Battle 62: Airship Graveyard
Welcome to Final Fantasy Tactics, the only game in the franchise to end in a garage! An Airship hangar, I mean. Ramza’s summary of the Scriptures of Germonique had already set up the existence of airships in the past, and airships are a franchise standard, so I suppose the authors felt there would be no sense in ending the game without a visit to the airship. Besides… it allowed the devs to cheat. But more on that in a moment.
Apparently, Folmarv sensed Ajora’s spirit lingering on one particular derelict airship, and he had set up Alma’s body with the Virgo stone here to revive the High Seraph. But the ritual wasn’t working… at least not until Folmarv saw Ramza and the party and pulled the title “Angel of Blood” from out of his ass (we’d only later learn that the High Seraph is the “Angel of Blood,” but there was no setup for this at the time, like a lot of name-related things in FFT). He decided to transform into Hashmal, Bringer of Order, the lion Lucavi, to get the blood he needed out of our bodies and all that. Indeed, some fans seem to have decided that the entire War of the Lions was orchestrated for the blood they needed, but this seems unlikely, given that it didn’t occur to Folmarv to add more blood until giving it a few hours of thought. If the War had been a blood sacrifice all along, you’d think “more blood” would be at the front of his mind!
And heyyyyyy! Would you look at that! The semifinal boss in a story about a war between two lion factions is a… you get it? You guys? Do you get it?
The derelict airship that formed our battlefield had a special property: aside from the deck, which was at Height 1, its surface was sloped, putting the vast majority of its squares at Heights of X.5 instead of X.0. This meant that there was no way to single out a target via easy Arithmaticks, since Arithmaticks can only target integers! After I foolishly moved Cid onto the deck with Hashmal, I lost my easiest method of bombarding the boss with Holy spells. What a pain in the ass, making me apply effort and strategy!
Hashmal made things worse by group-casting Stop on Ramza, Agrais and Arthur, leaving Cid and Josephine to do the heavy lifting. But lift they did, even considering Josephine’s low level. By the time the others revived, Hashmal only survived long enough to take a single attack from Agrais (and not even her Dual Wielding second attack!).
At this point, Alma woke up, and Hashmal realized he had failed. In one last hope, he gave up his own blood, in a surprisingly graphic animation for Final Fantasy where he pulled apart his own chest with his claws and got blood everywhere! This killed him, but it seems he was right about all the Angel of Blood stuff, as St. Ajora revived in Alma’s body. This was followed by the most tonally inappropriate “the battle is won!” screen and jingle in the entire game.
As one final change between battles, we decided to swap out Josephine’s “Recover MP at Critical HP” for “Arcane Defence” from the White Mage tree, instead. Naturally, we brought her to the following battle, rather than Wilham! We also gave Ramza an Angel Ring to give him Auto-Life, rather than rely on movement-boosting boots like in the past. Not sure why we thought to change his accessories in the first place, yet not his stupid job, but there we were.
Battle 63: Airship Graveyard, continued
When Alma tried to resist Ajora’s possession, he simply spat her off as a separate person somehow, no longer needing her assistance! So, is it time for us to learn more about Ajora, the deep past, the Zodiac Braves, the Lucavi and their motives, and all that lore stuff that FFT was so obsessed with in its first half? Fuck no! Ajora just revealed that he was the host of the High Seraph, Ultima, and that it was time for him to transform into Ultima, backstory be damned! Backstory for the High Seraph be damned! It’s like the narrative just… gave up! Were the devs ordered to rush out the final hours or something? An incredibly disappointing end to those plot threads!
While we’re on the subject, what happened to the beneficial side of the auracite, that we saw when one of them revived Marach? I saw someone online saying it would be explained in FFXII, and that’s good for FFXII, but it’s just forgotten in FFT! Which is just par for the course for FFT.
Ajora calls a few Ultima demons and transforms into Ultima herself. My reaction to her true form? “Lady, you look like an old school Persona boss.” Her second form even moreso! Ultima’s first form was actually weakened in the remake (specifically, her speed was decreased), which isn’t the case of her second form.
