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To Be A Hero

by May 3, 2014 18 comments

In Final Fantasy games there are some characters with hero complexes. Depending on their actions and development throughout their games, their desires to be considered heroes could be proven correct or could make them look like idiots.

In this article we’re going to examine two characters who are defined by their desire to be heroes: Zack and Snow, two characters that from the start express these desires and share quite a few things in common.

Both Zack and Snow are leaders, are loyal, are very protective of the people they hold dearest, are willing to sacrifice themselves for these loved ones, and have done massively stupid things in the name of love.

But the way they handle their hero complex is what separates them. While Zack spends the majority of the game aiming to become a hero and by the end wondering if he is one, Snow, on the other hand, proclaims himself a hero from the start.

The problem with Snow is that his achievements when he claims to be a traditional ‘save the world’ hero amount to trouncing local wildlife, which makes his claims sound more than a bit hollow, to say nothing of him trying to save everyone with enthusiasm.

Snow’s character development throughout Final Fantasy XIII and move to proper hero is debatable as many people continue to see him as an idiot hero when the game ends, which is not helped by the fact that a lot of his plans boil down to “Step #1: Summon Shiva. Kick Ass. Step #2: Something exciting happens. Step #3: Save the world”.

In Zack’s case, he spends the first portion of Crisis Core aiming to become what he perceives to be a hero. Unlike Snow he already has an impressive resume to back up his pursuit as he’s already a Soldier 1st Class, a feat that requires no small amount of badassery and talent.

The interesting thing with Zack is as the game goes on and things go from bad to worse, he starts losing his idealism and previous notions of what makes a hero, accompanied by his realization that Shinra, the company he is working for, is far from being the good guys.

This leads Zack to question if he can even be a hero as he has taken part in some of Shinra’s less than stellar activities like the Wutai War. He even goes as far as to ask if he became a hero when he dies.

Yet not many people would argue his status as a hero; while he may have been working for the bad guys, Zack was never a bad guy himself.

No matter how bad things got (and boy, did they get bad), he never let that change who he was at his core: a nice guy who would go to great heroic lengths for the people he cared about and the things he believed in, including sacrificing his own life without hesitation.

In the end both Zack and Snow are heroes, just different types of hero.

18 comments

  1. Tash
    #1 Tash 3 May, 2014, 11:40

    Out of both of them, I prefer Zack because 1) He’s adorable, caring, enegetic, sweet, and a bit naive; 2) he became a hero in less years while Snow became a hero after 500 YEARS! 3) Only Zack could help Cloud and died before his true love(Aerith) did in which for Snow and Serah, it’s sort of the other way around; 4) he saved people more than Snow did; and 5) because Snow is a moron!

    I apologuise to Snow fans, but to me and probably other people, he is. Plus, I have a feeling that Zack will make another appearence in a upcoming(hopefully) new title to the Final Fantasy VII Compilation set after Dirge of Cerberus, and maybe in Kingdom Hearts 3. I just love Zack!

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  2. Omar Khan
    #2 Omar Khan 3 May, 2014, 13:31

    Love this article!!. But i disagree with Snow. Snow kicked major ass in XIII even though he is niave about alot of things. The only two people who hated Snow were Lightning and Noel and they had really childish reasons for holding anything against him and that was because of their own insecurities and judging a book by it’s cover atitude. Everyone loves Snow in the game and outside the game. The thing with Zack. Alot of people saw him as a joke in the game. Basically althought he was a hero, no one realized how great he was until he died or how important he was to them and disappeared from their lives. Nobody saw the great things that Zack did unless they actually took the time to play Crisis Core. Genesis and Angeal both treated him as a joke until their final battles against him. Sephiroth called him a Average SOLDIER member. Aerith had a false opinion about him when she knew him thinking he was overly friendly and a womanizer and after he died assumed that he totally forgot about her even though Crisis Core tells us otherwise, even though she KNEW something bad happened to this guy. Cloud totally erased him in FFVIII only to feel guilt later on Advent Children, That whole chunk of the series. And then the Fodder Grunts who had a unneccessary grudges against him for being in SOLDIER, assuming these were the same grunts that killed Zack. Overall Snow get’s treated with more respect for being a hero by the people arround him then Zack ever did, at least i think. The only people who hate him are Lightning and Noel Fan’s who follow their intial opinion to a excessive degree to say the least.

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    • Omar Khan
      Omar Khan 3 May, 2014, 13:41

      I guess you can say that Snow is the hero you see in Hollywood films while Zack is a tragic hero that you see in Shakespearian Tradgdies.

