FFXII: Revenant Wings (5) Ch. 3 Sidequests – A Study in Sky Pirate Morality

Last time, Clan Vaanity backed up their claims to be “good” sky pirates with an act of selfless heroism, taking oodles of arrows and cactus spines to protect four whole aegyls from evil sky pirates. Even Ba’Gamnan took some for the team, thanks to Tomaj’s enslavement gadget whose ethics are deeply  problema— la la la I can’t hear you I have a continent of hapless natives to save!

Llyud says we need to hurry into the Fane of Something Vaguely Egyptian-Sounding to stop more sky pirates from desecrating the auralith (bigass magical crystal) at the heart of sky island #2. However, Tomaj’s notice board has been bleeping at us about sidequests that opened up back on sky island #1.

Tomaj's notice board. Mission one says: Bug Hunt. Bugs. Lots of Bugs. They're crawling all over the Bosco Pampa on the Windward Isles. Antlions, by the look of them. Get down there and squash them, Vaan. It's the only way to be sure.

Should we hurry on to the Path of Plot Advancement? Or indulge in Sidequests Before Saving the World? Well, a little bird told me that Revenant Wings sidequests often evaporate before the next chapter. And the current chapter has the ominous name of “What Goes Up…” Look. I wasn’t born yesterday. I recognize an RPG Point of No Return when I see it.

Therefore, I’m going back to Zephyr Island one more time to perform pest control and treasure mop-up duty. I’m sure the evil sky pirates will play cribbage or something until we return.

First off, there’s a bug hunt mission prosaically called “Bug Hunt.”

(Mission title screen) Bug Hunt: The Bosco Pampa

Kytes: Get a load of that!

Yes, Kytes, believe it or not, there are lots of bugs. Sometimes I think these characters don’t bother to read title screens at all.

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FFXII: Revenant Wings (4) Chapter 3 – Flappers in Distress

The Golden Vaanity bobs gently above Zephyr, the Windward Isles, aka that very first dungeon which will later be tinged with a sense of homelike nostalgia because you can squish all the starter monsters there like bubble wrap:

[World Map]

We sail away, flush with the sweet taste of victory and the knowledge that we thoroughly cased the joint whumped some baddies who thought it would be fun to use inept angels for target practice.

Where to next, Llyud? I keep wanting to call you Lloyd.

*finds official render of Llyud*

Official 3D Render of Llyud

I’d quote George Takei’s favorite quote, but he’s a little young. Ahem.

He says we need to trot ourselves over to the next island to defend a giant crystal that the Judge of Wings wants to swipe.

I’m sure this quest will in no way resemble the “We Suck” segments of Final Fantasy III, IV, and V, wherein we totally failed to prevent the villains from stealing and/or smashing the Crystals of Light.

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FXII Revenant Wings (3) Chap. 2 Cont’d – Scurvy Pirates

Last time, our youthful band of sky pirates cut their teeth on their first adventure by flying to mysterious islands in the sky and rescuing a tight-lipped winged chap named Llyud from some not-so-friendly sky pirates.

Revenant Wings has a simple, clever feature I wish every game had, for those of us who come back to a game six months later and…

Gandalf: I have no memory of this place.

An orange flag marks the Path of Plot Advancement on the map, and each new destination has a Mission Synopsis telling us what’s just happened and what we’re supposed to do next.

Auracite and the Yarhi: Clan Vaanity springs to action to rescue the aegyl Llyud. But they're in for a fight— the sky pirates invading Lemures have arrived in force.

In we go, climbing up to the Fane of Gucuma Qul via a rope ladder, probably left by the “bad” sky pirates.

I like the little helipad for winged visitors. Which raises the question: why do aegyl buildings have steps? And for that matter, why does Lyud walk everywhere outside of battle? His pink friend flew away, during the brief time we saw her.

Mission 2-2: Auracite and the Yarhi / Fane of Gucuma Qul

Etymology break: Confusingly, “aurum” is Latin for gold, whereas Greek “αὔρα” is “breeze, moving air, spirit.” Probably “breeze” in this case. Also, fanum is Latin for temple (fane). No clue about Gucuma Qul.

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FFXII Revenant Wings (2) – Chapter 2 – Flap, Flap

So, this week, I’m back from a convention and have 5000 more words of a novella draft to write, and…

Dog from Up movie saying "Squirrel!"

Revenant Wings is proving to be surprisingly distracting for such a lightweight game. Apparently I was in the mood for mental popcorn.

