We have acquired the legendary airship, the Lunar Whale! All aboard for our voyage of discovery!
Exploring our shiny new airship, we find… we find…
WE ARE FAT CHOCOBO OF BORG. YOU WILL BE WAHRKILATED.
Fleeing to the front of the ship before Fat Choborgo devours us in its glistening maw, we poke the random Crystal Thingumbob, an even-cooler-than-a-pipe-organ method of power steering.
Up, up and away! Magic sure beats having to use actual rockets, fuel or physics to climb out of the gravity well of a planet.
To the Moon, Rosa! To the Moon! (Wait, which one?)
Aha! I think we’ve spotted the Penultimate Dungeon of Shiny for this game.
Oh very clever, Square. Wrong planet, however.
We waste no time in hopping out into near vacuum and spelunking our way around to the Castle of Shiny, fighting dragons and moon toads and petri dish escapees.
You know, Rosa, that might be because there’s essentially NO ATMOSPHERE ON THE MOON.
I am sorry that the 3D version doesn’t at least show them bunny hopping in the low gravity.
No. Comment. Nope. None.
Um, Edge? What about the gazillion random encounters with Bombs, Puddings, Moon Maidens, and dragons thatI haven’t been screencapping? Is your bow tie cutting off circulation?
Anyway, into the Castle of Shiny we go. A voice greets us.
Oh, okay. So —
YEAH WE HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME.
(I haven’t been showing them, but all the introductions tend to repeat like this.)
Time for a Backstory Dump! Tell us a story, Mr. Soya Sauce!
I.e. the asteroid belt, which RL astronomers used to think was formed from an exploded planet.
FFIV’s lost planet’s refugees fled to the Blue Planet, then changed their minds and decided to leave it alone (warty monsters, smelly humes and all that), building a second moon for a home. Only it was boring, with nothing but random monster encounters and that dratted SomethingWay Rabbit and all his clones, so they went to sleep.
However, one cranky Lunarian didn’t wanna take his naptime.
Fusoya forcibly put Zemus to sleep. However, even asleep, Zemus’ will “reached out to men with tainted hearts on your planet, twisting them into beings darker still.” Which, actually, is an interesting (if unflattering) answer to Rosa’s question of why Kain was so susceptible to mind control.
Cecil: “So he was manipulating Golbez!”
But of course, my ever-clueless hero. The Big Bad whom you fight through most of these games is never the endgame boss.
So now Zemus has ordered Golbez to gather the crystals because, y’know, it’s what baddies do in these games.
…with which he will transport the Giant of Babil (What?) to the Blue Planet and carry out his exterminate-all-life program.
Wait. Interdimensional elevator giant whoosiwhatsit? Kain told us that Golbez was assembling those crystals to reach the Moon. PICK SOME TECHNOBABBLE AND STICK TO IT, FOR HYNE’S SAKE.
Well I guess we’d better go stop that Giant now, eh? Before it’s too late?
Oops, no, we have more Backstory Dump. Soy Sauce says that his own younger brother Kluya built the Lunar Whale and flew it to the Blue Planet long ago, teaching the natives his magic and airship technology and OH BY THE WAY HE’S YOUR DAD CECIL.
Aaaand Cecil has totally missed the part where Fusoya mentioned that his mother bore two sons to Kluya.
After yet more chitchat, Fusuya joins the party, and we hurry back to the Lunar Whale. Our party members ponder Cecil’s parentage.
Just call him “Moon Moon,” Edge. It’ll save time.
I would like to note in passing that the flans or puddings or whatever they’re called in this iteration are adorbs (albeit annoying as ever with their nigh-immunity to physical attacks.)
Before leaving the moon, we stop by Bahamut’s Lair to pick up our final
aeon Eidolon [whoops, my default fandom is showing].
There’s also a lengthy sidequest rounding up all of Rydia’s Eidolon friends and sending them home. Again, these early games find nothing strange in depicting all manner of monsters and spirits in hooded cloaks like this, which makes the Sephiroth clones a little less strange to me. (They threw me on my first playthrough.)
Ah, here’s Bahamut. I keep thinking of FFX aeons because of the fact that they have humanoid forms:
So Leviathan rules the Eidolons on the Blue Planet, but Bahamut’s still the top dude Eidolon. Okie dokie. (Summons meta, don’t mind me. Magic and summons in these games always interests me.)
