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It is not uncommon to stumble across an island defying gravity and sitting amongst the clouds in video games.  It’s clear that RPGs cleared the way for this trend of hovering denizen shelter, especially RPGs from Square Enix. Another truth: floating islands always have EXCELLENT music associated with them.

Skytown – Metroid Prime 3

We begin with Metroid Prime 3’s flying, robotic paradise of Skytown.  Though the name was hardly a chin-scratcher for the developers, Skytown did have its charm.  For instance, what better way to navigate this in-flight archipelago than via a morphball canon or grapple beam monorail? The city also draws heavily from steampunk design, so if you’re into that…

Floating above: Elysia

Populated by:

  • A most-corrupted Ghor
  • Elysians
  • Space Pirates
  • Aurora Unit 217

Erected by: the Chozo

Verdict?: A totally suitable place to set up shop, especially if you don’t mind being the only organically-sentient being around. On the plus side, the robotic Elysians take care of all the nuts and bolts of the place, so consider it fairly maintenance-free. Watch for falling Phazon-laced Leviathan meteors.

Zeal – Chrono Trigger

Zeal is the Beverly Hills of the list. This place has it all: scenic view; waterfalls dropping back to the earth; teleporting Sky Bridges that allow ease of transport; a grand palace, inhabited by a nutty and dangerously-ambitious Queen Zeal; and the Mammon Machine, essentially a device used to awaken the Doomsday harbinger, Lavos.

Floating above: the earthbound denizens of Antiquity.

Populated by:

  • The Enlightened Ones (chicks and dudes who know magic)
  • The royal family (Queen Zeal, Schala, and Janus)
  • Dalton and his most-triumphant hair
  • a couple of Nu
  • The Gurus (Belthasar, Gaspar, Melchoir)
  • The Mystics (Doreen, Masa, Mune)

Erected by: The Enlightened Ones, using their magical prowess to lift above the clouds

Verdict?: Beautiful scenery, but ruled with an iron fist by a megalomaniac. Also, no longer floating, destroyed by Lavos when Zeal and the Gurus attempted to draw its power.

Bhujerba – Final Fantasy XII

Bhujerba adds a lot of charm to Ivalice, it’s lower-sitting planet. The people are friendly, their dialect delightful, and their music comforting. It was initially founded by the Moogles, so how could it be bad? Bhujerba also sits atop a large network of magicite mines, leading to increased revenue for the skyward city.

Floating above: Ivalice.

Populated by:

  • Bhujerbans

Erected by: The Moogles, who first utilized airship travel.  Who knew?

Verdict?: A fine city nestled in the sky. Initially a port of neutrality on Ivalice, Bhujerba eventually tied its allegiances, formally, to Archadia, though in reality supported the anti-Archadian resistance. Between that and the threat of the island coming down upon the exhaustion of magicite resources, this isle of flight comes with a hint of possible danger. But just look at that view!

Cocoon – Final Fantasy XIII

Cocoon is a spherical continent in an EXTREMELY low orbit–within the atmosphere–of/over Gran Pulse. The sphere is really a hollowed-out shell in which the inhabitants live. It’s ideally a safe-haven from the dangers and fears associated with the lower world, Pulse. It’s civilized, technological, and, aside from an occasional Pulse L’Cie invasion, fairly safe. Or is it?

Floating above: Gran Pulse

Populated by:

  • The Sanctum (ruling body)
  • citizens of Cocoon
  • Sanctum fal’Cie, including: Orphan, Eden, Phoenix, Carbuncle, Kujata, and Barthandelus
  • a L’Cie here or there
  • even a fal’Cie

Erected by: the fal’Cie

Verdict?: A hollowed-out shell meant to protect the citizens from danger, it turns out this safe haven is actually a smorgasbord of innocent people being used by the fal’Cie to summon Maker. The fal’Cie are also constantly trying to get residents of Cocoon or l’Cie to destroy Cocoon.  So, you might want to look elsewhere for someplace to live.

