Final Fantasy Legend II – Dammit, stand still and let me murder you!

fflii-2015-10-28-15h45m32s446After wiping the goblin blood off our MAGI, we returned to Ki to find her unconscious, the MAGI in her body agitated by Ashura’s invasion force or… something. Why didn’t they just take the stuff and leave? According to Ki’s assistant healer, we would have to retrieve the MAGI ourselves or Ki would die, so it was time for our party to go full-on Trauma Center on our patient. KillBot 5000! Get the good knife!

Just then, Ki’s assistant gave us a piece of MAGI. God knows where it came from, though it was clear it existed to prevent us from racing off to the next world without checking on this plot development. You see: the Pillar of Sky and certain other doors just happened to be locked until you reach a certain MAGI count, even though other people can move up and down it as they please. It’s painfully artificial. The assistant advised we talk to the Giants of World 3, who would know how to micronize, so we could shrink down inside of Ki’s body along and stop Ashura’s forces on the inside. Oh, is that the plan, then? Ugh, fine. Put down the laser, KilB, we’re not doing the Trauma Center plan. It’s a Fantastic Voyage plot instead. We did as we were told, and found ourselves in the third world, just outside the mammoth walls of a Giant Town.

A small settlement of Human/Mutant/Monster/Robot-sized folk had been built by the gates of the Giant Town. Inside the town, we found new shops, as well as a “Giant Shop” selling overpowered and overpriced items we couldn’t afford. We made a mental note to come back here later in the game, just in case they don’t reappear in shops (back in The Day, I actually grinded to buy some of the Giant items! Good items, but none worth the grinding effort at this point in the game. And before you say anything: nope, the bonus stats from grinding won’t help much. Remember: stats are gained based on the level of your enemies, not flat EXP, and unfortunately the enemies here in World 3 are not much more useful than the ones back in World 2). We also met a man named Johnny who was drinking his sorrows away, partially because the townsfolk had decided he was a Giant shrunk down and had thus ostracized him. In a world where your cousin is a Robot, your daughter a sentient toad and two of your exes were openly called “Mutants,” I think that’s an oddly specific form of racism, but there you go.

fflii-2015-10-28-15h52m35s112Searching town a little more, we found a path through the trees, and there, more important than our other finds, we found Kyle’s Dad.

Dad was glad and surprised to see us, but refused to come home. Delighted that we were collecting the MAGI, he once again gave us one (this is not responsible parenting!) and headed out, saying he can’t come home until all the MAGI are secure for good. The player character agreed to help make that happen, and Dad once again vanished.

Leaving aside subjects of parental abandonment (and you may laugh, but that is a major theme of the game, especially in the Japanese version, blowing the slapdash story of FFIII completely out of the water), we continued through the forest path and found a back door to the overpriced Giant Shop from earlier. Startling the owner, we got him to confess as to his source for the Giant items. He explained that Johnny brought them in, which at least explains that wonky rumour about the guy. We talked to Johnny, and he admitted there was a secret passage into town in one of the two cliff-like staircases into Giant Town. He even gave us a bonus tip when we told him (on our second attempt…) that we didn’t believe he was a giant. What a guy! Too bad I hate him for looting all the free Giant items before we could get to them!

fflii-2015-10-28-15h55m12s481The Giant Town segment is one of the game’s most memorable segments (though second to the Fantastic Voyage scene to come), spent crawling over giant furniture to find treasure. Real-world Kyle found two more scraps of MAGI in town, which were required to unlock a… mouse hole?… in one of the houses, which must have been chewed out by a mouse the size of a tanker truck. On the table in that house we found an item called “Micron” that the Giants had apparently used to become Human-sized and disappear long ago. We picked up the thing and took it back to the Temple on World 1. This is a lot of back and forth you’re making us do, FFLII. I’m glad you stop after world 6, but it probably would have been better if you had stopped here, instead!

fflii-2015-10-28-15h56m17s430We entered Ki’s body, one of the more remarkable moments of the game, and holy hell these monsters are caustic! I don’t remember them being this dangerous in any of my failed attempts to beat the game in the past. The monsters were a mix of World 2 and 3 monsters sent by Ashura, and also a set of cells and viruses. The combined enemy force had far too many group attacks for my liking, and worse the cells and viruses had attacks that ignored Defence entirely as they tried to digest you. Never you mind their sheer numbers (FFLI and FFLII use a Phantasy Star-style first person perspective where each enemy on-screen typically represents a number of enemies as indicated on the GUI). These enemy groups necessitated the use of KilB’s shiny and new SMG and Liz’s Ice spells, since both could attack every member of a group. Thankfully, KilB was immune to the group attacks thrown by one monster, but that was the closest thing we had to a saving grace.

