Airships are one of the most widely used modes of transport in the Final Fantasy series.
Often one of the few (or only) airborne vehicles in the game world, the airship is usually received towards either halfway or near the end of the game, when the entire world becomes open to the player.
In the majority of instances, airships appear literally as boats with propellors to give them lift, fashioned like helicopters, with propellors set vertically along the sides, and the tail rotors for steering. In a few of the more recent games, the airships have taken on more technological appearances.
The games in the Final Fantasy series often features different types of transportation, but the most significant is the airship. Airships have appeared in every game in the series and in most spin-offs. Some titles have specific battles that involve airships which are used to advance the plot, while a few games have random encounters with an optional monster. In many games the presence of airships is a key component to the story itself.
In most of the titles, airships generally have the appearance of flying sailing ships with a series of propellers instead of sails. However, in some of the later games they look more technological, appearing to be zeppelins or even ornate space ships. In the games in which the player has full control over the airship and can fly throughout the world, the game map wraps on both its X and Y axes.
In Final Fantasy, the ancient Lufenian civilization ("Lefeinish" in the original North American software localization) was renowned for their skill and manufacturing airships. In the present, however, all but one of those airships has been lost to time. The one remaining airship, lacking a power source, lies buried beneath the desert. Only by obtaining the anti-gravity Levistone ("Floater" in the original North American software localization) can the ship be salvaged from the sands and returned to the sky.
In the Final Fantasy I remakes, the Lufeinians reference an ancestor named Cid as the creator of their airship. The "Floater" is also renamed Levistone.
The airship in Final Fantasy moves roughly four times faster across the world map than standard walking speed. It can't land on any area other than plains, but traveling via airship does prevent the party from encountering random battles.
Final Fantasy II
In Final Fantasy II, much of the power of the Palamecian Empire is derived from their mastery of the skies. Cid's airship frequently shoots across the skies when the player is traveling the overworld. Fleeing from the captured city of Fynn, four youths deliver news that the Emperor plans to build a gigantic airbound warship called the Dreadnaught to Fynn's princess-in-exile, Hilda. In order to stop the warship, Hilda and the youths enlist the aid of Cid, one of the world's only freelance airship pilots. Using Cid's ship, the rebels hope to turn the tide against the Emperor.
Final Fantasy III
A total of four airships appear in Final Fantasy III. The first of these airships, owned by Cid Haze, is bequeathed to the four protagonists of the game to help them lift the curse placed on the village of Kazus by the demon Djinn. Following the defeat of Djinn, Cid and Kazus's village blacksmith outfit the airship with a mythril bow that allows the ship to plow through the rock slide that has blocked the mountain pass between the villages of Kazus and Canaan. Although the bow does its job, the airship is torn apart in the process.
Later, after obtaining the sailing ship Enterprise from the Vikings, the four heroes use the Wheel of Time, a perpetual engine, to convert the Enterprise into an airship. While slightly faster than Cid's old airship, the Enterprise is still unable to cross mountains, and, because it was created as a seabound vessel, it can only land on water. While traveling over the city of Saronia, the Enterprise is mistaken for an enemy vessel and shot down.
Realizing their mistake, the scholars of Saronia develop a new airship for the heroes. Designed to be both lightweight and aerodynamic, the Airship Nautilus is the fastest airship in the world. Only the Nautilus can travel through the high-wind mountain passes that would repel a slower ship. Later, the Nautilus is modified by the wizard Dorga (Doga in the DS remake) so that it can travel underwater and find deep sea caves. Like Cid's airship, the Nautilus can only land on grassland.
Finally, the Airship Invincible is the largest airship ever devised. Four times the size of the Nautilus, it features its own shops and sleeping quarters. Because of its size and weight, the Invincible must stay in the skies at all times: it is necessary to exit the ship via a small boarding ladder that hangs beneath it. The Invincible's engines are powerful enough to briefly boost the ship into higher flight than any airship before it. However, because of the power required, it can only maintain such high altitude for a very short period of time: only long enough to pass over small sections of mountain. Lastly, the Invincible includes a single cannon defense system to be used against the airborne monsters who appear very late in the game.
In PlayStation spin-off Chocobo Racing, the S.S. Invincible is an unlockable 'racer' capable of speeds greatly surpassing the regular characters of Chocobo's Racing. The S.S. Invincible's speed is even higher than custom-made characters in the game's "Edit Parameters" mode. Its high speed, although useful in races without the dangers of falling off the course, is sometimes a bit too fast, sometimes causing the racer to repeatedly hit the wall before getting on with the race.
