Month: April 2018

Final Fantasy Unlimited – I’ll Take ‘Cuisine’ for $200, Alex

ffu-2018-04-27-07h58m03s981Chapter 16 – Kigen Summon: Behind the Smile

Like I said before, we have another lecture from Cid at the start of this episode. He doesn’t have anything important to say. At all. He just lists a few devices we’ve seen in previous episodes, and talks about how they’re powered, most of which we already know? He then leads off as though he’ll have a third lecture in the next episode, but this feature never returns!

By the way, I’ve been using the Japanese title at the top of each episode writeup, as used on the FFWiki, but according to Fabula, the English title of this episode should actually be “Kigen Dragon.”

(more…)

Advertisements

Final Fantasy Tactics – You’re Under Arrest for Grinding

fft-2018-04-24-02h02m15s755The game led out of the previous scene via a text overlay that appeared over top of the image of Goltanna’s war room. I haven’t mentioned these overlays in much detail before, so I have to say: they’re really hard to read!  They’re written on top of the current scene with a translucent, sepia background layer instead of a flat colour, and it’s just such a mess. Sepia makes whites more white, blurring out the white text! In any event, the overlay is written from Ramza’s perspective, and he explains that he was headed to the royal capital in Lesalia to speak to one of his brothers – the nicer brother – and try to convince them that there was a conspiracy behind the war. When the game returned control to the two of us, we found Ramza in the city of Dorter, not far south from Lesalia. While we were here, I noticed that the monastery where we had met Ovelia had been removed from the map. Hm. We returned to our menu and reverted Ramza to Thief so he could back to work on grinding. We also got Agrias Move +1 and converted Arthur to Dragoon, though we had to buy him a spear before we could move on.

At this point, we did a lot of shopping and Errands, revisiting the entire map in the process. Yes, all of it. We got in plenty of random encounters fights, but mostly it was Errand after Errand for month after month of pacing in circles. I’m not going to address our random encounters, but please be aware that I’m skipping a little more than two hours and fifteen minutes of sidequesting, during which Ramza alone gained 6 levels, so it was hardly negligible.

(more…)

Final Fantasy Unlimited – A Game of Filler

ffu-2018-04-20-04h57m45s837Chapter 14 – Omega: Reunion and Departure

Outside Gaudium, we get our first look at the flying fortress’ defences. Remember the flying human hearts? It seems they form the four corners of a sort of energy shield. Good redundancy! It only covers a fraction of the fortress, but I imagine it can move, which is all you need against a party of RPG heroes in a single airship. Wouldn’t do so well against an entire air force, but it’s a good start.

The episode begins with Oscha confirming what Chapter 13 had only hinted at: that Chaos felt satisfied at the end of Chapter 13 because of Fungus’ death, not some other reason. The Earl reiterates that he’s “full” (done eating) as well, in case you’re having trouble drawing the line between the Earl and Chaos. In any event, Herba confirms that Fungus is dead, which I suppose needed confirming, and Oscha suggests they have a little eldritch-abomination-viewing party in “Chaos’ room.”

(more…)

Final Fantasy Tactics – Demons Did It

fft-2018-04-18-20h47m05s635Battle 22: Lionel Castle Oratory

What, seriously? We got all the way to the Cardinal’s oratory? First the kidnapping in Eagrose and now this! Cities have guards, FFT! Soldiers! Bodyguards, maybe? This is a world where Evil Fedex had several missions worth of armed thugs, but apparently we’ve chewed through the garrison of the city-state of Lionel’s in just three? All you need to do is represent them in a cutscene instead of ignoring them, or maybe throw us into a battle with them first! Geeze.

Our party confronted Cardinal Dealcroix, who demanded the Zodiac Stone, but Ramza simply repeated his demand for the cardinal to hand over Ovelia. To my surprise, Delacroix actually told Ramza where she had gone and that she had accepted the help of the conspiracy to become queen. Delacroix didn’t even try to get Ramza over to his side, though he did sort of mock Ramza for not… already being on his side? Ramza then says a few lines that I’m going to have to discuss at length.

