Our Job-changing decisions delayed, we pushed on to the new meteorite and found a door in it. Inside, a small series of chambers lead to a teleport pad, which spat us out on a far western continent, inside another meteor! Which raises the question: was that the point of those teleporters? I’ll jump ahead a lot to say that no, no they actually aren’t explained later, at least not to the degree I’d like. Sure, there’s a reason there are teleporters in these two meteors, but there’s no story reason for them to lead to one another, of all things.
We headed out the western meteor and found us in the land of Karnak, which in a surprising moment of worldbuilding, seemed to be named after the Naks, a sort of wild dog that roamed the countryside as wandering monsters (and taught us a useless scrap of Blue Magic). This is the part of the game where Blue Magic started picking up, which was kind of ironic considering it’s about where we stopped being a Blue Mage. Across the continent and near a bay was the town of Karnak, and its castle. Interesting theme song in Karnak (shared with the ship graveyard, but I noticed it here because it was so unusual for a town theme): great percussion, but awful synth horns in the iOS version. Lava was everywhere in town – guess what Crystal was stored in the castle? If you looked at the lava and said “Fire,” you’re right! If you looked at the lava and said “Earth,” you’re a geologist!
In Karnak, we learned… well not much, actually. See, we heard that the locals were using the Fire Crystal to forge (relatively) powerful weapons for cheap, and we had just bought an item when guards from the nearby castle stormed in to arrest us. Yeah, turned out shopping was the trigger for the event, so we never got to explore the town! It would seem we were spotted leaving the meteor, and since the people of Karnak had made the rational conclusion that the meteors were responsible for the monsters and whatnot, they decided that we must be involved. A werewolf had also been seen coming out of the meteor, which we assumed at the time was Lone Wolf, though we later found out we were mistaken. We were sealed up below the castle, where we brooded for a while in our memories of Shining Force 2, before being sort-of rescued by the local Cid.
Main Series Cid #4, aka Cid Previa, was an inventor, and he blasted a hole through the walls from his cell to ours in a fouled attempt to blow out the outside wall, proving once and for all that NPCs can’t actually see the world from bird’s-eye! Our characters were somehow aware that this Cid was responsible for building the Crystal power enhancers, probably working on information from Karnak that we could have acquired if we hadn’t been arrested immediately (it’s not our fault! We always go to the shops first!). Cid had been jailed for insisting that his own machine should be turned off and that the people of Karnak should stop draining power from the Fire Crystal. Accusations and conversation turned to the fact that the party was the Light Warriors, and Cid decided to recruit them to help him save the Fire Crystal before it was too late. (It’s going to be too late. There would be no plot if it wasn’t too late.)
A man came to talk to Cid about how the Fire Crystal was overloading in his machine, and was surprisingly unperturbed about the new hole in the prison wall. He insisted the machine had been turned off after the people in charge got worried, but the Crystal was still being drained. Cid announced that the “fire-powered ship” (damn, we really did need to talk to those folks in Karnak about their pyromania…) was draining the Crystal through a connecting pipe, and insisted that our party be allowed to investigate. By the time we left the castle, it was already partially in flame thanks to the overloading Crystal! Nice detail work! Now free, we headed back to town (where prices were back to normal). There, we made our proper purchases, including a set of Time magic and some magic-enhancing Rods that could be used once only to cast a powerful spell of their type without cost. We then promptly fled the continent. Because fuck those people.
No, just kidding! We were actually going back to grab a blasphemous ice demon into our service to freeze Karnak solid. Then it won’t be on fire! This had been our plan for a long time now: we were going to go to Karnak, grab Fira, and humiliate Shiva back in Walse. It was a blast. With Shiva now in tow, we headed back to Karnak, and learned that the Fire Crystal had set fires that blocked off the route from the castle to the crystal chamber. As a result, we would have to head practically through the piping that connected the fire-powered ship to the Crystal machine if we were hoping to gain access.
It seems the ship was a sort of ironclad (actually, it had a wooden frame outside a fully metallic interior?) which Cid had constructed alongside the crystal-syphoning machine. Unfortunately for us, the ‘Ship was the largest and most complicated dungeon in the game thus far, which is sort of odd considering the ship didn’t seem any larger than Faris’ pirate ship before we entered it! We blew even more time seeking out Blue Magic and exploring side paths than we did on the actual main path of the ship, so read the word “longest” however you will. The dungeon involved a whole mess of one-way treadmills and switch puzzles, one room in particular filled with treadmills to the brim, forcing you to enter it from a myriad number of entrances.
