“I Need A Cigarette” – Love Story Hits Countdown: #2

Well there was absolutely no doubt that this couple would make this list. No matter what game I’m complimenting, it usually comes back to Final Fantasy IX. If I like a game’s storytelling, I compare it to Final Fantasy IX. If I like the music in a game, I point to Nobuo Uematsu’s most varied and -in my opinion- overall greatest work. And if a game attempts a love story I, without fail, point to the practically unrivaled:

garnet_zidane#2 Best Video Game Romance: Zidane and Dagger
The reason why this romance still stands the test of time, and why the name Dagger has been a symbol for love in my life since November 14, 2000, is because of all the sides of love this story manages to tell. Let’s go through it together.

Zidane: I’m surprised you found this place.
You got the talent to be a bandit!
How ’bout you and me team up?
We’ll call ourselves “The Betrothed”.
Dagger: My talent’s up to snuff, but that name isn’t.

I love the way Zidane instantly acts on his attraction. He’s used to instantly smooth-talking with every cute girl he meets, and Princess Garnet is definitely no exception. Like any new relationship of any sort between two people, the interactions are hit and miss as the two begin to feel out the way the other works. And as the two are forced to travel together for a short while, his natural flirtations evolve into legitimate feelings. She, at first taken aback and a little embarrassed at his aggression, begins to be incredibly influenced by Zidane. She feels frustration at his constant desire to protect her and tries to press on without him only to admit to herself that a combination of trying to impress him and his encouragement were the things that even made her capable of following through with such risky plans in the first place. And from the very believable state of an exciting new crush, the game then factors in an incredibly real human emotion that takes particular hold over a romantic couple: pride.

Dagger begins to resent that she relies on Zidane for strength, she gets frustrated that he’s in her thoughts, and she wants to be able to prove her worth without him. A conflict grows within her between her swelling feelings for him and the weight and responsibility of proving to herself and her kingdom that she is fit to rule. She is incredibly proud and a lot of her vulnerable moments confronting her feelings happen in her head without explicitly opening up to Zidane. Zidane, while perhaps seeming more open is just as prideful. Or at least when she’s in his presence…

Zidane: Gee, all s/he ever thinks about is food.
Dagger: Well, all you ever think about is girls.
Zidane: Uh, that’s right! My mind is filled with thoughts of… you!
Zidane: (Maybe I’m trying too hard…)

ButtPutting aside Dagger’s passive-aggressive comment, Zidane is right. He definitely tries too hard. He’s so used to his formula with women that his legitimate feelings for Dagger confuse him. He wants to get his feelings across without losing his ladies man image. He wants to be the big strong man for his woman, and shows his weaknesses mostly when she’s not around. Another victory for pride! And speaking of his weaknesses, this brings me the perfect transition to another real side of love that Final Fantasy IX shows: heartbreak.

When Dagger and Zidane are forced to separate later in the game, we see Zidane sobbing like a baby in a bar. I say like a baby both literally and figuratively. Because heartbreak by nature is so overflowing with emotion that people tend to be idiots. Zidane is no exception, and so he just whines, feels sorry for himself, and even acts like a complete idiot when he is finally in her -contrived- presence again. Dagger herself is subdued and disappointed with Zidane’s behavior, but both play the silly games we all play when we wait for the other person to make a sweeping romantic gesture to win us back. Luckily for these two idiots, fate intervenes and Zidane doesn’t hesitate to rescue Dagger, and Dagger doesn’t hesitate to literally welcome it with open arms.

I could obviously go on and on about this couple, and the reason I focused on a lot of their faults is because that’s what makes this such a great romance. No real love comes from a problem-less couple who are perfectly and instantly compatible. That doesn’t exist, and nobody but 12 year olds believe that. While, like usual, the sexuality of the romance is vastly underplayed, at least we do have the famous butt-pat moment that at least helps sustain the notion that they are sexual beings.

In the end, Zidane and Dagger get their fair share of sap, but I dare say they deserve it. They went through hell together as two different, faulted human beings to prove that they constructed a love that was powerful enough to break through physical and emotional barriers.