Curiously, Alma is a guest in the final battle! She has no weapons, and the only way to get her to cause damage is – get this – to get her to suffer through the Ultima spell, since she can learn it like Luso and her brother! For the record, Kyle and I didn’t even know she could learn Ultima at the time, and it’s probably better that she not learn it, since she still has Aegis and will use it exclusively if she never learns Ultima. You’ll probably want to heal her though, since she starts the battle in poor condition.
Seeing as how this is the final boss and all, it probably pays for me to go into extra detail. Unfortunately for Ultima, she had spawned in near cross-formation with two of her demons, so I was happy to relieve her of them with Holy Sword attacks from Agrias and Cid. That just left the two hangers-on, and I pondered whether or not I could hit all three of them with Arithmaticks. Unfortunately, Ultima’s stats were hidden from me just like the other Lucavi (other than her current Height/elevation, of course) and the only way to work out if she was subject to Arithmaticks was to check every possible variable and see if she was highlighted by the targeting! Very time consuming. After I confirmed there was no safe combination that would hit all three, I tried to bomb Ultima with a traditional White Magic-cast Holy, but she teleported aside and cut Josephine down instead – putting herself on an unassailable X.5 height square in the process!
Arthur revived Josephine, at which point the party moved to encircle Ultima (Agrias put paid to one of the other Ultima Demons in the process). Unable to find a way to attack Ultima with Josephine’s Arithmaticks, we used Arithmaticks to Curaga Josephine and Alma instead, which was probably the best move I could have made at the time, even though it hadn’t occurred to me! To my surprise, the final surviving Ultima Demon took this opportunity to cast Nanoflare on most of the party… but also on Ultima! Believe it or not, this must have taken Ultima to critical health or something, because when her next turn came, she started complaining about having lost, and transformed to her second form! Oh, and also she talked about Ramza being some sort of descendant of Germonique, because gods forbid this game with a confused subtext about the oppressed peasant class end without a Destined Hero Born of Nobility And Descended From High Blood saving the day.
In any event, on with the second stage of the battle, against Ultima the Arch Seraph. The fight continued from exactly where it left off, though like other such battles in the past, all surviving minor enemies were wiped off the board. This allowed us to surround Ultima and mercilessly pummel her. Honestly, it wasn’t even a contest. Kyle says it’s a lot trickier if Ultima is actually able to attack, but with our high-speed party above or around Ultima’s own speed, we were able to get off way more attacks than Kyle had back when he played this in the 90s. It didn’t help that some of Ultima’s cast times were as slow as Cloud’s, and I meant that literally: her ultimate spell, Divine Ultima, has the same speed as Cloud’s second-slowest Limit Break!
That’s really the best I can say, the final battle was basically us wailing on this evil angel and she could do nothing in response. We even discovered that her Level left her independently vulnerable to Arithmaticks at the outset, which allowed Josephine to Flare her for free until Cid later gained a level and broke that for us (from that point on we were forced to rely on Ultima’s CT, if anything). Cid landed the final blow, just after Arthur got his second and equally useless use of his Iaido skills in the entire game. Seriously, fuck Samurai. Anyways, game over.
Ultima exploded, seemingly taking the entire party with her. We cut to Eagrose sometime later, where mourners were holding Alma’s funeral, she being the only member of the family still eligible for one and all (well, maybe Zalbaag). House Beouvle was officially dead.
After the other mourners left, Orran arrived to visit the grave privately, along with – to my surprise – Valimfra. Orran started to talk about Jerkface and how Jerkface was now married to Ovelia, and how they had taken over the country together. Orran thought highly of Jerkface, since he had let Valimfra free and unharmed after her attempt to kill him. I, on the other hand, thought far less of the fucker, and it goes beyond the usual level of “Jerkface,” but I’ll get into that in a minute after the game confirms that I was right about a few assumptions I was making at the time.
Oh, and for some odd reason, Valimfra doesn’t talk during this scene. It’s a text sequence, devs! She can say whatever you want her to! Like an explanation for her being alive!