An exultant FMV makes us feel like we’ve achieved something despite the blasphemy of not having a world map. (Just kidding; I played far too many early games without world maps to care.)

I should stop yik yakking and sit back to enjoy the most uplifting, pretty FMV that a teeny tiny DS screen can manage. In 2x magnification, but still.

Woo hoo! Wave at Bhujerba (?) as we fly by!

Airship flying past Bhujerba

No idea what we’re flying into here… Mist? Balthier’s aftershave? Exploded sparkly vampires?

Flying in golden sparklies

I love the refreshing Phon Coast theme; I can almost hear that blue jay sound effect that someone must’ve imagined sounded like a seagull.

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FFXII Revenant Wings (1) – Prologue & Chapter One

I never thought I’d get a chance to play Revenant Wings, but by golly there’s a nice open source emulator, DeSmuME, which works like a charm. (So far.) Thanks to FinalFantasyThings on Tumblr for alerting me to its existence!

So let’s jump aboard the Ivalice train, now with more Chibi.

An opening FMV picks up where FFXII left off. There’s a sweet rendition of the Final Fantasy main theme to get us in the mood:

Scrappy kids Penelo and Vaan have taken off in their glorified pod racer in pursuit of their sky pirate mentors Balthier and Fran, after they reclaimed the airship they’d left in the kids’ care.

And I warn you right now, Vaan and Penny are easily young enough to be my children, so I’m going to be Gamer Mom through this whole playthrough, cheering them on and encouraging their fridge art endeavors.

The vertical split-screen would originally have been displayed on two screens of a tiny clamshell display. I’m going to upscale the itsy bitsy 256-pixel-wide screenshots to 400 pixels for those of us with granny eyes.

Penelo and Vaan

Cutesy chibi graphics would have irritated me once upon a time, but I’ve graduated from world-weary cynic to second childhood, and I’m absolutely in the mood for something heartwarming instead of yet another grimdark dystopia.

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FFX Recap Part III: Al Bhed Tech Support

Tidus vs. Klikk

(Stuck with lousy PS2 emulator screencaps, as usual, even though I’m playing on PS3. Grumble.)

In our last recap, city slicker Tidus discovered what it’s like to be utterly alone (apart from giant fish monsters, ghosts in trippy flashbacks and the odd judgmental seagull).  I ended the post with Tidus staggering about with 6HP in a boss fight, thanks to some idiot who forgot to save.

Keep in mind that apart from a quick nap, Tidus has just lived through a full day ending with a blitzball tournament, his entire city and all his friends being exterminated, his first taste of combat, getting sucked into Sin’s sphincter for a traumatizing encounter with Dad, a couple of boss battles and a fetch quest in a cold, wet, dark ruined temple. I’m always impressed by how Final Fantasy characters seem to careen from one life-threatening crisis to the next on next to no sleep.

Also, he missed out on two dinner dates, so he’s hungry enough to eat a sahagin.

Later. Now it’s time for him to gulp a Potion and meet the grease monkeys of Spira.

[SPOILER WARNING: This walkthrough has spoilers.]

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FFX Recap II: Into Spira

"My old Man" says Tidus

Sharing headspace with Dad: Tidus’ worst nightmare.

In our last recap, Tidus saw Zanarkand destroyed by photon torpedos, bugs and tentacle monsters. Then a madman in a red coat led him to the source of all that devastation and threw him into it. 

Next stop, a cracktastic dream sequence. Because Sin’s toxin. Because pyreflies. Because IT’S FINAL FANTASY. Of course there’s a trippy dream sequence. This scene made so little sense the first time I played FFX that I had blotted it out by the time the party reached the same location (ominously named “Dream’s End”) later on. [Warning: this playthrough has massive spoilers.]

“Hey!” says a man’s voice. “Hey!”

Great. Even his own father won’t call Tidus by name.

“My… old man?” Tidus says.

Yep, the man who disappeared ten years ago is waiting for him in a vision of  Zanarkand. Local landmarks include a brightly-lit but lifeless cityscape that stretches on forever, part of the deck of Tidus’ houseboat, an exploded stadium courtesy of M.C. Escher, and a flaming Abes symbol as large as Jecht’s ego. Also? Tidus is swimming in mid-air, while Dad is parked on solid ground. It’s cute how these games have to really really break the laws of physics to distinguish dream from “reality.” Otherwise, you’d think it was just standard anime physics.

