13 Weeks of Final Fantasy: That Airship Guy, What’s His Name, You Know Who I’m Talking About

Week One: Personal Experiences
Week Two: Our Heroes
Week Three: Best Song Ever
Week Four: Gameplay Wallbangers
Week Five: The Big Bad
Week Six: Ridiculously Broken Attacks
Week Seven: Title Logos
Week Eight: Chocobos!
Week Nine: Battle Music
Week Ten: Eye-rollingest Plot Elements
Week Eleven: Craziest Fashion Sense
Week Twelve: Sequels, Spin-offs, Remakes and Ports

Week Thirteen: That Airship Guy, What’s His Name, You Know Who I’m Talking About

SPOILER ALERT!! This feature by its very nature contains spoilers for every Final Fantasy game. If you don’t want your cherry popped, make sure to skip the bits about games you haven’t played yet.

Cid.

He’s usually at the top of a very short list of examples people give when trying to think of things that have been in every FF game. He has been a knight, a principal, an inventor and a dark angel. He’s gone into combat weilding a sword, a gun, a spear, a hammer and a flying school. You’ll know him because of his goggles, big bushy beard, bright yellow raincoat and unmistakable <gwok>.

No matter what direction the Final Fantasy series jukes, Cid is one of its most fastidious traditions. Your typical Cid is a particularly memorable member of the supporting cast, often involved in building, maintaining, and/or piloting the heroes’ airship. Cid often has been a political or military leader, and frequently is a single father.

He’s well-known for having a fondness for cigarettes and #@$^& tea!!. In Ivalice, Cid is shorthand for “Cidolfus.”

For the final week of this project, let’s explore the boundaries of this wonderful character. You can tell a lot about an FF game by the care that goes into its Cid, after all.

XFinal Fantasy X: Al Bhed Cid

Not surprisingly, the worst Cid comes from Final Fantasy X. Cid is an Al Bhed, which means he has swirly eyes and is sexually aroused by machina. He also talks funny, which is a common characteristic of Al Bhed, albeit one I’ve never understood very well. One of the sidequests available in FF10 is the collection of Al Bhed Primers, each of which translates one letter from Al Bhed into English. That’s not the strange part, though. Every Al Bhed who actually speaks English does so in their own unique accent. Cid’s, for some reason, is a harsh redneck dialect. It sounds less like he should be building airships in Bikanel Desert and more like he should be tuning up someone’s pickup truck in southern Kentucky.

Cid is the father of Rikku and Brother, the most obnoxious player and non-player character in the game, respectively. I don’t know why Cid thought it was such a fantastic idea to name his firstborn child “Brother”. In FF10-2 he whores the ruins of Zanarkand out as a tourist attraction, which is the essential equivalent of opening a Starbucks at the site of Auschwitz. I don’t know why he thought that was a good idea either.

Cid’s only saving grace is having built the Fahrenheit, a gaudy candy-colored airship used to spirit Tidus and his crew from place to place. Unfortunately FF10 is also the first time in the series the player isn’t actually able to fly his own airship around the world map. Cid even fails indirectly.

The real secret reason I dislike this Cid is he destroyed the “one on, two off” pattern of playable Cids the series had established. Okay, you had to name one of your dudes in FF1 Cid if you wanted it to work, but follow me here: playable in FF1, two games off, playable in FF4, two games off, playable in FF7, two games off… you see where I’m going with this? We ended up with Rikku instead. Rikku can go to hell.

IFinal Fantasy I: The Cid That Wasn’t

Unless you took the initiative to plug the name in while building your party, Final Fantasy I doesn’t have a character named Cid. This was retconned in the remakes, where Cid is credited with having built the Lufenian airship the Light Warriors use. This means he’s a long-dead member of a long-dead civilization, though, and only appears in the game in a single text box. Blink and you’ll miss it.

Observe he’s still a better than FF10’s Cid, despite not really existing.

