The next world was home to one thing only: the Nasty Dungeon. This dungeon contained piles of super-items, but they weren’t exactly unguarded. The only mandatory item in the dungeon was the Pegasus MAGI right at the entrance, which is found next to a Fairy who tells you to go away with the MAGI if you value your life. This MAGI is required to proceed up the Pillar of Sky, but also has its own powers. It could teleport us to any world at a whim, even allowing us a quick exit from dungeons. The power to warp out of dungeons also limited the risk of going into the Nasty Dungeon just to see what you could grab, but I have to emphasize how poorly the dungeon went for us.
The enemies in this bonus dungeon started off as monsters from the next world in higher numbers, which were hardly a threat but quickly exhausted our weapon durability. Our plan was to run from as many battles as possible to avoid this exact snag, but no luck. Our goal was short-sighted: we would go deep enough to find such-and-such an item, and then decide if we should stick around to find another. The trouble started when we discovered a second set of monsters that replaced the original set half-way through the dungeon. They arrived just in time for us to run out of ammo and durability, making things even worse! As salt on the wound, our excursions only netted us two serious items, which could also be found in the next few dungeons, rendering our effort pointless!
It’s hard to tell how the game expected us to respond to the Nasty Dungeon. Except for Echigoya, who was now shut down, the game has not started selling Tents and won’t do so again until two worlds from now. A long trip into the deep isn’t really viable without them. Were we supposed to skip the dungeon entirely? Leave after the first half and its weaker monsters and come back with Tents? One way or another, we left with some good armour, and using the Meat in this dungeon we were able to upgrade Rei from the ghost-type Monster he had become in Edo to a Lamia in the upper levels and eventually a Naga in the lower, probably our only solid return from the Nasty Dungeon.
Headed on to the next world, figuring we were doing okay, and for a while, it seemed like we were right. The next world was Valhalla, the domain of Odin, whose fortress spanned the gap between two clouds. There was no way past but to enter. The monsters were a breeze after the Nasty Dungeon, but since we were now in the habit of running and were more than irritated with random encounters, we continued to run, and this was probably not a good idea. As Kyle said: “We’re at this point again: the point where we just give up and want it over with.” It’s a phenomenon that seems to hit towards the end of a Marathon run, when we get burned out on the game. Sorry, FFLII, but if it helps, you’re not alone: it happened every other game to date, so you’re in good company.
Odin was waiting for us in the same room he always was when we died, and he asked us if we were ready to fulfill our promise to fight him. Our characters, echoing the super-mercenaries from FFLI who were concerned with nothing but themselves, insisted that this was a bad idea not because they didn’t want to kill Odin, but because they wouldn’t be revived any more without his help. Lovely. Of course, Kyle and I were just perfectly happy to Godslay him and take his MAG—
Oh, shit, he totally blew us off the map. But generously enough, he revives you even from that. How… uh… generous of you! (KilB, get the guns.)
The trouble with Odin starts with his backup. He’s assisted by Sleipnir, and also two “OdinCrows” (Huginn and Muginn are actually ravens), the latter of which can pummel the party with Tornado, so much like a certain FFIII experience that I wanted to scream. Dammit, Garuda, stay dead! (And did I mention that Garuda himself shows up as a monster in this game? And yes, he has Thunder.) To repeat: both “Crows” have a group attack, Sleipnir has Flame, which is also a group attack, and even if you cleared them out like the Cloud of Darkness’ right tentacle, Odin himself also has a group attack, and his so strong that it was hard for Kyle-the-character to survive it at full health. We made it after three tries, but barely.
It helped that Kyle-the-player worked out that I had made a critical mistake in how we were using one of our MAGI. I’m referring to a MAGI we had taken from Venus: Aegis, which gave us immunity to elemental spells but had to be actively used in battle. I had made the mistake of thinking that Aegis works like a shield, and only grants immunity during the turn in which it’s used. As a result, we had been locking Rei down to use it every turn, but thankfully, Kyle realized that Rei only had to use it once to get the bonus! Aegis was a great help: with it in place Odin got much easier, though Odin could still spear us with his Gungnir if he wanted to. I think we really have improved our odds if we had more HP on Liz, but I’m afraid that that never really came. Indeed, I don’t think she gained any HP after Edo, maybe even after the Dragon Race, for the entire game. It was pathetic. Our skipping enemy fights in the later dungeons didn’t help, but I have a reason for blaming the game, which you’ll see down the line.
