Squall Leonhart

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Squall Leonhart
Final Fantasy character
Squall Leonhart.png
Squall Leonhart Dissidia artwork by Tetsuya Nomura wielding his gunblade
First game Final Fantasy VIII (1999)
Created by Kazushige Nojima
Designed by Tetsuya Nomura
Voiced by Doug Erholtz
David Boreanaz ( Kingdom Hearts )
Hideo Ishikawa (Japanese)
WeaponGunblade [1]
Limit Break Renzokuken [2]

Squall Leonhart(Japanese:スコール・レオンハート, Hepburn:Sukōru Reonhāto) is a fictional character and the primary protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII , a role-playing video game by Square (now Square Enix). In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is a 17-year-old student at Balamb Garden, a prestigious military academy for elite mercenaries (known as "SeeDs"). He stands 177 cm (5 ft 10 in) tall. As the story progresses, Squall befriends Quistis Trepe, Zell Dincht, Selphie Tilmitt, and Irvine Kinneas, and falls in love with Rinoa Heartilly. These relationships, combined with the game's plot, gradually change him from a loner to an open, caring person. Squall has appeared in several other games, including Chocobo Racing , Itadaki Street Special , and the Kingdom Hearts series, as Leon(レオン,Reon).

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Hepburn romanization is a system for the romanization of Japanese that uses the Latin alphabet to write the Japanese language. It is used by most foreigners learning to spell Japanese in the Latin alphabet and by the Japanese for romanizing personal names, geographical locations, and other information such as train tables, road signs, and official communications with foreign countries. Largely based on English writing conventions, consonants closely correspond to the English pronunciation and vowels approximate the Italian pronunciation.

Protagonist the main character of a creative work

A protagonist is a main character of a story.


Squall was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with input from game director Yoshinori Kitase. He was modeled after late actor River Phoenix. Squall's weapon, the gunblade, also made so that it would be difficult to master. In order to make players understand Squall's silent attitude, Kazushige Nojima made the character's thoughts open to them. Squall's first voiced appearance was in the first Kingdom Hearts game, voiced by Hideo Ishikawa in Japanese and by David Boreanaz in English; Doug Erholtz has since assumed the role for all other English-speaking appearances.

Tetsuya Nomura is a Japanese video game artist, designer and director working for Square Enix. He designed characters for the Final Fantasy series, debuting with Final Fantasy VI and continuing with various later installments. Additionally, Nomura has led the development of the Kingdom Hearts series since its debut in 2002 and was the director for the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

Yoshinori Kitase Japanese video game designer

Yoshinori Kitase is a Japanese game director and producer working for Square Enix. He is known as the director of Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X, and the producer of the Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII series. Kitase is an Executive Officer at Square Enix, the Head of Square Enix's Business Division 1 and part of the Final Fantasy Committee that is tasked with keeping the franchise's releases and content consistent.

River Phoenix American actor, musician, and activist

River Jude Phoenix was an American actor, musician, and activist. He was the older brother of Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix, and Summer Phoenix.

Squall had a varied reaction from critics, with some judging him poorly compared to other Final Fantasy heroes due to his coldness and angst, and others praising his character development. Nevertheless, the character has been popular, and his relationship with Rinoa resulted in praise.

A character arc is the transformation or inner journey of a character over the course of a story. If a story has a character arc, the character begins as one sort of person and gradually transforms into a different sort of person in response to changing developments in the story. Since the change is often substantive and leading from one personality trait to a diametrically opposite trait, the geometric term arc is often used to describe the sweeping change. In most stories, lead characters and protagonists are the characters most likely to experience character arcs, although it is possible for lesser characters to change as well. A driving element of the plots of many stories is that the main character seems initially unable to overcome opposing forces, possibly because they lack skills or knowledge or resources or friends. To overcome such obstacles, the main character must change, possibly by learning new skills, to arrive at a higher sense of self-awareness or capability. Main characters can achieve such self-awareness by interacting with their environment, by enlisting the help of mentors, by changing their viewpoint, or by some other method.

