Monday, July 09, 2012

My Top 50 Final Fantasy Locations: #10 to #1

Here we are then. The Top 10 Final Fantasy Locations, at least in my eyes anyway. There's been a huge variety of areas we've covered so far already, across all the games. It's been fun. If you've missed them click here for #20 to #11, here for #30 to #21, here for #40 to #31 and here for #50 to #41.

So what are my favourite 10 locations of my favourite video game series ever? Let's count them down.

Please note: This list will talk about spoilers. If you have not played the game that each location represents I'd avoid that entry.

#10: Deling City
Game? Final Fantasy VIII
When do you go? Not far into the game as Laguna in a flashback, and a bit later on in modern time
Revisitable? Yes, until time compression occurs
Description: A very cool cosmopolitan city, the capital of Galbadia, it's dark for most of the year due to the climate and has a Presidential Residence, a grand hotel and many luxurious streets.
Ah, Deling City. What a place. Apparently this place was inspired by Paris in France in its design and it's hard not to see why. It just looks so cool. So cool. And of course, this is another choice that's definitely inspired by its amazing music. That's the icing on the cake of cool. I'd love to come to Deling City if it existed in real life. I suppose I better go to Paris then, it's the best I'm going to get really. The story that happens here is naturally important, and it's a big swerve in the events as well, as it serves as the place where Ultimecia, in Edea's form, starts to try and take over the world. Of course when you're here you don't know that and think Edea is the main antagonist. Either way Deling City is amazing.

#9: Wall Market
Game? Final Fantasy VII
When do you go? Very early on
Revisitable? Yes, but only much later in the game onwards
Description: A shopping centre of sorts, it's one of the most bustling places in Midgar. As well as having its own clothes shop and gym, it also has its own adult club. It's called Wall Market as there's a huge wall here that is actually used to climb above the Midgar plate and straight to Shinra Headquarters.
I've often said during the course of this listing that some places are chosen because of its sheer beautify and not because of storyline events. But this place, Wall Market, is chosen for exactly that reason. What happens in Wall Market... stays in Wall Market. Poor Cloud, poor poor Cloud! The dressing up as a woman scene is one of the funniest moments in the entire series of Final Fantasy. Especially if Don Corneo actually chooses him as his 'bride', then it gets even more funny! And of course, the Honey Bee Inn is classic. It's times like the Honey Bee Inn when Squaresoft completely justifies its 15+ rating on the game. It's just so wrong, some of the things that can happen there. Wall Market is an awesome time in the game, it stays long in the memory, what happens here.

#8: Lindblum
Game? Final Fantasy IX
When do you go? Quite early on, and a little later after that
Revisitable? Yes
Description: Actually the biggest city in Final Fantasy IX, although it's nothing on other places in other games. A decent sized city with the bet technology in the game, the city is seperated into different Districts. It has its own Regent and force, a force that's considered the strongest in the game until Queen Brahne starts producing Black Mages which shakes the forces of the world of Gaia during the course of the game.
Another cool city in Final Fantasy is Lindblum. It's a different cool to Deling City though, it's just such a nice place. It has a good castle, and the streets have lots of markets and the people just seem really happy for the most part. Tantalus, the crew that Zidane is from, reside here, as does the amazing Regent Cid, one of my favourite Cid's in the Final Fantasy series. A lot of story progression occurs here, and it's a base in parts for your party for some spells of the game. Lindblum is just such a lovely, welcoming city, one that I absolutely adore.

#7: Figaro Castle
Game? Final Fantasy VI
When do you go? Very early on, a little later, and towards the end of the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: On the surface, Edgar's castle is just that, a castle. But Edgar being the huge technological wizard that he is, has given his castle a few perks, the main one being able to travel underground to another continent.
There is one main reason why I love Figaro Castle, and that's because the man, the legend himself, Edgar resides here. The man is a legendary Final Fantasy character, by far the best womaniser in the series. And some of the best moments in the story of Final Fantasy VI are in this castle; when he flirts with Terra and even better, when you come here following a suspicious man who calls himself Gerad (Edgar in bad disguise). The castle itself and its awesome theme are cool of course; the castle being able to move underground is pretty funky and a bit of a surprise when you see it happen for the first time. Figaro Castle is just one of the best places in Final Fantasy history in my eyes.

Figaro Castle is the fifth and last entry from Final Fantasy VI in this list.

