Last time on Let’s Play Revenant Wings, Clan Vaanity engaged in a few dubious sidequests that should have earned us the moniker Clan Hypocrisy, and I’m still waiting for an NPC to call us out.
But now it’s time to catch up on the Path of Plot Advancement, where major speed bumps await. So let’s hurry over to that flag at the Fane of Tehp Qul and get this angst on the road.
Once again, the handy Mission Recapper fills us in on what we were doing before we got sidetracked by squirrels.
Sneak, eh? Just as long as the preliminaries don’t involve a fetch quest and an old coot stroking a pink rabbit, I’m game!
The title screen pan shows a misleading number of guards and a tantalizing treasure chest:
Filo hides behind a wall near the front gates to scout. I am impressed at her 100% silent hoverboard which sentries a few feet away can’t hear. I wonder whether it was a present from Vaan and Penelo, or whether she stole it. Either way, it’s a promising sign that trendy tech boutiques are springing up all over Rabanastre now that the war’s over.
Filo zips back to report that the place is crawling with guards. Vaan shares even more bad news.
Well, that’s a straightforward way of blocking a supernatural portal: plonk your airship on top of it.
Kytes is not best pleased with the idea of storming heavily-guarded gates without Esper backup. He continues to remind me of arc: more brains than courage.
Vaan: Well, I don’t hear any other ideas.
You don’t say. I hope it doesn’t involve climbing a gazillion crates with our heads stuck up a cowboy’s coattails.
Of course, it’s not as easy as sneaking around to a side door. Somebody is going to have to prop it open with a fire extinguisher from the inside. Vaan appoints himself to sneak past the sentries, enter the Fane, and let the party in.
Penelo: By yourself? What if they catch you?
Vaan: It’s hardly the first time I’ve snuck inside a heavily guarded building. And if I go alone, there’s less chance of getting caught.
Last time, he used a secret entrance, still got caught, and landed in Nalbina Dungeon. Penelo hangs back after the rest of the party to give him a Significant Look, but is too polite to say it in front of the kids who hero-worship him. He waves her away.
At last, I obtain camera control and take a gander at what Vaan’s up against.
Marvelous. These 7-8 guards use buffs. Berserk is one thing, but see that purple ring? That’s a viera archer casting Camouflage. They’re bad enough when visible!
Somehow I don’t think I AM CAPTAIN BASCH is going to be an effective ploy.
There’s walls and ruins and bushes, but they all have a 3′ perimeter of “I need my personal space” around them, and anyway stylus-based navigation controls are the game controller equivalent of cat herding. “Over here. OVER HERE dammit.”
Sure enough, a guard spots Vaan while I’m still trying to direct the camera to let me count how many bleeping viera there are. What? Final Fantasy sentries with peripheral vision, who can see people past the edge of the screen? Blasphemy!
Vaan has really let himself go since the days when he could battle endgame boss monsters with one Mage Masher tied behind his back. He stands swatting feebly until the sky pirate KOs him with multiple thundagas. How humiliating!
The party receives a measly 13XP apiece on the Mission FAIL screen. I’m sure some masochist gamer has used this as a cheap and tedious way to rack up XP. Unfortunately, so do I, since I keep having to repeat the mission with equally embarrassing results.
Eventually, I give up trying to memorize patrol patterns and simply rely on Sprint Shoes and Vaan’s Sprint spell (aka Haste) to outrun pokey guards. They wind up trailing along behind him like unobtrusive butlers.
This works pretty well right up until a viera casts Immobilize on Vaan.
He stands there like a pillock while nearby guards, visible and otherwise, gather ’round to whale on him until he’s KOed. The bottom screen makes it look like he’s all by his lonesome. Take a look at the top minimap to see the true horror.
Disappearing viera archers are rapidly displacing @#%$!!! centaurs as my least favorite Revenant Wings foes.
After several more attempts, I finally succeed in reaching the temple’s front doors with a molecule of HP left, and even manage to open two treasure chests along the way. Hurrah! Now I can move forward!
Except I can’t. I am a gamer, albeit a stiff-fingered old bat whose first gaming console was a Pong clone. That missed treasure chest is taunting me. “Mission Complete” my ass.
Okay. Think, Vaan. Think.
You know what? I’m reverting to my last save. I have an idea. Back to the airship!
I seem to recall a set of overpriced boots…
Immunity to immobilize? That might help.
YES. IT DID.
So. For the 2.5 people still playing Revenant Wings who Googled this mission and found GameFAQs to be lacking:
Revenant Wings Mission 3-2 Rendezvous Round the Back
How to survive and open all three treasure chests, because I’m a greedy sky pirate!
