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Final Fantasy XII is the twelfth game in the butt-blisteringly popular Final Fantasy RPG series, and the first main game in the series to be set in Ivalice. It's a standalone prequel to both Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, and takes place in the era of Ivalice that the dream land of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was created from.
Final Fantasy XII is the tale of Vaan, a Kid Hero thief with intentions of becoming a Sky Pirate. ... Actually, no, that's a lie. Although Vaan acts as the story's protagonist, Final Fantasy XII is actually about Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca (Ashe for short), the young but very mature princess-in-hiding of the Arabian-esque Kingdom of Dalmasca, widow to Prince Rasler and leader of the budding resistance against the Archadian Empire.
It's also about army captain Basch fon Ronsenberg, who was jailed by the Archadians for killing Ashe's father -- supposedly. Vaan has an axe to grind with Basch, who was witnessed killing Vaan's older brother Reks. There's also Loveable Rogue Balthier and his rather frosty, Stripperiffic pilot Fran (who has rabbit ears -- she's a Viera) who, for their part, really don't seem to care that much -- they're only interested in the various things they can plunder when the adventureres inevitably go find some ancient ruins. They aren't disappointed. Of course, they both have their reasons for staying far away from their homes -- and Balthier's reasons have more to do with Ashelia's political goals than he's willing to admit.
And Vaan's foster sister and love interest Penelo? She's just along for the ride. In fact, so is Vaan. But they get along well with Larsa Ferrinas Solidor, the 12-year-old political genius prince, who is the ward of Judge Magister Gabranth. Gabranth, in turn, is working for Larsa's only remaining brother Vayne, heir to the Archadian Empire and the game's closest equivalent to a Big Bad. And Vayne employs a sinister doctor named Cidolfas Demen Bunansa -- Cid for short, of course -- who seems to talk to shadows...
Final Fantasy XII is a complicated and detailed game noticeably different in storyline from other Final Fantasy games; whilst other games focus on individual characters, XII is less about people and more a story of Nations and nationalism, and the lengths some will go to gain power and control destiny. That's not to say it isn't a character study, with Judge Gabranth's clouded conscience and dark history being one of the major subplots - and hence why he's on the boxart. It's full of intrigue and interweaving stories, tactical team-based fighting, well-crafted dialogue (as compared to the sometimes embarrassing lines from X), and Limit Breaks (here called Quickenings). It explores the ideas of freedom, revenge, loyalty, peace and the importance of dreams. It's also a Deconstruction of the "Find powerful McGuffin to Save the World" plot that's been around as long as the genre has, taking a much more sombre look at the pursuit of what is essentially a Weapon of Mass Destruction and the lengths to which people would go to gain -- or regain -- its power.
Aside from taking place in the world of Ivalice, the game borrows much of its plot, atmosphere and world from Final Fantasy II, updating the gameplay for a modern audience. It also owes more to Star Wars than any previous Final Fantasy -- the character of Gabranth, in particular, is very clearly compared to Anakin Skywalker. The game happily ties in old Final Fantasy adversaries, as well: Gilgamesh makes his requisite cameo, as do several of the main antagonists from the earliest iterations of the series, as optional summoned beasts.  Still, it's very much a standalone title that can be played without having any previous Square Soft knowledge.
The game is also the first in the series to go into extreme detail on the nature of items and locations. Expect to find tufts of Phoenix Down and strips of rotten flesh instead of just the items, thorough explanations on the topics of evolutionary biology and monster habitats, a comprehensive history of Ivalice and its tribes and races, and incredible amounts of flavor text in every page of the in-game encyclopedia.
For the first time since Final Fantasy II, the player has the option of strategizing around weapon types and character skills almost indefinitely, and to explore the whole world from the very start of the game. The deserts, caves and small settlements around the game's starting town, for example, offer close to ten hours of exploring. And as soon as the characters are able to head south on the map, the player can choose to go north instead, where the entire rest of the continent is ready to be discovered. Although the main storyline's dungeons and boss fights failed to impress the critics, the side quests offer some of the most engaging gameplay in the series' history.
It's also noticeable as having a step up in difficulty compared to previous installments, and demanding more hours of investment from the player. Whereas in previous game you can level up reasonably well by just defeating every enemy you encounter via point A and point B, in XII enemies in one area can be very easy and in the next Nintendo Hard, so the game will force you to level grind just to progress with the plot.
Final Fantasy XII is currently one of only five of the main Final Fantasy series to gain a direct sequel, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, a Real Time Strategy title for the Nintendo DS. A manga adaptation of the game was recently released.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Garamsythe Waterway.
- Action Commands: During the Quickenings.
- Action Girl: Ashe, Fran and to a lesser extent Penelo.
- Actor Allusion: Cid, a Mad Scientist obsessed with a strange, godlike being is very similar to another character portrayed by John Rafter Lee.
- Advertised Extra: A lot of fans feel Vaan fell into this.
- Affably Evil: Vayne.
- All There in the Manual:
- There's a much more complicated story here than most fans give it credit for, but considering the development team behind it, you'll be doing a lot of reading and deciphering a lot of subtext if you want the full picture.
- A lot of cool ideas, such as the backstories for the Espers, that were probably left on the cutting room floor have at least some existence as text background in the Bestiary.
- Ambition Is Evil: Vayne.
- An Aesop: The typical "revenge solves nothing", along with the examination of what is truly important when it comes to being loyal to a kingdom -- loyalty to its ideals, its people, its rulers, or the physical kingdom itself, and if any of these should be sacrificed for the sake of the others.
- Anti-Villain: Most of the judges, who (with two notable exceptions) are doing what they believe is right.
- Antidote Effect: Subverted. Poison is a pretty hazardous status ailment, and you don't want it to compound (Poison+ Sap will make your HP go down the drain quickly). The game mechanics (items are used nearly instantly) help it a lot.
- Anyone Can Die: None of the six main characters mind you, but the death toll for this story is reasonably high. Reks, King Raminas and Rasler all perish during the prologue, all but one of the Judge Magisters die, all but one of the Guest Star Party Members die, everyone in Nabudis prior to the main events, and anyone else the Occuria might've exterminated through the use of 'Dynast Kings' much like Raithwall.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Mist. Appears as a fog in high concentration, Mist increases the power of magic, causes mutations in monsters and can have negative effects on the environment. It can also cause races that are sensitive to it, such as Viera, physical discomfort.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Only three active characters at a time-proving, once and for all, that three is too few. Note how much easier the game gets when you have a Guest Star Party Member. (At least Lazy Backup is averted; see below.) Four Is Death is something of a Mythology Gag. Like the early Final Fantasy games, every time there is a guest, that member takes up an additional slot at the bottom of the main screen. Normally, these characters are killed off by important Heroic Sacrifices, but there are subversions early on. For example, remember Ashe? She was first a guest, and then Basch comes in, claiming he did not kill Reks, who just so happens to be Vaan's brother.
- Artificial Brilliance / Artificial Stupidity: What you get depends on how you set up your Gambits. Provided you understand the system properly you can easily tell your party members to automatically revive KO'd allies, attack enemies with elemental spells they're weak against, and so forth.
However, even with the rather complex Gambit system, sometimes your allies do stupid things you can't control. They'll run right into traps even if you use Libra so you can see said traps for instance, though a Gambit to cast Float on them will fix that. If you set a Gambit to have a character Steal from an enemy, they'll keep attempting to Steal even when the enemy has nothing left for them to take--sadly, there is no Gambit for "Steal: Enemy -> Hasn't Been Stolen From Yet", so you need to give the command to Steal (or stop Stealing) manually.
On the other hand, Artificial Brilliance will sometimes kick in with Gambits even if you are a bit sloppy in setting them up. For example, if you set up a Gambit like "Ally:Any -> Blindna", you're giving this character free reign to use Blindna on any ally any time. However, the AI is smart enough to not cast Blindna on an ally unless they're afflicted with Blind, since otherwise Blindna does nothing. This applies to all status and buffing spells, the AI won't use them even if the conditions are fulfilled unless the spell will actually do something to the target. If you set a Gambit on two party members like "Ally:KO'd -> Raise", only one of them will cast Raise on a dead ally, the other will continue fighting rather than wasting their turn.
In a more extreme case of Artificial Brilliance, setting up a Gambit to Enemy:Weak->Fire (and the like) will have that character cast fire-elemental spells only against enemies who are weak to it, even when the player is unable to detect an enemy's weaknesses using Libra.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Basch is a former Dalmascan army leader, Ashe is a princess, Balthier is an ex-Judge, and Fran is sister to a Viera elder. By the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, the Archadians the player faces grow in rank as they play through the game, rising from normal Mook soldiers to Judges to Judge Magisters, and culminating with Vayne, The Emperor, as the final boss.
