Biggs and Wedge: The Dynamic Duo

Article written by forum member Jiro. Originally published on his gaming blog Press Start, now republished on TheLifestream with permission.

If you call yourself a fan of Final Fantasy and haven’t heard the names Biggs and Wedge, then you’re a stone cold liar. This duo has become a recurring part of the series, in much the same way as series mascots Chocobos and Moogles, as well as the ever present “Cid”. Though rarely taking centre stage, Biggs and Wedge are some of the most beloved characters, and have appeared in a variety of roles including as both allies and enemies, sometimes both and occasionally neither.

But where did it all begin? If you said Final Fantasy VI, you’d be wrong. In fact, if you said Final Fantasy at all, you’d be mistaken! The origins of Biggs and Wedge lie outside the Final Fantasy series and deep within another series beloved to nerds everywhere: Star Wars.

A long, long time ago…

Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles are two relatively minor characters in the universe established by the Star Wars films, sharing that trait with their fellows in the Final Fantasy series. Their history – thanks to the Expanded Universe – is a lot more detailed, and it’s here that we can find a lot more about these inspirational characters and how they influenced the Biggs and Wedge duos that we know and love.

Biggs Darklighter was a childhood friend and rival of Luke Skywalker; the two were fiercely competitive pilots, always racing to try and prove themselves superior to the other. One such instance resulted in the two racing and Biggs’ hand-built speeder crashing violently. Despite the severity of the crash, Biggs survived and even managed to tackle Luke from behind as he stopped to search the wreckage.

Biggs – in keeping with both his and Luke’s dreams to be starship pilots – managed to be recruited into a pilot academy, while Luke was forced to stay on Uncle Owen’s moisture farm on Tatooine. After graduating from the academy, Biggs eventually defected from the Empire, joining the Rebel Alliance and becoming a member of the Red Squadron, precursor to the famed Rogue Squadron. Sadly, his ship was shot down – by Darth Vader himself, no less – during the Battle of Yavin.

Wedge Antilles, on the other hand, joined the Rebel Alliance straight up after Imperial forces killed his girlfriend. He flew alongside Biggs and Luke at the Battle of Yavin, and as one of the few surviving members, formed Rogue Squadron, a group of the greatest pilots the Alliance could muster. It was here where he served the Alliance the best.

He acted as Rogue Squadron commander repeatedly over a sixteen year period, until he eventually wound up as Supreme Commander of the Corellian Defence Force. At one point he resigns from the Alliance, taking his squadron with him to deal with a group of Imperial Remnants in order to ensure safe Alliance rule. His dedication and determination gave him a very successful career as a pilot and general which saw him become a repeatedly decorated hero of the Alliance.

The two cemented their partnership during the Battle of Yavin where Biggs and Wedge gave it their all to defend Luke on his bombing run of the Death Star. It’s only because of these two that the young jedi was even able to fire the perfect shot and destroy the Imperial monster.

Legend has it that our friends at Square (as it was known at the time) were quite big fans of the Star Wars series. Indeed, prior to the first inclusion of Biggs and Wedge, several references – whether intentional or accidental – had already been made, including but hardly limited to the very core concept of Final Fantasy II: the well-meaning rebel forces rise up against the evil, oppressive empire to reclaim their lands and bestow freedom upon the galaxy – or world, as it were.

This basic concept is not uncommon throughout the realm of fiction, and indeed manifests itself in several Final Fantasy games to varying degrees. But, nevertheless, this marked the beginning of a relationship between the two series which would blossom into a garden of Star Wars allusions and references, with none more pronounced than our very own Biggs and Wedge.

Let’s embark on our own journey as we discover the many faces of Final Fantasy’s Biggs and Wedge.

First Contact

We begin not with the original Final Fantasy, but Final Fantasy VI – although the SNES release was originally misnumbered in the West as Final Fantasy III. Biggs and Wedge were Imperial troopers (their Star Wars counterparts would surely scream if only it could be heard in space) charged with escorting Terra to Narshe. The mission is simple: investigate the town for evidence of the Esper uncovered in the Narshe mines.

Unfortunately for our duo, they suffered from mistranslation woes, as did many other characters and items. Biggs was not even himself, instead being known as Vicks thanks to the tricky ビ character which can be pronounced with either a hard B or hard V sound.

