Gaming Inspirations IX: Character Profile: Freya Crescent

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Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja
Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII
Gaming Inspirations VII: Character Profile: Eiko Carol
Gaming Inspirations VIII: Character Profile: Quina Quen

xnaxox-freya
xnaxox KILLED it with this piece.  Love it.  Check ’em out at xnaxox.deviantart.com!

Hello, friends, and welcome to the SEVENTH (and penultimate!) Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series!  “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life.  Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters.  Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.

Today we’re going to talk about the character with the most depressing damn story of them all: Freya Crescent.

CHARACTER SUMMARY

Freya was a powerful Dragon Knight of the proud kingdom of Burmecia.  She and her lover, Sir Irontail Fratley, hefted their mighty javelins to protect their kingdom and its people from all comers.

… That is, until Fratley disappears, leaving Freya to go on years-long quest to find him, not knowing whether he’s alive or dead, whether her journey is completely in vain.

The FFIX crew meet up with her in Lindblum, where she’s drowning her sorrows in a tavern.  Soon after, she gets word that her kingdom has been attacked (which is what happens when your best soldiers disappear for years, who would’ve known), and she rushes back to find Burmecia in ruins and nearly everyone dead.

Fuck.

She and the rest of the party meet a group of Burmecians in the ruins, learning that the King of Burmecia and other refugees are escaping to the nearby kingdom of Cleyra, which is surrounded by a protective sandstorm.  The Burmecians beg Freya to join them.  Freya and the rest of the party say no, continue on, and get their asses kicked by Beatrix, presumably with Queen Brahne and Kuja laughing in the background.

Double fuck.

Okay, Freya’s story hasn’t been great so far.  After their drubbing, the party goes to Cleyra, and Freya participates in a ritual dance that keeps the sandstorm up and running.  Naturally, as soon as Freya joins in on the dance, the strings on the ritual harp snap and the sandstorm subsides, allowing the Black Mage army that decimated Burmecia to roll right on in.

Depressed yet?

Well, finally, we get some good news: during the attack, when the party is surrounded, a dragon knight comes to save the day!  GASP!  HOLY DICKTITS, IT’S FRATLEY!  Freya’s lover!  The one she’s been searching for all this time!  Hooray!  Freya is so excited!  She embraces her lover, gushing about everything she’s been through!…

… Aaaaaaand Fratley lost his memory.  No idea who Freya is.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh, right, the attack.  That’s still happening.  Yeah, there’s a little minigame where you try to randomly direct people to escape (and if you get it wrong, black mages promptly kill these innocents), and when the party escapes (with Freya in Jim-Carrey-in-Eternal-Sunshine-level despair), they look back and see Queen Brahne, who summons Odin and promptly blows up the entire kingdom.

… And that’s Disc 1, and a bit of Disc 2.  Out of 4.

Jesus.

Incredibly, it does get better – at the end of the game, it shows Freya and Fratley together again (though he still doesn’t remember the past), chillin’ in Burmecia and havin’ a grand old time.

CHARACTER QUALITIES

Perse-Fuckin’-Verance

There’s only one quality that truly defines Freya’s character, and it is her stubborn unwillingness to surrender when she puts her mind to something.  Everyone in the game runs into trouble; everyone has their existential crises and moments of self-doubt (and even despair).  Everyone has a rough go of it at some point, but I don’t think it’s hard to argue that Freya’s path to happiness was the longest and most riddled with opportunities to give up.

She never does.

Even when she’s getting the shit kicked out of her by Beatrix.  Even when she embraces her long-lost love and he responds with “…uhh… who the fuck are you?”.  Oh, and let’s not forget that she’s been looking for this dude for years before the events of the game take place.

Man, Freya is such a beast.

INCORPORATING THESE QUALITIES

As with most things, perseverance can be trained; the key is to start off small.  If you’ve never lifted weights before, you wouldn’t walk into the gym, fill a bar with 5 45-pound plates, and try to lift it – that’d be a bit silly.  There’s no way you’d succeed.  You’d use lighter weights, get the form down, and slowly work your way up to bigger weights as you got stronger.  The same concept applies to perseverance: set the task up in such a way that it’s easy for you to win, and encourages progression.

