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‘Final Fantasy VII’ Boasts the Franchise’s Vilest Cast of Villains

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Final Fantasy VII is a fantastic RPG for a whole host of reasons, but one of the most enduring is its memorable cast of characters. This feature, of course, extends to the baddies as well as the heroes.

One of the most important elements in any RPG is a strong cast of villains. Villains to hate, villains to fear, and ultimately, villains to defeat. FFVII offers them in spades, from a humble pimp, to the president of an energy company, all the way up to a space alien and her bastard son.

We’ll be going through each and every one of Final Fantasy VII‘s iconic cast of villains below, so let’s get started, shall we?


Don Corneo

Final Fantasy VII
One of the first villains that players will encounter in Final Fantasy VII is the scumbag pimp of Wall Market, Don Corneo. Though his perverted tendencies and attempted sexual assaults are generally played off for laughs, the shrewd Corneo gets the upper hand on players several times throughout the game.

Re-emerging during a key side quest later in the game, Corneo is also one of the only villains that the Turks help you to take down. Small fry though he might be, players can’t help but pump their fists with joy when the bastard finally falls to his death in the second half of the game.

Reno & Rude

Final Fantasy VII
The most enduring members of The Turks are also the first two you will meet. Almost always found together, the stoic Rude and impetuous Reno are key antagonists during many of the games plot lines.

What makes them so great though is the amount of depth and personality the two are granted. Often overheard gossiping in bars and taverns, Reno and Rude aren’t just co-workers but close friends who confide in one another. They also have a spine, which they show for good when they decide to walk off the job with Elena in the last act of Final Fantasy VII.

Elena

Final Fantasy VII
The only female member of The Turks, Elena is deadly in her own right, but especially when she joins Reno and Rude. Anchored by her clumsiness, her chattiness and her knack for oversharing, Elena tends to shake off her quirks when there is a job to be done.

Her pining for Tseng further humanizes her, and most players will be happy to see her survive the events of the game toward the end of Final Fantasy VII.

Tseng

Final Fantasy VII Tseng
The leader of The Turks, Tseng is a pragmatic and stern character who splits his time acting in the best interests of Shinra and himself. Having known Aeris since they were kids, Tseng also holds a certain affection for her that causes him to occasionally soften, and eventually costs him his life in the Temple of the Ancients.

Though he is the Turk we see the least of in FFVII, Tseng leaves a lasting impression nonetheless.

Dyne


When the party first reaches the Golden Saucer, Barret goes off on his own. It isn’t long after that a string of vicious murders are committed by a man with an arm-mounted gun, and the others fear the worst. Luckily, the culprit is not Barret but Dyne, a former friend of Barret’s whose hand was shot off in the same fateful accident that cost Barret his own hand.

Now, lost to madness, Dyne has become a serial murderer, killing with reckless indiscrimination. Sadly it falls to Barret to put him down once and for all, a fate which is especially cruel when you consider that Barret has taken on the role of father to Dyne’s child, Marlene.

Palmer


What’s a Final Fantasy game without a joke villain or two? As noted above, Don Corneo serves as the chief of silly villains in Final Fantasy VII, but next rung down the ladder is Palmer. Essentially just a fat dude in a yellow suit, Palmer seems designed to be ridiculed, and is often made to look a fool, even by other members of Shinra.

Of course, nothing can top Palmer’s unceremonious death after he flees from a battle with Cloud and co only to be killed by a passing truck. It’s a hilarious ending for a villain whose most threatening moment was when he spanked his rear at you during a fight.

Heidegger


A buffoon of a man with a characteristic horse laugh (gya, hah, hah!) Heidegger appears as a common annoyance to the player, and his Shinra co-workers throughout the course of Final Fantasy VII. Though the player only battles him a single time in the game, it is atop a massive robot invention he has created known as the Proud Clod.

