Kyle and I got together the day before Christmas Eve (ed: the year the FF Marathon began), determined to see an end to this game so that we could safely say “Three Final Fantasy games done in less than one year!” (Less than a year, in fact! FFI, FFII, FFIV) And the game heard us, and became determined to have us whipped for our insolence.
It didn’t start so bad. In fact, I’d say a calm start contributed to our problem. We headed toward the crystal palace and found our way through the maze of lunar caves fast enough, though we got fed up at how many times we were being ambushed or back attacked (surprise! It never stopped happening). Finally, we reached the Crystal Palace, where we discovered healing shrines (normally a big warning that a boss was incoming) and an man named Fusoya.
Fusoya told us that he was not Human, but a Lunarian, a race of people from across the solar system that came looking for a new home on “the blue planet.” But when they found there were already people on the Blue Planet, they decided to sleep in stasis on the moon until the Humans had reached their level of “evolution.” But there was a problem: one of their number, Zemus, wanted to either conquer the blue planet or wipe it clean of life rather than wait, and after a scuffle, he was sealed in the moon by the Lunarians, using another set of eight crystals. That’s 17 crystals, for the record, and it got old past 4. Unfortunately, Zemus was able to reach out with his mind or something and found Golbez. He had Golbez bring the blue planet’s Crystals to the Tower of Babil to help him escape. Somehow. Details still sparse.
…Wait, was the tower constructed just to send people to the moon or– no! The more I think of this, the less sense it’s going to make. Moving on! We had a chance to speak to the Crystals, which told us that while Zemus was still trapped, he had likewise sealed off his prison to outsiders.
Oh, and also, Cecil is the son of a Lunarian who came to the blue planet. Just throw that in there too. All of this being suddenly introduced all at once is disjointed as all hell. I’ve been consistently disappointed by this game’s story since the Suicide Cid incident and it’s hard to get excited by this shallow plan to make Cecil the Extra Special Destined Hero™.
Fusoya joined our party. He was obviously meant to be some sort of super character given his massive spell list, but in all honesty he came off as limited too us and would only be useful in certain circumstances. This was because, like Tellah, he was short on MP (only 160, when Rydia and Rosa had in the neighbourhood of 400-500). Still, we had a little fun flinging Meteor at wandering monsters, and returned to the Lunar Whale. There, we returned to the surface, and were immediately caught by a rogue cinematic. We were too late! Golbez had already used the power of the crystals to awaken… The Giant of Babil!
Somehow, which we must not think about, the blue planet was hiding not only a giant tower but a giant steampunk mech, which had not been mentioned in even the smallest clue, including the clues of a consistent narrative, as this didn’t seem to fit in at all. One must assume that it is a part of Golbez’s plan to get to the moon, though that little detail never actually comes to fruition. Alternately, it might have been part of Zemus’ plan to wipe out the Humans, but what was the deal with Golbez’s abandoned plan to get to the moon? One way or the other, Golbez just uses the thing burn some grass (“No!” screams Rydia, who knew that grass like a brother). For what it’s worth, I have to give the remake’s 3D animators credit for once, in that this was one of their few acceptable new cinematics, while the others looked like they were popped out a 3DS Max term project. In general terms, the inspiration the Giant must have had on FFVII’s Weapons is immediately obvious, but in reverse, the inspiration VII must have had on this new cinematic is also obvious.
But before Golbez could do… whatever it was that he planned to do… the cavalry arrived. And Golbez must have been making an awful racket just getting the Giant up to the surface, since “the cavalry” involves reinforcements from every nation: the Dwarfs in their tanks, Yang and the Sylphs among them (I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t smacked him with that frying pan?); Cid and some of the soldiers from Baron in our original Airship, the Enterprise; Edward and the Troians in another airship; the Elder of Mysidia in a third airship, along with… Palom and Porom? Yup, the twins are back, and all they have to say about their mysterious resurrection was that the Elder brought them back.
…Bullshit! You hacks trying to have your cake and eat it too! You can’t make drama out of how they can’t be brought back and then just bring them back for no reason: you remove the drama from both! No wonder people freaked out about FFVII’s showcase death if they’ve been coddled like this! What’s even stranger is that, in the original SNES version, there’d be no reason for this resurrection but for happy ending points, as there is no point in the original where they’d be able to come back to the party! This game is so determined to create this artificial happy ending that it’s miraculous that Tellah and his daughter haven’t been zombified!
With our friends distracting the Giant, we got on the Enterprise and Fusoya guided Cid to an opening in the Giant’s mouth. Thanks to Cid’s flying skills, we safely we made our way down into the thing’s gut (safety being subjective). There were a few mild encounters in here, but nothing we couldn’t handle… until we ran into the Clockwork Dragon. Turns out this encounter is something of a rare, mid-boss type, and he TPK’d me when I didn’t take him seriously from minute one. Kyle went and repeated the last half-hour of gameplay, and returned the controller to me when he reached the save point (which was just a few steps from where I had died…). I didn’t leave, and instead hunted about until the Dragon returned. Then I hit it with Meteor, re-camped at the save point, and left the room satisfied.