(more…)

Final Fantasy Unlimited – The Only Significant Thing We Did All Day

ffu-2018-04-14-20h29m49s785

???

Chapter 12 – Fungus: Eternal Life

Chocoimo shows up to summarize the previous episode in place of Fabula, though Fabula shows up to foreshadow the episode to come, which includes an actual, real-life recording of a mushroom for some reason? Weirdness aside, this is the start of my favourite two episodes of the show (a two-parter), and I really mean it: aside from the usual FUF troubles of acclimatizing yourself to the voice acting, this is genuinely good TV for the genre. While that may mean that it’s all downhill from here, we might as well enjoy ourselves while we’re at the top!

We begin in Gaudium, where the Earl is holding a Crystal shard of Omega, shaped like a star and about as big as his child-fist. We learn that Oscha brought him the shard, and he’s not alone, as Herba, Pist and Makenshi arrive with even more Omega Crystals, Makenshi’s biggest of them all. The Earl is happy to see this last one, and promotes Makenshi to a proper Lord of Gaudium, which makes things even worse for Fungus, who’s still small and so hasn’t found a piece of Omega on his own. The Earl ends the scene with a veiled but obvious threat in Fungus’ direction.

(more…)

Final Fantasy Tactics – “I sure hope no one rescues you THIS time!”

fft-2018-04-10-12h21m31s636

900 AP and nothing worth buying

Now that Balias Swale is done, we move full-time into our second play-session, and thus our second batch of Journals. Journal entries from our second session span from the end of Balias Swale to the start of Chapter 4.

I should probably discuss our character-building plans at this point. On the physical job side of things, we planned to bring three characters to the three major “end point” classes in the combat branch. To repeat: Ramza would become a Ninja, Arthur would become a Dragoon, and Meryell would become the female character-exclusive Dancer. Because these classes were dependent on every other combat class, we would get a tour of all the major branches and learn which was which. Unfortunately, we made an oversight that had me laughing at… well, mostly myself for overlooking it: it turned out that Meryell was level 7, which was almost half the party average! Even Agrias’ two recruit knights were better off than her, and we hadn’t touched them since the prologue! Combined with Meryell’s crap Bravery, which I mentioned earlier, this meant that Meryell was basically terrible at everything we put her to, and after a while I think we had given up on her ever serving a critical role in the party, least of all as a Dancer.

(more…)

Final Fantasy Unlimited – Ciel, Shiel, Liel, Riel, Meal, The-L…

ffu-2018-04-07-14h55m53s487Chapter 10 – Mansion: The Memory of Sagiso

Today’s very special episode of Final Fantasy Unlimited is here to remind the audience that you, as a writer, don’t need to do anything genuinely meaningful or impactful to provide character development. You know, probably. The writers of FFU are betting on it, anyways.

Episode 10 begins with the party arriving in a strange, empty town at nighttime. The town appears to resemble a modern-day Japanese city with historical or historically decorated buildings amid the modern ones, but when Yu examines the gate at one particular building, he makes an unusual discovery: the whole town is actually made of solid, unmovable stone. It’s not a city, but rather a life-sized statue of a city. Definitely one of my favourite Wonderland peculiarities.

(more…)

Final Fantasy Tactics – Plunge into poison for your master!

Battle 17: Tchigolith Fenlands

So like, who do you think comes up with all these individual place-names, was that a job for the main writers or did they just have some dedicated intern sitting around for a day, making up words like “Tchigolith?”

fft-2018-04-04-00h50m18s455Battle 16 was against monsters. Undead, mostly, but also a Pig, which as I understand only appears randomly. The key factor in this battle was the fact that the fen water was poisonous. Kyle warned me as much, but I – both forgetting that characters could jump horizontally and not noticing a path of land in the corner – moved Ramza straight the fuck into the water the moment his turn started, figuring there was no other way to deal with the terrain but to suck it up! I noticed the patch of land soon after, and remembered that people could jump soon after that, after which the fight got a little boring. One flank, consisting of Mutadio, the Shitty White Mage, and Ramza the Swamp Thing, was able to fight effectively, while the other flank, Arthur, Meryell and Josephine, were stuck on a zig-zagged, one-way path the entire battle, taking the kick out of anything they tried to do. I should have stuck one of them in the bog. No, really! Poison wasn’t honestly that harmful, and for that matter neither was this group of monsters. Next!