When the player finally crushes Heidegger’s final creation, they put in an end to the childish bully of Shinra and his stupid horse laugh as well.

Scarlet


The creator of the Sister Ray, Shinra’s greatest weapon, is also the queen bitch of the upper crust. A cruel and sadistic woman who prides herself on her ruthlessness, Scarlet appears throughout Final Fantasy VII, and is often the bane of the players.

While her most notable moment is the notorious slap fight she engages in with Tifa atop the Sister Ray, Scarlet isn’t finally struck down for good until the player destroys the Proud Clod, which Scarlet pilots alongside Heidegger.

Rufus Shinra


After Sephiroth’s vicious attack on Shinra leaves the majority of the tower’s staff dead, Cloud and co follow the bloody trail to its zenith: a massive sword pinning President Shinra to his desk. With Shinra’s president dead, his son, Rufus Shinra, ascends to power, and becomes one of Final Fantasy VII‘s chief antagonists in the process.

While the player only officially comes to blows with Rufus once, he remains a force to be reckoned with throughout the game. Though his endgame death at the hands of the massive Diamond Weapon, was eventually retconned in Advent Children, Rufus getting blasted to shit in Shinra tower, where he thought himself safely above the conflict, is one of the most satisfying moments in the game.

The Weapons


One of the most memorable parts of Final Fantasy VII is the scene where the four weapons, the earth’s self-made, secret defense force emerges from the bowels of the lifestream. Further, the encounters with the massive beasts (Ruby, Diamond, Emerald, and Ultima) which fill the remainder of the game are thrilling and intimidating in equal measure.

Especially dire are the Emerald and Ruby weapons, which exist as secret bosses, and are hands-down the most difficult bosses of the entire game. Still, Ultima and Diamond definitely get their due as well, with the former destroying an island village and the latter taking down Shinra tower once and for all, with Rufus Shinra going down for the count in the bargain.

Hojo


Perhaps the most outright evil character in Final Fantasy VII is Professor Hojo. The creator of Sephiroth, murderer of Professor Gast, corruptor of Vincent Valentine, and tamperer of Cloud Strife’s genes, Hojo is responsible, or at the very least complicit, in the majority of the horrors, terrors and tragedies inflicted upon Gaia over the course of the game.

Being no slouch in the boss department either, Hojo injects himself with Jenova cells when he fears his number is finally up. This causes him to evolve into three increasingly dangerous forms before the player is finally able to put him down for good.

A cold, cruel and morally bankrupt man, there are few villains whose demise will satisfy the player as much as Hojo’s.

Jenova


The infamous calamity from the skies, Jenova’s fall to earth is essentially the inciting incident of Final Fantasy VII. It is her cells that are used to enhance soldiers like Cloud and Sephiroth, and it is her war against the ancients that makes Aeris’ existence so vitally special.

Jenova rarely speaks or communicates in any way, but her sinister force is felt throughout the entire run time of the game. Further, after Sephiroth absconds from Shinra tower with her head, she battles the player throughout the game in an increasingly mutated, and body-terror-inducing form.

Battled a total of four times throughout Final Fantasy VII, Jenova is the most horrific, stalwart and steadfast force that the player must battle against in the game.

Sephiroth


Standing atop the heap of Final Fantasy VII villains is one of the greatest gaming antagonists of all time, the greatest soldier who ever lived, Sephiroth. Created by Hojo, who fertilized a baby in the womb with Jenova cells, Sephiroth takes on his alien mother’s horrific genesis after learning the truth about himself in the basement of Shinra’s secret mansion in Nibelheim.

First witnessed in a flashback that shows his demonstrative battle prowess, Sephiroth is immediately established as a force to be reckoned with. After the player witnesses him burning an entire town to the ground, before stalking off fearlessly into the flames, his image and his legend is burned into their minds forever.