- Buy/equip Winged Boots. (Resist Immobilize)
- Set Gambit to Sprint.
- Lure first guard all the way back to Vaan’s starting point.
- Cast Sprint as soon as the guard is close (but not close enough to attack).
- Loop around the bush so guard plods around it.
- Keep generally to the map perimeter, except when darting in to open a treasure chest.
- Be ready to cast Sprint when it wears off; the game engine is slower to notice than you are. (Too busy making viera invisible.)
- Click the temple entrance and start yelling “run HERE, you idiot!” as soon as chest #3 begins to open.
Hey, Vaan? You call this sneaking? Your stealth game needs work:
There’s 2 viera shooting at him and 2 sentries chasing him, but at least hugging the perimeter dodged some of them.
Run, Vaan. RUN. RUN AWAAAAAY.
Vaan plants himself in plain view of his pursuers and waves at them. Masterclass in Sneak here, folks.
For reasons best know to the god of hex paper, they’re all afraid to cross that line or go inside to warn their fellows.
That’s better. When I successfully opened all three treasure chests, the “Mission Complete” bonus for Vaan jumped from 66 to 290 XP. Which I forgot to screencap. But here’s the three treasure chests:
On the whole, I’d rather play Dirge of Cerberus Cait Sith sneaking through a Mako reactor full of unkillable robot bugs and exploding oil drums.
Once the Mission is really and truly Complete, the game spits Penelo back on the world map. I’m confused. Where are we meeting again?
Back on the airship, obviously, for another round of our favorite game, Talk to Everyone!
Sounds like Ba’Gamnan doesn’t realize his siblings were sick of him.
Remind me again why we thought it was a good idea to keep a vengeful Bangaa headhunter captive? It’s like adopting a Bomb that’s safe as long as you keep casting Stop on it.
We learn that several aegyl have taken refuge aboard the Golden Vaanity, and Tomaj is showing them around. Oh, how nice of him!
Or not. Yes, let’s ingratiate ourselves further with the natives by exploiting their displaced population.
Kytes draws attention back to the plot holes in this stealth mission.
Pay no attention to the paradox that we’re aboard the airship after Vaan dodged all those guards to enter the Fane of Tehp Qul, while the rest of you are loitering around the back.
Penny plasters over the paradox as best she can:
They’d slash, shoot, and lightning bolt Vaan into unconsciousness, you’d get 13 XP apiece, and I’d have to try again. Simple.
Just in case anyone missed the blatant FFXII callback, Penelo quotes herself almost word-for-word:
Penelo: We need you to be there for us, Vaan.
Vaan: Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing. Besides, even if something did happen, you’d still be here to mother everyone.
Penelo: *crosses arms* Hmph!
Nice followup to FFXII “we need you to be there for us, Vaan” with “Penelo, you’ll be there for them,” but let’s not get too fixated on one-note-characterization, folks.
Lluyd and Vaan reiterate the mission and reassert that Vaan just wants to help the defenseless aegyl. Seems they’ve agreed not to talk about that “beat up aegyl” sidequest ever again.
Okay, let’s break out of Time Kompression and return to the places where all our characters are actually supposed to be at the moment.
Beyond their imagination? Joy. More FF monsters with no heads or their jaws opening in disturbing ways.
After all Kytes and Penelo’s anxieties about Vaan running into hordes of guards inside the Fane, Vaan navigates this second obstacle with the elite thief skill of Handwaving. We rejoin our party after he’s let his friends inside.
Here the soundtrack turns ominous: Henne Mines music with a few extra flourishes. Just in case we’ve forgotten that purple = dark.
Lluyd, also, could use a refresher course in Stealth 101. As we near the end of the long echoing tunnel, he blurts out:
(We’re hiding in the right-hand tunnel just before it opens out and turns left. Ahead and to the left of us…)
That gadget on the right looks vaguely familiar.
Waaay back in FFV…
… the possessed Queen of Karnak used glorified air conditioning ducts (left and right) to drain one of the Crystals of Light.
Whattya know, the auralith thieves heard Lloyd.
Cover blown, Vaan dashes forward and brandishes his sword.
Vaan: Hands off the stone, y’hear?
A little late for that, Vaan.
The sky pirates run offscreen, and we immediately trip over a Battle Party Screen.
I’m not going into a full battle writeup this time, except to note that our foes are mostly mages, and their Espers are mostly flammable. As usual when the enemy has a lot of “ranged” attacks, I sit out one of my two flying PCs. Filo has a new fire-based “Detonator” weapon, so she gets to stay.
