Part 98: Interlude - Part 1Hello, goons!
With Mega64 unable to properly update for the rest of the week, I have been charged to emerge from the mists, and provide the thread with further showing of Square's stick-beating of a beloved childhood memory! For purposes of self-amusement I dub this week the Interlude interlude.
Welcome to the resident side chapter of Let's Play Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Final Fantasy IV -Interlude-, pretentious dashes and all.
Part of the Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection created in the same vein and idea as the Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II 20th Anniversary Editions - that is, PSP re-releases with entirely revamped graphics, music and a slew of minor bonuses - FF4 Interlude acts as a bridging chapter between Final Fantasy IV itself and The After Years, taking place one year after the ending of the original game.
Just as an aside, this is actually the Japanese version of Complete Collection - right out of the gate the game was released with language options in Japanese, English, and oddly enough French, and apparently automatically detects which of the three languages your PSP has its system settings to. As far as I can tell, the original game uses the translation (and endgame bonus features) from Final Fantasy IV Advance, while what little I've played of The After Years has only negligible changes from the WiiWare version's script.
Enough of that, let's actually get to the game.
Once we New Game it up, we're immediately thrust into a viewing of one of the underworld's Dark Crystals, which immediately begins to freak the hell out, at least compared to the Crystals' usual habits of idly looking shiny and getting kidnapped every third week.
Once the mysterious light fades from the Crystal, the ghostly form of... Rydia, oddly enough, appears. Wait, what?
About three seconds after appearing, Ghost-Rydia collapses onto the ground with a strangely hilarious THUD.
Out of nowhere, Cecil! Hey, buddy; how's it hangin'.
At this point, Cecil opens his eyes and looks about, confused. A mysterious green light appears behind him, which he immediately accosts.
Oh snap, you're Cecil too?! Damn, what are the odds.
Within moments, rays of light shine through, and the green light fades, leaving Cecil alone.
Cecil doesn't know what the fuck, but to be perfectly honest I doubt I would either.
???: Wake up, Cecil! It's time.
The sunlight's intensity grows stronger, and...
...it turns out it was all a dream. Huh.
Are you all right? You were flailing about like you were having a terrible nightmare...
Mm... It was nothing.
Considering Cecil's dream seemed to involve a Crystal vomiting ghosts I'm both curious and terrified at precisely what he would consider not 'nothing'.
We should really be going. The Red Wings are ready and waiting.
Well I'll be. Edward finally finished rebuilding his house! Clearly the best way to say "housewarming party" is to ride in on the very same boats that destroyed it in the first place.
You're just swell, Cecil.
Now given control, we can see how well Baron's king and queen have atrophied in the last year. All considered from their After Years appearances they're actually doing pretty well; Rosa still has the vast majority of her spells, Cecil's repertoire is just as pitiful as ever, and both of them are at least respectably loaded for bear: Rosa with a Healing Staff, Sage's Miter and Surplice and a Rune Armlet, and Cecil in full Mythril gear save Flame Mail.
Of course, we don't get much freedom of movement in Baron Castle, mostly funneling us to the entrance by having guards posted in the major side stops and being all too happy to report that no, monsters have not yet invaded their home and brainwashed their king, again, yet. There's even a guy positioned in front of the moat entrance to the Waterway, denying us sweet summer fun.
Of course, the "secret" cache of treasures got restocked, also scoring us a tent and a dry ether in the process.
While the entire east side of the castle is blocked off by a guard, the northern section is free, letting us talk to the basement-dwelling mages, the Dragoons and the royal guard in the throne room.
Stopping to think that Interlude is set only a year after the original game, this guy's line in particular stands out - Palom is six years old by now, and already renowned to the point of being called "Lord" by Black Mages well into adulthood. Looking back at Palom's Tale in After Years, his hatred for titles makes a lot more sense.
This one is just downright bizarre, like there's some sort of magical arms race going on. Might we be able to, one day, hug children with bomb arms?
Stepping outside, we're immediately shuffled onto an airship. There isn't even an overworld to show, it's just walk out of castle, boom airship. They really don't want you screwing around right now.
I'm gonna follow behind in the Enterprise, so you go ahead to Damcyan, you got that?
How is it that this is one of the less terrifying portraits of Cid? His face is like a mountain of hair and teeth.
Shut the hell up, Wedge.
Biggs is present as well, at the helm of the ship, who asks us if we're ready to depart for Damcyan. Seeing as there's nothing else to do, let's ship off...
...and begin the slowest airship voyage. Seriously, in the time it took between those screenshots, a player-controlled airship would have already found its way to Damcyan.
For no adequately-explained reason, right after that title screen scroll we're thrust into control of Rydia, apparently bound for Damcyan herself.
Of course, rather than make haste to be on time for the festivities we rob the Feymarch of all its precious treasures.
Hey Asura, how's it goin'
that's cool gotta go plunder your kingdom bye
The secret square that held those four treasure chests that you could never figure out where the hell they were is still here, and among them is a Killer Bow and a stack of ten Yoichi Arrows. These will make Rosa ridiculously awesome when we regain control of her.
