Final Fantasy III – Under the Feet of Giants

kh1-2015-07-17-21h40m03s425Back in the main plot, we took the Lute to Unei and were able to wake her. She got up, and took her parrot onto her shoulder, where it disappeared and was never seen again (not the case in the Famicom version, where it is still visible on her menu sprite). I personally have policies against working with people who erase their pets, but I’m not Luneth and company. Unei then told us we’d have to find the Invincible, a third airship, to carry on with the plot. This one was still being held where the Saronians had unearthed the Nautilus: in the Ancient Ruins west of Saronia.

kh1-2015-07-17-21h41m50s470The only thing preventing our entering the Ruins earlier was a series of boulders, which Unei dealt with by levitating and disposing of. At least, that’s what we saw. What the game said was another matter: that she was colliding them with “dream boulders” and the real and dream boulders were wiping each out like matter and antimatter. And while that was acceptable on its own, it did not explain why she had to float the real ones up to begin with. And if she could levitate them, why not just move the real ones aside? I wouldn’t be overthinking this if you had just had her blow them up or toss them aside, but FFIII went and made it complicated without thinking first! For the record, in combat Unei was a White Mage, with top tier spells Holy (which we saw) and Haste (which we did not).

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h43m56s817The ruins were an ugly place thanks entirely to the local monsters, which were almost all splitters. I mentioned splitters earlier, but it’s time to touch on their mechanics: if a splitter survives any attack not dealt by magic or Dark Swords, they would split into copies with the same remaining HP. On the plus side, the DS game could only support a small number of enemies in battle at a time due to resource limitations, which meant the splitters were far less dangerous than in the original game.  On the other hand, like all FFIII DS enemies, the splitters were now stronger and even more likely to survive an attack and split. Unfortunately, the game had failed to give us even a single Dark Sword up to this point, but we didn’t mind: in a show of foresight, we had started training Luneth as a Dark Knight somewhere between Saronia and today so that he would be ready for just such an occasion. As a result, he could use his Souleater ability to attack the splitters, which helped a great deal all on its own.

Between Luneth’s Souleater and Arc’s spells in general, the dungeon went fairly well, Unei not being much of a help whatsoever. There was actually a small outfitting operation part-way through this dungeon complete with Inn, which was nice, if strange in how they didn’t care that the cave-in have been cleared. This shop reminded me of the shop in Barrel Volcano in Mario RPG, and I mean that in more ways than just a “shops in a dungeon” sense, though I can’t quite put my finger on it.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h44m37s522

Oh, did I mention that the Famicom version has you and your Guest party member sleeping staring lovingly into one another’s eyes? Luneth gets around.

If you asked me, I’d say these shops were the game’s apology for forcing you to fight Splitters without proper Dark Knight equipment (since it was not a very long dungeon and indeed, the inn was near the start and so not really intended as a traditional “rest stop”). The lack of Dark Knight equipment began to try on us before the end: Luneth was in urgent need of proper armour (odd for a guy with a 3D model depicted him in full plate. But wouldn’t you know it, there was no boss here either, though we ran into another Behemoth, this one a King Behemoth and a real problem, if you ask me.

Reaching the Invincible, Unei explained that it could serve as a mobile home base, complete with shops and an inn. This was the first of its kind in the series, and a great idea overall. Unfortunately, the Invincible was the slowest of the airships, and while it could apparently fly over the “highest” mountains, when the game said “highest,” it really meant the shortest mountains. I wish I were making this up, because that’s about as bad a typo as you can make (though it doesn’t top the infamous mistranslation in the first boss fight of FFVII…). The Invincible could only fly over specific short mountains, and it can only do this in the iOS version by tapping the screen when the ship is lined up with the walls, instead of simply letting you go over them without that trouble, like it does water.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h50m42s627

To make matters even worse, in the Famicom version, you can’t tell the mountains apart AT ALL.

