Part 112: Part One Hundred and Twelve: The Ending WorldPart One Hundred and Twelve: The Ending World
As soon as Laguna and Ellone leave, things start getting a little wobbly.
Since they're not here, I like to imagine Zell and Irvine playing a nice game of Triple Triad when suddenly reality starts to implode.
Their mission completed, Lunatic Pandora grows a dick and pisses the SeeDs directly out into the sky.
As they fall, they're surrounded by these little blobs of, uh, time goop. If you look closely, you can see images of various scenes in the game in the blobs. Edea's face is in one on the right side in the first screen.
You can see something that looks like Rinoa and Squall in the upper-right here.
These ones feature Seifer. Of course, it's fairly difficult to make any of this out in motion, so they just look like, well, time goop.
Selphie asks a pretty good question here. Maybe if we'd spent a little more time in the planning stage, we'd have an answer ready.
In the short-term, though, it looks like our destination is the mother time blob.
Falling into that blob leads us to some kind of weird ocean.
: To Edea's house!
And Squall answers Selphie's question. Edea's house is a good choice on where to go, since everyone knows where it is.
Some fish swim by as the party passes.
For a background that's in the game for probably one minute, the ocean is pretty nice.
While they continue to pass through, Squall reaffirms his dedication to Rinoa.
I like this shot, with the positions of the water and sky reversed. It maintains the idea of "falling up" into the sky but doesn't break the party's previous downward momentum.
Then an enormous flock of birds shows up. Black feathers are somewhat associated with Ultimecia, showing up in the intro when Squall cuts Seifer (Ultimecia's tool) as well as on Edea's collar when Ultimecia is possessing her.
Basically, the party is leaving their own world and entering Ultimecia's - falling reflects the lack of control they have over what's going on.
The birds' gets blurred and blended, leading into this vortex through the dark clouds.
A time wormhole!
And finally, we arrive at
Save point's new.
...Might have ordered a few too many, though.
Nowhere to go but through the door (you can't get anywhere going backwards).
I hate dream architecture.
Let's see what Edea has to say.
Must be a lot, if she has to split in four to get through it all.
Oh, never mind, it's just a battle.
It does the normal little pan, but I wanted to point out that as we go through this series of battles, all the backgrounds are melting. You can see it in the light fixture approaching the floor, or the door in the background.
Before I could describe anything about the enemies, something else happened that I have to describe instead. This isn't scripted or anything, it's just chance.
This is the summoning animation for...
You may have noticed that there was no attack name when the show started. That's because Gil here works a little differently than other summons and Odin. First off, unlike Odin, Gilgamesh can show up in boss battles (which I believe this sequence technically qualifies as) and can show up in the middle of battle instead of just at the start. Once he's on the scene, he will use one of four attacks, chosen at random. Since there's no guarantee the others will ever show up, I'll just explain them here:
Exaliber (pictured) deals high damage to all enemies. It's also the most common of his attacks, being chosen 25.4% (65/256) of the time.
Masamune deals even higher damage to all enemies.
Excalipoor wastes your time, dealing 1 damage to all enemies and isn't even reliable enough to use as a funny cherry-tap move. Masamune and Excalipoor both occur 25% (64/256) of the time.
Zantetsuken is Zantetsuken and continues to kill all enemies, except when he tries to use it against bosses. Then it misses. Zantetsuken is the rarest of the four attacks, happening 24.6% (63/256) of the time.
In practice, Gilgamesh is a more random Odin, which often makes him less useful. Odin always showed up at the start of the battle, before you could have done anything to the enemies; Gilgamesh can show up too late to really help with anything, and if he does show up he has a one-in-four chance of wasting your time - or a one-in-two chance if it's a boss fight. Just like some people prefer not to get Odin because he can screw with grinding, some people prefer not to get Gilgamesh because he kinda sucks.
In this case, though, he toasted the enemy. For the record, these things are all called "Sorceress" (the quotes are included in the game) and they're all fixed at level 45 - the only enemies other than Ifrit, I believe, to not have any stat growth. This one only has 3,390 HP and 10 Vit. They do have high Mag (202) but they really exist only to die, they're no threat to a party that can consistently throw out hits. They're even vulnerable to Instant Death, so you can junction that to your attack and get through them slightly faster.
If you're wondering what or who they actually are, the game describes them as "sorceress[es] from beyond time who appeared due to time compression." My take is that they're basically Ultimecia's squad from throughout time, taking one last shot at kicking SeeD out.
When the sorceresses die, they teleport out and a new one teleports in.
And whenever you kill one (or, I believe, enough time passes) the background changes. Now we're in Timber.
The sorceresses use magic, naturally, with each individual sorceress having one spell. In practice, this doesn't really matter because they die so quickly.
This beach is the hardest spot to see the melting. I included two shots so you can stare at it if you like.
There are eleven sorceress fights total. The first six all use this model.