During this area, Liz finally woke up and began to gain stats, but it was a little too late. She was still the weakest member of the party, but she was also the fastest. This meant we were relying on her to put paid to dangerous enemy groups with her Ice spell. If only her Mana would rise!

fflii-2015-10-28-15h57m39s925We plucked Magi from each of Ki’s extremities, as well as from her digestive system and properly four-chambered heart (these maps are really lovingly rendered, take a look). There was only one MAGI remaining, held in Ki’s brain. This uncomfortable brain surgery was made even more uncomfortable by some of Ki’s own “Phagocyt” cells, who were guarding the MAGI and essentially functioned as a boss. One downside to FFLII’s set encounters with “minor” enemies is that their number is always randomized. You could end up fighting one Phagocyt, three, seven, or even nine. We got on the high end, and they nearly melted the party in half.

Ki, depowered but all right, was able to recover, and wished us well on the rest of our journey. Which raises a good question: where now? With Ashura dead, Ki recovered and Dad having told us off, we actually don’t have an active plot for the first time in the game. It only stands to reason to climb the Pillar of Sky and go exploring, but I have to say how odd it is to be hanging here all of a sudden. It just so happens that right now I’m reading a recent translation of the 1001 Nights, and reached the first point when Scheherazade is not telling a story nested within her original story. All around me the plots are ending after such long runs. What does it mean?

With no choice but to proceed for the sake of proceeding, we moved on to World 4, which lacks any sort of general theme. Legends II has two kinds of worlds: spotlight worlds like 3, where there is only one thing to do and your task is to work out how to go about it, and also full worlds ala FFLI. But remember! Full worlds “ala FFLI” still means smaller worlds than the average Final Fantasy game. World 4’s lack of focus could  be blamed on this very phenomenon: World 4 seems like an entire game’s world shrunk down to the minimum possible size. Within its borders are two towns, one castle, three dungeons and three quests, and even though each element is practically in the back yard of the others, NPCs act as though they were as far away as cities and dungeons in any other RPG. If you like content for content’s sake, World 4’s fantastic. If you like cohesion, World 4 feels like twelve different fish packed in a sardine can.

fflii-2015-10-28-16h05m14s119Work starts when you leave the Pillar of Sky and find a palace belonging to a New God, Apollo. Apollo thanks you for destroying Ashura (it seems nobody liked the guy) and, perhaps wary of your reputation as a godslayer, he hands one of the MAGI over as a gesture of good faith. I feel like I’m playing some real high-roller politics all of a sudden. I love it (I hear the 16-bit Romancing SaGa does politics a lot, I really need to play those games). On top of that, he even gives you a riddle pointing you toward the remaining nine MAGI on his world: one set of three is to be found “where flame burns under water,” one set is “where darkness shines,” and one set is where there is wind underground, or something to that effect. We took them in the order I presented, though the player can freely choose between the water-fire quest and the underground wind quest at the outset. The one about darkness is locked.

fflii-2015-10-28-16h06m20s211

The game submerges you a split second later, but I wanted to capture this because the very concept is just so silly.

Heading south and east-ish, we found a port town and headed in for the usual exploration (during which we found no boats. Indeed, despite this being a port town, there were no boats on the entire planet). We found that the town to the south was populated by people obsessed with the legend of Neptune. Neptune was a god they claimed was disrupting their trade, who would occasionally turn the ocean red. Countering the rumours, a “Scholar” hanging out in the bar (a reliable place to track down academics) said that this wasn’t true and that “Neptune” was really an undersea volcano! Well that answers the water-fire riddle, doesn’t it?

