auronlu: Terra going RAWR (ff6 - Rawr)
[personal profile] auronlu
Before I launch into the next leg of my Let's Play Final Fantasy VI playthrough, I'd just like to note that FFVI's washed-out chocobo design is redeemed by its music of pure techno awesome:



I defy you not to bob your head while listening to that with headphones. Or, to quote a couple commenters on the above video:
question: What is it about riding giant chickens that restricts random battles? ~ The Zeldaniac

Picture this, if you're an enemy and you hear this song, are you going to interrupt it by attacking the guy riding the chicken, or are you just going to dance? ~ hoodedbro1001

Now back to our regularly-scheduled playthrough.

So, in our opening FFVI sonata, our heroes Edgar, Locke, Sabin and Terra had reached the rebel hideout of the Returners. We had just imbibed our first Backstory Dump courtesy of Banon, the rebel leader, when news arrived that the town of S. Figaro was under attack and that imperial forces were headed our way.



Just in case we chose to make Terra, Mysterious Waif, refuse the Hero's Call earlier when the rebels were begging her become their sacrificial damsel "ray of light," Edger gives her an alternate reason to follow the Path of Plot Advancement:

FFVI: Terra in Danger

"You'll probably even gain some understanding of your own abilities..."

They are genuinely concerned for her well-being. They also really need to utilize her powers. That tension between compassion and exploitation continues to intrigue me.

Edgar, who showed himself a capable tactician back at Castle Figaro, sends Locke to S. Figaro to delay the imperials while we evacuate.

Banon says that he's got a raft stashed for an escape route. Which is peachy for us, but how are the rest of the rebels going to fit on it? Ed needs to teach Banon a thing or two about securing your people before bailing on them.

FFVI: Raft Ride

Once aboard, it's an exciting Disney flume ride battling rapids, monsters and insane octopus...

FFVI: What Is It?

Wait, back up... octopus?

FFV: Ultros evil laugh

Add another screenshot to the "odd evil laughs" file.

Meet Ultros, this game's version of Freddicante and Gilgamesh. (Some fans theorize that he was inspired by Cthulhu, in which I would be a lot more interested if Lovecraft wrote dialogue like this.)

Orthos / Ultros "Don't tease the octopus, kids" screenshot

(Minor plot hole here: if it's so amazing that Terra can do magic, then how come Banon has a multi-target Heal ability? Sure looks like magic to me.)

Ultros makes a lot of "juicy morsel" and seafood jokes during the fight. I don't even want to think about all the tentacle porn this scene must have spawned.

FFVI: Octopus Tentacle Porn

True to trope, Mr. Octopus runs away to boss fight another day.

Sabin is so outraged that he leaps into the rapids for  rematch and is swept away. Um...?

FFVI: Sabin, Zealous

So the party splits up. While this happened occasionally in IV and V — characters breaking off for their own mini-adventures, sidequests and tête-à-tête scenes, allowing for snatches of character- and relationship-building — FFVI is where the bifurcated party becomes a major narrative device:

FFVI: Choose a Scenario

"If one of us has to become a Fayth, I volunteer..."

Er, sorry, wrong game. And I don't want to imagine a mog wearing Yunalesca's butt floss, so let's finish our river rafting trip, stat.

Scenario #1, I choose you:

FFVI: Edgar, Banon, Terra

We slog back to Narshe, through the caves (waving at the moogle village in passing)...

FFVI: Moogle Village

...and reunite with Terra's old friend, who now has an actual name. (This is the bloke who freed her from the Slave Crown and stole her Magitek armor.)

FFVI: Narshe's Neutrality
...they all went slightly berserk when the Esper was discovered.
BANON: This young woman is our only hope of reaching out to that Esper.
ARVIS: My people are dying to know what the Esper looks like. Maybe Terra can help restore some order to the town?

The GBA Script makes a little more sense (during playthrough, I thought "berserk" meant the Esper was possessing them or driving them crazy, and I wasn't sure how the girl last seen attacking them in Magitek Armor could calm them down save by terrifying them into submission):
Arvis: Everyone's been a little on edge since the esper was discovered.
Banon: We believe Terra may be able to help us get answers to our questions about the esper.
Arvis: Well, the townspeople are still quite curious about it as well. If we approach them in the right way, there's a good chance they'll agree to let her see it.

"Berserk" or no, I get the impression that the townsfolk are proud/protective of their Esper as they might a local Shinto spirit (think of the Fayth in FFX).

The scene ends with a prophetic pronouncement from Edgar:

FFVI: Early Grave

You really know how to inspire confidence in The Plan, Ed.