- Awesome but Impractical:
- Espers cannot be controlled, but they can be killed and so require healing and buffing like normal party members if you want to get any real use out of them, and a lot of the optional Espers cannot be acquired until late in the game. Furthermore the strongest Espers require three Mist Charges to summon--that is, you need to give up all your MP. The Esper will go away, too, if its master is KO'd. It simply isn't worth it. Zodiark, is an exception. The trick is to use him like a Limit Break instead of like Summon Magic. The International Version fixes this by letting Espers be controllable. It's worth noting that the player can Syphon MP from the Espers as they get summoned with full MP Gauges and none of their attacks require any. That was likely put in there to counteract using a lot of MP to summon an Esper.
- Awesome Yet Practical: Quickenings.
- When your characters have much less MP and their spells suck, so using a Quickening is a more practical usage for their MP. If you only have 40 MP and normal attack spells cost 8 MP each, you might as well give up all of it for a Quickening Chain that'll do far more damage. In fact, a lot of early bosses and Elite Mooks can be killed in a single round if you can string together enough Quickenings.
- As for later on, they consume 1-3 Mist Charges depending on the level, and outside a proper chain, won't do nearly enough damage to make up for the cost. Chain long enough to do decent damage to a late-game boss will probably sap all your party's MP, and for your efforts you'd probably have a much easier time using that MP to cast normal attack spells that do just as much damage. Seems pricy, no? However, nothing other than the party hurting the target can happen during the Quickenings; party members with zero to too little MP can gain Mist Charges during a Quickening chain, and join the chain (although you can't keep extra Charges once the chain ends); switching party members between the reserve and the main party will allow for a whole chain of chains, which can result in the target dying before it can even carry out its first move; certain combinations of certain level Quickenings done in one chain cause a Concurrence, which is additional bonus damage, and hurts the target and monsters near it. In the International Version, the Quickening bar is separate, so you don't even run into the cost problem.
- Zodiark, if you use him like a Limit Break instead of like Summon Magic by having a petrified party member summon him. Doing so prompts him to break out Final Eclipse as soon as he shows up.
- Ax Crazy: Judge Bergan. Oh sweet baby Jesus Christ, Judge Bergan.
- A Worldwide Punomenon:
- Baby Planet: Your party can jog across three continents in under an hour.
- Badass Princess: Ashe.
- Badass Spaniard: Al-Cid Margrace.
- Bad Bad Acting: Listen carefully to Basch during the assassination scene during the prologue. That's not bad acting; that's Gabranth not quite managing to imitate his brother.
- Bait and Switch Boss: In the Necrohol of Nabudis, where a Catoblepas is slaughtered by Fury, an adorable little bunny.
- Bare-Fisted Monk / Kung Fu Wizard: With proper set ups, your party can become this and some licenses on the grid board power up your strength when fighting barehanded. Final Boss Vayne starts the first phase of his fight by attacking you with powerful magic and his own fists and feet!
- Bare Your Midriff:
- Ashe, Fran (and Vaan).
- Pretty much every Dalmascan, really. As an extremely warm climate nation, very slightly justified.
- Become Your Weapon: The final battle against Vayne Solidor is broken into three separate battles. In the last battle, he fuses with the rogue Occurian Venat (one of the gods) to form The Undying, which serves as the final boss.
- Beef Gate:
- Assuming you haven't opened one of the totally random chests that prevents it from spawning, it is possible to find and enter the Necrohol of Nabudis much earlier than recommended to grab the Zodiac Spear. It's very difficult as it involves dodging large amounts of very nasty enemies (the notoriously annoying Baknamys).
- Many of the optional Espers are likewise protected. It's theoretically possible to fight Adremmalech or Cuchulain shortly after Belias, but the enemies in their areas will kill you before you even reach them without massive Level Grinding.
- Golmore Jungle, which is right next to the Feywood. Some players try to avoid That One Boss by going through the Feywood (which in the story the player does not visit until much later). It is filled with powerful enemies, including cute bunnies that can toss a bunch of debilitating status ailments at you.
- Black Knight: Judge Gabranth, a direct opposite to Basch.
- Book Ends: Gabranth impersonates Basch to kill King Raminas and ensure Dalmasca's fall in the opening. In the ending, Basch impersonates Gabranth to stop the battling fleets before Dalmasca is destroyed in the crossfire.
- Bonus Boss: Too many to count. For many, it's a big part of the game's appeal.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Several around the world map. If an scary-looking enemy is docile, it's probably for a reason.
- Berserk Button: "Venat is a HERETIC!"
- Bonus Dungeon: Tons of them.
- Boring but Practical: The Steal Technick. You start the game with it, half your party starts with the License for it, and the ones that don't can acquire it quickly. Stealing from enemies will quickly give you a big boost in your loot income, and it's fairly simple to set up your gambits so you attempt to Steal from enemies at least once before you kill them.
- Bragging Rights Reward: The Wyrmhero Blade. The highest attack in the game, automatically grants Bravery and Faith status, and has an 80% combo rate. But to get it you need to beat Yiazmat (which is only unlocked after completing the other 44 hunts) and Omega Mk. XII. Thus, by the time you can get the blade, you've beaten the game's strongest enemies, all that's left for you is hunting rare enemies and Elementals for rare loot and killing the optional Espers, which you're obviously strong enough to do without it.
- Brick Joke: The petitioner for the Wraith mark mentions the ghost has begun haunting the Garamsythe Waterway and suspects it came into being to seek vengeance for the slain rats and other vermin living in the sewers. Guess what Vaan spent his time doing to train prior to the game?
- Broken Bridge: Many. While there are plenty of opportunities to wander in to areas with monsters stronger than you are meant to face yet, all the paths to places important to the plot are locked off until time to get there via gates, bridges, weather, Imperial guards, etc.
- You can get into the Mosphoran Highwaste long before you're meant to by spooking a guard with a chocobo, but even that option is a Broken Bridge at the beginning of the game.
- Cain and Abel: Basch and Noah, although they do bury the hatchet at the end.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Balthier towards his father. Cid somewhat ignores it.
- Character Filibuster: Gerun sweet-talks Ashe for close to five minutes straight, barely letting her get a word in edgewise, and when she finally asks a legitimate question, it goes ballistic.
- Chekhov's Gun: An early cutscene introduces Balthier's voice changer device. It's completely forgotten until the very end of the game, when Vaan uses it to impersonate Larsa, and Basch uses it impersonate Gabranth..
- Chest Monster
- They also have Save Point Monsters.
- Classically-Trained Extra: The majority of the voice actors are classically trained theatre actors, some of whom had no prior voice acting credits and were simply chosen because of their theatrical experience.
- Cold War: Rozarria = NATO, Archades = Warsaw Pact, Nethicite = Nuclear Weapons, Dalmasca = any country that got a proxy war in it such as Korea and Vietnam. This game could even be viewed as what would happen if during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuba was researching ancient magic that would let them mass-produce even more nuclear weapons. All in all, this is why so much of the plot of the game is about politics and faction leaders while your party tries to get an edge in on the coming conflict -- Rozarria and Archadia both don't trust the other to back down and don't want to do so themselves for fear of appearing weak, and while Archadia's nethicite research is allowing them to acquire more and more power, Rozarria is itching to seize the chance to make the first move before Archadia can. This is why the game's climax centers around stopping the battle between Archadia and the Resistance, because it's the chance Rozarria has been waiting for and if they get involved the dreaded world war will begin.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Though the main storyline can be played through without much difficulty, the optional bosses cheat like hell:
- They disable parts of the battle menu.
- They get a massive boost in attack, defense, attack speed, and even a damage cap at critical health.
- They have instant-kill attacks that land at much higher rates than your own.
- They put up a paling to make themselves immune to physical damage and/or a barrier to become immune to Magick attacks.
- Some use a certain ability to double their level, making them one-hit kill your party members with regular attacks.
- Zodiark is perhaps the most guilty boss of them all for cheating. His special attack Darkja has a chance to inflict Instant Death on a party member, in addition to doing high damage. Here's the problem - it hits all party members and is a cinematic attack so you can't act during it or just move party members out of his range, and it so happens this is one of the few games in the series where there is no equipment piece to block Instant Death attacks. Ergo, Zodiark has the capacity to deal a Total Party Kill, and all you can do about it besides curse and scream is cast Shell on the party to slightly reduce the chance of Instant Death hitting.
