After giving Krile a moment with her grief, she was interrupted by the spirit of Galuf, who did what Kyle and I had predicted: passed on his job levels. Indeed, Krile took on her grandfather’s role as part of the party by passing on… uh… something my notes describe as “some gold thing.” It looks to be some kind of armlet or circlet, and was the mechanism by which he passed on his level and job levels. Krile’s joining the party at this point makes this the only single-player game in the entire franchise that I’m aware of with more female playable characters than male.
Krile has a few odd footnotes to her graphical design. First off, she faces partially toward the camera during battle (in 2/3rds perspective), instead of to the side. She didn’t receive a side sprite for years, with the release of the deplorable Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, and that several kilobyte low res sprite is probably ATB’s only useful contribution to society. Another odd detail is her size. Krile is also very short. Very short. She’s the size of a small child. She’s smaller than Mid in the iOS version. And she’s fourteen years old. Krile is older than many of the cast of FFIV, and characters some of the games to come, yet the game acts like she’s a six-year-old. Many of her costumes are oversized, and if you put her in the Berserker class, the game outright puts her in a child’s cat pyjamas. If that’s just her style, then so be it, but I can’t help but wonder if someone didn’t get the note about her age. This also makes for one of the most jarring uses of the Amano art, since Krile does look like a teenager in that art! She also looks like a teenager in a flashback cameo in the OVA sequel (see below, second from the left), and if a cameo respects your written details more than the original, I don’t know what to say!
The new Light Warriors worked on their new plan of attack. Concerned Exdeath would destroy the remaining Crystals, they decided to rush his fortress. I guess this sort of thing takes a while, and he can’t just hit them with a hammer? I guess that works for us. However, Exdeath had protected his castle with an illusion, and we couldn’t get in, even though Krile realized it was an illusion (that’s the upside of illusions as a magical defence, really, at least in worlds where illusions persist even if you disbelieve them. Who cares if you know they’re an illusion, they’re still there).
Luckily – as crude as this is going to sound – Kelger the werewolf chief was dying. The age of the Dawn Warriors had passed, and it was time for him to pass on and join the others. Galuf’s spirit came to him with one final plea, and he ordered the other werewolves to send their power to break the illusion over Exdeath’s castle. There, the castle pulled a Monster Party and turned into a pulsing, sickly bio-horror, including a number of dead bodies. Nice impact.
While we were navigating the castle, Lenna maxed out Mystic Knight, securing its high agility stat for her Freelancer job (Thief was higher, but by only two points). We considered converting her immediately, but it seemed too early, as the game clearly wasn’t going to end at the end of this dungeon. Instead, we sent her to Dragoon to learn Lancet, similar to our plan for Faris, so that she could power her White Magic.
As we went through the flesh castle, we encountered the frustrating Reflect Mage monster, who bounced their own spells off their own auto-Reflect, while using it to repel our own. There were also the Hellraisers, which cast Arise on an ally when they die. Things were obviously ramping up into a fake final dungeon scenario, but the game couldn’t fool us, we know there was more to come. There’s a whole castle full of sealed weapons out there, we didn’t miss that much optional content! As we went through the dungeon, we were hunting for Blue Magic. The Magic Enemy dragon refused to teach Faris the Level 2 Old spell no matter what we did. Kyle even got frustrated with one and gave it an Ether, but even that didn’t work! We finally gave up, only for it to use it on its own! Thanks, dead dragon! We also turned the whole party into Blue Mages (or rather, Bartz and Lenna, with Krile and Faris getting Learning) to learn Aeroga
Towards the end of the session, we swapped Krile off of Bard and over to Ranger for a skill we might actually use: Rapid Fire, which would allow her to attack multiple times a turn, eventually even without a bow. We also found a new Partisan for Lena, who was training as a Dragoon at the time. As you can see, we’ve skewed a little off the original plans. Okay, a lottle.
Also towards the end of the session, we encountered a movement puzzle. As I said in the intro, FFV on the iOS has a loose movement system, letting you move in any direction instead of on the grid. Problem: the game’s movement was meant to be on the grid, and like the poison plant segment in the first quarter of the game, sometimes the game depended on that grid for puzzles. Being poisoned was one thing, but in this dungeon you could fall down holes to the floor below, and grid movement was important. In sections like this, the iOS version gets… weird. The game will suddenly locking the game’s controls into grid mode between squares. The jarring switch-over dropped us into pits as often as it saved us. In the end, it’s no surprise FFVI made the changes it did when it was its turn to be ported to mobile, but we’ll discuss that another day. “I think that’s all this level is trying to do,” Kyle said. “Frustrate me.”
