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"Ace whimpers. 'But Captain! The other teams will get a head start.' And if the other teams were to jump off a bridge, Ace would too. Especially if he saw naked men Gazongas doing it."
     -Sam, Suikoden III Part 6

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Final Fantasy IV : Part 5
By Ben
Posted 02.17.14
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
It occurs to me that we haven't checked in on my most beloved cast of characters for more than two and a half years. Let's see if absence truly makes the heart grow fonder, shall we?

So. Last time. On Mt Ordeals, Cecilia had something of an epiphany and finally decided to be true to himself, shedding his Dark Knight getup in favour of something altogether more vibrant. His newfound fabulousness inspired him to return to Baron and confront Golbez, but the mission ended on a downer when Phil and Lil sacrificed themselves to save the rest of the party (better start getting used to heroic sacrifices, because the game designers get pretty drunk on that particular trope from here on out).

Before we return to the land of pixels and incomprehensible dialogue, a little explaining is in order: from now on, I'm going to quietly retire Kain's nickname and start referring to him by his real name again, for a couple of reasons. First, because "The Big Blue Machine" was a clunky and unfitting nickname to begin with, and second, because it's aged about as well as the average videogame pop culture reference. I mean, I'm the only person I know who still watches wrestling, for Christ's sake. I'm sure this decision will trigger spontaneous heart attacks in those of you who value nickname consistency above all else in the recaps, and for that I can only apologize. I'm sure you'll get over it in time.

We pick up the hot badly-translated action in Golbez's futuristic lair with him leering at Rinosa, who's still struggling in her restraints. I know time's effectively been frozen since my last recap, but it's kind of hilarious for me to imagine that she's been stuck here for years waiting for Cecilia to rescue her. Girl, he's just not that into you. Or, like, into you at all. "Seems like Kainazzo has been defeated..." Golbez sighs, apparently having telepathically heard his minion's death cries all the way from Baron Castle. Also, by my reckoning, that's 2 of 2 Elemental Fiends defeated so far--awesome investment there, Golbez.

"About the last crystal..." Kain begins, only for Golbez to cut him off with, "I know...but it is a problem." How I've missed these "conversations" with people spewing seemingly unrelated lines at one another. Kain proposes that Golbez let Cecilia retrieve the final crystal for them, using Rinosa as their bargaining chip. Guys, he's SO not going to take you up on that deal. Throw in a Girls boxset and a weekend at a spa and maybe, maybe he'll be tempted.

They might as well exchange the crystal for a week-old dog turd.

It's only now that I notice the iron ball hovering menacingly over Rinosa's head, presumably the intended method of execution should Cecilia fail to deliver on his end of the deal. A quick spot of research tells me that the iron ball was actually a guillotine in other versions of the game, but the decision was made to change it for the Western release because it was thought to be too upsetting for the kiddies. What, so we're squeamish at the thought of someone being beheaded, but the implication of having their skull smashed like a bird egg is somehow more palatable to our delicate and impressionable minds? Then again, we do live in a world where people complain to their TV providers about the copious nudity in Game of Thrones whilst somehow managing to not be similarly outraged by all the infanticide, mass murder and other depraved shit that goes on.

Realizing that he can, in true villainous fashion, dispose of Cecilia once the crystal's in his clutches, Golbez quickly warms up to Kain's dastardly idea. "I'll be the messenger," Kain quickly volunteers--any opportunity to rub salt in his ex's wounds. But as he makes to leave the room, Rinosa stops futilely squirming long enough to scream his name, perhaps hoping to appeal to his better nature. "I'll show you that I'm better than your sweet Cecilia!" he bitches in response, his hand-on-hip pose unfortunately not quite conveyed by the sprite graphics. You know, I'm starting to realize how forced this half-baked love triangle plotline is, and how much more interesting the story would be if the two male rivals could just throw down and work out their unresolved tension without the clingy female character getting in the way. Perhaps my ill-judged FFVIII comparisons in the first recap weren't so ill-judged after all (I still have no excuse for the character nicknames, though).

Back at Baron Castle, Cecilia's group discusses...well, I'm not quite sure what they're discussing. At a guess, it involves some kind of tunnel Cid was keeping a secret from everyone else in the city, because he suddenly opens up a hole in the wall and leads the others down a ridiculously long staircase. Just when I'm sure they're about to reach the Earth's mantle, they emerge in some kind of hangar. Well, I'm filling in the blanks here, because the area is actually a huge black space. I sure do miss the days when we all had to use our imaginations to overcome graphical limitations. Anyway, inside the hangar lies...a huge tank! OK, I'm totally yanking your chain--this is Cid's hidey-hole, after all. And when Cid's around, airships usually aren't far behind. This particular airship is called the Enterprise, and no, I'm not willing to spend more than a second contemplating the terrifying prospect of a Final Fantasy/Star Trek crossover fanfic. I'm sure someone's already written it, anyway.

Everyone's all, "Holy shit, there was an airship down here!?" I seem to remember that Golbez seized control of Baron's entire airship fleet when he took over the kingdom, so I'm guessing the king didn't know the Enterprise was even down here. That's...kind of hard for me to swallow. I mean, even if King Wanker had fewer brain cells than Tidus, I'm sure he'd at least be aware of the huge fucking hangar directly underneath his castle. Maybe Cid did actually tell him about it, but the explanation was so garbled and full of Engrish that it didn't sink in. I can buy that.

Yes, the entire Baronian army is surrendering to a gay paladin, a monk, and two old geezers. You sure showed them!