Incidentally, steering Rydia around, talking to the townssummons and looting the entire place is all you can do here - we don't even get access to the menu, strangely.
Speaking of the summons, each and every one of them is just enamored as hell with Rydia, ranging from childlike exuberance...
...to wistful jealousy...
...to downright stalkertude. Note that there's at least three or four different NPCs who say this, as well.
A few different NPCs have this line, too, which really makes me wonder if it's supposed to be taken literally or not, seeing how Rydia's initial stay in the Feymarch aged her approximately ten years in the span of a couple months.
Another Eidolon even voices my concerns for me. For that matter, why does the Feymarch even do this? I'm overthinking things.
"He was really quick on his feet and I think he was looking for you, Rydia..."
Wow, Edge sure does get around.
Let's go talk to Leviathan! I'm sure he has something interesting to say.
Orrrr not. Well whatever, Lord Ocean, we can totally kick trouble in the dick, we've got your god on our side!
I hope we still have Bahamut, oh jeez.
Then stop being such a bastard drop rate!
Let's get back on track here. Having a chat with Asura is basically what we should've done from the start. Aside from the sweet bow and arrows there isn't much of particular worth down here.
...Perhaps it would be best for you to return to that world now, Rydia. Perhaps that is where you truly belong...
Queen Asura! Please don't say that... The Feymarch is every bit as much my home as the human world!
Hearing you say that puts my heart at ease. Then go, Rydia, and return to us safely.
I will! I'll be back before you know it!
Due to the Feymarch's time distortion effects Rydia will return in about eight relative years and the Eidolons will already have a replacement Summoner to hoist upon their closest equivalent of shoulders and treat with excessive adulation. Rydia herself, disillusioned and broken, will take up shelter at the mouth of the Passage of the Eidolons, forever hoping that one day they will remember her, instead to be treated as that weird lady who keeps coming around and making awkward smalltalk.
or not who the hell knows really BACK TO THE AIRSHIP
Jesus, they still haven't made it?
yes wedge thank you
Shortly after, the sound of another airship's rotors can be heard...
Oh! It's the Enterprise!
Cid never fails to amaze. He's already managed to catch up with us.
Sir! There's no need to make it a race...!
See, Biggs knows the score. Wedge is still a pussy.
Still, despite the urging of Captain Hardass the Astounding, the Enterprise easily catches up to the lone Red Wings ship of Cecil's. As if mocking them, the Enterprise slows down and the two ships travel side by side before landing in front of Damcyan.
I'll be counting on you, Biggs.
Please express our well wishes to King Edward and the rest of the Damcyans.
"King Edward and the rest of the Damcyans" sounds way too much like a band name for me to be be comfortable about. Doubly so since this is Edward we're talking about, it probably is a band.
Before that let's go say hi to the Enterprise crew, just for kicks.
...Yes. Either the Enterprise is so fast, or Cecil's ship is so dumbassedly slow that Cid and his crew actually went to Mysidia, picked up Palom and Porom, came back, and still beat them to Damcyan.
fuck our ship seriously
Welcome to beautiful Damcyan castle!
Fuck Edward, fresh castle! Let the looting BEGIN!
Unfortunately most of it is only remotely useful at best, the star swag being twenty Holy Arrows that immediately go to Rosa.
While the Yoichi Arrows that super-teleported into Cecil's bag are just crazy goddamn strong, there is absolutely no reason to use them this early into the chapter, or even at all. The first place we'll be going has enemies that are largely unchanged from the original game and thus present precisely zero challenge, while the few monsters that do pose any semblance of a threat can still be easily dispatched by Cecil. Truthfully I could've just let her keep the Healing Staff with no combat repercussions whatsoever but I just feel wrong for not having access to Aim for some reason.
Kid what the hell are you talking about this isn't the playground it's the inn, get out of here. Shoo.
A big deal is made over Edward's supposedly radical philosophy of completely opening Damcyan's inner keep the public, right down to the throne room. Seeing as roughly a year ago the place got super-ransacked I'm not sure that this is a sound plan but the majority of the world is now controlled by the party of the first game and one of the few that aren't is also a big hole in the ground so I guess being trusting and open is fair enough given the current state of the planet. Cecil, the next Golbez? Pshaw.
I don't know why. I just like this kid. He's got moxie.
no don't it's a trap
Damcyan's armor and weapon stores are stocked with some pretty decent stuff, but you either can't afford or don't really need most of it. The game also just right-out goes "GUESS WHO'S GONNA BE IN THE PARTY SOON?? SPOILERS IT'S YANG" with the inclusion of Faerie and Hell Claws, but then completely trolls you by having Yang pre-equipped with one of each already. There's also Fire, Ice and Lightning arrows not shown here but screw that, Rosa has Holy Arrows and she isn't fast enough to take down most early encounters before Cecil and Yang wipe the floor with them anyway.
We'll be back for that Flame Sword, though. Oh yes.
Everybody is a kiss-ass to Cecil. It's not just the party, seventeen years after the fact.