Orran then asks if his father “died bravely,” implying that no one made it out of the necrohol. Don’t worry, Orran, he dealt the final blow, I’d say that qualifies! But just then, who should arrive at their own funeral but Alma and Ramza on chocobo-back, making a deliberate appearance for Orran’s sake, but being too full of shit to actually talk to him or anything. I don’t even know what to say. The game doesn’t confirm as much, but if the FFWiki can be trusted on the matter, Yasumi Matsuno apparently tweeted that the rest of the party survived as well, and that they also went to live in hiding.
Unfortunately, things aren’t so bright for Orran “My friends and father won’t even talk to me” Orlandeau, as the outro reveals that he was the one who wrote the documents found by Arazlam at the start of the game, the ones that confirm that Ramza saved the day, and the church burned Orrin to death for it. Didn’t want to take him into hiding or anything, huh Ramza? That go well for you, at least? Oh I’m sure you’re real happy.
Unusually for the era, FFT has a post-credits sequence. Ovelia is once again at her favourite ruined monastery (I joked to Kyle that, as queen, she could probably restore the place if she wanted?). King Jerkface arrived with a bouquet of flowers, telling us that it was her birthday, only for her to pull Agrias’ knife and stab him. The animation here’s not very good, by the way – I initially mistook her action for a hug! She shouts at Jerkface for “using” Ramza and the party, just like everyone else in his life, and that she figures she’ll one day cast her aside too. This confirms what I was thinking earlier: that Ovelia still has serious, serious doubts about the man she married, raising the possibility that she may have been coerced her into the marriage, meaning not only is he a Jerface who punched his future wife when they first met and was nothing but a dick from virtually end-to-end of the story, but he’s possibly a rapist! I know, right? Also, additional “great friend” points to Ramza, who just left her there and furthermore left her with the impression that they were all dead, leading directly to her actions in this very scene! Our hero!
At this point, Jerkface takes the knife and stabs Ovelia in return, killing her instantly. Worse still, Arazlam’s insinuation that he was considered a wise ruler and not a brief one implies that he survived Ovelia’s attack. Jerkface then stared off into space, wondering if Ramza got what he deserved just like he just did. Oh yeah, having to murder the woman you only claimed to have cared about, and even that because you impressed the memory your dead sister onto her, and then went on to live for decades as Ivalice’s best-remembered king, oh you definitely got the short end of the stick.
Speaking of Ivalice’s communal memory, how exactly does Arazlam plan to prove that Ramza held off an invasion of demons? He claims to have recently unearthed new evidence that “proves” it, but let’s think about that for a minute. How would you do that in the real world? Really think about that for a minute. Let’s take… hm, I don’t know… Eberhard of Franconia, real-world historical figure who led a rebellion against Otto the Great, and whom I feel fairly confident you have never heard of in the same way the people of Arazlam’s Ivalice have never heard of Ramza but have heard of Jerkface. What sort of “recent evidence” would convince you that Eberhard did a little more than rebel against a well-remembered king? What if I tried to tell you that Eberhard also defeated a demonic invasion led by the evil, resurrected Jesus of Nazareth, and that’s why demons don’t exist in the real world today! What historical evidence is possibly going to get you to sign off on that? I have this strange feeling that Arazlam is not going to be very successful with his coming press push. Just… just a thought.
At this point, FFT on the PSP saves the fact that you cleared the game to the game’s system file, allowing you to access some final multiplayer missions.
I don’t have many final thoughts about FFT. While these Journals may have segued into big, concluding sections for FFVII and KH2, I think we’re back at the point I intended for this blog, wherein my opinion should be self-evident by the end, without the need for a dedicated conclusion. I liked the gameplay, but not the tedium and random encounters, and the narrative doesn’t know what it’s actually doing. Still, it was willing to take that extra step towards a legitimate political narrative in gaming, and the industry probably owes it just a little for that.
This won’t be the last post on FFT, however, as I’m going to have an appendix about a feature that was in the Japanese version but not the international versions, which was only available via fan translation: the in-game FFT “sound novels.”