This is going to be another one of those “can I write a blog entry in just two hours” entries. Needless to say, now that November is here, I'm having a real shortage of free time.
The good news is that today's Saturday Smorgasbord deals with the subject of video games, so I have chosen a topic that I am extremely familiar with. The bad news is that for those of you who are unfamiliar with or simply don't care for the RPG genre of games, you might not get a whole lot out of this one.
How many of you have played at least one of the “Final Fantasy” games that have been released over the last few years? I'm sure that even the most casual gamer has played at least one. There have been at least fourteen made, and those don't even include the dozens of prequels, sequels, and spin-offs that have been made based on the games.
Not bad for a video game company who named the game “Final Fantasy” some twenty-six years earlier because the near-bankrupt company felt that it would not be able to continue operations, and they decided that “Final Fantasy” would be the final hurrah for the company. Ironically enough, “Final Fantasy” breathed new life into the series, and it is still going strong...even though by this blogger's admission, the last few games have not really been up to par in comparison to some of the older games in the series. But then again, I suppose we all have our different tastes.
In some Final Fantasy titles, the games have taken place in a medieval era, or a steampunk setting. Others have taken a futuristic look at the world, introducing machinery and technology. But the gameplay is more or less the same. You gather the power of the elements from a variety of sources (mostly crystals and magic spells), and you unlock mysteries and gather mystical weapons and armor in order to defeat the ultimate evil at the end of the game.
And that is exactly what this topic is all about. We're going to be talking about one of the major enemies of the Final Fantasy franchise. Perhaps he could be considered to be the worst of the worse when it comes to evil doings.
But which ultimate Final Fantasy antagonist will we be focusing on? After all, there's been so many.
I suppose that I could have talked about Kuja from my personal favourite of the Final Fantasy games, “Final Fantasy IX”. In the ninth installment, he certainly caused a lot of trouble. He was responsible for manipulating the queen of a kingdom to the point where she completely destroyed entire communities to fuel her power trips, and then once she was killed in a battle, he really went nuts. But, to be absolutely honest, I chose not to focus on Kuja, as he was really controlled by an evil demon known as Necron. Who was basically a giant tree.
Nor did I want to feature Exdeath from “Final Fantasy V”. He was nothing more than a giant tree. What is it with Final Fantasy games and possessed trees?
Golbez from “Final Fantasy IV” was promising...but then he turned good at the end because he was being controlled by a monster named Zeromus...who was essentially just one gigantic cosmic blob. Certainly not a good choice.
Sin from “Final Fantasy X” was one-dimensional. All he did was destroy things. Mind you, the story of how Sin came to be, as well as how Sin keeps coming back year after year was interesting...but that will be for another topic for another day.
And, I know that some of you who were huge fans of “Final Fantasy VII” will go on and on about how Sephiroth was the ultimate baddie of the game because he murdered Aeris/Aerith Gainsborough in cold blood. And certainly Sephiroth has earned his place on the list of the biggest, baddest enemies of the whole Final Fantasy series. But to me, he is not the ultimate Final Fantasy bad guy.
Golbez, Exdeath, Kuja, Sin, Sephiroth...none of those Final Fantasy evil doers could even compare to today's blog subject.
Even his laugh sounds evil. Have a listen.
Creepy. I remember finding it extremely creepy when I first began playing this game for the first time as a 13-year-old boy who was completely obsessed with the Final Fantasy universe.
Does the name Kefka Palazzo send shivers down your spine? Have you even heard the name Kefka Palazzo? Don't worry. You will. And when you read about his various crimes, you'll likely hate him too.
(Or, maybe not. He is a 16-bit video game character, after all.)
Anyway, Kefka is the central antagonist of “Final Fantasy VI” (or Final Fantasy III if you happen to have played the game in North America as I have). The game was released in 1994, and still remains a favourite. In fact, Final Fantasy VI is probably my second most favourite Final Fantasy game out of the entire series. It's got fourteen playable characters, each with their own distinct abilities and personalities, and the gameplay itself can last upwards of fifty to sixty hours, depending on how much time it takes to play the main quest and the sidequests. Really, it was one of the biggest masterpieces of the Super Nintendo console, and I'm praying against all odds that the game is re-released for the Nintendo 3DS. I'd love to get a chance to play it again.
Anyway, Final Fantasy VI takes place in a world at war with each other. The war is between the evil Empire who has taken over half the world and occupied several towns, filling its townspeople with worry and dread. The men of these villages have been forced to serve in the Empire's army, and not every single man comes out of the battle alive.
On the other side of the world, you have the Returners. A quiet group residing in the north who oppose the Empire's tactics at every opportunity. The home base of the Returners is located just outside the community of South Figaro, and Figaro Castle acts as a safe haven for Returners business. After all, King Edgar of Figaro is one of the members (as well as one of the fourteen playable characters).