I’m handwaving these battles to get to plot, but here’s a few highlights.
Cute fuzzy-wuzzy magic users preparing to zap the snot out of us:
Trivia note: Cait Sith is “fae cat.” Cu Sith is “fae puppy.”
Nice action shot: Penelo and Kytes lurk at far right, behind a fence of healer bunnies and fire salamanders, lobbing healing spells (little blue sparklies) and fireballs into the fray.
Below is one of those chaotic hand-to-hand melees, which Kytes and his Lamia minions are enlivening with Firagas:
Um, guys? You’ve got friends in that mosh pit. Don’t toast them!
Penelo tests to see whether the Lamias and Salamanders can cast bolts of fire straight through her and still hit enemy targets. (Amazingly, yes.)
Having cleared the first wave of monsters, we huddle around a summoning gate for an impromptu prayer meeting to convert it to our side:
Throw another barbie on the shrimp!
The enemy’s carbuncle healing division appears to be commanded by Professor Quirrell:
Here’s the obligatory Spoony Bard for this game, a Spoony Sky Pirate, whose sneak attack from behind would’ve been far more devastating if she and her minions could throw anything besides Shellga and healing spells:
Alas, poor Spoony.
I was trying to prolong the battle in order to earn more XP for monster-slaying, but Kytes took out Quirrell with a long-distance fireball. Look at how excited he is, leaping for joy:
That battle was surprisingly easy, especially considering the huge gobs of XP we earned for it.
Either my grinding has paid off, or I’m getting the hang of strategy, or it’s not very sporting to send a bunch of Espers equipped with flamethrowers against Espers made of wood.
The next Mission Screen pops up the instant we save and exit from the last one. Incoming: Big Plot Point One!
It’s like they know it’s 2AM in the morning!
And listen to what they’ve done to the music.
Llyud: Small wonder the barrier has fallen.
Hold that thought, Lluyd. I’m an old lady, and I need my zzzs.
Amazingly, I have the willpower to wait almost a week to find out what happens next, while I tidy and edit the last several posts. NOW, finally, I’m caught up, and can get on with the story.
Llyud: What manner of device is this?
Vaan: I don’t know, but you can bet the Judge of Wings is behind it.
Suddenly the dramatic music stops with a dying duck noise.
Kytes: Something’s headed this way.
The screen begins to shake, and Kytes starts backing away. Important antagonist, incoming at 4 o’ clock!
That ever-so-dramatic “Bigass Esper Attack” music from FFXII starts playing to build up our expectations…
…and this comically small metal thing clanks into view. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink.
Um. Gosh. Well, I suppose it’s a little taller than our party sprites.
Retro gaming: Some imagination required.
Once again, Vaan runs forward, while the children (Filo and Kytes) turn and run behind him. It’s a subtle detail, but I approve.
The Judge of Wings halts to establish her villain credentials. A fleeting purple whirlwind spreads out from her, and there’s a flash.
Uh oh. To prove she’s
totally badass truly villainous, she attacks the children!
Filo collapses first (of course; she’s the girl). As Penelo moves to her side, Penny gets engulfed in the same intermittent shimmer that’s paralyzed Kytes.
Hands off our mages!
The judge edges forward, mistaking us for the gullible, greedy sky pirates she’s been bribing so far.
Judge of Wings: You will have all the auracite you want and more.
Kytes collapses. Vaan turns and runs a few steps away, turns back and crosses his arms.
Judge of Wings: And what of Ivalice?
I don’t bally know. Take out your exposition hat and tell us what you’re planning to do. Most villains would’ve been gloat-revealing their Evil Plan for our benefit five minutes ago.
Judge of Wings: Under my dominion, I could grant your every wish.
I’ll say one thing: she’s not Occuria. She can’t even whip out a simple iambic trimeter. (Frankly, I’m relieved she didn’t turn out to be Fran and/or Balthier performing some elaborate charade.)
Vaan, true to form, doesn’t give a rat’s ass.
If it comes to a fight, we’re short two mages, unless Penny can pull herself together. Come on, Penelo, snap out of it!
Misjudge of wings, more like.
Judge of Wings: Perhaps you, too, seek the Eternal?
Vaan: Did you say “eternal”?
Vaan, stop prodding the Exposition Pez!Dispenser. YOUR FRIENDS ARE IN TROUBLE.
The Judge of Wings revs up her whirlwind again, and Llyud and Ba’Gamnan fall to the ground. Vaan and Penelo are both struggling with the glowy field too, but they remain conscious.
