Since man first realized that swinging a stick or throwing a rock could inflict bodily harm, there has been fighting. As these fights became more and more important, so too did the sticks and rocks. I have decided to start a several part post on the history and myth behind legendary weapons in some of our favorite video games to get a better appreciation for the thought that goes into weapon design.
Part I –Lances & Spears
The benefits of these weapons are fairly obvious: increased range. That scary looking guy in the picture is a Yamabushi (??), or roughly mountain monk. They were known to typically use naginata (??) or a Japanese style of spear which had a long curved blade at the end. These are also the guys who would live in the mountains, meditate under waterfalls, walk through fire, and die on their feet. They chose to use naginata as it gave them the advantage of range. In a country where the most fearsome adversary (a Samurai) uses a katana (?), a mid-length weapon, that little difference in range can present a huge advantage.
Japan is not unique in the spear being an impressive element of military technology. Each nation who experienced the early stages of warfare, can vouch for having made the same discovery. For that reason there are a variety of famous or legendary spears which you may have noticed in the video games you play:
- The spear that is believed to have stabbed Jesus in the side while he was on the cross per John 19:31. The Roman soldier wielding the spear was named Longinus, thus his spear carries his name as was customary at the time, though the actual Latin would read: Lancea Longini, or “The Lance of Longinus”. Since the lance was covered in Jesus’s blood, it is generally given a holy attribute in games.
- Found in: Disgaea 1 & 2. The Longinus, or Holy Longinus, is the second best spear in the game, meaning that if you want to acquire the best spear in the game, you will need a Legendary Longinus.
- According to Norse mythology, Odin–the God of all Gods–carried the spear Gungnir. Its name is roughly translated to “Unwavering One”, as it never missed its target, and would always return to Odin’s hand. The spear was forged by the Sons of Ivaldi, a group of blacksmith dwarves. The supreme power of Gungnir is what led to a rival group of dwarves to forge Mjolnir, or Thor’s Hammer.
- Found in: Final Fantasy Series. When you summon Odin in some versions, like Final Fantasy VII, Odin will perform “Gunge Lance” or “Steel Bladed Sword” (zantetsuken) depending on the battle. Gunge Lance is just a bizarre translation.
- A spear carried by a legendary Irish warrior by the name of Cuchulainn. The spear’s name means “notched spear”, as it had a series of notches along the blade. These notches made extracting the weapon from an unlucky individual especially painful. For this reason, the spear is occasionally given a thunder attribute in games. The spear was made out of a single bone taken from a dead sea monster by the name of Coinchenn.
- Found in: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Cu Chulainn is a demon who you can get to join your Protagonist in battle. He is equipped with the Gae Bolga.
These are only a few legendary spears, but they are the ones which appear the most in video games. Try to keep your eyes open for them! If this article interested you, come back next Wednesday for the second installment of History of Video Game Weapons: Part II –Katana!