This becomes even worse when you realize that you can’t tap the airship itself, because tapping the airship causes you to go back into the airship, and the airship is big enough to make this an issue. As a result, a slip of your finger will cause the game to enter a brief loading transition to get back inside the ship, after which you will have to reload the overworld, after which you’ll try to pass over the rock again… And of course, many of the destinations on this ship are drawn-out rock mazes, so you’re going to have to do this somewhere in the neighbourhood of a dozen times per pass!

Unei left us soon after showing us the Invincible, aiming to help Doga unlock Eureka. And I still don’t care. She left us with another elemental Fang, and said that the four Fangs (for those forgetting, we now had three) could help us break through Xande’s defences: a set of Neverending Story-esque instant-kill statues on the world map. Each Fang would get us past one statue. She told us that the last Fang we would need was held in a place called The Cave of Shadows, which would also be full of even more splitter enemies, what a treat. I say “the last Fang,” but I couldn’t help but notice that since the other three Fangs were acquired automatically, this last one was the only one that really mattered in the first place. You can’t even get past Xande’s first three statues: the first one you come across is the one tied to the last Fang!

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h52m11s387Trying to find the Cave, we passed through one of the rock mazes, only to discover that we had gone the wrong way and found a town full of Dark Knights. Exploring the town, we found a mini-dungeon and also a second cave containing an optional mini-boss, the latter of which caught us at low health. I don’t even remember how we survived that, I know I remembered thinking we’d have to restart god knows how far away. Between the two optional challenges, we were able to outfit Luneth the Dark Knights with some good free swords and some good armour at long last. Heck, we could have done a second Dark Knight if we had wanted. With the Invincible on hand, we considered doing some optional quests for a moment, but decided to push on: walkthroughs had informed us that once we had the last Fang, we could at last reach the Earth Crystal and get our final jobs, and we figured it would be better to gain job EXP for the Earth Crystal jobs than jobs we were going to surrender.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h53m19s913The Cave of Darkness was irritating, not necessarily because of the splitters, but because it held the valuable Genji Equipment. We wanted the Genji equipment, but the dungeon was made up almost entirely of secret passages! Hell, even the main path followed secret passages! We checked online for maps, but no dice! The only maps online were for the Famicom version and they didn’t match up! Kyle practically had to read me through a walkthrough to make sure we didn’t lose any of the Genji items. We were in an odd mood at this point, not unlike our quest for the Airship in FFI: we wanted the new classes before the game robbed us of the advantages of getting them early, and were equally frustrated with our stale current classes. It was time to press on. The boss, Hecatonchier, was a complete pushover, reportedly one of the few that were actually depowered in the remake. We would not be happy with the reason why.

Having found the fangs, Doga and Unei called us back to Doga’s to get the key to Eureka. We did not want the key to Eureka, and so headed past Xande’s defences of our own accord. The statues collapsed before the fangs, and we found our final destination: the Crystal Tower. This was a tower made of Light in the era of the Ancients, who had abused the Light and upset the balance, forcing the world to produce Warriors of Darkness to topple them. Surrounding the tower was a separate dungeon: the Ancient’s Maze. Getting to the top of this final dungeon would be a pain.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h54m43s314Luckily, we knew from the Internet that our current destination, the Earth Crystal, was just inside the Ancient’s Maze, and that we wouldn’t have to go to the Tower at all. Just past the entrance, through the doors straight ahead, lay the Earth Crystal, guarded by a Hecatonchier recolour (already?) named Titan.

This fellow as not as agreeable as his original.

Due to the Quake spell Titan would cast at low health, Titan was in many ways alike to Garuda, able to wipe us out in a few unlucky turns. Like Garuda, he was defeated more by Kyle’s iron tenacity than by any particular strategy, and I’m afraid I can’t chronologue any more specifics,, because there weren’t any more specifics! Kyle did try using Ingus’ Taunt to distract Titan from using Quake, but that just isn’t how Taunt works. Still, Taunt proved a useful way of distracting Titan’s single target attacks, and may have helped with our success.

