…Well, isn’t this a blast from the past.
So, way back in 2015, I started a little side project called the ‘Final Fantasy Formula,’ wherein we’d took a closer look at the various elements that were present across multiple instalments of the Final Fantasy games. Because I was such a non-committal little scamp two years ago (was?), the idea got exactly a single entry, before dropping off the face of the earth.
Thing is, I finally got around to playing World of Final Fantasy, a game that’s not quite as ‘the-dream-cross-over’ for the series as Dissidia, but still pretty close. And playing it made me remember that, hey, didn’t I write something that focused on the series as a whole at one point? And here we are.
In any case, I actually intend to see this dang thing through to the end this time, so let’s not delay. The hyperlink above leads to the starting article, which gives a rundown on just what the heck I mean by there being a formula for the Final Fantasy games, but long story short: one of the neat things about the Final Fantasy series is the fact that each instalment (barring direct sequels and spin-offs) is its own world. The setting, characters, and themes all differ greatly between each game, and this allows the developers and writers to really stretch out and explore new ideas. However, another neat facet of this is the fact that there are elements that can be found throughout a lot of the games, almost like running gags or references. These elements run the gambit from ‘overall not important’ to ‘really damn important,’ and it’s always good fun to load up a new Final Fantasy and see just how these characters and ideas have been interpreted this time around.
To give an example, of what I’m talking about, let’s take a look at the reoccurring duo, the poor expendable sods, the two and only:
Biggs and Wedge
The repeating elements
Biggs and Wedge are very similar to Cid, in terms of the execution of them as reoccurring characters. Much like Cid, they’re names remain the same, and there’s a few connecting ideas throughout, even applying to small cameos in the spin offs.
The most notable reoccurring element about them is that they’re, of course, always seen together. Whether they’re soldiers, rebellion fighters, or just two jackasses, finding one of the duo usually means the other isn’t too far behind. The reasoning behind this differs: sometimes they’re just two soldiers who were put together on the same mission, sometimes they’re genuinely good friends, sometimes it’s a bit of both. Regardless of their relationship, the two are usually in some kind of partnership or are both part of the same cause, usually to comedic results. This is pretty much the only hard and fast rule about Biggs and Wedge: if they appear as actual characters, they’re almost guaranteed to be together. Hell, the only real exception to this that I could find was when they had an extremely small cameo in Kingdom Hearts II, as two shop keepers who don’t interact.. Other than that, however, this is the one true fact that is associated with Biggs and Wedge, much how Cid is always associated with technology. Must be kind of nice to have a friendship that spans the mulit-verse, really.
Another reoccurring element that I’m sure at least one of the twosome aren’t happy about is the fact that Biggs tends to be the higher ranked out of the two. In their fairly memorable appearance in FFVIII, Biggs is a major, while Wedge was a lieutenant working for him. This difference of ranks often also reflected in their stats, with Biggs having better stats than his counterpart. Even when their ranks or powers aren’t readily apparent, Biggs tends to be the more impressive of the two, such as his enormous stature compared to the absolutely tiny in comparison Wedge in FFXIV; he’s a Roegadyn (basically a seven foot mountain of muscle) while Wedge is stuck as a Lalafell (a race that only comes up to a human’s waist, even at their tallest). This trait does go back and forth however: in FFXV, they seem to occupy the same rank, and seem just as capable as each other. Time will tell if Wedge may one day get his lucky break.
The not so repeating elements
Just as interesting as the elements that are similar throughout their appearances are just how many different roles the two have filled out through the series’ history. Much like Cid, they’ve been allies, enemies, and even (temporary) playable characters.
One facet of the two’s relationship to the series that is constantly in flux is just how antagonist they are to the main characters. In their earlier appearances in FFVI and FFVIII, they were outright on the side of antagonists, though you did get to temporarily have them as party members in the former game. Notably, as time has progressed, it’s become more and more common to see them in more neutral or even friendly roles to the protagonist: FFXIII sees the two of them opening a shop called B&W Outfitters (though a sign incorrectly calls it ‘V&W,’ a reference to how Biggs was accidently mistranslated as ‘Vicks’ in the original release of FFVI), and FFXV has them directly helping the protagonists get to their destination. Admittedly, that latter example only came about after they were done being employed for the definitely evil empire, and after their direct boss told them too, but the sentiment is there. It’ll be interesting to see how the two of them help or hinder in the future instalments of the series, especially if means we can have a rematch for their FFVIII boss fight.
Slightly more pressing than their allegiances, however, is the matter of their survivability. In every game where they made an appearance before FFVIII, the dynamic duo wound up dead one way or the other. Interestingly enough, they only ever died due to the actions of a monster or the main villain; the only time the player got rid of them was when they were having a flying cameo (such as being the names of two otherwise unremarkable drones in Crisis Core). The most famous example of their deaths has to be as the AVALANCHE resistant fighters in FFVII, where they not only got riddled with bullets, but also had an entire eighth of a city drop on top of them. Overkill doesn’t even begin to describe how thoroughly dead they were in FFVII, poor sods. It’s worth noting that after they survived the events of FFVIII, no mean feat considering they were in two boss fights and on the losing side of a war, the two’s chances of surviving each next instalment noticeably increased. Hell, they manage to survive the events of FFXV, and things really go to hell during that game. I have theory that, after being such a funny set of character in FFVIII, the developers got attached to the buggers, and couldn’t bear to see them kick the bucket. That, or they were so thoroughly killed in VII that the cosmic forces that be decided to give them a break for the next couple of lifetimes.
A more minor element that changes throughout their various appearances is if they get unique models or not. For the most part, they’re models are the same as common grunt enemies the player encounters, and you wouldn’t be able to recognise the two if they didn’t bring up their names. Oddly, they actually got a unique render for FFVI, as seen above, despite the fact their in game sprites are identical to common grunts. Their role as slightly more important characters in FFVII marked the first time their in-game appearance was wholly unique, instead of being a reused asset from a common enemy. Their appearances in FFVII is also somewhat unique for the fact it’s one of the very few times they appear out of uniforms: barring really esoteric cameos (such as the Kingdom Hearts II mention), Biggs and Wedge are nearly always wearing some kind of militaristic uniform. I think this is mostly to create a visual similarity between the two, which helps to create a connection for the two in the minds of the player. While it’s definitely one of the odder ones, I’m a fan of how they look in FFXV myself: feels like two WWII captains on opposing sides just stepped out of a winter battlefield and into the game to become friends. It’s bizarre, hilarious, and yet they look pretty neat.
If Cid is a neat reoccurring character in the series who is usually in a position of at least some importance, Biggs and Wedge are the same thing just simply one step down on the ladder of relevancy. Unlike Cid, there’s never been a game where they’ve been hugely important to the overall narrative, and indeed there have been many games where they didn’t make an appearance full-stop. Despite that, Biggs and Wedge continue to be a fun duo in whatever game they appear in, often being basically a two-man comedy routine in their more significant appearances.
Whether they’re enemies or allies, it’ll defiantly be worth watching out for these two accidental comedians in the future of the series.
Well, that’s the Biggs and Wedge article finally done and finished. I guess better two years late than never, right? In any case, stay tuned for the next part on this little ramble through the Final Fantasy series, where we’ll take a look at our favourite group of fluffy (and sometimes vicious) mascot characters. Catch you soon!