I’m tempted to fill some space here with a short description of the Lufenians and the epic questing required to earn one’s airship, but… my heart’s just not in it. An FF game without a Cid is like a cowboy without a sad song. It just… shouldn’t be. I suppose we’ll just write this off as Square not knowing what they were doing yet, and be thankful the rest of FF1 gets everything else right.

…well, except the lack of chocobos. And summon spells. And dragoons. And limit breaks. And moogles. And blue mages. And…

XIFinal Fantasy XI: Questgiver Cid

I actually met Final Fantasy XI‘s Cid once! It was after several weeks of playing the game, when some friends and I had made the perilous journey from Windurst to Jeuno. I logged in to solo one night, which meant making the long trek back, and I figured well, if I could walk it in one direction why not another? I hoofed it out to Bastok, where I knew Cid to reside, and hunted him down. I was only slightly surprised to find this rather gruff lookin’ blacksmith dude with galka-ish facial hair.

Of course Cid didn’t actually do anything. I was Level Stupidface at the time, and a citizen of the wrong country besides, which meant he wouldn’t even give me the time of day.

Like every NPC in every MMO ever programmed, Cid’s job is to stand in one spot every day and give quests to people. Not having run them myself I can’t say what they are, but I imagine they involve killing monsters Cid doesn’t like and collecting rare and unusual items he needs for… whatever it is he does. (Which is probably build airships. Does he build airships in this game?) Scanning the FF11 wiki reveals that he eventually rewards you with a pretty swank gun which, hey, you know, swank gun. That’s worth putting him above the guy who doesn’t technically exist.

VIIIFinal Fantasy VIII: Headmaster Cid

You’re expecting me to make a “lol robin williams” joke here, aren’t you? Well, I’m about to blow your mind: I kind of just did.

All things considered, Cid is a pretty big loser in Final Fantasy VIII. His wife ran out on him some unspecified number of years ago to turn evil and conquer the world. He has trouble paying his landlord on time. He shares a wardrobe with Mr. Rogers. Though he is technically the leader of one of the world’s most highly-skilled mercenary organizations, he has no combat skill himself to speak of. To put this in perspective a bit, he relinquishes command of his magical flying school to Squall Leonheart partway through the game. Yikes.

Cid is complicit in the game’s big damn wallbanger, namely, the idea that all of the player characters grew up together and then conveniently forgot about it. His (ex?)-wife Edea raised the youngsters before getting brainwashed by a malicious witch from the future, prompting Cid to design and fund a military organization tasked with the sole purpose of murdering her. Oh, and he never mentions to Squall or Zell or Quistis that they’re old friends from the short-pants days. I don’t know why. Possibly because he’s a jerk who refuses to allow those around him to feel anything resembling joy.

XIIIFinal Fantasy XIII: Cid Raines

Like every character in Final Fantasy XIII that isn’t Barthandelus, Brigadier General Cid Raines has trouble deciding whether he wants to rescue Cocoon or destroy it. Apparently the cast of FF13 is full of complicated people with complicated goals.

Cid is the captain of the Lindblum, an airship named in reference to a much older, much cooler Cid. His commands a rogue military group, the Cavalry, who aligns themselves with the l’Cie in order to overthrow the corrupt Sanctum and instill a new government run by the citizens. Stand up guy that he is, he even agrees to help spring the heroes’ friends from Sanctum’s flagship once he learns they’ve been captured.

Bad news, though; the l’Cie had been manipulated all along, and are unceremoniously dumped into a subway. Cid catches wind of this and, stand up guy that he is, decides the only way to achieve his “government for the people” goal is to turn heel and slaughter the heroes, simply assuming they’re going to fall in step with Sanctum’s plans. I will say, though, that his angel winged pseudo-demon boss form made for one of the more memorable struggles in the game. His ability to shrug off damage as well as completely annihilate your team’s hard-fought buffs should be plenty to put the fear of god into you.

Later, the bad guy makes Cid the most politically powerful man in the world, so he kills himself, thereby cheating the heroes out of a much-deserved rematch.