We also got a boss to send off our efforts. This was the (missable) summon Carbuncle in its debut appearance. This glowing, rodent-like creature had auto-Reflect, but a whole dungeon had prepared us to fight against that . The internet told us that Carbuncle had an odd weakness to the Bio-aligned Spellblade attack, only for us to realize we hadn’t brought a sword that could use Spellblade… We were ultimately so desperate that we switched to a knife of some sort just to use the spell, but ultimately we owed our success to the Catoblepas summon, which Petrified Carbuncle in its second phase despite incredibly small odds! We had to save after that kind of miracle, and left off for the day with that all tied up in a bow.
Returning to Exdeath’s Castle in our next session, Kyle and I continued to the top, where you can encounter a fortuitous optional sequence. I imagine most players won’t miss it at all, as it’s triggered by opening a chest in the middle of an empty room, right in the middle of your path, but if you want to get around, the game’s sure not going to stop you! In the GBA version and beyond, missing this encounter also disables a certain later encounter, which is why I describe it as “fortuitous.”
The chest was actually empty. But once we tried to climb the stairs, Gilgamesh revealed himself, and said that he had cleared out the chest before us! Either because our party was concerned for its safety or because they’re just equipment-grubbing completionists at heart like Kyle and me, they started a fight with Gilgamesh. No wonder I like these characters so much!
As you fight Gilgamesh, he actually gets sad when he learns of Galuf’s death, but that soon passes, and then Gilgamesh drops one of his most famous lines. This is the stuff of legends: “It’s time to fight like men! And women! And women who dress like men! For me… it’s morphin’ time!” Yes, the iOS version carefully preserved that goofy remnant of the 90s translation over a decade later, in fact they even enshrined it in an achievement! Gilgamesh then transforms into a four-armed muscle-man, and introduces another of his longest lived gags. He implies that the item in the chest was actually the legendary Excalibur, and proceeds to use it against you… only for it to do trifling damage. Turns out he actually picked up a fake, the “Excalipoor.” Whoops.
Gilgamesh wasn’t a complete waste of time. He used a lot of status effects: he used Discord to halve our party’s optimal level. Lenna ended up asleep at 7HP, Krile mini’d, blinded and toad’d, Bartz was confused. Yes, all at the same time. Later, he used Old on Bartz, dropping Bartz’s attacks to 36 damage a hit, only a few points better than Gilgamesh was doing with the Excalipoor!
If the fight proceeded normally from this point, those jokes would have simply been a humorous footnote, but then Exdeath speaks telepathically and chastises Gilgamesh for his repeated failures. Before Gilgamesh and really defend himself, Exdeath casts his lackey into “the Rift!” This means that Gilgamesh essentially transformed for no reason, making this fight highly unusual. While this isn’t the end of our goofy friend (not hardly), you essentially won’t get to fight his transformed self for real at any point in the game!
You get the Excalipoor for winning this fight. It has a high strength, but its damage range doesn’t go higher than… urm… 1. Nevertheless, we’ve got years of people exploiting loopholes in this game, so there are a few ways to take advantage of the weapon nevertheless. The most commonly cited example is the Blue Magic spell “Goblin Punch.” Goblin Punch is nominally a normal attack that does extra damage if you and the enemy happen to be of the exact same level, but the key part here is “nominally” a normal attack. In actuality, the Blue spell uses its own attack formula that just happens to resemble a normal attack, and it just so happens to include your weapon’s strength while circumventing its damage range. Anyone willing to take an extra two button presses every time they want to attack is welcome to switch over full time!
With Gilgamesh out of the way, the party can proceed easily to Exdeath himself. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well there. Exdeath mentioned “return[ing] the world to how it used to be” before the fight, after which he kicked our asses two retries from Sunday. Our biggest problem was that most of our party was vulnerable to Level 3 Flare! We had to level up, and not because we needed a power boost. We just needed to jigger the numbers behind the scene!
To make matters worse, we made matters worse. Remember when we tried to get Level 3 Flare earlier in the dungeon, and failed? We tried to do it again, with Exdeath this time, and we still failed. See, even we levelled the rest of the party up, we did our best to leave Bartz at a level divisible by 3 so that he could learn Level 3 Flare. We even had to turn him into an inexperienced Blue Mage to do it, essentially leaving a party slot dead! As Kyle put it: “Did we mention we’re not happy with you? I’m not happy with you, Bartz.” The biggest problem was that, because there was only one party member vulnerable to the Level 3 Flare, Exdeath never cast it again!
During our levelling up, Lenna learned Lance(t), so we finally gave up on finding her job levels. She was officially changed over to Freelancer full-time, using White Magic and Lance as her support skills (rather than White Magic and HP +30%, as planned). Our full battle plan also included Hastega, Golem, and Shell, really brinGing out the big buff spells. We also cast Float, though were too stupid to cast it before the battle started. With all our prep (and even though it was only an extra level or two), Exdeath was screwed. 0 gil, 0 exp, clearly dead.
Funny how the game kept going, then.
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.