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Squall Leonhart

Voice

Joey

Squall Leonhart (スコール・レオンハート Sukōru Reonhāto is a fictional character and the primary protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII, a role-playing video game by Square (now Square Enix). He was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with input from game director Yoshinori Kitase. Squall has appeared in several other games, including Chocobo Racing, Itadaki Street Special, and the Kingdom Hearts series, as Template:Nihongo. His weapon, a gunblade, also appears in other works.

In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is a 17-year-old student at Balamb Garden, a prestigious military academy for elite mercenaries (known as "SeeDs"). As the story progresses, Squall befriends Quistis Trepe, Zell Dincht, Selphie Tilmitt and Irvine Kinneas and falls in love with Rinoa Heartilly. These relationships, combined with the game's plot, gradually change him from a loner to an open, caring person. Squall had a varied reaction from critics, with some judging him poorly compared to other Final Fantasy heroes (due to his coldness and angst) and others praising his character development.

Creation and design

The first character Nomura designed for Final Fantasy VIII, Squall was inspired by actor River Phoenix, although Nomura said that "[n]obody understood it."[1] Squall is Template:Convert tall,[2] initially with longer hair and a more feminine appearance. After objections by game director Yoshinori Kitase, Nomura made the character more masculine. He added the scar across Squall's brow and the bridge of his nose impulsively (to make the character more recognizable), leaving the description of its origin up to scenario writer Kazushige Nojima.[3] Nomura's design of Squall included fur lining along his jacket collar as a challenge for the game's full motion video designers.[4] In Final Fantasy VIII Nojima worked to give players insight into what Squall was thinking, in contrast to Final Fantasy VII (which encouraged players to speculate).[5]

Nomura created Squall's gunblade with silver accessories.[6] The weapon is a sword with components of a revolver, sending vibrations through the blade when triggered;[7] this inflicts additional damage if the player presses the R1 trigger on the controller as Squall strikes an enemy.[7] Although the weapon was intended as a novel way for players to control weapons in battle, Nomura said he feels (in retrospect) that it looks odd.[3] Template:-

Appearances

Final Fantasy VIII

At the beginning of Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is known as a "lone wolf" because he never shows his feelings[8] and seems cold to his associates.[9] His superiors (such as teacher Quistis Trepe) consider him difficult to deal with, but respect his talents.[10][11] Squall is stoic, with his taciturn nature used for comic relief. In the cutscene where he meets Rinoa, she coerces him into dancing with her at the SeeD graduation party.[12] Awkward and confused, he bumps into other party-goers because he is looking at his feet. Rinoa perseveres, and Squall later reveals that he really can dance (since it was a mandatory part of his training).[13]

He is dragged into a heroic role when Cid, headmaster of Balamb Garden, appoints him leader of the academy midway through the game.[14] During a late battle against Galbadia Garden, Squall has difficulty exhibiting leadership because of his lingering isolation.[15] Although other characters try to pull him out of his shell and Rinoa Heartilly expends considerable energy pursuing him, it takes time for him to accept the others' friendship, fall in love with Rinoa and care for her.[16] Squall is more comfortable later in a leadership role, especially when he must fight Ultimecia.[17]

Throughout the game, he has a rivalry with Seifer Almasy. The opening sequence features the duel where Squall receives his facial scar (giving Seifer a mirror image), and scenes where Squall and Seifer are supposed to cooperate are characterized by squabbles between the cadets.[18] Although Seifer later allies with the Sorceress (requiring Squall to fight him several times), Squall still feels a camaraderie with him.[19]

According to flashbacks during the game, Squall grew up in an orphanage with the other playable characters (except Rinoa) and it is implied that Laguna Loire is his father.[20] On the airship Ragnarok late in the game, Kiros and Ward comment on Squall's resemblance to his mother and dissimilarity to his father[21] (Nomura designed him to contrast with Laguna).[3] The orphans were cared for by Edea; although Squall remembers little about his past, he becomes an emotionally detached, cynical and introverted boy whose original goal is to go through life without any emotional ties or dependence.[22] He gradually warms, and it is later revealed that his detachment from his companions is a defensive mechanism to protect himself from the emotional pain he suffered when he and his older sister were separated.[23]

After Ultimecia is defeated, the time and space that she had absorbed begin to return to normal, pulling Squall's comrades back into their places in the timeline, while Squall returns to the orphanage and meets a younger Edea. Since she does not want to involve the children, she absorbs the dying Ultimecia's powers as part of the cycle of sorceresses (a sorceress must pass her powers to a successor before she can die peacefully).[24] Squall plants the ideas for Garden and SeeD in her mind, creating an origin paradox: Squall must become leader of Balamb Garden so he can pass its version of SeeD tradition to Edea, who teaches them to her husband Cid (who co-founds Balamb Garden, which admits Edea's orphans—including Squall).[25]

