In between sessions, I tried to do a little grinding in the game, though sadly, much of my time was spent backtracking to previous worlds just to buy cheap weapons just to start the grinding thanks to the durability system. Also, I accidentally turned Rei into a Big Eye, an eyeball Monster from worlds and worlds ago with the power to paralyze and nothing else, and had to fight weaker monster groups so that he would even survive the fight to get new Meat! He finally survived a fight and gained the form of a Swallow: a giant moth monster that served quite well for several worlds.
Unfortunately, remember how I mentioned a while ago that we would need to train Agility? I wrote that blog entry after my grind session, so I wasn’t training Agility at the time! What a mess. Thankfully, it had occurred to me to grind AGI once we started playing, so we got Kyle a Laser sword (lightsabre) from Venus’ world and set to work fixing that, but the AGI training ended up taking most of the game! Obviously this was something we were not supposed to ignore early on, or were supposed to ignore and suck up, I can’t decide.
We picked up the game outside the only town in the small seventh world, which was playing host to a dragon race hosted by Apollo. MAGI was on offer as a prize to the first racer to pass each obstacle on the course. In town, we bought some Dragon armour, ensuring some elemental immunity for a while, just like the FFLI days. Unfortunately, the Dragon armour wasn’t end-game defence like in FFLI, but it would last for now.
As to the race, we were allowed to pick our own dragon for a rental fee, but the mechanics are deliberately counter-intuitive. See, there isn’t actually a race. This was a side mode in a Game Boy game, after all, and FFLII is creaking at the limits as-is! Apollo has arranged things like this: there’s MAGI on the course being guarded by monsters. If you pick a fast dragon, you’ll fight the monsters “before” your opponents. If you pick a slow dragon, your opponents will fight the monsters instead, but they also slowly die off as they go. As a result, if you take the slowest dragon, you’ll find your last opponent dead at the end of the track, and the final mid-boss essentially holds all the MAGI (the one it started with and the ones they took off the former winner’s course). The intermediate dragons will have you outpaced by some of the competitors but outpacing the rest. You should decide for yourself whether you want to fight a few or a lot of enemies. These few enemies aren’t that valuable and are probably better skipped, but players with Mutants should consider it, since these monsters are high-levelled and can give you high level abilities.
But wait, there’s more: due to “a quirk in the game” as one walkthrough puts it, the dragon you choose actually changes the MAGI available on the course! It’s practically a glitch because it doesn’t seem like there’s a reason it could happen by design, and yet… I can’t imagine how it could have happened by accident!
Not knowing any of these details at the time, Kyle picked the 800 GP dragon (second-fastest). Arguably, second-slowest would have been better, since the “quirk in the game” would have changed the MAGI to give us an extra Mana MAGI for Liz, but we didn’t know about the quirk at the time. Having picked the second-fastest dragon, we were only able to skip the first midboss, leaving us to fight a pack of giant turtles, Medusae, and of course the final set of enemies. The final obstacle was a group of Watchers, which were the big brothers of Rei’s faulty Big Eye form. Unlike the useless Big Eye, these were incredibly dangerous, able to vaporize the party with a Mana-based move called Beam. Technically, Beam was not that powerful an attack, but that just goes to show how little Mana defence we had between KilB and Kyle!
Still, Liz and Rei survived and Apollo congratulated us at the end, followed by a long pause and then a very reluctant laugh. As Kyle put it: “He’s not really helping in the ‘Getting me to not want to kill him’ books,” and later the, “not being an evil God books.” Yes, friends, I’m afraid the addiction may have returned. During the Mega Man Marathon, we aggressively pursued the Robot Masters until we had killed every last one of them. Then we tried to kill the Mavericks, though were still plenty to go at the time of writing (nowadays, the only surviving Mavericks in the Mega Man Marathon are Mega Man Zero bosses). But for now: we have now become overeager Godslayers.
Official Tally: Chaos, Dark Emperor, Light Emperor, Creator, Ashura (Legends II), Dunatis, Venus. You’re next Apollo.
(I’m counting Chaos because, as far as I understand it, Dissidia treats Chaos as a deity opposite Cosmos. Otherwise I’d just call him a demon. Maybe Dissidia will force me to reinterpret but for now I’m going to inflate our numbers.)
Moving on to the next world, we reached the bane of my childhood playthroughs: Edo. This world is a fantasy Japanese setting, and is the last of the big worlds in FFLII (the last world is also fair-sized, but it’s mostly empty). Edo is also somewhat strange in that it alone has a proper name among the game’s many worlds, but perhaps that’s misleading. “Edo” is the former name of real-world Tokyo, but the occupants of this fictional world use odd phrasing “this Edo,” as though “Edo” meant “world” rather than the name of the world. I was debating how to phrase things myself, until I realized that the teleport spell/item/MAGI call the world “Edo” as well, so I’m going to avoid the integral article.
