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The Top 7… RPG towns that explode

Exploded by: Lavos, a giant parasite that feeds off the energy of the planet and is just generally a dick, and Queen Zeal, whom Lavos is apparently controlling.

It’s hard to think of a more potent example of hubris than Zeal, the floating kingdom that considers itself to literally be above all creation. Active during 12,000 B.C. and populated by a bunch of snooty magic-users who actually founded a city devoted to the study of sleep, Zeal is a cool place to explore despite the ridiculous elitism of its residents.

They're so elitist, in fact, that anyone who can’t use magic is banished to a caveman-like existence on the planet’s surface.


Unfortunately for the Zealots, they’ve recently tapped into a new power source: Lavos. Misunderstanding the creature’s parasitic nature and world-ending intentions, Zeal has built a power plant called the Mammon Machine, which draws on Lavos’ otherworldly energy.

Since it was built, it also seems to have hardened the heart of Zeal’s queen, who gradually becomes possessed by Lavos as her civilization grows more reliant on the beast’s power. Greedy for more, she orders a second Mammon Machine built at the bottom of the ocean, so as to be much closer to the world-devouring beast. Naturally, this has the effect of awakening Lavos, which is probably exactly what it wanted.

With everyone else stunned by Lavos’ power, Crono stands against the monster and is apparently vaporized for his trouble.

Not content with just taking the life of the game’s hero, Lavos breaches the surface, sprays everything with lasers and brings Zeal crashing slowly, tragically down to earth.

Above: That last thing is a tidal wave, in case it isn’t clear

Once again, we see the tragic results of being a bunch of greedy jerks and trying to harness forces beyond your understanding and whatnot. Here, watch a video of it:

The town: A gleaming metropolis that was built way out at sea and may or may not actually be real.

Exploded by: A massive, technology-destroying monster named Sin.

Easily the most futuristic city ever to appear in a Final Fantasy game, Zanarkand is all soaring towers, breathtaking water sculptures and giant holographic screens, and it seems to revolve around Blitzball, the most excruciating sport ever to be haphazardly shoehorned into an RPG. We’re introduced to the city through the eyes of Tidus, a young Blitzball star who makes his way through crowds of fans, alone, as he walks from the city’s docks to its stadium.

Midway through Tidus' game, however, Zanarkand suddenly comes under attack by something that roars in from the sea. In seconds, Tidus goes from wowing the crowd to running for his life through the crumbling city.

The creature at the heart of the destruction, Tidus soon learns, is some kind of enormous weapon named Sin, which at first appears to look like this:

But which we later find out looks like this:

Zanarkand’s destruction might at first seem pretty cut-and-dry – it’s demolished by Sin because of its ridiculous level of technological advancement and Sin’s tendency to destroy technology – butthere’s actually a lot more to it than that. See, Sin isn’t actually destroying Zanarkand, because Zanarkand isn’t real. It’s a dream city that’s kept alive in the real world by plot elements too convoluted to explain here. Of course, that doesn’t make it seem any less real as you try to guide Tidus through the city’s collapsing freeway system.

It all ends with Tidus being apparently betrayed by his mentor, Auron, and hurled into the belly of the beast as it sucks up half the city along with them.

True, we barely knew Zanarkand, and its destruction is really just a prologue to Final Fantasy X’s story. But with its sheer awesome scale and unique giant-monster method of destruction, it’s still one of the most memorable RPG-town-destructions in recent memory. Here, watch it and see:

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.