The Fiend of Water slain, we headed off to Mirage Tower to complete the game’s sole remaining major quest. Well, better get the chimes ready and… what? We just walked in? This game has otherwise been pretty good at telling us why we had to solve a puzzle after we had solved it. That’s a good thing for a game to do, and pretty rare to see it done… this lapse seems very strange, considering FFI has been so well behaved in the past. What would have happened if we didn’t have the chimes? There’s no way to tell!
Mirage Tower was Kyle’s run, but he had to step away for a moment and so I did some searching. I imagine that caused a bit of confusion when he got back, because he accidentally Warped us out of the dungeon thanks to a misplaced cursor on the spell screen. One mistake led to another, and this led to us both forgetting to explore the second floor, which cost us some good weapons and armour. At the top of the tower, more friendly robots (as opposed to their lethal monster brethren) told us we needed to find the “Warp Cube,” but thanks guys, one step ahead of you here. Obviously the Warp Cube was the cube we had received from the robot behind the waterfall. The cube got us up to the Wind Fortress, home of the Air Fiend, Tiamat.
From Bahamut’s cave, we went back to the volcano near the sage-town and killed Marilith, and I have to ask… why? Here’s the full scoop: Lich was destroying the continent to the southwest. This was well presented and displayed. The Fiend of Water and the Fiend of Air arrived centuries earlier and had already devastated the North with the terror of ecological success, but to be frank, besides the trees there wasn’t much sign of their evil. Okay, the Fiend of Water sank a city and polluted the water. This is mentioned in the text in the next few towns. Text certainly isn’t as evocative as the rotting land graphics to the southwest, but not bad. Meanwhile, the Fiend of Air doesn’t seem to have done anything about the air (FFV actually seems to mock FFI for this by showing what would really happen if you messed up the air), but you’ll soon learn that she is guilty of other crimes. Outside of the intro, backed by actual evidence inside the game, Marilith’s crimes include…
Absolutely nothing. Oh, sure, there’s a brief mention in the opening demo, if you wait on the main screen. But that’s it, it’s not backed up by any evidence in-game. Her volcano’s not even spewing lava on the NES, and video games are so excited about lava that I’ve seen lava drawn on dormant volcanos. The only incentive you have to kill Marilith is to get directions to the Levitation Stone. It’s not even a very good incentive, considering the game asked you to operate with limited directions during the Elfheim segment. With that incentive removed, it’s just the sages at Crescent Lake calling a hit on an innocent demon-women, like some sort of mafia don. “You like the canoe we gave you for killing the Lich? Well, I happen to have information about a new form of transportation you might be interested in, if you can make the information… worth my while.” Jackasses!
Since new canals leave no debris whatsoever to block your passage, we were able to head through Jim’s Folly immediately, damning whatever environmental consequences we were leaving in our wake. This involved sailing past another New Style bonus dungeon, which for some confounding reason is actually the third of the four dungeons, not the second. In fact, we’ll pass the fourth before we find the second, too! The front door to this bonus dungeon was little more than a whirlpool in the middle of the ocean, so I don’t quite understand why it had to be at this part of the ocean and not any other notable water-feature. I don’t quite know who organized this mash but I have a few choice words for them either way.
Now properly in the ocean, we technically had the freedom to visit most of the planet if it weren’t for the docking restrictions. The docking restrictions in mind, it seemed best to keep on course for the time being, which led us to the town of Melmond where the Earth was dying. This was probably the best example of the four corrupted elements in the entire game, with unique graphics and everything, it’s nice work. We poked around (we had left the walkthrough behind at this point, reasoning that there was no chance of getting lost) and found out that the source of the decay was to the south, at the Cavern of Earth, where the land used to be the most fertile. Also, all this trouble is clearly the fault of a vampire. Why the townsfolk felt the vampire is responsible is not explained. Oh, they knew he existed, and they’re stereotypical like that… erm, I mean they’re “superstitious” like that! What did I say? Whatever: it’s baseless, and the writing looks sloppy for doing it, but in true RPG tradition, it was the only lead we had.