Holy Chocobo! We’re in the home stretch of FFV! Let’s pause a moment to ogle the closing FMV from the PS1 version.
It’s a fine recap of some exciting moments in the game: pyromaniac Exdeath setting the Moogle forest on fire around the Guardian Tree, Galuf’s attack on Castle Exdeath thwarted by the barrier and his friends showing up to
spoil everything, Krile on her trusty dragon seeking the perpetually lost party, Faris losing her beloved Syldra the Sea Dragon all the way back on Disc One, the shade (?) of King Tycoon playing hide-and-seek with us, the Lonka/Ronka ruins flying up into the sky, and a couple endgame battles we still have to look forward to (or flee, if we have any sense).
Symbolism ahoy! I’ve totally lost track of which crystal / element / attribute goes with what in this FF installment, and I don’t know why I care, but I’m puzzling over them, particularly hope = fertility? I also marvel at how quickly graphics look dated, and how awesome Faris and Lenna look in trenchcoat and court attire with matching katanas.
All right! Sidequests before saving the world.
Last time, Ghido the Ninja Turtle gave us a huge long shopping list of things to find, places to see, spells and summons to acquire. I’m going to gloss over most of them and pick out just a few that I happen to like, such as this here Island Shrine. It was inaccessible until the two worlds (and the Big Bridge) got overlaid on one another.
The boss at the top of this dungeon is an arrogant sexist twit.
“I was excited by the thought of what warriors could have made it this far…”
Faris, now the proud possessor of the Brave Blade,
makes short work cuts them down to size eventually, although the ass-handage took longer than I hoped.
News flash: I hate FFII-style bosses that are solitary when you encounter them in the dungeon, then divide into four when you hit the battle screen. That’s cheatin’! (Oh, wait, I suppose our party tends to do the exact same thing. Lalalalala.)
Fork Tower is another fun stop on our Sidequest World Tour.
Explode, huh? I strongly suspect that some Cid or other is the architect.
At the top, we fight one of two brothers. The other was back in the Egyptomania dungeon, under the alias Sekhmet. I forgot to screencap their goofy dialog. Obviously these are Sacred and Minotaur in FFVIII:
On the other side of Fork Tower is this dude, who appears to have escaped from FFXII. Fun FF drinking game: the Amano Challenge, in which you take a shot every time you meet someone with horns.
(Gratuitous screencap to show off Krile’s cat-eared White Mage outfit.)
We are now the proud possessors of Holy and Flare. Woo! What’ll we do next?
Fork Tower has disappeared, so we head under it to the Catapult (what a silly name for an underwater base) to rescue Cid, who’s stuck to one of the gears and is going around and around.
Butz really needs to cut down on the coffee; his startle reflex is worse than my last cat’s.
Mid runs in with the barf bags to check on his grandpa.
Hey, Cid’s gonna upgrade our airship to a submarine, and we didn’t even have to lose an airship to earn an upgrade! Sweet!
Mid and Krile have a little heart to heart while Cid’s buzzing around tinkering.
Krile tells Mid it’s not Cid’s fault that all the crystals exploded, releasing Exdeath from his prison. LIKE HELL IT AIN— er, I mean, isn’t it sweet how the two child prodigies bond over their zooty grandpas?
After the work is finished, Cid shrugs off Butz’s thanks.
I must say, we’ve had a run of good-natured and kindly Cids from III through V. PPhhhlt to the first Cid in II who wouldn’t let us use his airship until he was almost dead. No, I’m not petty or anything.
Current!Cid tells us to go kick ass, since he can’t. Krile tells Mid to “take good care of your grandpa,”
since she can’t. Sniffle.
Time to explore underwater. Remember that tower that sank way back when we tried to reach the Water Crystal, leaving one crystal / job shard we couldn’t reach?
BUTZ. Goodness gracious. There you go breaking the laws of physics again.
We swim our way into battle with an insane mime, Gogo, who ironically doesn’t want us to “gogo” at all. (He imitates whatever we do, and the only way to beat him is…*drumroll*…)
We get the “Mime” job class out of him, which is more useful than you’d think. And less creepy.
Here’s the Great Sea Trench.
I am not quite sure how the Lali Ho dwarves have managed to excavate their tunnels UNDER this trench without drowning. Also, seawater + lava should result in quite spectacular steam explosions.
We fall in some lava to reaffirm the Final Fantasy Old School Motto: “We’re warriors of light! We’re inflammable!”
I would like to know where Exdeath found some of his minions. Especially these guys:
Anyway, back above water in the pirates’ cove, the ghost of an old friend appears to Faris.
