Part 59: Episode 29 - It SucksEpisode 29 - It Sucks
Welcome back. We've finally come to the end of the road. It's dark inside Vegnagun's protective shell, lit only by the eerie glow of the Farplane's energy.
Vegnagun vibrates and shudders, but for an ancient weapon in the middle of destroying the world, it's surprisingly at rest.
I like the look of this final area, even if the map is pretty simplistic. I guess having dealt with boxy linear corridors for the whole game has lowered my standards until circular floating platforms seems like a fresh and exotic concept.
Nooj is standing before Vegnagun. It's a tense stand-off. Nooj can't even think too hard about destroying Vegnagun without spooking it, and he doesn't have the firepower to do anything alone besides. Meanwhile, Vegnagun is picking up on Nooj's internal conflicts, and trembles but does not move.
Acting through Baralai, Shuyin is doing something. Time seems to be running short; even if we don't set Vegnagun off ourselves, Shuyin will soon.
He acts through another's body. Stop the body and you stop him.
Is that your answer to everything? "Oh, we're out of milk. I'll shoot Baralai!"
His body will be useless, but if we're lucky, he won't die. Shuyin will abandon Baralai. And then he'll come back for me.
I will die.
Ordinarily I'd say this was a plan of last resort, but Nooj is suicidal and apparently had a bomb implanted in his mechanical arm before jumping into the Farplane. He probably intended to do this right from the start, and went in with just himself and Gippal so there'd be no other option.
There's a long moment of silence as everyone considers Nooj's sacrifice. But just when it seems like everyone's resigned to this...
I don't like your plan.
...Yuna tells him what for.
We destroyed our own allies. We destroyed the aeons who had fought together with us, at our sides. We didn't have a choice then. We believed that was the only way we could save Spira.
"We had no choice" is the most dangerous, most insidious rationalization known to mankind, the sort of thing that covers a multitude of sins. The Guado "had no choice" when they followed Seymour into his madness. The maesters "had no choice" when they perpetuated a never-ending cycle of destruction on the world and kept them pacified with false hope. Many Germans "had no choice" when they followed Hitler, and many Americans "had no choice" when they went along with McCarthyism.
It was the only thing we could do. It was the only choice we had. I gave in, I accepted, I believed. I allowed it to be true. I thought I'd be able to go through with it without ever doubting myself. But I... It hurt so much.
What makes it so insidious is that we will rearrange our entire lives in order to make it feel true. Helplessness denies responsibility, and we are so hard-wired to believe that we are good and blameless people that we will, consciously or subconsciously, set up situations that trap us without options, whether it's just procrastinating until a task is impossible to complete or committing officer-assisted suicide to take the act out of our own hands.
The ghostly voice of the Fayth rings out behind Yuna's words.
There were too many smiles to count. And I know that I was smiling, too. But now... when I look back... The people who should be here aren't. The ones who should be smiling with me aren't here.
We had no choice.
This time Yuna's father speaks as well. Well, this is the Farplane.
"We had no choice."
The magic never worked! The only thing we're left with is regret.
But you know what? There are always choices, even if all of them are bad ones. Even if some of them are scary. When we say "we had no choice," it usually means "we already chose this."
No. I don't want this anymore. I don't want friends to die... or fade away. I don't want battles where we have to lose in order to win. Nooj, I know that what you say is what you mean to do.
This is Yuna coming full circle, from being talked out of self-sacrifice in the prequel to talking Nooj out of it here. It's a very powerful moment. And "it sucks" is probably the best line Yuna ever delivers.
Video: It Sucks
Hmm. So you have a plan.
That's Plan B. But before that...
No matter how monstrous it looks, Vegnagun is still just a machina. So we can take it apart, right?
Uh, yeah... uh, maybe?
You never used to be the think-before-you-act type. What gives?
Hey, reinforcements. Fuckin' finally.
And I never was the wait-like-a-good-girl type. Isn't that right, Noojie?
Vegnagun can be destroyed. Abso-posi-you better believe it. Wanna know why?
'Cause people built it!
Right! Everyone! It looks like we can stop that thing after all.