In most hero-quests, the goal is clear, and the path to it is usually known in advance, so the quest is just a matter of overcoming obstacles on the way there. In FFVI, the good guys are a lot less sure of the way forward. "Let's throw the Ring in the Fire." "But what if it causes a ginormous volcanic eruption that covers Gondor in lava?" "Uh...well we've gotta do something, so let's try it, okay?"

Before we can attempt anything foolish, the scene switches back to the Historia Crux, and Mog sends us onto the next timestream.

FFVI: Sabin's Fate

His fate, it turns out, is to get hopelessly lost.

Sabin washes up on the overworld map nowhere near anything we recognize.

Sabin: Overworld Map

Checking out the little hut, we find Shadow and his freaky dog, which barks and sends Sabin cowering behind the ninja.

FFVI: Shadow and Dog (Interceptor)

(I learn from FFWiki that the dog's name is Interceptor. Like Angelo in FFVIII, it will occasionally charge enemies for massive damage. I wish I could get a screenshot of it playing Snoopy vs. the Red Baron against aerial opponents).

After Sabin recovers from his fright (!), he asks for directions to Narshe. Shadow, surprisingly chatty, reports that the Imperials have "built a base somewhere beyond the forest... they seem to have their sights set on Doma Castle."

"So Doma's next, huh? I have to reach Narshe immediately!" Sabin exclaims.

FFVI: Shadow Joins Sabin

After this, Shadow provides not a single word of guidance.

In the course of making this writeup, I've created my own sketchmap of FFVI's World of Balance in order to figure out where the heck we were.

See that "Old Coot's Cottage" in the northeast? That's Sabin's current location.  Now look where Narshe is.

ffvi map world of balance

Wait. Why is Shadow leading Sabin due SOUTH to Doma on a dead end peninsula, when Narshe is due WEST?

While playing, my suspicions of Shadow were roused as soon as he started being helpful. When we last saw Shadow in Figaro, he wouldn't speak two words to us. Edgar and Locke, the brains of the party, were afraid to go near him (and I will note that Locke has no qualms taking on the imperial army). So why is Shadow Sabin's new best friend? Did Sabin give him the Secret Handshake of Martial Arts Dudes, or is Shadow an imperial spy?

Or maybe our ninja just suffers from that common "can't admit he's lost" male-ady.

Shadow also warns Sabin that he may abandon him at any moment (i.e. during a random encounter).


FFVI: Death Is After Shadow

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I've learned to KO Shadow to keep him from running off.

About that old coot. The cottage's sole occupant is a few rivets short of a steam engine.

FFVI: Cuckoo Old Coot

First the old man threatens to toss us out onto the Veldt, babbling something about a "mischievous boy." Then he tries to get us to fix his cuckoo clock, stove, lawn, or possibly his bed. (Accompanying cuckoo-clock soundtrack is appropriate.) We exit after stealing a free nap on his bed forthwith.

After discovering every single you-can't-go-there nook of this continent — thanks for nothing, Shadow — we trip over the Imperial camp and hide behind a crate to eavesdrop. The soldiers are worried that Kefka is going to replace General Leo.

FFV: Kefka Toast

Sadly, I don't think that's metaphorical. They heap abuse on Kefka when his back is turned.

FFVI: Kefka, Inhuman

Now... is that metaphorical? Innnnnnnnteresting. (Or is Kefka just less humane than Terra, despite being more human?)

Most of the soldiers are summoned away for the attack on Doma. Quick! Now's our chance to sneak through!

FFVI: First Assault on Doma

Inside, the defenses are crumpling. One loyal knight proposes to fling open the front gates and challenge the imperial commander to a duel, on the theory that if he wins, the imperial army will collapse.

I will try not to point out the military stupidity of the following sequence and just note that Batman wants his cape back:

FFVI SIr Cyan as Batman

Sure enough, Sir Cyan beats the commander, and the rest of the troops run away. How the heck are these guys terrorizing towns across the continent? And why is General Leo such a pushover?

Oh...wait, that wasn't Leo.

We have a heartwarming scene back in camp with Leo counseling his troops to patience, instead of wasting lives in a futile frontal assault.

FFVI: General Leo

In a few brief exchanges, Leo shows himself to be wise, honorable, good with his men: a model leader. So of course a "carrier pigeon from the emperor" summons him away. As soon as his back is turned...

FFVI: Kefka Poisons River

Sabin, beside himself, leaps out crying, "That's inhuman!" Note to self: start watching for Humanity/Inhumanity subtext.

We chase Kefka all over camp, never getting in more than a punch before he runs off again. (That's Shadow being Invisible.)

FFVI: Kefka says "Do I look like a waiter?"

Somehow, a shuriken-tossing invisible ninja and a kickass martial artist totally fail to stop a CLOWN from reaching the river. Kefka turns the water purple with a bit of purple prose:

FFVI: Music of Screams

Also, poison.