And then you have Kefka who doesn't care for either side. All he cares about is bringing destruction and pain to everyone who happens to stand in his way – be it Returner or Empire member.
When we first meet Kefka, it's in a flashback that Terra (another playable character) experiences after getting knocked out following a battle in the caverns of Narshe. Kefka plants something called a “Slave Crown” on Terra's head, which allows the Empire to control her every move – seemingly leaving us to believe that Kefka is on the side of the Empire. Luckily, the Slave Crown gets destroyed in that battle, and Terra soon joins forces with King Edgar and Locke Cole, a thief who calls himself a “treasure hunter”.
But then Kefka arrives to pay Edgar a visit in Figaro Castle, and it is here where we start to see the real Kefka come shining through.
Turns out that Kefka wants to capture Terra (whom Locke and Edgar have staying in Figaro Castle) for...experiments (after all, Terra can use magic – which has been banned from the world ever since the conclusion of the War of the Magi one millennium earlier). Edgar flat out lies to Kefka, telling him that Terra is not there, but for whatever reason, Kefka does not believe him, and sets the entire exterior of the castle ablaze.
In the kerfuffle, Edgar escapes with Terra and Locke, and flee the castle just as Edgar orders the castle to sink into the ground. You see, Figaro Castle had apparently been attacked by the Empire before, so as a precaution, an underground tunnel was built underneath the castle so that the people inside the castle could be protected against enemy attack. The fire was put out, the people inside the castle were spared, and Kefka's rage grew.
It grew so much that when the Empire set up a base just outside of the kingdom of Doma, Kefka only had murder on his mind. Despite the orders of the kind General Leo of the Empire not to interfere, Kefka coldly poisoned everybody in the Kingdom of Doma, with a knight named Cyan being the only survivor. As expected, Cyan joins the Returners, as his entire family was wiped out by the poison, but for Kefka, this was not enough. Knowing that he had killed an entire kingdom of people transformed him into a living, breathing, monster. He staged an attack against the people of Narshe to get control of a frozen monster known as an Esper. He later figured out that Espers could be drained of their magical powers, and he caused a lot of damage to the Magitek Research Facility in order to suck up all the power for himself.
And, then there was the incident in the tiny little community of Thamasa, where Kefka committed several crimes. These crimes included...
- Slaughtering several dozen Espers and grabbing their powers.
- Being responsible for trashing the community of Thamasa.
- Murdering General Leo in cold blood when Leo tried to intervene.
- Using the power of the Espers to cause an entire island to float up to the sky
Yes, you read that right. He caused a whole island to rise up to the sky. Reason? It was the only way he could access the three statues of the goddesses responsible for the War of the Magi one thousand years ago. The legend went that the three goddesses turned themselves to stone to end the suffering and to end the misuse of magic that would have lead to the destruction of the planet. The only request to the people of Earth was that they remained dormant, not even to be disturbed. The fear was that if the statues were ever moved out of position, the chain reaction would mean apocalyptic doom.
But as far as everyone was concerned, it was all a nasty rumour. Nothing like that could ever happen in real life, could it? Even though Kefka purposely moved the statues around on top of the flying continent, it couldn't possibly destroy the world, could it?
OH MY GOD, KEFKA DESTROYED THE WHOLE WORLD!!! Fire burned everything! Tidal waves flooded everything! Lightning fried everything! Continents and countries split apart! Animals died off in alarming rates! The world has come to an end!
Okay, not really. As it turns out, one of your characters (Celes) has survived, and she sets out to find the rest of her friends (who all survive as well) in a world forever changed by Kefka. And with Kefka being in full control of the world now that the Empire and Returners were completely wiped out, what kind of a world is it?
- It's a world where Kefka uses a “Light of Judgment” to burn down entire communities who oppose him. Just ask the people of Tzen and Mobliz.
- It's a world where despondent people have formed a cult of worship, praising the life of the man who literally destroyed theirs.
- It's a world where trees and plants are all but dying.
- It's a world where the once blue water is now a sickly shade of purple.
- It's a world where the animals are now sickly and more dangerous than ever before.
- It's a world in which legendary monsters like Phunbaba, Doom Gaze, and eight scary dragons now reside.
Basically, it's a world in which it is very difficult to have a positive outlook on things.
But our heroes don't ever lose hope. The world may have been forever changed, but they all have the idea that if they can get rid of Kefka once and for all, then hope will finally return to the planet, and they can begin to rebuild the planet back to the way it was.
The journey won't be an easy one, but once you reach the end of the game, you'll see just how hope will prevail...as well as just how damaged Kefka really is. And what better way to end this blog off than by posting the entire final battle of the game? It's not like I'm spoiling it too much. The game is almost 20 years old, after all!