After skipping a few Battlefields and a Temple, we found the path clear to Windia, where the music was changed from the typical town music into synthetic woodwinds. Unfortunately, you can barely hear it over the synthetic actual wind blowing over the soundtrack. Looks like it’s a little too windy in Windia, and sadly that is, in fact, the plot. We bought the Cupid Locket there, finally making us immune to confusion and taking away one of the monsters’ few remaining advantages over Ben and company. The bomb salesman nearby informed us that we “had enough explosives,” and excuse me sir but where do you get off.
After backtracking to the Battlefields (one stocked with vampires), we checked out Kaidge Temple, which had an infinity-marked teleportation tile and nothing else. And no, I can’t explain the name. Double-checking the name (my original post got the wrong translation somehow) it appears to be “Jukai no Hokora,” implying it’s a Buddhist shrine of sorts, and I can see 90s Nintendo of America not wanting to hear about it… but “Kaidge?” The #1 Google hit for “Kaidge” is the FFWiki page for Kaidge Temple!
Returning to Windia, we met up with Otto, whose full name was “Otto Cid Bekenstein,” see what they did there? He told us that his daughter Norma was trapped in the nearby Tower. That’s even worse than it already sounds, because Windia-the-region is a series of platforms over void, and the “nearby” Tower isn’t connected to the other platforms by a proper bridge. Though I’ll have to grant, “platforms over void” would be pretty darn windy. It seems the original route to the Tower involved a machine built by not!Cid to generate a magical rainbow bridge (yes, we’re going full Bifrost) and the machine had broken down after a freak windstorm. Ben concluded that the Fiend seized the Crystal of Winds and made the air berserk. Have to hand it to the Fiend for mixing up the pattern of corrupting the Wind Crystal causing the air to go dead like in FFI and V. Also, apparently Otto had built the tower dungeon, even though it looked ancient. This is Dime Tower all over again, isn’t it?
Poking around the rest of Windia, we found a man (who had randomly wandered into his bed) who told us that the “Mobius Crest” could be found at Spencer’s. Oh, that’s what the infinity symbol is supposed to be! Also, he told us that the Crest could help us reach a certain “Ship’s Dock,” and that the Windians all used to use the teleporter, even… though you need the tablet to use the teleporter tiles? How do you build a public transit system out of a single magic item? Well, whatever. Thanks, person we just woke up!
To deal with the winds, Otto told us to head to a nearby mountain, Mount Gale, that the winds were coming from (look, I don’t know how this works). We did a lot of jumping to navigate the place. That’s… really I can say about the dungeon, it was a lot of high cliffs, Dragon Claw points and jumps, but the dungeon was really no different than King Tree in practice. The game actually isn’t out of ideas, but man does the Mountain come off like an afterthought! Maybe some wind mechanics? I don’t know. The Apollo Helm was there, on a platform to the north you might not notice, but it’s just a stat upgrade to the Moon Helm so it’s not even that exciting. The monster helping the Fiend channel the winds was a giant walking teardrop of mercury we found at the peak. In close zoom, this unreadable sprite turned out to be Dullahan, the Gaulish headless horseman (occasionally portrayed as a woman in Final Fantasy, though not here), who despite having no head was one of only two minor bosses in the game who can talk to you. “You’re the one trying to drain the Wind Crystal!” Ben accused. “Nah,” said the hellspawn. “Nah.” He then just up and told us that the real culprit was someone named Pazuzu. This guy’s said three words and I already can’t take him seriously as a villain.
With Dullahan easily killed, not!Cid was able to restore the Rainbow Road machine (I still can’t believe that’s a thing) and we met Norma inside the tower right up at the front door, and she bailed back home. To be honest that’s the most intelligent place she could have hid, considering the monsters would never guard it when you realize it didn’t technically lead anywhere until the bridge was back, but Norma would know it was the first place help would come to if it ever did! Still, surprised the game didn’t make a bigger deal out of this character. Considering we already had to come here to find the Crystal of Wind, Norma didn’t really have to be in the game at all, you know?