With a mournful honk, the almighty Angst Goose descends upon Castle Doma. Its defenders keel over one by one, overcome by the fumes, apart from the two sentries on the topmost tower. I can't help thinking of them as Sir Basch and Sir Vossler, even though no-name sentry doesn't have time to stage a Sudden and Inevitable Betrayal...

FFVI: Vossler of Doma

(The poison's so bad that even that banner turned purple. It was blue just a moment ago.)

When they reach the throne room, the king gasps out his last, telling Cyan to go save his own family.

FFVI: Death of King of Doma

Cyan and Vossler split up to hunt the castle for survivors. There aren't any.

Cyan reaches his quarters and discovers a nasty shock.

FFVI: Cyan's Wife Elayne

So another Final Fantasy Mom bites the dust, but at least she has a name. For one final twist of the Angst Dagger, Cyan's son Owain stumbles out of bed to die at his father's feet.

Cyan promptly loses it ("D...dear me...I..Impossible! Idiotic!!!" says the slightly oddball translation) and rushes outside to wreck bloody vengeance.

Sabin, who has apparently been standing around twiddling his thumbs — not like he has anywhere to go, after all — offers a helping hand. They bond while beating up troops, until Sabin gets fed up with Cyan's court manners (no wonder he bailed on life as a royal)...

FFVI: Thou Art a Pain

Sabin's adventure from this point on is a Cyan/Sabin buddy flick. Shadow never gets any lines, as he might've randomly run off  before we reached the camp.

We slaughter all Leo's remaining troops, who are less skilled at fighting in Magitek armor than three renegades who have never donned a mech before today. Imperial Magitek Academy is even more of a joke than Stormtrooper Sharpshooter Training.

FFVI: Where's Narshe?

"Only one route, through the forest to the south," replies Cyan.

Um...


ffvi map world of balance

Does anyone in this entire world have the faintest notion of geography?


So we go south, which actually means north then east and then south, to the Phantom Forest. And despite entering it from the north, once inside, we have to take the north exit on every screen or risk going in circles. NO WONDER I WAS LOST GOOD GRIEF WHAT IS THIS A TESSERACT.

FFVI: Sabin Enters the Phantom Forest

P.S. my pareidolia is having a field day with this screencap. I see a frowning goddess-figure in the water; her shoulders and neck are the white glowy patch and the trees' reflections are ribbons hanging down the sides of her headdress over her ears and she's got glowing nostrils and a furry hat. Is it just me?

Shadow keeps trying to bolt the party after every battle, announcing that he's earned his fee. SO WE KILL HIM. Or rather, we KO him and drag his body along. Uweee hee hee!

Eventually we find a train (!) in the heart of the forest.

FFVI: Phantom Train

Ominously, once you step onto this screen, you cannot back up. Not even a step.

Sabin thinks we should check the train for survivors. Cyan, putting two and two together, abruptly freaks. "Sir Sabin! Sir Sabin!"



Ignoring him, Sabin pushes onboard. Cyan follows under protest, exclaiming as they step aboard, "This train is haunted!" Only after  the train starts moving does Cyan reveal what he bally well should've mentioned back on the platform...

FFVI: All Aboard the Train to Hell

"I don't want to go THERE!" Sabin says. Too late, sucker. (We rouse Shadow with a Phoenix Down now that he can't escape. Uwee hee hee.)

It's really interesting how much anime has integrated trains into modern mythology. Remember the trains in Spirited Away? (Or for that matter the mystery train at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2?)

The game designers  have a field day riffing on the "Train to Hell" trope. The caboose includes a conductor (inexplicably named "Impresario" in keeping with the game's opera-references) who ghoulishly brandishes a blank train schedule (the dead don't need schedules). Ghost merchants try to sell us items, while ghost hitchhikers fill out the party to give us a full contingent of four for battles. There's  even a haunted dining car with helpful waitstaff. Sabin, who evidently doesn't know the Persephone legend, digs in ("Can't wage war on an empty stomach!") while Cyan panics.

FFVI: Haunted Dining Car

I think it's cute that Sir Cyan is still serving royalty, although I doubt he knows it.

...However, apart from a few  ghostly allies, most of the Phantom Train's undead passengers are properly spooky and hostile.

FFVI: No Escape from the Doomtrain

We eventually reach the locomotive and throw various switches to try to stop the train...

FFVI: Phantom Train Speaks

...but the train attacks!

FFVI: Phantom Train Boss Battle

Yes, we are outrunning a fricking train while periodically turning around to fight it. Final Fantasy laws of physics, gotta love 'em.

So we beat up the train. It agrees to let us off, but not before giving the Angst-knife another twirl.