- Late game bosses and many marks have a "CT=0" ability that triggers once their HP falls to a certain amount. This ability lets the enemy attack at any time without having to wait for the charge time, meaning they can attack as fast as their attack animations can allow it. If you have your battle speed set to low, this will work heavily against you as the enemy wails on you while you wait for your turn to come up. Lord help you if you fight an enemy with this ability and they cast Haste on themselves...
- Cool Mask: The Judge Magisters' and the Garif's helmets. The latter is lampshaded by the cockatrice Shurry when she escapes Giza into Jahara.
- Cool Shades: Al-Cid Margrace. The shades in question are particularly notable for being the only pair you ever see in Ivalice.
- Cute Monster Girl: The Viera, who are bunny-girls. You just never see the males in-game.
- Dead Big Brother: Vaan's brother Reks, who is killed before Vaan is introduced.
- Deconstructor Fleet: At one point or another the game manages to deconstruct and/or subvert many tropes in the Final Fantasy series. The Kid Hero is actually The Ishmael (see next trope), and The Determinator is so focused on her goal it almost leads to a world war. Meanwhile with the Archadians, the Evil Mad Scientist is neither evil or mad, while the Evil Twin is just like his brother but reacted differently to the same events, and has good reason to hate the other.
- Decoy Protagonist: Vaan is merely the viewpoint character. Who the "true" main character is the subject of much debate. It may be no one, due to the ensemble nature of the cast. Before that, his older brother Reks is the viewpoint character for the prologue.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Ashe, while she doesn't necessarily become nicer, she does mellow out a lot.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: You get your first hunt assigned to you during the progression of the story, but if you forget to go back to Tomaj for your reward until after a number of other plot events - such as after you've gotten back from Nalbina - he'll complain about how long you took and say that he already heard about your success from someone else. He'll still give you your reward, of course.
- Two guards block the entrance to the Mosphorean Highwaste from Nalbina Fortress. If you Sequence Break and get into the Highwaste another way then come back through the Fortress, they wonder how you got in and survived the trip through.
- Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Or rather, dinosaurs are part of the dragon genus, along with wyrms and wyverns.
- Disc One Final Boss/Dungeon: Averted or outright subverted. Major boss battles happen to include very important plot points used, like how the Manufacted Nethicite is revealed during an boss battle with Tiamat due to Mjrn's twisted inflence from the Nethicite itself. This is because the Undying have an indirect control through the Nethicite.
- Disc One Nuke:
- Getting the most powerful weapon a fourth of the way through the main storyline, though doing so requires what pretty much opts to a suicide run.
- Also, getting one of the best accessories in the game after killing about eight of the optional bosses or Marks, The Nihopalaoa. It causes all items in your inventory to have the opposite effect. Combine this with a Remedy and you can inflict every status effect in the game on a single enemy almost instantly, while also allowing turning the Phoenix Down into an item that inflicts Instant Death. From there the game's difficult comes toppling down like a row of dominoes.
- You can also get a lot of strong equipment long before it's available in shops, if you know what enemies to chain or what chests to look for. The Deathbringer sword can be found in Raithwall's Tomb, Normally you'd have to wait until right before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon to get it. The Burning Bow is dropped by the Dive Talon, which is found in the Westersand. The Main Gauche can be stolen from an elite enemy in the same area immediately after returning from to Rabanastre with Basche.
- Disposable Woman: Judge Drace, who gets maybe ten minutes of screen-time before getting killed by Gabranth so he could continue to protect Larsa. Granted, all ten of those minutes are raw awesome, but it's kind of Egregious considering she's the only major female character outside of the main party.
- Dub Induced Plot Hole: In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the initial party has fixed names in the Japanese version but random names in the English one. These hurts the Mythology Gag of the Clan Centurio members being the same people.
- Dub Name Change:
- Balflear -> Balthier
- Pannero -> Penelo
- Ashe (pronounced ah-sheh in Japan) -> Ashe (pronounced ash in English)
- Dungeon Crawling: Definitely more of a feeling of this here than in previous games in the series.
- Eldritch Abomination: Pretty much the majority of the optional bosses. Zodiark, for one.
- Elite Mooks: All over the place.
- Estrogen Brigade Bait: Balthier, Al-Cid, Vaan, Gabranth and Basch. That said Vossler, Reks and Rasler also have their fans which is noteworthy in the latter two's case considering their very little screentime.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Vayne may be an evil, scheming son-of-a-bitch, but his hostility appears to be reserved only for those who oppose him. He's polite and well-mannered during his first appearance in Rabanastre, even going so far as to insist that he be addressed as "Vayne" rather than "Lord Consul", a title he says he finds cumbersome. He declares himself "a citizen of Rabanastre" rather than acting like a ruler and orders his soldiers to be respectful to the other citizens.
- The Evil Prince: Vayne. Well, sort of.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Ashe.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Fran's accent in the English localization is cute, but very hard to place. It's apparently meant to be Icelandic.
- Evil Twin/Cain and Abel: Basch and Gabranth.
- Executive Meddling: Why Vaan and Penelo exist--the original protagonist was going to be Basch, but the developers were concerned that an older hero wouldn't go over well with Japanese audiences, since JRPGs usually have younger, Bishonen heroes. They become proper characters in their own right in the Gaiden Games. This trope, combined with tightening the loose ends that come with six years of Development Hell is why the International version of the game is markedly different from the original game.
- Exponential Plot Delay: The game moves very fast between Rabanastre and Bhujerba, moves at a steady pace through the Sandsea and the Tomb of Raithwall, then slows to a crawl between that and Draklor as you are sent on fetch quests by supporting characters that often take you through at least one new area to traverse, often more. Then you get to Giruvegan and suddenly the plot begins to rush to a close.
- The game practically screams Expy of Star Wars:
- Balthier and Fran are said to be expies of Han and Chewbacca. Balthier's airship, the Strahl, is an analogue of the Millennium Falcon.
- Reddas is Lando Calrissian, the Judges - especially Gabranth - are Darth Vader, Ashe is Princess Leia...
- The pig-like Seeq resemble the pig-like Gamorreans.
- Forget that, the entire game is an Expy of Skies of Arcadia by way of Star Wars. When the Sky Fortress Bahamut appears, Marquis Ondore might as well have cried "It's a trap!"
- The Viera are expies of Tolkien Wood Elves.
- The game as a whole also seems like an Expy of Final Fantasy II at times.. Especially in mechanics (you can choose what you're proficient in) and in exploration (II was the only previous game in the franchise in which your exploration was limited by Beef Gates rather than by convenient geographical accidents).
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: Ashe's
- Fake Ultimate Mook:
- There are early-game enemies called Slavens, which are described as being "beasts of burden gone feral" that are twice as tall as your characters, but that are barely any more dangerous than the wolves or bats from the areas they show up in.
- The Wild Saurian you run into in the very first wild area of the game, however, is very much not this trope, which is why the thing doesn't attack first. Once you reach a certain point in the game, there's a one-fifth chance of a variant popping up, which attacks on sight and is even stronger than the Saurian regularly. There's also the pair of Werewolves in another early game area are hostile, and will one-hit kill you at that point in the game. Some in-game dialogue says that local villagers play chicken with them.
- Fantastic Nuke: Nethicite is the reason Nabudis became the Necrohol of Nabudis. The interesting part is that it parallels Real Life nuclear technology - there is no way to undo its development. Not only are nethicite city-smashers being stockpiled, but originally there were huge swaths of land that airships couldn't fly over, all but isolating Ivalice from the rest of the world. Nethicite not only negates that effect, but makes airships faster. By endgame, just about every nation uses nethicite-enhanced airships.
Reddas: Would you like to know the best use of nethicite? Will or nil, I'll tell you. You pick it up, and throw it away.
- Fetch Quest: Kites hangs a lampshade on Fetch Quests shortly before you enter the Garamsythe Waterway for the first time.
- Fisticuffs Boss: The seeqs in Nalbina Dungeon, unless you bothered to get Vaan the licence for Fire (which you get for free when Balthier and Fran join up). Then it becomes piss easy.
- Five-Bad Band: Try Nine Bad Band, for The Empire:
- Five-Man Band: The party. Well, and Vaan.
- Floating Continent: Bhujerba. The floating rocks around the summit of Mt. Bur-Omisace are the remains of one that came crashing down in the distant past.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Carrot, an Archadian noble's pet Malboro.
- Forced Level Grinding:
- Especially in the earlier levels where you can't yet touch the Hunts you've been given. If you go through the game and just kill every monster on your way from point A to point B, you will not level up even near the amount you need to tackle the next area, usually. Sometimes even having all the Hunts that you can done will not save you from having to grind.
