Q. So what about the Square Characters of the Square/Disney Crossover?
A. Oh, you know, they’re doing this and that.
Note that this post will contain vague spoilers for not only Kingdom Hearts, but also a myriad of other Square games. Though I am rather proud of myself that I don’t think I distinctly noted the fact that Aerith dies.
First, a history lesson for any young whippersnappers wandering around the site and perhaps my lawn, which you should vacate immediately. Back in the day, when Squaresoft was young and gay (see Tobal No. 2), Final Fantasy plots and characters were a one-off event. Sure, you may see a Cecil cameo in a virtual reality nightmare world, or Black Mage kicking off the era of the sprite comic, but, by and large, when a Final Fantasy game hit “The End”, you were never going to see those characters again. Ultimecia may as well have won, because all of her opponents stopped existing about fifteen minutes after her death. Nowadays, you have your Dissidias and Theatrehythms and The After Years and we know exactly how Kefka would react to Squall, and how many children were conceived during the ending of Final Fantasy 4, and the mystery is just gone.
Kingdom Hearts (1) was released before even Final Fantasy 10-2, so not only was it a chance to see all those fresh faces from Final Fantasy 10 again, but it also featured a number of “old favorites”, like Cloud and Squall, characters that hadn’t been seen on anything but rad Versus posters for years. I literally cannot describe how amazing it was, at the time, to see these characters returning to an active role. They could just show up, say three lines, and then disappear into the ether, and it would be exhilarating.
So that’s exactly what Square did.
Good job, guys. Nice hustle.
Tidus, Wakka, and Selphie all appear on Destiny Islands as a sort of cameo balance to protagonists Sora, Riku, and Kairi. They’re all Sora-aged, so they look much younger than in their original appearances. They all play (literally, no euphemism here) with Team Sora, and, when their entire world is destroyed, Sora never mentions them ever again throughout the franchise. Selphie appears briefly as Kairi’s friend in Kingdom Hearts 2, because, with Sora and Riku off planet and adventuring at the time, Kairi has no other friends, and must settle.
Squall decides to call himself Leon for some reason or another, and also decides to be a very confusing character for the KH universe. Squall and the remaining Final Fantasy characters in Kingdom Hearts 1 all used to live in Radiant Garden, a happy shiny world ruled by Ansem the Wise in its better days. Then Xehanort took over without anyone noticing… or… something. Radiant Garden became Hollow Bastion, and anyone worth a damn got exiled to Traverse Town. Leon, using a gummi ship provided by Cid, traveled the universe, and did bupkis. Seriously. There’s this whole backstory where he earned Mickey’s trust for all the effort he’s putting in and all the hearts he’s saved, but when you go to the other worlds, there’s just no mention of the guy, or even the slightest bit of evidence any other off-worlders have been curbing the heartless onslaught. Best guess? Leon is completely fabricating his own history. Oh yeah, I saved… uhhh… Victory Through Air Power world. Yep, totally saved. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? Oh, that’s alright, it’s not really a mainstream world.
Somehow Leon got King Mickey’s attention, and rather than Mickey, Keyblade Master, just explaining keyblade history to Sora himself, Mickey chooses Leon to be his proxy. Is Mickey secretly ashamed of his squeaky voice? Whatever the case, Leon is basically the lore-meister for the entirety of Kingdom Hearts 1, so any plot irregularities stemming from basic keyblade knowledge can be placed squarely on his shoulders, or at least his silly little half-coat.
In KH2, Leon heads up the committee to make his home planet look less like a depressing, dark hovel. This goes against everything I understand about Squall.
Aerith is here to be Team Final Fantasy’s mom, which is a common problem in Kingdom Hearts. Basically, every good guy group has to have one character, always female, who stands around and worries about what the boys are doing. I will remind you that this is Aerith, who, aside from that whole end on her knees business, spent a lot of Final Fantasy 7 sneaking out to escape her mom to meet up with boys. Also, she’s one of only two FF7 playable characters to join the party that doesn’t already have some kind of weapons/warrior training, which has to take some level of lady balls (MASTER level lady balls). But, no, KH Aerith just stands around, elaborates on whatever Leon is saying, and then looks concerned. In KH2, she joins in the battle… as an unarmed white mage. Sigh.
Yuffie is also Leon’s sidekick. While she is at least the rare “active” woman in the Kingdom Hearts universe (you can actually fight her and Leon in Olympus Coliseum), she still doesn’t do much of anything in either game.
Cid rounds out team Final Fantasy, and he’s basically there to maintain your gummi ship. This is a very Cid appropriate task. In KH2, he is replaced by a pair of chipmunks. This, most unfortunately, does not lead to Chip ‘n Dale ‘n Cid: Rescue Rangers. Sit your ass down in that chair and eat your goddamn cheese!
Cloud actually has something of an interesting go of it in KH1. He appears as a minion of Hades in Olympus Coliseum, which grants Cloud the honor of being the only Final Fantasy character to appear on a Disney planet in KH1. This Cloud looks a lot like Vincent Valentine, and it would completely make sense if this “role” was originally supposed to go to Vinnie. After all, in the backstory of FF7, Vincent was nearly killed, stored in an underworld like basement, and then eventually revived to a world where he decided to fight against the evil that once injured and imprisoned him. Unfortunately, as well as that would fit the motif of Hades’ underworld warrior, they decided to go with Cloud, who, in the backstory of FF7, was nearly killed, stored in an underworld like basement, and then eventually revived to a world where he decided to fight against the evil that once injured and imprisoned him. Totally different scenario.