With Odin dead, we took his MAGI, including the attack MAGI Masmune, leaving us short 1 of the fabled 77. We descended the Pillar of Sky in the next world and arrived in “Final World,” where we quickly found another Pillar with Apollo waiting at its base. Of course, he turned on us, holding the last MAGI for himself (presumably he had given up the rest in the Dragon Race). Hoping to strong-arm the MAGI from us, Apollo summoned two giant birds called “Minion” to do it, though when the fight began there was only one of them. So if Hatamoto’s reproduce asexually, do Minions have a comically low shelf life? By the way, this giant bird was kind of a strange excuse for a boss, just in general. Keep in mind that up until this point, FFLI and II have been incredibly frugal with bosses, usually just using minor enemy recolours to avoid overpacking the memory. Why make this giant chicken so special? (More translation fun: the game mistranslates here, having Apollo call the giant chicken “my man,” instead of “Minion.” “My man!” It’s like he’s bros with this gargantuan turkey).
The giant chicken boss did not go so well for Apollo. Once it was dead, he resorted to extortion: he revealed that he had kidnapped pretty much everyone important to us, and also Leon. Apollo threatened to kill them if we didn’t hand over the MAGI. Our friends even got custom sprites of them huddling in terror, what a delight! Of course the party gave up the MAGI, and Apollo fled up the Pillar with the full set. But we weren’t out of luck yet, as who should show up but Dad, somehow perfectly alive. Kyle’s inter-dimensional attack theory makes pretty much the only possible sense at this point. Dad informed us that the “fact” that there were 77 MAGI was a false rumour started by the Guardians, and that there was one last MAGI hidden deep inside the “Final Dungeon” on this very world. We were going to fetch it and go after Apollo.
We hit the town and stocked up, trying to make up with our recent god relic-based power drop. We noted that the shop sold Door items to make up for our recently gained and even more recently lost Pegasus MAGI, which was a nice touch as we weren’t able to use the Pillar of Sky any longer, since the old MAGI requirements were still in place (other shops in the game start selling Doors now, too, to make sure you can get back). We also got the chance to buy Tents, at long last, buyable Elixiers, which were just nowhere near as useful now that we had Tents! Our primary purchase was a set of weaponry for a certain plan we had in mind for the long term, but we’ll get to that. On top of all this good news, Dad came heavily armed, but he ran a serious risk of running out of his durability in the next, extra-long dungeon.
Since I knew how long the dungeon really was, Kyle and I mostly ran from fights to keep our weapon durability up (especially Dad’s, since it’s so hard to modify a Guest character’s equipment in this game). We wanted the game over with, as we said earlier. Near the end of the dungeon, we found XCalibr, a group attack sword with infinite durability. We gave this weapon to KilB, and retrofitted him with Dragon Swords we had purchased in town, even though we had no plan on using them. Why? Simply carrying the Dragon swords gave us a Strength boost, which resulted in XCalibr damage in the mid-thousands. That would be more than enough for any normal enemy we hit and still outclassed the others on bosses.
Unfortunately, the enemies were still in high numbers, still had spells of their own, and KilB’s Agility sucked without the Speed MAGI he had been relying on for most of the game, so and he always struck last. We considered getting him Agility weapons, but ultimately chose to leave him as an (excuse me) tank, since he was doing such a good job of keeping the others protected. The enemies’ magical advantage was also offset by our use of Dragon armour on Kyle and full-body Parasuits on KilB and Liz, giving us hefty elemental protection, but Dad and Rei were exposed, and the cost of healing Dad and Rei them was prohibitive. Maybe we should have brought more Tents. Maybe we should have bought nothing but Tents and Dragon Swords: we had oceans of cash after Valhalla and the Nasty Dungeon, and there was nothing else to buy!