- Besides that, Level Grinding in general is highly recommended in this game, and it could be argued that the enemies are designed in such a way to encourage this, because many have equipment pieces to be stolen or won that are much stronger than what you have at the point you first get to them. For example, an enemy met in the Giza Plains, the second area of the game, rarely drops a Katana with 52 attack, while an enemy in the Westersand (accessible at the same time) drops a Dagger with 45 Attack. You just need to know where to go, what to kill, and have the willingness to invest the time in getting it.
- Foreshadowing: Balthier's Mysterious Past is hinted at quite a bit in the earlier parts of the game. Notice how he flinches or otherwise perks up whenever nethicite or Draklor Laboratory are mentioned. To say nothing of his accent, and this particular line of dialogue to Larsa:
Balthier: "You can never know another, even your father."
- Framing Device: The entire story is described in Marquis Ondore's diaries and documents. Often, especially after important events, he will narrate from them personally.
- Free Rotating Camera
- Gambit Pileup: When the creators of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story are involved, and it's the same world as in those games, this is only expected. You'd best pay attention during cutscenes because the game does not spoonfeed you the plot as you may expect from some other Final Fantasy games, said plot concerning the political struggles of two feuding nations and their elite generals as well as the various insurgents, some within their ranks, who are trying to keep them from going to war with each other.
- Genre Savvy: Balthier.
- Gentleman Thief: Balthier, all the way.
- Get Back Here Boss: Vorpal Bunny, good god. Almost all of the Dreamhare monsters are like this.
- Girlish Pigtails: Penelo, which is in keeping with her status as the youngest female in the party and an Expy of Aika.
- Getting "Nightsoil" Past the Radar: Also, the textures for the wolf enemies. They were... very, very realistically detailed. To the point that you could tell that the wolves were, in fact, females. And that the larger one used as a bounty was in heat.
- Gods of Evil: Debatable. Venat, the heretic is substantially more "evil" in action, but could also be considered a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Also subverted in that the Occuria don't refer to themselves as "gods", whereas everybody else does. It's entirely possible that there's something(s) much bigger out there in the XII world than them.
- Global Currency Exception: You'll be needing those chops if you want to get somewhere in Archades.
- Good Republic, Evil Empire:
- ... Except the good guys are monarchist, and the bad guys, while still called an 'empire', actually have democratically elected leaders... Well, it's a little more complex than that: Dalmasca had a house of commons that still exists (albeit with little power) under Archadian rule, and if you listen to NPCs in Archadia, you will learn that the senate is controlled by the wealthiest families of the empire. The greatest irony about the empire is that the ruling house Solidor rose to power by taking control of the army and making sure that it remained a meritocratic institution. The brilliance is that while there is a clear social divide in Archadia, the game drop subtle hints that show that the Archadian army allow people from different social background to work together and that people from unprivileged origins can rise to the top of the hierarchy (a feat nearly impossible in the civilian society), thus explaining why Vayne is popular and why Larsa is pretty certain for most of the game that his family holds the moral high ground.
- Additionally, the Archadian Empire isn't evil -- despite their leaders' actions in the war, many Imperials are usually decent guys who uphold the safety of the Empire's citizens, even in conquered territories, and the Archadian people are as sympathetic and human as anyone from Rabanastre. That doesn't change the fact that Vayne is still a megalogmaniacal asshole who wants to rule the world, nor does it change the fact that the empire conquered others for power. It's more of a case of both sides having issues. The good guys are just a lot better.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Sanskrit. The Bhujerbans use it often. Bhadra is essentially the Sanskrit version of Sir/Madam. Parijanah means "guide". Madhu means "honey". And there are various other examples too.
- Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Literally, in the case of Venat and occasionally the Judges Magister. The rest of the Occuria speak in iambic tetrameter.
- Gratuitous Spanish (/Portuguese): The Great Crystal's name in Japanese is "Cristal Grande", which pretty much translates to "Great (or Big) Crystal" in Spanish or Portuguese.
- Grey and Gray Morality:
- Word of God says they actively went for this, giving the party members character flaws and the antagonists virtues. In their own way everyone is just doing what they think is right, for themselves, for others or for their country, and it's not hard to at least understand why they feel the way they do, even if you don't agree.
- It even continues into the credits, what with the still image of a quite happy (and sane) looking Dr. Cid holding baby Balthier, who is turns out from said image is the spitting image of his father in his younger days.
- Guardian Entity: Venat to Cid.
- Guest Star Party Member: Assorted Guild members help out on hunts or in dangerous areas and some random people out on the field. Plotwise, Vossler (before he becomes a boss), Larsa (using a fake name the first time), Reddas (until he takes out the Sun-Cryst), and Gabranth. One could count Reks as well since he doesn't last that long.
- Guide Dang It: The game has a slew of bonus content including optional areas, sidequests with NPCs, optional bosses and rare items that you will simply never find if you don't know how. To recap some of them:
- The Zodiac Spear. It's the most powerful weapon in the game. You find it in an optional area in a normal treasure chest, but only if you avoid opening four chests in the early areas of the game, and the game gives you absolutely no hints or warnings to this. If you fail to acquire it the normal way, fortunately it randomly appears in a chest in another area. However, there's only a 10% chance of the chest appearing, a 10% chance it contains an item, and a 10% that item is the spear. For those who aren't good with math, that works out to a one in a thousand chance of finding the spear.
- The Bazaar will eventually sell the best equipment in the game, but only if you sell the right combination of items in the proper quantities--by the way, you aren't told what you need to sell or in what quantities. Finding these items is also a Guide Dang It because some of them can only be stolen/dropped/poached from a handful of enemies, and you're not told what they are or where you can find them. And speaking of finding them, a lot of enemies in the game only spawn under certain circumstances, like entering an area with a party member at low HP, killing a certain number of enemies within an area, or waiting around a certain point for a period of time.
- Simple battle mechanics, like just how effective stat-boosting Augments are, how weapons calculate damage, or how weather effects combat, both magic and weapons. The second point for example, you're liable to think guns are useless since they attack slow and have low power, but what the game doesn't tell you and what you may not realize is that guns still do comparable damage to other weapons because they ignore defense, and against many enemies are even better than other weapons for it. Similarly, daggers have lower power than swords, but they charge quicker and incorporate the wielder's speed into damage calculations, so a fast character armed with a dagger may out-damage someone slower with a sword even though the sword has higher base power.
- The Sky Pirate's Den is essentially your trophy case that fills up with character icons as you complete certain tasks. You are never given any clue as to what these tasks are or how many icons there are.
- It's fairly obvious that a lot of the dungeons you enter have additional areas, you can see them on the map and will often find locked gates and other obstacles blocking your path. Good luck figuring out how to access these areas though.
- A number of the treasure cheasts that can only be opened once can be wasted by using (or sometimes not using) the Diamond Armlet, an accessory that improves the quality of items you find from chests, but sometimes screws you over by turning a really good item into vendor trash. This was at least fixed in the No Export for You international edition, in which all one time cheasts will always give you a specific treasure (though some of them still have a limited chance to spawn in the first place).
- The weather on the Giza Plains will eventually go to rainy during the plot. It will remain rainy forever afterwards unless you talk to one specific NPC hanging out at Rabanastre's south gate who comments on the weather (after doing so, the weather changes every hour or two). Not a problem for people who Talk to Everyone, but quite a problem for savvy players who already know about the weather mechanics and not about the fact that talking to some random bloke in town is what makes them even work.
- Healing Checkpoint: Save Points heal you and remove negative status ailments.
- Hearing Voices
- Heel Face Turn: Several, some prior to the game's beginning. Arguably, Princess Ashe and friends, when they refuse to do the Occuria's bidding to exterminate the Empire. The aformentioned Gabranth as well.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: This is the first Final Fantasy game to avert this trope, to the rejoicing of localization teams worldwide.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- Lampshaded by Balthier: "I am the leading man. Might need to do something heroic." He does, of course, go on to make a heroic sacrifice... and survive it. Smooth operator. It's lampshaded again, too: During the Heroic Sacrifice, Balthier tells the party members not to worry about him, as the leading man, he claims he can't die.
- On the other hand, it's played surprisingly straight by several of the Judge Magisters, including Gabranth, Drace, and former Judge Zecht. Even Zargabaath is about to make one at the end, when some last-minute assistance makes it unnecessary.
- Hey, It's That Voice!:
- Gilgamesh is Bender and it's really obvious. And totally awesome.
- Dimaggio also voiced Migelo, likely making him a closeted Badass.
- Also, Reddas is Hermes Conrad.
- Basch is Bloo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
- Ashe is Joan of Arc, Vanship mechanic, Raine, Elora, Charmcaster and also could easily kick your ass with a guitar.
- Judge Zargabaath is Kain and Loghain.