FFVI: Elayne Owain

Cyan spots his wife and child boarding just as the train begins to pull away.

FFVI: Cyan Calls to Family

Cue an absolutely classic scene of anguished-protag running along a platform calling after loved ones. Cyan is at least consoled by their voices in his mind as the train rushes off into the darkness: "My love... You made me so happy. Don't forget me..." "Dad! I'll make sure Mom's all right!"

Ouch.

So. On the other side of the Phantom Forest, the most direct route is obviously to cross a grassy plain, enter a cave, navigate the tunnels, climb another mountain, and discover ourselves above another rushing river. Sabin, are you feeling a little déjà vu?

Sabin recognizes the spot as the "Baren Falls" [sic] and consults his two trusty guides for directions.

FFVI: Cyan's Directions

*FACEPALM*

YES THAT IS TOTALLY THE SWIFTEST ROUTE TO NARSHE....

ffvi map world of balance

Uh, Shadow? A little help, here?

FFVI: Shadow Leaves

"...Sir Cyan is clearly an even more inept guide than I am. Kefka will be pleased. Anyway, the Empire is not paying me enough to follow you two suicidal maniacs a step farther."

Er, actually, no, Shadow just splits without another word. But I'm sure that's what he's thinking.

So it's time another fine Final Fantasy tradition, cliff diving. A stiff drink and/or one of Laguna's inane pep talks would come in  handy about now.

Hopefully there are no giant orange octopus down here... Oh. Of COURSE. There WOULD be piranhas fighting in freefall in the waters of the tallest waterfall of the world.

...I am so disgusted I forget to screencap. After an interminable number of fish battles, we wash up, a la Aragorn, on the banks of a river.

FFVI: Gau's First Appearance

Er...well, at least it's not a horse smooch. The odd-looking person (?) scampers off when Sabin stirs.

We wander across the Veldt to the town of Mobliz, where learn that a guy up north who's a little "psycho" "threw his own kid out, convinced the boy was a "monster" after the mother died in childbirth. (Send out another membership card to the Dead Final Fantasy Moms Club). The crazy old coot with the broken clock and unmowed lawn suddenly becomes far less funny. Luckily the kid survived, and is now Tarzan.

FFVI: Rumors of Gau in Mobilz

There's a couple kids, Duane and Katrin, whom we cheerily interrupt having a snog in the back forty. To atone for our sins, we waste an hour on a sidequest for a wounded imperial conscript sending carrier pigeon missives back and forth to his lover in Maranda.

FFVI: Lola's Letter Writer Quest

(He gives us an HP-regen relic for our troubles.)

Another villager informs us that the currents of the "Serpent Trench" will sweep us to the town of Nikeah, if we can find the "breathing apparatus" (!) that was stolen. Um, this is starting to feel like Final Fantasy I here, guys... I'm losing the plot.

We head back out to the Veldt, where Wild Boy shows up after battles begging for food. Once fed, he befriends us, tussles with Sabin using moves that resemble a hopping flea, and gets tickled at at Cyan's old-fashioned,"Who be thou...?" "Thou! Thou!" Gau shouts, and it becomes his new favorite word.

Gau's hijinks exasperate both Sabin and Cyan (probably reminded of his son, as he steps away looking sad), and Wild Boy attempts to make amends by offering a secret treasure he's found.

FFVI: Gau Calls Sabin "Mr. Thou"

At this point I succumb to grinding and attempt to pick up a bunch of useful abilities for Gau, our resident Blue Mage Berserker.

I also rediscover the odd fact that much as I like the music of the Velt (and the People of the Mountain in FFX), tribal drumming puts me right to sleep.

Back on the Path of Plot Advancement, we head to Crescent Mountain (there's always a Crescent something in these games, have you noticed?)

FFVI: Crescent Mountain

After picking Sabin's pocket and causing yet more mischief, Gau makes his peace offering:

FFVI: Gau's Treasure

Um. Guys. GUYS. That's one diving helmet. For three people. Even if you tell me the oxygen tank is magically built in, I see a problem here.

Sabin, undaunted, contemplates his third cliff diving exploit in as many days.

FFVI: Serpent Trench Dive

At this point I determine that Sabin is crazy. Oh, well, here goes nothing! *sploosh* Sure ya wanna come, Gau?

FFVI: Gau's Second Thoughts

Gau has second and third thoughts, but eventually musters up the nerve to follow Mr. Thou. Poor kid.

After another wild and improbable flume ride underwater and across the bottom of the ocean, we wash up half-drowned in the Shopping Emporium of Nikeah. Good thing I racked up all that gil on the Veldt!

FFVI: Sabin in Nikeah

We bump into one of Final Fantasy's old standbys, a WTF dancer, wearing considerably more clothing than Bibi did back in FFI.