We briefly cut to the world map to witness the Starship Airship Enterprise rising out of the ground. For some reason, it emerges from a field to the north of Baron, despite the fact that the positioning of the hidden staircase places the airship hangar somewhere to the south of the castle. Whatever. Before the group even has a chance to gather its bearings, another airship from the Baron fleet approaches and gets all up in the Enterprise's personal airspace. We cut to field mode just in time to see the latest strained reunion between Kain and Cecilia, this time on a narrow gangplank between the two vessels. As some "This is so angsty because you jumped on my head the last time we met" music plays, Kain approaches Cecilia and breathes, "You are alive..." I'm sure he's itching to tell him how fabulous he looks after his coming-out party in the penis monolith atop Mt Ordeals, but manages to keep his emotions in check. He has a villainous duty to perform, and besides, they're on opposing sides--there's a long way to go before they get to the making up stage.

"How is Rinosa?" the script forces Cecilia to ask. If this game were voice-acted, he would have undoubtedly spoken that line through gritted teeth, kind of like me if I were forced at gunpoint to compliment Tidus on his astounding intelligence. Kain replies that Cecilia should bring him the "Crystal of Earth" if he ever wants to see his old beard again. "Crystal of Earth? ...Of Toroia?" Cecilia duhs. No, he's talking about the Crystal of Earth of Lower Bumfuck. Actually, it should be the Crystal of Earth of Troia, but the original localization team decided to add a second 'o' for whatever reason. Maybe the first one was lonely? As it stands, this wouldn't even rank on the list of my top 20 issues with the translation, so let's move on. As the cogs inside Cecilia's head painfully whir into action, the others express their outrage at Kain's ruthlessness. Everyone's favourite double-crossing Dragoon turns to leave, and Cecilia implores him to wake up and smell the brainwashing. "That's all," Kain replies, turning his back on his former lover. Ice cold. After the Baronian ship departs, KaMan and Tellah crowd around the devastated Cecilia and sympathetically pat him on the shoulder while Cid breaks the fourth wall to deliver a tutorial on the Airship Enterprise's controls. Anything to diffuse the awkward atmosphere, I suppose.

I really hope I can use these on my own party.

The game designer gods kindly give Cecilia a quick Black Screen in order to compose himself before he's sent off on his next mission. Now, he can either choose to head straight to Toroia, thereby taking a step closer towards reuniting with Rinosa, or spend some time enjoying his newfound freedom by taking the Airship Enterprise for an around-the-world spin. Hmm, difficult choice there. His first port of call is Eblan Castle, a ruined fortress to the south which, according to GameFAQs an ancient scroll of strategy he found in his cabin, contains a metric fuckton of hidden treasure. The scroll also warns that said treasure is guarded by particularly vicious monsters, but I figure it won't be a problem; I consider myself pretty well-versed in the art of Final Fantasy combat, and after all, this is the easy version of the game. I think you can see where this is heading.

Finding Eblan completely deserted, Cecilia first explores the west tower, discovering a veritable stash of healing items but, curiously, no monsters. Hmm, maybe the writer of the scroll was mistaken. The east tower, too, is conspicuously free of flesh-eating nasties, and the biggest obstacle in Cecilia's path is an invisible passage leading to a tantalizingly out-of-reach chest. Clearly, the architect who designed this place was a game designer in a previous life, and couldn't resist reverting to dickish type.

Another hidden staircase leads down into the basement, and this is where things swiftly head south. Cecilia's happily plundering every treasure chest in sight when he's suddenly ambushed by a trio of "Mad Ogres", who were apparently hiding inside one of the chests for whatever reason. I can see why these guys are so angry--being cooped up with two other enormous, stinking trolls in a chest roughly the size of a jewelry box can't be much fun--but it's not like Cecilia's the one who locked them up. Besides, judging from the size of their shoulders, they're obviously on steroids, so this is hardly a fair fight to begin with.

Gamer cred obliterated.

Enough with my embarrassingly transparent attempts to make myself seem less of a failure. I admit it: I died in a version of the game deliberately dumbed down for the benefit of young children. Mock me if you want, but I think I'm still pretty far away from "y cant metroid crawl?" territory. Deciding to leave Eblan's Mad Ogres for the time being--but vowing to come back and fuck their shit up once he's a little stronger--Cecilia reboards the Airship Enterprise and does some more exploring. In an archipelago south of Fabul, he discovers the creepy town of Silvera, whose inhabitants are all afflicted with the Pig, Frog or Mini status. I did briefly contemplate various important questions, not least "How the hell do the people of this town procreate?", but I soon came to my senses and realized it's not worth thinking about. My sanity's already taken a battering over my years as a recapper, and I really don't need to add to the trauma by ruminating on yet another disturbing reproduction scenario--one pertaining to an entirely optional area, no less.

Since his first real attempt at sidequesting has been a colossal failure, Cecilia cuts his losses and head to Troia--he's sure to get a warm welcome when whichever grizzled old king runs the joint discovers the group's there to relieve him of his precious shiny. Even getting to the place is far harder than it needs to be, as it's surrounded on all sides by a vast forest. Which the Airship Enterprise can't land on. After the requisite ten minutes of descending, ascending, hovering, descending, ascending, hovering, screaming, descending, ascending, hovering, and descending, the Airship Enterprise finally locates the lone, postage stamp sized patch of bare grass it can touch down on. If Cecilia didn't suffer with travel sickness before, I'm sure he does now.

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