The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 9

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

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

So, the good news from the last installment is that the world is coming to an end and the group completely failed to prevent that evil whatsit from emerging from his prison.  Which admittedly sounds all like bad news, but conceivably there might be some good news in there somewhere.  Yet the game must go on, even though the party is down a member.

This is actually a part of the game I kind of despise, for two reasons.  The first is that it’s a foregone conclusion the main party is heading after Galuf, since otherwise the game would consist of sitting around and waiting to die.  The second is that it results in your party getting janky amounts of ABP  and experience until you’re reunited, which puts everyone at a different place development-wise.  When it’s already possible to lose track of your overall trajectory…

Eh, getting ahead of myself.  Let’s figure out how we can chase Beardy McBeardpants.

The party’s plan is to find Cid, who for no adequately explained reason is over at the Tycoon meteor.  It’s explained how he got there, yes, but there’s no reason to know why he’d be there.  The narrative has suddenly gotten a bit muddled, like the writers realized that they can’t just leave the cast out but didn’t know quite how to make things move on.  This becomes even more obvious as Cid and Mid reveal that they brought the Adamantite back to the meteor for… some reason, somehow, despite having already used the Adamantite on the ship we’re still flying.

Look, you know what?  This part of the plot is just a stupid pointless fetch quest.  The party goes to all of the meteors, fights a boss at each one, narrative stuff happens by pure fiat, a dimensional portal shows up and the party jumps in.  Trying to read it as much beyond an impromptu way to split the party is giving it too much credit.

How rude.

And here is a boss pooping.

Once through the portal… the party is stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere with no boat, no airship, and no place to explore.  There’s only one enemy type on the island, and it drops nothing but Tents, over and over.  Obviously, you’re supposed to use a tent.  As soon as you do, the party camps for the night, then the girls are stolen by a monster and another one shows up to take Bartz.

This isn’t a hopeless battle, per se, but it’s a pointless one.  You can either fight against the monster and lose, in which case you’ll be abducted… or you fight it and win, at which point you have no exit from the screen and nothing but a chest sitting there.  Open the chest and it’s full of knockout gas.  Again – the transition here was not well-handled.

When the group wakes up from the plot-based abduction sequence, it becomes clear that Exdeath was ready and waiting for the party from the start; he’s got Galuf’s forces attacking from the rather simply-named Big Bridge, and he uses the fact that the party is being held hostage as a bargaining chip.  Galuf, with no small amount of disgust, orders the troops to fall back, but immediately hops on Krile’s wind drake and whisks his way over to Exdeath’s castle.

Exdeath, in true villain fashion, heads off to do… something.  Read a new comic book, whatever.  The important thing is that he leaves Gilgamesh in charge of keeping the heroes locked up in place, a task which Gilgamesh is entirely unsuited to as he is unsuited to every task ever in the history of everything.  Galuf walks up and puts the smack down on Gilgy, who runs away within about half a second, and the party is reunited and free to escape on the ground level from the other side of the Big Bridge.

Square would use this trick to greater effect in the next game, arguably.

It’s a subtle touch that most everything uses a slightly different tileset here, making the world look different without being entirely alien.

What follows is a pretty keen sequence in which the group runs across the bridge whilst being periodically attacked – it’s functionally not that different from random encounters, but it feels like you’re rushing out whilst being confronted by various monsters.  Gilgamesh shows up again to stymie you, but he mostly just slows you down; his big attacks don’t come out until he’s already in the red.  Then it’s just a bit further on the bridge, and freedom!

Or not, because the game does make it clear what Exdeath was doing.  He was turning on a barrier for his castle, one which throws the party off the bridge and off to the wild blue yonder despite Krile’s protests.  Should have kept the wind drake.

The payoff here, honestly, is pretty awesome; I think it’s a neat touch that the party’s advantage swings back and forth wildly within a few cutscenes, and once the group is captured the plot is back to its usual quick beats and logical responses.  There’s even a charming bit of dialogue between the party members as they get their bearings – Bartz apologizes for kind of screwing things up, and Galuf lambastes him for it before admitting that he’s happy to see the group again after all.

Travel hurts a lot.

Our primary vehicle is explosions.

Galuf recognizes the region they’re abandoned in as the absolute backwater capital of the world, crawling with monsters and nowhere near anything so convenient as a port.  The group wanders over to the nearest town, which allows you a free night in the inn and a chance for another scene between Galuf and Bartz.  An unstated assumption here – and possibly an unintentional one – is that Bartz and company jumped into the portal in no small part because their world is about to decay away, even as Galuf thanks Bartz for having been indirectly responsible for ensuring that his soldiers didn’t run directly into the completed barrier Exdeath has erected.

The town also sells the next tier of magic, which is also when Red Mages become a bit less useful before their ultimate ability turns up.  Still, we don’t have any real path forward yet… other than wandering in the only available directions until we hit the Dungeon of Plot Advancement.

It’s probably given a better name than that.

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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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