A Brief History of Ivalice - Part One

To the uninitiated, Ivalice may sound like an Italian bemoaning a nasty hair infestation, but those more accustomed to Yasumi Matsuno's vision will know it is a mainstay in Final Fantasy folklore as the series' most oft recurring backdrop for all sorts of magical adventures.

European gamers weren't officially introduced to Ivalice until June 2000 and even then, could have been excused for missing the link altogether in Squaresoft's, Vagrant Story. However, if like me you had shot your load over Final Fantasy VII and were desperate to be reunited with Aeris and Cloud, you either chipped your Playstation or ran a PSX emulator on your PC to play the 1997 release, Final Fantasy Tactics (later re-released on PSP as Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions in 2009) and took your first steps into Ivalice.

What has followed since is a series of games which have left fans scratching their heads as to how the locations and the timelines all fit together. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, released for GBA is the only game we can write out of the timeline altogether as it is set in St. Ivalice, a fictional location in the real world. Upon opening the Gran Grimoire, Marche and co are transported to the realm of Ivalice which is in fact a representation of a Final Fantasy game from Mewt's memory. However, the Gran Grimoire does feature in other titles. More on that later.

So Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings and Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift are all set in the same Ivalice as Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics and supposedly, each story is geographically quite close to the other.

Let's start with Final Fantasy XII as it is the first game to occur within the Ivalice timeline:

We can see the continent of Valendia, in the north, where Vagrant Story takes place, Ordalia to the west (the neighbouring Kingdom to Ivalice in Final Fantasy Tactics - or so they'd have you believe!) and Kerwon to the south. This map is expanded on in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, with the introduction of Lemures - the floating continent and refuge of Feolthanos and the Aegy - and areas such as the Glabados Ruins and Roda Volcano which are further to the west of the Ordalia continent than you can travel in FFXII.

The below is a kindly internet person's approximation of how the Revenant Wings map (the next title in the timeline) fits into the FFXII map. The clouds do make this quite annoying but hopefully you get the idea.

So next up is Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift and in terms of piecing this lot together on a larger map, is where the first problem arises. This is set in a completely unexplored region of Ivalice, firstly on the far western tip of Ordalia and then taking you on a journey to the Loar continent bizarrely all under the umbrella region of Jylland.

Now...if you can show me where this fits on to the overlaying map of Ivalice as seen here...

...then you have truly missed your calling as a cartographer. Confusingly, the blue is land, not sea. More confusingly, the new region may not even be on this map. Annoyingly, it may be staring me right in the face but my eyes are hurting too much to see it.

Well, then things go a bit (more) skewy...when you try and throw the Final Fantasy Tactics map into the mix it damn well refuses to fit. More confusion as it references Ordallia, a variation on the spelling of Ordalia but well...ok, it is set after the Cataclysm which has presumably wiped out every race except for the Humes so Glabados only knows what it did to the landscape. There's no way this fits in with the geographical location of Ordalia on the map above so if we are to believe it is in the same world, then either the cataclysm was a cataclysm in every sense of the word or FFT is set in an area of Ivalice not covered by the above map.

Until Square Enix release some kind of Ultimania for Ivalice to clear this all up for people like me (and you if you got this far) the geography of Ivalice is something which will remain riddled with inconsistencies and unanswered questions. We all know SE love a riddle though and they love being coy on matters of intrigue within their treasured IP (see FFVII PS3 remake rumours) so I wouldn't be at all surprised if all this remains a mystery. Cheers guys.

In part two, I'm going to have a closer look at the timeline and characters of the series. Should be up at some point next week. However if it's as mind-boggling as the geography I may well start playing my recently acquired Illusion of Time game, blindfolded, while someone trains a hairdryer on my testicles as it would probably be less challenging.

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