Last time on Let’s Play Revenant Wings, Clan Potholder crashed on a beautiful paradise island. Then the game decided to make up for lack of character development by foisting a half-hearted love triangle on us.
Which caused me to run to the hills and waste a lot of time grinding. But it turns out we won’t have to suffer this tedious trope for too long (spoiler), so bear with me as I bear with it.
I still wanna know what that not-quite-police-box object is hanging in the sky.
All right. Plot beckons.
Or rather, jealousy beckons. Vaan, wounded to the quick that Penelo’s paying attention to a wounded chap, decides to remake himself as Manly Man, Provider of Foodstuffs.
“A Gift for Penelo.” Because it’s okay to mock Penelo’s cooking and Mother of All Things routine, but now… well, you get the picture.
At least Vaan has selected a lovely locale for his penis-waggling. The camera pans down a huge waterfall with ledges suspended at several levels. Lumbering (ha) Golems and Malboros gambol around like woodland sylphs.
Er, okay, not bloody likely, but that would be something to see, wouldn’t it? Kind of like the Lovecraft reboot of Fantasia.
If this is a boy’s day out to fight Golems and fricking Malboros without the rest of the party, I’m going to be peeved. And very glad I did some level grinding.
Kytes tries to talk Vaan out of his sulks, but unfortunately he learned his diplomatic skills from Vaan himself.
Kytes: Sometimes when I’m not feeling so good, she dances to cheer me up, too.
Right. Please remind Vaan that she shakes her milkshake for everyone but him.
I will give Vaan this— he’s not taking it out on Penelo, and he’s not pulling any entitlement bullshittery. He’s gone away to have his sulk. Which is a right and proper thing to do.
Kytes continues flogging the ex-equine for several more rounds, until finally:
Kytes: It’s different with you and her, though, right?
Vaan: Let’s just concentrate on finding something to eat, okay?
Sure enough, the battle partly screen only lists Vaan and Kytes. And there’s Malboros, traditionally one of FF’s three nastiest non-bossmonsters. Ew.
IT GETS BETTER. I can only bring two kinds of Espers to the party, and it’s not letting me pick the two. GRRR. Also? No summoning gates.
Clan Woefully Inadequate, Assemble!
So then it’s a matter of scavenging pieces of wood, stones, bones and treasure chests — we’re bringing back foodstuffs to Penelo, no, really! — while trying to keep the critters from whittling down our posse too quickly. I think we only died once.
Sound effects on this battlefield match the nature special scenery: thundering water and the Mosphoran Highwaste theme which is one of my favorites.
Boys seem to have forgotten they’re bringing home the bacon, and instead bring back bones, stones and blocks of wood. Which will be handy if I can ever access the forge again, oddly enough. But in the meantime, I think Vaan has settled on the bowerbird strategy to woo Penelo.
So it’s back to the land of nametag shipping (just swap the names; the generic storyline will work as well for any pairing!)
Why bother with a relationship arc when you can handwave it?
Oh, and by the way, while all this is going on, Bahamut’s probably ravaging the planet. Good thing Queen Ashe and Emperor Larsa are out there to handle the important stuff. And Balthier and Fran, of course, who are 100% totally not dead
So. The two boys return to camp, where Tomaj earns his slime cred for the day by beckoning them over to spy on Penelo having a private moment with her new friend.
Tomaj tells Vaan he’ll sneak up behind the unsuspecting couple so he can eavesdrop and report back.
Oh thank goodness. Vaan ignores that sleazy offer and just goes over to her.
Vaan: *hands on hips* Penelo!
Vaan: You get anything else out of him?
Ahem. That could be taken several ways. But I am going to give Vaan the benefit of the doubt, since it sounds like he really is sticking to his (or rather, the group’s) business: what does this guy know? What’s he up to?
Penelo: Well, he says he came here looking for someone.
Velis won’t talk, but he eventually consents to Penelo giving his secret away. I’m not sure why this is such a big deal. In fact, it might soothe camp tensions, if anyone’s paying attention:
Hume males lusting after a race of fanservice females (?), a common affliction. It’s never clear what’s going on between Balthier and Fran (an ambiguity of which I heartily approve), but I recall a random no-name NPC in FFXII who was besotted with a viera as well.
Velis says he and Mydia were separated during the war.
