Regions of Mist-laden winds and magicite-rich soil, precluding the proper operation of skystone. Shifts in weather have been known to make jagd where once there was none, though the reverse has never been recorded by the chroniclers of such things. As airships cannot operate in jagd, no such region is under the control of a major country, making the jagds lawless, perilous places.
Hey look, we finally got an airship that can fly in Jagd. That only took the entire game.
...and now we have the longest dungeon in the game as a reward. Thanks, FFXII.
A strange opening in the seafloor that has created an endless whirlpool, drawing the surrounding sea ever downwards. An island is situated at the cataract's edge, on which stands a great pharos surrounded by ancient ruins. Its size suggests that once a great city flourished here, but of its rise and fall nothing is known. The area surrounding the island is jagd, preventing approach by airship, while the proximity of the cataract and its tidal pull make it impossible to reach the island by sea.
I like to think of this area as a walk in the park compared to the Pharos, because let’s be honest: it is. It is a nice, comfortable area with a couple of monsters (including some more creatively named Malboros) before the incredible slog that is the Pharos.
It is very pretty through. And I do find the Colosseum area really neat. Said area is where you fight the game’s superboss, Yiazmat. One of these days I’ll work up the nerve (and enough free time in my day) to do it.
Giant tower standing on an island near the Ridorana Cataract. Though not actually a lighthouse, a curious light emits from its upper reaches, piercing the darkest night, so earning it the name of the Pharos. Similarities can be seen between the architectural style of the tower and that of the ruins about it, but there are none who know the details of its creation.
This place is so incredibly huge that I’m going to split it into sections. Before you go in, you have to fight a boss, Hydro; if you’re planning on going into the Pharos at all, he should be a walk in the park. If he isn’t, turn around and go do some sidequests. If you haven’t done any sidequests, now is a great time to start. Go make friends with Montblanc.
By the way, don’t even think about going inside unless you have 99 X-Potions and Remedies, plenty of other healing options, and so forth and so on. There is no coming back down until you finish the Pharos to resupply. There are very few save points. You’re either ready or you aren’t.
For all my snark, by the way, I do really enjoy the Pharos as a final dungeon. I know the Sky Fortress Bahamut comes after this and is technically the final dungeon, but as far as I’m concerned, this is what the whole game’s been leading up to: an epic 100-flight ascent where you fight monsters and solve puzzles and take down bosses and espers. It’s got great level design, it’s gorgeous, and you really feel like you’re climbing up all 100 flights, even if you skip some of them via waystones. It takes hours to get through the whole Pharos and it feels like a real accomplishment to complete it. As far as Final Fantasy final dungeons go, the Pharos is probably my favorite. (Plus, you know, there’s the Subterra to really screw with you later.)
Pharos - First Ascent
Your first clue that this place was bad news was that you walk in and you get another title screen. Also, the little indicator in the corner telling you what floor you’re on. You’re in for some rough shit, buddy.
Alright, let’s get to it. The first floor feels like a trek unto itself; you have to collect three black orbs from the monsters and place them in three different places around the circle in the middle in order to unlock the door at the end. This in turn leads to a boss fight, which then just unlocks the waystone you passed on your way in. And you’re still on the first floor. Like I said, this is just the beginning.
The next section begins the ascent, and also introduces an interesting mechanic in which you have to kill certain enemies in order to build bridges across the chasm. Brainpans will create green bridges, while Deidars will create red bridges, but if you kill the wrong one while building a bridge, they’ll destroy a piece. It’s a neat mechanic, one that forces you to keep a close eye on your gambits and party members while you’re advancing. In IZJS it’s not too tricky; truth be told I can’t remember if Reddas was a problem in this section in the original game. I am really glad Reddas is in the party in general for the Pharos; it’s tricky enough to get through the whole thing in general, but having a fourth makes it a lot easier.
There are also several fake walls (Fool’s Facades), which you can break in order to find treasure pots. In the original game the pot spawns and contents are mostly random, while they’re fixed spawns and contents in IZJS.
A well-prepared party shouldn’t have too much trouble with the two bosses in this section, Pandaemonium and Slyt. Slyt in particular is a cakewalk if you cast Oil on it and go wild with Firaga.
Pharos - Second Ascent
Congratulations for making it this far! Now decide whether you want to turn off attacking, items, magick, or your minimap.
Yeah. The second ascent is a pain. Most people turn off their minimap, and it’s generally the best of the four options. In the original game, though, I usually turned off items, since all of my characters knew all of the spells by that point and I didn’t strictly need to use any items. You might not strictly need the minimap, but the areas of the second ascent are frustrating to navigate and it gets annoying opening up your map every few minutes.
In IZJS, unless you’re running a party that doesn’t have access to any magick or something (or only casts magick), the minimap is basically the only realistic option.