FFVI: WTF Dancer

Understandably, Cyan is not in the mood for flirting. We'd better get out of here before the barkeep throws him out. (Hey, is that Minwu in the corner?)

We hop a ferry and head upriver.

FFVI: Cyan the Navigator

Oh, no. Cyan the Navigator thinks we're almost back to Narshe. Tune in next month to see whether we survived our tour of the Antipodes.

FFVI: Sabin's Journey

So finally we can switch to Locke. ABOUT TIME.

FFVI: Locke's Adventure

I'm curious what Locke did to delay the Imperial army, but this writeup is long enough already, so let's just get out of here...

FFVI: Locke in S. Figaro

Locke is the nicest guy you'll ever meet, unless of course you call him a thief.

FFVI: Locke, Not a thief (treasure hunter)

So we fight this poor schlep and steal his clothes, using them to sneak around town. Locke also mugs a soldier for a second handy disguise (green uniform):

FFVI: That Clown, Kefka

I wonder why Emperor Gestahl  picked a literal clown  as his right-hand-man. Then again, I think we had this discussion before with this guy back in FFIII. I suppose Kefka is a step up; at least he's not an Undead Clown. My mind runs off on another FFXII tangent, and I suddenly wonder if Doctor Cid in all his insanity is an evil genius version of Kefka. (Only not really, because Cid has "greater good" reasons for what he does, but still, there are interesting parallels).

Whoops, sorry, digression. Back to busting out of Figaro.

We sneak into the house of the rich man, who gives no explanation for his betrayal...

FFVI: Figaro Collaborator

...and after more sneaking, we find the secret passage to his wine cellar, where is a makeshift prison cell.

Locke peeps through the cracks in the door...

FFVI: Locke Spots Celes

Locke must really get around, to recognize Imperial generals on sight.

In a simple yet brutal scene, we watch her being beaten by her own soldiers. If they ever remake this game with modern graphics, they'd probably have to suggest everything with sound effects and Locke's reaction peeking through the door:

FFVI: Celes Being Tortured

Celes retorts, "How can you serve those cowards...?" and rants about Kefka's poisoning of the people of Doma.

FFVI: Celes Intro

 

The guard beats her until she collapses, then leaves. The other nods off. Cue a gratuitous yet touching Star Wars reference:

FFVI: A Little Short for a Stormtrooper

It's especially fitting, since Celes' spitfire no-nonsense personality matches Leia's.

Locke introduces himself: "I'm with the Returners. Name's Locke."

FFVI: A Common Traitor

She's badly hurt and tells him to leave her here. Locke, of course, can do no such thing, and promises to protect her.

Wounded or not, Celes proves quite capable in battle — in fact she's a Mage-Knight who can cast white AND black magic. Wait. I thought that was innate to Terra because she wasn't a normal human?

FFVI: Why Are You Helping Me?

We eventually escape the town, trek across country, spend a cozy night at Sabin's empty cabin — hush, they don't know each other that well yet — crawl back through the cave separating S. Figaro from the Narshe area — and oh, drat, the Empire sends something to collect Celes.

She has another ace up her sleeve, however...

FFVI: Celes' Runic Blade Skill

STEELGUARD!

Except that Runic Blade is actually useful, because she's recharging her MP every time she absorbs a magical attack.

Locke's all, "Are you sure you'll be okay?" Hey,  would you ask that if a guy told you he could handle something? I'm just sayin'.

With Celes' general kickassedness, we defeat it easily.

Meanwhile, back in Narshe, the Returners are meeting with the village Elder. He's hemming and hawing about committing to their cause, afraid of repeating the very same mistakes as their ancestors.

FFVI: The Cycle Goes On

Banon admits he's got a point. The Emperor is coming to take the Esper and exploit it for Magitek power, and if the Returners use Terra to fight back, it'll be the War of the Magi all over again.

Sabin bursts in on the meeting, introduces Cyan and Gau, and reports how Kefka poisoned the people of Doma. The Elder of Narshe is shocked— "Barbaric!" — but the news only makes him more fearful on his village's behalf.

FFVI: Blaming the Victims

Locke bursts in dramatically to end the stalemate.

FFVI: That's Nonsense!

"The Empire's poised to attack Narshe right now!" Locke says.

Cyan is none too pleased to meet the source of this intelligence:

FFVI: Cyan vs. Celes

It's a good thing that Cyan backs down from Locke's intervention, because I think the old knight could probably flatten him.

