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Examining the Many Layers of Rydia


(The above picture is strangely fitting)

I was on the bus yesterday talking with Zero, about the evolution of character development in video games over the years. The topic of Final Fantasy IV was brought up in discussion. I know, surprise, surprise, right? For what it's worth, Zero brought it up. We began discussing some of the characters, the upcoming DS release and the fact that reports have shown that the original SNES incarnation had only about 25% of the dialogue due to storage limitations. We daydreamed about our favorite characters being more flushed out in the DS version of the game. We also talked about one-dimensional characters in games when he brought up an interesting point. He felt that Rydia was the most flushed out character in FFIV, and suspected that was the reason why I liked her so much. I gave it some thought and realized that I was drawn to that character for more than just that she was a female in a male-dominated hobby. Her growth is on the same and perhaps even higher level than the evolution of our protagonist, Cecil.

(Warning, FFIV Spoilers, just in case)

Rydia starts the game out as a small child. The japanese compendiums claim she was seven. Her mother was killed accidentally by Cecil and Kain, before the Bomb Ring/"Package" destroys the village of Mist. She's scared and angry at the two, not knowing that killing the mist Dragon would kill her as well. After Rydia summons Titan and the Village of Mist is closed off, Cecil takes Rydia to the village of Kaipo, bringing her to the inn and defends her against soldiers of Baron who want her captive. She slowly decides to trust Cecil. We see the first sign of growth in Rydia's character.

Rydia shows more dimension to her character when the party reaches Mount Hobbs. Blocked by a wall of thick ice, a fire spell is essential to passage. Rosa asks Rydia to cast the spell and fire and she hesitates. The incident in the village has traumatized her. We see more vulnerability to her character in a way we hadn't seen in characters back in 1991. She overcomes the fear and manages to cast the spell. After that Rydia can use fire spells, which is quite handy when dealing with undead.

In the first play-through of the game, we think Rydia is done for after the Leviathan attack. When she does return not only is it extremely satisfying, but it shows heroism in a female role. This rarity only appeared in the 90's with the likes of Samus Aran. Golbez arrives in the Dwarven kingdom, looking for dark crystals. He summons a shadow dragon, leaving our heros defenseless. He eliminates everyone in the party, about to give the final blow to Cecil. Suddenly we see a mist dragon being summoned, defeating the shadow dragon and healing the party. They hear a familiar voice but it's not clear until she appears on the battle screen fighting by your side. Our summoner has returned, marking a moment that is a favorite among fans of FFIV (fans beside me, I can assure you).

This is probably the biggest evolution of her character, not just because she has aged, but is wiser, and braver. The scared child is gone and what is left is a brave woman who isn't afraid to fight. Her strong character personality is also what draws Edge to her and her toughness can put up with his firey personality. Had the events she experienced not happened, would she be as developed as she was?

I know her character is still pretty shallow compared to the complexity of characters we see in a lot of todays video games, but given the time when this came out, Rydia was a well-flushed out character for 1991. She transforms both physically and emotionally, overcoming her fears and anxieties. She conquers them and helps others to conquer an evil being. For the time, I don't think any character could get more flushed out than that.
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About naia-the-gamerone of us since 1:51 PM on 09.13.2007

My name is Naia (pronounced either Nay-a or Neye-a, like yay or like eye). I've been poking around here for a while, although I don't comment as much as I used to. I am I'm a starving artist in LA trying to keep my sanity. I do mostly freelance stuff and I'm always looking for people (even on DToid) to do fun projects with in entertainment. That can be either in theater, film, TV, or video games. I want to be like Kermit the Frog and be part of a group that entertains. I also love blue slimes, puppies and Sprinkles Cupcakes.

I've been playing computer and video games all my life. My dad's a programmer so we got an IBM PC very early on in the 80's. For Christmas in 1989 my parents surprised me with a Nintendo and it's been downhill ever since. I have/had an NES, gameboy (of all flavors) SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega Gamegear, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2, PS3, Gamecube, DS, PSP, Wii, and 360. Whew!

I am a HUGE Dragon Quest Fan Girl. I did NOT buy an R4 to play Dragon Quest 4 in broken beta-english. I also do NOT play ROMs because I did NOT want to play Dragon Quest V and VI ten years ago in english, not knowing if I would ever see those games in the US. ROMS are bad :P Squenix can shit in a bag and if the bag has a cute slime on it, I'll buy it. I know it's a problem.

Also, Rydia is my hero.

I like games with colors in them aside from brown and black, even if most of the world calls those games "kiddy." Screw that! I play RPGs, Action/Adventure, Platformers, Puzzles, and Point-n-Click Adventure games. I will play fighters and shooters, but they have to be the right kind of game.

I'm such a nerd, I like to keep track of all the games I've completed in an excel file (it's around 300 something). Now that my backlog is out of control I have a word document for that too. My goal is to for once and for all eliminate the backlog, or at least keep it to a number in the single digits.

I have a lot of things to say about the game industry, it's something I care deeply about and love giving my opinions. I like to rant about shit. I'm here just to share what I have to say, in hopes someone is willing to listen. If I'm not here, I'm most likely wasting my life on IRC.

Also for the record, my Top 5 Games of All Time
1. Chrono Trigger
2. Final Fantasy 4
3. Super Mario 3
4. Dragon Quest 3
5. Phantasy Star 4

Yes, I love my retro games

Thanks to The GHost for this awesome card!
Xbox LIVE:naia28
PSN ID:naia28
Steam ID:naia28
Mii code:7309 4775 1557 9362
3DS Code:4167-4502-0418


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