There was almost no fanfare for the Earth Crystal jobs in-game, the whole thing feeling like an afterthought added into the game at the last minute. As a player, I also didn’t feel it was a good idea to add jobs at the eleventh hour. Speaking from the future, FFV had a much better balance of new jobs, keeping only a few bonus jobs for the eleventh hour. FFIII just looks outright mistaken in hindsight.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h43m40s677Luneth became a Ninja, a class with some of the best weapons (including Dark Swords, but not Ultima Weapon, apparently) and acceptable armour. The classes’ real power was in Throwing items – the ability to discard any item or weapon in the game by chucking it at the enemy. Ninjas also had absurd non-defensive stats. The Ninja was very powerful, so much so that in the original game, the job was sealed in Eureka!

Refia became a Devout, a White Mage upgrade that loses most of their low-level spell casts in exchange for far more high-level spell casts. That’s bad news for between-battle healing, but good for actual danger. Also, the Devout’s hood has cat ears for some reason on Refia and Arc, why is that? Apparently the Cat-Earred Hood has since become a series standard item for White Mages!

Arc became a Summoner. Summoners use Summon magic of course, but not in the same fashion as Evokers. Where Evokers get a sort of random benefit from their spells, Summoners get a powerful Group Attack instead, which has become the franchise’s standard for Summons ever since. Typically when you cast a spell on a group in Final Fantasy, damage is divided amongst the targets. This is not the case with Summon spells (or the Quake spell, for that matter) which instead does identical damage to each target. This generally means that Summons are great on groups but overkill on single targets, where Black Magic might have been a better alternative. Summoners have more magic casts than they really need, not that I’m complaining.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h55m22s198We skipped the Magus, a late-game equivalent to the Black Mage in line with the Devout. While there is an advantage to taking the Magus over the Summoner, we didn’t really feel the punch. The low-level Summons are also simply far more powerful than any other classes’ Level 2-4 spells, and were all available in high cast numbers, giving us a nearly unending arsenal of high-power group attacks. Not to forget the actual high-level spells, which he had in less numbers, but those were boss-killers, so Summoner just made sense!

We also skipped the Black Belt, a late-game Monk upgrade that would have required serious Job Levels to be useful; the Sage, a late-game Red Mage upgrade with access to Evoker spells and almost no casts of anything worthwhile (the Sage in the original game had access to full Summoner spells, making it absolutely OP, and so it was sealed in Eureka). We left Ingus as a Viking, as planned, giving him a massive lead in Job Levels.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h50m31s158From there, we set out to gain what job levels we could scrape by doing side quests. We did small mini-dungeons to acquire high-level summons, for starters. Summons in most Final Fantasy games are earned by defeating the monster you encounter as a bonus boss. The first Summon we found was Odin, a horseman, whom we found in underwater caves under Saronia (indeed, he was in a hidden chamber in Saronia castle itself, which we could only access through a day’s walk through the caves. Yeesh). We never used him with any seriousness, since his attack is an instant kill that only works on normal enemies, hardly something we need in a normal situation.

ffiii-2015-07-17-21h56m17s621We used the Invincible to track down a strange moving shape in a hidden lake on the Floating Continent, which somehow turned out to be an underwater… cave? I mean, we knew from dialogue earlier on that Leviathan had been sealed in the lake by Archmage Noah, but shouldn’t the shape under the water be Leviathan himself, instead of his surroundings? Either way, we found and beat the guy, convincing him to join us. Leviathan is typically the second-best damage Summon in the classic games.

We took a side trip to Gysahl to pick up Magic Keys, and finally, we wrapped things up on the last bonus dungeon on the Floating Continent. This was a tunnel, and at the exit, we found Bahamut, the dragon that had kidnapped us much earlier in the game. Beating him, we completed Arc’s spell set. But the last laugh went to the game: because we fought Bahamut outside, we weren’t able to use Teleport to leave the dungeon, and were forced to walk all the way back through the dungeon to get back to the Airship! ffiii-2015-07-17-21h54m33s235 Prev: Final Fantasy III – Kupo?
Next: Final Fantasy III – Big Bad Warriors of Dark


Screenshots in this Journal come from Valis77’s longplay of the of FFIII Famicom translation by Alex Jackson, Neill Corlett and SoM2Freak. Longplay available from World of Longplays (YouTube).

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