From there, he rarely appears, but players often come across his murderous handywork, along with his vicious slaughters of humans and monstrous sea creatures alike. “It is a power to be respected.” Red XIII intones when the party comes across a sea serpent impaled like a cocktail weenie on the remnants of a smashed tree. And he’s right.

By the time players finally face the mighty Sephiroth, especially his second Safer Sephiroth form, all the soaring orchestral choirs and galaxy-destroying super moves in the world won’t stop them from finally taking revenge on this silver-haired bastard. A hard fight is hard won when Sephiroth succumbs at last to Cloud’s blade, but the blood-spattered look of surprise on his face is well worth the effort when he finally disappears into the Lifestream for good.


So what do you think? How many of these characters will appear in the first installment of the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake? Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.

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PAX South 2020 Hands-On: ‘Ghostrunner,’ ‘Everspace 2,’ and ‘Wrath: Aeon of Ruin’

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‘Ghostrunner,’ ‘Everspace 2,’ and ‘Wrath: Aeon of Ruin’

We’ve already covered a wide variety of the games on display at PAX South this year, from retro revivals to unorthodox romances to everything in between – and we’re not done yet! In this next roundup article, we cover three more ambitious, action-packed games: Ghostrunner, Everspace 2, and Wrath: Aeon of Ruin.

Ghostrunner

Ghostrunner

Ghostrunner was one of the most in-demand games at PAX, and after playing it, it’s easy to see why. This first-person action slasher, developed by One More Level and produced by 3D Realms, lets players dash through the air, run across walls, and slash through enemies at blistering speed all while exploring a dystopian cyberpunk world. It’s gorgeous, lightning fast, and feels amazing to play.

Ghostrunner begins in a broken future, where the remnants of humanity have hidden away in a single condensed tower. Naturally enough, you’re put in the role of the one rebel who dares to rise up against the forces oppressing humanity. As you begin your uprising, you’ll also encounter a grand mystery – why is humanity the way it is now? Just what happened to the rest of the world? And what’s that voice you hear in your head?

Ghostrunner

My demo didn’t offer much illumination to these mysteries, but the 3D Realms team assured me that the story plays a significant role in the main campaign. What my demo did offer, however, was a look into the fast-paced, brutal gameplay that defines the game. Combat is so dynamic in Ghostrunner. Your arsenal of moves is massive and varied – of course you can run, jump, and slash with your katana, but you can also run along walls, dash over chasms, slow down time to dodge bullets, and more.

When all the moving pieces flow together, Ghostrunner achieves a visceral, almost hypnotic flow of battle. There are a few obstacles to this feeling. The controls took a bit of getting used to on my end, but that would be because, console peasant that I am, I’m not used to playing 3D games on a keyboard instead of a controller. Also, this may be an action game, but at many times it feels more like a puzzle game. With bloodthirsty enemies scattered around each environment, you’ll often need to take a step back and methodically evaluate which abilities to use in each situation. This can take some trial and error – it might have taken me more than a few tries to clear out the final wave of enemies. But when the solution works out, it’s a beautifully exhilarating feeling, and that’s what sets Ghostrunner apart.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin

PAX featured plenty of retro-styled games, but not many quite like Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. This retro-style FPS is a throwback to the simpler, faster days of shooters, built entirely in the same engine as the original Quake. It was even based off the work of Quake community modders. If you’ve played any classic FPS like the original DOOM or Wolfenstein, then you should have a good idea of how Wrath plays: it’s brutal, lightning fast, and action packed.

My demo got straight to the point. After teleporting me to a distant hellscape, I was faced with a horde of demons, ranging from simple skeletons to more aggressive ogre-like enemies and flying laser monsters. Thankfully, I was also given an assortment of weapons to take these creatures down with, including a simple handgun, a powerful blade arm, and my personal favorite, a shotgun. Each one of these felt good to control, and like any good old-fashioned shooter, they gave me a great feeling of power.