  3. Omar Khan
    #3 Omar Khan 3 May, 2014, 13:41

    I guess you can say that Snow is the hero you see in hollywood films while Zack is a tragic hero that you see in Shakespearian Tradgdies.

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  4. Omar Khan
    #4 Omar Khan 3 May, 2014, 13:41

    I guess you can say that Snow is the hero you see in hollywood films while Zack is a tragic hero that you see in Shakespearian Tradgdies.

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  5. Omar Khan
    #5 Omar Khan 3 May, 2014, 13:41

    I guess you can say that Snow is the hero you see in Hollywood films while Zack is a tragic hero that you see in Shakespearian Tradgdies.

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  6. Omar Khan
    #6 Omar Khan 3 May, 2014, 13:41

    I guess you can say that Snow is the hero you see in Hollywood films while Zack is a tragic hero that you see in Shakespearian Tradgdies.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Splintered
    #7 Splintered 3 May, 2014, 18:40

    I feel like both Snow’s and Zack’s hero gag wasn’t suppose to be a praise of the hero schtick found in typical shows, it was meant as a deconstruction. Zack tried to be a hero while working for an evil corporation- and his development came as Shinra slowly peeled back and showed its true colors to everyone. Snow’s heroism early on clashed with several characters, common sense, and was even pointed out by some characters as delusional.
    These characters are both drastically different, the only thing they have in common is rather than being heroes because of the stories, they both had to find their heroism despite of the story.

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  8. Onion Knight
    #8 Onion Knight 4 May, 2014, 18:52

    I don’t know if I consider Snow himself to be a hero, a showoff yes, but a hero…you’ll have to get back to me on that.

    Thing is Snow wants to be a hero, he calls himself one before the game even begins the game referring to himself as such, but he never actually shows any understanding for what a hero actually is. Before the start of FFXIII Snow is a NEET, a reckless NEET w, ho will probably himself and those around him killed or seriously injured (cue FFXIII), because of his lack of foresight. After reading the prologue for FFXIII I’m with Lightning, considering all that Lightning not liking Snow was reasonable, and I agreed with her for questioning Serah on whether or not she really understood what she was getting into. Heck Snow abandons Serah in FFXIII-2 to rush off and play hero. Snow only survives through, his trials through sheer luck and always has to be bailed out by the other character. At the end of the day I can’t really say that Snow learned anything.

    Zack on the other hand I feel that he truly learned and understood what it takes to be a hero, he could be brash he could be reckless, however he was also good at thinking on his feet as well, and wasn’t just the dumb muscle. Unlike Snow Zack is forced to grow up.

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  9. Omar Khan
    #9 Omar Khan 5 May, 2014, 19:32

    Does his time after XIII-2 and before and at the end of LR dont count as character maturity? Anyway Snow’s role and development in the story ended in FFXIII. He was there in XIII-2 cause of Serah and to some extent for the same reason in LR.

    Reply to this comment
    • Onion Knight
      Onion Knight 7 May, 2014, 17:10

      Which again you can say was Snow once again trying to be a hero. But all of those games only serve to highlight Snow’s main problem as a character and why he irritates so many gamers, especially gamers know the back story for FFXIII

      Snow sees himself as a protector, however, which would be okay if he was responsible. But he isn’t. He tends to act without any thought of consequences, which lands him getting in over his head, like in XIII-2. What makes this worse is that he never learns his lesson. And also when he abandoned Serah in XIII-2, it was because he was searching for Lighting yes, but Snow never took the time out to just stop and explain himself to the people around him, leading his childhood friends and his fiancee to believe that he abandoned them. Basically Snow is an idiot.

      Snow is obsessed with being a hero, but he’s unaware of what that means, and thus he never becomes in his own merit. Really Lighting’s misgivings about him were right.

    • Tash
      Tash 8 May, 2014, 01:55

      I agree with you on this one. Plus, Zack tried to do what he thought was right and wasn’t completely reckless. He kept Aerith out of trouble, keeping her safe and even asked Cloud to become his living Legecy. That I believe is an act of a hero; as they say, “A true Hero isn’t by the size of his strength, but they the strength of his heart.” and Zack somewhat proved that. Plus, he didn’t brag so much about becoming a hero like Snow did.