Also, Cloud checked out his new Hades powers/look (the single batwing, the power of flight, increased durability, “dark powers”, aversion to sunlight) and deduced he had become a mummy, so he wrapped his sword in bandages.
Cloud fought for Hades, but then couldn’t bring himself to kill Sora, because Cloud knows that he might be able to mow down hundreds of unnamed soldiers, but he draws the line at some kid with spikey hair and an unusual sword. Cloud officially becomes a hero for voiding his contract, and then proceeds to not do a single other thing.
Sephiroth is lurking around as a bonus boss in Kingdom Hearts 1, but doesn’t get any kind of a storyline until KH2, where it is revealed that he is the darkness in Cloud’s heart… or… something. As a result, it’s kind of fuzzy on whether or not Sephiroth is actually genetic-freak Sephiroth, a normal human being, or even just a belabored metaphor. We just know he is responsible for some amazing voice acting. Related: KH2 introduces Tifa, who is supposed to be the light to Sephiroth’s darkness. Tifa also proves she can punch through steel walls… and then proceeds to spend the rest of the game worrying about Cloud. Kingdom Hearts, you have a lady problem.
I should probably mention Auron at this point, as he pretty much fulfills the same role as KH1 Cloud for Kingdom Hearts 2. Auron is plucked out of Hell by Hades. Auron is supposed to fight against Hercules/Sora, but resists. Auron learns a very valuable lesson about never losing your sunglasses. Despite the fact that the events of Final Fantasy 10 cannot have happened in the Kingdom Hearts universe (reminder: Tidus and Wakka are children), Auron has a brief flashback to losing his friends during some kind of heroic journey. Given Yuna’s state in KH2, I choose to believe a drunken Jecht and Auron traveled with a magical fairy Braska to stop Monstro, and failed. Someone please contact fanfic.net about this.
Speaking of which, Yuna, Rikku, and Paine (aka the Gullwings) are magical fairies in the service of Maleficent. There is absolutely no explanation for this phenomena; it is unknown if Maleficent transformed the girls, if they’re just part of a completely unseen fairy race, or if Rikku cast the wrong spell at the wrong time and it led naturally to hijinks. The Gullwings help Maleficent until… they don’t. Again, pretty much no explanation for anything these three do. I kind of assume their existence is owed to a weird dream someone had.
Seifer and his disciplinary committee buddies appear as young teens in Twilight Town. Given the difference in their ages, Leon either must have received his trademark scar from some random heartless, or he is a phenomenally poor swordsman. I suppose it could be both. Seifer is basically there to be a rival to Roxas in the very beginning of KH2, and while he doesn’t really accomplish much, he does firm up his place as “biggest jerk in the Final Fantasy series”. He could do worse.
Now, you may have noticed that all of the Final Fantasy characters have hailed from Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 10 at this point. There is a very particular reason for this: no one on the staff has played any other Final Fantasy games. To prove this, Vivi of Final Fantasy 9 appears in Twilight Town, and his entire contribution is being replaced by a random malicious mook. He speaks, without exaggeration, maybe nine whole words. Setzer of Final Fantasy 6 also appears, and the “noble gambler with a heart of gold” is an adult trying to bribe his way to victory in a children’s bopper game. My reaction to this can be summarized in the immortal words of Vivi, “…”
Zack Fair, who just about appears in Final Fantasy 7, drops by for KH: Birth by Sleep. In a radical change of pace for the series, Zack is tricked by Hades into fighting Hercules at Olympus Coliseum. Final Fantasy characters find faustian bargains to be sweeter than honey. During his downtime, Zack also finds time to ask Aqua out on a date, which I believe makes him the only character in all of Kingdom Hearts to plainly display a libido. Good for you, Zack, I’m sure you two crazy kids have a wonderful future ahead.
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance does not feature any new Final Fantasy Characters… or any Final Fantasy characters, I think. But it does feature a healthy portion of the cast of The World Ends With You. Those whacky kids are back to their old Reaper Game shenanigans, and, while a tutorial is mixed into the plot, this appears to be the first time in the series where a straight “Square World” plays out similarly to Disney Worlds hewing closely to their original plots. Of course, for some stupid reason, Team TWEWY is stuck in Traverse Town, as opposed to their own, personal setting. Hey, it’s not like the actual geographic location of TWEWY played any part in the gameplay or plot.
So what does this all amount to? Not much. Team Final Fantasy doesn’t really accomplish much of anything in the grand overarching plot of Kingdom Hearts, and, by and large, most of the characters are simple caricatures of their former selves. It’s pleasant enough to fight against Squall or Cloud or Zack, but nothing of value is added, no great insight gleamed, and, in many cases, it’s just a brand name attached to a role that could be played by any ol’ NPC. I think we can all agree that perhaps after spending twenty hours with someone hunting movers in a dank cave, you don’t want to see that person ever again…
And the odds of Lightning being seduced by Hades into fighting Hercules in Kingdom Hearts 3? Staggering.