This sad beginning to their legacy only got worse, with the duo being absolutely demolished after defeating the first boss of the game – Ymir, originally translated as Whelk. Their victory allowed the trio to approach Valigarmanda (Tritoch), who then decided to react with Terra’s Esper blood, causing some blinding light and the disappearance of both Biggs and Wedge.

Though their presence was short lived and ultimately rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, Biggs and Wedge managed to secure a future for themselves in the series – and outside of it too.

Where are they now?

The sudden disappearance and complete lack of an explanation led many fans to wonder what exactly happened to Biggs and Wedge. The prevailing theory – and by far the most creative and likely one – is that the duo was cast through a tear in the space-time continuum, becoming time-travelling heroes. I’m not even kidding.

Biggs and Wedge show up in another Square product, Chrono Trigger, as guards at the Millennial Fair. Their job, rather than soldiering or even guarding despite their appearance, was to assist in a game at Norstein Bekkler’s Tent of Horrors.

The two of them – being identical – are assisted by another man who happens to share two important features: firstly, the same identical appearance; secondly, a Star Wars-inspired name. Piette was likely named after Admiral Firmus Piett, an Imperial soldier and the last commander of Darth Vader’s personal Death Squadron of Star Destroyers.

The similarities don’t end there; Biggs, in both the SNES and PS versions of the game, was mistranslated as Vicks. While they may not be the exact same characters, these two men and their buddy Piette are clearly a continuation of the theme. This isn’t, however, the second appearance they make in a Square game; two years prior, the duo surfaced as members of an eco-terrorism group.

Defending the Planet

Biggs and Wedge were members of AVALANCHE, a group dedicated to fighting against ShinRa Inc, a global conglomerate with such great control over nearly every aspect of people’s lives that it effectively functions as the world government.

What ShinRa didn’t tell its customers was that Mako energy – the source of the electricity – is actually the planet’s lifeblood; ShinRa was killing the planet to turn a profit.

AVALANCHE was out to stop them, and our friends Biggs and Wedge were members of this quest. Unlike their Final Fantasy VI incarnations, this Biggs and Wedge wore a rebel status proudly, just as their Star Wars counterparts did. They were joined again by a third musketeer; this time a woman named Jessie. She has no clear Star Wars connections, however.

Biggs and Wedge are given a lot longer to create an impact on the player this time around. As core members of the AVALANCHE team, Biggs and Wedge are present for the bombings of both Sector 1 and Sector 5 reactors. Their roles are more technical, leaving the fighting to Barret, Cloud and Tifa.

They both have easy going attitudes – a surprising trait considering their involvement in destruction and inadvertent deaths – and are friendly towards AVALANCHE newbie Cloud, with Wedge even going so far as to idolise the spikey-haired protagonist.

Unfortunately, they don’t survive the ShinRa attack on Sector 7. Biggs, Wedge and Jessie are all wounded in the battle on the pillar holding the upper plate of Midgar.

Wedge is thrown from the very top, somehow surviving the fall, though later succumbing to his wounds. Wedge’s dying words were of joy that Cloud remembered his name, and despair that he couldn’t do more and be the hero.

Biggs is found wounded on the pillar, propped against a railing. He, too, is strangely optimistic, being pleased to know that Cloud is there to continue AVALANCHE’s goals. But he also shows some regret for the innocent lives lost in pursuit of their cause. Biggs is determined to survive and repent, telling Cloud that “next time” will be better.

Neither Biggs nor Wedge, or even Jessie for that matter, survive to fight another day though; the pillar release mechanism is activated by Reno of the Turks and the entire seventh section of the plate collapses onto Sector 7, killing all the residents.

Though their time on-screen was short, both Biggs and Wedge left an impact. Barret’s despair at the loss of his friends was only marginally offset by the thought that they died fighting the good fight; they gave everything they had to protect the planet.

It wasn’t only the player party that mourned their deaths, either; Wedge had a younger brother, a fact discoverable during the second mission. One of them also had a sister, as Vincent learns in Dirge of Cerberus – a member of the World Regenesis Organization mentions that her brother joined an anti-ShinRa group and was killed when the plate fell.

These two seemingly minor NPCs had far reaching consequences, and with their deaths being irrefutable, it’s safe to say that this iteration of Biggs and Wedge tugged at the heart strings a little.

