Final Fantasy IV: The After Years – Dazed and Underlevelled

com-2015-10-14-08h33m17s232The Crystals – Part 1
Thanks to reader hyperion09, I’ve been informed that this chapter was originally divided into three in the original cell phone release, while it was amalgamated starting on the WiiWare version.  On the PSP, Part 1’s chapter was called “The Gathering Tale” but I’m getting conflicting reports about the others, so I’m just going to use the name given by the game: The Crystals. No “Tale” subtitle, either. I’ll delineate them as released on cell phones so that I can at least have regular section breaks.

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The save transfer screen that occurs at the start of The Crystals. Please note the HIGHLY disjointed party levels from across the various tales, and realize that they only show the highest-level party member, so the situation is worse than it seems – especially in parties like Rydia’s!

We started off by transferring the data from every preceding tale but Ceodore’s, which as you’ll recall had already been plugged into Kain’s.  This is important, as without it we wouldn’t just lose our customization, but we would have lost several party members, like party members who could have died (Calca, Brina, the Eblan Four) or party members that are randomly excluded from The Crystals without a transfer just because the devs were feeling petty (Ursula, Harley).  Time for the big finale!

Our primary party (indeed, for the time being: our only party) consisted of Rydia, Luca, Edge and Golbez, though Golbez went by “Man in Black” for pretty much all of this segment as the rest of the party didn’t know who he was at the time. Could we please stick one of Edge’s ninja in slot 5? Please? Though we transferred data, I can understand the game wanting to go with a set party at this point, but it’s still irritating having that gap.

There was also a secondary party in this chapter, in a sense: we would occasionally cut back to the group from the end of Kain’s Tale. For simplicity’s sake, I won’t be jumping back and forth between the two parties here in the Journal.  Here’s how it worked: when we brought party 1 to the gates of Baron, the door was locked, so we had to go around the entire world to unlock it. As we did this, the game would occasionally cut back to the throne room conversation. Somehow, the entire conversation indoors took only two minutes as the other party goes through days of flight around the globe. It’s like they’re trying to insult me!

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Oh good, let’s start the chapter off with promising news.

The goal of this part of the chapter was to defeat the Eidolons running rampant about the planet, while simultaneously reuniting the entire extended party. Generally those tasks overlap: going about the process of clearing an Eidolon will get you a party member or two for your temporarily useless reserve, with one possible exception: Harley, who as far as we could tell only joins if you collect her independently (assuming you transferred her from Edward’s Tale in the first place!).

Once found, extended party members stayed in the airship’s hold, most with excuses for not joining us, save for the ones that could have been dead, who offer no excuses at all. Jackasses. The only luck we had was that the game combined the inventories of all our former save files, against all expectations, giving Rydia the Cockatrice summon, which was nice even if we never used it.

All in all, I enjoyed this section quite a bit, with the whole world open to both host puzzles and hide their solutions.  It reminded me favourably of a beloved section of mine in cult classic Guardian’s Crusade, which I’ll hopefully cover in Retrospective format some time in the future.

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TAY’s character focus shines through in moments like these, where we see Luca reunite with Cid’s family and see a few relationships that might have otherwise gone unexplored. Golbez, who once had this family’s patriach locked in a dungeon with no intention of releasing him, shuffles awkwardly in the foreground.

Reuniting with Harley was as simple as going to Damcyan, but the rest were more complicated. Titan refused to talk with Rydia and instead just knocked us into an underground cavern. We realized we’d need Porom or possibly Leonora to cast Float so to dodge his attacks (we assumed they’d have to join our party in the suspicious fifth slot, but we were mistaken!). We didn’t want to go for either: Leonora and Palom were certainly still in the lodestone cavernmines, and Porom was holding a shield around the Tower of Wishes to keep Ramuh from breaking in, and we just straight-up couldn’t handle that guy. There was no sign of Odin, Asura, Leviathan or Bahamut. Attempts to reach Mist and the Mist Dragon only found us an empty, foggy town where a voice (we assumed the Mist Dragon or the ghost of Rydia’s mother) telling us to come back when we had the others. Whichever quantity of the “others” was enough to satisfy, I guess. Ifrit was burning down Edge’s homeland of Eblan, and had set powerful flames that we mistook as requiring Shiva to snuff them.

First off, after or before collecting Harley, we went to Kaipo. There, true to the time loop (a-again?), we found both Yang and Ursula being nursed back to help by the same elderly couple that had treated Rosa and Harley. We told Queen Sheila, who donated some tools to bash them awake (Edge pouted about there not being any more Kitchen Knives for him to use as 9999 damage throwing weapons, which was pretty funny). We woke the two from their comas, but they weren’t able to join the party in their condition. Thankfully, Yang was able to calm the Sylphs, who joined Rydia again, finally giving us a healer in the party for the first time in forever.

tay-2015-10-14-08h59m57s254It’s been more than a bit too long, but I believe we next went after Palom and Leonora after a few failed attempts to breach Ramuh’s siege. There in the cave, which was thankfully no longer magnetized, we ran into Shiva. We defeated her largely with the help of Golbez’s Firaga spells (starting our joke about this being “Team Golbez!“, which only became more true with time), though it was Rydia who ultimately talked her down (instead of us having to kill her). Brought back to the airship, Leonora and Palom were left to rest and heal, and we went to Eblan only to find that the flames could not actually be extinguished by Shiva (or rather, the option did not exist).