Final Fantasy IV
Much of the story of Final Fantasy IV involves airships. While Cid Pollendina is credited with the invention of airships, it is actually the Lunarian KluYa who introduces the idea to humans. As chief engineer of Baron, Cid created a military fleet of airships, known as the Red Wings. Cecil Harvey begins the game as the commander of the Red Wings, but is relieved from the role when he begins to question the King's judgment.
It is later revealed that the power-obsessed king is in fact Kainazzo (Cagnazzo in the Game Boy Advance remake), the Elemental Lord of Water, in disguise. Cecil defeats Kainazzo, and is joined by Cid. Cid gives Cecil and the rest of his party access to his airship the Enterprise. The Enterprise is modified to carry Edward's hovercraft. When Cecil and Cid take the Enterprise to the Underworld, it is caught in the middle of a battle between the Red Wings and the Dwarven Tanks. After an emergency landing at the Dwarven Castle, Cid leaves the party to fix the Enterprise. When exiting the Underworld, Cid closes the entrance to the Overworld, so the Red Wings cannot follow.
Cecil later enters the Underworld in a trap which drops him to the Underworld level of the Tower of Babil (Tower of Babel in the Game Boy Advance remake). They then steal an enemy airship, which Edge dubs the Falcon. The Falcon, however, cannot fly over magma, which covers much of the Underworld. Cid and the Dwarves modify the Falcon to allow it to withstand the extreme heat, as well as adding a drill to the airship so that it can burrow its way back to the surface.
In the Tower of Worship of Mysidia, the mages magically raise the ancient Lunarian ship, the Big Whale, from the sea floor. The Lunar Whale is a gigantic vessel capable of short-distance space flight between the earth and the Red Moon, which KluYa used years ago for his own Moon-to-Earth voyage.
Final Fantasy V
Airships in Final Fantasy V do not exist in the present, but were the results of the labor of an ancient civilization. During their journey, the party stumbles upon an airship. Cid, the engineer and scholar of the kingdom of Karnak, with the help of his grandson Mid, fix the airship.
Soon after the completion of the airship repair, adamantite must be found in order for the party to get to the Earth Crystal, as the metal is used to reach a gigantic flying fortress.
Later in the game, the airship is upgraded even more, until it has the capabilities to become a submarine, as well as a boat.
Final Fantasy VI
In Final Fantasy VI, the gambler Setzer Gabbiani first appears with his ship the Blackjack to abduct Celes from the Opera House during a show. The airship is decorated like a casino and has its own personnel staff. The Blackjack's final flight takes place after Kefka rearranges the Esper Goddess Statues and defaces the World of Balance. The resulting chaos destroys the Blackjack in mid-flight and scatters its passengers. Pieces of the ship (in 1/1200 fractions) are sold at the Auction House, but cannot be bought.
The game's other airship, the Falcon belonged to Setzer's long lost friend Daryl, who crashed it after a race with him many years ago. Setzer discovered the wreck a year later, but Daryl was nowhere to be found. He fully restored it and put it underneath her resting tomb. After making their way through Daryl's Tomb in the World of Ruin, the Returners find the Falcon, their only means of reaching Kefka's Tower.
Final Fantasy VII
As well as the traditional Final Fantasy Airship, in Final Fantasy VII, a Gelnika Type B Jet appears, as well as a Tiny Bronco. However instead of a classic ship, a Submarine is available instead. Unlike the latter two, the Gelnika Jet is not controllable, it is a location once it has crashed into the sea.
The game's only airship is first shown in the town of Junon. The Highwind is used by Shin-Ra, which is headed by Rufus Shinra at this point, to track Sephiroth. Cid Highwind leads the party inside the airship to escape from Junon.
One of the famous promotional pictures, seen above left, shows Aerith Gainsborough standing before the Highwind. In the game, however, she dies before the chance to ride it; this picture is thus one of the arguments in debate on whether or not it's possible to revive Aerith in the game. However, Aerith does have a chance to see the airship in Junon airport, and mentions it to Cloud in the cargo ship on the way to Costa del Sol, so this argument appears to be mostly unfounded.
Shortly after Meteor is released, Cid leads the crew of the Highwind to rescue and evacuate the party from Junon; after this point the airship falls into the hands of the player's party. It is used as a command center by Cid as the party attempts to locate the missing leader of the party, Cloud Strife, and later allows the party to paradrop into the city of Midgar. The Highwind later takes the party to the Northern Crater in preparation for their confrontation with Sephiroth and allows the party to escape.
Although the Highwind features no weapons capability in-game, Cid's Limit Break "Highwind" involves a swarm of missiles launched from the airship. The Highwind undergoes two transformations; one occurs when the main propeller and pod-mounted propellers are jettisoned in favor of jet engines, and the second occurs in the final cinematic, where Cid triggers an "emergency" function leading to the deployment of a much sleeker airship.
In Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, Cid retired the Highwind (due to the fact that the Highwind is all but destroyed at the end of Final Fantasy VII) in favor of a new airship named the Shera, after his assistant and wife Shera who, on more than one occasion, saved his life. The Shera shares many common design elements with the Highwind but is clearly a more advanced vessel than her predecessor. The Shera made a return appearance in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, along with an entire fleet of similar airships, some of which were of the same specifications as Highwind. It was revealed in the game that the Shera was named by Cid but created by an ancient civilization, most likely the Cetra.
Final Fantasy VIII
The first form of airship found in Final Fantasy VIII is the Balamb Garden mercenary academy building. The Garden is forced to transform into a transportation method to escape missile bombardment from the Republic of Galbadia.
The Ragnarok is the name of the main airship in Final Fantasy VIII. Also a spacecraft, it was used, along with two similar craft, by the nation of Esthar to send the sorceress Adel into space to finally rid the world of her (or so Esthar believed) and put an end to the second Sorceress War. Seventeen years later, Squall Leonhart and Rinoa Heartilly are rescued from being lost in space when they drift near the Ragnarok. Upon boarding the ship, Squall and Rinoa discover that the ship has been raided by monsters and the ship's crew eradicated. After purging the ship of the creatures, the two return to the planet, where Selphie Tilmitt (accidentally) assumes the role as the ship's pilot.
The quadruped-esque Ragnarok is a heavily-armed ship, equipped with several rapid-fire turrets, manipulator arms, and a large beam cannon mounted beneath its hull. While none of the weapons are usable by the player, they are used in an FMV sequence when Squall and company initiate their assault on Lunatic Pandora.
Final Fantasy IX
Red Rose- The Red Rose was the personal airship of Queen Brahne of Alexandria, named for the queen's favorite flower. The Red Rose appears at Cleyra when Brahne uses the magic of the eidolon Odin to destroy the tree village. It also appears with the Lindblum air fleet to clear a path for Zidane and the main party to fly into Memoria to take on Kuja.
Cargo Ship- The Cargo Ship is an old airship from Lindblum that crashed on the South Gate while the party (Zidane, Vivi, Garnet and Steiner) was fleeing from Black Waltz III, it carries Black Mages like Vivi from Dali to Alexandria.
Prima Vista- Prima Vista is Latin for "first view" or "first sight". The Prima Vista is the massive theatre ship Tantalus uses to travel to Alexandria at the beginning of the game. Much of the early gameplay takes place within the Prima Vista, however, it is not usable by the player as it is severely damaged during the kidnapping of Princess Garnet and crash lands in Evil Forest.
Hilda Garde I — The Hilda Garde I was considered a magnificent piece of technological engineering. The airship, which was the first to run without the use of a mist engine, was stolen by the ship's namesake and the Regent's wife, Hilda Garde, after she discovered the womanizing ways of her husband and turned him into an oglop. The airship was later taken from her by Kuja who used it for his deeds. This ship cannot be used by the player.
Hilda Garde II — The Hilda Garde II was a failed attempt by Cid to reproduce the stolen Hilda Garde I. The Hilda Garde II was poorly designed because of Regent Cid's hampered skills as an oglop and frog. As a matter of trivia, the Hilda Garde II was mistakenly replaced by the Hilda Garde III in an FMV intended to feature the ship. This ship is also unusable for the player.
Hilda Garde III — The Hilda Garde III was the third airship designed and built by Regent Cid. After Cid was reunited with his wife, she transformed him back into a human, and just after promising his faithfulness to Hilda, he began to design and build the Hilda Garde III so that Zidane and his allies would be able to travel unrestricted around the world. The airship was built by cannibalizing the Blue Narciss, which had previously ferried the party across the oceans of Gaia. The Hilda Garde III is used by the player until the end of the third disc, and can only land on flat grassy areas.
The Invincible —
The Invincible is the final airship in Final Fantasy IX. The Invincible appears as an eyeball in early memories of Princess Garnet Til Alexandros XVII, and she remembers it as the destruction of her hometown. It is only revealed later in the game what is beyond the eye. The Ship has the ability to contain the many souls of those who have perished to it. The ship also has a devastating attack that reduced the great city of Alexendria to rubble. The Invincible also under the command of Kuja, enslaved Bahamunt and under Garland, destroyed Alexander. The Invincible comes to the party's rescue when Trance Kuja sends Terra to its doom. The Invincible is the airship that is usable for the remainder of the game, and can land on any kind of flat ground.