Then they switch to this one. Sorceress number two is slightly more robust, with 4,496 HP. Only 176 Mag, though, and still stuck at 10 Vit/1 Spr. An academically bigger threat but still nothing to worry about.
The ultimate attack of all sorceresses is to put Squall in the D-District Prison. Dastardly.
The final sorceress battle happens here, in the Winhill town square.
There's slightly more fanfare as the true boss crawls out of the space between dimensions and transports the party to a barren chunk of ground hurtling through the cosmos. This is still a "sorceress" but there's only one of this type, and it's far tougher than the others - still stuck at level 45, but carrying 34,120 HP, a full 255 Mag, 119 Vit and 30 Spr. She's also pretty quick, boasting 50 Spd.
She's also made more dangerous by the fact that she counters anything with a critical hit. 644 is a lot of damage on the outrageously buff Selphie Tilmitt.
Other than that, this sorceress has a gimmick. Once the fight starts, she'll start counting down from 5. This is building up to her ultimate attack:
So, once you see that number 5 (fun fact: each number is technically a distinct attack) you should set up a strategy. There are four big ones you can run here:
1. Heal up and pray. If you have high HP and decent Spr, you'll probably be okay. This is the riskiest strategy.
2. Heal and put up Shell. Shell will cut the damage by half, which is pretty useful. Better than praying.
3. Set up GFs to screen. The GFs will eat the damage from Ultima, but you have to be careful to get the timing right.
4. Kill her before she gets to 1. Her Vit is reasonable, but her HP isn't insane. Using one of the multi-hit limits is a good pick here.
I just stood around and let her cast her spell on me.
I have no clue why Ultima is green.
Then I beat the shit out of her.
Feeling dramatic, this sorceress reprises Adel's death animation.
And then she turns into purple rings, as we all do at the hour of our death.
The sorceresses each drop a magic stone, so I picked up a bunch of those. You can mug them for Ultima Stones at a higher rate, if you like.
Fun fact: Adel was supposed to drop an item (Samantha Soul, teaches SumMag+40%) but they didn't put in the end-of-battle screen, so she doesn't. You can still steal it from her.
And now that that's done with, we're finally at Edea's house. Really took the long way.
The major change here is that you can no longer leave the area or enter the flower field.
Nor can you go over here.
You can run in a circle using the side door to return to the entrance if you want, but you should really just go down to the beach.
On the beach, time catches up to the party and we truly enter Ultimecia's realm.
In the background, you can see that everything's melted to shit and totally FUBAR. We can't go back that way. But what's most important is Squall's observation - there are dead SeeDs all over the place. And that's the last piece in the puzzle of Ultimecia's motivation.
Again, I'll point out that Ultimecia is introduced with this speech. In her timeline, sorceresses are reviled and attacked. We see this in the game primarily in Esthar, where they're planning to launch Rinoa into space on summary judgement. But it's also there in Caraway, who wants Edea dead not because of some crime but because she's a sorceress. There's a real hatred towards sorceresses.
Edea points it out in introducing Ultimecia to the plot - Ultimecia is a product of an environment where that hatred has grown for some arbitrary number of years. She's angry, yes, and vengeful, but she's also afraid. And now we finally know what she's afraid of: SeeD. SeeD is an army created to kill sorceresses, it's the military wing of a culture of hate. So we don't know exactly how long Ultimecia has been fighting them, but now we can see her goal: she wants SeeD to stop attempting to murder her.
This is the first line Ultimecia says to the party, when Squall attacks her in Deling City.
And then this is in Galbadia Garden. But there's something else here:
Ultimecia doesn't know what SeeD is. They're enemies, but they don't understand each other. Think back to the orphanage scene, where all these kids discover that they were raised by the person they were going to set out to kill:
This is the setup for that. The whole orphanage flashback is introduced with Irvine telling the story of his childhood as an answer to Rinoa's question here, to justify going to kill Edea. SeeDs are not morally good, they're mercenaries who don't question orders, and this is the logical end result of that, an army that hunts Ultimecia into the far future. And then Ultimecia ends up hunting SeeDs into the past - there's a certain futility to this battle, two forces that create each other and end up in an endless and absurd war. Really, Rinoa was right, they should have looked for a non-violent solution. But just like they told Bahamut, fighting is in their nature.
So let's have a look at where we're fighting.
The party looks up from the beach and we get our first look at Ultimecia's Castle. It's floating in the sky, but it's chained down. The chains have no clear origin, so it's not clear who put them there.
A fairly succinct explanation of the SeeD mission statement.
On the next screen, even more dead SeeDs litter the ground.
There's also a Triple draw point, which kind of ruins the atmosphere in my mind.
Past the dead SeeD zone, we reach one anchor point of the chain.
This is how we'll get to the castle.
On the way, there are these portals. They're important, but not something we're going to look at right now.
And finally, at the end of the chain, Ultimecia's Castle.