Take your time, and think to yourself: what is something I want to do that, if I worked at it for ten minutes every day, I could do in six months?  This could be anything: shredding guitar, writing a novel, and literally drinking enough Jim Beam to kill a horse are all valid things that you might be able to do (good luck with that third one).  It doesn’t necessarily have to be productive; just make it something that, six months from now, you would look back and say “yeah, I’m glad I did that”.  For example, my goal is to be able to do a full side split six months from now.  Why?  Cuz fuck it, I wanna be able to do a split, that’s why.  I’ve been spending ten minutes a day stretching, concentrating on the muscles required to do a split in particular (groinulars (very scientific, I know), hips, legs, blabla).  Even if I don’t get there in six months, I’ll be much more flexible than I am now.  That’s the beauty of perseverance: it sounds obvious, but every little bit that you do to get closer to your goal will… well, it’ll get you closer to your goal.  Even if you fail to get the results in the timeframe that you set for yourself, the incremental gains you make are not lost.  The only time you lose is when you give up, and we’re rigging the game so that our chances of giving up are minimal.

There will be forces that try to stop you: impatience, negativity (either from within or from others), uncontrollable events in life.  There will be days that, even when the bar is set this low, you will fail.

This is where perseverance is trained.  It’s not in the doing; it’s in the doing again, after you fuck up.  Don’t let the fear of failure stop you, because you will inevitably fail.  So fail with grace; when you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and keep on goin’.  One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Sharon Salzburg, has a saying: “The healing is in the return”.  Use your inevitable failure as a learning experience, another exercise that will help to hone your focus and lead you to a better life.

I’ll leave ya with one of my favorite Rocky clips, where he’s talking to his kid and… well, you’ll see the Freya-type philosophy in the speech pretty darn quick:

 

Love y’all!  I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHO THE NEXT CHARACTER PROFILE IS ABOUT

FFIX OverClocked ReMix Album, Worlds Apart, Drops Today!

SFKHASOIFDHOAIFNEJVNBSAIUOGVCBLKANGLJKAHHFD YESSSSS CLICK THE IMAGE TO GO TO THE DOWNLOAD PAGE NOW

IT’S OUT!  Five years in the making, Worlds Apart has been released!

Like I did with OCR’s FFVI album, Balance and Ruin, I’m going to do a track-by-track review of this I’m-sure-will-be-amazing album.  This pushes the Gaming Inspirations posts back a bit, but I’m going to continue to do at least 2 posts a week, so it won’t be long ’til I’m babbling about how inspiring and amazing FFIX is!

Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral

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Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia

The badass is strong in this one. Many thanks to sarrus (http://sarrus.deviantart.com/) for allowing me to use his picture!

Hello, friends, and welcome to the third Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series!  “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life.  Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters.  Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.  Today’s profile is about everyone’s favorite ginger dreadhead, Amarant Coral.

CHARACTER SUMMARY

Like Steiner, when I first met Amarant in-game, I thought he was quite dickish indeed: some brooding guy, arms always crossed, and a chin I thought was his nose for years (this doesn’t make anybody dickish per se, but it kind of looks phallic, so I guess it counts?).

Note: Looking back on it, it’s so clear that it’s his chin.  Like, “how could I possibly fuck that up” clear.  But, I did.  HD didn’t exist.  I was ten.  I’m over it.

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with him, because my 10-year-old self soon found out that OH MY GOD HE FIGHTS WITH CLAWS.  FUCKING WOLVERINE IN FFIX FORM.  OH, AND HE CAN REPLENISH BOTH HP AND MP?  JESUS HOW DOES THIS GUY RULE SO HARD

BERZERKERBARAHAAAIII’MLIKEAMARANTAGFHADOIUHFAGH

I digress.  He does brood.  He does have a weird dick-nose-chin-beard.  And I love him.  Here’s why:

QUALITIES

Individualistic

Amarant: Hey, Zidane.  I work alone.  Always have, always will.

