Last time on Let’s Play Revenant Wings, Clan Vaanity continued the hallowed Final Fantasy tradition of letting the villain smash the vitally important thing we were supposed to protect. Oh, and Balthier supposedly died next to a Fran-shaped pile of pixels.
Unfortunately, after an End of Act One climax, there is often a lull. So I’m afraid this installment has only a brief segment of plot before Tomaj hijacks the story for airship remodeling and sidequests. I’ll warn you when we get there, in case you want to skip ahead.
The Music of Comic Relief strikes up to take our minds off our recent failure. Remember how I said Ba’Gamnan slipped away at the end of the last battle? My bad. He falls in behind the party as we exit Fane #2 with our tails between our legs. Yes, I know, he’s the one with the tail.
Outside, we are accosted by Ba’Gamnan’s bangin’ bangaa gang (Say that five times fast: the sobriety test for Ivalician speed traps).
Wait. Why are they here? Last time we met, they were keen to break up with their old boss. Do they miss him? Have they come to free him from our dastardly clutches, like Balthier swooping in to rescue Penelo from theirs?
Ba’Gamnan body slams poor Llyud aside and galumphs forward to greet them, ears flapping like Jar Jar Binks. Eugh. That’s one FFXII/Star Wars parallel I wish I hadn’t thought of.
It turns out I have misread the bangaa brothers’ intentions:
Yes, Bwagi and his fake Scottish brogue have traveled across the length and breadth of Ivalice to mock their old boss, not to free him. That’s dedication for you! And the insults keep flying:
Bwagi: Addled of wit from playing at pirates with the wee ones, aye.
Rinok: We’re done followin’ you, my brother. No more will we come running at your beck and call.
Gijuk: In a word: you’re fired!
Ba’Gamnan vows to teach these “ungrateful louts” some respect. In response, Bwagi summons some Bombs and assorted Espers to fight us.
Kytes and Filo are stunned to find that minor named NPCs can now perform Esper summonings the way descendants of the Dynast-King could in the last game.
Then again, “Espers” in this game basically means ordinary monsters from the last one, for Final Fantasy definitions of ordinary.
Bwagi & co are adamant that they’re not taking orders from anyone! Vaan, dear little blockhead that he is, somehow decides that means they’re working for the Judge of Wings. So Claan Vaanity must join in the Bangaa pissing contest for… reasons.
Battle prep time.
For all that I hate to replace my bunnies and their Carrots of Healing, it’s time to upgrade to a level II healer, Carbuncle. Unfortunately that leaves me struggling to juggle the enemy’s elemental weaknesses vs. ours.
Clan Vaanity Assemble!
I spend a minute watching Ba’Gamnan spinning around in an ear-flapping pirouette until I hit ‘X’.
Oh, phew! There’s a mini-tutorial telling us we can now boost our Espers’ levels. . Maybe my level I critters won’t get eaten quite so fast.
Ba’Gamnan’s brothers obligingly scatter into small clusters across the field, so in theory we should be able to divide ‘n conquer. Maddeningly, every time I approach one group for a pincer attack, their leader interrupts my queued actions by launching a snide zinger at Ba’Gamnan:
Sexist stereotypes among bangaa? Or is he just mocking the muzzle? Either way, it’s one more indignity heaped on Ba’Gamnan. I almost feel sorry for him.
Oh noes! My greed got the better of me. I can’t abide reaching the “Mission Complete” screen before I’ve opened/scavenged all the treasures. That… will not be a problem on this occasion. The battle went to hell in a folding canoe when those BLEEPING CENTAUR ARCHERS surrounded and slaughtered us.
Ba’Gamnan was the last one standing, lashing out in a frenzy with what could have been a spectacular victory had he survived.
Well, that was embarrassing. Ba’Gamnan’s no-good siblings have defeated Clan Vaanity, and now there’s nothing to stop the Judge of Wings from conquering the sky!
Balthier would have all kinds of thing to say about the sorry state of sky pirate youth today, had he seen that debacle.
I guess making Kytes sit out and doubling my air force wasn’t such a good idea. That battle prep screen is@%!# misleading. “I said I’d have five kinds of ground forces including their leaders, but in fact I’ve only got one of each of those and ten jillion archers to shoot your fliers from the sky!”
Our second attempt goes better, although I don’t think we nabbed all the treasure. I’m such a greedy sky pirate.
During one confrontation, a Bangaa blurts out a clue for the Path of Plot Advancement:
Vaan thanks him graciously for the tip.
Bwagi shells out one last taunt after we’ve crushed him and his fellows:
Wee sprats? It has a certain ring to it.