tay-2015-10-14-09h03m11s779We poked around the dungeon (urm, town) and found two Fire Golems in Eblan’s somehow-still-standing towers, which we killed to make way to the throne room. Freeing the people trapped within, Edge decided to cause a distraction and lead Ifrit away, partially out of revenge for being chased by the Eidolon around the Tower of Babil. Rydia joined him, but they were both accosted not by Ifrit by by another being of flame: the ghost of Rubicante, who showed them a fire-based Band they were able to use to destroy the protections around Ifrit, who we then fought with the full party. Unfortunately, our first attempts to defeat the Eidolon ended with Rydia flat on her face in negative HP, and she wasn’t able to contain him. We had to give it another go. It was the first sign of trouble that would have us bailing Rydia at the first possible chance. This was aggravated by another factor: for whatever reason, Rydia’s Summons were much weaker now than they had seemed in the original game. I don’t really have an explanation.

Those two recovered, we gathered some extra Thunder protection from the underground caves and our forgotten inventory and fought Ramuh, who was incredibly hard to topple. Unfortunately, holding up the shield that had kept the Tower safe had drained Porom, and she also went to a sick bed. Trusting the writers, we nevertheless went after Titan, rationalizing that there was no way Rosa or a new White Mage was going to join us with Float, so Porom would have to do it. Sure enough, Porom came from the ship to cast Float on us at the last minute. Titan did pluck one of us to the sky by bringing them to 0HP, but wasn’t much of a threat once Porom had cost him his ability to end the fight in one move. With those Eidolons under the same banner and our party either reunited on the ship or trapped in the castle, we went to Mist, retrieved the Mist Dragon (it had been summoned by the combined effort of the town’s children, who still had a few drops of Summoner blood) and went to Baron… where the barrier had simply fallen. I suppose you could thank the Mist Dragon, but no explanation is really ever given!

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Pictured: “Not going well.”

Picking up with the other party, the conversation with Cecil was not going well, but honestly dragged more than it had to do.  This was about all that happened across multiple cuts: “You’re not Cecil!” “Yes I am!” “But you’re evil!” “Maybe not! C’mon, Ceodore, side with your father! No, don’t side with Kain! If you side with Kain I’m gonna fight you!” Some fighting happened, it wasn’t all that surprising that Ceodore sided with Kain, since Ceodore had not really shown his father much love up to this point. Once Rosa started helping Kain over Cecil, it was pretty obvious who Ceodore was going to side with. There were some battles, and I’d say they were all scripted until the last, but maybe not. Near the end, Cecil attacked the entire party (starting randomly with Rosa, yeesh) and somehow (perhaps the doppelganger waiting in the wings) summoned Odin. Rydia and the others burst in and… uh… hold on, I’m getting confused, let me check the internet.

(…Shit, is the guy in this video walkthrough level 50? We weren’t even at level 40!…)

Okay, I’ve got the events in order again. You’ll understand my confusion in a few paragraphs. So forget the part about people bursting in, that doesn’t happen yet. We fought Cecil and Odin with a party consisting of Ceodore, Kain, Cid, Edward and (finally) Rosa. Like with Golbez and Fusoya’s battle against the doppelgangers, we had to ignore Odin as he was invulnerable. After a while, Odin, who to remind you is the late King of Baron, recognized Kain and Rosa and called off his attack, cutting down Cecil instead to bring an end to things before rejoining Rydia (Odin is the only summon to factor into Rydia’s Bands, or so that we’ve seen, so him being mandatory makes sense). Just then, the others burst in and Cecil recognized his brother at once, not that the game bothered to change his name from “Man in Black” until the chapter break. A doppelganger fought us (Golbez, Ceodore, Rosa, Rydia, Edge) with some of the remaining Eidolons and proved to be a pain, though the difficulty felt appropriate for a major boss like the Archfiends honestly never did. She also happened to smack us with Meteor, which we survived, which makes our being underlevelled (as implied above) confusing: most walkthroughs say the Meteor should have wiped us off the board!

tay-2015-10-14-09h06m53s117Long story short, as I don’t remember most of it, we saw that the moon was now crashing down onto the world, as Cecil began screaming and thrashing about, having somehow lost his sanity in the process of being ripped from the doppelgangers’ control. Our characters all collectively decided that we had to go to the moon after the doppelgangers, after hearing the last piece of the already-seen story from Golbez, and so took the Lunar Whale. They reached the moon quickly, crashing the original cell phone episode into a sudden stop.

Prev: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years – Bad Guy Double Feature
Next: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years – The Immortal Slog


Screenshots in this Journal come from Valis77’s longplay of the 3D version of FFIV:TAY on the PC, available from World of Longplays (YouTube).

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2 comments

  1. Only the initial mobile version (released throughout 2008 chapter-by-chapter) had the last stretch of the game divided into three (Gathering, Final Tale part 1, Final Tale part 2); all other releases (including the WiiWare) combined them into one and named it “The Crystals”.

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