VIFinal Fantasy VI: Raincoat Cid

The Wiki lists Cid’s full name as being “Cid del Norte Marquez”, which sounds like something suspiciously made up by a rabid fanboy. I prefer to ignore his long-winded surname and instead associate Final Fantasy VI‘s Cid with Toilet Duck.

One of the common themes of the various Cids has been their shortsightedness when it comes to technology. While usually not outright evil himself, Cid (which is to say the general Cid, not FF6’s Cid in particular) often applies his engineering genius to the benefit of the story’s antagonists, not realizing the tragic consequences of his brilliance until it’s too late to stop it. So it is with this Cid, who developed a method of draining magic power from kidnapped Espers by sticking them in tubes to keep them in some nightmarish unlife.

That’s… that’s pretty cold-blooded.

He repents almost immediately, though. In fact, he states during his very first appearance that he will immediately cease his work torturing helpless magical creatures and try to talk Emperor Gestahl out of waging a senseless war.

Later, after the destruction of the world, Cid’s life is placed in the player’s hands. Was his repentence enough? Should Cid be forgiven for his crimes, given the fact he selflessly nursed the lone remaining hero back to health and constructed the method of her egress? Or were his sins too many, and death the only fitting punishment? A single rotten fish could decide his fate.

VFinal Fantasy V: Cid & Mid

The original “My god… what have I done!?” Cid, Final Fantasy V‘s contribution to the legacy built a series of machines designed to amplify the energy of the world’s elemental crystals. When this backfired and caused the crystals to rather predictably explode, Cid retired to a nearby bar to drink himself to death in a mopey stupor.

And there would have ended the story of Cid, if not for a new twist on the mythos: the engineer’s bookish grandson Mid. Mid’s healthy love of science plus his youthful invigoration give Cid the kick in the pants he needs to get back in the game. From this point on Cid and Mid assume the role of quirky party mascots, building and tinkering an endless parade of gadgets that allow the team to fly, swim, engage battleships in open warfare and travel to other planets.

That’s essentially all there are to the two characters. Like most aspects of FF5’s story they really only exist to power a few scenes. But like most of FF5’s characters they manage to be very charming despite their lack of plot integration. The rapport they have with one another is quite believable: old done man egged on by the young apprentice who idolizes him. Their role in the story complete, Cid and Mid spend the rest of the game studying the ancient, decaying ruins of a highly advanced technological society. Which, lets face it, is the dream retirement of any honest, god-fearing Cid.

IIIFinal Fantasy III: Ol’ Man Cid

Despite coming so early in the series, Final Fantasy III‘s Cid has a surprisingly strong role in the plot. And visually speaking, he’s probably the closest thing to a quintessential Cid as you’re likely to get: scraggly unkempt beard, aviator goggles, silly hat and a backpack with a propeller on it? Truly a Cid after my own heart.

Unfortunately, this particular Cid is pretty awful at building airships. Nothing he puts a wrench to has enough balls even to get up over mountain ranges, a curiosity unique to the airships of FF3. Cid’s first airship actually explodes after a single catastrophic impact with a large boulder. Like, seriously dude?

Once the Onion Kids have tucked a few adventures under their belts Cid reveals to them the horrible truth: he and they are the last survivors from the world below the Floating Continent, the only folks to survive Xande’s special brand of Armageddon (the world having been flooded either with water or purple clouds, depending on which version you’re playing). Whether or not Cid always knew the kids would grow up to be such dashing heroes is never specified.

IIFinal Fantasy II: Taxi Cid

For all of Final Fantasy II‘s many, many, many, many faults, the world is actually pretty fun to navigate. Well, okay, fun is the wrong word. It’s dreadfully easy to stick yourself somewhere you’re not strong enough to survive, or to get hopelessly lost in the twists of mountains and deserts that make up the world. But the game does give you the option to poke around in lots of places you aren’t supposed to go, which the Ultima-playing fanboy within appreciates quite a bit. This freedom is granted to the player early and cheaply, thanks to Cid.

