We’ll open with the same screenshot, just like playing the actual dungeon!
So, during my most recent FFVIII post, I was discussing my least favourite dungeon in the entire Final Fantasy Marathon, D-District Prison. For point of reference, I also threw some shade on my previous least-favourite dungeon, the Ronka Ruins from FFV. But as I added in an edit after the fact, I actually replayed FFV not long after FFVIII, and realized I didn’t dislike the Ronka Ruins as much as I remembered. If you want to see my comments on those two dungeons, check out that post. In this post, I’m going to follow up those thoughts by trying to work out my new #2 least-favourite dungeon!
Now, some quick standards. Because not every FF game has “dungeons,” we’re going to be weighing whatever each game considers to be a distinct “unit of play.” That means dungeons in the traditional RPGs, any chapter/stage in the stage-based games, and any battle or fixed series of battles in FFT (spoiler: there are no FFT battles on this list, not even the duel with Wiegraf. But I thought it would be nice to have that rule in case we revisit this list after playing FFTA!). Also, this is only for games we’ve covered in the Final Fantasy Marathon at the time of writing (in the middle of FFVIII), and for Final Fantasy alone. If I had allowed Persona 1 dungeons, there’d be nothing else on the fucking list, so I am happy to dismiss it. No TV episodes or films either, both because they’re so different and because, like Persona 1, LotC and FFU would just dominate the list. With that out of the way, let’s take the the dungeons in Marathon order.
Chapter 12-1: Omega & Chaos
Chapter 12 begins with Yuffie running into the room just in time to see Vincent smacked into the wall by the Lifestream. Meanwhile, outside of the city, it seems like the WRO has managed to destroy basically every part of the city but the reactors. A great pillar of Lifestream rises up and tendrils of mako energy shoot out to reactors, as the Omega Weapon manifests in the ruins of Midgar and the clouds open to reveal Kingdom Hearts. Urm… the moon. The clouds open to reveal the moon. (more…)
Chapter 11: Beginnings
Heading inside the next building, the party found a pod for Shelke, though it’s unclear what it’s supposed to… do for her. Is it a Deepground-model healing tank that uses magic/radiation instead of fluid? An MP recharger to make up for her draining herself with the Shield Materia? Is it a mako replenisher for Shelke’s essentially-forgotten mako dependence? We just don’t know! And never will! (more…)
Vincent backhands a Beast.
Chapter 9: An Empire in Ruins
This chapter begins with Shelke reminding you about those big scary defences she was talking about earlier, and how they’re still a thing. Oh and extra bad news, because apparently none of your allies have managed to scratch the reactors. On the other side of the coin, Vincent has arrived at the Shinra building, however many hours late. Shelke tells him that the entrance to Deepground is in the building somewhere, but she doesn’t know where. Oh, it’s okay, Shelke, it’s only a secret elevator hidden in a building that’s 70 storeys tall, no big deal.
…Hey, wait, Shelke, didn’t you come out of this building just a few weeks ago? You know, through the entrance to Deepground? (more…)
Chapter 7: The Shera
In between Chapters 6 and 7, Kyle and I made a discovery in the gun upgrade screen: Gun frames that have reached a certain level can no longer receive traditional, flat upgrades, but you must instead choose an upgrade path from a list of three. This, by the way, is why the game offers base-level gun frames for sale, so that people who just love customization can take their favourite guns down multiple paths, or so players who have made a mistake can correct it at a cost. Our beloved Cerberus pistol frame was at this point Level III, but we didn’t have the money to upgrade it down any of the three paths (which cost the same, as you can see in the attached screenshot). Meanwhile, our Griffon submachine gun frame was Level II and couldn’t go any further without branching (this is odd, as the Hydra sniper rifle frame also goes up to Level III, so only the Griffon stops at II), but we could afford the upgrade. We had to choose between the powerful and accurate P Griffon, which had a shitty magazine size as a downside; the longer range but otherwise unremarkable S Griffon; and the jack-of-all-master-of-none M Griffon. (more…)
Chapter 6: Deepground Strikes Back
We start this chapter in Vincent’s flashbacks, specifically back when he spoke to Lucrecia and Hojo about their conceiving a child and experimenting on it. For some reason, Hojo appears enveloped in shadow in all of these flashbacks. It’s a lot of shadow, too! If it was simply meant to make him look menacing, they went way too far. Instead, it’s as though his identity was somehow a secret, but I can’t imagine why as established fans know perfectly well who he is and new players shouldn’t be confused into thinking his identity is a mystery, which could actually cause problems and is my biggest complaint! Frankly, Hojo should be getting an introduction for new players, not be treated as a stranger! (more…)
One of the most curious parts of DoC’s story occurs right at this point in the narrative. Just a few days after DoC’s North American launch, Square Enix released a bonus chapter of the game’s story to cell phones, specifically on Amp’d Mobile and Verizon in the west, developed by a company called Ideaworks3D. Called “Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode –Final Fantasy VII–,” the game is basically lost today (like many pre-smartphone cell phone games) and the most complete surviving video is of the Japanese version with English subtitles, and even it has notable missing content. (more…)
Chapter 2: Showdown in the Wastes
Taking a Shadowfox to Edge, Reeve attempts to fill Vincent in on the attackers, whom he identifies as “Deepground soldiers.” Reeve says that over the course of President Shinra’s reign, Mr. Respectable gathered the innumerable Deepground soldiers you encounter during the game without anyone noticing, and then tucked them into the Shinra HQ basement like action figures, right next to trillions of dollars’ worth of vehicles and robots, and mutated them into super-soldiers. This is a highly believable and respectable narrative.
Reeve explains that the Tsviets are Deepground’s elites, and besides their names, that that’s basically all Reeve knows, and even that from rifling through Scarlet’s files. Considering Deepground wasn’t necessarily relevant to the WRO rank-and-file until about an hour ago, he must have handed out a memo pretty damned fast if the sergeant recognized Rosso just seconds ago, in another part of the world! Reeve figures Heidegger, Scarlet and Hojo might have known more about Deepground, but they’re all dead (or so I assume Heidegger and Scarlet are dead, since Reeve makes no attempt to contact them), and he figures that Rufus doesn’t know anything at all, because of the chaos of his rise to power (though come to think of it, Reeve doesn’t make any on-screen attempt to talk to him, either…). (more…)
Or as Kyle put it at the start of our second session: “Do you want to play Dirge of Cerberus today or do you want to play something fun?”
Dirge of Cerberus. Dirge of Ceberus has the lowest Metacritic score of all Marathon games to date (besides my filler coverage of All the Bravest), beating out – to my confusion and amazement – actual digitized canker sore Mega Man X7 by a single percentage point. This also makes it the lowest Metacritic score of all single player Final Fantasy games released to date, in the entire franchise, so, uh, geeze, what do I even say? (more…)