      Snow kept calling himself a hero and was really stupid, and instead of saving people, well, he did at first, but he also gets them all killed as well! Zack proved to be more responsible, and sacrificed himself for Cloud’s safety and kept him safe until the end of his life, which Cloud carried on his Legacy ever since then.

  10. Omar Khan
    #10 Omar Khan 9 May, 2014, 05:03

    I think they are both the same in terms of responsiblity. I mean Snow only huge mistake was with Nora Estheim and that was her choice to fight during the Purge.

    Reply to this comment
    • Onion Knight
      Onion Knight 12 May, 2014, 16:15

      No, Snow is irresponsible. Zack has never once given weapons to a bunch of civilians with no combat experience then left them alone to fight for themselves. He also didn’t run into an area closed off by the military because it was dangerous in order to play hero. In episode Zero its actually stated by Lighting that if the Security personnel weren’t so nice then Snow and his friends would have gotten arrested, or possibly even executed on the spot, because that was protocol dictated. Snow is also a NEET, he has no job and no real intention of getting one. In fact, its the reason why Lightning didn’t like him, and didn’t want Serah to marry him.

  11. Tash
    #11 Tash 10 May, 2014, 04:10

    Well….I guess so, but that doesn’t make millions of people like him more. No offense and I know that you’re a Snow fan, but Zack is ten times better. The reason why people like Zack more is because he, at a young age, is always prepared, can think better than Snow can, and the main protagonist(Cloud) loves Zack in bromance. For Snow, the protagonist(Lightning) hated his guts.

    The two of them eventually-EVENTUALLY-got on in the future(Lightning Returns), while Cloud and Zack got on since their meeting and to this day, even while Zack is in the Lifestream, still hold onto their brotherly-like bond.

    Heck, I bet on a million Gil that Cloud loved Zack and always saw him as an olderish twin brother and the latter was his first very close friend in his entire life(apart from Tifa). To me, Zack is my true hero(and such an adorable hero too).

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  12. Omar Khan
    #12 Omar Khan 11 May, 2014, 13:11

    Zack and Cloud’s relationship mirrors Terra’s and Ven’s in BBS. And I wouldn’t say that Cloud and Zack were close per-say. Maybe close acquaintances. Just Zack was the only person who ever took the time to actually care. Everyone else treated Cloud like some sorta failure and scapegoat while Zack never gave up on him. Even despite all the things Cloud did to him and even in death as well.

    The thing with Lightning and to some extent Noel is that they have a really biased preconceived notion of people like Snow but Snow always proves them wrong in the end and to some extent they are denying on their own insecurities as people. Fans of Lightning and Noel take their intial views of Snow but excessively so and make it seem like Lightning always had hate Snow but she was denying her own insecurities and failures to protect her sister in life.

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    • Onion Knight
      Onion Knight 12 May, 2014, 16:26

      No, actually Lightning isn’t being biased the reason why she doesn’t like Snow was revealed and it was perfectly reasonable. She doesn’t like Snow because he’s reckless. He wants to play a hero so badly but he never pays attention to what he’s doing or whom he hurts in the process. When they first met, Snow and his friends were sneaking into closed off territory to fight monsters, because “Snow’s a hero!” and got into too deep and the security had to bail them out. They let them go, but Lightning points that if she was following protocol then she would have to kill him on the spot. Its also pointed out that Snow is a NEET. That was their first meeting.

      Lightning has gone off and stated that men like him only cause those around them pain, and she speaks from experience. Her reasons for disliking Snow are justified, so much so, that the reconciliation (similar to Hope’s) made no sense as all Snow did was prove that he really was the kind of person they thought him to be, he didn’t changed. Snow never learns, he never grows out of his hero complex. Snow is inconsiderate, and really everyone criticizing him are all correct.

    • Tash
      Tash 15 May, 2014, 04:20

      My thoughts exactly! ;). Zack learned a lot before he died and Snow just didn’t changed his recklessness a single bit and went even more crazy in Lightning Returns. I mean, Zack took more responsibility, and despite the general rule of SOLDIER and the Turks not getting along, Zack made an exception by becoming friends with Tseng who, despite in being ordered to kill him five years later, instead ordered the other Turks to find and rescue him and Cloud, and also wanting to show him the letters Aerith sent, showing us how caring the Wutaiian can be.

      Zack can almost easily make friends with anyone without screwing up, he is a grateful person and tries to make up for his mistakes. Even Sephiroth was friends with him at some stage, you know, before the General went crazy over Jenova. Zack in number one out the two! Snow-Zero:Sorry, no offence to Snow lovers.

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