FF2’s is the very first Cid, which means the gruff, battle-hardened style is in truth the original rather than the beareded barrel-shaped grandfather figure I typically associate with the character. I’m sure you agree there is simply no arguing with that mustache. Cid’s job is to give the player rides to faraway lands. As early as one quest into the game’s plot he will cheerfully take you just about anywhere in the world for a platry sum of gil. A new player could spend hours using this feature to map out the corners of the world… although since Cid can only be hired from one location, you still have to do a lot of hoofing back.

Like the rest of FF2’s supporting cast, Cid dies heroically and bequeaths unto the player his fabulous airship to call their very own. This is the worst airship in the series, by virtue of it not having its own chipper flyin’ around music… but we won’t hold that against Cid. He was too busy being awesome to hire an orchestra.

XIIFinal Fantasy XII: Dr. Cid

After eleven games (plus spin-offs) Cid decided to try his hand at being a bad guy. Of course this is Ivalice, so the connotations behind “bad guy” are murky at best. Though he has no interest in Vayne Solidor’s political ambitions, the two men share a vision of a world without gods… a world where the course of history is wholly in control of mankind. Of course he can’t do this without befriending an invisible god-thing, inventing man-made WMDs in his evil scientist lab and going quite insane.

Cid achieves his goal, too, despite the best efforts of Ashe and her company to stop him. As with Vayne, however, Cid’s schemes aren’t really evil so much as merely opposed to the heroes. And really, he and the heroes wanted the same thing; Cid saw a future where mankind utilized the Sun-Cryst, snatching the gods’ own weapon right out of their hand. Ashe, as the champion chosen by the Sun-Cryst to unite Ivalice, instead chose to destroy it. Either way the gods are out, mankind’s in, and all’s well.

As befitting an antagonist of some standing, the party faces off against Cid twice. He employs a variety of guns in battle as well as witty quips such as “The curtain falls!”, and even has his very own Esper. Neither battle is quite as hair-raising as the scuffle with Cid Raines, although his constant use of defensive buffs and impenetrable damage shields should let you know you’re closing in on the endgame.

IXFinal Fantasy IX: Regent Cid

Leader of the country of Lindblum and designer of the impossible steam-powered airship, the brilliant and handsome Regent Cid was on top of the world. Unfortunately he and Li’l Cid went and got amorous with a comely lass, inspiring his wife Hilda to transform him into a bug, steal the fantastic revolutionary airship and run home to mother. With brain shrunk to the size of a bean and his regal speech forever punctuated by an annoying <gwok> Cid had nothing left to him but his impressive mustache and endless wealth.

Though crippled by the fruits of his own lecherous wanderings, Cid is one of the party’s most powerful allies in Final Fantasy IX. I must say I was quite tickled at the explanation for his having been turned into a bug. That’s the kind of fairy tale subplot that hadn’t really been possible in the FF series since the NES days. I won’t swear to this, but there’s a good chance that Cid’s introduction upon reaching Lindblum was the first time I looked at FF9 and thought, “Well, I’m home.”

Of course, the time comes where the party has to drop what they’re doing and try to get Cid de-oglopped. This goes about as well as can be expected, transforming him instead into a frog. Other than the <gwok> being replaced with a <ribbit> this doesn’t really change his affairs much. No, Cid has to swallow his pride and apologize to his wife to get back to his original, regal form. This naturally involves rescuing her from the volcano prison where she’d been taken captive. It is a fairy tale after all.

In the end Cid and Hilda make up and resume their life together. The childless couple even adopt Eiko, the party’s adorable little orphan girl, in the epilogue. D’awww.

TacticsFinal Fantasy Tactics: T. G. Cid

A hero of great renown and a swordsman unmatched anywhere in Ivalice, Count Cidolfus Orlandeau is the —

“Brick, you’re breaking the rules! Final Fantasy Tactics doesn’t belong on the list!”