In case you hadn’t noticed (or if you haven’t played the game, in which case, why are you reading this?!  Buy it.  Now.), Amarant doesn’t tend to play well with others.  When he does decide to team up, he’s not afraid to let them know when he disagrees with their methods: the scene in Madain Sari when he calls Lani a “scumbag” for taking a hostage comes to mind.

Honorable

This is likely my favorite quality I’ve noticed in Amarant: even though he’s a loner and about as agreeable as a snapping turtle with a skin rash, he has an honor code, and he sticks with it.  When he is defeated by Zidane, he joins the party, even though it’s something he may not normally have done; he doesn’t expect mercy, but when he receives it, he’s willing to repay that kindness.

Skeptical

Amarant: The only dependable thing about the future is uncertainty.

Amarant joins the party not only to repay the kindness of mercy that Zidane granted him, but also because he’s puzzled: how did this person who is so reliant on others beat an experienced loner like himself?   Amarant’s whole worldview, one of self-reliance and of seeing dependence as weakness, is turned upside-down.  He realizes that he still has more to learn about individuality, teamwork, and strength, and he follows Zidane to help him find the answers he seeks.

HOW TO INCORPORATE THESE QUALITIES INTO YOUR LIFE

Ever since a singularly horrific experience giving a presentation in college, I’ve had intense stage fright.  Working in groups, speaking up during meetings at my job, etc. have proven to be a supreme challenge.  I always feel like if I speak up, I’m going to get laughed at, shut down, or otherwise silenced in a humiliating fashion.

Now, I’m trying to use Amarant’s inspiration to help me get over that fear.  I’ve got opinions; I’ve got values that I deem important and I try to adhere to; I’ve got unique thoughts and ideas that I think could be useful for others to know.  I need to follow Amarant’s example, realize that these opinions, questions, and ideas are valid, and voice them.

At the end of the day, I’m inspired by Amarant due to his confidence in himself, and his unwavering ability to voice his opinions, no matter how unpopular they may be, even at the risk of ridicule.  Honestly, most of the time, I think my ideas are pretty damn good, and it’d be helpful for myself and for those around me to voice them.  Everyone’s gotta put their foot in their mouth at some point during their lives; don’t do it to yourself just because you’re afraid to speak.

Even if you’re not afraid of public speaking like I am, you can use Amarant’s inspiration in any situation where you feel silenced for an idea you have or a way you feel.  Next time you’re afraid to voice an opinion, to let someone else know how you really feel… let them know.  The result probably won’t be as bad as you fear it will be.

This “being confident in yourself and sticking to your guns” stuff is all well and good, but the critical element separating the strong, independent human and the stubborn, ignorant douchebag is a healthy dose of skepticism.  Amarant was puzzled by his defeat at the hands of Zidane, and he joined the party to find out how this teamwork-oriented dude was able to defeat the power of his individualism.  This is how we know that Amarant is a part of the “strong, independent human” camp: when something crops up that challenges his beliefs, he questions and examines it instead of denying it outright.

I don’t even need to add a joke here.

People think that “values” are immutable and eternal; they’re not.  At the core of every healthy set of values is the ability to change them as circumstances change.  So, while you’re out there being super-awesome-and-confident-in-yourself thanks to Amarant’s inspiration, remember that the person who changed him most was the one who made him question his beliefs.

Thanks for reading, everybody!  The upcoming Thursday post is going to be a recap of what we’ve talked about so far, and how our internal FFIX party is shaping up!  Plus, I’ll have a SUPER SPECIAL BONUS GAMING INSPIRATIONS POST out before then, so be on the lookout!  🙂

Tom’s Take on the Beginning of FFIX (Published 2/17/2013)

I really like our first guest blog post.  Tom’s a great friend of mine, and he’s the one who introduced me to FFIX all those years ago.  He’s got some great insight to the game.  He wrote this after listening to our audio (yes, we recorded ourselves playing FFIX;  if you want the audio, I can provide it), so if you’re confused by the few times he says “Like you guys said”, etc., that’s what he’s talking about.

