Final Fantasy VII is one of the greatest games of all-time and the RPG with the greatest cultural impact. Ever. If you don’t feel a sense of awe (and anger at having to fight him again) seeing Sephiroth float down with the one wing, the fresh white tee-type toga, and the gothic choir singing. Then you have no soul (kidding, but you’re lame). We are all hyped for the remake. Aside from the sprawling, brilliant and cinematic narrative FFVII brought, there’s one question bouncing around in my mind: can Barret Wallace be Black? Please? File this under a Black Nerd Problem.
Listen, I appreciate having Barret in the building, to begin with. He was the first Black character I ever played as in an RPG. It was groundbreaking. That said, why was my man the only human being an all of Midgar in a tattered damn cloth jacket, cargo pants, and a metal corset decades before Spanx popped off? Why? Don’t even get me started on the blocky mid-top fade? The 32-bit PS1 hair texture? They tried it. It was cute, but that wasn’t it.
Fast forward to the 2020 remake. We’ve come a long way since the first take on FFVII. The tech on the current-gen consoles should be good enough to make Barret look like Wesley Snipes in Blade Trinity. After twenty-three years of waiting and hella hype, Square Enix hands players a Barret with the full composite ethnographic phenotype of every Black person from every point in history. Somehow, without looking like any particular Black person, at all. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of Terry Crews’ body, Boris Kodjoe’s face, and Tyler Perry wig job.
Right now, the redesigned Barret looks like his Tinder profile says he’s gym rat that votes republican. This Barrett plays Call of Duty either as a member of a [MAGA] clan or under the gamer tag COVID. This Barret enlisted and got rejected from actual military service because his browser history raises flags, but they kept his picture on the brochure because, ‘diversity’. It’s also of note that his design is rocking the Jermaine Jackson/Brock Lesner low-top fade and comb through combo. How was this even allowed?
Sony and Square Enix already blessed the gaming universe with the OG Final Fantasy VII and now a well-received action-RPG update. They gave the world memories of epic fights, amazing stories, and wild spin-offs. In each iteration, Barret still looks like a composite Black people hodge-podge. His braids in Advent Children were beyond a shadow of a doubt the terrible lace front cornrows Shemar Moore had in Diary of A Mad Black Woman.
Not to mention, the bubble vest and a mesh tank top. Why would they reference an all-time low in Black aesthetics for this? Let’s not even get into the ‘Drake type beat’ looking Barret from Square Enix’s fighting game Dissidia. Lawd.
Thankful that Barret Wallace is a name that rings bells in these RPG streets but damned if they don’t develop a damn Winston Duke DLC or something. Anything, to #MakeBarretBlack.