The first thing that came to mind when playing the FF12:TZA on PS4 was: wow, I wish I continued playing this when it was first released on PS2 in 2006. The oldest memories I have of this game involved running through sewers and worrying about these “forbidden” chests that I was not supposed to loot if I wanted the Zodiac Spear. Fast forward 14 years later and I must admit that I’ve enjoyed FF12 more than I thought I would! As a newbie to the world of Ivalice, the game does a great job of narrating the political struggle between Ashelia B’nargin Dalmasca and company versus the Archadian Empire.
The cast is wonderfully crafted and kept my interest throughout the 66 hours I dumped into the game. Starting with Vaan + Penelo as our lovable duo from Rabanastre, to our favorite sky pirates Fran + Balthier, and then rounding out the team with the Dalmascan refugees Basch + Ashe, the game does a great job of providing backstory to each member. I grew very fond of the team, especially our favorite leading man, Balthier, who was every bit the leading man he proclaimed he was. Basch fon Ronsenburg’s backstory also stood out to me, with strong “The Man in the Iron Mask” vibes.
The story for FF12 was very engaging, starting from the opening FMV of Rassler and Ashe’s wedding to the various twists and turns that develop throughout. The Archadian Judge Magisters steal every scene they’re in for me — the “Kingsguard” of the Solidor family have become iconic characters of the game. Vayne and Larsa also represent the two opposite sides of House Solidor very well. Ultimately, it was very satisfying seeing the plot develop, as even many of the minor/smaller characters played roles that surprised me.
Gambits were an interesting change from the traditional turn-based combat that I’ve grown accustomed to in FF games. It really puts an emphasis on set-up and preparation, but in a unique way that still keeps the fights interactive. Many of the end-game hunts/challenges were very challenging and really tested the limits of my gaming prowess. Espers, the FF12 summons, are unlocked by defeating each in battle, and the various encounters were all fun and unique. It was a little jarring not summoning a familiar Shiva, Ifrit, or Bahamut, but thankfully some of the traditional summons we know and love make an appearance as airships in the game.
Overall, my experience with FF12 was very positive! I don’t know why it took me so long to play it, but I’m very thankful for the 2017 re-release. As always, here are some of the most memorable trophies during my run:
To my readers who haven’t played the game yet: SPOILERS follow, so please beware!
Yiazmat is the ultimate Elite Mark in FF12. With over 50 million HP and destructive attacks, he provided a really good challenge for me. (Actually, I think the game difficulty is amazingly tuned at endgame!) The 4x speed booster helped tons with this hunt and I don’t even know how PS2 players endured this fight without it. After two frustrating wipes and a million Withers and Addles later, I finally avenged Montblanc and his moogle siblings by slaying the deadly wyrm.
Here’s a clip of the winning fight from my Twitch channel:
My experience with Trial Mode was interesting! I didn’t realize it was a never-ending gauntlet until after stage 10 — I thought by saving I would be able to take a break and go back to the main game file, but no. Having done no preparation and kind of going in on a whim, I fought and scrapped to the final stage only to realize that my setup of Reverse x3 on Stage 99 caused too much of a burden at the start of Stage 100 to overcome. After struggling through attempts to brute force my way to a win, I reluctantly went back to the main game to find my saving grace for the fight, the Nihopalaoa. This accessory reverses restorative effects from items, which works wonders against the Judges 5. Another hundred stages later, the Judge Magisters put up an amazingly tough fight, but Vaan, Balthier, and Ashe would not be denied this time.
Here’s the clip of the successful clear from my Twitch channel:
I dreaded this trophy the moment I discovered it. Where the Clan Hunts provided a great challenge that was fun and informative, the Bestiary (and the rare game list within it) was the exact opposite. Spawning the rare game monsters was mostly obscure and hard to follow without a guide. Many of these monsters needed super specific requirements to pop that would be near impossible without looking them up. Thankfully, numerous resources exist online so after a concerted few days of effort, the Bestiary was completed.
I admittedly did not use the quickening system that much in my playthrough. The FF12 “limit break” system involved fast reflexes and often ran very long, depending on the chain/number of quickenings you managed to fit in the allotted time. This trophy involves using a specific number of Level 1/2/3 quickenings to trigger each of the 8 concurrence attacks at the end. The hardest part about this one was the reliance on RNG — you were kind of at the mercy of the game rolling the appropriate quickenings (or mist charges!) when you needed them. The actual attack animations, however, were very unique to each character and overall very cool to watch.
The legendary Gilgamesh (+ Enkidu!) makes an appearance in FF12 as an Elite Mark found in the Lhusu Mines. His encounter is quite humorous, with extremely funny cut scenes and dialogue. Gil also wields many legendary swords that can be seen in previous FF games, including Cloud’s Buster Sword, Squall’s Revolver gunblade, and Tidus’s Brotherhood. Overall, two very fun fights and definitely my favorite hunt!
Platinum took 3 weeks, 6 days (10 Jul 2020 to 07 Aug 2020)
Game timer: 64:21:50
Time to Platinum: About 68 hours
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age was another great Final Fantasy release that I played way too late. With the re-release on PS4/PC, there’s no excuse not to try it out! It’ll always hold a special place in my heart as the first game I streamed on Twitch — catch me sometime at twitch.tv/braveryth :D