I will spare you an annoying visit with HummingWay and all his rabbity friends. There’s a whole colony of those little mog snoggers up here.
So it’s back to dear old Blue Planet in our Lunar Whale.
As we approach our landing spot, we notice that Stuff Is Afoot.
This doesn’t look promising.
Bigass Tower of Babil.
Giant of Babil. Ruby Weapon, anyone?
And he starts blowing stuff up.
WELL MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE SPENT AN HOUR ON THAT BACKSTORY DUMP, EH? (Sidequests? Lalalala. What sidequests? I am a font of efficiency!)
But wait! Here comes the cavalry!
I wonder how our friends managed to snatch the Red Wings back from Golbez’s control and bring them out of the underworld.
Yay! Er, wait, didn’t Giott say they’d never seen an airship before we crash landed at their gates?
I hope their tank drivers are a quick study.
Yang has escaped his nursemaids, sort of. Sooner or later, the Sylphs are going to learn that Yang’s wife has a nasty tennis serve with that frying pan.
Muppet!Cid is back on his feet as well.
As is the brat…
…and his less bratty sister.
Good thing Mysidia’s elder has better magic than Tellah, or at least stronger White Magic. They were pretty durned petrified earlier, as I recall.
Stirring speech time!
“And even Lunarians who snooze and don’t seem to breathe on the Moon!”
Aha, there’s Spoony. Bless his fluffy little heart.
I’m sure Rydia will be pleased to see that our body count has dropped back down to one: Tellah (and Anna, and Rydia’s mum, and the people of Mist, and the unknown Red Wing soldiers killed when Cid set off that bomb… oh nevermind, let’s go tackle a giant).
Woo hoo! Rosa sees the giant is staggered. (I wonder what the Japanese term is for “staggered.” It seems to have a very specific meaning in FFXIII).
In a maneuver suspiciously reminiscent of FFX (or rather the reverse), we switch to Cid’s airship and have him fly us close enough to jump into the Giant’s mouth.
We fight our way down the Giant’s mouth, esophagus, stomach, that squiggly little bit after the duodenum, and —
FREDDIE! YAAAAY! IT’S FREDDICANTE!
WE LOVE YOU TOO!
Er… uh oh. What are they doing here?
…that fabulous legs are no match for swords longer than Cecil is tall?
So to speak.
I was really worried about this battle, although Freddie, ever chivalrous, “restored us to full strength” before starting the battle. All four archfiends vs. little old us? I thought we were screwed.
Luckily, Rubicante learned his wisdom from Cecil, which means he inadvertently picked up a mild case of stupid. So, despite bringing all his furry friends to the dance, he had them attack us one at a time.
(Note: I’m just sticking this here for posterity’s sake so I can find it again — watch it AFTER the upcoming Golbez scene if you don’t want to be spoiled.)
A bit grueling, but we take them all out.
Bye-bye, Freddie. *sniffle*
We fight our way up or down or something to the giant’s core control systems, which is of COURSE a triple boss…
Thanks to a walkthrough, we are not fooled by Soya Sauce’s remarkably bad advice, and take out the attack node before it KILLS US DED.
Although it does manage to flatten Fusoya. LITERALLY. My gods, I hadn’t realized the native Lunarians were two-dimensional beings!
One Phoenix Down later, we are interrupted in our mech-sabotage by the Big Bad. About time.
Fightin’ Words are exchanged. And now it’s time for the Reveal.
Fusoya performs some mumbo jumbo and calls on Golbez to Awaken!
Because every FF needs a Big Bad?
Laguna! No, wait, that’s not it…
Awww. At this point, poor Cecil has entered the Bluescreen of Death event horizon, and won’t be good for much for a while.
Backstory time! This time delivered by Golbez himself, as he struggles to apologize for a life of screwups.
Once named Theodor, “gift of the gods,” Golbez was Cecil’s elder brother. His father Kluya taught the people of the Blue Planet magic, but they turned on him and killed him. Because Advanced Magic/Tech leads to war and conflict in nearly every FF backstory.
(Theodor/Golbez at left in purple, next to his mother Cecilia, who reminds me of Yuna’s mom.)