Well, fancy that. Velis was at the same battle where Vaan’s brother Reks died. Which still doesn’t explain why he’s a cold fish. Maybe he is a ghost.
Vaan, naturally, sprouts an ! over his head and dashes forward.
Vaan asks Velis how he wound up here, but a yell of “Aiiieee!” from Filo obviates the need for more exposition.
I still wonder what the dealio is with Velis. Is he unsent? Why does he bring all the Yahri to the yard? Why did Revenant Wings have to rename Espers Yahri?
Kytes: Then it’s up to us to keep him safe!
Filo *whispers in his ear*: Is that okay, Vaan?
Vaan: Of course it is, don’t be silly!
Thank you, Vaan. You seem to be taking the high ground even when the writer keeps trying to wallow in love triangle gossip alongside Tomaj.
Okay, time for me to unleash Belias on a pack o’ Malboros. (Game mechanics: one can’t start battles with Level III Espers; one needs a gate to summon them.)
Watch out! We have a flaming goat ogre, and we’re itching to use it!
Clan Potholder, Assemble!
Poor Velis. PCs can insta-heal from being set on fire, survive cleavage by ginormous swords, or shake off poison like it’s NBD, but he takes as long as real-world people to recover from injuries. Which, come to think of it, is another sign there’s something unnatural about him.
Our attackers are polite enough to sit back and chill, at least until we trot over to cull one of the clusters waiting for us.
Drat. The trick to this battle, as I find out the hard way, is that you need to leave a guard with Velis to deal with the nasties sneaking up on him while we’re out performing pest control. Because if he dies, Game Over.
Luckily, I know just the guard.
So I hand Belias’ leash to Penelo and have her stand over by Velis while the rest of us play Roomba. If we get hurt, we can scoot back to Penny for ouchie removal. Meanwhile, Belias can cast massive fireballs from a distance.
We’ve chewed through all but two monsters when Filo starts to fret. Shush, let’s finish them off before anything else shows up!
Too late. Sigh.
Malboro King, ol’ buddy, haven’t
seen smelled ya for a while!
A football team’s worth of Malboros charges us from two directions at once, spamming us with their usual debuffs: Stop, Confuse, Sleep, Poison, Silence.
New waves of Malboros keep coming. I can’t even see where poor Velis is in the middle of all this. (Oh, wait, I see his codpiece under Belia’s right armpit. That sounds wrong.) All I know is that we’d be in serious trouble without our flaming goat ogre, and it’s pretty tough going as it is. At last…
A well-earned victory fanfare.
And a rather dubious “treasure.” Ew?
Afterwards, Penelo dashes over to check on her newfound friend, who has eyes only for her.
Penelo: Not a scratch.
Vaan’s annoyed; Penelo wasn’t the one breathing Malboro fumes for the whole battle.
He runs off into the woods for the third time this chapter. Filo Sherlocks that he’s jealous, and Kytes speculates that he’ll need to start looking for a new partner. Because apparently they missed the memo about Velis being in love with someone-not-Penelo.
The “Marooned— Day 7” entry from Tomaj claims that there’s “turmoil in the camp” and that Penelo and Velis grow closer with each passing day. “I have an eye for these things.” Bleuuughh.
I know, I know: I was griping about lack of character development in earlier chapters. I should be careful what I wish for.
This enthralling plotline inspires me to fight random missions in the Rainwood, each of which nets one auracite, until I’ve acquired all available Espers. Luckily, since we’re stranded, I have to return to camp eventually to sell the loot in our overflowing inventory. Okay, okay, let’s get this over with.
You see why I was putting it off.
Mood music: White Room. It’s the theme of heartbreak and dead people. We’re off to a fine start.
I am your brother
I am deader than Auron’s armpit hair
I am a disco god
Er, sorry, that’s not what he says. Not yet, anyway.
Velis: Penelo… I’m glad to have met you.
Penelo: What’s going on?
Velis: If I hadn’t met you, I don’t know what would’ve happened to me.
After yet more dramatic tension and evasive non-answers, Velis starts exuding rainbow mist. Called it. Disco god!
Penelo shakes to her head and then sinks to one knee as Sir Ascended Redshirt fades away.
She’s not dancing now, title card people. You’re a mission or three late.
Back in camp, Penelo relays what we didn’t hear Velis say, in order to drag this out as long as possible:
Penelo: It doesn’t make any sense to me either. But he said he’s…dead.
