Life Near The Empire’s Capital
DG: Speaking more to Setz- erm, I mean Wolf, you brought up a good point in how he sets up a plot trope.
MB: Ah yes, the obsession of weddings in Final Fantasy games.
DG: They always seem to go to that well, and FFVI sets up the most ludicrous one. “Hey, I know I captured you and everything, so I’ll let you get a good deal on me helping you by you joining me in renegade matrimony!”
Either way, Celes shows an incredible amount of guile by offering a con man something he can’t resist; a bet on a coin flip. While this one has drastically less on the line than the fate of a kingdom, in a brief amount of time we see this former cold-hearted general transform into an aria-singing, con-man-swindling hustler. She does what she had to do to get her team across to the southern continent.
Speaking of, this is the first time we get to see a focus on life with the Empire in its small neighboring towns of Vector. There are three: Albrook, Maranda and Tzen. Outside of Albrook, which is right there, which of these optional cities did you visit, and how did you find their way of life?
MB: I am pretty sure I only went to Albrook. Actually, I went to all of them, but there was not much to them as of yet. I figured there would be a time to come back to them though.
DG: Perhaps. I just always thought it was neat to see people drinking the Kool-Aid in towns visibly decimated by the Empire.
DG: Nowhere else is this clearer than in Vector, which hosts the Magitek Facility (and one of the funkiest bass lines in the game). Before going too much in depth about this plotline, did you find the way to sneak in first? Or did you try to take down the Guardian in the path all the way up and to the North of the town?
MB: I did find the way to sneak in. By accident. I talked to a guy and he was like, “You wanna sneak in while I distract the guards,” and I obliged, of course.
DG: Good, because the other way just has you fight an invincible cube of a mech that pushes your…stuff in.
Inside the Magitek Factory itself, we get a litany of different items and relics to enjoy. Some of them are out in the open, others are hidden. I do like how the best equipment has to be found in RPG’s, and Final Fantasy VI is no exception. The Dragoon Boots give you the Jump command, which lets you leap into the air for a turn only to land on your opponent for extra damage. The Gold set is some of the most protective to that point in the game. You can also find swords that grant extra fire and ice attacks, and for the first time I found the Break Blade that randomly lets you try to petrify enemies.
Most importantly, we run into Kefka again, as he proclaims his goal to become a powerful being. Now that we’re starting to see him strive to be something of a God, do you have renewed thoughts on him as a villain?
MB: Hmm, I saw all of those items, with the exception of the break sword. I missed that one.
Kefka’s goals make me wonder what the point of having an emperor is if his subordinates are attempting to be gods. Does he know that it is their goal to overthrow them? How do you miss such ambitions from a general?
Sidenote: I enjoyed seeing those familiar names Ifrit and Shiva.
DG: Ramuh, Ifrit, Shiva; they’re staples of the Final Fantasy experience. They’re there to guide each game with a powerful attack or means of help, while showing that each of the games’ universes are intrinsically linked in one way or another.
The same goes for Cid, who appears in Final Fantasy VI as the lead of the Magitek “innovations.” Whether it be infusing soldiers with magic, crafting mechanized armor or creating weaponized beasts, it takes the help of Ramuh, Ifrit and Shiva to help the captured others turn into Magicite. This information was previously unknown to the Empire, but through dire circumstances we’re left with no choice but to accept the Espers’ help.
Then, as a sudden swerve, Kefka comes in to thank Celes for help. She insists she didn’t betray the Returners, and helps delay Kefka’s destruction of the party while Cid guides you on a minecart. Kefka tries to stop the airship from escaping with a pair of Cranes (not Fraser and Niles).
There’s a certain clash between medieval and modernization in Final Fantasy VI, which lends to its stylized steampunk sensibilities. How did you view that contrast?
MB: I have always liked the steampunk fantasy of Final Fantasy games. It is clear the world is not real, but also lends itself to some realistic notions of languages and machinery.
It is quite surreal many times, but I enjoy it nonetheless. It is my favorite kind of fantasy game.Also, that final escaping battle sequence went surprisingly quick with the right Espers attached to characters. It did not take me long at all to get past that. Probably the second quickest of the big fights I’ve had.
This is another trope of Final Fantasy though. The airship fights. They are always rather brilliantly staged for a good bit of difficulty.
DG: Yeah, they have protection against the one thing they’re weak against! Who knew?
…Unless We Observe For Ourselves?
DG: Back to the story, the party (sans Celes) races back to make sure Terra is alright, where we get to see her remember her origins. She’s not an Esper, she’s not a human; she’s both. The Esper Maduin (that name seems familiar, no?) hears that there’s been an intruder to the Esper world. It turns out to be a lady, Madeline. The Espers are apprehensive to bring an outsider in, but Maduin decides she will stay.
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Eventually, as does most people attracted to each other experience, the inevitability of temptation folds into itself, with what may be the first (and only) visual portrayal of sex in the Final Fantasy series. All good things come to an end, though, as the Empire comes knocking and takes the product of Maduin and Madeline while killing the mother in a tragic way. We finally understand why Gehstal allows a man like Kefka among his upper ranks, and we are set for what is sure to be an amazing confrontation.
Now that we know more about Terra, does that put the events of the beginning of the game into a better perspective for you? Or is there still something more that you’re waiting to drop?
MB: Somewhat, but I would need to think more about it. Usually, I go through the end of games and then connect the dots on them. That is what makes the journey enjoying for me. Just letting myself go through the game and enjoying the journey and then looking back and seeing what it all means.
DG: At this point, we’re approaching what appears to be a logical confrontation between good and evil. What are you looking for as we approach what appears to be the end of the line for the Empire?
MB: I am looking for more Espers. I am looking to explore the main world a bit as well. But mainly, I am looking forward to gathering more abilities to take the empire down!
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