Comfy? Good, then put your feet up, grab a cup of Earl Grey and join us as we extol yet another of the PlayStation brand’s most iconic characters. Last time around we scrutinized sultry spy Ada Wong from the Resident Evil series, and this time around we’re putting on our retro caps for a look at Final Fantasy VII’s trusty sidekick, Barret Wallace.
Hot tempered, burly but underneath possessing a heart of gold, FFVII’s answer to Mr. T remains one of series’ most enduring sidekicks. As the first character you encounter in the game, Barret accompanies Cloud through the bombing mission in Sector 5, where he cements himself as a valuable alley. While he might not be big on Materia, Barret more than makes up for it in sheer physical strength, and his penchant for wielding an assortment of mean weaponry on his prosthetic gun arm makes him a great long distance fighter.
One of Wallace’s most compelling qualities however is that he’s a family man; he cares deeply for his adopted daughter, Marlene, and this inherently makes him one of the most sympathetic characters out of the core group. Still, this is by no means to his detriment, and Barret is equally as prone to potty-mouthed outbursts as he is getting up for the school run. Money is never far from his mind, and to say that Barret lives an unglamorous lifestyle would be an understatement to say the least.
Hailing from the mining town of Coral, Wallace is thrust into the on-going battle against Shinra Corporation after the nefarious energy company burns his village to the ground, killing his wife in the process. His best mate, Dyne, is apparently killed in the battle, and Barret himself loses his right hand. Swearing revenge, Wallace has a gun grafted onto his arm in place of an artificial limb, and adopts Dyne’s daughter, Marlene, as his own. The pair moves to Midgar, where Wallace sets up the new incarnation of AVALANCE with members Biggs, Wedge, Jessie and Tifa Lockheart.
The group attacks the sector 1 Mako reactor with Cloud Strife’s help, and embark on another mission to sector 5. However, in retaliation for AVALANCE’s attacks, Shinra destroys the sector 7 pillar, destroying the entire sector and killing everyone inside – including Biggs, Wedge and Jessie, who were trapped on the pillar at the time. After mounting an attack on Shinra HQ – which goes awry after Sephiroth kills President Shinra – Barret and company decide to hunt down the former SOLDIER across the globe, and depart Midgar. At this point, Wallace teams up with Cloud and chums and embark on a globe-trotting quest for the legendary Man in Black.
Barret mucks in with the rest of them, battling Shinra’s goons and dispatching vicious creatures along the way. While he’s not always on the money when it comes to recent events – and given Cloud’s mental state, you could hardly blame him – Barret sticks up for his mates through thick and thin. A particularly poignant moment comes when the team arrive at Corel, only to find a now deranged Dyne hell bent on killing everyone around him – including Wallace. After a brief scuffle, Dyne commits suicide, leaving Marlene in Barret’s care indefinitely. He later places her in the relative sanctuary of the small town, Kalm. Eventually, after the death of their friend Aerith, it becomes apparent that things aren’t as clear cut as before; Sephiroth is in actuality attempting to bring about Armageddon by summoning a huge meteor to destroy the planet, so he can absorb the life-force generated to heal the damage.
Loyal to the end, Wallace stuck with Cloud and co through to the gripping climax, as the freedom fighters facilitated the destruction of Shinra and faced off against a mako-augmented Sephiroth in the depths of the Northern Creator. Even after Meteor’s defeat at the hands of Holy and the Life-Stream, Barret doesn’t hang up his gun arm for good; he continues to fight the good fight, and returns to aid Cloud and friends in battle against Bahamut during the outbreak of ‘Geostigma.’
Stay tuned for more Spotlight features here at PSU.com in the near future.