Creation and design

Squall was inspired by late actor River Phoenix. River Phoenix.png
Squall was inspired by late actor River Phoenix.

The first character Nomura designed for Final Fantasy VIII, Squall was inspired by actor River Phoenix, although Nomura said that "[n]obody understood it." [3] Squall is 177 cm (5 ft 10 in) tall, [4] initially with longer hair and a more feminine appearance. After objections by game director Yoshinori Kitase, Nomura made the character more masculine. He added the scar across Squall's brow and the bridge of his nose impulsively (to make the character more recognizable), leaving the description of its origin up to scenario writer Kazushige Nojima. [5] Squall's first illustration was used as a set up to create the world around him. The logo of the game which had Squall embracing Rinoa was left as an open interpretation for fans who still had not played the game. The scar in Squall's forehead was also left ambiguous although Nomura said it was important for him. [6]

Kazushige Nojima is a Japanese video game writer and is the founder of Stellavista Ltd. He is best known for writing several installments of Square Enix's Final Fantasy video game series—namely Final Fantasy VII,Final Fantasy VIII,Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and the Kingdom Hearts series. Nojima also wrote the original lyrics of Liberi Fatali for Final Fantasy VIII and both Suteki da Ne and the Hymn of the Fayth for Final Fantasy X.

Nomura's design of Squall included fur lining along his jacket collar as a challenge for the game's full motion video designers. [7] In Final Fantasy VIII Nojima worked to give players insight into what Squall was thinking, in contrast to Final Fantasy VII (which encouraged players to speculate). [8] In retrospective, Nojima believes the staff made him particularly "cool". [9] Across the video game it is implied that the character of Laguna Loire is Squall's father. However, Square Enix never confirmed it. [10] Nomura designed Squall to contrast with Laguna. [5]

A full motion video (FMV) is a video game narration technique that relies upon pre-recorded video files to display action in the game. While many games feature FMVs as a way to present information during cutscenes, games that are primarily presented through FMVs are referred to as full-motion video games or interactive movies.

<i>Final Fantasy VII</i> 1997 video game

Final Fantasy VII is a 1997 role-playing video game developed by Square for the PlayStation console. It is the seventh main installment in the Final Fantasy series. Published in Japan by Square, it was released in other regions by Sony Computer Entertainment and became the first in the main series to see a PAL release. The game's story follows Cloud Strife, a mercenary who joins an eco-terrorist organization to stop a world-controlling megacorporation from using the planet's life essence as an energy source. Events send Cloud and his allies in pursuit of Sephiroth, a superhuman intent on destroying their planet. During the journey, Cloud builds close friendships with his party members, including Aerith Gainsborough, who holds the secret to saving their world.

Nomura created Squall's gunblade with silver accessories. [11] The weapon is a sword with components of a revolver, sending vibrations through the blade when triggered; [12] this inflicts additional damage if the player presses the R1 trigger on the controller as Squall strikes an enemy. [12] Although the weapon was intended as a novel way for players to control weapons in battle, Nomura said he feels (in retrospect) that it looks odd. [5] Additionally, he felt it was very difficult to master. [6] Square's Hiroki Chiba said that his favorite moment in the Final Fantasy franchise was when Squall and Rinoa embrace in space due to the use of Faye Wong's "Eyes On Me" music in the background and having to work every frame to make it work. [13]

A sword is a bladed weapon intended for slashing or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Revolver handgun that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel

A revolver is a repeating handgun that has a revolving cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. The revolver allows the user to fire multiple rounds without reloading after every shot, unlike older single shot firearms. After a round is fired the hammer is cocked and the next chamber in the cylinder is aligned with the barrel by the shooter either manually pulling the hammer back or by rearward movement of the trigger.

Faye Wong Chinese singer-songwriter and actress

Faye Wong is a Chinese singer-songwriter and actress, often referred to as "the Diva" in the Chinese-speaking world. Early in her career she briefly used the stage name Shirley Wong. Born in Beijing, she moved to British Hong Kong in 1987 and came to public attention in the early 1990s by singing in Cantonese, often combining alternative music with mainstream Chinese pop. Since 1994 she has recorded mostly in her native Mandarin. In 2000 she was recognised by Guinness World Records as the Best Selling Canto-Pop Female. Following her second marriage in 2005 she withdrew from the limelight, but returned to the stage in 2010 amidst immense interest.