After the battle, Kyle and I took a moment to stop our recording so that it wouldn’t run overlong like our Dirge of Cerberus disaster. We had already done this three times earlier in the day. Unfortunately, this time we forgot to turn the recording back on, and we lost the next few hours of play. Most of it was something in the neighbourhood of three random encounters at the tor while we were running Errands, all of which we won, no thanks to Ramza. You see, while we were accidentally off-the-record, we had finally opened up the Job chart and had decided on long term plans for everyone. Ramza was to be a Ninja; Arthur was to be a Samurai; Josephine was going to stay on Black Mage until we at least had Flare; Meryell would become the female-only Dancer class; while our garbage White Mage could become a male-only Bard – we would make him an Orator in the interim, which we could use to finally confront our ongoing Bravery and Faith deficit! The downside is that Ramza spent most of our grinding at the tor as a useless, useless Archer, trying to earn the four job levels required for Ninja. And just wait, after this he gets to be a useless Thief! And then a useless Geomancer!

fft-2018-04-04-00h50m53s901While most of our lost footage was mostly concerned with grinding, we did lose some plot, and even the first half of the next plot battle, before we realized we had forgotten to turn on the capture. Hold on a minute while I find a Let’s Play or a script or something so I can supplement my garbage notes and… ah, there we go!

Goug turned out to be an island town, which is going to be relevant in a battle or so. The party realizes that they arrive before the cardinal’s men, still operating under the assumption that the cardinal was… you know… sending any men. They do not question this any further, because the party is actually a pack of crickets in human suits and can be forgiven for such deductive oversights. The party splits up from Mustadio so that he can do some investigating on his own, saying they’ll reunite later. Oddly, the game gives you no option to meet up with him. Rather, the plot progresses only when you try to leave the town entirely. I guess they realized we’d try to run away from Mustadio and his problems the minute we were out of his line of sight? These game developers are geniuses!


Battle 18: Goug Lowtown

fft-2018-04-04-00h51m34s588

The moment our recording returns.

As it happened, Mustadio had been caught by Ludovich Baert himself. Baert reveals his hand to Ramza to make a deal for the Zodiac Stone. Not only is he threatening Mustadio, he also reveals Mustadio’s father to sour the pot. Mustadio finally caved and told Ramza where to find the stone. It wasn’t actually very far away, and Ramza tossed to Ludovich. Now that he had what he wanted, Ludovich ordered us killed.

The battle took place atop two rooftops with a gutter in the middle. By the time our recording checks in, Mustadio was already unconscious and Josephine, my only useful party member, trying to drop a spell on an enemy Summoner while two enemy Thieves attempted to stab her before she could do it. I’m afraid I don’t remember the sequence of events that led to that mess, sorry to say. But I pulled it off! The battle ultimately ended with our useless White Mage, now a useless Mystic (a debuffing job on the way to Orator), kept the Thieves off of Josephine by clubbing one with his staff, shockingly ending the battle. Hey buddy, you accomplished something! Maybe I’ll consider addressing you by name!


fft-2018-04-04-00h52m19s695Finding Mustadio’s father unguarded and alive, his father remarked that Ludovich would try to use the auracite to awaken the old mechanical ruins. But it wasn’t as bad as it seemed: Mustadio revealed that Ramza had given Ludovich a false auracite all along, one that Mustadio had planted well ahead of time for just such an occasion. The real stone, a yellow one, had actually been on Mustadio’s person all along, the least secure place it could have possibly been. Yeah, uh… my impression of Mustadio had been so low from the beginning (thanks in part to Kyle, but still) that I had actually suspected the auracite had been in his pocket all along. That Baert hadn’t searched him when Mustadio was captured defied even my lowest expectations.