The Judge of Wings turns and starts to walk away, the better to make room for an exposition/flashback sequence.
Would that be the Eternal, or some other arrogant fool we know and love?
Judge of Wings: See for yourself the true face of greed.
She casts the magical spell Flashback, and the camera pans up and away from her as the world turns white. Action switches to the upper display, panning across another crystal-studded cave in the sepia tones of flashback.
I’ll take the extra time to crop these by hand, since the bottom screen remains white throughout this sequence.
Hurrah! Balthier’s theme starts up. He saunters in, spreads his hands, and starts sassing.
Balthier: Roses have thorns— this much I’ve come to expect.
Yeah, I imagine Fran’s claws are a bit ticklish.
Speaking of which, where’s Fran? I’m still harboring a nasty suspicion. Although he uses “my dear” for lots of people.
Balthier: So long as you are slave to a Stone, you’ll never change.
There you go again, Balthier, lecturing dads and princesses and near-gods on the dangers of getting Stoned. You never change, either.
As if to prove his point, he holds up a stone and tosses it in the air, shooting it like a clay pigeon. It looked like the purple Glabados Stone whose twin he gave to Vaan.
Phew. There’s Fran, lying on the ground behind Balthier in a visual parallel of Vaan and his friends. Just once, I wish the woman/telepath/magical character proved more resistant to magical/psychic attacks, due to their greater proficiencies.
Balthier: Your “eternity” is an illusion.
Aha! It’s half-baked philosophy time. Pardon me while I pull a brief Maechen out of my hat.
When Llyud first explained the Yahri, i.e. Espers, he said, “We call them from the realm of illusion to do as we bid.” We’ve met this trope before: the Esper world and real world in FFVI, Dream-Zanarkand and the Farplane vs. Spira’s reality in FFX. (Not to mention various FFs with worlds split in two).
The Judge of Wings’ claim that “illusion is the only true reality” sounds like Sephiroth levels of hot air, but it actually ties into that whole eastern/Buddhist concept of competiting realities: the Womb Realm of the material world, which is maya (illusion, deceit), and the true “Diamond Realm” of the spirit realm, the timeless plane of universal truths, that Buddha discovered. While some sects of Buddhism are trying to throw off the illusions and self-deception of maya, Japanese Shingon Buddhism (all over the place in FFX) embraces both worlds.
Whereas the Judge of Wings sounds like she’s dismissed the real world as “illusion,” and considers the Esper-world of illusion as the only worthwhile reality. Which she’s probably going to impose on Balthier’s “real world.”
Are your eyes glazing over yet? Hang in there. There’s only a little more mumbo jumbo philosophy to dig through:
Judge of Wings: Our desire for the Eternal is our desire to become undying. Ask, and I can make eternity a reality for you.
Balthier: All this talk of dreams and desire—
AHEM. Balthier, ever a showman, is definitely living in the Womb Realm.
He cocks his gun on his shoulder, apparently intending to shoot the Judge of Wings. Note the auralith crystal hanging like a barrier between his world and hers.
Balthier: It’s time you opened your eyes to reality.
The Judge of Wings flashes forward and knocks him back behind Fran. Balthier is irrepressible:
Fran, wake up and knock some sense into your gun-waggling partner! (Seriously, I like this game, but it keeps finding ways to shut down and exclude the female protags from participating meaningfully in the scene whenever Things Get Real.)
Balthier takes aim again.
Judge of Wings: Not this day.
She raises her hand. A column of light appears behind Balthier, out of which steps a larger-than-human floating figure which waves her arm and surrounds Balthier in some kind of magical whirlwind.
Balthier flops down next to Fran, and the whirlwind dissipates.
The Judge turns and marches away. The camera lingers for a moment on the auralith before fading out. Yeah, we get it. It’s an auralith. But which one?
Back to present (wasn’t it nice of the Judge to fill us in on Balthier’s adventures)?
Penelo’s the only one still on her feet after that lengthy bedtime story. Go Penny!
Vaan staggers to his feet as Penelo shakes her head to clear it.
Judge of Wings: I showed you only what you wanted to see.
Ew, sneaky sneaky. So was that flashback illusion or reality?
Vaan dashes forward angrily.
Judge of Wings: I set him free— free of life’s burdens.
Vaan: These tricks you’re playing on us, these things you’re showing us— I don’t believe any of it!
The judge clanks laboriously over to the apparatus around the stone. By now, the tink-tink-tink-tink sound of her footsteps is no longer funny. This chibified game is getting serious.
