This is a part of the Final Fantasy VI Red Mage Challenge run. If you want information on the rules please see here. This post will include spoilers for a, now reasonably old game. If you haven’t done so already, please play the game – it is great.
I start off this section doing a little more grinding with Terra. I’ve gotten her up to around level 10, which I think is a reasonable start. After this we return to Figaro Castle and continue the story.
Edgar has allowed us to wander around the castle to get oriented – there isn’t really a reason for this, but there is nothing else going on so it makes sense and if I was in the castle I would want to have a bit of an explore around it, so it seems fair. The castle is split into three parts, the main castle and two towers that you have to walk across a bit of desert to get to. Some guards are riding chocobos over the sand, introducing that chocobos are in the game. Castle Figaro feels kinda small compared to other Final Fantasy castles (Castle Baron in FFIV was bigger at this point), but that feels ok when you appreciate what Castle Figaro is over time. This is not a place where lots of civilians are living, they appear to all be in South Figaro. This is more like a military and research base. Almost all of the people there are soldiers, with the occasional academic or woman (including a girl who Edgar told he would marry when she was older?). This is further reinforced by what happens to the castle later in this scenario.
You wander into the King’s bedroom and talk to a woman who discusses her memories of the King’s brother, Sabin. Everyone around the castle talks positively about Sabin. They say that he is a sweet boy who left years ago when he was just a small thing. On talking to the Chancellor, you find out that Sabin left because he didn’t want to be involved in a battle for succession against his brother and that this was ultimately decided because of a coin toss. We’ll find out more about this coin toss later on, but it is highlighted here that the death of Edgar and Sabin’s father led to a complicated result which led to the brothers being separated. One becoming King and one becoming free.
You can do a few more things in the castle at this point. Lone Wolf is in the jail, and I left him completely alone. I have been burnt by Lone Wolf opening chests and stealing items from me before, so I wasn’t talking to him this time (although I know he will be involved in some shenanigans later on). The other prisoners give a bit more flavour to Edgar’s character, painting him as logical and that he will release them because “he knows who the real enemy is”. This does add a little bit to show that Edgar may be willing to make choices that an idyllic vision of a King may not make, which is important for later in the game.
After this Edgar asks what you thought of the place, and then he is told that imperials are coming to the castle and we are shown Kefka. Kefka is colourful in all ways. Firstly, his character design is so distinct from every other character. His Anamo art version has him wearing a fur-lined red coat, with blue and red tights, one black and one white boot, yellow cuffs, a scarf with purple, yellow, red and blue on it and a headdress with feathers. It is extravagant to say the least. Kefka wears heavy white and red makeup and his nails have been painted to match. Kefka is hugely memorable by appearance alone, and then he has as extravagant a personality with some of the best lines in the game.
This design makes Kefka interesting for many reasons, but one is the obvious similarity to jesters. The way Kefka is standing in art work and the Dissidia series, the pale white makeup, the multiple coloured tights – these are all elements I would associated with a classic depiction of a jester. This jovial element is brilliant when you look at Kefka’s actions (including gleeful genocide of the Doman people before we get to the whole destruction of the world thing). It is a subversion of expectations, but also aids to Kefka’s eccentric personality. The Final Fantasy series generally presents jesters as evil (here, in IX and XIV does this a few times for a couple of examples). It does make you think that someone might have had a problem with jesters at Square over the years. An alternative possibility is that this could be another Disney-esc queer coded villain. Kefka is presenting in lots of ways adverse to a traditional male figure and acts in a flamboyant manner. I haven’t seen anything to back this up but the way the characters are treated is similar.
The exchange between Edgar and Kefka is brilliant, and it is a shame that these characters don’t get to interact much else in the game. The two dance around each other with flowery words and pretence, while they both know exactly what is going on. Kefka wants Terra, everyone knows what Terra is capable on, Edgar is not going to give Terra away, and Kefka isn’t going to accept that. It’s brilliant, especially when compared to the more blunt dialogue from the soldiers next to Kefka who outline that the Empire would be fine destroying the castle and could do it whenever they want.
Kefka eventually leaves without Terra, but we know that it isn’t over. Edgar instructs Locke to take Terra away to her room. Following this Locke explains more to Terra. Edgar is actually not an ally of the empire and is a part of the Returners, a group that is trying to rebel against the empire and put an end to their tyranny. To those ends, they think that magic is key to this.
Reading this, I am brought back to the idea of the War of the Magi. It takes two sides to do a war. Yes, the Empire is evil and they are the ones bringing magic into the combat. But, going by what Edgar is saying, the Returners are going to use magic to counteract them. It takes both sides using magic to start a new War of the Magi. Both sides could be foolish enough to start this, if we are going by the narration at the start of the game. It is that simple, but also much more complicated, which is the nature of war I guess.