Halle-flipping-lujah, they’ve finally stopped beating around the entirety of Busch Gardens.
Filo: That doesn’t make any sense.
Kytes: If he’s dead, how can he still be here?
Oh, come on. Have none of you been in a Final Fantasy game before?!
Vaan: This isn’t funny, Penelo. This isn’t the kind of thing you should joke about.
Penelo (spreading her hands): But he showed me! And…and I believe him.
Vaan has the Wakka Conundrum addling his brain, or he’d realize this is good news in the love triangle department. (The Wakka Conundrum: if one’s brother is dead-dead, but this guy can come back as a ghost, why can’t bro? Is this fair?)
The Wakka Solution: A river in Egypt.
Yes, I know, “unsent” happened in FFX, but shouldn’t Vaan remember that ghost child in Bhujerba? Or maybe he never clued in that he was talking to Casper.
The music stops with a weird buzz. Dead!Velis finally realizes he should get off his incorporeal butt and speak up for himself, instead of Penelo taking more guff on his behalf.
DJ, queue up some spooky and ominous. Velis uses the same glowy purple-white migraine halos as the Judge of Wings to induce a sepia-toned flashback to the last chapter.
Which is supposed to Explain Things, except this is a Squeenix game, so you know the drill.
Recall that scene in the fire cavern whose name I keep forgetting, when the JoW was performing a major summons or two. Mood furnished by the”White Room” theme of ghosts and dead people.
This part of the flashback is new. There’s a swirling pillar of light, and our friend Velis materializes in it.
Creepily, the Judge of Wings walks forward and kneels (?) before him, saying, “Velis. My dear Velis.” So maybe he forgot to mention one teeny tiny detail about his true love?
There’s a flash and they’re flung apart. It’s hard to see, but Velis makes friendly acquaintance with the floor.
Judge of Wings: What?!
In the flashback, JoW is pissed. She cranks up her whirlwind and flings him away with a pulse of light. “Why? Why…!?” appears on the screen with no speaker-tag, so I can’t tell which of them is angsting. The ball of light around Velis expands and flies off, soaring up over JoW’s shoulder and back to where we saw that mysterious glow the first time we played through this scene.
So that’s clear as mud, except we still don’t know whether Velis is a recently-deceased Dalmascan soldier or a god worshiped by the aegyl for several thousand years or possibly a disco god, and the Judge of Wings can’t tell either.
Back in the present, we’re in Esper Ominous Music mode again.
Clank-clank-clank signals an unwelcome guest. Poor villain doesn’t even merit her own theme music in this game.
The Judge of Wings: You wished to find me, did you not?
You certainly use viera phrasing, do you not?
Vaan: You meant to tell me that Velis was looking for her?
Judge of Wings: I know not. I set aside my name long ago.
Come on, babe, it’s been like 3-4 years since Nalbina fell. Not much time to build up a whole mythology.
Vaan: What were you doing in that cave?
Vaan: I’ve heard enough!
Hey, kid, you were the one asking questions. But I agree, enough is enough. This lady needs to pick an Evil Masterplan and stick to it. Is she looting and pillaging the sky islands when their defenses are down, collecting power from the auraliths, destroying Lemurés, conquering Ivalice, or resurrecting/sending a dead lover? These are all valid life choices, but sooner or later she’s gotta to choose a major.
Vaan dashes forward and takes a swing at her. She parries with a blinding flash and flings him away. I get Auron-Yunalesca flashbacks, but luckily Vaan is not bifurcated.
Judge of Wings: Your doubts will soon be ended.
I doubt it.
Vaan winds up facedown with his head practically in the campfire, which could be unfortunate were he not a PC who can survive firaga spells.
The Judge of Wings clanks towards them in ominous slow motion, or as ominous as these graphics can manage. Penelo retreats. Oh, come on, Penny; you’ve fought suped-up Judges before. (Still don’t know why this one’s calling herself a Judge, but I suppose there were some job openings after we killed all but one of them in the last game.)
When JOW brandishes her sword, everyone except Penelo runs away. Cue the Dramatic Entry from off in the woods to Penelo’s right:
Llyud stood his ground, and Vaan pulled his head out of the fire at some point during this conversation, so we have just enough characters for a battle but not enough to win.