But speaking of my lowest expectations, and to the shock of an 11 second real-world pause of joy, I discovered that Ramza had worked out the cardinal’s plan. He guessed about the cardinal working with Baert, he realized that he was now dealing with a hostage situation, he even guessed that the cardinal was aiming to summon the Zodiac Braves to take over the world! I… I didn’t promise that I wouldn’t cry… mostly because I never thought we would get here… but I’m crying anyway! Our sweet stupid baby is all growing up, and he didn’t even need to be kidnapped by an evil scientist, stuck in a tube for four years, and get shot at multiple times before realizing his genocidal employers didn’t think very highly of him! We’ve reached a new standard for the reversal of protagonist stupidity, people!

Better not let me down now, Ramz.

fft-2018-04-04-00h52m56s957Mustadio suggested that if we were going to rescue Ovelia, we could sneak up on Lionel by ship, since Lionel could easily stop us from crossing back the way we had come. He then joined our party for real, no longer an AI-controlled guest. Now that the fight is over, I can report on the status of our party after our three grinding battles and one plot battle: Ramza was still a useless Archer, much to my chagrin, though we were hoping to get his Archer’s Bane ability soon, which would allow him to dodge arrows in the future. Arthur was also a useless Archer! Meyrell was still a Thief, unfortunately. Lastly, we had bought Thundaga for Josephine, rather than wait explicitly for Flare.

The party sailed from Goug to the Port City of Warjilis in southern Lionel, which I would later learn (after completing the game) is the one location in the entire game where you never fight a battle! There’s even an unused map in the game’s data, just waiting for a battle that never comes! Instead, we got a cinematic on arriving in port (in WotL, this is another watercolour cinematic, while on the PSX it occurs a different map than the one I just discussed). Apparently, we had outmanoeuvered the cardinal, but we hadn’t escaped from Jerkface, who was here for another FMV chat with Ramza. Jerkface hinted that he belonged to a group with a good information network, but of course he refuses to elaborate. He also knew that we knew about the Zodiac Stones, and he warned us away from them specifically. After this, Jerkface repeated that only he could save Ovelia, but once again didn’t explain that sentiment, insist on that sentiment, or try to take Ovelia back. I realize that by this point, our party probably outclasses him on his lonesome, but he still looks very silly with these aimless demands!

fft-2018-04-04-00h53m34s787Ramza asked what Jerkface’s goal was in all this, and to my astonishment, he said he didn’t know! Ohhhh, that’s not good. A character should never say that unless confusion is important to their character arc, and Jerkface is too busy trying to appear all-knowing for me to believe that. He insisted that all the political players in this plot were “caught up in a mighty current [which …] they cannot see or feel,” because that’s basically Jerkface’s role in the plot right now: to be vague. He insisted he was trying to “swim against” the current, and walked off, a useless, human-shaped writer’s crutch.

Kyle wanted to do more Errands, but there was no way to run down the timer without sailing comically back and forth between Warjilis and Goug, so… that’s exactly what we did! One day’s travel my foot! When we first tried to leave town, we were interrupted by a cutscene, but no worries. During the cutscene we cut away to Lionel, where the cardinal was hosting both Baert and our old buddy, Gaffgarion. Apparently, Dicebag and Delacroix had already arranged for the princess to go to Dicebag, so the cardinal was trying to convince Gaffgarion, as Dicebag’s representative, to let him keep the princess long enough to con Ramza and team out of their Zodiac Stone, since their conspiracy wanted that as well. Gaffgarion agreed, and decided to set a trail of breadcrumbs for Ramza to follow into their trap, which would become clear soon enough.