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X's airship belongs to the Al Bhed, a race of machina users rejected by the rest of Spira for this same reason. Upon its first appearance, the party are simply passengers aboard the ship and Cid is in control of flight. Later, when the party reaches Bevelle, they lose use of the airship. Eventually, the party gains full control of the airship and use it as they see fit.
Initially, the Airship was a machina from the Machina War, probably used by Bevelle (as they used the more advanced machina). It apparently fell into the sea near Baaj and near the start of Final Fantasy X, Tidus and Rikku must activate the power in some ruins so the Al Bhed could salvage it, most probably as a transport for the Al Bhed race. It was used as an escape vessel because of the attack on the Home by the Guado.
Final Fantasy X's airship does not allow free-roaming around a world map unlike previous games in the series. Instead, the player selects an available destination from a list and the ship takes them there directly and instantaneously. While not as interactive as previous airships in terms of manual navigation, the ship does serve a number of purposes in the game. The interior of the ship is very large, large enough that there are two separate save points on board. At one point in the story, the ship serves as the ersatz home of Rin and a number of other Al Bhed. A few battles occur on the airship in which the player can interact with Cid, the ship's captain. The ship is also part of the sidequest in which Rikku obtains her Celestial weapon. Perhaps most importantly, the ship becomes an important element in the game's plot as it is an integral part of the heroes' plan to finally defeat Sin once and for all.
The official figurine from the Square-Enix "Mechanical Arts" series gives it the name Continental Circus, but the FFX-2 International Ultimania Omega reveals that the name of the airship is the Fahrenheit, a name parallel to Final Fantasy X-2's Celsius.
The only known weapons are missile launchers on the top and 2 giant lance-shaped electro-cannons on the underbelly of the ship, as well as at least 7 tow hooks.
Final Fantasy X-2
Celsius is the name of the airship in Final Fantasy X-2. Like Final Fantasy X, the player can't control the airship directly on a world map, but instead get to choose from a list of locations. The main difference is that the player can use the ship from the start of the game and get to choose to where they want to go, in a non-linear way. Brother, who was introduced in Final Fantasy X as Cid's son, is the leader of the Gullwings, a group of sphere hunters including Yuna, Rikku and Paine, and so therefore, is the airship's owner. The Celsius acts as the "headquarters" of the Gullwings, so most of the party's interactions occur onboard it.
The Celsius is so important as a base of operations for the Gullwings that it contains its own shop, the 'Gullstore', run by the Hypello Barkeep. Through an optional mission the party can also allow O'aka XXIII to stay on the airship, where he will also sell items in order to make enough money to pay off his massive debts. Brother found the Celsius in the frozen regions of Spira when he and Cid parted ways. The inside of the Celsius bears slight resemblance to that of Final Fantasy VIII's Ragnarok, in the way that the bridges look with the screens and the way the floor is laid out. It cannot however be compared to the Ragnarok in size simply because of the huge size difference.
Final Fantasy XI
There are many methods of traveling in Final Fantasy XI. The airships can be used in the game to travel between the four major cities in Vana'diel and a town called Kazham. To ride an airship, a player must obtained a rank of five in any of the starting nations. This is not the same as a character level. Alternatively, a player can pay 500,000 gil to obtain a pass earlier. Airship tickets are 200 Gil each way, and no monsters will attack whilst on-board.
Final Fantasy XI's airships were also developed by a Cid, the chief engineer of Bastok's Metalworks. When investigating the Dangruf Wadi, he found broken down Zilart machines for inspiriation. With this inspiration, Cid constructed airships by the dozen to use against the then dangerous Shadow Lord. These airships were fuel inefficient, and burnt through crystals at an excessive rate, for a power source. Until the archduke of Jeuno supplied Cid with a power regulator, the airships were of limited use. By the time Cid had altered all the craft to include one, the Shadow Lord was dead.
In the peace treaty after the Crystal War, San D'Oria demanded Bastok's airship armada be destroyed, as it was the long time enemy of Bastok. In a compromise, Bastok sold the fleet to Jeuno, who used it to ferry adventurers and trade goods between cities quickly.
Cid also wants your character to clandestinely acquire supplies to build another armada, because of the increasingly dangerous situation developing in Vana'diel, and because Cid has started to doubt Jeuno's motives. This has to be done by an independent group such as you, as it involves stealing the power regulators from Jeuno.
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy XII takes place in the land of Ivalice, although not necessarily the same Ivalice of the Final Fantasy Tactics games. The airships of this game are quite varied; they come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, but all are relatively high-tech aircraft. The party's primary airship is known as the Strahl. Most of the other airships bear the names of traditional Final Fantasy summons such as Cruiser Ifrit, Dreadnought Leviathan, Atomos, Light Cruiser Shiva, Odin, Alexander, and Sky Fortress Bahamut. The flagship of the Marquis Ondore and his insurgence is known as the Garland. Some of the dungeons in the game are in fact the interiors of airships.