She waves her sword, and the same flashing migraine lights that gave us such trouble surround Velis. He starts going all rainbow-mist disco god again, but I’m afraid that means he’s dissolving.
Sliding camera angles manage to hide his transformation behind a strategically-placed bush. Ta-da! As if his multiple identities weren’t confusing enough already, he’s turned into Final Fantasy’s classic badass summons, Odin.
Complete with six-legged horsie, making it a challenge to animate him rearing. (Poor Sleipnir, always missing at least two legs in the FF-verse.)
Judge of Wings: The Yahri are rent from the World of Illusion.
Uhhhhh.. “My boyfriend’s dead so I’m going to turn him into a Yahri puppet.” That makes sense.
The Judge stalks off as Odin and his horsie prance slowly toward Penelo.
Um. Penny? I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of this killer finishing move called “Zantetsuken”? Favored by a horned chap on a horse, brandishing a sword awfully like the one Velis is now holding?
Which… kind of sucks?
Vaan’s a little quicker on the uptake, although turning his back to a blade is something his brother would advise against.
Vaan: This creature— Velis is gone, Penelo.
But he looks fabulous in purple.
Oh, look, I think Sleipnir has horns too in this iteration. Or else he’s Rudolph the Red-Eared Devil Horse, which doesn’t scan very well.
Penelo lets out a Bigger Big No to emphasize this point.
Bleeping mog on a shish kabob, Penelo’s having a mini-crisis and won’t fight Velis. Honey, what about the Judge of Wings and the other things attacking us? No?
Which are all level II and up. And our Esper docket is docked, because of Penelo sitting this one out. Bite me.
At least these enemies are mostly vulnerable to fire. Belias and Vaan’s trusty flameblade, the legendary Balthiersass, are getting a good workout.
Penelo can’t, won’t, shan’t. GRRRrrrrrr.
Vaan: If Velis is really dead, then he doesn’t belong here.
Look, she hasn’t any summoner training. She doesn’t know how to send him back to the Farplane.
Penelo: Why? Why did this have to happen? I’m so tired of watching everyone around me be torn away…
Penelo, are you reading from the RPG cliché crib sheet again? Snap out of it.
She’s still doing it. This character development is doing her no favors, I must say.
Okay, okay, we’ll take care of…
….a crapton of flying jumbo shrimp? Ah, I remember when those used to cause us a world of pain.
Luckily, while we’re short on food and other basic supplies, our campsite comes equipped with a summoning gate. Belias, get your flaming butt over here.
This battle is a bit like the last, only tougher. If we hang back hoping to draw monsters to us, new random monsters keep spawning, but if we head towards a cluser of monsters to fight them, wolves come and chew on Penny while our back is turned. And not only will she not fight, she won’t even run.
Grrrrrrr. We get piddling XP. Rinse and repeat.
It was too frantic to screencap, but in this battle I finally mastered the trick of sending Filo out to lay traps (they go poof when walked across) and sending Kytes to provoke a group of monsters with Bio, then the kids retreat and and draw the monsters towards us across Filo’s caltrops.
I leave Llyud by Penelo with a bunch of fireball-tossing salamanders and his Invisibility spell to hide her, and give Belias to Kytes as a bodyguard for his neener-neener forays.
Towards the end, Vaan and Velis end up going at it hand to hand, with Velis bashing Vaan across the clearing every few seconds. It would probably look very dramatic with larger graphics.
The Judge of Wings is just kinda watching from the back. Towards the end of the battle, she starts offering unhelpful peanut gallery commentary.
Judge of Wings: Imperfect… incomplete…
Vaan: What’s that supposed to mean?!
Judge of Wings: May destruction rain upon this land. The power of the auraliths will soon be mine. And Ivalice awaits…
She’s trying to organize her To Do list; I’ll give her that. Still not entirely clear what her motives are. If she’s bereaved, shouldn’t she be raining destruction on Archades, the empire responsible for Velis’ death, and conquering Lemurés for kicks instead? These sky islands weren’t involved in that war at all.
JoW vanishes, leaving the rest of her monsters to gnaw on us. Velis is still up and knocking Vaan back with every hit. Look at Belias guarding Penelo from vicious green (!) wolves like a champ, even when they bite his kneecaps (at least, I hope it’s his kneecaps):
Finally, there’s a flash, Velis retreats, and his horse sinks to the ground. Penelo shakes herself out of her stupor as Vaan closes for the, er, kill.
