The Cloud Strife character in Final Fantasy is a brooding, spiky-haired ex-SOLDIER, and one of the series’ most iconic protagonists. He has appeared in more games, both within the Final Fantasy universe and beyond, than any other character from the franchise except Gilgamesh. His calm demeanor, crazy fighting style, and incredible backstory all come together to create an undeniable appeal.
There’s more to Cloud Strife’s draw than just his trademark edginess, though. Square Enix has refined the character over the years, distilling down the various elements that make fans love Cloud into the ultimate example of a Final Fantasy hero—and the best part is that you can easily see how the Cloud Strife Final Fantasy character has changed over the years.
First Impressions Of Cloud: Final Fantasy VII, 1997
The Cloud Strife character first entered the scene as a playable character in the PSOne release of Final Fantasy VII. The short, stocky sprite left much of the character to the imagination, although the character art included in the manual and on the box gave fans a better idea of what Cloud actually looked like.
In the original game, Cloud is most often depicted with the Buster Sword, the five-foot-long behemoth weapon he is most known for. His hair is spiky, and he wears the uniform for a SOLDIER 1st Class: brown combat boots, a belt, and purple-blue pants and shirt. His other trademark accessory is a single pauldron on his left shoulder—a variation on the typical uniform.
To get more specific, Cloud Strife is 5’8, blue-eyed, and right-handed. According to information provided by the recent remake of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud’s birthday is August 11, 1986.
Note: Cloud Strife’s first appearance was in Final Fantasy V as a sprite on the loading screen!
Final Fantasy Tactics
Cloud Strife made an appearance in Final Fantasy Tactics as an optional character the player could recruit. However, the quest to obtain him wasn’t always clear-cut, so many players didn’t discover his inclusion in the title until later.
As an optional character, Cloud Strife did not have any major story moments. His artwork is slightly different than in Final Fantasy VII, but only in small details; for example, he wears a black turtleneck rather than the standard SOLDIER uniform.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Perhaps the greatest video game movie of all time, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children sees a slightly older Cloud Strife after the events of Final Fantasy VII. He has changed his look up in several ways. Gone is the SOLDIER uniform, traded instead for a black shirt and pants with a half-duster that covers his left side.
Rather than the Buster Sword, Cloud Strife instead uses a set of Fusion Swords, six individual blades that form a larger sword similar in size to the Buster Sword. His hair has lost some of its spikiness, as well. His personality remains the same, though he has grown a bit more brooding due to the events surrounding the story.
Cloud Strife undergoes another major appearance change in Kingdom Hearts. Rather than the style he has worn until this point, his Kingdom Hearts outfits more closely resembles Vincent’s costume from Final Fantasy VII.
Cloud wears what looks like the standard SOLDIER 1st Class uniform, complete with his left pauldron. He’s also added a red cape that hangs around his neck and trails behind him, as well as a single black wing that protrudes from his left shoulder.
Given that Kingdom Hearts is not canon, Cloud’s personality and goals are a bit different in this series. That said, he still seeks to defeat Sephiroth. The black wing is a reflection of this goal and serves to hint at his ties to the character.
Cloud Strife is a completely different character in Kingdom Hearts than in the Final Fantasy series, sharing only a name and appearance. As anyone that has played the Kingdom Hearts series knows, explaining the story would take a dissertation—but needless to say, the events of the series do not reflect on the events of the Final Fantasy series.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
The recently-released Final Fantasy VII Remake has been a runaway success for Square Enix. It allowed fans to relive the experience of playing the game again, although numerous changes had been made not only to the gameplay but also to the story. Cloud himself also saw changes, though none too drastic.
His outfit and personality remain largely the same, as the game is meant to be a close match to the original. The titular character acts as you expect, although Cloud’s past and his relationships to many of the other characters are explored much more in-depth.
However, the improved graphics of the remake make it easier to see smaller details about his appearance than ever before. For example, his left shoulder pauldron has always been shown with what looks like bolts coming out, but in Final Fantasy VII Remake, their purpose makes more sense: to catch a blade and hold it there.
Cloud Strife’s dry hit and sense of humor comes through much better in the new game, too. Just the way he interacts with Barrett alone is reason enough to play through it. If you’ve never experienced Final Fantasy VII for yourself, it’s definitely worth playing the original—and then buying the remake to try for yourself.
Cloud Strife has appeared in well over a dozen games, although the three games and one movie listed above show his changes best. He has shown up in various spin-offs of Final Fantasy VII, as well as in other better-known games like Super Smash Bros.
Cloud’s iconic look has even shown up in games like Final Fantasy XIV as a reward for subscribers. It doesn’t give any noteworthy stats, but it does look cool.
Cloud Strife is one of the best-known characters in video game history for a reason. If you have an interest in Final Fantasy or just in well-written characters, check him out for yourself.