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Thread: Secret Characters

  1. #1
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    • Former Cid's Knight

    Nom nom nom Secret Characters

    I've always been sad that this trend really fell out of favor in JRPGs, but I've always loved having secret characters you didn't know you could recruit being in the game. Who are some of your favorites, and would you like to see this make a comeback in games or do you feel the genres heavier emphasis on storytelling has made it a moot issue?
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    Scotty_ffgamer's Avatar
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    Scotty Ffgamer (Sargatanas)
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    The one that comes to mind is Vincent. I just loved finding this random character in a coffin and having him join my party back when I was younger.

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    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Magus, of course.

    And yeah, I miss it. I don't mind the greater focus on telling a particular narrative but I do miss secret characters. Not like older games really *suffered* from having them tbh.

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    It depends on what you mean by "secret character." If you just mean character that can be recruited, but it's optional, I suppose greater focus on narrative may have rendered them moot, but it doesn't necessarily take away from narrative to add some optional characters as long as there are other traditional characters that are well-developed in a way that is strongly integrated into the narrative.

    On the other hand, if you mean a character more like Magus where you probably knew they existed ahead of time, but had no clue you would get a chance to recruit them, I would argue that more likely the internet and the accompanying constant stream of updates in gaming news rendered this obsolete more than a focus on narrative. Used to be what information you got ahead of time on characters would be what's in the instruction manual. If the instruction manual didn't include a character or presented them separately from the rest of the party members so it wasn't clear they could join the party, that character would be a surprise or "secret."

    On the other hand, characters like Vincent and Yuffie were never really "secret" in this sense. You may not have known they were only optional (I didn't until I beat the game without having recruited Vincent the first time) and it definitely could be considered a "secret" in terms of how to recruit them, but there was no doubt that these were recruitable party members from the start.

    FFVI is a good example because it includes both types of "secret" characters. You never have to recruit Mog into your party, but you know from the instruction manual that he's a party member. On the other hand, Gogo and Umaro were not mentioned in the manual, so they are completely secret. Those kind of completely secret characters are less likely to exist in the modern information era.

    Anyway, I can take them or leave them. When it comes to characters like Gogo and Umaro I never had much interest in them and at some level even found them offensive due to their lack of personality and (especially in the case of Umaro) lack of playability. On the other hand, I like Yuffie and Vincent, but don't like that they're optional and would have preferred they not be. I think the best example of a secret character that I really like is Magus. The thing is, whether you recruit him or not, Magus is significant to the narrative. Being able to get him in your party is just a nice bonus. If he weren't integral to the narrative beforehand, the payoff for being a secret character wouldn't exist. On the whole though I can't think of enough positive examples of secret characters to really feel like it's something I miss.

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