Final Fantasy IV Recap, Ep. V: Only the PCs Die Young

Hurrah! We have rescued Rosa from the Tower of Zot!

John Hart Anteater Zot

Whoops, wrong Zot.

It turns out that the Tower of Zot is not the Bigass Tower on the map. In fact, it is not marked anywhere on the world map. Is that allowed?

Before we can tackle the Bigass Tower, the Path of Plot Advancement decrees that we must head to the underworld.

How? Where? With what plot coupon? Thanks to our EXPLORE ALL THE THINGS expedition, I recall Agart, aka Backstory Village, with its bottomless well and its legends about an abyss that got sealed off with a Magma Stone.

Conveniently, Kain is now the proud possessor of a Magma Stone which Golbez just happened to give him shortly before he defected. This is in no way suspicious.

We plot a course for Agart Village. Whose ancestors must of course have had no particular reason to wall off the way down to the underworld, I’m sure.

Bottomless well

We pull out the magma stone to chuck it in the well, but Cid wants to have a look at it first. He discovers that *gasp* magma is HOT!

FFIV: Magma Stone Heats Up

Cid pulls a Pippin, dropping the stone into the well accidentally.

This causes an enormous volcanic lava dildo to erupt behind the village.

FFIV: Lava dildo

We’ll be meeting the owner of the epic lava dildo later.

All villager npc dialog is unchanged. They seem remarkably oblivious to the Toba-sized volcanic eruption taking place on their back forty. Perhaps their powers of non-observation are a subtle clue that Cecil was born here? 

Unhampered by common sense, we dive into the mouth of the volcano.

FFIV: Into the Volcano

Which turns out to be an enormous one-holer toilet for eidolons, as there’s absolutely nothing under it but empty space for quite a long way.

We find ourselves soaring through a vast, world-sized cavern with stony landscapes and molten lava oceans. I wonder what’s holding up the ceiling.  

FFIV: Teh Underworld

Far in the distance, we spot Cecil’s old air brigade, presumably under Golbez’s mental control.

FFIV: Flying Over Lava
Dramatic cutscene is dramatic.

FFIV: The Underworld

Luckily, they are not firing at us. Unluckily, we have the stupidest pilot in the solar system. 

FFIV: Caught in Crossfire

Hey, I know, let’s fly towards a pitched battle and see if we can get caught in the crossfire!

After this brilliant maneuver, Cid pulls a Captain Kirk. More power, Scotty!

FFIV: More Power Scotty

After a suitably dramatic near miss with the lava ocean, we crash land near a castle with architecture surprisingly similar to the overworld’s.

And we’ve found our dwarves.

FFIV: Lali-Ho

Still puzzled by “Lali-ho,” I am also baffled by these dwarves’ black mage faces and glowing yellow eyes.

They are surprisingly hospitable to us, complete strangers who just crash landed in an airship exactly like the ones shooting at them.

King Giott’s notion of security is no better than Hilda’s. He informs us that the battle raging outside is due to the fact that the Dwarves are defending one of the last two crystals that Golbez hasn’t stolen. Which I’m sure is well-guarded and its location highly classif—

FFIV: What Security?

Er, nevermind.

Cid suddenly remembers that flying wooden-hulled airships with canvas sails over molten oceans of lava is not a good idea. He heads out to take the limping Enterprise back to the surface for repairs and shielding.

Rosa’s “Be careful!” startles me, considering that she usually says it to Cecil. Cid notices, too:

FFIV: Cid and Rosa

Like most characters in this game, Yang is blessed with astounding powers of telepathy.

FFIV: King Giott

The presence turns out to be really creepy-ass dolls, puppets of the dwarf-king’s daughter Luca which have turned into minions of Golbez.

FFIV: Calcabrina Dolls

They combine into Calcabrina. (Who, like most of the minibosses in this game, is named after demons of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.)

After dispatching evil dolls, Cecil, our trusty hero, is bewildered as ever.

FFIV: Cecil perplexed

I haven’t played Dissidia yet, but I’m pretty sure that conversations would go something like this:

Cloud: …
Squall: Whatever.
Cecil: What?
Lightning: *punches all of them on general principles*

Back in FFIVland, it’s time for Golbez to drop in for a gloat session. Violating Evil Overlord Rule #7, he feels compelled to give us a Powerpoint presentation on his Diabolical Plans before commencing battle.

FFIV: Villain Exposition Time

Perhaps Golbez forgot that there were other characters present. Cecil’s rocks for brains would negate the need for rule #7.

FFIV: To the Moon, Cecil

Hurrah! We are one step closer to climbing Bigass Tower, and it actually is named the Tower of Babel in this FF!

Er…  back up. The moon?

FFIV: Shut Up, It's a Plot Device

Translation: “FF cracktastic laws-of-physics-defying endgame dungeon.”

Having thoroughly Confused our hero, Golbez strikes. Boy howdy, does he strike.

