Now, here's a question:
Why isn't Zell the main character?
"Wait a second," I hear you ask, "haven't you asked this same question before? Also, where are those Seifer and Rinoa redesigns?"
Yes, I have, four times.
(Also, when I get my printer to work again, gosh. You're so reasonably patient and annoyed when not provided with what you were promised. How can you live with yourselves?)
So, what makes Zell such a good candidate for the role of protagonist?
Well, for starters, he's actually one of the best designed characters in the game.
I know, he looks ridiculous, but he looks ridiculous in a way that efficiently shows his personality and interests. Hell, some people do still dress that way.
He dresses like a surfer or skater dude from the late eighties/early nineties, and surfer/skater fashion really hasn't changed much. It's bright, colourful and practical. All things which Zell's outfit has.
Contrast this with Squall, who's outfit in VIII is so bad that he's designed in a noticably different way in Dissidia and Kingdom Hearts. Actually, in Kingdom Hearts, Squall dresses more like Zell.
It's still VIII adjacent in design, but it looks a lot more like Zell's jacket with the short sleeves.
Hell, Sora dresses like Zell.
Which, in hindsight, explains why Selphie lives on Destiny Islands in those games. She's friends with a Zell Expy.
Frankly, Sora does half the job of arguing why Zell would make a better main character than Squall for me. He's bright, he's cheerful, people like him and he's the kind of person who loudly emotes and talks to other characters.
In a similar vein, Riku does a decent job of explaining why Squall would be better as a side character. His type usually are, being a man of few words with some kind of emotional issue it better suited to a character who doesn't have to lead a plot or a team. Especially when said emotional issue isn't part of the plot, as it really isn't for Squall.
Another reason why Zell is a better choice is this:
He's also the main victim of Seifer's bullying.
Squall isn't Seifer's rival, Zell is.
It's kind of the problem I had with Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter, it's hard to take a purported rivalry seriously when someone other than the main character whos rivalry this is supposed to be takes it so much more seriously than them.
Prior to his turn to the dark side, and excusing that stupid and pointless sword fight in the opening cut scene, Seifer never seemed to care much about Squall and Squall didn't care much about him.
I'm starting to suspect we got a protagonist switcheroo at some point and they never managed to clear up all the evidence.
It would help explain why we get a section playing as just Zell in the prison sequence if he was originally the one who was meant to be put in solitary and then playing hero. He also has that 'heroic sacrifice' moment.
Somebody had a reason for Zell to be given more consideration than the others, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was because he was either originally meant to be the protagonist or because someone thought he'd make a damn good one.
Whoever they are, I definitely agree with them.