- Judge Ghis is Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox
- Toku fans might recognize Vaan better if he carried a violin and hit on every woman he met.
- This is a bit out of order release date wise, but Balthier is Fenris. Fleeing from a traumatic past seems to be Gideon Emery's thing.
- Hidden Elf Village:
- Eruyt Village, the hometown of the Viera.
- While not quite as xenophobic and isolationist, the Garif are only found in Jahara.
- High Heel Face Turn: Judge Drace.
- Hot Chick with a Sword: Ashe, although any of the girls in your party can use a sword.
- Humans Are Bastards: Humes are portrayed as very power-hungry and driven to make their mark on the world due to their short lives, including via war and conquest. Ashe gets singled out several times by non-Hume characters for embodying this trait including the Occuria.
Mjrn: The stench of humes. The stench of power.
- Even Gran Kiltias Anastasis, who is on Ashe's side, points this out:
Anastasis: To match power against power. Truly the words of a Hume-child.
- Humans Are White: Averted.
- I Am He as You Are He: In order to keep up appearances (and to maintain the pretext of the fragile Arcadia-Dalmasca peace treaty) Basch takes over the role (and identity) of Judge Gabranth at the end of the game from his twin brother Noah.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: The Imperial Trooper who kills Rassler does so by shooting him with an arrow. Through the one unarmored spot on his body. While Rassler is mounted. In the middle of a pitched battle. Across the span of a bridge. At night. If it wasn't for the fast Basch kills him, the man would probably be deserving of a promotion.
- Inconsistent Dub: In that subtitles and spoken dialogue often come out very different. Though it's rare, sometimes the two just don't match up.
Cid (dialogue): Alas, the hour of your return is late.
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: In every city, the chocobo stables are run by a pink moogle named Gurdy. Rabanastre even has three.
- Played with in a subquest involving the delivery of a letter to various stewardesses working on the many airship routes across Ivalice. They really are sisters, all of them.
- Infinity+1 Sword: One for each weapon class.
- Gilgamesh also has a collection of these from prior games in the series, and some outside the series. And every single one is a fake.
- The best example of an Infinity+1 Sword in this game has to be the Wyrmhero Blade, which can only be acquired by beating two incredibly hard Bonus Bosses (Yiazmat and Omega Mk. XII) and trading in the rewards you get for them (along with another reward you get by punching a statue of a dragon after completing a certain hunt. It grants the wielder permanent Bravery and Faith status and HAS NO LICENCE, meaning you can equip it as soon as you get it. Unfortunately, it's so slow that it ends up being more of a Bragging Rights Reward.
- Informed Ability: Fran, as a Viera, is implied to possess powerful magical abilities ("The Magicks binding the door to the Oubliette are quite strong. Too strong even for my talents."). Until Lv.50, she has the second lowest Magic stat in the game. At Lv.99, she ends up with the third lowest Magic stat.
- Around the middle of the game, however, it's revealed that her magic has grown weaker since she left her Hidden Elf Village, so this may be at least partially justified.
- Fran and Balthier have slightly modified attack animations when using their default weapons (bows and guns, respectively.) Thing is, these animations take longer than the normal ones, making their rate of fire slower - meaning that they are each the worst at their preferred weapon type out of the party.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: In all its ridiculous glory.
- Interface Screw: Some optional bosses such as the Espers are this way, particularly those that disable certain parts of your battle menu (you can't do standard attacks against one, you can't use items against another).
- The Ishmael: Vaan.
- It's All Upstairs From Here: The Pharos.
- It goes downstairs as well for another Bonus Dungeon.
- Jerkass Gods: The Occuria. On the other hand, they may merely be Well-Intentioned Extremist Gods.
- The problem with the Occuria is that they have a Blue and Orange Morality, so opinions vary.
- Judge, Jury, and Executioner: The Imperial Judge Magisters. Think of medieval Judge Dredds, but much more reasonable and with wicked swords.
- Kamehame Hadoken: The ultimate black Magick, Scathe. Basch's first Quickening also counts.
- Killer Rabbit: Fury is one, quite literally, as is the Vorpal Bunny whose name is practically a Shout-Out for the trope.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Basch. More than one character is taken aback by his unimpeachable honor and unwavering sense of duty.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Judge Drace and Judge Zargabaath.
- La Résistance: The
- Lady Drunk: The Antlion sidequest woman is still feeling under the clouds even after her children came back home. You can give her some booze for 1000 gil, and she'll stand atop a box and do some weird movements.
- Lady of War: Ashe. Also the older and more experienced Judge Drace.
- Lazy Backup: Averted. If all three party members are KO'd, you have to switch in your reserve characters. In fact, the ONLY way to get a Game Over is to have all six party members wiped out.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Right from the get-go, Balthier refers to himself as "the leading man", and furthermore makes mention to "the story". He seems a bit too aware of his role as one of the leads in a video game.
- The irony is that he fancies himself the leading man, but that status more rightly belongs with Ashe, Basch. He's more Wrong Genre Savvy.
- Balthier is also one of a few characters to break the fourth wall to give tutorials on how the game works, particularly the gambit system. The gambit system itself leans on the fourth wall considering conversations with NPCs in gambit shops and with one woman in Archades whose husband accidentally developed a shopping gambit that she was the unwitting guinea pig for.
- Leitmotif: The very distinctive "Theme of FINAL FANTASY XII" (which itself uses the overworld theme to Final Fantasy I) and "Imperial Theme" are reprised throughout a variety of themes, such as the boss-battle "Strike of a Blade," "State of Urgency," and "Desperate Fight." Even the iconic "Prelude" is augmented with a few chords from it. The Final Battle theme, "The Battle for Freedom," includes a very somber, ominous arrangement of "Imperial Theme," but as the sequence plays out it is overcome and drowned out by a heroic version of the main theme.
- Lethal Chef: In the first game, a minor character who gives you a chop when you find a philosopher of food willing to try her...unusual cooking ("it's painful, yet delicious!"). Penelo starts out as this in Revenant Wings, but slowly improves over the course of the game to the point where Larsa gladly pays to have her airship cafe remodeled after sampling her cuisine.
- Lethal Joke Item: The Manufacted Nethicite that Larsa gives you usually doesn't see much use, as while it gives you half-damage from elements, it casts permanent Silence on its user. But you can get a lot of mileage on it by designating someone a tank (Basch works well for this, as he doesn't come with any magic), and giving it to him. That way, you've got someone who can wade through elemental attacks with ease, and always has full MP to start a Quickening chain.
- Light Is Not Good: The ultimate mark, an ancient dragon with 50 million hit points, that killed Montblanc's mentor, is light elemental.
- If the Bestiary info is anything to go by, Ultima also applies.
- Arguably the Occuria considering their mysterious, celestial appearance.
- Like Brother and Sister: Subverted with Vaan and Penelo. It's pointed out in the game and in the guide, but very nearly a case of protesting too much. They get much closer in later games.
- Limit Break: Each party member, guests aside, have three that can be chained together in a lengthy sequence. do it right and you can get a Concurrence to really up the damage output. Espers and Bosses seem to have them as well.
- Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition: Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System. There was also a tin-boxed special edition available at launch which contianed a FF Retrospective DVD.
- Lost Forever Unless We Have Lots Of Time On Our Hands: The Zodiac Spear - see Guide Dang It above. Otherwise, rare Loot items can be acquired either easily from bosses and marks, or you can spend hours farming normal enemies. For example, the Orthros mark has Slime Oil to steal - miss it and you're stuck racing Rikken 90 times to get another one. And then there's Gilgamesh and all four pieces of Genji Equipment you can steal from him - no other enemy in the game can be stolen from more than once, or has the item you can steal from them change depending on their HP.
- Loveable Rogue: Balthier.
- Mad Scientist: The first Final Fantasy Cid to play the role of a villain all the way through.
- Magicks and Technicks (Statisticks, too, according to one NPC.)
- Marathon Boss: Omega Mk.XII (an hour), Hell Wyrm (hour and a half) & Yiazmat (twelve hours, which nabs the page's picture) are all offenders here. Zodiark can turn into this if you're not careful.
- Marathon Level: The 100-floor Pharos Lighthouse.
- Mass Monster Slaughter Sidequest: You can only complete the Clan Primer by killing a certain number of every single enemy in the game.
- May the Farce Be with You: In many respects, the game could be considered how the original trilogy would have gone if Luke had no Jedi powers, wasn't Darth Vader's son, and the Separtist movement from the prequels were still around as a faction strong enough to oppose the Empire.
- Money for Nothing / Money Spider: Mostly averted. You only get money from humanoid enemies, but can sell the loot you find to get new items from the Bazaar.
