Let Me Draw Your Portrait!
DG: Over at the nearby mountain, we finally get a better idea of what Kefka meant when he said he wanted to “restore the Statues.” They act as the source of all magic within the World of Balance, and disrupting that balance could mean chaos to Esper and Human alike. Of course, for melodramatic purposes, this key point in the story development is interrupted by the third appearance of Ultros.
How did it feel to be almost thwarted by this mischievous Octopus, only to be saved in the nick of time by a 10-year-old girl?
MB: Ultros might be the most persistent boss this side of Bowser. You would think he would get it. He will not win and yet, here he shows up again. It was pretty cool the that little Relm showed up and painted his portrait and that finished him up. If there’s anything we all do not like it is ugly and not even Ultros could face his own filthy mug. Ha!
DG: For most honest people, seeing others’ perception of yourself just ends in tears. Relm, as a character within Final Fantasy’s gameplay, tends to get a bit of pushback. The Sketch skill is very hit-or-miss, and usually it’s a miss. However, she is so important to Final Fantasy VI in terms of creating story depth.
When you were equipping her with new gear once she joined the party, she carries a Memento Ring. It protects her from skills that cause instant death in memory of her mother. Another Memento Ring is also hidden in your equipment list after Shadow leaves the party. When you look in the item list, it appears as though the ring can only be equipped by two party members: Relm and Shadow.
MB: Wow, I did not notice that. I did notice she equipped the ring though. The first thing I thought was, did JK Rowling steal the entire love safety spell over Harry Potter from Final Fantasy VI?! The plot thickens.
I don’t find the Sketch skill to be very useful, but I do like Relm’s spunk and fight as a character. I am willing to deal with characters who are less useful if they have some places I can find uses for them. Relm is one of the more darling characters of the story to me so far. So I actually like having her around. Especially with the later kinds of armor she gets. Haha!
DG: Yeah, she and Strago get all sorts of wacky suits to wear, including the Tabby (cat) Suit found on the mountain. Plus, without Esper-related power leveling, she’s naturally the most powerful magic user in the game. She can hold her own, for sure, plus can act as a healer in a pinch with those healing rods.
Finally, at the heart of the mountain, we reach the most important development of the game; Terra’s reasoning with the Espers. She tries to bring them together to coexist with humans on faith that the Empire wants peace. We even get a Scooby Doo-like laughing shot in the center of Thamasa, with Returners and Imperial soldiers alike.
That is, until Kefka shows up.
MB: So here is where I was a bit confused as Kefka was previously locked up. Then it dawned on me that obviously the dinner with Gestahl was an elaborate ruse our heroes have fallen for. Here is the thing with this, though: Why is Kefka doing all of this dirty work to be the second in command? I have not seen much from the emperor to show he is in fact someone Kefka should fear in such a large way. I imagine this will come into play later, though.
DG: Indeed it will. But for now, we get to see why Kekfa is a legitimate threat on a personal level. He’s so evil that even his teammate, General Leo, knows he’s a bit out of bounds on this powerplay. Absorbing all of the Espers undoes all the progress built up to that point, and he’s even willing to try to take him down.
He pays for it with his life.
Immediately afterward, Interceptor returns alone with his master, Shadow, presumed dead.
Finally, the mountain range that held the Cave to the Esper world has been ripped from the planet, now acting as a floating continent to host the Statues.
Kekfa, once a sinister clown, has almost turned to pure evil.
MB: The demise of General Leo was not one I would have predicted happening early in the story, and it is still not one I was altogether sure I would see here. I thought we would get to the point where the emperor would actually be getting his hands dirty as thus far he is a bit on the periphery of the action. Alas, it was not to be for our poor general Leo, wrapped up on the wrong side of war.
After this as the floating continent waited, I went on a couple of side quests I missed a bit earlier in the game during this portion. I was made aware of them through a handy walkthrough guide I had to pull up because the map does not display any names on it!
I went and rescued Mog from the clutches of a wolf-like fellow in Narshe and I gathered up some of his extra dance attacks. Then I went back to Veldt and I added a ton more rages into my codex of attacks for Gau. Afterward, I went and bought a couple more Espers. After all this time, I finally went and took off to the Floating Continent.
Haters Gonna Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate….Hate Hate Hate
DG: Time to fly to the Floating Continent! But not before we face Ultros for the final time. Might as well bring a friend to balance the odds! Honestly, this is the perfect ending point to Ultros strictly as a boss. He was about to go on the verge of overplayed, especially with an appearance not too long ago in the story.
Either way, the dreaded Chupon sneezes the party onto the Floating Continent, where we can only bring 3 people to try to save the world for reasons untold. The real, gamey reason? Shadow didn’t die after all! He’s here to actually fight for an unpaid cause. Wonder what changed his mind?
What 3 characters did you bring, and how did you find the Floating Continent?
MB: I brought along Terra, Locke, and Gau. The Floating Continent is a treacherous place filled with the hardest bosses yet. I’m pretty sure I died in the first couple encounters really quickly, but after altering my Esper profiles and leveling up my characters quite a bit from facing these enemies, I was able to move forward through at a relatively less planned out pace against these same enemies later on.
The only thing I did not like was I could not use my trusty assassin knife on a couple of these enemies. Ha!
DG: They are determined to not allow anyone to use that damned knife!
What I love most about this area, other than its atypicality, is its level design. Items are held on platforms cordoned off by oddly segmented platforms, giving contextual clues as where to go next. Final Fantasy VI hasn’t offered many times to explore levels as adventures (more as a means behind an end), so it was nice to see here. This is a boss lair; might as well make it one!
There’s a save point right before the end, and a last opportunity to jump back to safety and exploration. I’ve talked to some people who were legitimately surprised there was no turning back afterwards from this point, and I always frame this clue like a DM in a tabletop RPG: the prompt of “one last chance to turn back” should have given more clues.
It’s then when we come to the shocking twist of faith: Kefka usurps power and becomes a God.
MB: I cannot say I was completely surprised by this turn of events. As I mentioned above, I was amazed it almost took this long for it to happen. However, his transformation into a God is a rather interesting turning point.
As we see the game transition to the next half, we are left as audience members as the world is sent out of balance. The world literally transforms at the fingertips of its new overlord. Kefka’s thirst for power and his longing for control over others manifests itself in ways that are not unseen before, but the long buildup of his malice has made it so it is almost impossible to predict what exactly he will do next and when it will happen.
The falling action in any story is always my favorite. The revelations and the final outcomes that are decided keep me so interested I usually marathon after that point whether it is a movie or a book or a game. I just love to see how writers, designers, etc. piece these visions and storylines all together.
I leveled up a lot on that floating continent and have a ton of currency now from my adventures there. The relative calm of the first half of the game as juxtaposed with the last hour or so of it has me curious how everything else from the first half will tie back into it later on.
Editor’s Note: Just like our adventurers in Final Fantasy VI, so too will Martin and I take a break from the action. Purposefully done to mimic the time off between characters’ perspectives, we will pick this back up in early January 2016.
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