Another Day, Another Prospective Main Character
If you’ve been reading the Let’s Rework post, you’ll know that there’s a positive gaggle of characters more suited to being the main character than Grumpy Lion Bro. So, following in the grand tradition set by Seifer, Fujin, Zell and more, here’s my contribution: Laguna.
Yes, I know, he’s sort of a deuteragonist anyway (he’s not, really, he barely shows up). Yes, I know, by the time the main party is doing their thing, he is old and crusty and would not know how to be ‘down’ with ‘the kids’ and their ‘muzak’.
Well, to this I say: This is a story about time travel and amnesia.
I think you know where this is going. Have the protagonist of the game be a teenage Laguna who has travelled forward from the past, quite possibly from a world ruled by Adel. He has no memory of his life before appearing near Balamb Garden, but he is a very competent combatant with a gunblade, and while he’s not a SeeD, he kind of falls in with that group, with Quistis, Zell and Selphie.
This serves three purposes: One, it streamlines the plot. The time travel elements, which otherwise only really to start to poke their heads into the story in a meaningful way over halfway through the game, are instead set up subtly in the beginning, and are very relevant to the characters.
Two, plot twists! Plot twists that actually mean something! Think back to VIII’s actual plot twist, that the party all knew each other from an orphanage, save Nina. That fell totally flat as a plot twist, it was more annoying than anything, because there was almost no emotional impact to it. Oh, my, these people who are all friends were at a previous time all friends. In the same place. And Edea was their matron.
But try this on for size: The gang has been having their minds sent back in time to the exploits of an older Laguna, Kiros, and Ward, and then they discover that the leader of their party, whose name is unknown (giving you a great reason to pick it for him), is Laguna. The implications are staggering: Somebody has travelled through time. Laguna now knows his future, and so does everyone else - they know that he’ll experience tragedy.
Three, tragedy! Imagine teenage!Laguna has a romance with Nina, and then you discover who he is. Now you know that he won’t be able to stay. Their romance must necessarily come to naught, because Laguna has to go back to his own time. He has to do all those things which they’ve seen, and there’s no way around that.
But apart from those three reasons and the intricacies of a time travel plot, there’s another reason why you might want Laguna as a main character, as well: He’s fun, and he’s charismatic, and he’s personable.
Much like Zell, Laguna is an energetic, friendly character who can draw an audience along. It’s difficult to form a bond with a main character who is sulking all the time, especially because if they’re the main character then you’re necessarily always having to watch them sulk and ennui about. A character like Zell or Laguna is a lot more interesting to spend time with, because they’re more lively, they do more, and they’re more fun.
So, that’s my entry into the ‘who should be the main character of VIII’ stakes: Laguna Loire, ridiculous time-travelling soldier.