Sunday, July 08, 2012

My Top 50 Final Fantasy Locations: #20 to #11

Welcome to Part 4 of 5, of My Top 50 Final Fantasy Locations listing. Sorry I didn't post this yesterday, I had completely forgotten to do so!

We're approaching crunch time now. These places before you are places in the Final Fantasy series that are absolutely amazing, in a variety of different ways. Today I count from #20 to #11, if you've missed them click here for #30 to #21, here for #40 to #31 and here for #50 to #41. Let's do the Top 20!

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

#20: Giruvegan
Game? Final Fantasy XII
When do you go? Towards the end of the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: An ancient city, completely out of vision due to large quantities of Mist covering the place. It's completely indoors and is basically a large pit, and at the bottom is The Great Crystal. However this pit is in darkness, and has many lights and designs that bright up in its black surroundings.
I don't know if it's just me; no one else really talks about it, but I find Giruvegan absolutely stunning to look at. I remember playing hours and hours of Final Fantasy XII, boring as hell as it is at times (Don't deny it, FF12 can be boring for long periods of time) and then getting to Giruvegan and just being taken aback by its beauty. Just panning the camera across the terrain, looking at its darkness, its lights, and I had to take a moment to take it all in. It's just damn beautiful. The Great Crystal is pretty cool too, but when you enter Giruvegan, seriously, look around you. Look at what you can see. You'll appreciate it. For some reason not many people talk about this place as much as me, which is a damn shame as it deserves a big mention for being as awesome as it is, in my eyes anyway.

Giruvegan is the fourth and last entry from Final Fantasy XII in this list.

#19: Dali
Game? Final Fantasy IX
When do you go? Very early on
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A very small village, which its main landmark is its windmill. It looks like an ordinary village with normal villagers, but underneath the surface all the men in the village are producing a Black Mage Army for Queen Brahne to use to take over the Mist Continent.
I love Dali. It's such a cute little place, and the first place that seems to make Vivi even remotely happy, until of course, he's mistaken for one of the Black Mages that are being made for war. Vivi loves windmills. What makes Dali so amazing is its lovely music; it's so nice and warming, you wish music like that was played in your house when you go home. Well I do anyway. And I really wish in a certain way the horrible things that do end up happening in Dali never happen, as it's just such a nice little place. But this is Final Fantasy after all, so it would have been wrong if every thing was nice and perfect here. Man, I love Dali.

#18: Esthar City
Game? Final Fantasy VIII
When do you go? Completely optional, from half way through the game onwards
Revisitable? Yes
Description: Possibly the biggest, highest technological city in the history of Final Fantasy. A monstrosity of a city filled with large blue buildings, super fast cars and large surface roads.
What's the opposite to Dali? Probably Esthar. Remember I said earlier that Rabanastre to scale is possibly one of the biggest places in all of Final Fantasy? Well this, I'm almost certain, is the king. Esthar is just a beast. It covers such a large area, I've never seen an area in a Final Fantasy world map cover such a large patch. Just look at it! It's big and blue! So big. It's got to be bigger than Rabanastre, than Eden, than Zanarkand, than Midgar. It's just untouchable. And it also has the coolest president in the history of Final Fantasy too, in Laguna. You just can't beat Esthar.

#17: Calm Lands
Game? Final Fantasy X
When do you go? Approaching the end of the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A huge plain of grass that's usually used as a place of celebration for the world of Spira for when Sin is defeated. It has an iconic 'scar' towards the end of the plain where Sin fell in a climatic battle with one of the Final Aeons many years ago.
The Calm Lands may not look like much but it says something that they made the Archylte Steppe after it, only three games after the original. Its concept is simple yet effective, it marks the beginning of the end of the story of Final Fantasy X. The Archylte Steppe's purpose is pretty much the same for FF13. But you can do so much here; you can grind your characters abilities well here, you have a lot of side quests that stem from here, amongst other things. You come to the Calm Lands in the story only once, but chances are you'll spend a lot of time here as it has such a good purpose and is so big, that there's so much to do. It's a truly grand Final Fantasy location.

Calm Lands is the fifth and last entry from Final Fantasy X in this list.

#16: Memoria
Game? Final Fantasy IX
When do you go? Final dungeon (unless you count The Crystal World seperately, then it's the penultimate location)
Revisitable? Yes (when retreating from The Crystal World anyway)
Description: A load of locations meshed into one, formed from the memories of all the characters, and that of time itself.
Memoria is one of my favourite final dungeons. I see it as the final dungeon of Final Fantasy IX, the Crystal World is so short it's hardly a dungeon is it? Memoria is an amazing place. I love the fact that you have this amazing story of Final Fantasy IX, that all of the characters take part in, all of the locations, the dreams, the experiences, everything, and it's all meshed into one location at the end. You have some very significant places in Memoria, some that you will recognise instantly, others are quite discrete. It's a fascinating area and I love it.

