Barret Wallace is the black guy in the 1997 smash hit Final Fantasy 7. He is the most famous black character in a Japanese RPG (you can @ me all you like, just be civil).
Let us be real and get this out of the way up front. By definition, Barret was a domestic terrorist. An Eco-terrorist to be precise. “What is a domestic terrorist?” you may be asking. Well…
Incidents have included crimes against people, such as murder, assault, kidnapping, and stalking; crimes affecting both people and property, such as arson or bombing; and property crimes such as vandalism.
He’s the leader of the resistance (eco-terrorist) group AVALANCHE. Get it? An eco-terrorist group named after natural disaster. In Barret’s quest to save the planet from the evil corporation Shinra (there is always one, isn’t that right Amazon), Barret gets roped into saving the world from Jenova. If you’ve never played FF7, what I just typed will be gibberish. To bring everyone back on the same plane, let’s look at the foundation of who Barret Wallace was.
Getting Final Fantasy 7 back in 1997 was a legitimate covert operation for me. I had to “hire” my buddy to take a trip to a store I never heard of, in a borough of New York I had never been. There he would procure the mythic copy of my most hotly anticipated game for a whopping $60. I don’t even remember where or how I got the money for the game.
I distinctly remember handing over all of my worldly cash to my friend and he vanished into the city. Maybe I would get the game. Maybe my buddy just robbed me. I was much more trusting as a pre-teen.
Lucky for me, my friend wasn’t a thieving dickhole. On a cool October Friday, I was handed my copy of FF7. That evening I plopped in front of the family TV, booted up disk 1 and immersed myself in the world of Final Fantasy 7. To my surprise, as the action kicked off, I was greeted by a black dude. A very rare sight in gaming for me at the time. Not only that, but he was also a boss. A boss with a gun for an arm. I was in.
Across the epic that was FF&, more Layers of Barret were revealed. Some good, others bad.
You have to respect a man who adopts his dead best friend’s baby daughter Marlene. He gainfully employs her, leveraging her small hands and frame to help run Tifa’s bar. Barret sees Marlene in between terrorist attacks and sometimes he even leaves her with strangers while he fights meteors. But don’t worry, he gets sparring updates on her well-being in between battles.
This was suppose to be positive.
Barret has a struggling terrorist business known as AVALANCHE. He employs 4 people and options a fifth freelance asset to carry out the company’s duties. Owning a business, even one as hectic as Eco-Terrorist requires a strong mind and heavy leadership skills. He was smart enough to hide his rebel group in the basement of his known associates bar. That takes foresight.
I swear I am trying to think of good things.
He is a man looking to rescue the planet. Like Poison Ivy and Dr. Emma Russell from Godzilla: King of Monsters, he is willing to take drastic measures to ensure the planet’s safety. This includes battling giant, ancient titans with his comparatively small gun hand. It takes a strong will and constitutions to throw yourself into danger for the benefit of others.
I couldn’t bring myself to say excuse me to someone slightly taller than me. That makes Barret brave, and me a coward. There, I went bad on myself.
The translated version of Barret is a gruff bag of stereotypes. Not so for the original Japanese leader of Avalanche. Barret is a much warmer and caring man. If you are at all interested in this version, I highly suggest ingesting the fantastic (slow) translation of Final Fantasy 7 by Tim Rogers on Kotaku.
Speaking of stereotypes, Barret is a strange one, no? From his wild gesticulations to his need to cuss all the time. I recall playing FF7 and furrowing my young brow every time Barret went off on a tangent. From the brief pieces of the Final Fantasy 7 remake I was able to play, Barret is toned way down but there is still that tinge of hyper aggression I caught while playing the original. I look forward to playing through it and updating this section. Catch a live stream of our playthrough on Twitch or on our homepage when we go live.
The remake looms
As of this writing the Final Fantasy 7 Remake is inbound in a few days. I am looking forward to how Barret is portrayed as well as some clarity on his relationship with Marlene. As a father to a little girl, it would be nice to see one of these video game behemoths have a tender side towards his little girl.
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