. So I’ll just be bringing you my Top 5 Best!

Now it took me a bit before I decided what I wanted my list to be. But I think I have it figured out (for now).

 

Number 5: Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII)

Now, I feel a lot of hate has been oriented around this character. And I definitely understand it, (as I wrote in an article here); but I do identify her as one of my favorite heroines (out of the slim pickings I had). Now why do I? Well, first, I’m judging her purely after the first game since that’s all I’ve seen her in personally. To me, she’s a super badass and isn’t sexualized, which is nice. She also copes with depression of losing her sister and goes from a cold-hearted loner to one who wishes to aid her companions. This is amazing growth for me. Then, like mentioned before, I enjoy the fact that she’s able to hold her own. She’s a skilled soldier who also learns to summon an Eidolon, Odin, and use it in combat. Her design is beautiful, and I was super bummed when I found out she’s almost a carbon copy of Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. I felt we deserved better from Square Enix.

 

Number 4: Lyn (Fire Emblem)

So I just recently finished Lyn’s saga on Fire Emblem and I’m super hyped when I saw it’s possible for her to return in Eliwood’s story. When I first met Lyn, she seemed badass. I found out she was a princess, and I was super worried she’d fall into the trope that all princesses are damsels in distress. I was quite glad to find out she still held her own and LED the group all the way to Caelin. She easily took a place in my heart as one of my favorite heroines but came lower on the list because she felt a little flat to me. Lyn seemed to have a fire in her soul from her tribe and showed that even more so when she met Sain. Sain tried to hit on her with things he seemed to use on many girls, she quickly shot him down. As the journey went on, she let almost anyone who wanted to join her group join. She seemed to have no real anger in herself, even when she fought her grand-uncle. But, I did love her enough to think she deserved a longer story and it’s unfortunate that her whole story was the tutorial mode for this game.

 

Number 3: Zelda (Breath of the Wild)

Honestly, you guys should have expected this incarnation of Zelda to be on my list. Now, why is this Zelda on it and not Sheik since Sheik beat her on my Top 5 Zeldas? (You can read that here). Well, even though we mainly see Zelda in flashbacks, knowing the fact that Zelda has been holding Ganon off for 100 years blows me out of the water. She’s the first Zelda to explicitly show that she wanted to be the one to save Hyrule. She wanted to be the one to pull the Master Sword. She led the champions of each of the races. She was the tech-wiz on the Sheikah Slate. Zelda was more active up front than Sheik was. Not to mention, the original Sheik felt she had to hide the fact she was a female whereas this Zelda was proud to be the Princess of Hyrule and to fight against Ganon. (Not that I don’t love Zelda in drag as I showed in my recent article). So even though I prefer the bruttness of Sheik personality wise; heroine wise, I prefer Zelda from Breath of the Wild.

 

Number 2: Yuna (Final Fantasy X/Final Fantasy X-2)

There are not enough words in the English language that can accurately express my love for this game, but I’ll do my best to express how much I love Yuna. Yuna is one of the characters that shows the most growth in these two games (especially if you get the Sad or Perfect Ending in FFX-2). When you meet Yuna, she’s a shy summoner that never spoke her mind. She always did what she wanted for the people of Spira and did not even show how scared she was of dying to defeat Sin. Through her journey and aid of her friends, particularly Rikku and Tidus, she comes to realize her life is a lot more important. With help of her friends, she defeats Sin so he does not ever come to hurt Spira again.

In Final Fantasy X-2, you still have that sweet girl you originally had; but she’s not shy. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, even if she does it in a sweet way. Yuna holds onto her new found strength she had from her previous journey and is proud to be who she is.

Did I mention that even after she was no longer a summoner, she learned how to use guns? Yeah. She’s a gunner in X-2. Then, with the use of dresspheres, she also has skills of a swordsman, a thief, a mage, and more. Yuna is a poster child of being cute, acting sweet, and kicking ass! I love her so much.

 

Number 1: Alice (Alice Madness Returns)

Oh god. This game. It’s frustrating because I’m trying to do every mini-game thing, but god is it amazing. This girl has so many psychological issues and going with her on her journey to fight her demons is AMAZING. She solves problems, throws shade, and kicks ass.

I love how this is a heroine that’s not all smiles. She feels happiness, shows anger, shows depression. She’s not a cookie cutter which is very refreshing.

And above all, through ALL of her outfits in the game, none of them are sexualized. And that alone makes me extremely happy. All of these characters up to Alice have been sexualized by the developers to some extent. But Alice, Alice made it through.