The Strahl - Airship designed and built by YPA, a shipwright's guild of Archades. Officially named the YPA-G847 Test Combat Fighter, production was halted after the completion of a single test model due to dissatisfaction on the part of the Imperial customer with the costly dual-movable-wing design. Scheduled for scrapping, Balthier liberated the ship at the last moment. Balthier has since modified the Strahl to his tastes with a new engine and numerous other augmentations, making it a very different ship from the one envisaged by its YPA inventors.
The Ifrit - No. 1 Cruiser Class Airship belonging to the 8th fleet of the Archadian Imperial Army. A large, heavily armed vessel used primarily for ground strikes, she was used to disrupt the resistance fighters who attacked the Palace in Rabanastre by bombarding them with artillery.
The Leviathan - No. 1 Dreadnought Class Airship, flagship of the 8th Fleet of the Archadian Imperial Army. The 8th Fleet was assigned to the Galtea Tactical Force of the Western Armada, under the command of Judge Ghis. Fitted with jagd-resistant skystone and large enough to carry hundreds of attack craft, she was a lynchpin of the Imperial air forces. An uncontainable reaction involving the nethicite fragment known as the "Dawn Shard" destroyed the Leviathan and her fleet above the Tomb of Raithwall.
The Shiva - No. 1 Light Cruiser Class Airship belonging to the 8th Fleet of the Archadian Imperial Army. Ordered to return to Rabanastre after the nethicite fragment known as the "Dawn Shard" was recovered, but sank in an explosion thought to have been caused by the relic before she could make port.
The Alexander - No. 1 Heavy Carrier Class Airship, flagship of the 12th Fleet of the Archadian Imperial Army. The 12th Fleet, commanded by Judge Zargabaath, operates under the Galtea Tactical Force of the Western Armada, led by Lord Vayne. Similar in size and armament to a Dreadnought Class ship, the Alexander carries hundreds of fighter craft and is armed with multiple heavy cannon batteries.
The 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. The size of a city and tornadic in shape, she was armed with hundreds of anti-air gun batteries and several massive "nethicite cannons", capable of destroying an entire air fleet in a single shot. Following the defeat of Vayne and Venat, her nethicite-powered glossair rings shut down and she was grounded in a lake outside Rabanastre, where she remained as an inert tourist attraction.
The Garland - No. 1 Heavy Carrier Class Airship, flagship of the anti-Imperial coalition forces led by Marquis Ondore. Built in secret by the Marquis to prepare for war against the Archadian empire, she was similar in size and capabilities to the Imperial heavy carrier Alexander.
The Galuf Val -
A Resistance Carrier Class Airship, the Galuf Val was one of many ships that was destroyed in the Battle Over Rabanastre. She was destroyed by the Bahamut's nethicite cannon, which pierced her hull and reduced her to burning debris.
Final Fantasy Tactics
During the era of St. Ajora, several centuries before the start of the Final Fantasy Tactics, the land of Ivalice was dominated by kingdoms which relied on the power of airships. The abandoned city of Goug was a major center of industry, and, though long since abandoned, many airship parts can still be found scattered throughout the wreckage. The so-called "graveyard of airships" in the netherworld of Murond Death City consists of several downed ancient airships, and it amongst these ruins that Ramza Beoulve and his army find the last of the Zodiac Braves, Altima.
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales
In the side-game Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales, Cid pilots an unnamed airship that can be powered by aquatic Coreshells. He uses it to return to the island on which the tale takes place, responding to a distress call sent to him by Chocobo, Shirma, and Croma, and rescues the trio from a trap set by Greeble and Peekaboo. The airship soon crashes in the field north of the farm, and Cid asks Chocobo to find three Coreshells in order to power it. Once Chocobo returns with the Coreshells, Cid and the others ride the airship to the Technolith, a mechanical tower set in the sea to the west, where the final crystal awaits.
Final Fantasy: Unlimited
In the anime series Final Fantasy: Unlimited, Cid creates an airship he named Silvia that requires flying water to run. The main party has to travel to end of the Wonderland Sea in the submarine Jane to obtain the water. Cid had planned the airship to be used to raid the flying fortress Gaudium. Unfortunately he never used the airship in combat, but Cid is seen piloting Silvia in the end credits of the final episode.
Silvia did serve as a great help in the events following the series, like taking the gang to Sadoshima island before going off for the final battle.
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