There are a lot of undead. There are a lot of enemies, period. You won’t even get the map until 62F. There are various pieces of loot in IZJS; as far as I know there aren’t any treasure pots in the original game. You can pick up the Gastrophetes S on 62F in the northwestern corner, so if you’ve got a Hunter in your party have a free ultimate weapon. If you don’t have one, look forward to selling it. On 63F, you can pick up a suit of Dragon Mail in the southwestern corner. If you’ve got a Samurai/Mononofu, there’s a Muramasa in the pot right outside the door to the Fenrir boss fight.
Fenrir is immune to most elements, so stick to straight-up attacking. If you have a weapon with Earth-element damage, that’s the one thing Fenrir is weak to. Pretty straightforward fight otherwise.
After beating Fenrir, pick the same glyph you picked to seal your abilities. Hint: it’s the one that doesn’t have a big jewel on top. After that, you can keep going up. Congratulations, you aren’t done yet.
Pharos - Third Ascent
You’ve finally reached the third and final section of the dungeon! I hope you’re following an actual guide somewhere, because otherwise this is the part where you’re going to get lost. (I’ve linked them elsewhere, but these are the two guides I recommend — this one for the original game, and this one for IZJS.)
If you screw up, you will either return to the entrance of the Pharos and have to climb the entire way back up, or you’ll have to fight a veritable army of undead. By this point, you’re probably low on healing items, you’re tired, and you just want to be done with this place. Follow a guide.
Right, anyway. In IZJS, this is where you get a ton of great stuff — the Flare and Ardor spells, finally, along with the Ultima Blade. I also picked up the Antares for my Machinist around 81F or so. Of course, you also have to fight a bunch more Aeronites, along with several other monsters. By this point the battles should be old hat, though, and you’re probably used to how to deal with everything.
On 84F, be sure to use the sigil of the same color as the glyph you used back in the second ascent. When you reach 88F, be sure to prepare for a boss fight before using the elevator, as you’ll have to fight Hashmal immediately. Use Float (or a Float Mote) to render Quakeja useless, and spam Aeroga for an easy victory.
With that, you’re done with the Third Ascent. Hooray! Of course, you still need to reach the Sun-cryst, the actual reason you came here. And what’s next but boss battles?
Honestly, the only difficulty these boss battles might bring is if you’re really low on healing items from the climb. Gabranth shouldn’t be difficult, and Cid’s not hard either. Be sure to switch your gambits to Foe: Highest Max HP when he summons Famfrit, as Cid is invulnerable as long as Famfrit is present, but all you have to do is use Oil on Famfrit and Firaga/Ardor it to a crisp. Enjoy the cutscenes, and say goodbye to the Pharos.
That is, until you come back for the Subterra.
Pharos - Subterra
...which I haven't done yet! Sorry. I've gone through it in the original game, but it was years ago and I honestly don't remember much, so I need to play thrugh it in my IZJS save. Please check back in a couple months. (You can follow the site’s updates over on the update blog.)
Sky Fortress Bahamut
No. 1 Sky Fortress Class Airship Belonging to the Western divisions of the Archadian Imperial Army, a mobile fortress and tactical base, under the control of the commandant of the Archadian forces, Lord Vayne. This was the last sky fortress designed by Dr. Cid, powered both by ordinary skystone and manufacted nethicite, the latter absorbing Mist from its surroundings to generate the massive amounts of energy the fortress requires to function.
Obviously this isn’t located in the same place, but it’s the last part of the game and I didn’t want to spoil anyone by putting it in the Dalmasca section. So here we are.
There are a few regular enemies, but all you have to do is make your way to the middle of the area in order to reach the boss fights that end the game. In my most recent IZJS playthrough I actually had a surprising amount of trouble with the regular enemies; I came to Bahamut straight after the Pharos with a party of level 48 and eventually decided to ignore them and just run for the elevator. Legitimate strategy, honestly.
I had no issues with any of the boss battles, and if you got all the way through the Pharos, you shouldn’t, either. The Pharos is the true test of your ability, and if you’re here then you made it. Beating the game is just finishing things off at this point.
Since this is the point of no return, make liberal use of your Elixirs and Megalixirs — this is what they’re there for! (Since this is FFXII, remember to set them in your gambits to make it even easier.) If you’re like most Final Fantasy players, you’ve been saving them through the whole game for this very reason. Unless of course you used them on one of the much harder sidequests. Also reasonable.
Congratulations, you’ve beaten FFXII! If you’re playing IZJS, stick around through the credits to unlock Strong Mode, which starts off every character at level 90. (This includes Reks, hilariously enough.) The only time you can begin a Strong Mode save file is immediately after viewing the credits, so if it’s something you want to do at any point in the future, at least play through the opening again long enough to reach the first save crystal. No bonuses for the original game, unfortunately.