FFVI: Locke the Protector

Terra causes more consternation by reminding everyone that she was also a soldier of the Empire, which throws Cyan into a tizzy again. Edgar, as usual, has words of wisdom:

FFVI: Empire's Citizens Not Evil

Edgar is reminding me of original-Trek Captain Kirk: a ladies' man, dashing, a capable leader who is actually a good tactician. It's hard to remember old Trek after everything that came after, but many episodes ended with an Aesop, and Kirk was often delivering speeches about compassion, tolerance and respect for different beings and cultures, when he wasn't having the requisite fistfights or Shatnering his lines. He was a level-headed, capable and mature commander, unlike the reboot's Kirk.

All right. Can we please stop squabbling and decide whether we're going to do this insanely stupid poke-the-Esper experiment?

...ack, someone else bursts into the room to interrupt. It's as bad as telemarketers.

FFVI: The Empire Cometh

Cometh again?

And on that entirely predictable cliffhanger, I'll pause.

Date: 2013-07-21 02:23 pm (UTC)
lassarina: (Celes)
From: [personal profile] lassarina
(You forgotted a tag somewhere!)

oh my God I love that Steelguard video. Makes me crack up so hard.

In all the many, many times I've played this game, only once have I had Shadow bugger off prior to Baren Falls. Apparently ti's my superpower.

So, fun fact: when you talk to the villagers in Nikeah, they tell you that the path leading north was blocked by a rockfall. This doesn't explain why you can't get a damn raft and sail back up the river the other way, but it does explain why you can't just go east on foot (later in the WoB, this will clear out, allowing you to get the only one of Mog's dances that is exclusive to the WoB.) As far as Mobliz, that only makes sense insofar as it's the only non-Doman nation in the northeast quadrant of the map. (One wonders if Doma utterly lacked sea power, or if the Empire was blockading. Given the siege, I expect the latter.)

Date: 2013-07-21 03:25 pm (UTC)
inked_compass: (This violin was too weak)
From: [personal profile] inked_compass
"Spirit as pure as snow" is one of the things I hate the most about the old translation. I don't know, it seems like female characters are less often allowed to be ethically complex the way a guy like Leon or Cecil does. Celes was a top-ranking official in an organization that commits evil acts against humans and espers and she is responsible for "the torching of Maranda." I mean, she apparently attacked a civilian town. That's not a spirit as pure as snow. That's a person who's decided they've had enough of doing morally wrong things. (And I similarly dislike the interpretation that she was a figurehead general because 1. I do not like absolving responsibility/agency like that and 2. there's no evidence for it; in fact there's evidence against it considering how much info she's able to contribute to the Returners.) She is not ~pure~ and ~innocent~ here; if anything that's Terra. She's an ex-general who witnessed and participated in actual atrocities. Let her own that, dammit.

The new one gives her "none has ever known the woman behind the general's guise" which fits in a lot better with her character arc (although to be honest, I still find it to be a big case of wasted potential because so much of it revolves around Locke, and I really do not like Locke at all).

Ultros never appealed to me the way Gilgamesh does. I think it's because there never seems to be a point to his interruptions, whereas Gilgamesh is in the villain's employ and gets a little character arc of his own throwing another wrench into the fandom belief that FFV has crappy characterization.

Narshe: More of the Returners talking about Terra rather than to her. Good jorb guys.

Sabin: That is... a truly impressive route. I have never actually considered the weird zigzags he takes to Narshe but seeing it laid out on the map like that is hilarious. You really have to love Sabin for his simpleminded, train-suplexing ways. Cyan is one of my favorite characters too, even if (like many other FF plot points) it sort of stretches credulity that everyone got a fatal dose of poison at the same exact time (although your explanation of fumes makes more sense than everyone getting thirsty at once). Unfortunately, this is also one of the times where the Canned Party Leader Response gets obvious--in my replay, the game kept trying to stick Shadow in front instead of Sabin, and Shadow yelling that Kefka is an evil murderer who must be stopped... yeah.

Date: 2013-07-22 12:33 am (UTC)
inked_compass: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inked_compass
My own FF fan friends and I are far less charitable to him, haha. I just find the whole Rachel-in-the-basement thing (on the off chance he might someday find a legendary item to fix her) to be unforgivably creepy. Even if he'd let her have a proper burial, though, what Celes needs to learn is how to be emotionally healthy and have normal relationships. Pathologically-obsessed-with-protecting-women-guy is in no way qualified to teach her. I'd have less of a problem with it if the writers realized it was problematic but they don't seem to. There really is a lot of potential for Celes' loyalties and her feelings about the Empire but... Locke. very frustrating to me.

Ultros does jar a lot with the tone of FFVI to me, too. There are good lighthearted and funny moments between the party, like the first fight itself, and if that was his only appearance it'd be fine. Shoving him back in over and over when he's completely unconnected to anything in the plot though, no. (I myself am quite charmed by most of the goofy things in the early FFs though, since Finest Fantasy For Advance was my entry into the series. /salutes/)

Sabin: Man, getting all of his Blitzes is tricky under normal circumstances. Arthritis and emulator limitations sounds like it would completely nerf him, ouch.

