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"How are they going to get past guards unarmed? Let's just say CHAOS!!! bludgeons them all to death with The Serpent. I don't really want to talk about it."
     -Sam, Xenosaga Part 11

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Final Fantasy IV : Part 3
By Ben
Posted 02.01.07
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
I bet you were all expecting to have to wait another 3 years for this baby, weren't you? Let it be known that my procrastinative nature is second only to my utter loathing of this part of the game. So, I decided to bite the bullet (and believe me, this particular bullet has been given serrated edges, heated up to boiling point and coated in cyanide) and get it over with. I know, I know, it's going to be painful, but you'll thank me eventually.

Quick recap of...uh...the last recap: Cecilia and TBBM delivered the totally innocuous Bomb Ring Package to the summoners' village of Mist, which promptly became known as Sadly Mist when fiery destruction befell most of its inhabitants. The Tedious Twosome couldn't decide whether to murder or adopt Gyftyd, the sole survivor of their unintentional massacre, but the decision was made for them when she summoned Titan, causing a massive earthquake which catapulted both her and Cecilia halfway across the World Map. Yeah, I'm not buying it either, but just play along -- this sequence of events is positively realistic compared to some of the shit that goes down later.

Cecilia and his new best friend made their way to the nearest town, where -- SURPRISE! -- they discovered Rinosa, close to certain death after tripping over her own lamery while trying to catch up with her intended boyfriend. They then learned that she had a nasty case of Desert Fever, which could only be cured by...why the hell am I repeating all this? Read the damn recap if you can't remember what happened. I'll wait here.

Ready? We rejoin the party on its way to Mt. Hobs, racing against time to stop the mysterious and totally-not-related-to-Cecilia Golbez from claiming the remaining Crystals. Of course, we all know that their efforts to stop him are futile, but this would be the shortest RPG in history if everyone just decided to give up and go home to bed. Actually, come to think of it, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad turn of events. At the entrance to Mt. Hobs, a thick sheet of...strange, sky-blue blobs bars the path. Oh, it's ice. Except that it looks like ice about as much as I look like Michael Jackson. Which is to say 'not at all', in case you were wondering. Rinosa and Princess Edward simultaneously conclude that, as the only one in the group with a knowledge of Black Magic, Gyftyd should pull her thumb out of her ass and get things heated up. Poor Gyftyd tries her best to refuse politely, but Edward and Rinosa won't let it go. Now, I'm not particularly fond of kids (to put it politely), but Rinosa and Edward are being complete bitches here. They can see the girl's upset, yet they continue to screech about melting the ice like a pair of bad-haired harpies. Yes, I know they probably haven't been told about Gyftyd's entire life going up in smoke, but they're still piling on unnecessary pressure. I mean, couldn't Cecilia chop up the 'ice' with his sword or something? Surely not too taxing for a big strong Dark Knight like him.

That sure as hell ain't frozen water.

"She's afraid of fire because her village was destroyed in a fire..." Cecilia helpfully explains. Really? I thought she'd just had a bad experience with a bonfire. Gyftyd's character theme kicks in as Rinosa tries a more gentle approach. "If we can't get through here to Fabul, more people will be in danger..." she tells her. That's right, lay on the guilt, as if the girl didn't need counselling already. Eventually Gyftyd tires of all the nagging, steps forward and emits a ball of fire, which skitters around all the bright blue blobs and gobbles them up, rather like Pac-Man and his Magic Pills. Insert your own punchline regarding game designers here. Triumphant, 'You saved the world!' music booms out as we discover that Gyftyd learned Fire1. Yeah, let her learn Meteo(r), then maybe it'll be justified. The entire party congratulates Gyftyd, fawning over her for what feels like ten minutes. Great, along with her pyrophobia, trust issues, Indigo Child status and orphanhood, the girl's now going to develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Book her appearance on Dr. Phil right now.

After cutting their way through hordes of 'Skeltons' and 'Cocktrics', the group reaches the summit -- all of two screens past the entrance. This is the smallest mountain in the history of ever. Not that I'm complaining -- far from it, actually. I recently spent four hours battling through FFXII's Pharos (the pain is still fresh), so no dungeon can be too short, as far as I'm concerned.

On this screen, the undead warriors and flying nasties are replaced by the classic Bombs. In this game, they seem to love blowing themselves up even more than ever. Don't believe me? Ask Rinosa. I had to revive her five times. I know, I know, I shouldn't have bothered, but I need all the leet healing powah I can get. Even playing this version of the game, I suck more than Paris Hilton at a 24-hour orgy. Before long, the party spies a male warrior being attacked by a single large Bomb and several robed creatures. Without speaking to the man, seeing him fight, or indeed, seeing him close-up at all, Edward deduces that "he must be a Karate Fighter of Fabul!" In response, the 'Karate Man' (as the text box calls him) sneezes loudly. No, really. Check the pink box. Having recently played the GBA port of this game (complete with a translation that's actually legible), I know he was SUPPOSED to say something more along the lines of "HYAH!" (feel free to correct me on the exact word, fanpersons), so I guess we can chalk this one down to the ever more prominent localization issues.

Well, blowing snot all over the enemy is certainly original, I'll give him that.

'Karate Man' leaps into action (literally) and vanquishes three of the robed monsters by...uh...jumping on their heads. Unfortunately, there are no magic mushrooms or fire flowers in the area (this isn't the Squeenix office, after all), so he's quickly set upon by the remaining three baddies. One more loud sneeze and a quick transition later, we're on the battle screen, where 'Yang' is getting his ass soundly kicked by the three 'Imp Caps'. Luckily for this Yang, he has a nifty kick that hits all enemies for big ouchies, and pretty soon the remaining nasties have gone the way of their companions. But wait! The large Bomb floats into action, prompting Cecilia and friends to rush to the aid of this brawny stranger.