PAX South

Like any good, brutal FPS in the vein of Quake, Wrath features an insane amount of mobility. Movement is extremely fast and fluid, allowing you to zip across and above stages with reckless abandon. This extra speed will be necessary, especially considering that enemies can slaughter on with reckless, overwhelming abandon.

Of course, being built in the original Quake engine, Wrath is a delightfully retro treat to behold. It features all the signature hard polygonal edges of PC shooters from that bygone era, but with the added smoothness and fluidity of modern hardware. The game feels great to play and is a unique treat to behold. Wrath is currently available on Steam Early Access, and there’s plenty of new content that can be expected throughout the year, including new levels, enemies, and even a full online multiplayer mode. Stuffed with violent retro action, Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is absolutely worth watching out for.

PAX South

Everspace 2

Space is the final frontier, offering limitless exploration This’s the exact feeling that Everspace 2 captures. This sandbox open world space shooter dumps you in outer space and leaves you to figure out the rest, allowing you to fight, scavenge, and explore as you will, all with an incredible amount of freedom.

It’s a remarkably beautiful game too, boasting of extremely detailed 3D graphics that wouldn’t look out of place in a full 3D AAA experience. It’s extremely ambitious, offering a wealth of customization options through parts that can be scavenged from fallen space craft or space debris. There’s alien life to discover and a wealth of locations to explore, with the full game apparently featuring more than 80 unique environments.

PAX South

These environments will always be interesting to explore thanks to a mix between handcrafted worlds and randomization. The original Everspace was a pure roguelike, and as developer Rockfish Games told me, this constantly changing design has often been fundamental to previous great space shooters. Although Rockfish opted for an intentionally designed open world for the sequel, they want to maintain some of those same roguelike elements. That’s why whenever you venture through the many galaxies of Everspace 2, the galaxies and planets will be the same, but the items you find or enemies you encounter within them may change each time.

It took me some time to get used to Everspace. It immediately offers a great amount of freedom, with the demo simply dumping me in space and only requiring that I take down some enemy units and pick up some loot. Yet once I got the hang of the controls and the environment, it became extremely fluid and natural to zip through space, upgrade different components, and experience all the free-flowing action that it has to offer. Space is the ultimate freedom, and Everspace 2 is set to represent that.

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PAX South 2020 Hands-On: ‘Windjammers 2,’ ‘KUNAI,’ and ‘Young Souls’

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PAX South

PAX South 2020 attracted tons of exciting publishers to San Antonio, and even with such a crowded lineup, the DotEmu and Arcade Crew booth easily stood out as some of the show’s very best exhibitors. Streets of Rage 4 might have been their standout demo, but the French boutique publisher and developers brought a fantastic selection of games to the show, including their signature retro revivals and some promising original indie games of their own.

PAX South

Windjammers 2

Sequel to the much-beloved arcade classic, Windjammers 2 takes all the hectic frisbee-throwing action of the original and updates it for the modern generation. For those unfamiliar with the art of windjamming, it’s effectively pong, but instead of balls, you toss discs back and forth across the court. It pits two players against each other on opposite sides of the court, tasking you with mercilessly hurling your disc back and forth until it gets into your opponent’s goal.

You can just throw the disc directly at your opponent, but Windjammers 2 gives you many more options besides that. To really excel at the game, you’ll have to make use of the most extravagant moves you can, dashing across the court, leaping into the air, tossing the disc above you before slamming it down into your opponent, to list only a few of the uber-athletic abilities at your disposal. The game can move extremely quickly when both players take advantage of these capabilities, yet things never feel overwhelming. I always felt in control of the action, even when my quickest reflexes were put to the test. It’s fast-paced disc throwing insanity, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Animated GIF

Just like the rest of DotEmu’s catalogue, Windjammers 2 combines classic gameplay with gorgeous modern aesthetics. It has the same hand-drawn style that makes other DotEmu titles stand out, like Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap. The original Windjammers was a time capsule of garish 90s style, and that design is retained for the new release, with characters looking even more colorful and absurd than ever thanks to the revitalized art and animations. Hectic to play and beautiful to behold, Windjammers 2 is already set to be a multiplayer hit.