#15: Narshe
Game? Final Fantasy VI
When do you go? Right at the beginning and a little later on
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A coal mining town, trying to maintain neutrality in the game's tensions between the Empire and the Resistance, but leans towards the latter discretely. An esper is discovered here and its appearance sparks the beginning of the game.
Narshe will always hold a strong place in my heart, it all begins here and it's a cool little town. As Final Fantasy VI towns go they don't look that great, primarily because the graphics weren't as good back then, but Narshe's blue roofed buildings make it stand out more than the others. All of the steam coming out from the chimneys, and the coal mine to boot, it's distinct in the context of the game. You can come back here in the World of Ruin but it's just lifeless, which I suppose is fitting of the time of the game when its in utter chaos. Either way Narshe is a cool little place, and if you ask anyone who has played Final Fantasy VI, chances are they'll agree with me.

#14: Cosmo Canyon
Game? Final Fantasy VII
When do you go? Towards the middle of the game and towards the end of the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A pilgrimage site for those who seek to learn about The Planet and its cycle, it's also the hometown of Red XIII and his 'grandfather', Bugenhagen.
Want to know if someone actually is legitimately someone who likes Final Fantasy VII? Ask them about Cosmo Canyon. Lots of things get mentioned about FF7, the death of Aerith, One Winged Angel, Cloud's spiky hair, but nearly all the true FF7 fans know and love Cosmo Canyon. And what do proper FF7 fans love more than Cosmo Canyon? The amazing theme for Cosmo Canyon! What a song. That being said Cosmo Canyon is so cool, the storyline progression that happens here is so cool too, and most importantly, Buganhagen is too cool. That man is just a legend. Cosmo Canyon is not a place that I'd like to live if I could, but would I love to visit here if possible? You damned right.

#13: Oerba
Game? Final Fantasy XIII
When do you go? Very late on in the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: What was once Vanille and Fang's hometown, described by them as a lovely place to go to, is now a dead, desolate abandoned village. Oerba is so lifeless that it snows crystal dust.
I admit, even playing Final Fantasy XIII as an adult, I bought into Vanille and Fang's story that on the other side of Gran Pulse would be a bustling town full of people to greet and welcome the two best friends home. I was naive. I should have expected Square-Enix to dash the character's hopes of returning to the place they called home and make it horrible. But I never did. And when I saw Oerba, my heart sunk. It's horrible. It's an absolutely horrible place. WHY SQUARE-ENIX WHY?! WHY DO THAT?! It's so mean! Oerba is an amazing place, it's what Zanarkand should have been really. Yes I think they did a better job of Oerba than they did Zanarkand. Oerba is so dead, so lacking in anything that it even snows crystal dust. That's just horrible. But under all that horribleness is what was once a town. I think that's the hardest bit. The fact that you can see pretty much everything in its natural state, just rotting. It's not destroyed by a fire or sucked up, or a pile of rubble. It's like everyone just... disappeared. I love what Square-Enix did to Oerba, love and hate it. It's an amazing place.

Oerba is the eighth and last entry from Final Fantasy XIII in this list. 

#12: Zozo
Game? Final Fantasy VI
When do you go? Towards the middle of the game
Revisitable? Yes
Description: A town that's completely overrun by thieves and criminals. One of the few places in the entire series where it permanently rains. Everyone in the town are incapable of telling the truth and random encounters happen everywhere, a rarity for a Final Fantasy town.
As horrible a place Zozo is, it's also pretty damn cool. I love coming to Zozo, even the random battles don't bother me. I think it's the music again. Music is so important in a video game as it really sets the tone. I love the fact that everyone lies here, it makes for an interesting experience. I don't really know what else to say other than I love Zozo.

#11: Conde Petie
Game? Final Fantasy IX
When do you go? Half way through the game
Revisitable? Yes, until it is blocked off by Iifa Tree roots when Mist surrounds all over Gaia
Description: The village of the dwarven race. A single building across two of Iifa Tree roots, it's a passage from the Black Mage Village to Madain Sari and the Iifa Tree itself.
I can describe this place in a single word - Rally-ho! Rally-ho! Rally-ho! I love this place. It's such a brief blip that you actually spend here, but in that time the amount of comedy Squaresoft stirred up is just magical. I love the dwarves, who refuse to let you in unless you say Rally-ho!, I love their way of speech, which is almost spelt like how people in Scotland speak, I love the fact that the only way to get to the other side of the village is by getting married, and how Zidane reacts when Dagger agrees, and I love the fact that Quina doesn't understand the logic of having to buy food. But the best moment in the 15 minutes you spend here is the option of getting Vivi and Quina married. It's just one of the funniest moments in Final Fantasy history. I mean it. It's just classic. I so happy...

And we've arrived at the Top 10. I hope you've been enjoying going through these locations with me. I've enjoyed writing about them that's for sure. One more part left to go. What will I crown #1 in my favourite locations of the Final Fantasy series? Find out tomorrow. Have a good night! 

Click here for #10 to #1.

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