The others can’t see her and think Faris is hallucinating. However, Wunderkind Krile is once again blessed with critter!powers, and serves as a translator.
Meta in this game is so rudimentary, yet there’s a rough sort of consistency: all the princesses have a bond with dragons, and the younger two have an uncanny knack with animals.
Not this next one, however. Here’s Bahamut in FFV, who (you may recall) challenged us to meet him for a hot date on North Mountain.
Is this the first time Bahamut’s breath weapon is called “Mega Flare”? I’m losing track.
In Phoenix Tower, we run into the original FF Magic Pots, who are almost as annoying as later incarnations. This one scarfs down Elixirs in exchange for a buttload of AP.
At the top of Phoenix Tower, we meet up with Hiryu, the dragon who belonged to Lenna’s father. As you may recall, Hiryu “sacrificed” himself to save Lenna from being possessed by
fanservice a demon. Apparently Hiryu’s been waiting up here all this time so he can kick the bucket in Lenna’s presence. Gee, thanks, ol’ buddy.
Lenna is all broken up at Hiryu’s demise. She has now lost her dragon, just like Faris lost Syldra.
We learn that Lenna’s mother died of a contrived malady that could only be cured with a dragon’s tongue. Young Lenna was prepared to acquire one at any cost, but Jenica ( nurse to both Lenna and Sarisa) intervened.
This is the first time that I can recall Final Fantasy having enough of a story to give us life-or-death choices. I picked “No.” I wonder if we’d still acquire the Phoenix summons if I’d said “Yes”? And why does a dead dragon turn into a Phoenix esper, anyway?
Still chasing tablets and espers, we have a Boss Fight Interrupted (another fine FF tradition that begins in FFV):
Leviathan shows up and EATS him, then challenges us to the usual esper duel. (I love Levi’s googly eyes).
We’ve come a long way from the ginormous fish-dungeon Leviathan in FFII. By now, the summons have mostly settled into conventional shapes that we’ll be seeing again and again until FFXII decides to drop acid, ditch the names we’ve grown accustomed to (Belias is TOTALLY Ifrit), and slather them with a dose of Cthulhu Ick.
All right! I’ll skip over several days’ worth of sidequests; it’s time to tackle the endgame. Overleveled with spells, sharp pointy things and summons, we plunge into the Void where Castle Tycoon used to be.
Right. For a Void, it seems to have an awful lot of stuff in it. I guess everything it hoovered is trapped in here? Kinda like my desk drawer.
We can’t tell at first that we’ve landed anywhere interesting, but the sudden lack of sound or music of any kind is a bit creepy. In that “great, did I just lose the sound on my iPad?” kind of way.
Exdeath’s sent out a welcoming party for us! How thoughtful.
I am once again grateful that they’re obligingly taking turns instead of coming at us in a big hairy mob. That is a lot of bosses to plow through before we reach the Really Last Boss.
M.C. Escher seems to have had a hand in designing this section of the game, which transitions from one landscape to the next without much rhyme or reason.
Our Door to the Bunker on Lost Island actually leads to a Ronka Ruins style labyrinth that pops us out in the middle of a twin copy of
Zanarkand Phantom Village, the town frozen in time for a thousand years. (I am so lost.) All the townspeople are here, frozen, and the only movement is the flicker of fire in the pub’s hearth. Almost as eerie as Oerba 300AF, in its own way, only with fewer lurching Eldritch horrors. For which we can be grateful.
The healing spring magic pot still works, but I can’t seem to goose any of the shopkeepers into selling us stuff. Good thing I already bought everything I needed (I hope).
We emerge into an equally creepy dark forest. Which necessitates yet another miniboss battle. Exdeath’s minion army is the envy of every other FF villain; I’m surprised he wasn’t made the chief baddie in Dissidia. (I suppose that whole “Evil Tree” business would’ve been too hard to explain.)
Oh, sorry, I’m getting attacked. Hang on. Villain gloatage:
Annoying boss, cute design giving me Breath of Fire flashbacks:
We crack her (?) shiny thing and continue on our way. Go us.
Entering a tree (!), we find ourselves in a stony cave-dungeon with one of the most infamous bosses in FF. I give it a couple tries and give up.
“The party was defeated” is possibly the greatest understatement in the history of FF. FINE RED PASTE, my friends. Good thing these retro graphics are too primitive and E-rated to show the full horror.
Past THAT little debacle, we discover a random bit of the Library of the Ancients (I presume) stuffed in the back of a cave. Hey, Square, how many different dungeon terrains are you going to squeeze in before we hit the Really Final Dungeon?
