The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy IV, part 11

I don't expect it to last, but it'll be nice while it does.

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

The Lunar Whale is clearly the spiritual equal to the Invincible from Final Fantasy III; there’s an onboard Fat Chocobo, a free inn, all of that fun stuff.  But more importantly, it’s our ticket to the moon!  We’re on the moon!  Yay!

What were we going to do on the moon again?  I mean, I know Golbez wanted to get to the moon, but do we know why he wanted to get to the moon or what he planned on doing once he arrived on the moon?

Leaving aside that I’m pretty sure an angry fight broke out on the Lunar Whale as someone asked that question, there’s a store up here that sells Elixirs and Ethers, and there’s a big crystalline palace just sitting there that seems like the place to visit.  So we find a place to park the Whale, get out, and head into a castle just outside of it.  With only the slightest bit of concern, at that.  I mean… I remember what happened the last time I entered a cave near an otherwise isolated tower of crystal.  It wasn’t necessarily a fun ride.  Stupid Cloud of Darkness.

Actually, I'd feel a lot better about the character if he actually looked nonhuman instead of just a random old guy.

Like Ramuh, he is a beard with a guy attached.

Mercifully for the party, the tunnels are nothing like the Labyrinth of the Ancients from the last game, serving more as a minor navigational hazard as the group enters the Crystal Palace.  Inside, the group meets Fusoya, reigning champion of the Dumbest Name In The Franchise competition and guardian of the Lunarians.  Fusoya explains the schizo tech and so forth succinctly – the Lunarians fled the destruction of their world and found the planet that the game has been taking place on.  They used the moon as a place to sleep while the people of the planet below developed, but one of them wanted to simply raze the planet and make a new home.  This Lunarian, Zemus, is the real villain behind what’s taking place; Golbez is simply a puppet.

Yes, it feels a lot like a Phantasy Star plot, albeit not serving as a direct riff.  Although the game does post-date Phantasy Star 2 and Phantasy Star 3, so draw your own conclusions.

It also turns out that Cecil is half-Lunarian, which explains that bit of foreshadowing from before.  So we’re armed to head back down to the surface and try to stop Zemus from using Golbez to use the Giant of Babil to destroy the world.  This seems like it has an awful lot of intermediary steps.

Before we do that, though, there’s one more place to visit on the surface of the moon, the Lair of the Father.  You might also note that there’s an obvious summon that we have yet to pick up, and yes, the two are directly related.  Inside lies a full set of Genji equipment for Cecil and a number of powerful enemies guarding the path to Bahamut himself, starting with a triple threat of behemoths.  They’re best dealt with by abusing Blink, teleporting out, healing up, and then doing it again for the next one.

Bahamut himself is a gimmick fight, like Odin.  His one attack is Megaflare, but the trick is that Megaflare can be reflected.  If your party keeps Reflect up, he more or less commits suicide and doesn’t so much as scratch you.  With the last summon in our possession, it’s time to rest up, buy a few more potions, and then head back down to the planet.  Where, naturally, we’re too late and Golbez is already using tower to summon the Giant of Babil.  The new cutscenes added for this version make it look like nothing so much as an Eva unit, which is probably intentional.

The Red Wings and the Dwarven tanks show up, complete with backup from every corner of the globe.  Cid helps get the group inside of the giant, which is functionally part four of the Tower of Zot.  This game loves repeating itself.  The fun part is that several of the enemies in here are confused by thunder without actually being weak to it, so you can easily wind up with your enemies fighting themselves with a few quick casts.  Once the group finds the save point, they’re not too far from the giant’s heart, but the elemental archfiends have returned and block the path.

Rubicante heals you up to full again, because that’s how the dude rolls, and then you’re pitched into battle.  This time, it’s against all four of the fiends in quick succession, and it’s quite the endurance fight, with none of the shifting modes that marked the original face-off sessions.  The real threat comes at the end, when Barbariccia starts busting out Maelstrom to knock the entire party to single-digit health, which mostly leaves the fight to Rydia summoning Bahamut and the rest of the group scrambling to heal or toss Ether at the healers.

Well, it's still mine, but that's not the point.

Now whose hair-based fight gimmick is stupid and dumb?

Still, it’s nothing compared to earlier challenges, and the group heads on down to the central core for another boss fight.  This one is pretty boring; it’s the boss and two little nodes, with the boss regenerating the nodes if both are destroyed, one node for healing, and one node for defense.  The attack node hits the part for moderate damage and the boss Reflects itself, but Rydia can easily summon Sylph through its defenses, which also takes care of most of the incoming damage.  Just rinse and repeat.

After the fight, Golbez shows up and throws a bit of a tantrum that his giant robot got damaged.  Fusoya frees him from Zemus’ influence, at which point it turns out he’s Cecil’s brother and oh come on.  Fusoya and Golbez head off to fight Zemus, Cecil mopes about fighting his heretofore unknown brother, and then Kain shows up not-evil again to lead the group to safety.  I am reasonably certain at this point that the writers were literally making it up as they went.  Then Cecil asks Rosa and Rydia to stay behind while he goes back to the moon, and…

Hold on, I seem to be trying to break the game in half now, which is really difficult because it’s loaded onto the PSP’s storage.

And boy, is it enormous.

Don’t you dare get involved in a fight whose outcome directly affects you in an effort to compromise my enormous ego.

It’s not that I’m really surprised at this point, but the game keeps being dumb.  Aggressively dumb, even.  The more I wait for it to do something not dumb, the more dumb things it does, and it doesn’t do them for any reason whatsoever.  It’s just pointless plot twists and ridiculous scenes that are meant to stir emotion without any actual feeling behind them or larger themes.  It’s making all of the same mistakes that Final Fantasy II made while at the same time not managing to have the same endearingly weird system.

All right.  I’m all right now.  All right.

That stupid bit with Rosa and Rydia is resolved after the group lands on the moon, when it’s revealed that the ladies completely ignored Cecil on account of him being an idiot.  Good call.  We’re also told that the party can now be swapped at Mysidia, which is added for the remake; in the original, you could only go into the final dungeon with the existing party lineup, but this one lets you bring back all of the party members that are not explicitly dead.  There’s even a new little mini-dungeon added so that the other party members get back up to speed with contemporary weapons, which is a nice addition if for some reason you really want more of this game.

I, on the other hand, will be happy to be finished up.  A quick trip down to Kokkol’s Forge yields a couple of weapon upgrades and some nice thrown weapons for Edge, which is keen.  Then it’s back to the moon to finish things off for good with Zemus.  It’s time for the last confrontation, and this time we’re heading into the actual endgame.

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About expostninja

I've been playing video games and MMOs for years, I read a great deal of design articles, and I work for a news site. This, of course, means that I want to spend more time talking about them. I am not a ninja.

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