With a retrospective lens

Thanks to the success of the Biggs and Wedge reference, the two men started to be retroactively inserted into other games in the series when it came time for ports and remakes. These belated allusions weren’t always as significant as the role the pair played in Final Fantasy VII though. In Dawn of Souls, for example, the names Biggs and Wedge only appear as two of the suggested names for the thief class.

Final Fantasy IV was much more involved, but not in the game itself; Biggs and Wedge are first revealed in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Here, they are members of the Red Wings tasked with escorting Ceodore – Cecil and Rosa’s son – as he strives to become a knight. Biggs, the current captain of the Red Wings, is very strict and harsh on Ceodore, while Wedge plays the opposite role, being very supportive of the young man.

Through The After Years it is also revealed that Biggs and Wedge were the two Red Wings members who voiced concerns about the theft of the Water Crystal from Mysidia in Final Fantasy IV.

These two loyal soldiers aren’t fortunate enough to survive The After Years however, perishing when their airship crashes and they are attacked by monsters. Biggs’s last orders to Ceodore are to return to Baron alive.

Soldiering is a funny business

Biggs and Wedge returned for Final Fantasy VIII, bringing with them a strong sense of comedy. Although both are soldiers with the Galbadian army – making them antagonists for nearly the total length of the game – their primary role is that of comic relief.

The player first encounters the duo in Dollet while on the SeeD Field Exam. Major Biggs and Lieutenant Wedge are tasked with repairing the Dollet Communication Tower; unfortunately for them, Squall and party arrive to put a dampener on their plans.

The two engage the party in combat. The battle is short-lived, however, as an approaching monster – Elvoret – hits the duo with its Storm Breath and ejects them from the battle. Though injured, Biggs manages to summon the X-ATM092 spider-robot to harass the party as they attempt to escape.

Despite the successful repair of the Dollet Communication Tower, Biggs and Wedge’s next appearance shows them having been demoted to Lieutenant and Private, respectively. At D-District Prison, Biggs and Wedge are given the task of roughing up Zell, Selphie and Quistis. The task isn’t so easy, especially as Zell had recovered the party’s weapons, and the duo are defeated again.

The once cocky and confident Biggs is a shattered man, and Wedge is no different. Although their behaviour and dialogue is intended as humorous, it’s almost a little sad to see them look so defeated.

The last time Biggs and Wedge are seen is within Lunatic Pandora. Contrary to all those who went before, this Biggs and Wedge decide to quit while they’re ahead, leaving the Galbadian army and managing to survive the game. What life held for them after that is unknown; maybe they decided to open up a moisture farm in the Esthar desert.

Save a penny for the ferryman… or the shopkeeper

Biggs and Wedge have a few little cameos as shopkeepers. Even if there is no room for an actual character holding the name, the folks at Square Enix don’t want the legacy of Biggs and Wedge to die out!

In the Disney-Square Enix collaboration Kingdom Hearts II, Biggs and Wedge are two of the shopkeepers in Twilight Town – along with Jessie and Barret, obvious allusions to their Final Fantasy VII incarnations. Biggs is even the host of the Twilight Town Struggle Tournament.

Their position in Final Fantasy XIII is particularly hidden, being the B and the W in B&W Outfitters. It isn’t the most glamorous showing in the series, but on the upside, these iterations of Biggs and Wedge also survive their games.

They also make appearances in several spinoff games in the series. Chocobo’s Mysterious Dungeon 2, for instance, has Biggs and Wedge appearing as two black mages who can assist the player – along with Jessie, making her second cameo alongside Biggs and Wedge outside of Final Fantasy VII.

The two return to their role as guards for Final Fantasy Dimensions, manning their station at the front gate of Castle Lux. They take their job seriously, barring the entrance to the party entirely. Although, confusingly, they relax these rules once the party successfully sneaks into the castle by other means.

Even in Crisis Core, a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, Biggs and Wedge make an appearance, not as themselves, but as the names of two mechs Zack is able to snipe while fleeing Nibelheim.

With examples like these, it’s clear that the reference has transcended Star Wars and is now a fully-fledged part of the Final Fantasy series. But we haven’t reached the end of their legacy, not yet!

But wait, there’s more… in Japan.

Final Fantasy Tactics didn’t make its first appearance in Europe – and by extension, my lovely little patch of “Europe” in the Pacific known as Australia – until 2007, a staggering decade after its Japanese debut, so we almost missed out on the duos escapades here entirely.