- Mouth Flaps
- Ms. Fanservice: Fran and Ashe
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Vaan and Penelo usually get pegged as this in comparison to the more important party members like Ashe, Basch, Balthier, and Larsa.
- Lampshaded by Balthier, no less:
"At least we remembered to bring some entertainment."
- My Country, Right or Wrong: During the talk with Anastasis, Ashe believes that initiating a world war to revive her country and reestablish her part as the Princess of Dalmasca is the best option. It's possible that she was influenced by the Nethicite, but the other characters like Vaan have convinced her to Take a Third Option.
- Mythology Gag: too many to count. Some notable gags:
- The name of one of the Bonus Bosses is Omega Mk. XII. Simple, but gets the point.
- Most of the Airships are named after some of the iconic summons and characters in the series.
- The Final Boss, the Undying, fusion of Big Bads Venat and Vayne, is a literal mechanical dragon. In addition, some of its special attacks have Flare in their names (e.g. "Mega Flare"). Most of the parts that make up this monstrosity came from the Airship/fortress "Bahamut".
- See Gilgamesh and his, erm, "borrowed" swords.
- The whole last chapter of the game seems to be an extended mythology gag. Let's see... The party climbs an incredibly tall, well-guarded tower to obtain the ultimate power, and upon leaving, they find the Emperor hovering outside of their hometown in a large flying fortress guarded by a cyclone. Hmmm, now where have I heard that one before?
- There's actually an homage to Final Fantasy's rival series, Dragon Quest, in the form of the Wyrmhero Blade (Called 'Tolo's Sword' in Japan.), modeled after the sword of the legendary hero Loto (also known as Erdrick).
- A stranger form of Mythology Gag is found in Yiazmat's name. Yasumi Matsuno, the man behind Ivalice, was known to his peers as 'YAZMAT.'
- At the end of the game Balthier is said to be off looking for the "Cache of Glabados"--a reference to St. Ajora Glabados of Final Fantasy Tactics. According to background information, Ajora is supposedly alive around the time in Ivalice when Final Fantasy XII occurs.
- He's still looking for it when he appears as a cameo in the PSP version of Tactics. How he did the Time Travel is not explained, but, unlike Cloud, nobody sees him as strange because he's talking about something that probably has some (even if probably different) meaning in their timeline.
- In Final Fantasy X, when fighting the Behemoth enemy, Wakka will sometimes quip "How many steaks do you think we can get out of these?" In Final Fantasy XII, the Behemoth enemies sometimes drop the Loot item "Behemoth Steak".
- Non-Human Undead: Many of the monster types have an undead version. Examples include undead wolves, undead war horses, undead vampire bats, undead slimes, and undead bombs. There's also the requisite undead boss who is a Conjoined Twins demon with visible skull.
- No OSHA Compliance: The city of Bhujerba is on a floating continent in the sky, and some portions of the city have no railings running around the edges of the walkways! However, it's said in-game that no one who falls from Bhujerba dies, and this demonstrated in-game by the character "Fallen Bhujerban" who is found in Phon Coast. The fall from the skycity gave him amnesia and probably hurt a bit, but he's alive.
- Older Than They Look: The Viera live much for longer than Humes, so this trope probably fits quite a few of them. Fran for example, left her village 50 years before the start of the game yet still retains the appearance of a female in her twenties.
- One-Scene Wonder: Judge Drace, who stars in exactly one heart-wrenching Tear Jerker of a scene.
- One-Time Dungeon: Several.
- Nalbina fortress which is only there in the prelude due to it being destroyed.
- Rabanastre Palace during the heist
- Nalbina Dungeons which is only accessible during your escape.
- Several airship dungeons including the Leviathan and Shiva.
- Draklor Laboratory in Archades
- One-Winged Angel: The final form of the final boss Vayne's, with wings formed out of parts of Sky Fortress Bahamut, even. This is a Final Fantasy game, after all.
- Only One Name: In a game where most characters have not just first and last names, but middle names too, Vaan, Fran, Penelo, and Reks only have first names. With Fran it's a cultural thing, while Vaan and Penelo are commoners (and orphans for that matter) while the rest of the party is all nobility of some order.
- Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: A background NPC uses the line, although he doesn't quite finish it.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Bipedal monsters called "Werewolves" live in the Giza Plains south of Dalmasca. They're similar in function to the Behemoths encountered much later, but lore from the game's Monster Compendium claims that they used to be human, and became transformed into monsters after eating some kind of contaminated meat.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: It usually isn't too difficult to tell what treasure pots are really Mimics, especially later in the game when some Mimics are bright red, while the treasure pots they're supposed to be hiding as are usually gray and black.
- Party in My Pocket: In towns your party is represented by Vaan (even if he's not in the active party). Out in the field and in dungeons your three active characters (and whatever guests are with you) are always present and can be swapped out for your reserves at any moment.
- Pause Scumming: The player can enter the party menu any time, during combat or otherwise. This enables such things as removing equipment from characters who are under Confusion ailment and about to murder a party member, or switching accessories and armour to nullify the effect of a status ailment or elemental spell the enemy is readying.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Ashelia and Rasler. Unfortunately, he dies before the game starts proper.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Ashe's wedding dress.
- Point Build System: The License Grid, which was the same for all six characters and thus led to a certain amount of homogeniety within characters. The Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition gives you the option of switching to a Class and Level System for your License Grids (if by "you" we mean "Japanese players only").
- Though there is now a translation patch for the International edition which makes the game 99% in English.
- Portal Network: You can expend a teleport stone to use save crystals you've visited before to get to all the important locations in the world. In fact, despite Balthier owning an airship, this will be your dominant means of long-distance transport in the game, and it can take you to far more locations than the airship can. Given that it's cheaper than commercial travel in the game (which you'll never use outside of one sidequest), one wonders how the aerodromes stay in business!
- The Power of the Sun: The bonus note in the bestiary for Garuda-Egi suggests that the sun is aligned with holy power, not fire, dispelling the "myth" that the sun is a just large, firey sphere.
- Powers of Two Minus One: The Wyrmhero Blade, the game's resident Infinity+1 Sword, costs 65535 Gil at the Bazaar.
- Prequel in the Lost Age: It stands as a prequel to Final Fantasy Tactics. (Probably.)
- Programming Game: The Gambit System.
- Punch Clock Villains: When you're not busy carving your way through their ranks, most of the Archadians are a fairly decent lot. The Archadian civilians are worried about normal day-to-day issues like finding employment and buying their spouses gifts, and some of the Archadian soldiers stationed in Rabanastre show a genuine concern for its citizens and truly want to keep the peace. For example, one of the Hunts is petitioned by an Archadian soldier in the city who saw a dangerous monster, but his superior brushed him off. Thus, he decided to pay money out of his own pocket to hire you to kill it before it causes trouble.
- Judge Zargabaath at the end of the game, is willing to sacrifice himself, the Empire's flagship, and the hundreds of crewmen aboard it, to save someone else's city.
- Purple Prose: The Magic Pots return again in this game. Rather than simply asking for an elixir in a crude manner such as they've done before ("Gimme Elixir!"), they clamor for the elixirs, and are outraged whenever you attack them.
- The Queen's Latin
- Randomly Drops: Taken to a form of art!
- Read the Freaking Manual: The reply of every person frustrated with newbies who equipped the Goddess Magicite or the Dawn/Dusk Shard (They cause forever zero MP or Silence as long as it's worn) without bothering reading the item information displayed on screen and then asked why they can't cure their characters.
- Real Is Brown
- Realpolitik: Pretty much the core theme of the game. The Archadean Empire is not on a war of conquest for glory or power, at least not only for those things, but because it is surrounded by nations who are the puppets of the Occuria. The twisted scheme to force a total surrender on Rabanastre - they couldn't comb the city for nethicite otherwise. Their quest for nethicite, again not for selfish reasons - nethicite is the tool used by the Occuria to manipulate humanity, and the only means Archades can fight back. Vayne is actually completely honest about accepting Rabanastre's hatred of him - he knows he's made temporarily them slaves in his quest to free the world from the Occuria, and accepts that he'll be remembered as a monster for it. Anything as long as the Occuria are defeated, because that's the only way his nation will be safe.
- Rebellious Princess: Ashe.
- Recurring Boss: Gilgamesh in more than one sense. You can fight him twice during the game. Furthermore, this could be the same Gilgamesh from previous Final Fantasy games as evidenced by him possessing various (replicas of) familiar swords such as the Gunblade and the Buster Sword.
- It was implied in an earlier game that Gilgamesh's "death" in FFV really just sent him careening through time and space, sticking his nose into every game along the way and borrowing trophies.
