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Here’s a conversation that never comes up in the RPGs I’ve played, but really should’ve.

Main Bad Guy: At last! You sniveling fools have finally reached my lair. I hope that seven-headed dragon, each with its own elemental weakness, hasn’t tired you out completely. I look forward to killing you all with my might.

Plucky Protagonist: You’ll pay for what you’ve done to my village!

Main Bad Guy: You’ll have to refresh my memory, Plucky Protagonist. I’ve decimated many villages in my time. Do you remember which day of the week it was? Whatever! Whichever young infant baby I left alive out of pity that you were, I should’ve finished you off back then! Now I get to do just that. You and your little girlfriend whose dog I accidentally shot, and your best friend whose house I accidentally TP’ed, and… and… uhm… who the hell are you?

??? : I don’t know who you are, but everyone’s been jazzed about killing you, so here I am!

Main Bad Guy: Are you from a village with lots of trees? I’ve burned a lot of villages with lots of trees.

??? : Uhm… no.

Main Bad Guy: Were you one of the many refugees I missed with my doomsday station wagon on my way back from burning said villages?

??? : No.

Main Bad Guy: Were you the waiter I forgot to tip the other day?

??? : Never worked in a restaurant before.

Main Bad Guy: Then who the hell are you? Why do you even care about any of this! Sure my doomsday device will ultimately destroy the world, but you don’t see everyone trying to get in here now do you?

Seriously! What is he/she/it/they doing there? They have zero to do with the main story. When you have them in the party while the protagonist and the antagonist are having some deep conversation about why they want to kill each other, that out of place guy just stands there quietly, possibly trying to recite the alphabet backwards to pass the time until the chaos starts. These characters are almost in every RPG I’ve played. I know why they’re there. To give the player options so they can make the party that fits their style. I get that, but every time the story comes up, they stick out like a veritable sore thumb. Here then are 5 thumbs that if they were anymore sore, they’d probably have to amputate it.

(Spoiler Alerts on the following games: Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy 6, 7, 9, and 12.  You’ve been warned)

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5. Gau

So let me get this straight. We got Gau to join our party because we bribed him with a piece of meat. And he stuck around, why? Was he expecting more meat? We never gave him any after the first time we met him. Did Kefka make his father abandon him when he was little? No. He stuck around because he liked us. If I was Gau, I’d just keep badgering them for more food instead of lending them my magical, Blue Mage-esque ability of using learned enemy attacks. Why oh why did he stick around then?


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4. Cid Highwind

Cid is arguably the most entertaining cast member of Final Fantasy 7 rivaled only by Barret in their usage of profanity throughout, but stop and think about the moment he joined. Shinra wanted to take his plane away from him. After he got away with his plane, why did he stick around with the party? They never mentioned anything about their quest to stop Sephiroth. Even if they did, Sephiroth hadn’t even summoned the meteor yet, so what possible motivation does he have for sticking around after he got away from Shinra?


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3. Vaan

The story of Final Fantasy 12 is pretty serious stuff. Fates of entire nations hanging in the balance. Dealings with a higher power. A power hungry politician in a position to make all his ambitions come true. Makes you wonder how an orphan like Vaan fits into any of it doesn’t it? That’s right, he doesn’t. Vaan may have brought himself into some prominence early in the game, but all of that stuff eventually sorted itself out. For a little while, he needed to rescue his friend, Penelo, but that was taken care of pretty quickly too. So here we are, about one third of the way into the game, and we have zero reason for Vaan to be around anymore. The only reason I can discern is that he just wants to tag along for adventure’s sake. So his role in Final Fantasy 12 is basically just a simple matter of wish fulfillment for the player.


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2. Quina Quen

Where as the rest of Zidane’s motley crew is out to stop queen Brahne’s plot to take over the world, Quina’s there to… eat? Quina joins the crew because his/her master told him/her to see the world and maybe taste new food. S/he has absolutely zero to add to the main story, and like everyone on this list really does stare blankly as the main characters of the story, like Zidane and Garnet, start talking shoptalk around her/him. Her only real reason for being in the party is to give the player access to a Blue Mage, a kind of staple to the Final Fantasy series. My guess is that the developers couldn’t figure out how to fit her/him into the story so they just stuck it in like an optional character without being an actual optional character.


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1.Just About Everyone In Chrono Cross

To be fair, Suikoden probably win hands down when it comes to having the most number of recruitable characters at 108. Chrono Cross comes in at 45, and of them, about 10 or so have any direct and even slightly out of the way ties towards the main story of the game. In Chrono Cross’s defense, most of these characters are optional characters, but even some of the ones that have to join you could barely give a damn about what it is you’re doing. They just join you because… I don’t know, but they just do. What really makes this one a special sin to have earned itself the number 1 slot has to do with the actual story. The story is convoluted. I mean really, really convoluted, and having people around who has jack squat to do with it just makes it that much more impenetrable. Your party consist of 3 people, and although Serge is always in the party, you have 2 other members. Given the percentage of the number of characters that have jack diddly to do with the story, it’s much more likely that those 2 characters have neither anything meaningful to add to the story nor any kind of connection to the story. It’s hard enough for you to build your own connections to this overly complicated story, how are you supposed to do that when you’re basically surrounded by strangers?

My list is a little heavy on the SquareSoft side, but those were the RPGs I’ve played in my time. I have little doubt that these kinds of characters are everywhere else, and I bet you know a good number of them. Won’t you share what you know?

Image courtesy of deviantart


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