Thursday, February 24, 2011
Holy Warfare: Top 10 Judeo/Christian Final Bosses!
If you've played through your fare share of Japanese role playing games, or JRPGs, then you've likely slain your fair share of gods. And how could it be otherwise? RPGs are designed for 50+ hours of gameplay, and as the character keeps leveling up and gaining ever more awesome stats and abilities, the game developers must give them increasingly awesome baddies and bosses to righteously impale on their super-awesome +25 swords of judgement, or scorch to high heavens with a level 4 flare star. Thus, the player starts beating up slimes and hired goons, and ultimately challenges the forces that control life, death, and the fate of the world itself.
What may be shocking to those unfamiliar with the conventions of Japanese culture is the spiritual nature of these big baddies. At the highest levels, Japanese final bosses tend to be Judeo-Christian in nature. This trend is especially prevalent in the games of Square spanning from Final Fantasy IV through X, but can also be seen in the works of its contemporaries, most notably in Capcom's rival Breath of Fire series. The games produced during this era show a surprising amount of depth, and a large amount of this is derived from through standing the tropes of Western spirituality on its head, and painting the Judeo-Christian messiah figure as the game world's supreme villain.
Are these games saying that it is bad to be good? That it is good to be bad? Or do they transcend dualistic theological concepts entirely? Are these final bosses supposed to be criticisms of deities that exist in modern culture, or are they meant as cautionary tales against those who long to tap into the power of the spirit to fulfill their own private ambition? Many of the games are ambiguous, and leave it up to the informed player to decide. Now without further adieu, sit back, relax, and pull out your Squaresoft brand communion wafers, for its time to give this legion of explicitly ecclesiastical baddies their last rites!
Next up: Villain #10: KEFKA! (Final Fantasy VI)