Cecilia died in childbirth, because Hero’s Mom Always Dies in Final Fantasy. As Theodor grieves, he hears an insidious voice in his head:
At first Theodor resists Zemus’ nasssty (and untrue) promptings, but eventually he succumbs. Despite really charming flattery like “vile little insect…birthed from womb of dragon’s corpse,” twisting the prophecy.
Turning to the Dark Side, Theodor exposes his infant brother, but I think he was still hanging onto enough humanity to leave the baby with a good chance of survival:
(I gather that the king of Baron may have been in love with Cecilia before she fell in love with Kluya; that would explain why Baron adopted Cecil as his heir.)
After abandoning his brother, Golbez fled into the wilderness in shame.
This next screencap is Golbez’s line, although (Fusoya is tuckered out after snapping Zemus’ mind control on Golbez.)
So Golbez goes off to redeem himself by fighting Zemus. Fusoya vows to accompany him.
Cecil doesn’t say a word. As we all know, he’s a bear of very little brain, and he’s got a lot to think about.
Rydia whispers to him, “Your blood. Your only living family.” Once again, she’s a remarkably compassionate lass, since Golbez is indirectly responsible for the death of her family.
At which point the Giant starts collapsing. Enter Kain, who shouts at them to follow him to an exit.
Edge, you prat. You just saw Golbez snapped out of mind control, and he was controlling Kain.
Rosa is more trusting. (Never mind that she has that Teleport Straight to Cecil’s Bedroom spell; I suspect she’s trying to help Kain redeem himself.)
And the Redwings and Dwarf Tanks bring the giant crashing down. THUD!
Back on the Lunar Whale, Kain begs forgiveness again. (I know it’s again, because this is the second time I’ve tried to save a screencap named kain-begs-forgiveness.jpg. Gack.)
Cecil’s still bluescreened, and Edge ain’t about to let Kain off easily.
This time it’s Rosa, not Rydia, who breaks in with an angry, “Stop it!”
I agree with Rosa. That said, I think that Kain, like Golbez, was a ripe target for mind control partly because he had some repressed, not-so-noble urges for Zemus to work with.
Here’s a little flashback to Kain, Cecil and Rosa as children. Rosa, diplomat as usual…
(Kain initially introduced himself as the son of “Sir Richard Highwind, the commander of the Dragoons,” started bullying Cecil for being “soft” and for special treatment from the king, and then had the nerve to claim that Cecil started it. I am boggled that Cecil takes responsibility for the quarrel and tells Rosa, “I started it.” However, his “honesty” impresses Rosa and establishes the groundwork for their love triangle. Once again, Kain doesn’t come off in the best light, although they were only kids.)
At any rate, it’s clear our next step is
SIDEQUESTS to return to the moon to help Golbez and Soy Sauce bring Zemus down. Kain is ready to join for the last battle. Edge is, as usual, unimpressed.
Kain’s response is a noble one, and this is really the first time since very early in the game that I’m impressed with him.
Okay, good. The Snark Brothers seem to have found an understanding.
(I don’t usually ship m/m, but I keep seeing a lot of RivalShip potential with these two.)
Cecil finally shakes off his bluescreen and starts to reboot.
And this is where, suddenly, I got REALLY REALLY ANGRY at the game.
Where the HECK did that come from?
Cecil says, “This time, there may be no homecoming.” Okay, I kinda see it. He loves Rosa and doesn’t want her to die. He feels responsible for Rydia after killing her mother. BUT STILL.
That was RUDE. To your lady. To your lover. Seriously, Cecil, you were dumb as a box of rocks, but I liked you best of the main party’s y chromosomes. You were always a chivalrous soul, unlike the other blokes… until now.
(Rosa does the head down thing and just obeys, which also pissed me off.)
Edge joins the jerkass brigade.
Rydia snarls, “Fine!” and storms off after Rosa.
There may or may not have been a certain amount of colorful swearing from me at this point. Rosa and Rydia spent an awful lot of this game not in the party, and now they’re being chucked out for the endgame? Is there a Glass Ceiling of Glory or what?
Yeah, yeah. Go off and play the heroes. Maybe I’ll shove you all in the horrible Hummingway den with that dratted rabbit and all his clones and see how long it takes before you chew off your own ears.
