Square Enix released a whole batch of new screenshots this week for Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, and when I see images of its story and characters, all I can think of is Star Wars anymore. Granted, the series, in general, has never exactly been shy about its fandom towards a galaxy far, far away, going all the way to the point where at least two characters named Biggs and Wedge appear in every entry.
However, Final Fantasy XII is far more blatant with this love. If the similarities are a little too close and pique your interest, by all means, you can buy the game on July 11 for the PlayStation 4 and see how deep the comparisons really go.
First, the story itself is about as plain of a Star Wars retelling as it gets. Granted, Star Wars is not the most original story in the world, and it's far more loved for "how" it's told rather than what's being told. Plenty of similarly related tales have been envisioned in the same way, most famously Akira Kurosawa's classic The Hidden Fortress, and the same rings true for Final Fantasy XII and its deeply political plot.
Ivalice is a land where otherworldly mysticism meets cold steel and machinery, not unlike the Force set among all of these sweet space battles. The game starts with the region being torn apart by a long and costly war. An all powerful empire called Archadia wants nothing more than to invade the neighboring Kingdom of Dalmasca, the last bit of resistance that stands between it and total domination of the continent. As a show of force, Archadian forces overrun a interlocked kingdom called Nabudis, lay waste to its military, destroy the capital in a great explosion, and summon the king and crown prince of Dalmasca to sue for surrender and peace.
When the king and prince show up to the peace signing, they are murdered on the spot in a violent double-cross.
Only the princess of Dalmasca, now a fugitive on the run, remains as the last light of hope for her people. The official story across the Kingdom of Dalmasca is that she has been kidnapped and executed, but in her desperation, she turns to a disgraced knight living in exile to help her penetrate behind enemy lines and find a way to destroy the evil empire from within. Along the way, she also recruits two hapless commoners, a sky pirate, and his furry friend to aid in her adventure.
Sound familiar? It's not that far off from Leia's plight against Palpatine after the destruction of her home world. Even each of Star Wars' other central characters have an uncanny counterpart in Final Fantasy XII as well. Strangely enough, the only character not to get a parallel is Luke.
Princess Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca/Princess Leia Organa
Strong willed princess and daughter of the leading resistance figure in the ongoing battles against the ambitious Archadian Empire. Princess Ashe carries the weight of her family on her shoulders as the last surviving member, and when it becomes obvious she can't succeed in the limelight anymore, she turns to underground rebellion to ensure her family is avenged and her kingdom is saved.
Despite players taking the role of Vaan, a traditional giveaway of a Final Fantasy protagonist, Ashe is at the center of the story and is the true catalyst of all the event around her.
Basch fon Rosenburg/Obi-Wan Kenobi
The disgraced knight living in self-exile following the destruction of his reputation. He is charged with murdering the king of Dalmasca, an accusation far more heinous than Obi-Wan Kenobi's crime of "being a Jedi." However, Princess Ashe knows this not to be true and turns to her father's oldest and most trusted ally in her darkest hour. Basch is the most worldly wise of the party, and while he is certainly not as old as Obi-Wan Kenobi, he still ranks up there at the rickety age of 36… ancient in Final Fantasy character years.
He also pulls a full-on Ewan McGregor by growing an impressive man beard over the course of the game.
No surprises here. Balthier is as blatant of a Han Solo homage as it gets! When Basch and Princess Ashe are desperate to cross over enemy lines and flee to safety, they turn to the criminal underbelly of Dalmasca's great city of Rabanastre to smuggle them across. Where else better than through a charming, dashing, cocky, "thief with a heart of gold," sky pirate?
Balthier is a character who loves his freedom and spends much of the game escaping from a dark past that always seems right on his heels. He's also the character best suited to use
Fran is the most mysterious character of the party, and she doesn't have as much character built into the plot. Her main purpose is to act as a Balthier's furry and badass co-pilot and kill a lot of dudes with her bow.
People don't like Chewbacca because of the depth of his character. They like him because he's silly and to see such a silly being wreck bad guys in such horrible fashions is immensely rewarding. Fran is the same, just replace the word "silly" with "sexy" in a weird, rabbit lady kinda way.
She also provides a link for the party when they need to speak to her mysterious people of the wooded lands.
Ashe and Penelo/R2-D2 and C-3PO
Vaan, chiseled abs and all, is sometimes seen as the protagonist Final Fantasy XII, and he sort of is if you take him being the controllable character as a sign of his importance to the plot. There are even some Luke comparisons to be made here as he's just a common boy with a huge destiny and dreams of outgrowing his meager life to be a pilot.
There's plenty of evidence to see it that way, but because he is paired with his friend Penelo throughout the game, the truth is that he's just a witless and helpless nobody caught up in a grand story. Vaan and Penelo aren't heroes in the story, they tag along with the heroes. They don't provide any insight to the conflict, they provide the viewpoints of simpletons who accidentally stumble into these situations time and time again.
They also bicker a lot and have a lot of chemistry, and the fact that they go off and do remedial tasks while Basch, Princess Ashe, and Balthier talk serious business shows how belittling the writers held Vaan while fleshing his character out.
Rumor has it that Basch was supposed to be the main character, but Square Enix higher-ups wanted someone that the Akihabara kids could relate to. Hence, we have Vaan and Penelo to be our R2-D2 and C-P3O vantage point into the story.
Archadian Judges/Darth Vader
The judges are a group of the Archadian empire's enforcers who remain above and outside the law. Sound familiar? Before he became the central pillar of an ill-advised prophecy that retroactively began way later in the Star Wars canon, it's sometimes hard to remember that Darth Vader was at one point nothing more than this exact role: an enforcer of the emperor. The Empire needed to make a statement, he sent in Vader to mess everything up.
And the judges all embody different parts of Vader as well. Some are evil and succumb to the temptations of their own power. Others redeem acts of indescribable evil through valiant deeds and self-sacrifice. There's even a familial connection between one of the judges and one of the main characters!
And yeah… they just straight up wear dark armor and rarely take off their helmets. Need we say more?
The comparisons are endless between Final Fantasy XII and Star Wars. If you're a Star Wars fan who wants to dig more into the inspirations that Final Fantasy has borrowed or lifted from it over the years, this entry is the most blatant place to start.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age launches for the PlayStation 4 on July 11.
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