I'm alive! The treacherous food coma has finally released me from its clutches. Just in time, too, because the holidays always have a way of throwing our schedule out of whack. Time to get back into the swing of things...
I hope the holidays treated you & yours well. It's important to remember that we need to put down the sticks every now & then and be with those who mean the most to us. That being said, allow us to return to business of providing all you with the type of creative content you've come to expect from us... another name etched onto the Malloy List.
This month's induction is actually an old favorite of mine from another franchise. One of the most important traits of any character in any game could possibly have is that they must be someone you (the player) can relate to. Being able to see something of yourself in a character is part of the reason why your boy Aphro, who has had a terrible-to-cringeworthy record with grapplers over the years, is drawn to someone like BlazBlue's Iron Tager. We both appear initially intimidating, but the people who know us best know that that's just the exterior. To paraphrase a wise ogre, there are layers to our personality beyond our appearance. Once you decide to cross that threshold, you can do a world of good from breaking down misconceptions. Because of that particular type of empathy, our inductee this month immediately grew on me when I was first introduced to him.
Mind you, I was a much different individual way back in 1999... but who wasn't? To say a lot by saying a little, I was impulsive. My heart was on my sleeve pretty much 24/7 and, lord help me, did I have a temper. Even on the days where I would keep to myself, anyone who knew me at all could read me like an open book with glow-in-the-dark lettering. (In hindsight, it was probably all those personality traits which led me to gravitate towards rushdown characters... hmm, that sounds about right.) Fighting games notwithstanding, an RPG character managed to jump right off the screen & into my heart.
The brash young man who spoke with his hands... Zell Dincht! Full disclosure: Final Fantasy VIII happens to be my favorite in the series partially due to the societal progression you saw within the game world over FF VII, what with the implementation of government & military and its notable focus on higher education, but primarily because of the Junction System. Still can't explain it, but I just took to junctioning like a duck to water. When it came to the cast, though, I was left somewhat underwhelmed by the lead protagonist. The antisocial, lone wolf thing never really appealed to me. Granted, Squall would (eventually) get his act together and the rest of crew were more than colorful enough to keep my interest, there was just something about Zell that stood head & shoulders above everyone else in the game.
In a civilized world surprisingly full of myths & magic, here's a kid who only needs his fists to get him through the day. Zell puts it all out there, regardless of whether or not those around him can handle it (or if they even asked for it in the first place). Despite usually being the loudest person in any given space, he's actually the team's impromptu tour guide. It's legitimately weird how knowledgeable he is about the world at large. Despite his considerably extroverted personality, Zell has a few notable traits that further endear him to me. For starters, he's got a go-to comfort food: hot dogs. That boy absolutely loves his home Garden's hot dogs. (I happen to feel the same way about my local pizzeria's chicken rolls.) Above all else, though, he has an incredibly strong connection with his family. That's something I can definitely respect.
So where does a guy like Zell fit in when it comes to the veritable smorgasbord of fighting games? I ran through a few variables on this before finally settling on a title. You see, as fun of a character as he is when it comes to RPGs, Zell is a little "dime a dozen" in the context of fighters. There's no shortage of brash, confident and/or extroverted brawlers... we got those a-plenty. When I found myself running into the same proverbial wall over & over, I opted to work backwards this time. In doing so, Zell's placement in Chaos Code made sense because the game is a little more indicative of him because he's colorful enough -- in both design & personality -- to seamlessly blend into that world.
Just imagine how much fun he would have sparring with Rui on a regular basis or the inevitable love/hate relationship he'd have with Chef Bravo over him wanting gourmet hot dogs all the time. As far as his skill set is concerned, Zell would fit in just fine. His attacks are well structured, but just over the top enough, to make him a fun character to play as. Besides, once he runs into Vein, I'm sure he'll feel right at home.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.