FFIV: Black Fang Attack

It’s a “Black Fang” attack which summons (?) some kind of dragon. Wait. There are fangs in our inventory. Could I have been kicking ass if I ever remembered to flail through the Item command during combat? Alas, the question is moot, as we seem to have landed ourselves in one of those You Can’t Win So Don’t Even Bother to Waste Items battles.

On cue, a plot device streaks down out of the…er…heavens…ceiling… work with me here…

FFIV: Radiant Breath

Let us pause a moment to mourn the fact that, while eastern dragons are usually glorious to behold, in this case, the Mist Dragon’s original, western design looked far more impressive and far less like a tapeworm.

We don’t have much time to ponder tapeworm-dragon, however, as we have a TPKO to avert.

FFIV: Rydia Returns

Gee, wonder who that could be. I haven’t played this game before, but there are too many spoileriffic game renders and fanarts for me not to know where this is going.

Even with UberRydia, it’s a nasty battle. Cecil feebly heals people while Rydia shows off.

FFIV:Adult Rydia Summons Dance

Ifrit…

FFIV: Ifrit

Ramuh…

FFIV: Ramuh

Shiva!

shiva-ffiv

Etc, etc.

When it’s over, Rydia reveals that she’s been in the Feywood Feymarch, the land of the Eidolons, where time flows differently. Thank goodness most Aurikku fans have never played old school FF and don’t know about this dodge. (Meanwhile, I am tempted to write one of my older/younger woman mentoring scenes with Fran tutoring young Rydia.)

FFIV: Leviathan Swallowed Me

In the course of Rydia’s backstory dump, I notice that Leviathan is the King of the Eidolons, usurping Bahamut’s position in previous installments, and that Fish Esper is no longer strictly an oceangoing, ship-schlorping plot device.

Also, I deduce that Shiva took Rydia clothes shopping.

This is where I grumble about the oversmexed fanart of Rydia, now that her adult costume has appeared. Yes, that’s right, she must be a minx, because she wields a whip. Of course. Just like Indiana Jones fights in a loincloth and fetishwear, because his default weapon is a whip. *cough*

Finally, while we’re on the subject of older!Rydia’s appearance, I wonder why the FMV ironed out her hair and turned her into Tonks.

Enough meta. Back on the Path of Plot Advancement, we turn to leave without noticing (except I did) that Golbez has failed to dematerialize in an animation of epic sparklies like a properly vanquished villain. Sure enough…

FFIV: Golbez Steals Crystal

He nabs the crystal and disappears in a puff of plot device while we all stand around drooling.

Again, the dwarf king is surprisingly good-natured about our incompetence.

FFIV: We Suck

The king is so impressed with our abilities that he sends us to the Tower of Babil to get rid of us before we lose the last crystal retrieve the seven crystals that Golbez has already stolen, while Golbez is at the Sealed Cave looking for the last one.

We gather dwarf wisdom.

FFIV: Dwarf Wisdom
Can we just pause a moment to boggle at Fat Chocobo, which also appeared in FFIII?

FFIV: Fat Chocobo Nest
I find these things terribly disturbing. It’s like Chocobo crossed with Ronald McDonald and Evil Big Bird.

FFIV: Fat Chocobo
Aiiiiiieee. Do you really think I’m going to store my prized possessions in your stomach? Ew.

Backing away now.

After a quick ramble to loot all the Dwarves’ treasure, during which the party members ponder Rydia’s return…

FFIV: Rosa Thinking of Rydia

…we head out to climb the Bigass Tower. I’m starting to get sentimental about these things, you know? They’re like chocobos. They’re traditional. (Then I remember the Pharos and moan softly.)

In a “Meanwhile” cutscene, we get a brief glimpse of a couple of minibosses we’ll be meeting later:

FFIV: Rubicante & Lugae

Rubicante is my favorite boss in this game. But he is playing coy and zips off in a poof of FIRE to leave Hojo Lugae holding the fort.

[Eblan Castle is one of the places we discovered while exploring ALL THE THINGS in the overworld. It was completely deserted except for some particularly nasty monster-in-a-box treasure chests. Had the castle already fallen then, or were we surrounded by Invisible Ninjas? (Also note that as in FFIII, we have Village of the Job Classes, or in this case, kingdoms.)]

The Dwarves provide a diversion so we can sneak inside BigAss Tower.

FFIV: Dwarves vs. Tower

After a relaxingly mindless dungeon crawl up, up, up, we meet Hojo Dr. Lugae, Golbez’ strategist.

FFIV: Doctor Lugae

(Three cheers for translator Tom Slattery)

Hojo reveals that Rubicante has moved the crystals to the aboveground floors, which are completely sealed off from the basement levels where we are now. Pretty sure that’s against building codes.

We beat Lugae and his Frankestein Mech in a heck of a boss battle, but Lugae has a little gloat at us before expiring…

FFIV: Doctor Lugae

The dwarf army is still outside the Tower of Babil in that military formation so common to FF games, “Sitting Ducks.” Lugae had ordered his minions to wipe the floor with them:

FFIV: Lugae's Minions

I can’t really imagine Grand Moff Tarkin saying things like that during the Death Star Battle. “Rebel scum! Die die die! Woo ha!”