Vaan was cornered by those bleeping centaurs and fell under a hail of arrows before Penelo could come to his aid, but she shepherds the remainder of the party to victory.
Let’s hear it for the wee sprats.
Afterwards, Kytes has an existential crisis and needs some Penelo-hugs. He’s always worried about something. Right now, the Judge of Wings has him spooked.
Oh, my sweet summer child, do you really think Balthier is dead?
Vaan hastens to set him straight.
Kytes returns doggedly to the plot, just in case we’ve forgotten what’s going on
in the last ten minutes since we last played the game six months ago. What if the Judge of Wings gets what she wants? Taking the auraliths, conquering Ivalice and so on?
Vaan pulls out his crib sheet of RPG clichés and assures him that we’ll just have to stop her, never mind our recent spectacular failure.
Filo whips the sheet out of Vaan’s hands and teases Kytes: “You’re not scared, are you?”
Predictable dialog is almost worth it for Kytes’ adorb frowny face.
Penelo gently prizes the sheet from Filo and tells them to “Cut it out, you two. We have bigger problems to worry about.”
Like some glaring plot inconsistencies. Namely:
Penelo: Llyud, I was wondering. Right now only one of the auraliths is gone, so the barrier’s still there, right?
Lluyd: I cannot say. It’s reasonable to assume it was put in place for some purpose. *looks at sky* If what the barrier is holding at bay were to break free, no good would come of it.
I have to go back and check the game script, because this brief exchange doesn’t quite tally with what I remember.
Question #1: Is the barrier up, down, or weakening?
Both Vaan and Kytes have mentioned the barrier being down, but they could be wrong. However:
- Llyud, right after we met him: A mighty barrier once girded our lands. Behind this barrier we aegyl had dwelt here in peace for any thousands of years. But no longer.
- Llyud, when we see the machinery set up around the auralith: Look what they’ve done to the crystal. Small wonder the barrier has fallen.
Question #2: What broke the barrier?
- Llyud, right after we met him: Not long ago, there came a great rush of Mist from the world below. [Vaan and Penelo think this came the Sun Cryst.] This Mist breached the barrier.
- Togi, Treasure Hunter: The Judge of Wings broke the barrier protecting Lemúres, and now she plans to invade Ivalice.
- Filo, on way to defend auralith: The Judge of Wings is using sky pirates to steal auraliths to bring down the barrier…
- Llyud, in the auralith scene: Look what they’ve done to the crystal. Small wonder the barrier has fallen. What manner of device is this?
Question #3: What does the barrier do?
- Lluyd, when we first met him: A mighty barrier once girded our lands. Behind this barrier we aegyl dwelt in peace for many thousands of years.
- Llyud, same convo: The Mist breached the barrier. Our isolation was lost. [In response to their questions about why sky pirates are attacking Lemúres now, not earlier.]
- Llyud, on airship: When He [the Eternal] created Lemúres, He used the three auraliths to create a barrier to protect us.
- Llyud, just now: The barrier is a cage holding some malignant force at bay, and it’ll be bad news for everyone if it breaks out.
I can just about jam all these mildly-inconsistent statements into a coherent picture if I work at it, but it’s like trying to zip shut an overstuffed suitcase.
Oops! Sorry, while I was babbling, Penelo was still thumbing through the handbook of hoary RPG clichés:
Penelo: But things like this, they give you a chance to look inside yourself. And that’s where you find hope.
You know, I really do enjoy this game, with its old-school innocence and a party that is basically a couple Teenaged Prodigy Video Game Heroes taking their kid siblings on a road trip with love and encouragement. It’s cute.
But sometimes I am forcibly struck by the fact that its dialog and plot are trite, thin, and conventional compared to FFXII, which for all its flaws was a complex story with moral ambiguities a lot of subtext in character interactions. Revenant Wings has the same quaint charm as FFI-V and Dimensions. It just doesn’t fit as a sequel to FFXII. It’s like following up an epic-mythic tragedy with J-Pop Charley’s Angels playing Barbie dress-up. Oh wait.
Where was I? Ah, yes. Penelo reiterates that she, too, believes Balthier is alive (WHAT. ABOUT. FRAN?!)
And then, snatching the cliché cribsheet back from whoever was holding it last, Vaan fulfills his role as inspiring party leader, speechifying to the uplifting strains of Revenant Wing’s second main theme:
(Psssst. Every single Final Fantasy game, Vaan.)
Because of course it’s to us. Surely Queen Ashelia, Larsa, and all the powerful friends and allies we met across the length and breadth of Ivalice, not to mention the not-remotely-dead Balthier and Fran, couldn’t handle this dire situation as capably as two 19-year-olds, two children, a bangaa serving under protest and an inexperienced aegyl youth.