Here we go again. (Gravitationally unlikely moonlet, it’s Maaaaagic.)
After they land on the moon, Rosa suddenly enters from outside — what? — and announces that she’s not going anywhere.
Kain tells Cecil, “You can’t win this one.” I suppose I should be grateful to Kain for standing up for Rosa, but…
Ha very ha. (Slaps Kain with a rogue tomato.)
Cecil relents somewhat graciously.
Rydia hitchhiked on the outside of the Whale as well.
Edge: Y-You’re here too?
Rydia: This battle is ours as much as anyone’s! Cecil said so himself. And having some Eidolons along can’t hurt, can it?
Me: NO IT BALLY WELL CAN’T.
(Gratuitous cute Rydia screenshot.)
My friends who played this game when they were younger were inspired by Rosa and Rydia standing up for themselves and forcing the menfolk to take them seriously. Apparently I am a glass-half-full snob who’s still steamed at the men for not taking them seriously. (Although, to be fair, Edge was the one being dismissive of their abilities. Cecil was just being overprotective.)
So with THAT out of the way… we head out to our Dungeon of Shiny.
The crystals inside the Lunar Palace are a chatty bunch, filling us in on yet more backstory. Right now they’re trying to “neutralize the unrelenting waves of dark thought emanating from Zemus.” Which I hope will keep Kain on our side long enough to get the job done.
With the crystals’ help, we teleport to the Endgame Dungeon, a journey to the center of the Moon.
Lots of thinky thoughts as we go down level after level of a veeeery long dungeon…
I’m trying to remember if Rosa ever, in this entire game, thinks of herself instead of thinking of others. Probably not.
This is a follow up to Rydia’s earlier musing that “He can’t forgive Golbez? Even though they’re brothers?” Family first for Rydia, always.
As in FFIII’s Eureka Dungeon, we stop along the way to fight various famous weapons that turn into dragons or other bosses–
Yep, it’s Murasame, that turns into a white dragon.
As we penetrate deeper and deeper into the moon, the dungeon gets shinier, and the bosses get stranger. This is what Masamune turns into:
“Ogopogo” is the name of a Nessie-like cryptocritter sometimes spotted in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia. So now I know.
Hold that thought, Kain. (Please.)
The deeper we go, the greater the Shiny. I’m not sure whether this is supposed to be the moon’s still-molten heart or (more likely) another artificial sun like the Magma Stone of Earth’s underworld.
Hero’s Quest. Check.
And at last…
Here’s our Big Bad Behind the Big Bads.
Wait. Aren’t we supposed to be taking this guy out? We stand around and watch.
You know, it’s probably not a wise idea to launch the spell he just goaded you to try on him.
Zemus’ parting lines at the end of the (first) battle: Even when this mortal shell is gone / my spirit will live on.
Edge, humble is ever.
Hang on. The body did NOT vanish. This can only mean one thing.
We have another round of Cecil going “…” at Golbez. Interrupted by Round Two.
Is this where I get to see that x-rated sprite that Sev and the gang are always going on about, with that extremely unfortunate appendage down in front?
Don’t keep us in suspense here…
A jester crossed with a porcupine? Huh.
Golbez tries to use Yet Another Crystal on it (there sure are a lot in this game):
“Your hands will only stain it darker still,” Zemus taunts. Oh, way to twist the knife.
So then Zemus unleashes his Can of True Whupass and flattens all of us.
Which means it’s time four our heartwarming Friends Helping Us From Afar scene, which I think was a trope started in the last game. It’s a trope I enjoy.
The scene cuts to the Tower of Mysidia (which, come to think of it, was in FFII as well, the resting place of Minwu Who Rocked. I wonder about the connections between these two games.)
Tinkerbell, will get well, if you clap your—
Prayers from all our old buddies get through. Then…
Reconciliation at last. A bit, anyway.
Cecil: “Zeromus! This is the end for you! Not for us!”
Holy squee, we’re in trouble.
With a little help from our friends.
Oh, right. In this game, everybody has telepathy. Even the dead guys.
Etc, etc. So, once our friends have passed us some long distance healing via Skype, we’re good to go. It’s still a heck of a battle.