Locke is supportive to Terra during these scenes. At this point Locke is invested to help her both for the actions of the Returners and because of how he reminds him of his past. She needs help, and Locke is a nice guy. He’s not a lawful good character, if we are using the D&D system of alignment, but he’s a good guy at the heart of it.
Edgar has a sleep and wakes up to a crispy castle and a bunch of people freaking out about the fires that Kefka just dumped on the castle. The Empire soldiers are chuckling at all of the fire while Edgar’s soldiers are running around. Edgar goes back and warns to get something ready and then Kefka approaches. Edgar responds by jumping off of the castle onto a chocobo and grabbing Terra and Locke before trying to escape by chocobo. It’s a great fun escape and feels heroic.
This is then followed by Edgar showing why his job title in the Gameboy advance version is ‘machinist’ as Figaro Castle starts it’s submarine mode and submerges into the desert leading to Kefka’s classic line “Edgar you son of a…
sand worm.” …
I have only played this game on the playstation before, and so while in some places the improved localisation effort for the Gameboy advanced version is appreciated, you do lose lines like “son of a submariner”, which is a bit of a shame. That being said the sprites look beautiful and I am excited about the additional content that we may be able to explore later on.
The boss fight here was simple enough. I had to kill off Edgar (Locke was already dead which was nice) but after that Terra was a high enough level that she just obliterated the magitech armour with her magic. So, nothing much to say here. During the fight (because Terra used magic) there is the additional scene where Locke and Edgar talk about Terra knowing magic, which ends in a nice way (Terra’s determination is endearing). During this Edgar essentially says Terra is not human, which given the vulnerable state Terra is in at the moment is not the nicest thing. Everyone eventually reassures Terra, but this is an important theme moving forward. Terra is capable of using magic, but no one knows why right now.
We then have a chocobo riding segment and I hate it. Riding chocobos in this game is done through a pseudo-3D section which, like most of the pseudo 3D segments I’ve tried in games in the generation, I find really difficult to control. This puts me off using chocobos in the game. Not only this, but they make it difficult to find the entrance to the cave while on the chocobo (something I found a problem when I first played). It’s irritating, but we head to the pass to South Figaro and leave the chocobo to wander off into the world.
The pass was again, reasonably easy. Terra was a high enough level that no battles were challenges. The high point of that cave as always is the turtle at the start of it. Thank you for your service turtle – we appreciate you always.
We make it through to South Figaro and the fights outside of here are a bit harder. The rhino enemy killed Terra with an unfortunate mega volt at one point, which meant I felt a bit more grinding may be needed here before heading to Mt Kolts. But at this point we head into the town of South Figaro.
As we enter we see a black robed ninja walking through the town and I am so happy. We head to the tavern and hear the music for Shadow’s theme (at this point I realise I haven’t spoken on any of the music yet – I think it’s great. I’ll go through it more at some point – we have a long journey ahead of us). Shadow is a fun character. Again, the new translation makes it a little less interesting (telling us that Shadow would “kill a friend for money”, rather than “kill his own mother for some bread” – or something like that) but still Shadow, even though the only thing he tells us is that his dog eats people (if you interact with Interceptor, the best pup in the game) he tells us a lot about him again. Once again, an interesting character (more so if you watch his backstory, which come in the form of optional dream scenes). We most likely won’t be using him in battle, but it’s great to see him anyway.
Otherwise our trip to the town is pretty standard. We finally buy Terra a sword and get a load of equipment to have things ready for when we get more party members. We get some relics and make sure that Terra is immune to any status ailments that would cause her to automatically lose the battle (such as petrify). We gather items from secret passages in the town that Locke will be using later in the game and talk to a man who says that the town is well equipped and won’t be taken over by the empire … give it an hour.
The other bit of story here is hearing about Duncan, a martial artist in the area. Duncan has gone out to train his disciples, including his son (Vargas), but some people say he has gone missing while others think it is normal. We find out that Vargas is not improving as much as Duncan would like, and that this is causing a bit of tension. Finally, on the outskirts of the town (a bit more towards the mountains) we find a little house. Inside are a bunch of items that Edgar feels are familiar (the flowers that HE likes, the dishes HE likes ect.). We play the pronoun game a bit, but Edgar is talking about his brother Sabin here. Sabin has supposedly gone to the mountain to look for his master who has gone missing. With that we have our next objective that we will go into the next post!
At the end of this section, Terra was level 11. However, I am going to be doing a bit of grinding at the start of the next bit, which hopefully will be the last bit of grinding with Terra before we get access to espers (fingers crossed!).