At the end of the ship, we reached the entrance room, and discovered that the person keeping the ship active was none other than the Queen of Karnak, who combusted in front of our eyes and attacked us as the demon “Liquid Flame.” This is purportedly one of the hardest bosses in the game, and it showed us by nearly wiping us out. I believe at least two of the party were dead near the end and things were not looking up by the time the monster caved. We owe Shiva a debt of thanks in pulling us through, though Blizzara might have been more help than the single-target boss. Unfortunately, we lacked a Black Mage to cast it! Lessons learned!
The Queen recovered (“how” is the real mystery) and we headed down the tube to the Fire Crystal, where we ran into the Werewolf that had come from the meteorite, who had tunneled in from another direction. When he saw us, he was shocked to see Galuf, and claimed to know him, but before they could discuss anything, a possessed soldier of Karnak made their way past the flames in the castle to reactivate the Crystal enhancer. This process involved two sorts of vacuum tubes or connectors that made the Crystal more powerful the closer they were to it, and the Werewolf sacrificed himself to stop them by holding back the tubes with his bare hands, apparently acting more for Galuf’s sake than anything else. He ordered us to flee and we weren’t offered much of a choice after the floor gave out beneath our party’s feet. From there, we were forced to flee on a timer, no less. With the Fire Crystal destroyed, the castle that had been built on its power could no longer stand, but it wasn’t a simple matter of escape. See, during our initial visit, there were a number of rooms and chests in the castle blocked off by bonfires that the Karnakers seem to think are perfectly normal. With the Fire Crystal gone, however, the flames went out, and that meant the treasure was undefended and about to be destroyed…
Our sense of self-preservation just isn’t that high, folks, what can I say?
Naturally, we stuck around to filch everything we could before it fell on our heads. This included the Esuna spell, but unfortunately we had to leave early, as a guide had warned us that we had a limited-opportunity chance to grab a certain Blue spell and we didn’t want to miss it. On the way out, we were ambushed by a Sergeant and his Naks, but on the defeat of the dogs the Sergeant transformed into a monster named Iron Claw. This beast was the one with our extra-special Blue Spell, which we could use to reduce certain enemies to single-digit HP. We were so determined to get this and certain other Blue spells that we mistakenly thought were in this area (turns out they don’t show up on the monsters in question, lucky us) that we transformed the entire party into Blue Mages for the escape! We figure that our shitty superhero party was the primary reason we weren’t able to make it out with all the chests.
With the Iron Claw dead, we escaped the castle and watched it collapse from a distance. Searching its ruin, we found only three of the Fire Crystal’s five job Crystals. The first was the Beastmaster. This class could capture enemies Pokemon-style and unleash them for a one-time heavy attack, though you can only keep one at a time. That’s all nice and good, but Kyle and I were really more interested in the Beastmaster’s Control ability, which could be used to force an enemy to perform certain actions on specific targets! This would be very helpful: not only would it get monsters to attack their allies, but it would also help us learn Blue magic.
The second job was the Ninja, which was no longer the glass cannon of FFIII nor the high-speed DPS of FFIV/TAY. Well… it was the high-speed DPS of FFIV/TAy, but they put a dent in it by restricting Ninjas to short swords and knives. On the other hand, Ninjas could Dual Wield, and once we had detached that ability from the class, we’d be able to give it to someone with heavy weapons. Ninjas also retained the Throw command from FFIII and even had Scrolls it could “Throw” to mimic Edge’s pseudo-spells. Not that we ever bothered with the Throw command.
The last job was Geomancer, which was the same as ever.
I believe this was where we stopped our first session. We swapped Bartz off of his long-time Monk role into Beastmaster, since we were so desperate for Control. Faris had been a Summoner for a while by this point, while Lenna and Galuf stayed a White Mage and a Knight, respectively, for a little while longer. That’s the best I remember!
Screenshots in this Journal come from Tarosan’s longplay of the RPGe translation of FFV on the Super Famicom, available from World of Longplays (YouTube). GBA screenshots also come from World of Longplays (YouTube), by Valis77.