I’m In Love With The Zozo
DG: With the exception of an ultra-upscale town we’ll revisit later and some crazy guy in a hut north of Kohlingen speaking some babble about “building a coliseum for monsters someday,” we swoop around the mountain range to uncover the generally uncouth Zozo. It’s the only town I can think of that plays as a dungeon, and brings certain dimensions to it that makes it one of the game’s most memorable.
First off, everyone in town is a huge, stinking liar. They do so to provide a meta game to the player in guessing the time for the clock. You have to use what they say and provide the opposite logic in order to guess the hour, minute and second of the clock to unlock one of Edgar’s best tools in the game, the Chainsaw. Did you end up figuring it out? And if not, does that affect your enjoyment of his character?
MB: I did not figure it out. lol. Though now I know that things just mean the opposite of what they say that helps. I did figure out homeboy lied about me needing to jump between buildings. The enemies seemed to take a pretty big jump from the outerworld to here as well. Not really in terms of level, but in appearance.
For some reason, they just became much more ugly looking. lol. As for Edgar, I have always liked using him most until later on when Gau becomes able to do larger magic attacks against enemies without using MP. So, I am not sure how the chainsaw would have changed that.
DG: It brings big damage and the possibility of instant death to one enemy, although when used against characters impervious to one-hit ko’s, it just says “miss,” rendering it useless. It’s better in theory than in practice, as the Drill does wonders for high damage against single enemy targets, anyways.
Back to Zozo, I found that the city projects its own personality. The enemies you encounter are engendered to drive that sense of street urchin chicanery, with enemies even stealing your money if you don’t kill them in time. Alongside the backing music track, you really feel unease when walking about, especially with so many thieves and liars about.
It serves to contrast the honest, distraught and confused nature of Terra, who makes her destination atop the highest tower her resting place in front of the Esper Ramuh. Explain a bit about the War of the Magi and how you feel about this new turn in the story now that Espers and magic are opened up to all your characters?
MB: The War of the Magi as they have explained it seems to be one of those conflicts that begins more out of a sense of inferiority. This emperor wants to have magical power because he views the Espers as special. Which is really the danger of putting anyone on a pedestal; you can come to resent the heightened sense of purpose you put onto them.
So this war creates these deafening and defining issues of generations. To the point, you are still fighting it to this day as the empire attempts to drain power from the Espers. It is always troubling to read these things. It seems so wrong as a thought process to even consider.
The Espers are a great angle to bring in. It allows for a great level of customization of character abilities as well as adds an extra layer to your strategy. I really like these added abilities. Especially now that haste is not only something you can cast by wearing the right relics. It also feels good to have the rest of Final Fantasy’s legendary arsenal of moves like Bio and Slow and Demi opened up to you as well.
DG: Best yet, they still allow for party relevance with Celes and Terra by offering them as the magical powerhouses, with special spells earned as bonuses on certain levels. They’ll even get some of the most powerful spells at late-game, so look out for that.
Interior Octopus Aligator, I Drive A Chevrolet Opera House Thee-ater
DG: Our next leg of the journey takes us to the biggest mansion in Jidoor, where a certain Impresario is in a bit of a rut after a world-famous gambler, Setzer, is planning to kidnap the opera’s diva, Maria. In Zozo, the last objective we were given was to get to Vector, so how did you find your way to the correct place to visit with as little prompting as possible?
MB: Vector was the place with the Opera House, right?
DG: No, that’s simply called the Opera House. Vector is the rundown town that holds the Magitek Factory.
MB: Ahh yes. I talked to the villagers and they spoke of Vector as the center most city of the island. So, I headed towards the middle. Now, navigating on the outerworld was not much of a problem, you just had to find the right path around the mountains. I did almost confuse it with the Esper City entrance on the Eastern side of the island though.
DG: As I hear your inquiries of where to go that aren’t simply missed conversations, I do realize that Final Fantasy VI is decidedly old school in its means of guiding the player. It carries that sense of adventure and problem-solving that you don’t really find these days, especially as shooting for the biggest audience possible calls for dumbing down the discourse. Which is EXACTLY what they did when re-releasing the game for iOS and Android.
Either way, it takes us to the Opera House, where the most seemingly logical move is to take a key member of your party, one who has been a product of magic and a high-ranking member of the Empire, to impersonate Maria and learn an entire play within the span of a couple hours. Leaps in logic aside, it does set up one of the most memorable moments in Final Fantasy history; the Aria di Mezzo Carattere.
How did this change of pace strike you?
MB: It was pretty fun. I like the changes of pace in the game that move from seemingly perilous to rather fun and joke-y. What I was not sure about was the side character Ultros? He showed up again and I was confused. He is octopus in an opera house. I have never expected much of Final Fantasy to be grounded in realism, but it messed with me a bit as I was like “Did I not already kill this guy?”
DG: No, you didn’t! Remember, the last time he submerged himself in the Lete River, saying, “Th-That’s all, friends!” They even say he’s probably hiding.
MB: Oh yeah! Ha.
DG: He’s seemingly almost a meta-commentary within the development staff, as even his most dastardly attempts to drop a 4-ton weighted anvil he says, “It’s gonna take me 5 minutes to push this thing off!” in the most video gamey fashion possible. Meanwhile, the play reaches a point where Prince Ralse and Draco engage in a duel, heightening the musical score to match the dramatic tension of a life minutes from peril.
It’s an absolutely marvelous thematic pacing, with a ton of credit going to the musical mastermind Nobuo Uematsu. The play within the play within the game breaks down all barriers as Locke and the party come crashing down in dramatic fashion. What better way to save the play than to score some more musical accompaniment and pretend it’s part of the show?
We even get a third party wildcard snatch Maria away while nobody’s watching, setting up a brilliant Act 3 for the ages!
MB: So this is where I thought the game grows really interesting. Because now it imparts what would be an early rendition of fast travel. The play itself was really fun though. To figure out where to go and then on the time limit. It was really fun.
Adding to that obviously was the score as you mentioned, which continues to be outstanding throughout the game.
Now, this new Gambler character is pretty nice. I am a bit torn. I am not too sure I really like the way the character functions in combat, but I did like naming him Wolf. Haha. How do you feel about his combat style with the slot machine mechanic?
DG: He plays very oddly. As you’ll find later in the game, he carries very specific sets of weapons that act in ways that only make sense to a gambler. His slots attack is pretty okay for first time users, but you’ll find that you mostly get Lagomorph healing (which does cure blind, poison and sleep) 7-Flush. There are some cool attacks in there, including Sun Flare and random Summons, but if you get 7/7/BAR, all your party’s characters will instantly die, including those who have immunity to death. Very funny, unless it’s been awhile since saving.
Next: The Empire Strikes Back