During one of the cutscenes of Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is impaled by the Edea in battle. This created a theory that Squall dies in battle. When asked about this, Kitase laughed at this and denied this theory. However, he found it interesting if a remake of the game was ever proposed and the staff would think of changing elements from the story. [14]

While Final Fantasy VIII did not use voice acting, Squall obtained a voice in the Square Enix series Kingdom Hearts , where he is known as "Leon". There, he is voiced by David Boreanaz in the English version of the game and Hideo Ishikawa in the Japanese version. He returns in Kingdom Hearts II , voiced in the English version by Doug Erholtz. Erholtz said in an interview that he had a "fun journey" voicing Leon and it was a "really fun role to play". [15]


Final Fantasy VIII

At the beginning of Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is known as a "lone wolf" because he never shows his feelings [16] and seems cold to his associates. [17] His superiors (such as teacher Quistis Trepe) consider him difficult to deal with, but respect his talents. [18] [19] Squall is stoic, with his taciturn nature used for comic relief. He is dragged into a heroic role when Cid, headmaster of Balamb Garden, appoints him leader of the academy midway through the game. [20] During a late battle against Galbadia Garden, Squall has difficulty exhibiting leadership because of his lingering isolation. [21] Although other characters try to pull him out of his shell and Rinoa Heartilly expends considerable energy pursuing him, it takes time for him to accept the others' friendship, fall in love with Rinoa and care for her. [22] Squall is more comfortable later in a leadership role, especially when he must fight Ultimecia. [23]

Throughout the game, he has a rivalry with Seifer Almasy who scar each other in the beginning but then the two are supposed to cooperate are characterized by squabbles between the cadets. [24] Although Seifer later allies with the Sorceress (requiring Squall to fight him several times), Squall still feels a camaraderie with him. [25]

According to flashbacks during the game, Squall grew up in an orphanage with the other playable characters (except Rinoa). The orphans were cared for by Edea; although Squall remembers little about his past, he becomes an emotionally detached, cynical and introverted boy whose original goal is to go through life without any emotional ties or dependence. [26] He gradually warms, and it is later revealed that his detachment from his companions is a defensive mechanism to protect himself from the emotional pain he suffered when he and his older sister were separated. [27]

After Ultimecia is defeated, the time and space that she had absorbed begin to return to normal, pulling Squall's comrades back into their places in the timeline, while Squall returns to the orphanage and meets a younger Edea. Since she does not want to involve the children, she absorbs the dying Ultimecia's powers as part of the cycle of sorceresses (a sorceress must pass her powers to a successor before she can die peacefully). [28] Squall plants the ideas for Garden and SeeD in her mind, creating an origin paradox: Squall must become leader of Balamb Garden so he can pass its version of SeeD tradition to Edea, who teaches them to her husband Cid (who co-founds Balamb Garden, which admits Edea's orphans—including Squall). [29]

Other appearances

Squall appears as a non-playable character in Kingdom Hearts . He wears a short leather jacket with red wings on the back (resembling the decorations on Rinoa's duster) and his Griever necklace. Squall takes the name Leon as an alias, because he was ashamed of not protecting those he loved from the Heartless when his home world (the Radiant Garden) was consumed by darkness. [30] His role in Kingdom Hearts is to help guide the protagonist, Sora, in his battle (with other Final Fantasy characters) against the Heartless. Although Squall's appearance and age differ (he is 25 in Kingdom Hearts [31] and 17 in Final Fantasy VIII), [32] his personality remains the same. [31] A memory-based version of Squall (as Leon) appears in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories teaching gameplay in a tutorial. [33] Leon's jacket later has a fur lining on its collar, which did not appear in the first Kingdom Hearts game. In this game, he works with his friends to restore their world. [34] Squall also appears as an opponent in Olympus Coliseum tournaments, often paired with other Final Fantasy characters. His virtual replica appears in Kingdom Hearts coded , where it meets Sora's virtual replica. [35]