So we’re not going to go back to Ivalice and warn anybody of this danger. Nope nope. Next stop, the Skysea, to find the Judge of Wings whom we completely failed to dent in the previous scene.
And that’s the end of Chapter 3.
However, there’s an airship interlude before chapter 4.
Turns out, Tomaj has been rather busy. Or rather, Tomaj has once again manipulated other people, mostly the aegyl refugees we took aboard, into doing things for him. They’ve transformed the bulk of the previously-spooky airship into a “Sky Saloon,” complete with one of those glass floors that were the highlight of FFXII airships.
The soundtrack changes to the streets of Rabanastre theme to make everyone feel at home.
Kytes: It’s like a bazaar right here on the airship!
W00t. Shops on an airship. We haven’t had that since… FFVI?
I still think the airship map looks like a very interesting pinball board:
Tomaj shows off the four shops he’s opened: a cafe, a raw materials shop, a forge (itemcrafting, at last!) and a straightforward weapons/armor/accessories shop.
Tomaj is actually Rin.
Penelo says he shouldn’t have all the fun, so she and Llyud will run some of the shops. Llyud just nods; he’s learned it’s safer not to argue.
Of course, now that Vaan has said we’ve got to save the world, I find further ways to waste time by bugging everybody onboard.
There’s some anxious aegyl standing around, uneasy at accepting our hospitality and leaving their homes to live aboard an airship, but they have a knack for saying as little as possible. In fact, when I go to Llyud’s shop and choose the “just want to talk” option, Lluyd says, “What is there to talk about? There. Now we have talked.”
He’s got Spock’s sense of comedic timing, I bet.
Continuing our nods to old school Final Fantasy, there’s a
Sahagin Namingway who will let us change the airship (and clan’s) name whenever we want.
I’ll leave you to guess what name I chose next!
Vaan also tries to talk to Tomaj about his Big Plans. “How come you charge us for all this?” Tomaj weasels that he’ll use the money to buy better weapons to sell them down the road.
Using unpaid labor, of course:
Vaan: I doubt Llyud does, but Penelo may be a different story.
Tomaj says that in that case, he’ll have to reconsider (i.e. raise) his prices. Git.
Penelo’s opened a cafe, which leads to a long extended gag about her culinary skills. Filo is griping that Penelo’s soup is making her sick:
Kytes and Vaan joke about Penelo’s cooking right in front of her, too. Har dee har. She calls them out for being rude, then basically confirms it:
It’s trope subversion, see? She is a Woman Who Cooks, but yet she is a Woman Who Cooks Badly. I’m so glad this game is finally getting around to some characterization.
Can we get back to saving the world now, please?
Wait, no, sorry, they’ve finally opened a forge. I’ve got to unload all my Rat Pelts and Mythril Shards and Insect Husks and craft me some items! I certainly don’t want to buy anything from Tomaj, after all.
So I rush back to the bridge to add our latest recipe book to the ship’s logs (which was probably totally unnecessary, whoops). Somehow everyone from the sky saloon reaches the bridge ahead of Vaan. Including Tomaj. Drat.
Nope. Not in the slightest.
Heh. Vaan is as fed up as I am.
Vaan: So say it.
Tomaj: About this skysea… Apparently, hordes of sky pirates are descending on it as we speak, no doubt in search of the auralith. Meaning we’ll be fighting every step of the way. Sure this is where you want to go?
What’s this “we”? You’re just gonna hide on the ship.
Vaan: It’s our best shot at finding the Judge of Wings. This is the chance we’ve been waiting for.
Just how long have we been waiting, Vaan? Didn’t we meet her for the first time about half an hour ago and blow our chance?
— oh, nevermind, I’ve been reading too much videogamerecaps, and I’m picking up their small-minded habit of nitpicking everything. Sorry about that.
So. EXPLORE ALL THE THINGS!
Most of the airship’s log is just small talk between PCs. Tomaj has several entries burbling about his shops, and how he’s even taken in a “stray yahri,” and may find a place for “it” in his plans. I am pleased to see that she wrote a rebuttal:
But then she makes me tear my hair out a few entries later. Tomaj whinges that nobody appreciates all he’s done, and Cu Sith adds, “I appreciate you, Master Tomaj!”
I so want to hire her to craft a cork for his mouth.
Kytes is still fretting about the Judge of Wings, bless him. Everyone is ignoring his real question— how are we going to beat her? — and instead focusing on Balthier.
Vaan’s getting his money’s worth out of that handbook:
WHAT. ABOUT. FRAN!?!!!
