Many players know Sephiroth as the one-winged angel from Final Fantasy, but despite his nickname, his human form didn’t always feature a black wing.

Sephiroth was first introduced 25 years ago as the main antagonist of the original. Final Fantasy VII. Today, he is one of the most notable villains in the wider history of video games. Along with his major role as an antagonist in the expansion’s branching storyline(s) Final Fantasy VII universe, he was also featured as a minor antagonist in the Kingdom Hearts franchise and a playable character in other series.

In the grand scheme of things, Sephiroth remains a likeable character that many fans sympathize with, despite his infamous reputation. Whether it’s because of his iconic looks or his undeniably strong presence, he’s a memorable antagonist whose appearance is easily recognizable and doesn’t go unnoticed. While Square Enix has kept Sephiroth’s physical attributes intact for the most part for the past two decades, fans who have played the original Final Fantasy VII could remember his human form without the massive black-feathered wing – and for good reason too.

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Safer Sephiroth, as seen in Super Smash Bros..

Although Sephiroth’s initial winged appearance originated during the events of the original Final Fantasy VII, it was not in his human form. After being defeated by an injured Cloud in the Nibelheim Incident, Sephiroth fell into the Lifestream, where he regenerated and became the final boss, better known as Safer Sephiroth. Most of his lower limb was replaced with blue-tipped wings, while his right arm was depicted with a dark red wing instead. In keeping with his divine transformation, Sephiroth’s theme song, “One-Winged Angel”, was played during the fight sequence, eventually becoming one of his nicknames as well.

The next time Sephiroth reappeared in his human form was outside the Final Fantasy frankness, he wore a single black wing never seen before. In 2002 Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth appears as one of the secret bosses that could be unlocked at the Olympic Coliseum as a platinum match in the international version. The developers never provided an explanation as to why they decided to change his physical appearance at the time, but some believe the change was made to fit his theme song. Conversely, others believe that Cloud’s appearance played a role in this decision, as he also sported a black wing in Kingdom Hearts, indicative of the dark powers he used on the show and his enduring relationship with Sephiroth.

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The updated version of Sephiroth was a hit with fans, so Square Enix adopted it as an extension Final Fantasy VII universe. His new appearance postponed to Final Fantasy VII Compilation, in particular his next immediate appearance in the film Final Fantasy VII: Children of Advent. Enter the prequel game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Square Enix has pieced together some of the lore surrounding the wings. Although Sephiroth has not been seen with his black wing throughout the game, two other first class SOLDIERS, Genesis and Angeal, grew wings as a side effect of being imbued with Jenova cells in an effort to to achieve results similar to those of Sephiroth. Shortly after the release of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, the developers said the franchise’s black-colored wings are meant to signify evil.

Following the positive reception of Sephiroth’s recurring appearance with a massive black wing, other developers also took advantage of his enhanced human form in their respective franchises. In Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Sephiroth spreads his wing after activating his unique fighter ability, One-Winged Angel, which boosts his performance and lasts until he or his opponent falls. Today, the wing has become the accepted norm, with Sephiroth sporting in appearances in monster strike and Puzzle, as well as Square Enix Final Fantasy World, Dissidia (012) Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.

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