Dude, nerts to the rules. Orlandeau is the one and only reason I finished FFT back in the day. When you suck at tactics games but want to see the end of the intriguing political plot woven by FFT, recruiting Orlandeau and having him single-handedly mow down the remaining dozen or so battles is truly a godsend. Hardcore fans of the game like to lament he’s too much of an EZ button, but nerts to them too. By the time Orlandeau joins you’ve either broken the game wide open or are having so much trouble with it you’re questioning your will to finish. He can only enhance your experience, never destroy it.

Orlandeau is known across the land as Thunder God Cid, so named because of the heavenly destruction he rains down upon his foes. Several units in FFT are flagged as special knights who can use superpowers; Orlandeau cuts the crap and just combines them all into one cloaked, bearded engine of destruction.

As a character in the story he is nothing less than impeccable. Orlandeau joins Ramza’s suicide mission despite the fact that his reputation has been tarnished and his stepson is being hunted by the church. Orlandeau dies sullied and outcast, a lifetime of heroic achievements shattered by slander he wilfully chooses not to combat. If there’s a more noble character anywhere in the FF lexicon, I’m sure I haven’t met him. He is a man worthy of a sword attack called “Divine Ruination”.

VIIFinal Fantasy VII: Cid Highwind

Cid Highwind is the gritty, abrasive, foul-mouthed airship pilot with a heart of gold. He became an instant fan favorite upon Final Fantasy VII‘s release. The fevered word of mouth surrounding the game always included things like carpet bombing bad guys, good-natured domestic abuse and endless references to #@$^& tea!! (You’ll sit down and drink it, if you know what’s good for you.)

The entirety of Cid’s life is devoted to the science of aviation. Cid was originally slated to be the first man in space, but had to nix the project at the last minute due to an equipment malfunction. He blamed one of his scientists for the mishap, a young woman named Shera, and dealt with his shattered dreams by living within the shadow of the failed rocket while making Shera’s life hell.

Cid set his sights a notch lower and aimed to take control of the skies with his very own airship. This airship, the Highwind, was commandeered by Shinra and taken from him. Cid therefore set his sights lower still and built a small seaplane, the Tiny Bronco. By the time Shinra showed up to take that too Cid decided he’d had enough, throwing his lot in with Cloud and his gang of misfits.

Over the course of the game he gets to fulfill his dream and go into outer space, leading to one of FF7’s most touching scenes. He even apologizes to Shera in his own gruff and totally manly way. By the time Advent Children rolls around Cid is pretty much the same, though he has developed an unhealthy passion for bananas.

IVFinal Fantasy IV: Cid

Brash, heroic and crazy as hell, it should come as no surprise that my first Cid is still my very favorite. Truth is, I was in love with Final Fantasy IV‘s Cid long before I knew Cid was an FF tradition.

Cid is one of Cecil’s close friends, and is the foremost airship prodigy in the kingdom of Baron. The scant few adventures he spends in Cecil’s active party are some of my favorite in the game; the admiration he and Yang share for each other’s talents, the endless arguments with Tellah over which of them should rightly be called the “old man”. He’s absolutely the goofball of the party; he looks like roadkill when he gets KO’d, and his victory dance involves him pumping up and down while flashing his pearly white chompers.

And this isn’t the kind of thing that impresses most people, but the *k-klump, k-klump* sound his hammer makes when he attacks is far more satisfying than the slashing weapons the rest of the cast uses.

Cid’s insane airship experiments are quite unique. On Cecil’s airship he installs a robot grappling arm that lets him carry his long-forgotten hoovercraft around the world. (I imagine he could also use it to uproot trees and tear up folks’ roofs too, if he weren’t by necessity Lawful Good.) On Edge’s he mounts a massive industrial strength drill bit which can tunnel through the earth’s crust.

Cid is so great that you can’t even kill him by strapping explosives to him and chucking him off an airship. I like to think his body was blown to ribbons, but re-congealed through the sheer force of his overwhelming rowdiness. After all, if he hadn’t survived who would have been around to complain about dwarf food and give some upstart ninja prince what-for in a spinning contest? Cid is the master.

