Chillin’ with the homie Bahamut in Final Fantasy I (#6)

Let's Play Final Fantasy

Two fiends down, two to go! But before we tackle any more of our quest to restore the crystals to grace in Final Fantasy, we need to make a few little detours. First up, we need to stop by the Cavern of Ice to get the Levistone — an essential part of any airship setup — and then, at long last, it’s time to pay a visit to our old chum Bahamut in order to get our hands on the long-awaited class changes.

We get a lot done today, though the two main dungeons we tackle both aren’t too long if you know what you’re doing. They’re both super-important, though, since the Levistone is essential to reaching the part of the world you’ve been unable to get to up until this point, and the class changes help boost your progression considerably — as well as unlocking access to a number of useful spells for mage classes.

Enjoy today’s adventures!

These two sequences are noteworthy parts of Final Fantasy history, because they show a couple of classic series elements have been present right from the very beginning: specifically, airships, and Bahamut.

The use of the airship makes a lot of sense, since it’s an easy means of continuing to gate the player’s progress across the world, much as the ship and canoe are. There’s precedent for such a drastically improved means of travel, too; hell, the early Ultima games, which were some of the main inspirations behind the original Final Fantasy, even featured outright space travel sequences.

The thing to note about the airship — and this is something that was maintained in later Final Fantasy games that continued to use a “world map” approach — is that it’s not a completely invincible means of transportation. Despite it opening up more of the world than ever before, you still can’t land just anywhere. Ocean is still an impassable obstacle if you’re not in the ship, and you can only land on nice flat green land — that means no forests and no swampland.

Final Fantasy I - Citadel of Trials

This limitation in Final Fantasy is actually used to nice effect in the class change quest, where you’re challenged to retrieve a “proof of courage” from the Citadel of Trials. This would be pretty straightforward if you could just land next to the dungeon and rush through it — but it turns out that part of the “trials” Bahamut has set for you is just figuring out how to get to the damned place. The solution to this puzzle helps drive home the fact that the airship doesn’t make you quite as all-powerful as you thought you were.

As for Bahamut, meanwhile, this is a good example of how his role has changed over the course of various Final Fantasy games. While these days he is typically associated with either being a powerful summon spell or a dangerous foe to be overcome — with probably his most spectacular incarnation in the latter regard appearing in Final Fantasy XIV — here it’s interesting to see him just sort of chilling out with his dragon homies, waiting for passing adventurers to stop by with a suitable proof of courage so he can provide them with their class upgrades.

In some respects, Bahamut’s appearance in Final Fantasy can be seen as a bit of a subversion of what was already being established as a common trope in computer role-playing games: dragons as powerful foes. But in the broader realm of fantasy fiction, dragons have often been portrayed as highly intelligent, civilised (albeit powerful) creatures — so back on its original release, it was a pleasant surprise to encounter Bahamut and his friends as an acknowledgement of this common theme.

The less charitable could also interpret this sequence as having a bit of a pop at Dragon Quest, which had come out the previous year. And this certainly wouldn’t be out of character for Final Fantasy, what with its “Here Lies Link” gravestone in Elfheim.

Anyway. Good progress today, Warriors of Light; next time around, we finally set foot on the mysterious northern continent!

Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster is available now on Steam.

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Pete Davison
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