fft-2018-04-04-00h55m23s337After Gaffgarion had left the room, Delacroix stood up and stabbed Baert for failing him “time and time again,” full Darth Vader. While I understand the need to reduce the cast and that, I feel the need to point out that the cardinal not only performed a murder himself that he probably could have gotten someone else to do to keep his hands clean, but he also basically just murdered this world’s equivalent of the East India Trading Company, or maybe the CEO of Wal-Mart. It seems impossible that no one will want to follow up on this, and since the Baerts are criminals, they probably have someone willing to kill in revenge, wouldn’t you think? Also, remember that the Baert Trading runs a huge legitimate trading company, even if you set aside its illegal activities, and even those unfortunately impact the economy. Nevermind the moral concerns for the moment, my issue is that we will never hear about this again. The Baert Trading Company just evaporates into vapour like Castlevania after Dracula dies, because that’s what’s convenient to the narrative.

After a few Errands, our reserve party members gained a few levels and, among other things, we changed Ladd to a Chemist, for reasons that escape me after the fact. Our useless low-Faith Mystic (no, no I’ve decided to leave him unnamed for now) was promoted to a genuinely useful Orator, if only because his high Bravery made him a useful sharpshooter with his new gun. Arthur, meanwhile, became a Thief on his way to Samurai, and we taught him Steal Heart, having seen its potential back in Chapter 1.


fft-2018-04-04-00h55m58s788Battle 19: Balias Swale

After a long stretch of battles being won on our first tries, it was finally time for our shitty, transitional Job setup to bite us in the ass. Hard. Since we were currently trapped in this corner of the map, there was nowhere to grind, and that would remain the case until we had cleared Battle 19. Poor design! Unfortunately, the game wasn’t about to let us do that, and we spent basically the remaining half hour of our play session failing to complete Battle 19 over two attempts.

Battle 19 was split between two zones, divided by a deep river. You can’t perform any actions if you’re swimming in deep water, so it was a considerable obstacle (Geomancers have a skill to walk on water, which ironically costs more than their ability to walk on lava, because the game simply has more water maps!). Arriving at the battlefield, we found that Agrias had “escaped from” (been let free by) the cardinal and was now being “pursued” by Lionel’s Gryphon Knights, who were chasing her as unenthusiastically as possible to make sure she got to Ramza to set the bait. Thankfully, Agrias had been thoroughly upgraded in our absence, so she was a handy guest party member, which was good because she had to survive for us to win this battle. Unfortunately… basically everything else.

fft-2018-04-04-00h56m21s838We had to deploy a sturdy force to the left flank where Agrias was on the run, since keeping Agrias alive was an objective, but that meant that we had sincere problems both managing the right flank and getting our troops back together after we had taken one flank or the other. The left flank held a Black Mage we typically had little trouble dispatching, but also two durable Knights and an Archer in a difficult position at the extreme corner of the map, atop a hill. The right flank, meanwhile, had a Black/Time Mage guarded by an Archer, which shouldn’t have been a concern, but who could we rout them quickly enough to cross the river? Note that basically no one in our party was a meat shield at this point, save for Agrias, and we were trying to protect her!

During the battle, Agrias asked why Ramza was here, and he loudly announced “WE’RE TRYING TO BREACH THE CASTLE FROM THE POSTERN, I HOPE NO ONE OVERHEARS OUR TOP SECRET PLAN AND RELAYS IT BACK TO LIONEL.” Oh Ramza, I know all this shouting isn’t going to hurt you, because they’re actually leading you into a trap, but I guess you haven’t changed that much after all, have you? Agrias told us that the Cardinal was going to execute the princess, but this was just another part of the bait.

fft-2018-04-04-00h56m50s861

Urm, they’re just sleeping.

Kyle made our first attempt, but had trouble seizing the right flank due to mistakenly taking both gunners – Arthur the Orator and Mustadio – in the same group. That cost us Arthur’s life when Kyle was unable to finish the battle in time, forcing us to restart. During my attempt, I misunderstood the mechanics of the river and ended up wasting Josephine for the entire battle as she tried to swim to an island in the middle.