#6: Black Mage Village
Game? Final Fantasy IX
When do you go? Half way through the game, a little later, and towards the end of the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A magically hidden village where the Black Mages who were once puppets of war, have retreated to live the rest of their short lives in peace. Later on the Genomes, who have had a similar experience in terms of being used by a master of sorts, also take home here.
The Black Mage Village gets this high on my list because as a place it's cool and also the storyline progression here is amazing. You learn so much here, about the Black Mages, about Vivi and the Genomes come here later on. It's just a true place of Gaia that you feel is completely safe that has a calm atmosphere, and the music helps to that again of course. The Black Mages are terribly scared that Zidane and company have found their secret hideout but soon learn their motives. Mr 288 (all the Black Mages are numbered) is a leader of sorts in the village, and he discusses life philosophy heavily in this village. His words and views on life are really cool if not sad, and really make you think about real life. Things like that make this place so memorable. And of course, the birth of Bobby Corwen is awesome too! Best chocobo name ever!

#5: Balamb Garden
Game? Final Fantasy VIII
When do you go? Right at the beginning and many times throughout the game
Revisitable? Yes, until time compression occurs
Description: A large school of sorts, students learn and train how to fight here with the hope of once becoming SeeD, mercenaries who help settle global unrest. Later on it's discovered that it's also a mobile ship and is used as one.
There is absolutely no dispute about Balamb Garden being one of the Final Fantasy series most recognisable landmarks. Probably no place in Final Fantasy VIII is as easily memorable as this place. You start the game here, you come back here many times throughout the game and it's your base for pretty much the whole game. A lot of storyline progression naturally occurs here, and it's just a really cool place. I wish I went to school here. The music is so peaceful as well of course. Man I love Balamb Garden.

#4: Alexandria
Game? Final Fantasy IX
When do you go? Right in the beginning of the game, towards the middle of the game and later again
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A city and nation ruled by a monarchy; Queen Brahne on the throne until Princess Garnet, or Dagger, claims it. The story starts here. A bustling city with a large castle, Alexandria is one of the main places in the game.
I love Alexandria. It's another one of those places that I'd love to live in. Everything is cute or gorgeous, depending on where you go. I love the castle, it's absolutely stunning, and the town centre itself is pretty damn cool too. Vivi's little journey here early on is just great, you can't help but love him there and then right from the off. Of course the scenes with Zidane and Steiner also make it brilliant. And of course, who can forget Beatrix, she can serve me any day... Alexandria, another staple landmark of the Final Fantasy series is also one of my favourite places, and I place it at number four.

#3: Nibelheim
Game? Final Fantasy VII
When do you go? In flashbacks quite early on, in modern time towards the middle of the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A small village next to a mountain, some of the most important events in the history of the game happen here. Cloud and Tifa's hometime, it's burnt down by Sephiroth when he goes crazy on a murderous rampage. The Shinra Manor, one of the creepiest looking places in the Final Fantasy series, also resides here.
I don't know how naive any of you were on your first visit to Nibelheim, but remember I was very young when I played this game. After hearing Cloud's amazing story, I totally expected this place to be a big pile of burnt ashes. When you stumble across Nibelheim in game, and you see everything completely put back together, like nothing ever happened, I was just so shocked. And confused. Squaresoft really pulled a fantastic plot twist here when they made it seem like nothing had ever changed, but of course, it was Shinra, trying to hide their flaws and failures, who rebuilt the village back to the way it was, and got decent actors to make people believe that no fire ever occured there.

And then you have the Shinra Manor. Man that place is just so creepy, the music, the things that happen there, the experiments, everything. It's an amazing yet horrible place, haunted by the past. I love it. Nibelheim is a truly mindblowing little place, its history and distinct appearance will forever be engraved in my head.

Nibelheim is the seventh and last entry from Final Fantasy VII in this list.

#2: Treno
Game? Final Fantasy IX
When do you go? Towards the middle of the game and a little later on
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A  town in permanent night time, separated by excessively rich nobles and bones dry poor peasants. It hosts its own auction, card tournament amongst other things. Doctor Tot resides here.
Now if I were to try and narrow down one place I'd love to live in a Final Fantasy game, it probably would be Treno. As a noble obviously. You've got the gorgeous night light, an awesome auction and card tournament, Doctor Tot to rely upon if you need help with something, if you were feeling adventurous you could take on the master's pet and you could kick peasants for entertainment. Okay I'm exaggerating a little here but Treno is just such a cool place. Sure the contrast of the economy isn't nice, but that aside it's a brilliant place. One of my favourite moments in the entire game happen here, when Baku keeps on getting Doctor Tot's name wrong. Such a funny moment in the game. I just can't help but love Treno, I love coming here it's just brilliant.

Treno is the tenth and last entry from Final Fantasy IX in this list.