The primary reason I hate Edo is my own damn fault. Just like how I used to grind in Giant World during past playthroughs, I always tried to grind for cash in Edo. That was an awful idea. Edo exists in one of the worst possible points in the game to grind for cash. Why? It’s simple math. Remember how it took several worlds for Rei’s monster meat to become better? This is because it takes several worlds for the monster level to actually upgrade. Edo is one of the world where monster level goes up. But when the monster level upgrades, the game has to reduce the number of monsters in each fight to make it fair again. As you go through the next few worlds, monster count goes up until the level increases again. It is far more valuable for the player to go back to the previous world and fight less valuable monsters in larger groups, than it is to stay in this world and fight more valuable monsters that are virtually solo. I did not work this out as a kid. If you want to grind for cash, you have to grind back around the dragon town.
The developers were aware of this math, by the way. You can tell, because each of the “new monster level” worlds has a valuable shop to tempt you: Gold Gauntlets appear for sale in World 1, the Giant items in 3, and here in Edo you’ll find the motherlode: Echigoya’s black market shop, with some real game-busters for sale. Echigoya’s is even worse, because it’s only open for a limited time. Thankfully, Kyle made a good judgment call: fuck the black market. We were going to rush the whole world and move on to more lucrative territory. Sometimes that’s what the Marathon is about: using skill and luck to bypass slow sections. Let’s make it happen!
Edo was dominated by a massive Shogunate palace, but the doors were locked and guarded, preventing us from getting in. Kyle didn’t even go to the palace at first, and accidentally arrived at the second of world’s two towns instead. And I do mean “the second,” because the game clearly wasn’t ready for us to be there yet and there was almost nothing for us to do. Kyle didn’t even walk off the beaten path to get there, he just went east instead of south! Nice of the designers to leave us a ghost town. If anything, this confusion helped in one notable way: we bought cheap items at the legitimate shops rather than allow ourselves be tempted by the black market (indeed, some of the black market’s items are found in dungeons to come, enough to outfit one whole Robot, so buying a full party’s worth would be a waste). While we were in the second town, we meet Taro, a samurai and teacher, but we weren’t much able to interact with him. Another character who’s supposed to be there, Kame, didn’t even appear!
Since we clearly had to travel to the first town, we went there straightaway. This town which was built within a separate section of walls connected to the palace. There, we met Echigoya, decided not to buy his illegal crap, and ran into a group of Hatomotos (shogunate samurai) on the town’s bridge. They refused to let us cross. There were only four of them on the overworld cutscene, but eight in the battle. I guess feudal Japanese gangsters multiply asexually? They opened fire with bazookas and closed at us with Katanas, making them an actual legitimate threat, but we survived, and were “saved” out of combat by a detective named Hana, who had the Hatamotos running scared. Glad to know our ripping them to shreds with our weapons had no psychological impact?
We tracked Hana back to her place in the second town, where she confirmed some local rumours about her father being killed while investigating Echigoya for smuggling, and that she had taken a job as detective to finish the job. She asked our kind party of heavily armed strangers for assistance in her investigation. Ma’am, the Killbot 9000’s middle name is “legitimate investigation!” We headed back to Echigoya, and just after Kyle said “I wish we could just mug the guy,” we totally just mugged the guy! Echigoya confessed that a shipment was coming in that very day at the port.
We found the ship, and also Hana’s… assistant? Butler? Whatever his job, his name was Kame, a turtle Monster, who told us she had gotten on the ship but refused to say which dock the ship was on despite the entire area being flooded with random encounters. Sometimes you just have to wonder why your characters can’t see past the edge of the screen, you know? On the ship, we found Hana, who had been rescued from Echigoya’s thugs by Taro, also offscreen. She explained that we could go straight to court with this ship full of evidence. Echigoya isn’t getting away this time, she declared, because the ship was full of terrible, evil… bananas!
Oh, did I forget to mention that the localization team didn’t just censor the idea of your dad leaving your family to start a second, but also censored the term “opium” to “bananas?” And that the characters in the game can’t even make up a good excuse for this to be true? If I weren’t ten years too familiar with this, this plot point would be right up there as one of the silliest things in the series. Illegal bananas. As it stands it’s just, oh, #4 or so.
We worked our way back out of the ship (oh, to be in a game with an Exit spell!) and on the way, tried out Hana’s moveset. Being inspired by a famous, Japanese fictional character, Zenigata Heiji, Hana used her trademark Coin, which you’d think the designers would have gone to the trouble of making useful, but did not. It really did seem to be no more dangerous than actually flicking a coin at a late-game monster. She also had “Temptat,” which could charm opponents (apparently seduction skills are something you can buy at a store – like punching!). We did not know that when we used it, however, and tried out its Temptation powers on a snake monster. After successfully seducing the snake, Hana presumably called up Firion to tell him she had found him a date.