Penelo: Please, Vaan! That’s Velis! I know it is!
Vaan: Penelo… we can’t leave him like this.
Send him, Yuna! Or, well… this also works…
Llyud darts forward to jab Velis and/or the horsie with his spear. I believe I named his weapon “Cattleprod,” but it still does the job.
Welp. Goodbye, Rainbow Mist Man. May you have a less confusing backstory in the next life. (What am I saying? Get on the Ring of Pacts job listing board, quick! And bring the horsie.)
Sorry, Penelo, but it was time to wrap up this subplot.
Oh, right, the other girl in the party hadn’t apologized yet.
Penelo asks Llyud why he done ‘im in.
Llyud: We lack the heart that makes you humes whole.
Penelo *shakes head*: But I don’t—
Llyud: I cannot even understand why you cry.
Okay, so far, the whole emotionless elf-Vulcan-angel schtick has made thematic sense, although he’s overdoing the trope. But then…
When he first met us, he really didn’t think much of us, and was a proud warrior defending his people and home from dishonorable outsiders. Now he’s decided we’re the nice people, and he’s… Heartless? This had better not turn into Kingdom Hearts. But seriously, this is like Spock— no Tuvok— hanging with humans for a while, and then deciding he deserves to die because he lacks human emotions. I don’t get it. Neither does Penelo.
Penelo: Llyud, no…
And with that, the scene fades out. Mission Complete. Although the nission’s name was Dance, so we’ve got a bit more to do first.
Tomaj: Whilst the others had their fun under the moon and stars, yours truly was up all night fixing the airship. Thanks to me, we can say good-bye to this island forever. Sometimes I wonder if they appreciate all I go through.
Nope. Not particularly.
Next morning, Llyud asks Penelo a favor.
She doesn’t really seem in the mood (and we’ve still got the Sad Sad strings of Saditude).
Llyud: When you danced for Velis, you touched something deep in his heart. I thought, perhaps, if you danced for me, I might—
Penelo agrees, because she’s still a soft touch. SO it’s FMV time with actual new theme music for this game. Good stuff.
Splitscreen does odd things to the closeups, but she’s crying. I think Lluyd asked her to do something she needed, proving that he understand emotions better than he thinks he does.
After it’s over, Llyud chuckles, then apologizes for laughing.
Vaan tells him it’s okay, and then has an attack of Thinky Thoughts. Which for Vaan are all over the place.
Well, come to think of it, Lemurés means “ghosts.”
Vaan: Think about it. It’s not just the aegyl but even the sky pirates that have come here, too. If it weren’t for Rikken, who knows what would’ve happened to them by now.
Not quite sure how “paying Rikken a gazillion gil to collect auracite” was supposed to teach sky pirates to stay in touch with their inner feelings.
Penelo: But what could make something like that happen?
Vaan: I don’t know. I can’t explain it. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
No, in a universe where flan is a monster and not a dessert, most things are possible, but I’m still not buying Vaan’s argument. Because if this place makes you not care or feel, then what was Vaan doing for the rest of this chapter?
(Your moment of not-Zen.)
Vaan: Maybe we’ll find something important on this journey.
Vaan: Or maybe we’ll lose it forever.
Way to be an optimist, Vaan. Also, put away the crib sheet of RPG clichés and let’s get going.
The kids yell at him to buck up.
Incidentally, there’s 3 letters written on the ground near the fire that have been puzzling me for a while, but I can’t find a clear copy of the Ivalician alphabet anywhere to figure it out. FWIW, they are covered by a summoning gate whenever we get pulled into battle here.
The conversation dwindles off into Platitude Ping Pong, but eventually Lluyd demonstrates Character Development with two succinct words:
Progress! Early on, Filo kept grousing because he never said thanks. It’s probably even more significant in Japanese, since Japan’s culture is somewhat more keyed into courtesies than most western cultures.
Tomaj interrupts this group therapy session to tell them the airship’s working.
Oh frabjous day. I understand we needed a little bonding time to get to know these characters, but I WANT MY FRAN AND BALTHIER BACK, dammit.
Chapter 5 complete. Everyone runs off.
Aww. Kytes runs back to put out the fire with a Blizzaga spell! I approve of good fire safety and practical applications of magic.
Fran Stands Around Being Awesome Sidequests Before Saving the World.