Date: 2013-07-21 03:29 pm (UTC)
samuraiter: (Default)
From: [personal profile] samuraiter
I see a frowning goddess-figure in the water

(Ultimecia passing through the Phantom Forest on her way to another time period, perhaps?)

Worth noting here that the scene of Celes getting smacked around is abridged / censored in later versions of the game, though it is strangely intact in the (family-friendly?) SNES original.

Date: 2013-07-21 10:27 pm (UTC)
monsterboy: The face of a stylised plush blue dragon, with white horns and eyes. (siggraph locke)
From: [personal profile] monsterboy
I... yeah, that bit always got me on the "morbid h/c" front, too. It was definitely the first time I'd seen anything like it in "media for kids", and it stuck in my mind quite strongly.

The fact that they removed it for the GBA version always bugged me, because it really drives home what kind of world we're in and what Celes was getting herself into by betraying the Empire. Of course, "traitors will be jailed and executed" isn't exactly a surprise, but seeing what violence they're willing to do to her in the meantime makes that threat seem much more vivid.

*coughifyouwritethatficI'llreaditcough*

Nice icon!

Date: 2013-07-21 06:59 pm (UTC)
flonnebonne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] flonnebonne
Heh, I always knew Sabin's scenario was ridiculous, but I never realized quite how much. I love how they all somehow arrive at the same time even though Sabin travelled across 1/3 of the world.

Did you suplex the train? Thou must suplex the train.

After imagining the scene with Celes getting beaten in a full-on CG FMV,it occurs to me that FF6 is quite possibly the most violent of all the FFs, although I can't speak for the ones I haven't played (2, 3, 11, 13, 14). There is no way that scene would have gotten past the Nintendo censors if it were done in graphics that were even a little more realistic than this. (And as someone above pointed out, the scene actually did get censored in the GBA re-release.)

I can see why Square decided to jump from Nintendo to Sony once they hit the N64/PS era, considering that the writers were already going in a more "mature" direction. I think FF7 toned it down, actually, at least in terms of physical violence, compared to FF6. If you think about the death of you-know-who in FF7, it's bloodless and "clean" in a way that is actually more acceptable, to the censors at least, than the Celes-getting-beaten scene and some other pretty damn violent stuff later on in FF6.

Hm, I think that all this mature stuff that somehow got past the censors (not just the violence, but the other idea too) is one of the reasons so many people people (including me) were so strongly affected by this game. I was in grade seven, I think, when FF6 came out. I was old enough to understand these kinds of themes, but no one was letting me consume that kind of media yet--unless it was packaged in a game that had a talking octopus in it.

I feel like Japanese popular media does this a lot--they put goofiness right next to some really serious shit in media meant for kids, and the parents over here may or may not know depending on how much they're paying attention.

Date: 2013-07-21 10:22 pm (UTC)
monsterboy: The face of a stylised plush blue dragon, with white horns and eyes. (siggraph locke)
From: [personal profile] monsterboy
They are genuinely concerned for her well-being. They also really need to utilize her powers. That tension between compassion and exploitation continues to intrigue me.

Me too.


(Minor plot hole here: if it's so amazing that Terra can do magic, then how come Banon has a multi-target Heal ability? Sure looks like magic to me.)

Uh... maybe it's like the commands some people have in other FFs where they can split a healing potion between the party? You got me. (Oh, wait. I just remembered that command is Pray, not Heal, in the original. So he's praying for healing, which doesn't come from within but from without, I guess.)


Note to self: start watching for Humanity/Inhumanity subtext.

Did you ever play any of the Ar Tonelico games? Humanity vs Inhumanity is a theme, but don't go looking for subtext. The translators screw it up hideously. (Having nonhuman characters refer to each other as human in a series where the exploitation of nonhuman classes is a major theme is, uh... no.(

But yes, I always keep an eye out for this stuff.


("D...dear me...I..Impossible! Idiotic!!!" says the slightly oddball translation)

Was recently reading an epic-length deconstruction of the original FF6j text (warning, has spoilers, but you may want to come back to it when you've finished the game: it's truly awesome). Apparently what's being said here literally does translate to "impossible", but it's intended as more like a horrified "No... no!!" Makes a lot more sense that way.


NO WONDER I WAS LOST GOOD GRIEF WHAT IS THIS A TESSERACT.

TERRA BRANFORD LIVES ON A TORUS.


the dead don't need schedules

Another blip in translation. They were actually saying the schedule was blank because the Phantom Train is running non-stop right now, due to all the war casualties. A chilling but of information.