- Redemption Equals Death Gabranth, Reddas for destroying Nabudis
- Repeatable Quest: The game has only one repeatable quest, and it's very modest, and available very early. By visiting the Giza village and running around in the Giza Plains area, you can create multiple Sunstones, which sell for what is a moderate bonus for the player at that part of the game -- but the player could get the amount from just killing wolves and selling the loot, and on the side get both EXP and LP.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Ashe could have just given in to despair, but she instead is basically the hero of the game. Larsa also counts.
- Running Gag
Balthier: I doubt we’ll find her wanting in valor… Being such an upstanding member of the insurgence.
- Early on in the game, you'll start hearing random citizens in Bhujerba going on about "Bhujerban Madhu", a local brew that's in short supply. Then you start seeing NPCs who are suicidally depressed, half-drunk, or raging over a bad day, all of whom are jonesing for Bhujerban Madhu. Then you start finding caskets of Bhujerban Madhu. Then you start selling them...
- Sacrificial Lion: Reddas. Though in fairness, it was completely his choice.
- Vossler is a straighter example, dying at approximately the quarter-way mark of the story and cementing himself this trope as he's a former Guest Star Party Member. At this point, it became clear that even the protagonists weren't completely safe.
- Satan: Venat. To prove how much of an utter group of jackasses the Occuria are, Venat is the game's Big Bad and still comes across as the most sympathetic among them, and even performing a Villainous Sacrifice to help Vayne. This doesn't work, but it still wins, as the Occuria have been rendered powerless now that all their conduits to the physical world have been severed.
- Sand Is Water: The Ogir-Yensa and Nam-Yensa sandseas.
- Secret Shop: Very, very much. It's in the optional dungeon, opens at the very end of the game, and it's invisible.
- Sequel Difficulty Spike: While still not all that hard once you get the hang of the battle system, this is still one of the harder main series Final Fantasy games. Enemies have group attacks and status attacks and they will use them, and conversely paying or not paying attention to the elemental and status vulnerabilities of enemies can make a big difference. Level Grinding and the subquests aren't mandatory, but the game assumes you're at least taking your time between areas and not just zooming through them, because if you do you'll be overwhelmed in the next major area when the enemies suddenly get stronger. As well, Money for Nothing is averted, new skills and equipment are expensive and you may not always have enough loot to sell to afford what you want.
- Sequence Breaking: With a few exceptions you're free to move between areas freely as you like, accessing rare drops and new shops ahead of time. However, you still have to do the storyline events in a specific order and a few areas are sealed off before you do. Plus, if you skip ahead to a later area out of order the monsters you meet will often be at a much higher level and thus sequence breaking is very dangerous unless you flee from fights.
- Science Is Bad: Subversion, in that the most tech you see hails from the evil Archadian Empire which isn't evil at all, and the divine Occuria condemn it for manufacturing Nethicite ("the power of the gods") because they don't want mortals to have control of their own fates.
- Moogles are the source of a lot of other technology, including Bhujerban airships.
- Shaggy Dog Story: From a certain point of view. As early as the Tomb of Raithwall the Empire actually offers to let Ashe take the throne publically and rule over Dalmasca again, but she refuses because she wants to keep fighting the Empire. Ultimately her attempts to attain power or weaken Archadia's don't amount to anything, and while it's her Character Development that convinces her to change her mind, up until then the party really doesn't do a thing to affect the grander scheme of things except making the world powers more suspicious and paranoid than they already were. Which of course almost begins a world war that the party has to act to stop in the climax.
- Shout-Out: See A Worldwide Punomenon above.
- Most notably, the plot references Star Wars with some enthusiasm: Apart from the obvious comparison between Judge Gabranth and Darth Vader, there Princess Ashelia and Princess Leia, as well as Balthier / Han Solo and Fran / Chewbacca. Wedge and Biggs make a cameo as well, with their names scrambled up a little this time around.
- A background conversation between Vaan, Penelo and Larsa while Ashe and Basch discuss weightier matters is a shout out to the notorious Good Bad Translation of Final Fantasy Tactics. "I had a good feeling." "This is the way!"
- The Leamonde Entite's name comes from Leá Monde from Vagrant Story, not lemonade.
- Also from Vagrant Story, the Light of Kiltia religion.
- There's also its rare game called Vagrant Soul, yet another reference to Vagrant Story. Its name in the Japanese version is Soul of Chaos, which refers to Final Fantasy I.
- All the Star Wars allegories and references are shamed by the overhead shot shown of the Draklor Laboratory...it's shaped like a Super Star Destroyer.
- The Espers that aren't Continuity Nods towards Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, specifically Chaos, Zeromus, and Exodus, reference the Final Bosses of Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy IV, and Final Fantasy V, respectively. In addition, (Emperor) Mateus and Famfrit (humans and moogles' respective Totema who first appeared in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and promoted to Esper status for this game) had their backgrounds expanded to reference Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III.
- None of the traditional summons from the main games are featured in the game (a first!) but their names survive as the names of the airships used by the Archadian and Resistance fleets. Notably, two flagships which serve as mini-dungeons are Shiva and Leviathan, Marquis Ondore's ship is Odin and the final dungeon is Bahamut.
- Furthermore, the ship destroyed at the beginning is called "Tonberry."
- The whole back story of Venat being disowned by her own race for giving the humes the secret of magicks via nethicite, is similar to the tale of Prometheus.
- It's been speculated that the Bonus Boss Fury might be a Shout-Out to the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.
- At the start of the sidequest "Anne and her Sisters", the gentleman that Anne is talking to is named Rande.
- Shirtless Scene: Vaan. All the time.
- Smug Snake: Judge Ghis.
- The Smurfette Principle: Ultima and Shemhazzai are the only female Espers while Drace is the only female Judge.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Fighting on the field in Ozmone Plain, Cerobi Steppe, Paramina Rift, and the Great Crystal. Also, hunting Marks in these areas (music does not change when fighting Marks (except for when luring out Ba'gamnan and encountering Gilgamesh), such as Trickster in Paramina Rift, where you fight a particularly tough Bonus Boss with a calm movie score-like song playing.
- Don't forget doing Quickenings. The music does not change for this either, so you get to hear the calm music of Ozmone Plain or Paramina Rift while your characters tear asunder space and time.
- Spanner in the Works: Despite his status as the Decoy Protagonist, Vaan of all people manages to undermine the Occuria's plans. His ability to see Reks, as Ashe saw Rasler, implies that the Occuria would use him were Ashe to turn aside from their plan for her. Instead, he overcomes the illusions, refuses to take revenge on behalf of his brother, and ultimately may have been the role model Ashe needed to reject the Occuria.
- Stab the Sky: Prince Rasler in the opening cutscene
- Stat Grinding
- The Starscream: Judge Ghis. He's assigned as Vayne's personal aide, something he detests, and thinks he is (and possibly is) more intelligent than him. He seems set to betray him and possibly even the Empire right before his doom.
- Sticks to the Back: All greatswords stick directly to your back, with a slight clang, suggesting they're stuck there using magnets.
- Stripperiffic: Ashe and her micro-skirt, Fran and her armored teddy -- and arguably Vaan's outfit as well. Penelo's skintight jumpsuit is modest by those standards, but still pretty revealing.
- Regarding Penello, there's a very gratuitous shot early in the game where pretty much all you can see is her crotch area, and you can see the texture of her panties underneath.
- The Dalmascans in general are as well.
- The arguable winner in this category is a minor NPC in Reddas' crew. She wears a coat that might as well not exist for all the coverage it provides and sports a pink g-string over hot pants. It's as though she's had clothing described to her, but doesn't actually understand the concept.
- Summon Magic: Of the Western variety.
- Supporting Protagonist: Vaan. Word of God says this was deliberate - Basch was intended to be the lead character, but there were concerns over the sales of Vagrant Story, which also starred an older male. The solution? Make a typical Bishonen to please their demographics, then shunt him to the side so the real main characters could have the story.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: The theme of Archades is clearly influenced by the Imperial March of Star Wars.
- Sword of Plot Advancement: Uniquely, all the magic doodads you find during the course of the game - such as Nethicite and the swords you're sent to find, etc. - are equippable but have ridiculously bad stats. Nethicite, true to its plot purpose of sucking up magic, reduces your MP to zero, but also reduces magic attacks against you big time. Helpful against the boss fight with Mateus.
- Justified in the case of the swords, seeing as they were made with the sole purpose of destroying nethicite and the Sun-Cryst and not for combat.
- Tagalong Kid: Vaan. It is also worth mentioning that Final Fantasy XII is what happens when the entire story unfolds from the viewpoint of this character archetype instead of the actual main character.
