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  • Edgar Mahaffey

Blog Post 4: Locke and Celes

I learned as much about life from video games as I did from anywhere else. One of my go-to anecdotes on the value of video games is that I learned the word "apprentice" from the Super Nintendo game: "Lufia and the Fortress of Doom". Man, that was a fantastic game. Good versus evil, love triumphing even in the face of hopelessness, and a ship that could both fly and operate as a submarine. One day I may write a post about it. But for now, I have something else in mind. For now I'd rather talk about the two characters above this paragraph.

The two characters in the picture are Locke Cole and Celes Chere from the video game Final Fantasy VI (when I played it the first time, however, it was Final Fantasy III). Here's a picture of the Super Nintendo Cartridge:

Just seeing that cartridge brings back memories of pushing it into the system, it not working, and then taking it out to give it "the breath of life" (any old nintendo owners will know this phrase).

FFVI was my favorite game for twenty years. Twenty years. All the way up until I played Bioware's "Mass Effect". But that's for another post (Probably in May when the legendary edition comes out and Pengyun loses her husband for a week).

Everything about FFVI is perfect. The plot is logical and compelling, the characters are numerous and lovable, the antagonist (Kefka) is among the greatest from any video game of all time, and the music is way, way better than it should be. I'm actually listening to it now. From the first note of each new theme I already have a picture in my head. Pictures of flying the first airship for the first time or meeting the stone cold killer ninja, Shadow. Fun fact on that character. You're first introduced to him through a character named Edgar—which is a fantastic name, btw—who says, "That's Shadow... He's an assassin. He'd kill his own best friend for the right price..."

That's it. That's how he's introduced. And I'll always remember it. He was a badass. He was my friend Troy's favorite character (though I think later he switched to liking Setzer more) and, honestly, we didn't know much about him. All we had at first was that quote and this picture:

It was grainy and low quality but in the 90s, we thought we were spoiled with it. So much was left to the imagination in those days and there was a simplistic beauty to it. I'm not saying it was a better time or anything, but still, there's something for the ingenuity of the story writers of those days.

I replayed that game not too long ago and found that, though the story hadn't changed, most of the details had been created by my own little eight year old mind. The facial expressions they gave each other, their mannerisms, and even the depths of their declarations of friendship and love. And, for anyone who's played the game, the opera house part was also heavily influenced by my own imagination. If you played it then you probably did the same thing.

Man, when I was an eight year old boy who'd never even been to a musical, I thought the opera house part was the absolute height of art and poetry. It also featured my favorite two characters: Locke and Celes. Now, for some background on these two.

Locke Cole

Introduction from the game: "A treasure hunter and trail-worn traveler, searching the world over for relics of the past..."

Common saying: "I'm not a thief, I'm a treasure hunter"

If you want to read his wiki for more on him, check it out here.

That picture is from some of the original artwork for the character. In the game he's a spy aiding a group known as "The Returners" that seek to stop the rise of an evil empire. He's a truly complete character, though, and not just something to push the plot forward. No, he has ghosts in his past and memories that haunt him. One, the one most explored in the game, is a failure to protect his first love, Rachel. This failure creates a psychological need to protect those close to him. It's displayed numerous times throughout the game and his loyalty to his friends is never questioned. He's had failures and loss and he genuinely gives the player the feeling that he's obsessed with finding a way to bring Rachel back from the dead. That is, until he's able to conquer this obsession with the help of Celes.

Celes Chere

Introduction from the game: "A Magitek knight forged by the Empire and tempered in battle. None have ever truly known the woman beneath the general's guise."

When asked to go under cover as a performer: "I'm a former general, not some opera floozy!"(The dialogue in video games back then could be a bit stale, but eight year old Edgar loved it)

If you want to read more about her, check out her wiki here.

Celes was a badass. She was intelligent, gifted militaristically, could use magic, and, most of all, lived an incredibly adventurous life. She was everything eight year old Edgar wanted in a woman and was my first fictional crush (followed soon after by Kimberley, the pink ranger from "Power Rangers"). At every opportunity to stand up against injustice and power-lust she does. And what makes her remarkable is how frequently she fails. The first half of the game sees her attempting to stop the empire, but getting defeated. She is incredibly strong... but still not strong enough. Then, later when asked to impersonate an opera performer to set a trap for the airship-owning gambler known as Setzer, she agrees. She doesn't want to. She's a former general, after all, and it seems beneath her. But she does it. For context, here is a screenshot from the updated version of the game when it was released for PS1:

That picture doesn't add much other than context, but I just think it's a really beautiful image and the game makers did a great job with it.

Their love story is simple in FFVI. It's understated because there just wasn't the space for it. On the replay I mentioned earlier I noticed that everything between she and Locke is subtle. There's never this moment where it's actually confirmed they are in love. But, over the last two and a half decades, there certainly seems to be others who agree with me. That's why we have such amazing fan art, like this:

Isn't that badass? What eight year old boy when presented with the idea of a love interest wouldn't choose someone who draws a sword to cover their back? I remember actually praying that god would send monsters to earth so that I could have a story resembling the video games I played. But this isn't even my favorite fan art of the two. My favorite fan art downplays the action quite a bit and focuses on the lesser-seen aspect of these two's relationship.

That is such a moving piece to me. There's so much emotion even in Celes' closed eyes. In their relaxed grips of each other. In their comfort and mutual acceptance. In the vague background behind them as if everything else was irrelevant when they touched. If you check out the date, it was done thirteen years ago, which places it almost exactly halfway from now to the game's release in 1994.

I was eight years old when I played this game. It taught me a lot and I credit it for my views on right and wrong and acceptance as much as I do anything else. I think it was my first real experience with crafting a "head canon". My imagination filled in the gaps and I started subconsciously doing the same with other games and movies and shows. I can't be sure, but it may be what inspired my passion for writing. My first story—which I still have—was so heavily based on FFVI that it borders on copyright infringement (though thankfully, I doubt nintendo would have taken an eight year old boy to court over a thirty-five page story). It instilled a love of story inside me more than even books had at that time.

One day I'll probably make a post about FFVI as a whole. I'll go deeper into detail about the characters and the story and how it influenced me, but for this post I just wanted to take a moment and appreciate an understated love story that unfolded within a much larger story.

I learned so much from these two characters. Whether it was gaining an appreciation for adventure and freedom from Locke, or acquiring a sense of standing up for what is right from Celes, my formative years were molded more by these two than most.


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