Okay, there’s the Zeromus form everybody loves and knows, even if they haven’t played the game. Alas, the infamous weeping c*ck is now hidden under the party menu and facing us, so it’s not quite as obvious. Sorry, Sev.
You means as long as fans keep making inappropriate jokes, right?
I think all FF villains should go out with an “urrggh.”
Hey! You stole that special effect from Yu Yevon!
Gosh, even Cecil’s smiling.
Soy Sauce damns with faint praise:
And Edge reminds me why Fusoya may have had his doubts.
Rydia takes him in hand yet again.
She says she’s surprised Zemus didn’t use Edge instead.
On a more serious note…
Kain pokes Cecil, who’s still having a lot of stony silences in Golbez’s direction.
At the last moment, Cecil finally speaks up:
We get a brief gparting glimpse of Theodor. (With whiskers…what?)
Brief but to the point.
Back on the Blue Planet, we get our shiny epilogue. The dragon’s maw prophecy scrolls by yet again. But now, in addition to the scrolling text epilogue of the earlier games, we get a “where they all are now” cutscene montage…
The twins are still studying, and Porom’s still thwacking her brother for boasting.
The Seneschal of Eblan is still vainly trying to make Edge fulfill his responsibilities as the new king.
Edge chucks the smartass for a moment to pine after Rydia. “There’s not a girl in the world that will ever come close to you.”
Rydia goes back to the Feymarch, where the ordinary Eidolons now want to be just like her. (What, mortal?)
The king of Fabul has evidently abdicated in favor of Yang. I assume the royal scepter is a frying pan.
I’m glad to see Spoony never had to give up being Spoony to be considered worthwhile. He’s supervising the rebuild of Damcyan. And talking to Anna’s and her father’s ghosts when no one’s looking.
Kain goes to Mt. Ordeals to atone, saying he’ll return when he’s become a better dragoon than his father.
And we have a lovely feel-good wedding (?) and coronation for Cecil and Rosa.
Roll the Credits! See all the character models! (And revisit Chibi!Rydia one more time.)
Wait, are we allowed to use a non-FF font? (Cecilia, Theodor, Kluya.)
AUGH DIDN’T I KILL YOU DURING THAT BLASTED SIDEQUEST? GO AWAY!
This was the last of the main-numbered Final Fantasies I hadn’t played, although I still need to finish VI (I got stuck after the party got scattered) and pick up Tactics, Revenant Wings and Crisis Core. It’s not gonna supplant my favorites in the series, but it was enjoyable.
I liked the story, the angst and semi-developed characters, even if I had some trouble with parts of it (Rosa’s and Rydia’s lengthy absences, lack of much character for Kain outside of his unpleasant mind-controlled self, Edge making me want to stick a pie in his face). I appreciate the side characters like Edward and Tellah who have begun to break away from the mold of “Fighter or healer,” and despite my grumbling, I became very fond of the prodigy kids Palom and Porom.
Rydia rocked: I loved her compassion, her power (yes, kickass Magical Gal is my favorite job class), and her close relationship with the summons in the Feymarch. Surprisingly, Rosa is still my favorite character, despite the Distressed Damsel penalty box. I appreciate her quiet strength, her kindness, her occasional humor, and her rock-solid love. I approve of an adventure that isn’t structured by a falling in love story arc, instead treating an established relationship as a foundation stone, a minor but rock-solid strand that helps them persevere.
Looking at the big picture, the jump from the simpler characters and storylines of II and III to IV is a remarkable step forward, especially since original III had gone back to a generi-party, with blank slate characters whom the player was expected to flesh out via imagination. (Remake-III gave them more defined personalities.) We’ve now achieved classic Final Fantasy, with set characters, a developed world, and hints of much more than the game had time to tell us. And, yes, the occasional WTF moment, or “Oh. Okay,” as Sev likes to say.
Magic and summons, dark knights and other FF mythology are fully fleshed out. It’s great to see all that.
And yes, the voices and graphics from the remake added a lot to it, along with all the thought balloons (most of which I didn’t bother to cap, as this playthrough is too long already.)
As always, thanks to Sev and Rina for inspiring my playthrough with their own Moogle University Final Fantasy IV playthrough, commentary and discussion. Go there for lots of thought-provoking and entertaining comments from FFIV veterans!