Heading on up the stairs we meet For The First Time a character we will be getting rather familiar with in a future chapter of the main LP. Some of you may recognize her. Some of you may, thus, revile her.
Within short order Cecil and Rosa are led about twenty feet forward to meet with Edward, looking all pimp and mighty on his gilded throne with that stupid hat of his. Also present for the occasion are Yang, the Mysidian elder and what I can only assume to be one of the Epopts, though named "Troian priest" by the game itself.
Greetings, honored guests. I must first express my unending gratitude for all of my dear friends who have come to join us here today. It is only thanks to your generous support that Damcyan could be restored to the bustling town you see before you. And so, to celebrate our reconstruction and to show my appreciation for all that you have done, I would like to take this opportunity to...
1: Palom is the best character.
2: Not pictured just prior to this is him jumping up and down impatiently. See also #1.
3: Goddamn look at how utterly that kid is in his portrait, holy shit.
Porom, of course, knocks him upside the head for his insolence.
Haha! I missed your candor, Palom.
okay really who the hell unironically says "candor" these days without sounding like a douche who just discovered a thesaurus
Then let me dispense with the formalities. There is just one thing I would like to say... Damcyan owes its revival to all of you. I will never forget this debt. Thank you all!
Well, let us leave the speeches and formal talk here. We must enjoy this rare time together with such dear friends!
Of course, everybody then scatters, the majority of those worth talking to by their lonesome.
Palom apparently decides to harass a guard for the entire party but isn't above taking the time out to hassle Cecil over his newfound duties as well. Palom is the best.
Talking to the others is mostly uneventful, with the exception of Yang and Edward:
Troian priest: Edward has become a fine young man. I expect that Damcyan will become a vital center of trade with him on the throne.
Mingling together with his people... Yes, King Edward lives true to his beliefs in every aspect of his life and in this castle.
Just what I'd expect from Edward! His castle is full of friendly folks, huh?
It's been too long, Cecil. I'm so glad to see that you're well.
Queen Rosa looks rather pale. Has she been unwell?
Yang's conversation is only mildly more involved:
What's wrong, Yang? Is something bothering you?
Oh... No, it's nothing. But would you look at our Edward? He has put together a fine celebration here.
Cecil looks about for a moment, as if searching for something.
Are Rydia and Edge not coming?
They said that they would. I suppose they will show up sooner or later.
You must be right.
Y'know, I'd peg Edge pretty easily for the fashionably late type, but Rydia?
Maybe we took too long robbing the Feymarch.
Haha! Of course you would be the first to notice!
"oh right that thing pfffffft it's under the bed or somethin' who fuckin' knows"
Well, you have completely opened the castle to the public. I can't imagine anyone would go after the crystals again, but...
Don't worry, my friend. I have thought of everything.
Pictured: Edward harassing an old man then pressing the obvious hidden switch on the wall to open the obvious hidden door behind his secretary.
I remind you, this is the exact same security system the dwarves implemented, and look how well that served them. Next thing they know we're knee deep in one of the creepiest fights of the entire game, then one of the more frustrating fights of the entire game and the goddamn Crystal got stolen anyway!
What the fuck, dude?
Palom, so thoroughly enamored with the concept of doors where there don't seem to be doors, immediately dashes off to the Crystal chamber with Porom in pursuit, presumably to give him a good sock to the temple. Childproof the keystone to the planet's well-being is not.
you are so going to get bombed to oblivion again it's not even funny
TIME TO TALK TO THE WIFE
Oh, forgive me. I was just lost in thought.
Riveting. This, of course, means that a rock is more interesting than you are right now, Rosa.
The twins dash into the Crystal chamber and stop before the stairs, just staring at it before Cecil interrupts them.
So this is Damcyan's famous Fire Crystal, huh?
The opposing force to the Water Crystal we keep in Mysidia... Come on, Palom. We should go back.
What, already!? Come on, Porom! Just let me check it out!
To be completely fair it is a better conversation partner than about a third of the partygoers outside.
Palom looks back and forth between the Crystal and the entrance, though more presumably towards Cecil in a sort of "Come on, man, help me out here" sort of way.
Geez! You're such a nag...
With that they just wander back off into the throne room, leaving Cecil alone.
Hi, Crystal! Still as exciting as ever!
Pictured: poor timing. As you move to leave, the Crystal flashes and pings, which is apparently their way of saying "PAY ATTENTION, SHIT IS GETTING TERRIBLE RIGHT FAST BRO."
...Must have been my imagination...
Of course, once Cecil walks back up to it the Crystal is totally silent again because it is a tease, which makes him question if it was just him thinking that the balance-check of the primeval force of all heat in the world was screwing around with him, though to be fair it's not like the Crystals are known to be forthright in their impending peril. Seriously, the only time any of them ever seem to actively do anything in this entire subseries is when the Red Moon's Crystals acted like an optional plot dump and when the one that Cecil uses at the end of the first game made Zeromus go all cosmo-horror.
With that said, this update's getting long enough as it is, though thankfully we've done away with the introduction proper. Next time, a miracle happens, and I'll be covering some actual gameplay!