We had not gotten half-way out of the room when we were suddenly attacked by the four Archfiends. It had always been strange that Rubicante had not struck out at us from beyond the grave, but apparently all four had been revived. They thanked their true master, Zemus, for their resurrection, and they decided to attack us “as a team.” “As a team” apparently means “one by one, 80s movie ninja style” and the fight ended almost as soon as it began. No, really, I have nothing to say about it. And so ended the inglorious, unremarkable careers of the Four Elemental Archfiends, for a second time. The FF Wiki points out to me that the Archfiends were re-fought in the order Earth, Fire, Water, Wind: same as the Fiends in FFI. I have to admit, that detail is kind of clever, but that’s about the only compliment I have for the section.
Having figured from the beginning that Fusoya would leave the party as soon as we were clear of this mission, we Nina’d him (in fact, Kyle was surprised that I almost forgot to do so). Unfortunately, as soon as we stepped into the next room, we stepped straight into another boss fight (luckily, we had rested just in case)! We fought the Giants’ “CPU,” a giant sphere guarded by two smaller sphere, an Attack and a Defence Node. On Fusoya’s advice, we destroyed the Defence Sphere, but doing so only took a single turn. Obviously something was up with that. Noting that the Attack Sphere could barely scratch even poor, naked Fusoya, we ignored it, knowing the CPU would probably get an upgrade if we broke both its toys. Apparently, if you do destroy the Attack Node, the CPU starts casting instant death moves, but so long as the Attack Node was still alive, it was functionally harmless! Once we had broken the big sphere, we smushed the little one and the Giant came tumbling down. Metaphorically. There are dramatic speeches to exchange first, of course.
Golbez arrived (yeah, don’t stop us from ripping out your vehicle’s processor or anything), and Fusoya went to him and casts a spell. Turns out Golbez was also under mind control: Zemus’ mind control, that is. He was able to corrupt Golbez because Golbez is actually half Lunarian, and Cecil’s brother! Cecil immediately descended into melodramatic navel gazing. One of his musings was hilarious, asking why Zemus picked Golbez instead of him. Apparently, Golbez had evil in his heart, but Cecil didn’t! Which must have been pretty damn bad considering all the stuff that’s come out of Cecil’s heart in this playthrough… But worse, Cecil’s party decided this is more than enough reason for Cecil to forgive Golbez for everything. Only Cecil and Golbez seem to realize it’s not that simple, and I’m glad they do, because I’m a little tired of going after the writers on crap like this. When Fusoya outlines Zemus’ plan as he understands it, Golbez agrees to go with him back to the moon to destroy Zemus. How they get there, I cannot imagine.
Only then does the Giant collapse (we joked that a Dwarf or airship cannoneer must have decided it had been standing still for too long and made a poorly timed test shot to the back of its knees). Kain arrived, and we had barely broken out the obvious jokes about him not being trustworthy when Edge voiced the exact same. We were laughing too hard to point out how inconsistently the party treated Kain versus how they had just treated Golbez. Kain guided the others off the Giant after they agreed to listen, and they gathered at the Lunar Whale for a conference.
Even though everyone present volunteered to try to catch up with Golbez and Fusoya to defeat Zemus, Cecil tried to kick Rydia and Rosa out of the party. Kyle and I were flabbergasted. First was the blatant – and pointless! – sexism. Cecil has intimate connections with three people in this party, but for some reason only jettisons the women. He does nothing to kick out the traitorous best friend, or for that matter the King who is ignoring the needs of his country. Second: this makes no tactical sense! You don’t kick out the White Mage, dipshit, and with Rydia the combination Black Mage and Summoner, she essentially represents your entire supply of ammunition!
So what happens? Cecil, Edge and Kain go to the moon, but when they try to come out of the ship, the ladies reappear and repeat the tactical argument I just made almost verbatim, until Cecil has been bludgeoned unconscious by common sense.
By the way, where the hell were Rosa and Rydia during the trip to the moon? Crammed in the airlock? Clinging to the outside of the ship? You can walk around on the moon, clearly one can breathe in space in this universe!
The party united, the game informed us that (as per the GBA remake) we could now go back to Mysidia if we wanted to swap out our party members for other surviving party members, like Edward, Palom or Porom. When we went there, an additional cinematic occurred to point us to a small optional dungeon that housed those party members’ ultimate weapons (the original five had their weapons stashed in the final dungeon, as per the original game). We took stock of things, and while I wasn’t sure about Edge, we decided to go with the original game final party of Cecil, Rydia, Edge, Rosa and Kain. We then stocked up on items and returned to the Crystal Palace, where the barrier had been dropped. Inside, we entered the final dungeon: the Lunar Subterrane.