PAX South

Young Souls

Streets of Rage 4 was certainly the premier beat ‘em up on display at DotEmu’s booth, but it wasn’t the only one. Alongside this retro revival was an all-new take on the genre: Young Souls, an extremely stylish action game that blends fast-paced fighting with deep RPG customization and a charming, emotional narrative.

Beat ‘em ups might not be known for deep storylines, but Young Souls aspires to something more. Along with its satisfying combat mechanics and plentiful flexibility for character builds, it also boasts of having “a profound story with unforgettable characters.” While my demo didn’t give me much of a look at this deep narrative, it’s reasonable to assume that the story will at least be quality, since it’s penned by none other than the author of the Walking Dead games, Matthew Ritter.

Animated GIF

However, I did get a substantial feel for combat. Young Souls features more than 70 monster-filled dungeons, and I got to venture into two of them in my demo. The action feels weighty and solid when going up against enemies, yet precise at the same time. Like any classic beat ‘em up, there’s a mixture of light and heavy attacks, along with blocks and powerful special moves, along with items and spells to exploit during combat as well. In between battles, you’re able to deck your character out in equipment and items, allowing for an element of roleplaying depth that isn’t typically associated with action games like this. In my short time with the game, it was fun to experiment with different character builds, which could determine the speed and abilities of my fighter, promising combat for the final game.

I played the demo both solo and co-op; in single-player, you’re able to switch between the two twins at will, while two players can each take control of a sibling. In both playstyles, the gameplay was just as visceral and satisfying as one would expect from a classic-style beat ‘em up like this, but the addition of a deep story and RPG mechanics put a unique spin on this entry. That’s not to mention that, like every other game at the DotEmu and Arcade Crew booth, it’s visually beautiful, featuring stylish 2D characters in 3D environments that are all rendered in gentle, washed-out colors. Young Souls might not have a release date or even any confirmed platforms as of now, but it’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on in the meantime.

KUNAI

KUNAI takes the typical metroidvania formula and boosts it to hyperspeed. It has all the hidden secrets and massively interconnected world exploration that you’d expect from the genre, and it gives you the ability to speed through that faster and more dynamically than ever. Its main gimmick is right in the name – by giving you two kunai hookshots, you’re able to traverse up and down your environments with speed and freedom, making for a uniquely vertical method to explore.

KUNAI starts out with the end of the world. In a dystopian future where technology has taken over, you control Tabby, a sentient and heroic tablet that’s dead set on liberating the planet. This serious plot is filled with plenty of personality, however, from the silly faces that Tabby makes in action to the charming dialogue and quirky character designs. This personality is rendered in appealing detail thanks to the game’s simple yet effective pixel art.

PAX South

It’s in the gameplay where KUNAI truly shines. With the eponymous kunai, you’re able to latch onto vertical surfaces. Combine this with the additional abilities to dash, bounce off enemies, or wall jump, and it provides for a uniquely dynamic method of exploring the world. Using the kunai feels easy and intuitive, fast enough to gain speed but never too floaty. It’s a balanced approach to speed and movement that never gets out of control, resulting in what it is perhaps the best-feeling movement of any metroidvania I’ve played recently. My demo was brief, and ended very soon after first getting the kunai, but the gameplay felt so smooth and natural that I can’t wait to experience more of it. Thankfully, it’s not long to wait, since KUNAI hits Switch and PC on February 6.

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PAX South Hands-On: ‘Streets of Rage 4’ Balances Legacy and Innovation

Streets of Rage 4 embodies the original series’ elegant, action-packed design and revives it for a new generation.

