To Fight Next to the Weaker Sex

The portrayal of women in video games is a popular topic nowadays, and one I’ve covered before. One thing I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned in such posts, however, is something that I recall bothering me years ago: the slap fight between Tifa and Scarlet in Final Fantasy VII. Scarlet, the head of weapons development for the Shinra Corporation, tries to have Tifa executed in a gas chamber.

Tifa escapes during the Sapphire Weapon’s attack, and confronts Scarlet on top of the Mako Cannon, where the two start slapping each other before Tifa escapes to the airship.

Because they’re women, so they’re having a cat fight, get it? The problem here is that Tifa is a trained martial artist and Scarlet a sadistic murderer, so you’d think they’d both fight to at least severely injure the other. Not to mention that Scarlet just tried to have Tifa killed. Did they both forget about that? One suggestion I found on an Internet search is that Tifa was weakened from the gas, but in that case why wouldn’t Scarlet just push her off the cannon? Both characters have killed plenty of others in the past, so why would this be an exception? Just because the game designers thought it would be funny and cute for two women to get into a slap fight, apparently. If they HAD to do this, couldn’t they have used different characters?

The Final Fantasy series typically has a lot more male characters than female ones, but the woman protagonists can generally hold their own in battle. Many are healers who aren’t particularly skilled with weapons, but there are exceptions. I recently looked through a play-through of FF4 chronicled on Tumblr, and there are a few instances of the female characters being marginalized in the game. When the Red Wings attack Fabul, the male party members will defend the castle, leaving the females behind to assist with healing the injured.

I feel it worth pointing out that one of the men is Edward, who can be killed by a strong breeze. Rydia may be just a child, but she can summon mythical monsters, which you’d think would be more useful than a guy with a harp. She does know some white magic, but you’d think she’d be more helpful on the front lines. But then, there’s really no way to win in this part of the game. You can defeat the individual enemies, but the script requires you to retreat toward the room where the Crystal of Wind is kept. Why they can’t try to throw off the invaders by heading somewhere else instead isn’t clear, but the writers apparently couldn’t think of any way to advance the plot other than having the heroes basically just hand over the crystals to Golbez. Maybe Rosa and Rydia could have helped devise a better strategy. Besides, Fabul must be familiar with bad-ass fighting women if Yang’s wife can knock out an invading soldier with a frying pan. Later, when the party travels to the Moon for the second time, Cecil tells Rosa and Rydia (who, due to having spent time in a magical land, is now an adult) to remain behind.

They stow away on the Lunar Whale anyway and Rosa demands that they accompany Cecil, but I can’t say I get why Cecil ordered them not to come along anyway.

They’re valuable members of the team who accompanied Cecil on plenty of other dangerous adventures.

I have to wonder if, with Cecil being a holy knight and all, the misplaced chivalry is part of his character. If so, though, why does it only come up at those two times? I haven’t played the Lufia games, but I understand there’s also part in Lufia II where you have to leave the female protagonists behind, even though one of them is a military commander and they could potentially be the strongest heroes at that point.

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