Not sure if eight people can manage to do what two couldn't. Either way, Vegnagun starts to react to the team's newfound morale, and the screen starts to shake.
Witless little widget, isn't it?
What about Shuyin?
Wait, I thought we were going to try to take out Shuyin before Vegnagun. I guess we got here a little late for that.
The ultimate illusion.
It'll work! I've come this far to bring Lenne's feelings to Shuyin. I'm not stopping now.
That surge of confidence was enough to activate Vegnagun, and it starts to move. But I suppose that means Yuna's on the right track. Vegnagun being afraid means Vegnagun has something to be afraid of.
It's not safe to stand in front of Vegnagun's face any more, though. Everyone retreats back to the main road...
And Vegnagun opens its protective shell and starts to charge up.
It's just bluffing.
This relic's getting rusty.
Yuna, you have your friends.
Leave the legs to us!
We've got the torso!
Guess that leaves the tail!
Okay, let's go!
Here begins the final boss rush. Vegnagun is perched on a spire off in the distance, but winding paths and floating platforms let the Gullwings work their way around to its vulnerable appendages and disable them before assaulting the core. We'll be finishing off all of Vegnagun's components ourselves, naturally, since this is a video game and we control the main characters, but the fact that we need three teams of heroes in play to keep Vegnagun penned in makes this section feel both realistic and heartening. Teamwork is one of the game's major themes, and for Vegnagun to have just stood still and taken it had Yuna charged in alone would have strained credulity.
Then again, you'd think someone out to destroy a superweapon would have tried "surround it" already.
The first stop is the tail, which isn't too theatening. All of its attacks ignore defense, so it's better to bring in characters that are more heavily balanced toward offense, and trade out your Champion Belts for Kaiser Knuckles.
Many of Vegnagun's attacks have Latin names which refer to death or judgment. The tail, for example, uses a swipe called Noli Me Tangere, or "Touch Me Not," said to be what Jesus says to Mary Magdalene when she recognizes him after his resurrection. Noli is basically one-quarter of a Lightfall, dealing 1250 damage to the whole party, but we can reduce it with Protect. The tail also shoots an unnamed laser beam which deals fractional damage. It's not hard to have healing that can outpace the tail's damage, especially if you're using Yuna's Mascot or White Wind.
Also, during these battles, the voices of Braska and his guardians will occasionally offer advice or encouragement. Against the tail, we hear;
Don't be afraid, Yuna. Your friends are your strength.
Video: Boss: Vegnagun's Tail
Once we win, the tail collapses, opening the way forward.
However, it seems like the Leblanc Syndicate is struggling to take out one of Vegnagun's main legs.
Boss! Let's get the heck outta here!
You want to get the heel?
There's a break between the last fight and the next, so not only do you have the opportunity to re-equip, you can even run back to the save point to heal and save. Just don't forget that there are still random encounters on the previous screen.
Yuna arrives just in the nick of time.
I'll let you have this one. I'm going to cheer Noojie on.
Again, it's nice that everyone's basically playing running reinforcements. We'll see later that this isn't just the typical bluster we'd expect from Leblanc's particular anime trope; Leblanc actually fights alongside Nooj, rather than just cheering from the sidelines. Nobody backs us up, naturally, but Nooj and Gippal are down a man, so they probably need the help more than we do.
The leg itself doesn't do much against us; since we destroyed the tail Vegnagun is having trouble keeping its balance. But it will cast spells at us and occasionally take a swipe at the whole party. It has an attack named Vita Brevis, meaning "life is short," which is taken from a quote by Hippocrates, of Hippocratic Oath fame.
The orbs in its side, however, provide close magical support. The green one heals and buffs the leg, the yellow ones cast Black Magic on us, and the red one shoots us with magic bullets, the most impressive of which is an eight-shot volley called Dies Irae, or "day of wrath," named after a hymn describing the day of judgment. Also, for the first time in the game, we have an enemy that requires long-range attacks to hit, but the orbs are beefy enough that it's better to just focus on the leg instead. Reflect basically wins this battle, as most of the enemy attacks will bounce right off of it.