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Streets of Rage 4

From the moment I began my demo with Streets of Rage 4 at PAX South, it felt like coming home. It might have been more than two decades since the first three games in the Streets of Rage series perfected the beat ‘em up formula on the Sega Genesis, but courtesy of developers Lizardcube, DotEmu, and Guard Crush, this legendary series is back and in good hands. This brand new entry aims to recapture all the style and balance of the originals, while introducing innovations of its own. If my demo is any indication, the game is set to achieve that.

Streets of Rage 4 uses the same elegant level design that set the original trilogy apart back on the Genesis. The gameplay is simple: keep walking to the right, taking out every enemy in front of you with all the jabs, kicks, jumps, and special moves at your disposal. If anything, the controls feel better than ever before, with an added level of precision and fluidity that simply wasn’t possible on older hardware.

Streets of Rage 4

That’s not to mention the new move sets. Beat ’em ups might not be the most complex genre around, but Streets of Rage 4 adds the perfect level of depth to the combat. It has the same simple jabs and kicks found in the original games, but spiced up with the potential for new combos and even a handful of extravagant new special moves. With new and old fighting mechanics, this new entry features plenty of room to experiment with combat but never loses the simple, arcade-like charm of the originals.

Streets of Rage 4 revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed style for the twenty-first century

The demo included series staple characters like Axel and Blaze, yet I opted to play as an all-new character: Cherry Hunter, a guitar-wielding fighter whose move set felt very distinct from classic characters. Her movement is speedy, certainly faster than Axel but slower than Blaze, and her guitar provided for some unique melee moves. Like the new mechanics, her addition to the character roster helps shake up the Streets of Rage formula just enough, while maintaining the core beat ’em up simplicity that made the series special in the first place.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 might innovate in a few areas, but one thing that’s clearly remained true to form is the difficulty. It boasts of the same old school difficulty that characterized the original games. The classic and brand new enemies are just as ruthless as ever, mercilessly crowding in around you and can easily overwhelm you if you’re not careful. However, just like the originals, the fighting feels so satisfying that it’s easy to keep coming back for more action.

Amid all these changes and additions, perhaps the most obvious (and controversial) change is the visual style. While the original series used detailed pixel art, Streets of Rage 4 instead boasts of an extremely detailed handcrafted art style, in which every frame of character animation is painstakingly drawn by hand and environments are colorful and painterly. Thousands of frames of animation go into each character, and the effort certainly shows, making every punch, kick, and other acts of violence a breathtaking sight to behold.

Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences.

Some fans have complained that the game loses the series’ spirit without pixel art, but DotEmu marketing director Arnaud De Sousa insisted to me that this simply isn’t the case. Pixel art wasn’t an artistic choice back then – it was a matter of necessity. If the developers could have designed the game to look exactly as they wanted, regardless of technical limitations, then it likely would have looked just like the luscious hand-drawn visuals of the current Streets of Rage 4.

That’s not to mention that, as De Sousa emphasized, the Streets of Rage games are defined by looking different from one another. The third game looks different from the second, which looked different from the first – and now this new entry has twenty years of change to catch up on. Thus, it only makes sense for this new entry to adopt a radically new graphical style after all this time.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences. The difference between De Sousa and myself is perfect evidence of that. He grew up playing the games in the 90s, whereas I wasn’t even born when the original trilogy became such a phenomenon and only played them years later in subsequent re-releases. Yet here we were, standing in the middle of a crowded convention and gushing about decades-old games. We might have had extremely different experiences with the series, but that didn’t stop us from appreciating the joys of stylish beat ’em up action.

“A good game is a good game,” De Sousa told me, “no matter how old.” That’s the attitude that Streets of Rage 4 exemplifies. It revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed design for the twenty-first century. And with a release on all modern platforms, more players than ever will be able to rediscover the simple pleasure of wielding your bare knuckles against thugs of all types. Between the new art style and the solid gameplay, Streets of Rage 4 is looking like an incredibly welcome return for this iconic franchise.

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