At the end of the dungeon, we fought “WarMach,” the third and final incarnation of FFI’s original superboss, WarMech. Despite all our running from combat, the WarMach fight didn’t go that badly, and we even survived him trying to nuke us. I’d say our MVP in the fight was KilB: this was the first boss in a while that did not use magic, so WarMach could not wipe KilB out with its group attacks. Our prize was the Heart MAGI, which could revive a party member from death in the middle of battle, and was the only thing in the game that can do so (some walkthroughs claim a certain Monster could do the same, but we got that Monster and its ability didn’t work that way!). Unfortunately, Heart could only work once in between recharging with Inns/Tents/Elixiers, so we would have to use it carefully.
We stocked up in town (again, should have bought another Tent) and made our way to the Pillar of Sky, which led us to the entrance to the Central Shrine in the middle of the Celestial World. Inside, we found Apollo, who bragged about having already used the MAGI to become all-powerful. He then sat around as we attacked him, boasting about his imminent omnipotence (imagine actually doing that, just standing still as people cleave swords through you). He used Aegis to block most of our attacks, but a few could get through, like Liz’s Psi gun and XCalibr. Finally, the MAGI’s effect came in and he transformed into an armoured form, giving up Aegis in favour of alternating his attacks between Masmune and his new ability to cast Flare. Flare was A Serious Problem™. It’s been a while, but if you’ve forgot, Flare is the strongest Black Magic spell in most of the games, and in Legends, it’s an group attack. Within a few rounds, KilB would be assuredly dead, every time, no matter what we did to protect him. Kyle would never survive the first Flare, and Liz never lasted much longer than that.
I have to outline where the party stood at this point to help you understand what happens from here on out. While everything had been peachy through WarMach, when we got to Apollo we took a careful look at our stats and found that Kyle had become pathetic somewhere after Edo. Some of the blame for that could and should be placed on our inopportune obsession with Agility training, but not all of it, especially not his lack of HP. Liz was similar in terms of HP, but her Mana was high enough that she didn’t outright stink (her Mana was better before we had to remove her Hecate shoes for her Parasuit, but her terrible HP, 400-500, demanded the defence of the Parasuit). Rei was in serious need of an upgrade, but the game would not provide better meat until after Apollo, so frankly we counted our blessings that his Naga form could survive Flare and cast Cure, and so kept him where he was. In the end, only Dad and KilB were in “good shape,” and I’ve already talked about how well that was going for KilB. Rei and Dad. Could we really beat Apollo with two struggling party members and a single use of Heart? It seemed only grinding could save us now.
But there was some hope. Apollo has more HP than any boss in the game, because you’re not supposed to beat him (if you’re spectacular, you can, but it’s hardly required). All you’re supposed to do is survive twelve turns with him, of which I think only seven have him fighting back, but man do they last forever. After twelve turns, Apollo begins to… melt, since he didn’t have all 78 MAGI. We finally lasted out the fight after seven, maybe as many as ten attempts, and even this was to-the-wire. Apollo gets off one more Flare at that point, and after that he explodes. If Dad is alive when Apollo explodes, he shields a party member from the explosion but dies in the process. If Dad is not alive at this point, along with someone for him to rescue (Rei, in this case) then you lose. Lovely. You know what, even though Apollo exploded, I’m still going to count that one as one of our godkills.
I really have to emphasize how stupidly hard this fight is: even the cheating Game Shark party I was using for screenshots could barely deal with this. Oh, they could essentially never die since their HP was something like 15k, but Dad can easily die because his stats are locked in position, and he has to survive to get through the fight. This means the problem applies to everyone who will ever play the game, no matter their skill level. Furthermore, even with maxed defence, Apollo’s damage output is in the 600s. Dad and the main party will be lucky to have seven hundred HP! It’s a joke!
This journal’s screenshots come from me! You will be swept up in my monochrome wave!