Square at the Ivory Gates: God and Angels in Squaresoft Titles

by Evan Jenkins

[Editor's Note: This guy's hilarious, he signed his e-mail to me with: Long-time reader and holder of the ten seconds of lost FMV that will tie up the end to the FFVII ending: the scene where Sid says, "Oh Sh*t, there goes mankind,"]

It began with Kefka, (to the best of my knowledge, I haven't played EVERY Squaresoft game) floating atop his "monument to non-existence" on the wings of an angel. I sat in awe of this 16-bit image as the angelic choir began the remixed version of Kefka's "dancing mad" theme. I thought, at the time, that I was seeing something unoriginal in concept (a mad god) but very compelling in design (a combination of angelic beauty and heinous evil). Even the theme music seemed to follow this pattern, it was both angelic and chaotic. Many gamers that also happen to be biblical scholars would argue that Lucifer was a beautiful but evil angel, and so Kefka was not so original...and I would agree. It was not that Kefka's angelic form was so outrageously different from anything that I've ever read, it was that it was different from anything I've ever PLAYED. Since that fateful game, however, it has become the norm, almost to the point of paranoia. Ladies in Gentlemen, the angels have arrived.

As you may recall, fellow gaming geezers, the ol' 8-bit Nintendo system was cleaner than a Sunday school brunch. The Nintendo versions of PC games (such as Maniac Mansion, a semi-adult classic) were puritanized for your protection. Then there were those games made exclusively for the system (such as Final Fantasy...yep, no numbers, just Final Fantasy) that were made under strict regulations prohibiting adult references. What are 'adult' references? Well, I'm glad you asked. An adult reference is anything that makes parents sue. No one can 'die' in Billy's Mega Man cartridge but rather, they 'are gone' or 'were dispatched.' No one ever passionately kissed Luigi and God knows that Link never got any action.

These regulations also made any alternative references to religion completely taboo. Never would 'god' be the enemy (like in Xenogears) and never would the holy warriors turn out to be savage demons (as in Final Fantasy Tactics). If the word 'God' was used at all, you better believe it was shown huge amounts of reverence and respect. On the 8-bit Nintendo there was pig-faced Ganon, but no angelic Sephiroth. There were merry references to Alice in Wonderland (whoa, these 'shrooms make me soooooo big, man) and even Greek Mythology but never any tales of religious inquisition or Gnostic forms of worship.

So why was Kefka on my Super Nintendo? Was he time-travelling from the enlightened late-nineties or was Square hoping Nintendo censors wouldn't play through the whole game? I honestly don't know, but since I saw that maniacal Seraphim, the world of Square has never been the same.

I bought a PSX when I saw the commercials for Final Fantasy VII. I was completely hooked on Sephiroth (in my opinion the most widely loved-hated villain since Darth Vader) and was VERY shocked to see him take a page from Kefka's book (apparently only ONE page) and get himself an angel form. 'What the ****' was my startled response upon seeing another angel waiting for me to kick its holy ass. Granted, the choir music was better and the angel came equipped with one [1] solar system destroying conjuration, but Kefka's mood remained. Dancing Madness was replaced by Burning Anger but the stylish feathers were still there.

Then came the delightful experience of 'beating' Final Fantasy Tactics. Without spoiling too much, the plot follows a former noble turned 'heretic' who is forced to rebel against his civilization's most sacred religious testament after he learns the FORBIDDEN TRUTH (Bwah ha ha ha). A satisfying iconoclastic romp, but another angelic boss (this time it's called a 'saint,' but it still has wings, folks, it's an angel).

Xenogears...enough said.

No, just kidding, there are never too many words in a verbose essay. Xenogears is my personal favorite (mostly because I had to play through it sixty thousand times to understand it). What I, and many other gamers out in Squareland, thought at first to be a bad translation from the Japanese script was actually a well-done translation of a story that read like a mix between Professor Confusalots Theocracy final and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Choked full of dark allegorical references to Christianity, Gnostic and pagan beliefs, and a dash of one-winged angels to boot, Xenogears WAS religion.

Ahhhhh...Final Fantasy VIII came next. Not my favorite game, but a great movie. It had NOTHING to do with God, but Rinoa had a damned pair of angel wings on her dress...WHY!!!!!!!!! Is Square implying that Rinoa is the "Jesus" figure, or the G side of the game's G vs. E struggle, or what? I find it odd that in a game with no Judeo/Christian allegory or morals there would be a large emphasis on angel wing imagery.

Oh my head. All I wanted to prove in my **ahem** paragraph is that Squaresoft is now wholly obsessed with God and his winged cohorts. As a Christian boy myself, I find God to be pretty darned important, but one must wonder why a multinational corporation would become so fixated. I think it's because no one can top an angel in terms of raw power, so every END BOSS (trumpets) would seem lame in comparison. I mean, people, look at Exdeath from Final Fantasy V...he's a TREE. I guess the good people of Square were playing the favorite game of five-year-olds: "What would win in a fight, an angel or a piece of wood" and since then the same formula has been used to shoot down every other boss concept. By the way, 3DO has gone the same way with all their new angel games, but that's a story for another day.

Cross your fingers and hope for a dragon or something at the end of FFIX!

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