Joking aside, what is with this game and giving you partners that are either useless or so strong they wipe the board clean on their own? They’re perfectly capable of making Guest party members that were appropriate for the world (they’re arguably best when they’re just a bit stronger than you): Dad and Mask both qualify, Ki probably would have been fine on World 2 and she was certainly close to World 2. But Mr. S and the guy who joins next are so OP that it takes away the challenge, and Lynn and Hana are outright failures. Did a programmer change the mechanics of Lynn’s martial arts and Hana’s Coin when the designers weren’t looking? Did that same programmer just… crank the next guy’s numbers?
We took Hana to the court, south of the palace, where the Judge had his deputies brought in Echigoya and checked the banana ship. Unfortunately, it turned out the whole court system was crooked and the deputies hid the evidence instead. When we returned to Hana’s home in failure, Kame came in wounded, having tried to investigate Echigoya himself, only to get jumped by some black market guards. One of the deputies followed Kame to arrest him on a legitimate breaking and entering charge, but Taro shoved Kame under Hana’s bed at the last minute, and the deputy somehow failed to notice the trail of blood leading from the door to the nonchalant, whistling man at the back of the room. The best part was how the party, represented on-screen by KilB, sat down at Hana’s table in an effort to look casual, as if Hana had just sat down with the Killbot 3000 and its bristle of swords and grenade launchers, for tea.
Our party decided to do something on its own for once and… can I please emphasize just how bonkers this is? Throughout this entire game the party has built up from small town destined heroes to sci-fi/fantasy godslayers that honestly, truly were bristling with swords and festooned with heavy firearms, and on top of that, magic. This investigation plot just seems… tonally inappropriate? In an internally consistent game, you can do odd plots like this no matter how many supervillains you’ve killed. But once you go completely gonzo, the plots have to stay gonzo or they fall short. This episode of Law and Order: Feudal Japan is bizarre, sure, but too small-scale! This could have worked in some other game, and it might even work if you think of it in isolation, but in the context of the main game, we have walked up to and shot multiple gods in the face before coming here, and have taken their powers from their still-warm corpses and hung them about our neck like gristly trophies, and you want us to busting banana smugglers? The only way this Law and Order plot is going to be appropriate to the setting is if we burst into this salesman’s office is if he whips out a Vulcan cannon and starts opening fire in return.
Which he can totally do! But he didn’t, we blew him up with rocket launchers before he had a chance, because this situation is complete overkill. (His one turn spent alive was wasted hitting us with an abacus instead. The abacus is a strength weapon (?) that only he can drop, but he didn’t. What a weird little footnote on a weird little scenario.)
Before we blew Echigoya’s office to smithereens, we overheard a meeting between him and the local “Sho-Gun,” who was masterminding the Chiquita Underground to make money for his personal MAGI hunt! The Sho-Gun escaped (no doubt through a hole we made in the wall) and fled to his palace. When we returned to Hana’s house, this news was enough to stir Taro to action: he revealed himself as the last of the Guardians, and on learning that Dad/Captain had died and that we were his protégés, he joined up with us to take out the Sho-Gun. As I’ve already implied, Taro was OP, with higher stats than some of our party members at the end of the game. He also had a Muramas, one of the series’ most powerful weapons, like it was no big thing (for good reason: this was the first game in the series to include the Muramasa and they hadn’t yet made it a super weapon). He even had a Cure spell book. I’d have paid for him to stick around, though I’m not sure what a noble guy like him would think about that.
The Sho-Gun’s palace was a long dungeon, and sadly one of the last ones we bothered to search without a map before losing patience entirely. Still, we got to the top and fought the man, who proved completely harmless. He only got off a single Riddle attack before dying. In reality, the true villain was his demon/New God? father, identified only as “Magnate.” Magnate killed Sho-Gun and took the fight to the roof, where, I knew from experience, you could fight the corner statues as powerful bosses called “Dolphins,” at only this point in the game. And for no good reason, either, as they don’t even have any powerful drops! They’re so tough that when I showed Kyle the easter egg, the Dolphin practically destroyed us and we had to reload our save!
Magnate was incredibly powerful in his own right. He opened with magical powers which nearly wiped us out (Thunder, the damnable legacy of Garuda from FFIII!), but luckily for us, we had picked up a “Tank,” weapon earlier in Edo, and installed it as part of KilB. This was not just a Tank cannon, but an entire literal tank (you thought I was kidding in the scene with the tea!) and if you used it, you gain a high chance of blocking melee attacks, because you’re in a tank! Have I emphasized that yet? Unfortunately for the Magnate, he followed up his magic by spending almost all of his turns smacking a sword into the front of an armoured vehicle as it shot him in the face. That didn’t go so well for him.
After the fight, Taro left the party, having fallen for Hana (unable to even speak in front of her, forcing our party to say it out loud. Because we’re the kind of folks you want to do your matchmaking). We headed out refreshed, but I’m afraid to say that while this was my first ever safe and breezy trip through Edo, it was all downhill from here.
This journal’s screenshots come from me! You’ll see! You’ll all see!