We broke for the night after my second attempt at the battle. The plan between sessions had been for me to clear the battle out on my own time and then to grind away our useless, useless Archer and Thief jobs so that they would stop cramping our style. Unfortunately, due to a combination of blog work and non-blog work, I had other things to do, and we would have to wait for our next session to see this battle cleared out at last. As a result, this marks the break between my first batch of Journals (written after our first play-session) and the second batch of Journals (written after our second play-session), but I imagine you’ll want to see the end of the battle I close up the post, so let’s truck ahead and see how that went!

fft-2018-04-04-00h58m17s843When we got back to the game at the start of our second session, well… I can’t speak for Kyle but for me, it felt inevitable that we would get through the battle on our first attempt, and we did! But in the end, the entire thing hinged so dramatically on an early lucky roll (or possibly two) that I can’t honestly say how we would have performed without it! In short, the battle began with automated Agrias using her Judgment Blade ability on both the enemy knight and Black Mage on the front lines, a pretty typical opening move for her. However, Judgment Blade has a very small chance of causing Stop to its targets, and this time, it Stopped the Black Mage! For reasons known only to the PSP, this caused the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Archer in the corner of the map to descend from her secure corner perch and walk straight up to Agrias in a poorly advised attempt to shoot someone in our back ranks instead of shooting Agrias like she usually did, and between her abandoning her post and the Black Mage being basically out of play, the entire enemy flank collapsed.

Kyle still had a good deal of trouble securing the right flank, even after Charming the archer there, because the enemy Black Mage hid in a tree-obscured corner of the map, but the battle was finally won, and we were able to move on. After the battle, Agrias told us that Ovelia was due to be executed at a place called the Golgollada Gallows. After this, she actually offered to join our party as a full-time member under our control, despite her seeming like such a serious, top-tier specialist! After all, Holy Knight is the same class that Jerkface seems to have – although, internally, they’re not identical. Kyle warned me that Agrias’ Holy Sword skills require she actually have a sword equipped, so we decided to leave her in the class until she had learned all her Holy Sword abilities, and after that move her to Knight to get Equip Swords, even though equipping the Equip Swords ability would mean slowing down her development in other classes, since it would mean unequipping JP Boost. After all: if we weren’t going to use Holy Sword, why take her over a generic?

fft-2018-04-04-00h59m30s712

Finally

Funnily enough, this promotion of Agrias from guest to main party member also means that she’s demoted in terms of the plot. Because the game can’t guarantee that Agrias remain alive past this point (although the opening scene of the next battle does have lines for her, should you bring her), she basically has to bow out of her role as a central, voiced character from this point on and recede into the ranks of the faceless generics, with only a few text sequences to come (two?), all of them optional. Even Mustadio gets more stage time than her! It’s a sad consequence of a game with party member permadeath, but a storied one.


After the battle, we gave Arthur Parry from the Knight tech tree thanks to carry-over job points, and Move +1 from the Squire with even more carry-over job points! We also bought Ramza another Green Beret for his noggin, after a Knight so kindly Rent his old one in the previous battle.

Prev: Final Fantasy Tactics – St. Backstab
Next: Final Fantasy Tactics – “I sure hope no one rescues you THIS time!”

Final Fantasy Unlimited – It Goes On and On

ffu-2018-03-30-20h59m43s978Episode 9 – Oscha: The Endless Project

I’m afraid today’s post is going to be short. My reasoning: two upcoming episodes, 12 and 13, are a two-parter and I want them to be in their own spotlight post. Unfortunately, if I combined Eps 9-11 into one post to get to that point, it would go way over my self-imposed word limit for Final Fantasy posts, so I’ve decided to let Ep 9 stand on its own. It seems like a better choice than Ep 11, considering that Ep 9 is actually one of my favourite episodes in the show! That is not an April Fool’s joke, I actually think about this episode a lot. It’s weird, but it’s – shall we say? – artistically weird. If you can believe that.

(more…)