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How Final Fantasy 16’s Emperor Sylvestre Compares to FF7’s President Shinra – TheFantasyTimes

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By Nikita Gambhir

How Final Fantasy 16’s Emperor Sylvestre Compares to FF7’s President Shinra



CAUTION: This article includes SPOILERS for Final Fantasy 16. Proceed with caution. The Final Fantasy series has always been renowned for its portrayal of incredible villains, and Emperor Sylvestre Lesage in Final Fantasy 16 is no exception. He is a power-hungry dictator who rules over his people with an iron fist and will stop at nothing to get what he wants, much like Final Fantasy 7’s President Shinra.

The similarities between these two villains are not just skin-deep, as both characters share an obsession with power and a cutthroat disposition. These traits make them formidable obstacles to overcome in the game, while the real threat of Final Fantasy 16 continues to loom in the background.

The introduction of a good villain like Emperor Sylvestre and President Shinra is crucial to building a story. It is vital to establish exactly how evil these characters are, as it sets up a motive for the protagonist to hunt them down and defeat them.

In the case of President Shinra, his introduction has been reworked in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake compared to the original. Scenes that establish his character are set in the boardroom at Shinra HQ, where he takes control of any conversation to suggest going to outlandish efforts to fight back against Avalanche. He is also introduced to the protagonists, where his resources and information gathering are on full display as he catches Cloud and crew in a trap after the destruction of a second Mako Reactor.

Emperor Sylvestre, on the other hand, is introduced in a meeting with other advisors to the Empire of Sanbreque. Here, he disrupts the intended meaning behind having a roundtable discussion by sitting in an elevated seat that is completely separate from the others. Partway through the conversation, Sylvestre decides on a whim to break a years-long treaty and commit a war crime on a neutral country in Final Fantasy 16’s Valisthea.

The impact of early game villains like President Shinra and Emperor Sylvestre cannot be understated. Although President Shinra is killed off early in the original Final Fantasy 7, his impact on the story is far from forgotten. Similarly, while Emperor Sylvestre is not the primary antagonist in Final Fantasy 16, his reckless behavior and warmongering have a heavy impact on the world.

Final Fantasy 16 is available now for PS5. As we look to the future, gaming in 2023 will be remembered as another 1998 or 2007.

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Final Fantasy 16. Proceed at your own risk.



The Final Fantasy series is nothing if not a fantastic showcase for incredible villains, with Emperor Sylvestre Lesage in Final Fantasy 16 hitting on the franchise’s long history of mustache-twirling dictators. As a power-obsessed tyrant who lords over his people and slits throats for every penny, Emperor Sylvestre stands high alongside other mainstays like Final Fantasy 7‘s President Shinra.

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Many of the similarities between the two villains even go much further than skin deep, as both Emperor Sylvestre and President Shinra are introduced with the same obsessions with power and cutthroat dispositions. These are villains that work well to be propped up as an obstacle to overcome along the journey, as the true threat of Final Fantasy 16 continues to loom in the background.

RELATED: How Final Fantasy 16’s Valisthea Compares to FF7’s Gaia



Final Fantasy 7 and 16’s Approach to Tyrants

ff7 remake president shinra

A key aspect of building a good villain like Emperor Sylvestre and President Shinra is the way that these characters are first introduced to the audience. For the villains that go full bad-guy and are eventually going to show little to no remorse for slaughtering an uncertain number of innocent civilians, it is important to establish exactly how evil these characters are. This helps establish a motive for protagonists like Final Fantasy 16‘s Clive to want to hunt them down and kill them, while also setting up for a heinous atrocity that the villain will likely commit in the near future.

In the case of President Shinra, this introduction has actually seen some rework in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake compared to the original, although both still showcase the character as being obsessed with wealth and control. The most important scenes to establish President Shinra’s character are those that take place in the boardroom at Shinra HQ, where he takes control of any conversation to suggest going to outlandish efforts to fight back against Avalanche. Likewise, there is also President Shinra’s introduction to the protagonists, where his resources and information gathering are on full display as he catches Cloud and crew in a trap after the destruction of a second Mako Reactor.

While it takes Emperor Sylvestre more time to wind up on Clive’s list of people to hunt down, the character is instead introduced in a meeting with other advisors to the Empire of Sanbreque. Here, the emperor completely disrupts the intended meaning behind having a roundtable discussion, by sitting in an elevated seat that is completely separate from the others. Then, partway through the conversation happening at the table, Sylvestre decides on a whim to break a years-long treaty and commit what can only be described as a war crime on a neutral country in Final Fantasy 16‘s Valisthea.

How Early Game Villains Leave a Mark in Final Fantasy Games

final fantasy 16 emperor sylvestre

To say that President Shinra is killed off early in the original Final Fantasy 7 is almost an understatement, as the villain is dispatched shortly before leaving the starting area of Midgar. While it could be argued that this ends the character’s impact at roughly the first third of the game, it’s really more of the first chapter of a much longer story. This means that President Shinra will be long gone in the next part of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake trilogy, although he will be far from forgotten given his impact on the story so far.

The same can somewhat be said for Emperor Sylvestre, who at least makes it a decent clip further into Final Fantasy 16‘s playthrough, even if he isn’t the primary antagonist. However, Sylvestre’s presence isn’t something that can just be brushed aside by the end of the game either, as his reckless behavior and warmongering have a heavy impact on the world. So, while he might not be the big bad, he’s still a notable villain who might go down alongside some of Final Fantasy‘s most love-to-hate enemies.

Final Fantasy 16 is available now for PS5.

MORE: Gaming in 2023 Will Be Remembered As Another 1998, 2007

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