Faris stalls a bit more by riffing through books, proving that she’s a cultivated pirate.
…were able to subdue these evil beasts.”
Not bally likely; FF dragons have gotten more and more pissy since FFI.
And what’s on the other side of the bookshelves?
Whoa, this place is trippy. I guess this is what passes for our token Cracktastic WTF! landscape, although that’s normally the setting of the final boss battle of the game.
Eventually we get back on terra firma.
I didn’t bother to recap our acquisition of several more job classes — Oracle, Gladiator (Butz and Krile), Cannoneer (Faris and Lenna) — during our grand tour to Find All The Things. You can see a few of them here:
I just had to include that because I have a thing for Iron Giants. Aren’t they cute? (Would this monster design require four shots or eight for the Amano drinking game? He’s all pointy.)
We discover the castle dungeons in the attic. Well, at least that’s different. Also, we discover that the miniboss I thought was Ahriman is called Catastrophe, and it would probably be one if we weren’t terribly overleveled at this point.
Jesus chalupa on a capybara, there are a LOT of minibosses in this game. They’ve started circling us in a holding pattern.
One of the prisoners gives Faris a kiss for rescuing her.
So of course the smoocher turns out to be yet another miniboss. Also, a cross-dresser with far less fashion sense than Faris. (And I think this is where the Amano Drinking Game would start to become toxic: that is a lot of horns.)
Well, that’s just fabulous. He turns us into frogs.
We turn him into purple confetti.
At the top of the tower (waaaait for it), another miniboss bars our path.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Check the little piles of miniboss-dust scattered in our wake. (We won’t talk about Omega).
Owie. HEY! That’s Bahamut’s spell. Are you allowed to do that? (A mere four shots if we were playing the Amano drinking game.)
Eventually we wipe his twisty ass, step off the top of the tower and
plummet to our deaths warp to someplace else.
At this point I break down and check my favorite walkthrough. BRB, going ALL THE WAY BACK to the world we left behind to pick up some Coral Rings. Lalalalala.
half an hour half a month later*
Whee, we have landed in the Dungeon of Shiny! This means endgame! (And how nice that we finally have a way to teleport back if we realize we forgot to stop the mail).
I would just like to note that having Bahamut in your back pocket is really handy when you’ve been blithely wandering through a high-level dungeon without remembering to heal up between random encounters.
Ahead, we spy a familiar red figure. Freddicante? No! GILGY! What are you doing in a place like this?
Crank up the “Clash on the Big Bridge” soundtrack that’s Gilgy’s theme song, and let’s rumble!
(No, I never get tired of that goofy music.)
We trade a few blows before he recognizes us… and then, pure awesome. (Sorry, I missed one line of dialog in my screencaps, but you get the gist. The gif cycle starts with “Have at thee, vile beast!”)
Butz/Gilgamesh = FFV’s OTP, and don’t tell me otherwise.
(I love the fact that Gilgy recognizes us as soon as we start stealing Genji items from him, since that’s basically his role in every danged game).
A few levels up, we discover a magical chest, in which there is most certainly a Ragnarok, the most powerful weapon in the game.
And this guy.
Great. So the Coral Rings simply prolonged our agony for a few more rounds. Do I go back to the main world to steal Dragon Lances for five hours in order to claim my prize?
Nope. Nope nope nope. I’m not proud. Someday, I will be a completist on this game, but today is not the day.
We continue on to yet another annoying but slightly less lethal miniboss: Necrophobe. I am distracted by his name. If he’s so afraid of dead stuff, you’d think necromancy would be the wrong line of work, n’est pas?
In mid-battle, Gilgy shows up!
Hey, big G, we were holding our own pretty well here, but thanks for the —
Wait! No! Don’t sacrifice yourself for us! I forgot to equip my Steal ability, so we have no way to nab your Genji Armor! I mean… don’t die, Gilgy!
Drat. There he goes, taking Necrophobe with him.
Well, as all Final Fantasy fans know, this is only the beginning of Gilgamesh’s adventures. Bon voyage, you crazy dude.
Now let’s go deal with Evil Tree Boss.
Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard that line before.
Cue dramatic morphing-villain sequence, complete with blue sparks and suspenseful music. What horror will he become? A giant tick? a guy with four wings and no shirt? An evil clown? A LUNAR WHALE?
The ultimate power of the universe… to turn yourself into an evil tree?
Still not impressed.