The Judge brandishes the Stone, which glows with a blueish-white light. Extra-large summons begin to appear between Vaan and the Judge (no summoning gate needed, although there’s an interesting pyramid that springs up around the Judge momentarily).
The tall greenish lady on the left looks like the same Esper that knocked out Balthier in the flashback.
There’s a thrum of energy from the apparatus.
There’s a nasty whining roar. The auralith begins to crackle with evil-looking arcs of energy.
Under the circumstances, purple is not fabulous. In fact, it’s starting to turn a menacing blood-red.
Luckily, everyone’s back on their feet!
And we’re back to FFXII’s great exciting boss battle music.
Alas, we’re far too early in the game to win a conclusive victory. So let’s see what we can do.
I’m going to take a big risk here and blow two of my five auracite to enlist all the level II fire Espers, adding Wyvern and a funny little horned chap called Balasa to my Ring of Pacts.
It’s the epic battle of fire vs. ice, with my fire critters vulnerable to water foes, and vice versa! My party dons Water Medallions, Raincloud Raiments and other id
*cross fingers* here goes!
As Vaan calls up our Espers, he gazes across the battlefield to Shiva.
Shiva makes a flirtatious gesture, and a little heart floats away. Whoa there, that’s Lamia’s signature move!
Penelo: Not too close an eye, I hope.
Vaan: Who do you think you’re talkin’ to?
I think the game just tossed shippers a bone. Assuming anyone out there ships them. It’s so hard to tell now that LJ is moribund.
Even more awesome battle music kicks in.
The Judge of Wings, a few Cu Siths and Sirens come marching over first. Then things get crazy.
That’s Penelo’s Curago going off.
There’s a furious scrum, but the Judge of Wings falls (or vanishes?) as our entire party attacks her from all sides, including wild gouts of flame from the Wyvern air brigade. Almost too easy.
Hey, wait, the battle objectives change mid-battle. Is that allowed?
Eep. Shiva holds back, gazing coolly across the battlefield, so we start clearing the battlefield one group at a time. Penelo boosts our side’s faith (mighty quick pep talk there, Penny), Vaan boosts speed, and Kytes tries a new trick, casting Bio on the waiting enemy’s front line. They break out in poison ivy and come charging towards us in annoyance, allowing us to pick them off!
A bunch of people on our side get hit with Stop. Dodging spellcasts, Vaan charges through the throng and takes on Shiva alone! Is this a good idea?
He Steals Speed. I’d totally forgotten I’d set his Gambit to that. This time, it might just save his life.
Penelo casts healing spells at Vaan until everyone else— except poor Kytes, who didn’t make it through that wild scrum — can come to Vaan’s aid. Shiva goes down under their attacks from all sides.
Uh oh. Our Espers all vanish in a flash as if forcibly dismissed.
The machinery around the auralith whines to life…
And yep, you guessed it: The auralith glows red, then shatters!
The Judge of Wings reappears (surprise, surprise) and raises her purple summoning (?) Stone.
It glows all colors of the rainbow, presumably absorbing energy sucked from the auralith. Then she brandishes it again and disappears.
One last little blue chunk of the auralith flies out and falls behind the machine.
Eh what? That’s not what AP usually stands for!
Fine, fine. We’ll take all the help we can get.
The Judge of Wings was only Level 15. No wonder we ganged up on her so easily. Not that it helped.
After all that, our post-battle haul consists of one lousy auracite crystal and some Battle Boots. And the tangy taste of failure.
It’s a retro FF game, so just as in FFIV and FFV, we totally failed to protect the bigass magic crystals. Nobody should ever hire Final Fantasy characters as security guards.
Scene: battle aftermath with sad sad “White Room” theme.
Ba’Gamnan walks away while everybody’s distracted, trying and failing to comfort our unhappy aegyl.
Penelo to Llyud: I’m sorry we couldn’t keep the auralith safe.
Llyud: I…I just don’t know.
Penelo: Don’t know what?
Llyud: At a time such as this, what should I say? How should I act? I just don’t know.
Vaan: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes there is no right way to act.
Penelo: I’ve always said you were a soft touch, Vaan.
Um, guys, witty banter isn’t called for. (But they’re all in shock, especially Llyud, whose speech has long pauses.) We need to make a new plan. I guess it’s up to our fearless leader…
Vaan: Well, what’s everybody standin’ around for? We’ve got a Judge to catch!
They all dash after Vaan, leaving Llyud alone, staring upwards to contemplate his people’s losses.
Repeat after me, Final Fantasy veterans: Yes, we still suck.