(I tried to have Namingway change the clan name to Where’s Fran, but I keep running into that dratted 9-character limit.)
Oh, here’s a minor exposition nugget. Lluyd confirms my guess:
I still wanna know if she was holding Balthier’s Stone, which I thought he’d shot in the flashback, or if there’s other such stones lying about.
Vaan asks if we could restore an auralith if we could reverse the process. Now that is a good question; five points for Gryffindor. As usual, Llyud can’t say.
Filo, being a good little pirate and rummaging through every nook and cranny of the airship, finds an amazing artifact:
Now that takes us back: the folding canoe first appeared in Final Fantasy I!
Enough chitchat. Let’s hurry up and get Cu Smith to forge something for us!
Tomaj butts in to be annoying, introducing us to “Cu Sith.”
He doesn’t let her get a word in edgewise, so we never find out her actual name.
During the itemcrafting process, she asks 3 questions about the person she’s crafting each item for, tailoring unique bonuses based on Vaan’s answers:
Then she moves to a nearby magic circle and waves her wand (?), tossing sparkles about until she delivers the custom weapon. Which she asks us to name.
I am afraid that I should not be allowed to name custom weapons. Kytes is now the proud owner of the legendary “Zappy Stick.” Penelo also gets a fancy-schmancy cleric’s staff named “Fran’s Word,” because I miss her words, dammit.
Two new places have opened up on the map. Back on the island where we are now, Tormelados…
Sounds like we can go there if we want a repeat of the “beating up aegyls to steal their stuff” debacle which distressed me earlier.
The next destination on the Path of Plot Advancement is Port Marilith, sharing a name with one of the Four Fiends back in FFI. However, one always has to complete sidequests before the end of a chapter, so maybe I’ll do that now and get them out of the way. I won’t be miffed if you skip to the next entry. (Although you’ll miss out on some creative weapon names).
Tomaj’s Notice Board has the following new sidequest missions for us:
Sidequest #1: Baubles and Banditry
A band of ill-favored sky pirates is forcing the aegyl to do their dirty work… not at all like Tomaj exploiting the aegyl to build the sky saloon and making Llyud work without pay, right?
Uh oh. Kisne Rise was where we fought our greatest battle, climbing our way up the gauntlet of death between needle-spraying cactoids and that vicious viera archer. That was scary. Are we gonna have to do that again?
Sure enough, there’s another ill-tempered viera. Speaking of comedowns from FFXII, what happened to the viera?!
Vaan: Hold it right there!
Penelo gets a word in edgewise.
Altea: What of it? A wise leader uses what resources are at hand. There is no shortage of aegyl here. Why not put them to some use? Or… is that a problem?
La la la YES it is a problem TOMAJ grumble grumble feh. The Black Pot and Kettle brigade demands satisfaction!
Their viera carries a sword, just for a change. Hume healer. The moogles — black mage, time mage, gunner — are all weak to fire. Most of their Espers— cactoid, golem (one of those tree-ent things), and Cu Sith— are also weak to fire. They’re all melee and ranged. How nice of them to be so flammable. I bring in a whole army of fire elememtals, mwah:
This is one of those “Soul Crystal” missions, essentially capture the flag, except that the Soul Crystal also resurrects PCs/Leaders after a certain amount of time.
Clan “Wee Sprats” Assemble!
It’s a fierce uphill mages’ battle, taking gates as we go, lobbing fireballs. I’m getting better at seizing panic-free moments to multitask. It takes time to open menus and pop off a strategic Bio or Hastega, or to move the camera away from melee to the nearest gate in order to Summon or Fortify (level boost) Espers.
There’s a dramatic melee at the end, with some of the Wee Sprats fighting furiously to contain the enemy mages and their summons pouring from a gate, while Filo (KO’d with honor) and Ba’Gamnan peck away at the enemy Soul Crystal until it shatters. Victory!
As soon as we’ve filled our backpacks with loot and treasure, now augmented by a Goblin’s Pouch which boosts treasure drops, the Irony Fairy drops us into a cutscene with a “treasure hunting is bad” lecture, delivered by our most treasure-hungry party member:
Ba’Gamnan with his slave muzzle is conspicuously absent from this discussion.
Llyud calls us on it.
Vaan: It’s more than just the treasure. It’s the thrill of exploring new places, the adventure!
Llyud: I don’t quite understand.
Vaan: Just give it some time. You’ll catch on before you know it!
The children hop up and down excitedly, while Penelo puts her hands on her hips. Llyud is probably nursing a migraine from the values dissonance.