Besides some minor grammatical editions, the following is straight from him.

Final Fantasy 9 Blog

1:  Intro – Dark Forest

The game itself is kind of like an enlightenment game, both figuratively and literally.    It brings up many themes from older games. I mean the originals; it’s coming off of the two most industrial and modern Final Fantasies, but FFIX is instead bringing us back to those ones we love so much.  X and XII follow this theme as well to some extent.  And I agree with most of what you guys said though those two games I mentioned aren’t that bad and even though they change some aspects they still follow the heart of the series.

Commonalities: Vivi’s look is a bring back to what is probably the most common look of a black mage, not knowing who the main character is in the beginning, like the originals, Vivi starts out with ???? Just like the original FF, then we also are introduced to the cinematic with Garnet and Zidane, so we really have no idea who we are going to play as.  Which is great because it allows the fluidity that comes up later where we play through others as they go through their own choices?  Though unlike what you said Zidane is clearly 100% the hero, the story lives and dies with his choices, the others have their own hero moments, even taken Zidane out of that role, but overall it’s him.

This game in my eyes is a two act play.  With discs 1 and 2 being act 1, and discs 3 and 4 being act 2.  It just flows more like a play than it does a movie.

The world is very elaborate and strange, where just about every person is something new; even the main characters have a wide variety to them, which again makes this game something special. It’s not building off of an existing world; it’s making something completely strange and unique.

Music, another just so much win, though to echo your point about it being actually around in the game rather than it just being on top of it.  Again this is an echo to earlier games, with FF3/6’s Overture and Wedding, where the songs actually change pace to reflect different voices that were singing or talking.  But again, I love the music so much, but that’s the whole series.  On the Cinematics, I agree with you again, for the time period they are very well done even now, you can see the emotions of every character, they are fluid, smooth, just great, and we have only seen a couple of them at this point in time…. Ugh they get so good.

Where are we now, love the play, which in turn is a play within a play and also mirrors the first act of the game, and it’s even used later on in the game, another reason I say the game is a play because it’s cyclical, not linear.  Love the swordfight scene, and I have gotten 100/100 as well I think I got it first too but we don’t need to get in to that.  Now on to Steiner, we know he is important, because we get to name him, though we could see him as goofy and bumbling, he is the picture of zeal and virtue, innocent even, blindly following orders because they must be right.  And you say he is so over exaggerated and yes he is but in Alexandria it seems that men are second class, so he kind of has to be to even stand a chance at being on the same level of Beatrix, which no one is since she is amazing.  So we go through boss fights which are really jokes and you know it, just stealing battles.  Blah blah, Garnet joins which I a bit of a twist since you don’t name her, and she is a princess that kidnaps herself.

Oh and about Brahne. Well, FF games are notorious for having characters parents being dead or going to die, with that we know that the Queen and Princess aren’t really related, at least it’s implied with the opening cinematic.  So anyway she is a very evil character, no not nearly as bad as Kuja but moving on, she fires on a ship that has her daughter, it’s clear she doesn’t really care about Garnet at this point, and really is more worried about the pendant being taken.  And with Zorn and Thorn and even how she talks to Beatrix, it’s clear that she isn’t right in the head, and with Garnet suddenly wanting to leave I agree that before the game we would see Brahne and the king being well normal.  Saving spoilers and what not for later where we can discuss other reasons, but you guys have spoiled enough already.

Then we have the cinematic with the unusually coincidental, harpoon and bomb firing cannons that are all facing where the theatre ship is, guess that’s to defend against Lindblum or whatever but anyway, this finally brings us into the darkness, literally as the ship crashes into the Dark Forest, another common theme of FF games, evil forests, it’s a nice play at something that is normally good, being nature and like the first real boss flowers, and turning it over to show you just how bad this “Mist” you have been hearing about really is, you are safe nowhere, and who knows what is going to happen next. Such a great start to this amazing game.

Questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear them!

Wanna write your own guest post?  Feel free to hit me up at the email address to the left and we can make that happen 🙂