Offended by our lack of whelm, Troll Tree launches on a campaign to torment all our friends by hoovering them up into the Void. He ganks Cid, Mid, Krile’s moogle friend and dragon, and even Boko and the pirates…
All right. NOW we’re pissed. Hands off the chocobo!
Exdeath tosses us into the Void for good measure. He must have his parents coming to visit; I can’t find anything in my house for weeks after I’ve shoveled it all into the closet.
At this point, I’m a little confused, as I thought we were already in the Void. But I suppose what we were traipsing around in before was the Rift, and this was the true Void, which is FFV-slang for Farplane. Or something.
The shades of the dead goose us back to life. Hi, Dad! Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.
The Light Warriors and Dawn Warriors have themselves a little Farplane confab.
True to their word, the shades of the Dawn Warriors zap the Void Balloon that had settled over us.
I love these early FFs where the shades of the dead provide the oomph to help get us over our own incompetence. Even Auron has his precedents.
Faris and Lenna’s dad helps, too, bringing the Dawn Warriors up to five because, y’know, Final Fantasy FIVE.
(And I still think King Tycoon looks like the King of the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon.)
Exdeath, thankfully, has finally run out of minibosses to throw at us.
So, with our trusty npc allies cheering us on, we fight the Big Corncob in the Sky. Votes for silliest-looking final boss in FF? Stiff competition, but I think this one’s right up there with the tick.
Lenna gets the killing blow with her amusingly oversized lance.
Only, OF COURSE, this isn’t the end. It’s Boss Morphing Time, as the Void gobbles up Mr. Corncob and takes charge of ass-handage.
(Almagest? I love it when FF requires me to reach for Wikipedia to discover the etymology of monster or spell names.)
Lucky for us, Neo Exdeath, the kitchen sink and an assorted collection of whatsits — good HEAVENS, Ultimecia, what are you doing in there? — are dazzled by Butz’s
booty killer dance moves.
And we win! Woot!
Great. So, since all the Crystals were destroyed about halfway through the game, the world is gefuckt and it’s all our fault. I feel an XIII-2 sequel coming on…
…no, wait, back up, we’re not quite finished here.
Each of our characters’ job class shards reform to create new Crystals, just as a prophecy I didn’t bother to screencap said would happen. (It was in that FMV, sort of.)
And just like that, all the places hoovered off the face of the Earth by the Void rematerialize as well.
Funny how that happens. (I see a certain pattern in nearly every FF endgame: “We won! We beat the bad guy! Oh crap, we still lost! Only… not?” See also: Meteor and Aerith Intervention.)
So the world is all hunky dory, but we’re still stuck in the Farplane. Help?
Yep. Can someone call us a taxi?
The Four Dawn Warriors send Krile’s dragon — last seen being sucked into the Void — to send us home. Ah, ha, ExDeath, your suckage saved our asses, thanks!
Epilogue time! There’s a long touching letter from
Penelo Krile to Cid and Mid, talking about how the world has returned to normal.
Faris appears to have spent at least a few nanoseconds as co-queen with Lenna before running off to become a pirate again.
Krile, meanwhile, mentions the crisis of succession in Bal, and completely fails to give herself enough credit.
Off in Pirates of the Caribbean Land, Koko lays some eggs that hatch into adorable little chickabos (of course).
However, Krile cannot join in the “life goes on” festivities, as she misses her grandpa.
She goes to the Guardian Tree to pay her respects to the Coot.
That’s where her friends catch up with her. Cue touching reunion…
Off they go to defend the crystals and explore the world. And the game almost goes 3D on us during the credits, woot! We’ll see this slanted-landscape effect several times in FFVI, only with mechs and snow:
(We won’t worry about the fact that every single realm is now lacking a monarch, right?)
Someday, I need to play through all the alternate endings. This is the first FF to have them: depending on which characters survive, you get a slightly different endgame sequence.
Personally, the one in which Faris loses Lenna and has to become queen in her stead makes my angst circuits go twingle twingle, but I suppose we’ll leave it at that for now. (Actually, no matter who dies, they “return” at the foot of the Guardian Tree a year later, when Galuf punts them out of the void saying that it’s not their time to die yet).
I still need to finish my Faris and Lenna fic. Someday. I love this silly game, and much like FFVIII, I am surprised to find that some corners of fandom don’t.
I also need to find one more frickin’ job class, as there is apparently a Necromancer job that opened up while I was bumbling around in the final dungeon. But as with FFII and III, I will leave some bonus extras for another time when you, dear reader, are not waiting for me to hurry up and finish already.
All right! I’m a month late, but it’s time to tackle FFVI. ON MY MAC, because what recap would be complete without too many screencaps?