The very evil Sephiroth
It’s not a stretch to say the Final Fantasy saga has focused on character development and plot development more – and better – than any other long-running video game franchise. And Sephiroth is the series’ most villainous creation, easily outpacing all other comers. Seymour? Forgettable. Kuja? A fop. Ultimecia? Perplexing more than anything. Kefka? A snotty little brat. X-Death? Even the name is generic. Golbez? Not even a bad guy by the end of the game. Only Sephiroth evokes in gamers genuine hatred, but at the same time, a warrior’s respect.
There’s really no way to discuss Sephiroth without plainly laying out the details to the plot of Final Fantasy VII. Specifically, one incident: Aeris’s death at his hands. Without getting too deep into the details, Aeris is the only one who can stop Sephiroth from summoning an Earth-destroying meteor. But while she’s praying for that celestial helper to arrive, Sephiroth swoops down and runs the entire length of his samurai-style sword through her midsection, then cruelly jerks the blade out. Final Fantasy villains had killed playable characters before, but usually they were grandfatherly types who wouldn’t have lasted long on the journey anyway, like Tellah or Galuf. But this time, Sephiroth struck down Aeris, the sweet Flower Girl from the slums, the one who got excited over everything in life like the wide-eyed child she still was in many ways. She was a character gamers got attached to. It’s not surprising that many gamers still search for some heretofore unknown method to revive her. Sephiroth is one of very few villains in gaming history that players want to defeat. They want him to pay for what he did. But at the same time, they recognize the power he wields, and when he finally unleashes it with a spell that destroys planets en route to crushing your party, you have to grudgingly admit: it’s kind of cool. And that final sequence where you take him on one-on-one with Cloud is one of the most powerful moments in gaming history.
- Ryan Stewart