Today marks the 20th anniversary of Square Enix's Vagrant Story, an action-RPG that boasts one of the genre's best stories—and one of its wackiest hairstyles. I make neither of those claims lightly. I'm not the only one who recognizes the classic PlayStation game is something special, either: Though it never received a remake or a sequel, Square Enix shared art of a couple of prototype Vagrant Story figures from Bring Arts.
Vagrant Story, which is the work of Final Fantasy Tactics director/designer Yasumi Matsuno, tells the story of a young "Riskbreaker" named Ashley Riot. Framed for murder and tormented by the deaths of his wife and son, Ashley delves deep into a dead city called Lea Monde in hopes of flushing out a cult that's taken root there. Vagrant Story's narrative is of higher quality than standard JRPGs thanks to Matsuno's prowess as a writer and an excellent localization by Alexander O. Smith and Rich Amtower.
Despite its quality story—or maybe because of it—at some point during development, Matsuno seemingly put his hands on his desk, leaned forward, and declared to his team, "My friends, let us not forget the great traditions of the genre Vagrant Story is part of." Hence (I guess) why Ashley has two weird, jagged tendrils of hair streaking out of his head like brown lightning bolts, and why he also straight-up wears assless chaps.
Incidentally, Square Enix doesn't show us the back of Ashley's pants in its pictures of the Bring Arts figures. I do hope Bring Arts doesn't chicken out. Then again, it appears Mullenkamp cult leader Sydney Losstarot still has his low-cut leather pants—sporting a bulge that would make Labyrinth's David Bowie blush in shame, might I add—so we'll probably be OK.
In fact, if I could lob one criticism at Vagrant Story, it'd be the game's rough to get a handle on. It's difficult, its puzzles are standard block-pushing fare, and I just never got used to upgrading my weapons via blacksmithing. (Vagrant Story doesn't have traditional merchants or armor sellers.) In other words, Vagrant Story is a top-tier contender for a revision or a remake, especially since your options for accessing and playing the original game are extremely limited.
I suppose it's good we can at least experience Vagrant Story's dark, seedy setting in an indirect manner. Lea Monde is part of Ivalice, the country that's home base for the events in Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy 12, a certain questline in Final Fantasy 14, and possibly Crimson Shroud for the Nintendo 3DS. (Another overlooked Matsuno classic—grab it while you can.)
Maybe the Bring Arts figures are a hint that Square intends to revive the long-dormant Vagrant Story property for its 20th anniversary. Oh, you doubt it, do you? Show a little more respect for faerie tales, Riskbreaker.