With five against one, it seems the 'Mom Bomb' won't even get a chance to show off her explody skills. That is, until PMT gets the better of her and she morphs into a cross between Casper the Friendly Ghost's fat uncle and a jar of tomato puree. I guess those endless days spent tidying up after her Bomb-Spawn finally made her crack. In her angrier form, the Mom Bomb is a little more difficult to subdue, but nothing I can't handle. Or so I think. After a few minutes of being sliced, kicked, serenaded and blasted with Ice1, the Mom Bomb explodes. But get this -- in blowing herself to smithereens, she also gives birth to an entire new litter of Bomb-Babies. Unless, of course, these 'new' Bombs were her existing children, who were stuck inside her for whatever reason. Said reason being something I'm not exactly anxious to learn more about, so let's move on quickly. Before long, the last Bomb-Sprogs have been defused, and the party is free to get to know the mysterious Yang a little better. Not like that.

'That does it! I've reached my last nerve!! Remember kids, YOU DROVE ME TO THIS!!!' *KABOOM*

It transpires that Yang is indeed a Karate Fighter from Fabul (catchy name for a TV series, hmm?). How amazingly convenient that Cecilia and co should stumble upon a warrior from the exact place they're headed. Yang reveals that his men were training when they were ambushed and killed by Bombs, so he must return to Fabul immediately. "Golbez is using Baron to get Crystals!" Rinosa shrieks, assuming that Yang knows who the hell Golbez is. He doesn't. Funnily enough, however, the Kingdom of Fabul also holds a Crystal, and Bad Shit will obviously happen if Golbez should get his hands on it. Yang (now officially renamed 'Karate Man') is understandably reluctant to join forces with a Dark Knight, but Cecilia tries to assure him that he's with the Good Guys now, introducing them one by one to prove his point.

"And she's Gyftyd...I was fooled by King of Baron and had to defeat her mother," he finishes awkwardly. Hoping it will stop him from speaking, Karate Man agrees to accompany this dark stranger and his strangely-dressed band of freaks. Cecilia duly shuts up, happy to have a real may-un (albeit one with a moustache and pigtail) fighting alongside him for a change; TBBM is but a distant memory. Karate Man joins his new friends, slipping snugly into the spot vacated by Tellah. Ew. On a related note, I hate having five characters in my battle party. After playing every other FF, it just seems too weird, not to mention the fact that losing to a group of random encounter monsters despite having an extra fighter in the team does absolutely nothing for gamer self-esteem. Or so they say.

Now we've been introduced to 'Mom Bomb', which other relatives would you prefer to see in FF-monster form?
Cockatrice Dad, who'll turn you to stone if you neglect tidying your room.
Old Granny Tonberry, who'll gut you like a fish should you refuse to eat one of her foul-tasting muffins.
Creepy Uncle Malboro, the relative nobody wants to sit with at Christmas due to his fixed toothy grin and severe halitosis.
Bratty Sister Cactuar, who prods the family pet with needles when nobody's around.


A short while later, the party reaches the other side of Mt. Hobs, and, according to Karate Man, it's pretty much a straight line from here to Fabul. As I'm sure you've guessed, even this isn't enough to prevent me from getting lost. Multiple times. Whoever designed this World Map is an evil twat who should be tied to a chair and forced to watch an endless loop of Big Brother contestants sleeping until the day he or she dies (if any of you have better 'most boring thing in the world' suggestions, feel free to send 'em in).

Eventually, the party reaches -- or, should I say "stumbles upon accidentally after 10 minutes of wandering around in confusion" -- Fabul Castle. It seems the legions of monks on sentry duty are actually robots, as they all repeat the exact same sentence when addressed ("[Karate Man]! We were waiting for you!" in case you were wondering). I know NPC dialogue wasn't exactly on the list of priorities when making this game, but a little variety wouldn't go amiss. Of course, thinking of alternative lines for insignificant drones might have detracted from the fleshing-out of wonderful, inspired characters such as Edward and Rinosa, and we couldn't have that, could we?

Behold the wondrously-imaginative equipment naming skills!

After exploring the castle, the party is led by Karate Man into the Throne Room, where our favourite martial artist wastes little time in explaining (in a typically grammar-fucked manner) what's going on: "King! The Baronian Kingdom mobilized his force to get our Crystal of Air!" Now, I've heard of countries, ships and suchlike being referred to as 'she', but never 'he'. Then again, I shouldn't expect anything less from a game that turns a certain male character's imminent makeover into an important plot event. Karate Man tries to persuade the King to prepare for battle, but the King's preoccupied with the gaggle of garishly-clothed simpletons treading mud into his carpet. After basically being asked who the fuck he is, Cecilia reveals he's a Dark Knight of Baron, but totally isn't on speaking terms with the Kingdom anymore. Naturally, the King isn't completely convinced, and is wary of trusting him. Christ on a tank, are we going to have this conversation with every fucking person Cecilia meets before his miraculous conversion? And, if so, is there any chance at all it'll be halfway coherent by then?

Eventually, Karate Man manages to convince the King that Cecilia's a good guy now, and that maybe they should brief the troops regarding the imminent attack (that's if Baron's airships aren't already hovering above and waiting to bomb the everloving shit out of them, given the amount of time the party has just wasted pleading with the King). "There is no time!" breathes Rinosa. Yeah, but nobody spoke to you, bitch. Suddenly Edward takes it upon himself to waltz to the front of the party and address the King. Ol' Kingy immediately recognises the fey fool (obviously because they know each other very well, not because Edward's fellow royalty and stuff) and realises that, if Edward trusts these guys, then so should he.

'...Or all its base are soon belong to them!'

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