Um. Guys. GUYS. That's one diving helmet. For three people. Even if you tell me the oxygen tank is magically built in, I see a problem here.

Works on the same magical priciple as riding one chocobo with a party of three/four/five! ...maybe.

Yeah, I never got the thing with the diving helmet either. The Serpent Trench scenario is pretty wacky, in general.

Date: 2013-07-22 07:53 am (UTC)
saharasnow: Made by me (Default)
From: [personal profile] saharasnow
This game is long, you'd have to play everyone's backstory to get a complete story.

Date: 2013-07-23 01:30 am (UTC)
sarasa_cat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarasa_cat
lmao at Sabin's route when mapped out!

Random thoughts about Ultros, tone, violence, and other FF games as mentioned elsewhere here in the comments. When I first played FFVI long, long ago, I didn't mind having ridiculous comedy mixed in with seriousness. Looking back, I think FFVI marked an early transition for Square's Final Fantasy series in which they started consciously writing games that could also appeal to an older audience while still being married to the idea of writing games with an appropriate nintendo-desired goofiness in the scripts.

I have very vivid memories of the months leading up to FFVII's release in 1997 (and the larger than life cardboard cutout of Cloud in a shopping mall that me and my friends wanted to "liberate"). FFVII's tone and the subtext felt distinctly adult even when the humor dropped to more juvenile levels. At that time, Square also put out other games that were clearly for adult audiences -- games like the 1998 release of Parasite Eve which was rated M.

Since FFVII, I feel like the FF series has walked this difficult line of having elements that appeal to younger audiences while creating characters and plot lines that appeal to adults. While I haven't played every game in the I through VI part of the series, the earlier ones have a certain surface level of consistency -- I think of them as cute RPG games for lack of a better word but maybe the word "cute" is a little too flippant. VI feels like it straddles the line between the original FF games and the Sony-based FF games: a serious story with cute old-school RPG elements, perhaps?

FFVII - FFXIII don't feel consistent to me in the way that the early games do, but I don't mean this in a bad way. Each game from FFVII onward feels like it is trying to define its own space, its own world, and its own story-feel which is why many fans of FFVII hated the feel of FFVIII (I didn't), and why some FFVIII fans hated the throw back nature of FFIX, and why some of FFX's fans hated FFXII for its "boring politics and lack of romance," and so on. ...idk... Much rambling here, and in much agreement with what has been said elsewhere in other comments.

Date: 2013-07-23 06:15 am (UTC)
sarasa_cat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarasa_cat
I still haven't played V and I've only made it halfway through I and II. That said, the word "playful" feels right for those earlier games. I think the reason I like VI and IV so much more than the rest of the other early FFs is for their greyness. I can imagine VI and IV redone with more gravity as modern PS3 games. I don't have that feeling when playing I-III.

I like your musical analogy for the FF series. It fits! Perfectly!

It very much feels like Final Fantasy tries reinventing itself with each of the Sony-based games. VII, VIII, and IX explored very different graphical styles that seem horridly retro/old today but they were really radical and fully of shiny awesomeness in 1997-1999. VIII and X strongly emphasize romance in central character's plotlines. VII completely deconstructs the RPG hero. XII is a deconstructor fleet of fantasy RPG tropes while putting politics and a complex world in center stage, thus reducing the "largeness" and the drama of the main characters. XIII reverses what XII did by putting all of the focus on the main characters and reducing the world almost to a backdrop that forces events to occur. I like how the series keeps reinventing itself and staying fresh and unpredictable even though that means that some of the games will never be more than pretty graphics and good soundtracks to me. I just wish we didn't have to wait sooooooooo loooonnnnnngggggg for the modern games to come out. (which must be why squeenix keeps rereleasing the old games to keep us hooked!!)

Date: 2013-09-15 11:14 pm (UTC)
raaj: (kittens)
From: [personal profile] raaj
I pretty much blame Sabin's quest for me having little-to-no understanding of the world map once I actually had free reign of it, because I seriously did not understand what was with the direction I was headed.

On the other hand, it got me Shadow (who I kept expecting to leave randomly, but apparently I got lucky because he didn't leave until the falls?), Cyan and Gau, and I like all of them. A mixed bag of me enjoying their interactions and wanting to shake Sabin for having absolutely no sense of direction or self-preservation to call BS on these ideas. (Then again, the self-preservation probably would have kept him from leaping after Ultros in the first place...)

Date: 2013-09-16 03:15 am (UTC)
raaj: [ff7] cloud & aerith on the gondola (Default)
From: [personal profile] raaj
Haha, I hadn't seen VGR at all before catching a link elsewhere on your journal (something about the Hope Hammer). They are indeed brutal.

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