Biggs is solo this time, showing up as an enemy in the very first battle at Orbonne Monastery, meeting a swift end at the hands of Ramza and Gaffgarion. It’s a disappointing appearance, especially without Wedge at his side, but Japanese audiences were fortunate enough to have some bonus content.

The Japanese release contained sound novel minigames which could be accessed by reading books the party had as artefacts. One of the books – Nanai’s Histories – features Biggs as a bartender, with Wedge his assistant. It is anybody’s guess as to how Biggs came to join the Order of the Northern Sky, or what happened to Wedge.

Biggs and Wedge also show up as random names for character units in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. In the English version, Biggs is also one of Cid Randell’s former business associates.

Blinded by the light

When being guards is a little too monotonous for two young men such as Biggs and Wedge, what better way to blow off some steam then by becoming sports stars? Biggs and Wedge do just that in Final Fantasy X; they abandon their post as guards to the Luca Blitzball Stadium in favour of a lucrative career as star players!

That is, of course, if the player recruits them. Biggs and Wedge are two of the first players recruitable and at that early stage of the game they are excellent replacements for the somewhat dismal Besaid Aurochs players.

In a strange twist of events, it is actually Biggs who ends up with the lesser stats; in Final Fantasy VI, he was the more powerful of the two, and usually has a position of superiority to Wedge. His prowess as a forward diminishes quickly, and by mid-levels all of his stats save Endurance are below average.

Wedge, on the other hand, shines like a diamond from his first game until his very last. He, too, is great as a forward at the start, transitioning into an excellent defender by mid-levels and by the top end of the scale he becomes the second best goalie in the game. Talk about adaptable!

While the two are optional – although very strongly encouraged – recruits in Final Fantasy X, their blitzball prowess obviously became the thing of legend, and in Final Fantasy X-2, the two are automatic selections for the Gullwings’s all-star blitzball team. The other team members are all actual members of the Gullwings, which might suggest the two signed up for some sphere hunting on the side. Either way, it’s certainly better pay than just being the door guard.

Hiding in plain sight

Biggs and Wedge don’t make an appearance in Final Fantasy XII. It isn’t the first time they’ve been absent, though; Final Fantasy IX, despite being a self-referential celebration of the Final Fantasy series, leaves out our favourite duo entirely.

But just because the two don’t show up, doesn’t mean their legacy isn’t represented: it lives on in two Archadian soldiers named Gibbs and Deweg.

There’s a clear allusion to Biggs and Wedge here: Gibbs simply swaps the B and G around, while Deweg is a simple anagram of Wedge. However, they’re simply known as Junior and Senior Imperial Soldier in the Japanese version, meaning someone on the localisation team is responsible for keeping the dream alive.

These two men are tasked with guarding the path to the Mosphoran Highwaste, stationed near Nalbina. Their desert posting causes a few complaints from Gibbs. Although Deweg shares them, he warns Gibbs not to think about deserting his post.

The two continue the comic relief tradition begun by Biggs and Wedge in Final Fantasy VIII with their conversations; Gibbs recounts the first time he came to Archades as the son of a long line of chocobo breeders. The stench clung to him and disgusted all of the women he tried to speak with, forcing him to buy expensive Viera cologne to mask it.

If the player approaches the two soldiers while riding a chocobo, Gibbs takes off, fearing the stench of chocobos rubbing off on him again, and forcing Deweg to chase after him. This opens up early access to the Mosphoran Highwaste, but forces the two out of the game; what befalls them, again, is unknown – though presumably they survive.

The road ahead

There is little doubt that Biggs and Wedge have become an important part of the Final Fantasy series. They might not be the most important aspect, but their continued presence shows that the two have become synonymous with the series.

Biggs and Wedge fulfil a number of roles throughout their time in the series, but whether they are villain or ally, their presence has added depth and familiarity to the series. Even those who care nothing for the Star Wars origins can appreciate the impact of these two and their long lasting place in the mythos of Final Fantasy.

From the large roles they play in Final Fantasy VII and VIII to the simple name drops in the likes of Dawn of Souls and Final Fantasy XIII, Biggs and Wedge are a staple of the series and hopefully one that will endure for as long as Final Fantasy lives on.

Where will we see the dynamic duo next? What form will they appear in? Who knows! One thing is for sure though; we will be seeing them again.