The only reason this part was harder than it had to be was because I made some stupid mistakes and poor choices.
About all that was really left to do at this point was to fight Atma, and that part was relatively easy. I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but the term “Atma” in this game refers to two things. One's a sword that just about anybody can use that maxes out their battle power. The other's the boss monster we fight here. The boss monster Atma's supposed to be the ancient power of the universe made manifest by the Goddesses of Magic or some such thing. Sure, it's got some strong attacks and magic, but crap for defense. It really wasn't as hard as one might expect for a boss with the better part of 50,000 hit points. I beat him pretty much just by having Shadow throw shit at him and having the rest of the party heal as needed and hit Atma when they could.
And after the first attempt at this, I got stupid, in part because I forgot that Shadow leaves the party instantly when this fight ends, and I had the Carbunkle Esper on him. That's one thing that would have really helped towards the end of this dungeon. And it was also kind of dumb of me to take everybody's equipment off after that, too. I guess I didn't really need to put it all back on after the cutscene that follows, but it seemed like a smart thing to do.
After the fight with Atma, we see Kefka and the Emperor getting ready to take the statues. The Emperor takes a little power from the statues and stuns whoever's in the party with Celes. I think we might actually need to have her in the party for this part of the game, because this cutscene seems to rely on her being there. Kefka and the Emperor tell her that it's their destiny to rule the world together, and that if Celes kills the others, all she's done before will be forgiven.
Of course, Celes won't have any of it and stabs Kefka with the sword he gave her instead. Between hearing that Emperor Gestal wants to make Celes his wife and the stab wound from her, Kefka finally shows just how messed up in the head he is. He declares his hate for everybody and then tries to get the statues to give him ultimate power. Even though that doesn't quite go as planned, Kefka does kill Gestal by throwing him off the island after the statues stun him. And just to take it that one extra step, he starts moving the statues around, too.
As has been advertised a few times, this throws the world out of whack almost instantly. The turbulence almost knocks Celes from the island, but Shadow catches her and brings her to safety with the rest of the party. After that's taken care of, Shadow uses the statues to trap Kefka, telling the others to escape while they can.
This is a timed mission, of course. We've got six minutes to get to where we can jump off the island and onto the waiting airship below. It's plenty of time, usually, provided that one doesn't make the dumb mistakes I did. Mostly because I'd unequipped everybody's stuff before that cutscene, I was running out of time at the end, so I had to let the mini-boss there kill me and just do the whole thing again.
The second time through, I got the second part of that right. The only thing we'll have to fight are magical monsters called Naughty until we get to the mini-boss, indicated by a sparkling point near the end. The Naughties are weak against fire, and if any two party members use Fire 2 on them, it's sufficient to get us to the mini-boss in time, even with chunks of the path falling away as we go by them. There's a box along the way, but I don't bother with it, because I think there's a monster in it and it's hard to beat both that and the mini-boss in time.
The mini-boss is called Naraptha. It's got Reflect on it, and I think ice magic is the only thing that hurts it. This is why it's good to have somebody in the party equipped with Carbunkle, because it puts Reflect on the whole party, which will allow you to just cast Ice 2 on the whole party and bounce it back onto the monster. I'm not sure if this is an actual thing or not, but that might even triple the damage.
With Naraptha out of the way, you can either wait for Shadow to come with you or you can go back to the airship right away. Waiting for Shadow means letting the timer run down to five seconds left, but it's worth it. He's a good party member, and you'll lose him if you leave without him
Once everybody's escaped the island, all hell breaks loose from the Magic Statues getting moved around by Kefka and Shadow. As they try to escape, the airship breaks up, and so does the crust of the world. I think REM said it best in the song who's title I've borrowed for the last couple entries here:
If this had been a CD-rom-based game like the ones that have come since this game, this is where we would have had to change disks, and there would have been a chance to save the game. But since we don't have to deal with that, the next best opportunity is coming up in a bit.
I know I'm probably spoiling this for some people, but if you've read this far into this and were interested in playing for the first time yourself, I've probably spoiled quite a lot already. I'd say I feel bad about that, but this is a twenty year old game, and there's that many years of spoilers out there.
Anyway, what we see next is a small chunk of land with a single busted up house on it. In the house are Professor Cid and Celes. There had been others with them, but they all died over the course of the year that had passed between this scene and the last. Cid's not doing so good, either, and Celes says she'll take care of him now that she's awake again, because he'd done the same for her. I've heard said that it's possible to actually keep Cid from dieing too, but if I've ever done it, I can't remember, so I don't know if it's worth it or not.
Celes falls apart with despair when Cid dies, so she goes to throw herself off the cliff the others used to when they were feeling down. It's just high enough to be a long fall, but not high enough to be fatal, so when Celes comes to on the beach again, she finds a bird with Locke's bandanna on it, which gives her hope.
Back at the house, Celes finds a note from Cid saying that he'd made her a raft to go looking for civilization on, and it really took it out of him. His last request is that she use it to go find her friends and maybe save the world. We'll pick this up right about here next time.
I'll say right now that it might take me awhile to get to “next time”, at least as far as Final Fantasy VI is concerned. Part of the reason for that is that I'm also going to start up Final Fantasy VIII, and I'm planning on doing a video intro for that playthrough, just to change things up a bit. The plan, as of right now, is that I'm going to be doing that in the next couple days, along with another project I really need to get to.
So, anyway, I'll see you all soon with something video game related. Until then, folks, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!