Another person mentioned the myth of someone walking into the water after they fell in love with a mermaid, which was probably there to coax us into doing just that, as it works perfectly. You just… waltz into the sea. Strange that that one myth would be true and the Neptune myth not, considering that Gods do exist in this world but the myth that turns out to be true is the one about breathable water. And this from a series that one had a whole subquest about getting a boat-island, and then finding a seed that would, yes, let you breathe underwater! Nice wavy water effect for a GB title, by the way.

In town we mostly avoided the shop (though I do remember collapsing into it with a Blinded party member later on, desperately searching for eyedrops), as we were saving our pennies in hopes of buying Giant Equipment on the previous world. As a result, we often fell prey to the monsters in this world. Or at least that’s what we felt. With hindsight, the game may have simply been accelerating into hard mode from Ki’s Body onwards. That matched much better with my experiences with the game in the past, and wasn’t very reassuring, as I had never been able to beat the game in the past…

fflii-2015-10-28-16h07m58s790

This scene is rather visually impressive, with both animated lava and an “underwater” distortion across the screen, which you can’t quite make out thanks to the static screenshot.

Underwater, we found the subaquatic volcano and headed inside through a cave at its base. Despite being an undersea volcano, the monsters involved were not very threatening and about the only commentary I have to give was that Kyle and I were beginning to tire of Rei. Rei’s current Monster form had long-since worn out its welcome but there was no meat we could eat that would make things any better (I mean that literally: after consulting the charts at AMuseum, it was clear we were stuck with shitty monsters until the next world). That’s one of the many downsides about Monsters in this game: they’re going to “lurch” like that, their power entirely tied to the world. Once you enter the next tier of monsters, you get a power boost and end up ahead for a while, but things aren’t going to get any better until the game gives you better monsters on a later world, and many of the worlds are stocked with monsters whose meat is from the same tier as the previous world! Even when you do go up a tier, you can only expect stats to rise about 5 to 10 point a jump, where “10” is good but “5” is useless to you, considering the enemy monsters have also grown more powerful. Frankly, I can’t recommend FFLII’s Monsters at all, but this game has a staunch fan community and I’m sure they could tell you how to get the most out of them.

One of the MAGI we found in the set at the end of the Volcano was TrueEye, the MAGI we’d need to solve the light-dark riddle. We left the dungeon through the volcano’s caldera, which makes some sense, though if you think about it, why couldn’t we have swam in through the top in the first place? No ships, breathable, you can’t swim vertically… this water isn’t even real, is it?

fflii-2015-10-28-16h09m18s524Done with the sea, we went to a cave east of town, which was… strange, filled with weird animated floor tiles. That’s not all it was filled with: there was also a strange, alien white light that filled the place, but we were able to see through it with the TrueEye MAGI. The dungeon was simple in terms of layout, but its powerful monsters got quickly out of hand (you could argue that since this dungeon requires TrueEye, we were supposed to go here third instead of second). It was also the longest dungeon to date. Partway up, I urged Kyle to press on rather than retreat to an inn, as we had to be close to the end, but I was completely wrong. I wonder where we might be today if I hadn’t done that and we had grinded a little, the next world treated us even worse.

From there, we headed north, and found another town. There, the barista said that “you” looked a lot like “Lynn’s” dad. This person was ostensibly talking Kyle, but remember that FFLII normally treats the party leader as the subject of any conversation, ergo they were actually talking to the Killbot 5000, who I’m sure looks a great deal like Lynn’s biological father (actually, this conversation would be true of the main character were a Robot, so maybe there is such a thing as “family resemblance” in Robots?). We learned more about this “Lynn” from a Monster at the north end of town, who wondered if they could help out Lynn and her mother: apparently Lynn’s mother is ill and her father has scarpered, much like your own. Further explanation proved that Lynn was also gone, ran off to the northern caves to find a potion for her mother’s illness. This cave was another subject of discussion in town: once again, the people in town talked about a God Who Was Probably Not A God, this time Dunatis, a Gaulish god. A scholar assured us that “Dunatis” was just wind blowing through tunnels to make a scary sound. Simple enough, and check three on the last riddle.

fflii-2015-10-28-16h10m19s176The tunnels to the north were guarded, firstly, by a simple and clever trick that would later be used in A Link to the Past of all things. At one point in LttP, on Death Mountain, you can enter a prominent cave and find a pit blocking your access, but on the opposite side of the pit you can spot a Piece of Heart and one of those tablets that let you talk to Sahasrahla. These items are placed to draw your eye, and are there to inform you that there must be another entrance to the caves on the overworld (specifically, you have to jump off a ledge to find the right cave entrance). The same was true here: we found a dead-end pit, but saw a staircase on the opposite end to draw our eye. The game was even kind enough to give us a chest at our dead end! Back to the overworld we went after a perfunctory search for secret passages. We eventually found the second entrance at the north side of the mountains, and from there delved into the caves.

At the bottom of the caves we found and slipped down a slide, and at the bottom found Lynn, a young girl (anywhere between eight and twelve) who explained that the slide prevented any of us from leaving the caves the way we had come. We’d have to look for another exit. We found an Elixir down there (pardon: “Elixier.” You’d think a game desperate to curb character count would check its spelling) and wondered if that might be the potion she was looking for, but this turned out not to be the case. Instead, we found the end of the caves… and Dunatis, who was very real this time.  He was arguably even a god: specifically, Dunatis was a MAGI-enhanced Robot set to guard the exit.

fflii-2015-10-28-16h10m47s693We fought Dunatis. Poor Lynn proved useless with her Martial Arts moveset. If you don’t remember from FFLI, Martial Arts get stronger as you get “experience” using them (aka, as their durability dries up, which is silly). Since Lynn was spawned with her martial arts at full durability (probably a system limitation) she was incapable of harming the boss. I suppose we could have burned up her uses in the caves, but what a bore! Dunatis hit very hard and was destroyed not a moment too soon, and dropped the MAGI that had been powering him.

Fun fact: Dunatis is actually a top-ranked monster, and I mean “top” without exaggeration: his challenge level is for some reason marked as strong as end game monsters. If we had saved scummed, Liz could have potentially learned any skill in the game from this guy. Too bad I had forgotten about that, as save-scumming’s generally Marathon fair play!

fflii-2015-10-28-16h11m28s697

I’m so ashamed of my father hanging out in the same place as me!

With Dunatis gone, we returned Lynn home only to find Kyle’s character’s Dad waiting there for us. The scene that followed had been censored. In the Japanese version, the lead character puts the evidence together in his head, concluding that Dad must be Lynn’s father, meaning that Dad abandoned their old family for this new one. Naturally, the lead character storms off. In the English version, the lead character calls Dad a bum for no reason, and leaves. Another strange detail in the English version (though maybe this is true of the Japanese): if you go back in, you’re told that there’s a misunderstanding on the spot? In this version, the explanation is that Dad has been helping Lynn’s family through hard times after the actual husband/father, a member of the Guardians, was lost in the line of duty. This is still true in the Japanese, I’m just not sure it’s told to you this early, when your father’s status is supposed to be in doubt. Either way, the gang decides to continue hunting MAGI instead of returning home and giving up on Dad, because what the hell else is there to do?

(Weird fact: in FFLII, Lynn seems to be a young child, which arguably doubles as an explanation for her martial arts deficiencies. In SaGa 2 DS, she seems to be a teen or preteen! This makes the idea of your dad having a double life a lot more confusing, and I’m not sure I agree with the change!)

fflii-2015-10-28-16h12m28s306At that point we were finished with World Four, and there was no real fanfare leading us out. Kyle expected a boss fight with Apollo (a townsperson had suspected Apollo of being evil for no good reason, and when there’s no good reason for doing something in a game, you know it must be true!) but Apollo had already left! Jerk! Not letting us kill him! Who does that?

Prev: Final Fantasy Legend II – Save the World: Abandon Your Child
Next: Final Fantasy Legend II – “Disappearing Dad” is a running theme


This journal’s screenshots come from me! The Master of Monochrome!!

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