- Tech Points: Defeated enemies yield "License Points" used to purchase new abilities, in addition to the traditional Experience Points.
- Ted Baxter: Gilgamesh.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Judge Zargabaath struggles with this most of the game, usually deciding on Lawful.
- Token Non-Human: Fran is the only non-human in the cast. This is glaring, as the game has the most non-human species of any game except IX (which can hardly be said to have many distinct species).
- Too Dumb to Live: The second page of the Chimera Brain's entry in the Bestiary is Report #A0075 O.P.O.D:
Eat the head of the wise, and his wisdom you shall gain! Like eating food whence to gain nourishment. To determine the truth of this, I have just now eaten a whole chimera head. No effects as yet. On the morrow, we shall see.
- Turns Red: Everyone, even your party, does this.
- Twin Switch: Basch and Noah, twice.
- Unexpected Successor: With all the other Judges either dead or defected, the rarely seen Judge Zargabaath is left in command of the Archadian army at the end of the game.
- Underground Monkey: Subverted. The in-game encyclopedia gives long explanations on monster genus origins and the subtle differences between subspecies in different areas. The monsters are never just pallete swaps, but actually reflect their habitat in their designs.
- The Unpronounceable: An NPC called Ktjn involved in an optional sidequest. According to supplementary materials, it's pronounced "kitten", though in Japanese it's "Katreen". Most of the other Viera fall under this too - Fran seems to be the only exception as one of the few Viera fortunate enough to afford a vowel in her name, which seems to fit considering she's not like other Viera.
- Upper Class Wit: Balthier.
- Useless Useful Spell: Averted, subverted, played sorta straight, and played equally straight in equal measure. Some of your status effect spells are the difference between success & failure in most boss battles and against many normal enemies (which really don't pull their punches in this game). Others are useless.
- Vendor Trash: It's your
mainonly source of income. Unlike previous entries enemies don't randomly drop gil when killed, they drop Loot instead, which you have to sell to make money.
- Humanoid enemies do drop money, and you can steal gil from some other enemies, but that's a drop in the bucket.
- Video Game Geography: The Kerwon continent is screwed up. Frozen tundra & mountains border lush tropical jungles. Most oddly, Mt. Bur-Omisace, at the top of a long climb through the frozen Paramina Rift, is relatively nice & sunny (or rainy). It's warmer on top of the mountain than at the base! Similarly, the continent temperature varies strongly east-to-west instead of north-to-south.
- Of course, this is in a game with sand seas & floating continents, but at least all the deserts are equatorial.
- It is heavily implied the Mist has a profound effect on the environment and the ecology, so Mist concentrations are likely the cause of Kerwon's badly put-together jigsaw puzzle status.
- The Walls Are Closing In: The game has two Demon Wall enemies. The first one you fight presents a twist -- it is powered up and offers you little time to defeat it, but it is fortunately a Skippable Boss and you are meant to flee the battle by using the door that it would crush you against, and instead fight the second wall in the next room. The second one (the one you must defeat) is much weaker and offers much more time to win. If so desired, you can come back later in the game to rematch against the first wall. Unless of course, you've done a lot of Level Grinding, in which case you can just off the first one right away and pick up a weapon that you're not intended to have at that point in the game yet (still not quite the Infinity+1 Sword though, but it is one of the games many, many Disc One Nukes).
- Wave Motion Gun: The battery of Mist Cannons mounted on the top levels of Sky Fortress Bahamut, used to sink (read:utterly disintegrate) Resistance cruisers in one shot.
- Weapon of Choice: Sixteen different ones to choose from! Swords, Axes, Hammers Maces, Daggers, Great Swords, Katanas, Ninja Swords, Spears, Poles, Rods, Staves, Bows, Crossbows, Guns, Hand-bombs and Measures. Although it is clear in the animation that certain characters handle certain weapons better than others. Compare how Vaan handles the spears to how Penelo does, for example.
- Each character also seems to have a Style of Choice. Balthier tends to use everything one-handed, even 2-handed weapons, which reflects on his laid-back persona. Fran holds anything that isn't a ranged weapon elegantly to one side. Vaan uses low, wide stances that, in real life, generally allows a person to cover ground quickly. Penelo, starting with a knife, actually has a pretty acrobatic fighting style, most easily seen with her unarmed style with Brawler unlocked. Ashe's style is pretty defensive, with even her unarmed stance has her putting a hand up in front of her like she's using a shield. Basch is pretty much the Combat Pragmatist given that all his moves are basic strikes executed from a natural standing stance and border on Boring but Practical.
- We Are as Mayflies:
"The Humes ever skew hist'ry's weave. With haste they move through too-short lives. Driven to err by base desires, t'ward waste and wasting on they run. Undying, we Occuria light the path for wayward sons of man."
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Vayne's ultimate goal is to create a world free from the Occuria's influence...albiet under his complete dictator-like rule.
- The Dynast King Raithwall also united Ivalice under his rule, albeit at the Occuria's behest, and brought years of peace and prosperity to the factionalized Ivalice of his time. And his reign is generally considered a good thing. Vayne's logic isn't flawed. He's only the villian in the grand scheme of things because he didn't win.
- What Could Have Been: Original design documents and concept art showed that the main protagonist and player character was supposed to be Basch... wearing full armor and a thick, bushy beard.
- In addition to Revenant Wings, the game was supposed to have another sequel allegedly titled Fortress. The developers making Fortress went bankrupt, but a few remnants of it survived, such as some concept art, combat storyboarding, and one amazing track.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: No matter how many times he insists, Balthier is not the leading man (even as much as everyone wishes he were).
- X Meets Y: Not infrequently described as "what happened when Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings films got together and made a video game." The amount of parallels and possible shoutouts is staggering.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Superbly averted. The semi-Shakespearean dialogue is performed so smoothly and naturally that you stop noticing pretty quickly. When you do notice it, it's only because it's awesome and memorable.
- After the (mostly) horrifically botched voice acting of the previous "main" game, the fact that if you look away from the screen you can't tell the difference between this and your average TV show is a massive step up in quality.
- You've also got to consider the fact that they did this terrific voice acting with compressed audio.
- See Classically-Trained Extra above.
- You All Look Familiar: Lampshaded.
- You ALL Share My Story: Played relatively straight. The main characters of the story are;
- Ashe, the Princess who lost her country to invaders.
- Balthier, AKA Ffamran mied Bunansa, the son of one of the architects of the invasion.
- Basch, the guy who took the fall for the invasion.
- Vaan is the Player Character because he has the best perspective of the whole train wreck - a civilian who not only has to live in a conquered country, but lost family to the conquest. Penelo tags along with him to keep him from snapping due to the three blowhards who play their power games, ignoring how normal people suffered in the turmoil. And Fran is there to remind them that the world is bigger than their squabbles - She has extensive knowledge of the origins of magick, as well as friends among the races who left the games behind.
The manga adaptation provides examples of:
- Adaptational Badass: The Judges have been each upgraded from Elite Mook to One-Man Army, possessing superhuman strength and speed in addition to their fighting training making them powerful duelists. Take Ghis for example--he kills Firemane single-handedly and then takes on Fran and Balthier and was beating them until Vaan intervened. And he was barehanded the whole time.
- Standard operating procedure seems to be for the game's bosses to suffer Badass Decay so the party members can gain this trait dealing One Hit KOs to them -- Fran uses a Quickening to freeze a second Firemane solid, and Basch cleaves the Mimic Queen apart in one swing. Using a rusted and cracked sword he repaired to working condition using Heroic Willpower.
- Adaptation Expansion: Flashbacks show the circumstances of how Ashe and Rasler fell in love, why Archadia began the war, and Basch's side of the story during the night Raminas was killed.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: As the chapters progressed from backstory to the in-game events, it still follows the general outline of the game's plot, but a lot of scenes are swapped out and new ones added in.
- Ascended Extra: Vossler's role in the early game is much more fleshed out.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: What Vaan is shaping into.
- Ms. Fanservice: Ashe.
- Shout-Out: When Ashe "borrows" Lord Rasler's sword and runs off, he calls out after her.
Lord Rasler: Wait up! It's dangerous to go alone!
- World of Ham: There is a lot of shouting and grandstanding going on. Even from characters who are calm and collected in the game, Basch for example. So far the only ones not to get in on it are Vayne, Fran and Penelo.
- Chaos and his Elementals, Emperor Mateus, Zeromus, and Ex-Death/Exodus.
- The others being IV, VII, X , & XIII
- Fitting given that the project was handed over to the lead developer of II in the middle of Development Hell, and that II felt a lot like Star Wars meets The Lord of The Rings at times