While we fight, Jecht gives us pointers like;
You can't reach those Nodes with a sword.
Don't forget the leg, that's your main target.
Video: Boss: Vegnagun's Leg
As before, winning moves the foot out of the way so we can continue. This is the last boss break in which we can re-equip or retreat to save. I switch Rikku back to Megiddo and make her a Thief.
The fight at Vegnagun's torso rages on, and it's impossible to tell who's winning from down here.
As we get closer, we see that Ormi and Logos have withdrawn from the fight.
Help the boss...
The Gullwings are on it!
At the top of the spire, Vegnagun is taking a beating...
...but giving back as good as it gets.
We'll finish it.
You know, we could have brought some spare Garment Grids and Dresspheres to enhance everybody else's combat abilities. Oh well.
This fight is set up much like Angra Mainyu; the real threat comes from the legs on either side, but the ultimate target is the core. The left leg casts status spells on us, the right casts buffs, and both will counter us if we attack the core while they're still alive. Attack-all skills like Fireworks, Darkness, and Blue Bullets help here. The core will bring the legs back to life if necessary, and will otherwise charge up for Memento Mori, or "Remember you will die." However, it takes a long time to do so, and the core is very slow, so you are unlikely to see this attack unless you really struggle against this boss. I take it out quickly by taking advantage of Flare, which Megiddo makes relatively easy to access.
This time the legs are just a distraction. You know where to strike.
Forget the small fries, go for the core! The core's your target!
Video: Boss: Vegnagun's Core
After winning the fight, Vegnagun collapses and lands chin-first on the platform.
Uh... Maybe we're finished?
Vegnagun starts to get back up, no longer acting on simple defensive instinct. It looks like Shuyin has the hang of the controls.
He's got a Plan B, too!
He's panicking. Yuna. End it now.
Yuna and company run up one of the legs to Vegnagun's cockpit...
...just in time for Vegnagun to grow a big fuck-off cannon from his mouth.
Video: The Gun in Vegnagun
Unfortunately, Shuyin notices when we arrive. By the way, why would you install a backwards-facing cockpit into something like this?
Vegnagun's head has a lot of attacks. At first the tusks will attack us together with Pallida Mors, or "pale Death," which is how the Romans described their mythological personification of death. If you take out one tusk, the other will revive it. Both tusks have to be dead at the same time to make the head vulnerable, after which the tusks will act independently, casting spells and firing a laser named Lacrimosa, whose name is taken from the ending of the Dies Irae hymn.
The head, meanwhile, will restore the tusks to life with Acta Est Fabula ("The play is over," supposedly the last words of Roman emperor Caesar Augustus) belch fire and statuses at us with Mors Cetra ("death is certain," typically followed by hora incetra, "the hour is uncertain") sucks everyone into a null dimension with Nemo Ante Morten Beatus ("no man can be called happy before his death") and shoots us with laser bullets with Odi Et Amo ("I hate and I love," from a poem which equates the inevitable emotional conflicts of love with the torment of crucifixion).
Also, you can't count on Cat Nip to cheese this boss, because you get a free heal before the battle. Can't make things too easy.
All the while, Braska, Auron, Jecht, and Shuyin compete for our attention.
Come, Vegnagun. Let us purge this repulsive world.
If Vegnagun fires, it's all over. You have to stop it now! There is no overtime!
The end now begins.
Vegnagun's half-way to firing power. You still have time. Believe, Yuna.
The only faith you need is faith in yourself.
The battle continues until...
Now, Vegnagun! Fire!
Vegnagun finishes powering up and fires into the sky...
..coming out in the Calm Lands.
The ones who aren't blown away by the winds are burned alive by the explosions, and the screen goes white.
Video: The End
Well, that was a bit anti-climactic, but I have to give the developers props for an incredibly bold artistic statement. Nine people out of the whole world were never going to be able to turn back the consequences of mankind's inherent violence, short-sightedness, and despair. It's a very visceral experience.
The game is over, but there's one or two more supplementary updates coming where I collect a few things I've missed. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned.