Once we regained control from Mister Aeronautical Road Rage, it was time ot do some innumerable side quests in preparation for the big endgame. We got started by going to the Sealed Castle free our first and most important set of prizes. We picked out the Sage’s and Magus’ staves for our wizards, and the Yoichi Bow for Krile the Ranger.
That wasn’t our only stop. We also went to the town of Moore, where an old man offered us our choice of the “Brave Blade” and the “Chicken Knife.” These were strange weapons: their power was based on the number of times you have or haven’t run away from combat. The Chicken Knife is strongest the more you’ve run, and the Brave Blade strongest the less you’ve run – it’s the strongest weapon in the original game if you haven’t run at all! In our case, we took the Chicken Knife, but had only really run away a moderate number of times, so wouldn’t have been able to make very much use of either weapon.
(The Chicken Knife and Brave Blade don’t show up in many other games (except Dissidia and All the Bravest, which have nearly everything) but they do show up in FFXI and also in the Crystal Chronicles games. Now because CC is an action series, it can’t fairly measure how often you’ve run away, so to keep them as opposites, the smart asses at Square Enix made a great, cheeky call by putting the Chicken Knife in two of the CC games that use equipment and putting the Brave Blade in the other two games that use equipment.)
We also visited “The Phantom Village.” This was a funny place. Unleashed from the Interdimensional Rift, this town wasn’t visible on the map, but rather as a sort of random encounter in a specific forest (at least, that’s how it worked in the iOS version). This town contained the last piano in the game (unlocking a Bard song), some good weapons, saleable Fuma Shurikens for people who like to use a Ninja’s Throw skill (we stocked up), super spells, and a lot of hidden passageways.
While we were in town, we also learned that Lenna’s Wind Drake may have been reborn on a certain tower as the Summon Phoenix…
There were a lot of short, late-game challenges available at this point. We learned that Cid was still in the ruins underneath Crescent Island, but that the only way to reach him would be to destroy a set of towers called the Fork Towers: the tower on the right would depower our spells, and the tower on the left would do the same to our weapons. We were informed by some people in town that we would have to split the party into two and conquer them separately. Kyle and I decided that we would wait until we had physically aligned Sealed Weapons in our possession before trying the dungeon. But should we do that now, or deal with one of the side quests? Little did we know, but the tower wasn’t unlocked in the first place and we were over-thinking things, but I suppose we’d be ready in the first place!
Following a walkthrough, we decided to snap up some low-hanging fruit: by going to the pirate’s cave, we had an encounter with the ghost of Syldra! There, Faris’ adopted sister joined us as a summon, and since Faris is the party’s Summoner, she gets to relive the pain of her sister’s death every time she summons her! The Rydia tradition continues! We learned Faris got her name because, during the pirate’s grandfather’s day she kept calling herself “Farifa” with a lisp, and the pirates called her Faris.
We then went to North Mountain – the place where we rescued Lenna’s Wind Drake – to meet up with Bahamut. We didn’t know if we could handle him, but we felt much less threatened by him and a dungeon from the start of the game than we did the entire dungeons guarding all the other prizes. It seemed we were right to do so, as I didn’t even make any notes about the boss fight!
Now armed with the most powerful summon in the game, we went around scraping up the others, just for EXP purposes. Phoenix was the most interesting to us, since it was a utility summon and not a combat one. Phoenix Tower was not your typical dungeon. There were two majors gimmicks. Each floor, you had to pick one of two switches, one valid and the other trapped, and without a guide (and Kyle insisted on playing it straight) you were essentially in the hands of fate. Every wrong choice resulted in one of those super-dangerous Kuza Beasts coming out of the wall to attack you… though it is awfully odd that they didn’t make a new recolour and simply reused an enemy named after another location entirely, don’t you think?
The other major gimmick for the dungeon was a new soon-to-be Final Fantasy standard, the Magic Pots. Magic Pots are helpful enemies that just want you to give them stuff. This typically isn’t small change stuff, in fact they most commonly ask for Elixirs! But if you give them what they want, the rewards are huge, in this case in the form of over 100 APB. While we could have just relied on Kyle’s determined grinding skills from those days, we decided to play efficiently, and made a whole pile of job points, more-or-less wrapping up most of our job training. We even managed to secure Dualcast!
At the top of the tower, we had one last encounter with Lenna’s Wind Drake, which sure enough had transformed into Phoenix, a Summon that could cast restore a party member to full health while doing damage to the enemy! We only used it once or twice, but what a powerhouse! Unfortunately, Lenna had to go through some personal growth to get the Summon. She flashed back to the death of her mother when she was still a child, but learned that the tongue of a Wind Drake could heal her mother’s illness. It was clear this procedure, besides being cruel, would kill Hiryuu (implying that the game may have meant something like “heart” or “liver” rather than “tongue.” As Kyle put it: “You know, [the tongue! That’s] where your… blood’s… stored.”) but King Tycoon stopped Lenna from doing this. It was up to the player to decide whether or not they were actually going to cut out the tongue, but no matter the reality, Lenna had to face some harsh personal realities to get Phoenix on her side.
(Marathon curiosity: I have notes for Phoenix Tower in both this session’s notes and the next. It may be that we gave it a visit this session and came back the next, or that I simply made a lot of preparatory notes. If I’m wrong about when we visited, then we may have actually arrived after Fork Tower.)
Our last challenge of the day was to go to an Island Shrine to kill a boss called Wendigo. This boss (along with more Gargoyles) was guarding the second Tablet, and also the seal to Fork Tower. Wendigo was something of an ice spirit, and attacked us with three copies. He switched between copies after every time we landed a hit, and there were no clues as to which we had to target. Thankfully we had Bahamut and could just keep using Mega Flare as a group attack, but this was still one of the most frustrating battles in the game, with only Faris/Bahamut causing consistent damage (at serious cost to her MP) while everyone else only landed damage from time to time. There are a lot of strategies to overcoming Wendigo (I believe we also used the money toss strategy a few times – not so much intentionally but because Kyle got really into throwing money at all our problems towards the end of the game), but I don’t remember us using most of the ones I’ve found online, and we only really one the battle through attrition.
With the seal undone, we were now able to unlock more Sealed Weapons. The most important (and the only one I made note of) was Excalibur. Judging from my notes, it seems we didn’t care about the reamining weapons, as we had decided to use Lenna and Faris as our casters (relying on Faris’ summons for minor enemies and Lenna’s white magic and high stats for endurance) and Bartz and Krile as our physical party members, and Krile was at this point still using the Yoichi Bow!
Our climb up the Fork Towers wasn’t exactly graceful. Our first screw up was to send the wrong characters up the wrong towers, sending our physical party to the magic tower and vice versa! (Unfortunately, I have no record of which party members belonged to which team) Even after reloading, I think we considered changing jobs multiple times, but just didn’t want to risk being in a position where we couldn’t use our Sealed Weapons. Team Physical had to deal with Sekhmet’s brother Minotaur at the top. This fellow absorbed Holy, the element of the Excalibur sword, meaning all our effort to keep that sealed weapon in hand had been a waste! Luckily, we had found a Defender sword to help replace Excalibur, but it was lower tier. Funnily enough, he ended the fight by trying to cast Holy, but didn’t have the MP!
Team Magic had things worse. They fought an Omniscient, who went wild with buffs and debuffs. With no Time Mage, we couldn’t counter them all, and there were no Echo Herbs in this game to undo Silence! Kyle finally won out by summoning Carbuncle to Reflect Flare into the Omniscient’s face. “I found a better use for Faris’ MP!”
With the bosses dead, the Tower vanished, revealing a way back to the underground ruins where Cid had been hiding out. While we were gone, he and Mid had jimmied up a new submarine for us! In an intimate moment, Mid confessed to Krile that his grandfather had a massive guilt complex going over freeing Exdeath and nearly destroying the world. He longed for peace, by which he apparently meant “submarine warfare.”
Now that we had our new submarine, we were able to trawl the ocean floor, and went looking for some loose ends: namely, the missing Water Crystal shard that had sunk with Walse Tower! Guarding the sunken tower was a strange boss, the “Famed Mimic Gogo.” Gogo would only attack in response to us, and asked us to mimic him. This wasn’t so hard to work out: just do nothing, since Gogo did nothing of his own volition. Once he had acknowledged our “mimic,” he rewarded us with the Mime job shard. Despite it’s goofy-sounding name, Mime was actually a somewhat specialized uber class – you could tell because the character sprites were just slightly modified versions of the Freelancer sprite, perfect for the endgame!
The Mime’s default ability is Mimic, the power to perform whichever action was last performed by your party, at no MP cost in the case of magic. They also gain stats and abilities from other mastered jobs, just like Freelancer! They also have three ability slots, over the Freelancer’s two. The downside is that the Mime actually loses the ability to Attack or use Items. You’ll either have to fill out your seemingly-impressive three slots with those default abilities, or better yet, you can substitute those default abilities with similar or improved variants, like Rapid Fire. Alternately still, you could make careful use of Mimic to use those missing commands. We played around with Mime quite a bit. We had Faris relying on her Dualcast skill for magic and Mimic for other tasks, and Lenna her Lance ability as a substitute for Attack.
At this point, we headed to find another set of sealed tablets at a location called Istory Falls, which had been taunting us since the first world. This meant navigating an underwater passage. “Final Fantasy IV!” one of us said, with no small degree of panic. “Final Fantasy IV!” Istory Falls was the birthplace of another of Final Fantasy’s signature monsters, the Tonberry. The Tonberry functioned as a sort of reverse Atomos: instead of pulling you toward it for instant death, it walks towards you for huge damage. You can tell the two monsters were introduced in the same game.
The falls required a good deal of jumping off of ledges one-way. At the end of the dungeon, we were confronted by one of Exdeath’s many boss monsters, only for Leviathan to show up, smear the boss across the floor and challenge us itself! We killed the poor thing with Mimiced Thundagas, it was kind of sad. “He died while I was looking through menus!”
Armed with some new Sealed Weapons, we headed to another tablet dungeon, the Great Sea Trench. This dungeon was… interesting. While the boss was simply another set of Gargoyles (which finally managed to revive one another during the fight, despite us being stronger than ever!), the minor enemies were the real highlight: body horror and lovecraftian terrors, each called “Unknown.” Besides the demonic enemies, there was lava that didn’t hurt, monsters with plenty of blue magic, and a “Kingdom” of five dwarves, the only ones in the game. At the end of the dungeon, we fought three of Exdeath’s demons, which like the Gargoyles had to be killed simultaneously. I’m afraid no notes from this battle survive.
At this point, we noticed our Blue Magic list was very close to complete. We sought out a hidden pseudoboss called Stingray to learn the powerful defensive spell Mighty Guard. Finding this monster was a pain and a half. You see, FFV treats monster deployment zones in a rather simplistic manner. Rather than directly “paint” monster zones onto the map like modern RPGs (or even, say, Phantasy Star, from 1987!), FFV’s overworld map was divided into a huge square grid, with separate land and water monsters for each square. The Stingray was put in the water of a square with almost no water, forcing you to grind in the teeniest, tiniest area possible, and it had a very low appearance rate and then there was still the issue of getting it to use Mighty Guard! By the time we were done, we were so tired of the process that we gave up on finishing the Blue Magic list. We were two spells short of the complete list: specifically, we were missing Roulette and Level 3 Flare, which I imagine was blowing a raspberry at us from a distance.
At this point, the only major sidequests still remaining were to acquire Odin and the post-game challenge introduced in the GBA version, which was unlocked after finding every Tablet. We decided without much hesitation that Odin could go soak his head. We had never used him in FFIII, IV or TAY, and weren’t about to kowtow to him here. Maybe the EXP would have been useful if not for Kyle’s grinding, but thanks to Kyle’s grinding we were free to make our own decisions. The Marathon left us under no obligation to play through post-game content, either… but there were a few low-hanging fruits.
For example, by simply entering the GBA bonus dungeon, we unlocked three new job classes, not that we ever used them. The first job class, Cannoneer, caused random status effects. The Oracle had high magic, which we considered going for before deciding we’d rather finish the game today and not weeks from now. It also did random effects, but on both sides. Last of all, the Gladiator, which caused damage at random. This was the only class that really cared about the character that was using it. The Gladiator could cause heavy elemental damage, and drew its element from the character’s signature Crystal: Bartz did Wind damage, Lenna Water, Faris Fire, and Krile Earth. Sadly, this meant that Krile couldn’t hurt fliers with this ability, which was too bad because she was the only one we considered swapping to Gladiator at all! Fun fact: the design of the Gladiator class changed radically between versions: the iOS version dressed them up as Roman gladiators, while the GBA version dressed them up as summons!
With that, it was finally time to assault the Interdimentional Rift.
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.