Sidequest #2: Easier Said Than Done
For all my concerns that we keep looting just like the foes we’re pledged to thwart, this sidequest tries to salve my conscience by saying the aegyl gave us permission:
Kytes gets to play sky pirate. He’s a happy boy.
Filo: Sky pirates looking for adventure!
He speaks from experience, too; this is where those invisible viera kept trouncing him.
This is a straightforward treasure hunt: scavenge all the treasures and stay alive. I enlist some Tonberries (level II, melee, non-elemental) for the novelty of having them carve up somebody else for a change. Alas, the Tonberries in this game aren’t very formidable.
This battle was wild, with powerful minotaur troop formations dashing all over the place to give us a beating. The chief highlight was that I finally figured out how to use Llyud’s “Revive” spell, sacrificing some of his HP to cast Life on a KO’d PC. Anything complicated that involves menus and looking away from the current battle screen (you have to find and click on the corpse) makes me flustered; I lose track of what’s happening in the field.
Sidequest #3: Harmony in Discord
More pest control, clearing out the auralith shrine whose interior we barely saw earlier.
Kytes and Filo ask about the elephant in the room that haunts nearly every RPG: where did all these monsters come from?
Vaan, ever the helpful mentor, demonstrates the proper way to hang a lampshade.
Nearly all these critters have water or ice magic (save our ol’ buddy green flan, who’s earth), and they’re weak to either fire or lightning. Sooner or later, my level II fire brigade is going to be out of its depth, but in the meantime… zorch!
Flan cleanup on aisle nine.
We’re continuing to collect rich stores of treasure from these sidequests.
Fooey, there’s a duplicate of that Goblin Pouch I bought from Tomaj, which increases our chances of treasure and loot:
Afterwards, Filo continues to wonder how there can be so many monsters here, when there’s no one summoning them. Llyud takes over lampshade duties. He says that the auraliths govern the laws of nature…
Which explains why there’s monsters all over Ivalice, except within city limits. Clearly the underworld needs its own auraliths. Let’s steal ’em! Er, wait.
Penny gingerly engages in a little self-critique:
Vaan — and Filo, who’s warmed up to the guy! — proclaim themselves glad to have met Llyud. He looks from one to the other of them in consternation.
Vaan: If it weren’t for you, Lluyd, we’d never have known anything about this place. But I guess you’d be happier if none of us sky pirates came here at all, huh?
THANK YOU FOR SAYING IT SO I DIDN’T HAVE TO.
Llyud: I wouldn’t say that.
The kids all raise their hands in tiny pixellated fist pumps. Oh, Llyud. You are too patient with these sprats.
Oh, hey, guess I’d better do something with all that loot we collected from that last battle and customize a board for Filo.
Next up, that Shadow of Paharo that opened on the map a short time ago.
Sidequest #4: The Trodden Past
We’ve got to stop evil sky pirates from looting an archaeological site! That’s our plunder they’re pilfering. Let’s go.
Spoken like a true sky pirate.
Wait… Paula? You’ve got to be from Archades. I salute you for breaking free of the stultifying environment of Tsenoble, but could you please find some other way to rebel? Balthier could give you a few pointers.
Filo continues to condemn treasure hunting by anyone but us:
Paula, once again clearly Archadian: Pearls before swine. Such relics are wasted in the hands of those barbarians.
Battle prep time! I’m still trying to conserve auracite for plot-battles, so I can’t enlist the level II Lightning Epsers I’ve needed so desperately lately. That’s okay; Vaan and Llyud have lightning-based weapons.
Whoops, forgot to change the header. We’re currently Clan Wee Sprats!
It’s another fierce battle, and I trip over Game Over once before winning it. I think I missed a few treasures, but this time I’m just trying to survive. Afterwards…
Llyud concedes that Kytes & co are not like the rest of the jerkasses plundering his people’s lands.
Before he can muster more than a “…” Vaan has decided to take him to Ivalice to meet more people like Clan Vaanity. Poor Llyud should’ve kept his mouth shut.
Once we get back to the Sky Saloon with all this extra loot we’ve picked up, we have Cu Sith craft a fancy Trident for him named the Splooshslayer.
And while I’m at it, we craft a special Flametongue Sword for Vaan that’s either named Balthier Sass or Balthier’s Ass— the runes on the blade make it difficult to tell which.
Yes, Balthier’s tongue cuts swaths of flame. Take that as you will.
And I can’t pass up the chance to use my favorite FFXII joke on something:
And that’s it for this Friendship Is Magic, And It’s Okay To Plunder and Exploit The People You’re Saving! edition of Sky Pirate Sidequests. Next time, we’ll find a new way to suck! There’s still two more auraliths to fail to save, after all.
I can’t wait.