Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: Which is the Most Tragic JRPG Protagonist?

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: Which is the Most Tragic JRPG Protagonist?

It’s safe to say that since Final Fantasy IV, Square has a penchant for crafting compelling protagonists with tragic backstories. Cecil is simply the first of several Final Fantasy protagonists to embody the “tragic hero” archetype, persevering through the absolute worst circumstances to save the world and see their own “hero’s journey” come to a satisfying conclusion. Perhaps no two games feature protagonists that align with this idea greater than Final Fantasy VII and Xenogears, and the battle of Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife is one to determine the greatest tragic hero in the entire JRPG subgenre.

The comparisons between Fei and Cloud make sense considering that Xenogears was the original version of Final Fantasy VII before being deemed too niche for Western audiences. But while Cloud continues to be the poster child of JRPG protagonists, Fei Fong Wong feels forgotten to all but the most diehard JRPG fans that still hold Xenogears as one of the best games in the genre. With that in mind, it’s time to pit these two tragic heroes against one another to see which comes out on top as the best JRPG protagonist.

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: Side-by-Side Comparison

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife

Despite both being the main characters of two different Square RPGs, Fei and Cloud share a lot in common. Fei is a martial arts master and orphan with a cloudy past, while Cloud is an aspiring mercenary with an identity crisis. Further, Fei struggles with accepting who he is and his tendency toward hurting those close to him. Cloud’s idealization of his friend and being the subject of genetic experiments cause him to struggle to form real connections with others. The two games that these characters star in differ significantly in terms of gameplay, story, and mechanics, but otherwise share some commonalities in terms of their tragic heroes.

CharacteristicFei Fong WongCloud Strife
First AppearanceXenogears, 1998Final Fantasy VII, 1997
Other GamesN/AFinal Fantasy Tactics, Kingdom Hearts, Dissidia
Leaves Hometown in Disgrace
Struggles with Identity
ProfessionMartial Artist, PainterMercenary
Assumes Fake Identity to Save Psyche
Reluctant Hero
Slides Naturally Into Position of Team Leader
Reborn Throughout Time

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: 5 Must-Know Facts

Here are 5 must-know facts comparing Fei Fong Wong to Cloud Strife:

  • While Cloud is a product of the time period in which Final Fantasy VII takes place, Fei’s existence is a bit more complicated. As the reincarnation of an important figure in Xenogears‘ canon, Fei reappears several times throughout the timeline of the games’ events as different reincarnations of the same spirit.
  • Both Fei and Cloud struggle with acceptance of who they truly are, though these struggles take on different forms across both characters. Fei suffers from a split psyche and multiple personalities while Cloud simply assumes another person’s identity to protect himself from trauma.
  • Despite their flaws, both Fei and Cloud prove to be capable leaders. In addition to their natural combat skills, the friends and companions that both characters make are unshakably loyal to them. Both characters lead parties of heroes into “point of no return” suicide mission scenarios.
  • Fei and Cloud also both see their fortunes completely reverse by the endings of their respective games. Fei, having been the victim of several cycles of death and rebirth, finally breaks free of his shackles to eliminate the demiurge and save humanity. Similarly, Cloud gives himself to a greater cause and literally saves the planet.
  • Despite both characters being quite similar (and despite Xenogears being the original version of Final Fantasy VII before switching to its own project), Fei is not nearly as popular as Cloud. Cloud features in several other games and is the most recognizable JRPG protagonist while Fei remains exclusive to Xenogears and its fandom.

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: Childhood and Background

Although both characters share tragic backstories, the details of those backstories vary significantly. Fei Fong Wong arrives at his village as an orphan, and his memories of his birth parents are essentially nonexistent. Conversely, Cloud has parents and childhood memories of his time growing up in Nibelheim, though those memories begin to become unreliable after a series of tragic events cause him to adopt a new identity to salvage his sanity. Further, Fei’s backstory has twinges of the supernatural as he is the reincarnation of a being that is continually reborn throughout time.

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: Cases of Mistaken Identity

Both Fei and Cloud deal with mental health struggles and cases of mistaken identity, though here again the details are different. Fei Fong Wong suffers from a split personality disorder where his id, ego, and super ego all manifest as different versions of the same corporeal being. Cloud, on the other hand, simply assumes the identity of his dead friend in order to shield himself from the horrible experiments he undergoes at the hands of Shinra’s evil scientist Dr. Hojo. Both characters lie to themselves to protect their psyche from reality, but the machinations of these lies are different.

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: Character Development

Though Fei starts off as a reluctant fighter, he eventually sees that his might and power are the very things that will ultimately save his friends and see him topple the oppressive regime that continues to enslave humanity. Cloud, meanwhile, is an eager fighter and takes on a job being a mercenary and soldier of fortune in order to see his existence made worthwhile. All Cloud has is battle, as it supports his stolen identity, whereas Fei is afraid of conflict for the deep-seeded fear that it will awaken something horrible in him. Eventually, both Fei and Cloud discover that the only way forward is by being true to oneself, which causes them both to have epiphanies regarding their identity and place in the world. Afterwards, the two settle comfortably into being their companions’ leader.

Fei Fong Wong vs Cloud Strife: Happy Endings

Both Fei and Cloud are successful protagonists in that they navigate through the steps of the Hero’s Journey to eventually emerge victorious, saving the world and getting the girl in the process. Fei and Elly, two sides of the same coin continually reborn throughout history, finally unite and are able to stop the demiurge and break the chains holding humanity back. Cloud, after finally admitting how he feels about Tifa, leads his companions into the Norther Crater to stop Sephiroth and they successfully shield the planet from most of the meteor’s blast, ensuring that humanity will live on to help the planet heal. Both heroes end up successfully completing their respective Hero’s Journeys, saving their respective worlds in the process and emerging as the improved versions of themselves.

Bottom Line

Fei and Cloud are undoubtedly two of the greatest JRPG protagonists of all-time. While both of them have tragic backstories, they both ultimately succeed in overcoming their personal demons to become the best versions of themselves and save the planet. Still, there has to be one winner in terms of which is the “most tragic”, and here the honor goes to Fei Fong Wong. Cloud simply has too much going for him even with his stolen identity, while Fei is constantly the victim of his own psyche as well as powerful nefarious forces working to stop him and kill him, which they do repeatedly in other eras of history. Cloud may be the more noteworthy and recognizable protagonist, but Fei Fong Wong is absolutely Square’s most tragic hero.

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