Other appearances

Squall appears as a non-playable character in Kingdom Hearts. He wears a short leather jacket with red wings on the back (resembling the decorations on Rinoa's duster) and his Griever necklace. Squall takes the name Leon as an alias, because he was ashamed of not protecting those he loved from the Heartless when his home world (the Radiant Garden) was consumed by darkness.[26] Leon is voiced by David Boreanaz in the English version of the game and Hideo Ishikawa in the Japanese version. His role in Kingdom Hearts is to help guide the protagonist, Sora, in his battle (with other Final Fantasy characters) against the Heartless. Although Squall's appearance and age differ (he is 25 in Kingdom Hearts[27] and 17 in Final Fantasy VIII),[28] his personality remains the same.[27] A memory-based version of Squall (as Leon) appears in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories teaching gameplay in a tutorial.[29] He returns in Kingdom Hearts II, voiced in the English version by Doug Erholtz. Erholtz said in an interview that he had a "fun journey" voicing Leon and it was a "really fun role to play".[30] Leon's jacket later has a fur lining on its collar, which did not appear in the first Kingdom Hearts game. In this game, he works with his friends to restore their world.[31] Squall also appears as an opponent in Olympus Coliseum tournaments, often paired with other Final Fantasy characters. His virtual replica appears in Kingdom Hearts coded, where it meets Sora's virtual replica.[32]

Squall is a secret character in Chocobo Racing [33] and Itadaki Street Special, and a sprite version occasionally appears on the loading screen of the PlayStation version of Final Fantasy VI (part of the Final Fantasy Anthology). He is the hero representing Final Fantasy VIII in Dissidia: Final Fantasy.[34][35] Squall appears with the cast of the prequel Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy,[36] where his Kingdom Hearts design is downloadable content.[37] He is a playable character in Itadaki Street Portable and the main character, representing Final Fantasy VIII, in the rhythm games Theatrhythm Final Fantasy[38] and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call.[39] Squall also appears as a premium character in Pictlogica Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy: All The Bravest both for Android and iOS.

Reception

Critical reaction to Squall was mixed. Journalist Jack Patrick Rodgers of PopMatters said that Squall's cynicism and frustration with those around him made him a strong character, but "coldly inhuman".[40] GamesRadar called Squall the fifth-best Final Fantasy hero of all time, praising the development of his personality and his improved interactions with other characters.[41] GameZone rated him the fourth-best character in the franchise, saying that while fans "either love or hate this guy" he became the "ultimate anti-hero" (despite little dialogue) of an entertaining journey.[42] The website called Squall and Rinoa the best couple created by Square Enix, noting the differences between them and the fact that their relationship was the first in the series to drive the plot of a game.[43] They were on The InquirerTemplate:'s list of most-memorable video-game love teams, with comments again focused on the differences between them.[44] GameSpot said that while Squall could be viewed as a "jerk", he could also be seen as "standoffish because of some repressed Wagnerian broodiness, in which case he was kind of interesting".[45] Allgame said that they initially hated Squall, but although he originally seemed "cold and uncaring", his romance changed him for the better.[46] RPGamer called Squall "everyone's favorite orphan" and said that although he tries to distance himself from others, "he can't help but draw people to him, be it sorceresses or gun-slinging ladies' men".[47] GameDaily ranked him sixth on their list of the "Top 25 Gaming Hunks", stating that while critics described the character as a "jerk", his character design, notably his scar, made him visually appealing.[48] Arnold Katayev of PSXextreme praised Squall's redesign in Kingdom Hearts as the game's best.[49] In a 2008 Oricon poll, Squall was voted the tenth-most-popular video-game character.[50] He was voted the 29th-best video-game character by Famitsu readers in February 2010.[51]

However, IGN said that "the problem [with Final Fantasy VIII] is that the character at the heart of everything, Squall, is basically a pouty jerk ... When your story is character-centered, you'd better center it on a character the audience can care about. Squall ... just doesn't fit the bill".[52] 1UP.com ranked Squall second on its list of the "Top 5 Most Irritating RPG Protagonists" and stated that although he was an attempt to "cater to the fedora-wearing, trench-coat-clad folks", his lack of social skills alienated players.[53] Angelo D'Argenio, a contributing author for Cheat Code Central, included Squall in his list of top-ten all-time lamest video-game characters, chiding his personality.[54] Edge compared Squall unfavorably with Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud Strife, saying that Squall's angst "didn't seem to have any context" (unlike Cloud's, which developed from one of the pivotal events in Final Fantasy VII). His relationship with Rinoa was criticized by Edge: "He [Squall] suddenly falls in "love" with [Rinoa] at the end [of Final Fantasy VIII]."[55] In GamesRadar's humorous "RPG Emo-Off", Squall was defeated in heartbreak by Cloud.[56] Squall was featured in the 1UP.com article "Top 5 Final Fantasy Character Types" in the second category, "The Sullen Asshole", with Cloud and Cecil from Final Fantasy IV.[57] GameSpy featured him in its comical "Videogame Characters Who Would Suck in Real Life", saying that in reality he would be a terrible soldier.[58]

See also

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References

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