kingdom hearts retrospective

Final Fantasy Tactics – Appendix: Sound Novels

As the sound novels were not available for our playthrough, I’ll be using screenshots from the end credits for this appendix.

Remember FFT’s Errands, and the artefacts they sometimes rewarded? You know, the ones that referenced past Final Fantasy games, accelerating the grand, incestuous tradition of Final Fantasy cross-references? In international versions of FFT, there’s only one artefact you get to examine up close: the Scriptures of Germonique. But this wasn’t necessarily the case in the Japanese release, where all the book-like artefacts can be experienced to some degree, in this case in the form of “sound novels.” These were never translated, not even in international versions of the remake.

What does FFT consider a “sound novel?” The term shouldn’t be confused with “audio drama,” and the word “novel” shouldn’t be taken literally either. Basically, they’re text-driven short stories that happen to have dynamic background music (the music is available internationally, if only in FFT’s hidden sound test). FFT’s sound novels also happen to be games of a sort, ranging from Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories to games with actual variables to track.


Kingdom Hearts BBS – Hunter of the Dark

While Kingdom Hearts fans are used to secret endings in their games, Birth by Sleep: Final Mix went in a different direction by including not just a second secret ending, but an entire secret, playable chapter. This “Secret Episode” is also known by the name “A Fragmentary Passage,” but as this is now also the name of Kingdom Hearts 0.2, I don’t intend to call it that. I don’t call KH0.2 that either, but that has more to do with its title being an engorged word vomit that only deserves to be addressed by the shortest title we can manage to spite its hubris. So everybody wins, except for the words “A Fragmentary Passage.”


Kingdom Hearts BBS – We’re ‘Return of the King’ing It Over Here

For starters, let’s talk about that Combat Lv boost I mentioned a few times towards the end. This is frequently unknown or misunderstood around the fandom (no thanks to Square Enix’s poor implementation of the feature), so I’ll try to pass on the research others have made to clear this up.

What the game wants to do is this: after you complete the Final Episode, the three completed save files “attached” to the Final Episode will have their Combat Lvs overwritten with higher ones to make grinding easier. Unfortunately, should you open a regular character file after beginning but before completing the Final Episode, it will screw up the Battle Lv. for Radiant Garden, which is supposed to be the highest of all, meaning any grinding you do will be slowed! The best course of action, frankly, is to be ready to go into the Final Episode the moment you first complete each character file, but failing that, overwrite the Final Episode by re-completing any character file you dare to open. One commentor I saw online suggested you get rid of old BBS save files whenever you play the game again, too, but I’m not sure that’s necessary. We’re still not sure of many of the details, but that’s the best we have at the moment!


Kingdom Hearts BBS – Sibling Rivalry

The Final Episode begins with an extended cutscene. The cutscene begins with Aqua taking Ven’s body out of the Mysterious Tower, and as she muses about needing somewhere to put him, his hand moves and summons his Keyblade, making a portal of light. Aqua sees inside it (though we cannot, even when looking at it) and she laughs and says “All right, if that’s where you want to go.”

After a loading screen, we see that Ven has brought them back to the ruins of the Land of Departure. Even though you could have come here with Aqua during her save file, it’s impossible to get to the entrance to the castle, so she still has some ugly discoveries to make. Chiefly, she finds Eraqus’ Keyblade, the Master’s Defender, still lying among the wreckage. She collects the Keyblade, musing about how some of her last words to Eraqus were about Terra’s strength and light, given the outcome in front of her.


Kingdom Hearts BBS – The March to 100%

At this point, I’m going to address late-game content that appears in all of the three characters’ folders. Bear in mind that these sorts of things should be done before moving on to the Final Chapter that I mentioned briefly earlier in the Retrospective. While the Final Chapter does have some access to main-game content, including the Mirage Arena, I don’t actually recommend that any players do any optional play in the Final Chapter, as it’s an invitation to disaster. Should you do grinding, questing, or anything of any substance in the Final Chapter, you run the risk of learning that you’re locked out of some post-game bonus because its criteria is no longer available in the Final Chapter, and all that work will go to waste. Ideally, players should use the Final Chapter to follow the Final Chapter’s story and nothing else.


Kingdom Hearts BBS – Ohana Means You’d Make the Weirdest Brothers

Just a heads up: I’ve fallen dramatically behind on writeups for both Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, and on top of that Kyle and I have yet to clear the next FF game, Final Fantasy Tactics, in this first place. For this and other reasons, the blog will be going on indefinite hiatus after the completion of Birth by Sleep and Dirge of Cerberus, which are the last writeups I have that are complete.

To try to sync up the end dates of BBS and DoC, Dirge of Cerberus will be uploaded at an accelerated pace, with updates on both Thursdays and Sundays. With everything going as scheduled, this means the last KH post will be July 11th, and the last FF post will be July 13th.

Sorry for the bad news, but for now: on with today’s post! Two worlds today!

Aqua arrives at Deep Space and, showing a continued off-screen disregard for locks, is already on-board the ship the moment her visit begins, with no fussy Glider segment leading it off! An alarm begins to sound, and Aqua quickly discovers why: Unversed are on board the ship.

Fight, fight, fight, and after the battle, Aqua spots a strange item lying on the floor. The player probably won’t recognize what they’re seeing at first, so thankfully Aqua clarifies immediately: it appears to be a Wayfinder made of scrap metal and parts. Just as she’s beginning to question it, who should appear but Experiment 626, who jumps in and takes it from her. Or rather, takes it back, as it appears to be of his own creation!


Kingdom Hearts BBS – Sack of Ice Cubes

Aqua has only just arrived at the coliseum when she’s attacked by a troupe of Unversed, and she’s about to respond, only for Phil to bound on the scene and start flexing out in a bunch of goofy “martial arts” poses. He claims that he’s going to fight the Unversed, calling Aqua “sweetcheeks,” and she’s so put off by this that she flinches… well, either that or she’s just as repulsed by satyrs as women in many a Greek myth or adaptation, either/or. Of course, Phil can’t back up his bluff and calls Hercules instead, who appears from the coliseum entrance to join you for the opening fight of the world.


Kingdom Hearts BBS – Voice Actor’s Guild Violation

So did anyone else ever notice that no one checks your lifetime pass to Disney Town, orrrr…?

Aqua arrives in Disney Town and immediately runs into another of those unidentifiable heroes they apparently have running around like mice. Let’s see… first it was Captain Justice, then it was Captain Dark, and this is… oh my goodness, ladies and gentlemen, may I present actual voice actor Jim Cummings, walking onto the scene in lifelike 3D!


Kingdom Hearts BBS – Gymnastic Attack

We’ve seen the Trinity Armour scene and the reunion between the three playable characters twice now, so I’m just going to say that Aqua has gone from “Terra would never do that!” to “I’ve seen the things you’ve done” in just one world and leave it at that. You’ll have to excuse me if I’m missing anything here, because it’s simultaneously hard to squeeze every drop of water from a sponge, and easy to get overwhelmed if you try to count the droplets.