Phew, thirteen weeks! They kind of flew by, didn’t they? There were so many topics I considered covering, enough to do another thirteen weeks without running anywhere close to dry. I mean, I barely got to talk about Balthier at all. But that’s the nature of aimless fanboy gushing. I hope my gushing came across as entertaining or enlightening in some way. Thanks for reading!

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11 comments to 13 Weeks of Final Fantasy: That Airship Guy, What’s His Name, You Know Who I’m Talking About

  • I for one would greatly appreciate an all-Balthier post.

  • dtsund

    This has been truly excellent. I doff my red, enfeathered hat in respect.

    You’re making me feel bad about my slow progress on the musical!

  • Behemoth

    I’m bummed you’re done with this series. As ridiculous as it may sound, I actively looked forward to Sunday because it meant a new entry. I would totally read another thirteen of these, or at least a post gushing about Balthier.

  • Nicola Nomali

    FFVI Cid’s full name is indeed canonical. Other NPCs (and half-PCs) with full names include Kefka Palazzo and Leo Cristophe.

    Oh, and this was great.

  • Don’t forget that Balthier’s real name is Ffamran Mid Bunansa, which makes him the ‘Mid’ to FFXII’s Cid.

    • Zef

      And now go back and read Brick’s description of FFV’s *ids as “old done man […] young apprentice who idolizes him” and apply that to the Bunansas before Venat. And realize what happened to that relationship post Venat.

  • Haha, I never thought about FFVII Cid repeatedly lowering his sights for aerial dominance until you worded it that way, and just as I got to the part about the Tiny Bronco, I started laughing my ass off because I knew what was coming.

    And I used to think Cid didn’t have enough motivation to join the party. Shinra screwed that guy HARD!

  • Lys

    It’s sad to see the Thirteen Weeks over already! Hopefully we get a spiritual successor sometime in the future, as these made for excellent reading! 😀

  • Sanagi

    There’s also Al-Cid Whatsisname in FFXII, if that matters.

    Anyway, great posts, Brick. This was a unique look at the series that brought back a lot of memories.

  • ThricebornPhoenix

    Cid’s only saving grace is having built the Fahrenheit, a gaudy candy-colored airship used to spirit Tidus and his crew from place to place.

    No, no, no: he didn’t build it. He salvaged it, at the beginning of the game, thanks mainly to Tidus’ ability to pummel ancient machines until they work again. You can sort of see it when you’re swimming out after that boss fight. So… yeah. And Fahrenheit? Jeez, FFX really is the awful modern-day re-imagining of Bahamut Lagoon.

    By the time Orlandeau joins you’ve either broken the game wide open or are having so much trouble with it you’re questioning your will to finish.

    I don’t know how many times I have to say this: Gained JP Up is the real game-breaker (although as far as attacks go, Lightning Stab is pretty ridiculous).

  • Kadj

    I’m more than a little late on this, but I did play FFXI for a while and got the major Cid quests done, so I’ll fill in those holes for anyone else who reads this later. (Note: I didn’t play the nation-specific missions involving him, but nation missions tended to suck anyway.)

    Cid does build at least one airship, during the Chains of Promathia expansion – doing so brings him into direct competition with Jeuno. The player can take an optional quest involved in helping him complete it by stealing some sort of engine or other major part from Jeuno(it is as boring as being hidden in a lamppost though) – doing so allows the player to name the airship, though the name is a three-part name, each part chosen from a list of not-very-cool words.

    Regardless of whether the player helps or not before taking on the expansion, the completed airship is used during the Chains of Promathia missions. If I remember right, it’s the site of the battle against the Ultima and Omega weapons, in a really tense series of battles and cutscenes that all must be completed within 45 minutes.

    …As you may notice, Cid isn’t really involved once the airship is built and offered to the player’s struggle. Chains of Promathia was a really awesome series of missions, but almost every really notable character was cutscene-only – you don’t see them anywhere else.

    Oh, as for the fate of said airship, as you can imagine it isn’t really significant afterwards – it’s implied to cart you from a certain area to an endgame area players referred to as Sea, but that’s it. You… don’t even get to see it after that. It just does what it does.

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