If this is a dream, then whose?

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FFX Recap I: Zanarkand, Dead or Alive

Final Fantasy X Opening

(ganked from FFWikia)

Into Spira one more time, with feeling. The remaster’s title screen now features “A Fleeting Dream,” putting us right in the groove. Whatever one may say about Tetsyua Nomura’s belt fixation or Motomu Toriyama’s disturbing tendencies, composer Nobuo Uematsu is indelibly awesome. The remaster has done only a light touch-up on this piece. For the most part, I approve of the remastered tracks.

Bootscreen of FFX HD

My Sir Auron figure is back to babysitting the kids again. Poor guy can’t catch a break.

Expert Sphere Grid, here I come. With most of FFX memorized, I’m excited for anything new. (I’ve never played FFX International).

Savvy FFX players know to start the game before watching the oddly subdued opening sequence, since it repeats with NewGame. My gaming-buddy Mintywolf notes that slow pacing in the prologue is a common feature in Japanese cinematography, in contrast to boom-pow-hook-the-audience-now Hollywood.

So. In a barren, blasted wasteland that I initially took for the remains of a bombed-out city, our heroes sit around a pathetic little campfire looking more bedraggled than heroic.

Yuna in prologue

She’s the one with the ginormous sword in this story, right?

The Heterosexual Leading Pair are introduced right off the bat with a shared look, a lean-in, and a gentle touch that shows genuine affection without being in our face about it. I still love the original faces, particularly Yuna’s, which is a little earthier and less dainty than her HD model.

The intro scene gave the game designers a chance to show off their new (now old) facial expression rendering software, but there’s more to this scene than “yo, look at our amazing PS2 PS3 PS4 graphics, baby!” Final Fantasy likes to fling players in media res. Just to shake things up, FFX tosses us in termina res, right near the end unless you count a bazillion sidequests.

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Let’s Play Final Fantasy X: Intro

Final Fantasy X HD Splash ScreenWoo hoo! My goal of playing all the Final Fantasy games before FFX HD was released has failed spectacularly! I had the game on preorder and started a half-arsed Let’s Play FFX  on Tumblr, but what I really want to do is post a tidied-up “director’s cut” here. Because, while it’s not my first Final Fantasy, FFX remains my favorite.

Yep, I’m the lunatic who transcribed the entire game script because there’s so much that Yuna’s party never sees.

Do you love Blitzball Kid? Do you want to know why that paparazzi in the blue sweater kept photographing Yuna? Are you curious what Kinoc and Seymour were really up to behind the scenes? Curious what the inscriptions on temple walls and Al Bhed shop signs mean? You’ve come to the right place. Please allow me to channel my inner Maechen for you.

Alas, one thing I can’t do is screengrab my PS3, so I’m gonna have to emulate FFX original for my own screencaps. For full HD beauty shots, check out Dansg08’s superb commentary/video PS3 walkthrough or DavetheUsher’s PS4 Playthrough. You’ve probably played the HD version anyway, so there’s no need for me to remind you how pretty it is.

Besides, while the remaster has given the backdrops of Spira a glorious makeover, some of the characters have suffered from their plastic surgery (poor Wakka). FFX just isn’t the same without duckface Tidus, is it?

Tidus looking like a doge

Thought not.

P.S. If you spoil the audio epilogue, I will borrow Paine’s sword and disembowel you. I’ve had most of it spoiled, and from what I’ve heard I’m not going to like it, but allow me to entertain the delusion that I still have something new to look forward to, OK?

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Final Fantasy Dimensions: A Half-Assed Playthrough

I have unfinished FFVII and FFX Let’s Plays, I haven’t gotten to Lightning Returns, I was wasting time playing Kingdom Hearts for the first time, and I’ve fallen hopelessly behind in Final Fantasy fan discussions and game commentary on  [community profile] moogle_university. My FFX novella, Love Her and Despair, is languishing with the last five chapters in a messy and forgotten state.

What a PERFECT time to start a new game playthrough!

FF Dimensions Title Screen

Zencribnotes on Tumblr inspired me to try Final Fantasy Dimensions again. It’s an iPad/Android native Final Fantasy game that came out in 2010.  When I last tackled it, I couldn’t fully appreciate how much it was a homage to the early FFs. Now, by golly, I’m going to play Final Fantasy Nostalgia Bingo, because that’s the main virtue of this game.

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