This has been Mod Syrup and I hope you enjoyed my Top 5 Favorite Heroines! I’ll see you in my next article and enjoy the rest of the content from NWG this week!

Feminism in Gaming: Final Fantasy X with Mod Loser!

Mod Loser here to discuss, arguably, the best Final Fantasy title to be released. Now don’t get me wrong; I still adore FF1 for the Game Boy Advance, and Final Fantasy 7 revolutionized JRPG’s. However, I want to talk about the Final Fantasy game that I felt like also made the most ground from a feminist standpoint, and to me it all begins with the message. Final Fantasy X’s story heavily revolves around a metaphor for religious extremism that places blame on another culture, the Al Bhed. Supposedly, because the Al Bhed used Machina (Machines), for war and their daily lives, the Gods created a monster known as Sin to smite them. This, of course, ended up being false.

This content is a heavy metaphor for the Islamaphobia and the Dark Ages perpetrated by mainstream Christianity, especially in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy in the United States. One of the main party members, Wakka, is a blatant racist and has to unlearn these falsehoods and realizes that blind faith in a religious institution lead to the entire world being manipulated. That sounds like the game must be very friendly to People of Color, right? Well, not quite.

As great as the message is, most of the POC are meaningless side characters, or worse, made out to be terrible people. For example, one summoner who absolutely despises Yuna is clearly a person of color, and shamelessly antagonizes Yuna throughout the game. This wouldn’t be so bad, if not for the fact that many of the enemies and summoners you face (mind you only minor ones) are POC. What is very odd is that Yuna is of mixed racial descent, but completely white. From a backstory perspective, her mother was Al Bhed, but she has no characteristics of it, meaning that they had a main party member supposedly as a POC, but was unashamedly white-washed. Even Rikku, allegedly Al Bhed, has almost no physical Al Bhed characteristics.

What irked me further is that the specific summoner I mentioned is highly sexualized, and this marks a trend you’ll notice throughout Final Fantasy X. Every single female enemy, or “bitchy” female character, is overtly sexual. This is demonization of feminine sexuality, and while intentional or not, places the idea in people’s minds that a woman’s sexuality is an inherent signifier of her being a cold individual, or just flat out a terrible person. Even in Zanarkand, when the creepy demon-like boss could have been anything, they chose to make it an over sexualized woman. This trend isn’t new, though, especially if you played Final Fantasy 8. I could go even further and discuss Final Fantasy X-2, but I’ll save that for perhaps another time.

I know I harped on the negativity early on for the game, but there is an overwhelming amount of positivity as well. If you know me in my personal life, or follow my work, you know that I am transgender; designated male at birth. That means I have some experience with the concept of “Father/Son” relationships, as difficult as it may be to discuss. However, Final Fantasy X explores abuse and the after effects in a very meaningful way. Tidus is, in no uncertain terms, verbally abused and neglected by his parents, Especially Jecht. And yet, he feels as though he has to live up to Jecht’s legacy, and out do him at every single turn.

This fostered a hatred of Jecht within Tidus, and the memories you find throughout the entire game reaffirm the abuse Tidus suffered, while also showing Jecht not only as a monster but as a human being. Not once is Tidus told to stop hating Jecht or to forgive him. Even in the final bossfight, Tidus looks Jecht in the eye and says “I hate you.” Jecht’s response? “I know.” Jecht recognizes his alcoholism and abuse, and does not demand forgiveness. No, Jecht instead understands and supports his son’s feelings.

The game shows Tidus having emotion, crying, it displays the toxic masculinity in Tidus’ early memories, as well as Tidus unlearning some horrible habits and thoughts with the help of his new friends; especially Yuna. Yuna also had some damn good growth in this game. She’s trying to make herself save the world because she’s told she has to (because her father did), and she realizes she doesn’t have to be what her father was. Yuna had very good growth, but not nearly as much as Tidus, and unfortunately it was mostly because of Tidus.

Even worse, in one segment Yuna is captured by Seymour so he can marry her and Tidus and gang must save her! This was shoehorned in so Square could reinforce the romance between Yuna and Tidus, when in reality she was the most powerful character in the entire fucking party. Yuna literally could have bitch slapped Seymour, saved herself, and almost ended the game in that very moment, but Squeenix had to force the love connection in a rather boring, played out way.

These are the major thoughts I have on Final Fantasy X, and the great things represented there are amazing, but it is nowhere near perfect. It’s important that we critique these games, so that we know how to improve them and what to look for in the future.


Thanks for reading guys, this is Mod Loser, signing off!