Video Game Atlas: Gold Saucer

Once a week Art Attack will offer you a handy little travel guide to the fictional worlds of video games.

Name: Gold Saucer, Final Fantasy series

Population: 8,431 employees live on site, plus additional residents of North Corel and Corel Prison

Government: Privately owned resort

My last destination was the cold, remote mountaintops of Skyrim to see the religious retreat of High Hrothgar, so I thought my next stop would be someplace a little less spartanly spiritual, and a hell of a lot warmer. Welcome to the Gold Saucer, located in the center of a massive desert on the Eastern Continent.

The Gold Saucer is Gaia's largest and most expensive amusement destination, full of rides, shows, games and gambling. It was founded by the world-renowned fighter Dio, who personally manages the resort. His extensive collection of trophies and memorabilia are on display in the Battle Square.

Before visiting the Saucer, you had better get a grip on your money. A one-time entry to the park costs 3,000 gil, about $11,000, with a lifetime pass being ten times as much. Once you're inside, though, money is all but useless. The currency of the Gold Saucer is GP, which can only be won or gambled for, though you do find shady characters willing to sell GP to you if you keep an eye out. The spirit of the resort is to earn your rewards, and doing so is well worth it as the Gold Saucer offers many one-of-a-kind items that can't be found anywhere else.

Most visitors head to the Wonder Square first, where a variety of arcade games allow you to begin acquiring GP fairly easily. Feel free to attempt the snowboard simulator, play a little basket ball, take on a driving battle game or re-enact submarine warfare. The famed fortune-teller Cait Sith is also known to work this area, though his fortunes have a reputation for irreverence.

The Round Square is a popular date attraction where couples can take a romantic gondola ride around the outside of the massive structure high in the air, or if you're looking for something more thrilling, you can ride the Saucer's massive roller coaster. Are you of a more morbid frame of mind? The Ghost Hotel employs real live (dead?) ghosts to authenticate the spooky fun while you rest.

The main attractions, though, are the Battle Square and the Chocobo Races. Fighters from all over the world come to the Battle Square to try their luck against Dio's hand-selected menagerie of beasts in order to acquire weapons and relics of great worth and power. Like much of the Gold Saucer, there's a heavy element of chance in these battles, as duelers are cumulatively handicapped with random status effects throughout the eight-round battles. Only the strongest survive.

The Battle Square also sits atop the deadly Corel Prison, over which Dio has nominal control. Criminals who trespass on Dio's hospitality through violence or other affronts may find themselves stuck in the desert shantytown surrounded by psychopaths and murderers, with no escape through the ocean of sand between the Gold Saucer and its loading dock in North Corel miles away.

There is one way out of the prison, and that's to volunteer to participate in the Chocobo Races. Chocobos are large, flightless birds similar to ostriches, but with colorful feathers. They serve as the main draft animal on Gaia, and the breeding, racing and gambling of them represents a huge chunk of the Gold Saucer's business. Many convicts manage to win freedom in the races, and even rise to fame and fortune as jockeys should they prove adept at handling their birds and breeding them to peak performance.

The Gold Saucer is one of the best spots around, but it can be very hard on the casual traveler's wallet. Still, the very rich and the very lucky should have a wonderful time.

Previous Entries in the Video Game Atlas

High Hrothgar, Elder Scrolls series The End of Time, Chrono Trigger series Kakariko Village, Legend of Zelda Series Silent Hill, Silent Hill Series Monkey Island, Monkey Island Series Rapture, BioShock Series The Republic of Dave, Fallout series

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