Floating Continent – Final Fantasy VI

This spacious wasteland was brought to the sky via Kefka and Emperor Gestahl following the invasion of the Land of Espers.  Nestled high above Albrook, this area is renowned for its excellent music and its abundance of awesome weaponry littered about, such as Cyan’s Murasame and Shadow’s Sasuke.  Oh, and here you can expect Shadow to once again join your party of adventurers, and then sadly leave…again.

Floating above: Albrook; formerly from the southern continent

Populated by:

  • Ultima/Atma Weapon
  • Nelapa
  • various enemies

Erected by: Gestahl and Kefka through the power of the Warring Triad

Verdict?: Not exactly the most inviting location, as it was raised with the intent of using the Warring Triad’s power to dominate the world. As mentioned earlier though, the music is top-notch, Shadow joins back up briefly, and you find a couple of sweet swords. Not the best area, but not bad either.

Nimbus Land – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

Nimbus Land is the home of Mallow, one of the lovably-huggable Nimbus People. It’s the fluffiest choice for the aspiring sky dweller and is conveniently attached to Bean Valley via a rather large vine.

Floating above: the Mushroom Kingdom

Populated by:

  • the Nimbus People, ruled by King and Queen Nimbus and their son, Prince Mallow
  • Valentina, the lady with the huge rack and the parrot on her head. Seriously.
  • Dodo, who is not Mallow
  • Garro, master sculptor
  • various enemies

Erected by: presumably, the Nimbus People. The cloud likely came due to the water cycle.

Verdict?: A heavenly environment with all the comforts and amenities one could expect atop a cloud.  It is, unfortunately, located very close to an active volcano, which could pose issues in the future. It is also only reached by giant vine, unless you are fortunate enough to have a flying machine of some sort.

Cloud City – Super Empire Strikes Back

Originally in a movie by the same name, Cloud City hovers above the planet Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. You’ve probably heard of it before, so let’s skip the introductions.

Floating above: Bespin

Populated by:

  • Lando Calrissian
  • 5.5 million living/working/mining folks
  • leagues of droids
  • the bald dude with the things over his ears
  • the Empire, unbeknownst to our heroes
  • our heroes: Leia, Han, Chewie, 3PO, and later R2 & Luke
  • Vader
  • Boba Fett

Erected by: Ecclessis Figg, entrepreneur/explorer, along with the Ugnaughts.

Verdict?: Cloud City has it all! Droids everywhere the eye can see, Vader lurking in the shadows, BILLY DEE WILLIAMS! God damn, Cloud City rocks. Stop by the carbonite facility and see the new Han Solo mold created for mass productions of the wily scoundrel. Slide down one of many giant tubes with the threat of falling to the center of the gas giant resting beneath you. Lose a hand…in poker! Cloud City is also a wonderful place to tell your estranged son the truth–you are his father. Time to start bonding.

Citadel – Mass Effect

The Citadel doesn’t really float in any particular atmosphere, it’s a space station. But it has atmosphere. And while some of you may think the Halo also has its own atmosphere, who would live there, really? The Citadel is stunningly beautiful, vast, and is completely kept up via the Keepers–silent, multi-armed, technological. And the nightlife! Bravo! Have you SEEN the dancing ladies and neon lights in this place? Talk about atmosphere.

Floating above: Space.

Populated by:

  • Keepers
  • Asari
  • Salarians
  • Volus
  • Turians
  • Humans
  • Spectres
  • Elcor
  • Drell
  • Hanar
  • Vorcha
  • Quarians
  • Batarians

Erected by: the Reapers

Verdict?: The Citadel wins in terms of awesome, technological beauty. It’s a melting pot of interstellar races, full of political intrigue, and was designed as an interstellar shell that collapses on itself to protect from dangers. Yes, the Reapers built it as a honey trap of biological energy, but Sovereign was defeated by Shepard, so problem solved. Move in today!

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2 Comments

  1. avatar Seasick says:

    Good idea for a list. You could use some better examples though. Seriously, the two Baten Kaitos games should fill 6 of these spots at least.

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