That’s it. I finally got my soapbox on which to stand on and gush and gush about this unrivaled couple in gaming. Well, practically unrivaled, I should say. We do have one more love story to tell on this list…

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16 Responses to ““I Need A Cigarette” – Love Story Hits Countdown: #2”

  1. SiliconNooB says:

    I need to play this game again, it’s been so long since I’ve played it all the way through.

  2. Ethos says:

    It’s definitely worth it. Not really a long game (unless you play it the way I do…), and I’m always surprised because I expect to be disappointed, but it holds up every time.

  3. SiliconNooB says:

    You sell it well, after reading the article I realised that I couldn’t remember half of that (though I’ll always remember touching Garnet’s bum). I’ll have to wait until after the Lusipurr.com FFVII playthrough though, I might do it over the summer.

  4. SiliconNooB says:

    BTW you absolutely have to check out this blog: http://thatcrazymotomu.blogspot.com/

  5. Ethos says:

    I’m glad I sell it well! I get excited at the chance to actually explain my love for FFIX beyond a simple “lol, I luvz dat game!!!”
    You let me know when you try it again. I’m slowly playing through it amidst my other titles, so you’ll probably catch up.
    And I will check out that blog! I saw your link to it from Facebook and I skimmed it, but I’ll take a closer look!

  6. SiliconNooB says:

    -It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read on the internets!

    -I’ll probably either play it during it’s year of FF month at CatFancy or over the Xmas break if I have too much on my plate at that time. I’m going to put homebrew on my PSP so it should be easier to play PS1 games now.

  7. Ethos says:

    Bah-ha, reading now. It’s definitely very amusing. Great style.

  8. Ethos says:

    Okay, you’re right. It gets VERY funny. Best to read it in order, I’m glad I started from the beginning.

  9. SiliconNooB says:

    Lol I just lost it at that bit with Nomura and the water fountain.

  10. Ethos says:

    Yeah, I definitely laughed out loud in public a number of times. Reminds me of a failed site I did with a friend ages ago, but this does it better, and with more laughs.

  11. SiliconNooB says:

    It’s that much funnier because we can put a face to all these names. I love it how Wada keeps threatening to have Kawazu come and wreck FFXIII, I just know all the references so well that it’s hilarious to imagine. And lol Nomura is such a mouth breathing retard!

  12. Kyalie says:

    I was looking for a picture to make a fanart of Garnet, then i found this post and then i totally agreed with you!
    I don’t know what people find to the Squall/Linoa couple, everyone says FF8 is far more mature, but FF9’s couple IS really more mature. I hate main female characters of FF but i really love Garnet, she’s a smart and logical girl, i totally understand the way she acts during the story, her naivety is only due to her ignorance of the real world, but she adapts quite quickly. I love the way she always tries to do her best, this leading to some funny situations. AND she’s not obsessed with seducing Zidane at all and that’s a really good point for her, nice to see a girl with pride (erh Linoa? >.>) ^^

  13. Ethos says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Kyalie!
    I agree except that I don’t think a woman has to lose her pride to be seductive. I agree that it didn’t fit Garnet’s character or situation to throw herself at Zidane, but that doesn’t mean a girl should be ashamed of being opening sexual.
    Otherwise, I completely agree! FF8 is the high school relationship, and for the most part FF9 has a legitimate emotional arc.

  14. Kyalie says:

    Well the pride point was for the comparison with Linoa or even Aerith who, although they have no sign of any interest from the guy (from Squall it’s even rejection), they still try to seduce him even though it’s like they get smacked every 5 minutes.
    I mean if you have pride you get hurt by the reject and then angry toward the guy for being such a jerk (Squall IS really mean to Rinoa, it’s like he finally falls in love because everyone around him is like “oh, come on, you should love her, you’re the main role!”), and then you turn to something else. And when Aerith is like “how come i pay you with a date?”, who would be blind enough not to see that she has a total crush for you? Oh wait, Cloud would be.
    But they always come back, i just don’t get it =/

  15. Kyalie says:

    Oh btw i was looking for the first worst romance, and i couldn’t find it and i actually noticed you made a mistake for you put a ‘4′ instead of a ‘1′ before FF8.

  16. Ethos says:

    Oh that makes a lot more sense, I agree!

    And wow, how’d I miss that mistake? This content is, like, 5 months old and I’ve re-read it on a few occasions, thanks for pointing it out, it should be fixed! It was right in the title, just not in the article.

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