Squall is a secret character in Chocobo Racing [36] and Itadaki Street Special , and a sprite version occasionally appears on the loading screen of the PlayStation version of Final Fantasy VI (part of the Final Fantasy Anthology ). He appears as a playable character in every Dissidia: Final Fantasy title, with his Kingdom Hearts design available as downloadable content in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy . [37] [38] [39] [40] He is a playable character in Itadaki Street Portable and the main character, representing Final Fantasy VIII, in the rhythm games Theatrhythm Final Fantasy [41] and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call . [42] Squall also appears as a premium character in Pictlogica Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy: All The Bravest both for Android and iOS.


Critical reaction to Squall was mixed. Journalist Jack Patrick Rodgers of PopMatters said that Squall's cynicism and frustration with those around him made him a strong character, but "coldly inhuman". [43] GamesRadar called Squall the fifth-best Final Fantasy hero of all time, praising the development of his personality and his improved interactions with other characters. [44] GameZone rated him the fourth-best character in the franchise, saying that while fans "either love or hate this guy" he became the "ultimate anti-hero" (despite little dialogue) of an entertaining journey. [45] The website called Squall and Rinoa the best couple created by Square Enix, noting the differences between them and the fact that their relationship was the first in the series to drive the plot of a game. [46] They were on The Inquirer 's list of most-memorable video-game love teams, with comments again focused on the differences between them. [47] GameSpot said that while Squall could be viewed as a "jerk", he could also be seen as "standoffish because of some repressed Wagnerian broodiness, in which case he was kind of interesting". [48] Allgame said that they initially hated Squall, but although he originally seemed "cold and uncaring", his romance changed him for the better. [49] RPGamer called Squall "everyone's favorite orphan" and said that although he tries to distance himself from others, "he can't help but draw people to him, be it sorceresses or gun-slinging ladies' men". [50] GameDaily ranked him sixth on their list of the "Top 25 Gaming Hunks", stating that while critics described the character as a "jerk", his character design, notably his scar, made him visually appealing. [51] Similarly, Den of Geek listed Squall as one of the most sexually appealing video game characters based on the design, most notably his scar. [52] Arnold Katayev of PSXextreme praised Squall's redesign in Kingdom Hearts as the game's best. [53] In a 2008 Oricon poll, Squall was voted the tenth-most-popular video-game character. [54] He was voted the 29th-best video-game character by Famitsu readers in February 2010. [55] Complex listed him as the one of the greatest Final Fantasy characters. [56]

However, IGN said that "the problem [with Final Fantasy VIII] is that the character at the heart of everything, Squall, is basically a pouty jerk ... When your story is character-centered, you'd better center it on a character the audience can care about. Squall ... just doesn't fit the bill". [57] 1UP.com ranked Squall second on its list of the "Top 5 Most Irritating RPG Protagonists" and stated that although he was an attempt to "cater to the fedora-wearing, trench-coat-clad folks", his lack of social skills alienated players. [58] Edge compared Squall unfavorably with Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud Strife, saying that Squall's angst "didn't seem to have any context" (unlike Cloud's, which developed from one of the pivotal events in Final Fantasy VII). His relationship with Rinoa was criticized by Edge: "He [Squall] suddenly falls in "love" with [Rinoa] at the end [of Final Fantasy VIII]." [59] In GamesRadar's humorous "RPG Emo-Off", Squall was defeated in heartbreak by Cloud. [60] Squall was featured in the 1UP.com article "Top 5 Final Fantasy Character Types" in the second category, "The Sullen Asshole", with Cloud and Cecil from Final Fantasy IV . [61] GameSpy featured him in its comical "Videogame Characters Who Would Suck in Real Life", saying that in reality he would be a terrible soldier. [62] While listing him as one of the most overpowered characters in the franchise, The Gamer noted that Squall's antisocial personality might divide gamers. [63]

See also

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