Lugae’s goblins set the cannons on automatic (how?) and the control room on self-destruct. That’s the cue for Yang to break out a Bigass Hero Moment.

FFIV: Yang's Sacrifice

He tosses the rest of the party out of the room with his awesome monk powerz as the bulkhead door closes.

FFIV: Yang's Sacrifice

Angst angst angst…

FFIV: Open the Door

FFIV: Gaaaah

FFIV: Oh Noez

Okay, so it’s a trope that’s been done a gazillion times, but well played, Yang, well played.

Rydia is getting really really sick of people dying in this game.

FFIV: Rydia Thinking of Yang

And Kain is playing the part of Ambiguously Ambiguous Anti-Hero.

FFIV: Kain on Sacrifice

Leaving the tower despondent and empty-handed, we get hit up with a parting gloat from Golbez via the Telepathy Intercom so common in FFIV.

FFIV: Cat and Mouse

Uh oh, it’s the collapsing-bridge trope!

Suddenly, we are falling over a lava ocean. WHICH IS NOT WHAT THE TOWER WAS STANDING ON, DANGIT.

FFIV: Cecil Drops In

Cid catches us in the nick of time. I’m not even gonna ask where the whole tower disappeared to during this sequence.

FFIV: Cid, Nick of Time

The Red Wings catch up to the Enterprise while we’re standing on deck jawing.

FFIV: Redwings Pursue Enterprise

(See? Okay, there’s lava behind the tower, but we were just inside that front door! Why is lava under the foundations? Building codes in this game are just atrocious!)

Random screencaps in the middle of the Red Wings vs. Enterpoop dogfight because they’re good drawing references…

Final Fantasy IV Playstation graphics: Rosa Farrell

Final Fantasy IV Rydia of the Mist in-game graphics
FFIV: Rydia, Rosa, Cecil

FFIV: Airships over Lava

Aaaannd it’s time for more secondary character heroics.

FFIV: Cid with Bomb

Rosa: No! Not you too!

FFIV: Rosa and Rydia

FFIV: Cid / Yang

Dangit, Cid, I thought you were a OTP with Tellah. Oh, well, the more the merrier. (But I’m really not sure about Muppet!Cid, honest to gosh.)

FFIV: Cid Falls

Cid blows himself up, taking the Red Wings — and all of Cecil’s former underlings — with him. The body count in these games is quite troubling, if you pay attention.

FFIV: Airship Volcano

Another fire dildo later, we return to the surface world.
Rosa reaches for Cecil after his sad, “Cid.” Gotta remember that he was like a jolly uncle to these two. (The primitive graphics aren’t great, but I’m just so happy to have a sane, functional established ship that isn’t used as a Will They Ever Get Together plot arc but merely as a warm bond between two characters.)
FFIV: Rosa and Cecil

Poor Rydia has really had it with “Everybody Dies,” and she wasn’t even around for Tellah and Porom and Palom.

FFIV: Rydia Hates Death
I note that Rosa, who holds it together through the rest of the game, takes Cid’s death hard as well.

FFIV: Rosa Sad
I imagine that when Cecil was off at Mysidia, Mist, and any other missions where she wasn’t able to accompany him, Cid served as a rock.  Early in the game, Rosa was essentially stuck in Éowyn’s role, left behind to deal with creepy king and smarmy Baigan.

So, can we honor our fallen friends? Yang, I’m not sure about, but with Cid, there’s only one thing for it. We check in with his engineers, who install a hook so we can carry our HOVERCRAFT!

FFIV: Just Add Hovercraft

Yes, a hovercraft is obviously the secret to destroying our world-destroying villain! With a hovercraft, we shall be invincible!

I love the way it resembles a pair of suede slippers while hung under our airship.

We head to a cave to the southeast of BigAss Tower, near Eblan Castle.

FFIV: Eblan Cave

Deep inside the cave, we find the Eblan people, aka NINJAS, who have fled their castle from the assault by Rubicante.

FFIV: Seneschal of Eblan

We catch up with the prince, Edge, facing off with none other than the owner of the fire dildo!

FFIV: Edge and Rubicante

“Should I know you from somewhere?” says Rubicante.

So then we have this fantastic duel between a guy with the most ridiculous bow tie ever (Edge, what ARE those things on either side of your ninja mask?) and Rubicante, who is fabulous in spandex.

SO VERY FABULOUS.

Rubicante as Freddie Mercury

And I’m beating a dead horse, but I can’t stop laughing about Freddicante. Who unleashes a can of whupass — or something — by lifting his cloak to reveal SPANDEX. And then Edge steals. Only Edge steals nothing, so apparently he’s just pinching Freddicante …. somewhere. Which causes Freddicante to lower his cloak. This repeats every few rounds.

Rubicante vs. edge

There is an infamous Japanese fanart commemorating this battle, too.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LET AMANO DESIGN A BOSS.

…AND IT IS MAGIC.  

I think I need to pause here and catch my breath.

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