Okay, we're at the end now. Let's just recap from #50 to #2:
  • #50 - Pandaemonium (II)
  • #49 - Faultwarrens (XIII)
  • #48 - World of Darkness (III)
  • #47 - Giza Plains (XII)
  • #46 - Chaos Shrine (I)
  • #45 - Macalania Forest (X)
  • #44 - Lunar Subterrane (IV)
  • #43 - Orphan's Cradle (XIII)
  • #42 - Edea's Orphanage (VIII)
  • #41 - Archylte Steppe (XIII)
  • #40 - Northern Cave (VII)
  • #39 - South Figaro (VI)
  • #38 - Rabanastre (XII)
  • #37 - Forgotten Capital (VII)
  • #36 - Magitek Research Facility (VI)
  • #35 - Moonflow (X)
  • #34 - Lake Bresha (XIII)
  • #33 - Iifa Tree (IX)
  • #32 - Shumi Village (VIII)
  • #31 - Gold Saucer (VII)
  • #30 - Nautilus (XIII)
  • #29 - Besaid (X)
  • #28 - Daguerreo (IX)
  • #27 - Shinra Headquarters (VII)
  • #26 - Ship Graveyard (V)
  • #25 - Zanarkand (X)
  • #24 - Sulyya Springs (XIII)
  • #23 - Bhujerba (XII)
  • #22 - Bran Bal (IX)
  • #21 - Bodhum (XIII)
  • #20 - Giruvegan (XII)
  • #19 - Dali (IX)
  • #18 - Esthar (VIII)
  • #17 - Calm Lands (X)
  • #16 - Memoria (IX)
  • #15 - Narshe (VI)
  • #14 - Cosmo Canyon (VII)
  • #13 - Oerba (XIII)
  • #12 - Zozo (VI)
  • #11 - Conde Petie (IX)
  • #10 - Deling City (VIII)
  • #9 - Wall Market (VII)
  • #8 - Lindblum (IX)
  • #7 - Figaro Castle (VI)
  • #6 - Black Mage Village (IX)
  • #5 - Balamb Garden (VIII)
  • #4 - Alexandria (IX)
  • #3 - Nibelheim (VII)
  • #2 - Treno (IX)
Here we are then. My favourite Final Fantasy location of all time is...

#1: Ultimecia's Castle
Game? Final Fantasy VIII
When do you go? The final dungeon in the game
Revisitable? No
Description: An exceedingly grand, chilling, maze-like castle. Ultimecia lives here, as do all of her minions, who have your powers. Some of the locations in this castle are the grand hall with a huge chandelier, a wine cellar, a courtyard, a treasure room, an art gallery, a prison, an armoury, a chapel, a waterway, and a clock tower. Ultimecia, lurks deep in the final area, the master room.
What a place Ultimecia's Castle is. Ultimecia as a villain doesn't deserve such an amazing place to hide in. This is more suited to say, Kefka, or Sephiroth. Regardless of my feelings for Ultimecia this castle is my favourite place in the series. Everything about it is perfect. I love the grand staircase when you arrive, the cobwebs dripping from the banisters and ornaments. The art gallery is creepy and the pictures are cool. Getting trapped in the prison gives you an 'oh crap' moment. The clock tower is excellent. I just love this castle. I wish it was mine. It's just feels like Squaresoft pulled all the stops to make it the biggest, grandest castle ever imagined when they came up with it. Everything about it reeks of class and terror. You can't help but wonder how many people or things Ultimecia and her minions may have murdered in cold blood in this place, and in different parts of the castle. It's terrifying. But I love it and it's my favourite place in the Final Fantasy series.

Ultimecia's Castle is the sixth and last entry from Final Fantasy VIII in this list.

And that's the end. Thanks for joining me count down my favourite 50 Final Fantasy Locations. It's been a blast. I love this series so much, I'm sure you noticed. While it's highly debated that the Final Fantasy series is not getting any better, one thing for me that keeps the series together are its amazing locations. Proof of that is the splendid places made in Final Fantasy XII and XIII. Some have critised one or both games, I'm one of those people. But regardless of the game and its flaws, the locations, man, they're just beautiful. You can't deny that. Thanks once again for joining me. There's one more thing I want to do, and that's to point you to My Top 50 Final Fantasy Characters listing that I did nearly two years ago, if you haven't seen it. Have a good night.

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  1. No Balamb? I loved the list, and how you mentioned scenery and music as major factors. Then why no Balamb?

    1. Balamb Garden is in the list. As for the town, I've never thought it was that great or special, it just feels like any other seaside town. Each to their own of course, if you disagree then that's fine :)