The rest of the dungeon was complicated. This isn’t very surprising, MQ’s tool use and lack of random encounters to facilitate puzzles make its dungeons more complicated than the average Final Fantasy, but less complicated than Zelda. Maybe it would be better to compare the game to Lufia than than to Final Fantasy. We had instructions from Otto to shut off the switches in the tower to prevent its elevator from moving, which turns out to be important, as Pazuzu uses this elevator to avoid you. In fact, he did it not long after we entered, calling us “little beasts” and flying away! The trouble was: how were the switches supposed to work? As it happens, you don’t have to hit them all to fight Pazuzu, just the ones required to trap Pazuzu on the current floor. Okay, reasonable… but hitting the switch clearly “fills in” the elevator floor beneath Pazuzu’s feet, even though Pazuzu can still absolutely go down a level if you talk to him. Also, the switches are only on even-numbered floors. I suspect you have to box Pazuzu in by deactivating the even-numbered floors both above and below him or else he could escape in either direction, but I’ve never been able to prove it for sure, because it’s such a long and tedious process to repeat an entire dungeon just to test a simple theory.
Kyle began long climb up the tower after Pazuzu, which forced you to climb all the way to the top before going down the long plunge to shut off the switches. “Manticors” were a problem in this section, as they were tough and only weak against Blizzard, a spell that had run its course ages and ages ago so barely stacked up to a standard attack. Like with Reuben, Kaeli’s equipment had worn out its welcome, even though she was two levels higher than us. This got worse once Ben picked up Excalibur from a chest and the Wizard spell Flare from another, putting us on top of the weapon and spell upgrade chains and leaving our Druid in the dust.
We finally tracked Pazuzu down near the top of the tower, and he taunted us about Captain Mac, as though the game’s plot was leaning entirely on Mac despite Mac only coming up every once and a while. Pazuzu fought us using a technique called “Psychshield,” which was a reflect spell he could cast automatically, without wasting his turn, and it would last for a few turns. That made it risky to try to cast Flare, but there were windows and it was fun to put in a little risk to see if we could peg them. We beat Pazuzu and Ben suddenly entered the elevator, which worked on all floors again for no good reason, took us to the top of the Tower, where Pazuzu could have easily hidden without us ever bothering him. There we freed the Wind Crystal and found the final Focus Tower coin… not, if you’ll recall, that we knew how to reach the fourth Focus Tower door, since it was walled off from the others and only accessible via mysterious staircase.
Wait, if Otto built this Tower, why is the ancient Crystal here? Was it taken from the mountain or—shit I’m thinking too much again abort, abort!
Back in Windia, we spoke to Otto, who thought over the question of how to rescue Captain Mac now that everything else had settled down. Just then, Reuben arrived with news that while he had been knitting his broken bones together with bubble gum and force of imagination, he had spotted a cave further down the Focus Tower cliff side. He said that this cave would lead to the top of Focus Tower, though how he knows how high it goes is impossible to tell. I… have a feeling he may have fallen again before climbing back up, if you follow me. Otto interrupted Reuben to say that if they could blow up a bomb in Spencer’s Cave (a… gain?), they might be able to collapse the Aquarian lake into the black void around Windia, filling it back up.
Hold on again, “back” up? So the black void around Windia is actually a lake, in fact it’s “the lake” Spencer mentioned earlier? But the void is huge! That means there’s supposed to be more water in the Wind quadrant than the Water! That means the Wind quadrant’s source of Wind was never supposed to exist! That means these assholes would rather destroy Aquaria’s water reserves than work out a proper solution! Actually, no, somehow this plan, which fills a whole Great Lake worth of space, doesn’t drain a drop from Aquaria, because this game was clearly written by children, not for them. But I’ve got to say, it is interesting how the quadrant design is actually being used as a geographical plot point rather than just a way to divide the four parts of the story as lazily as possible.
Unfortunately, we needed a new way into Spencer’s Cave to get started, and Phoebe had already destroyed our old entrance. Otto suggested we use the Rainbow Road, but he would need a new power source to get it to go that far. Reuben suggested his Dad knew about something called the Thunder Stone, and so Ben ordered Kaeli to leave to look over Cid’s daughter instead of sticking around to help out, because he’s Cecil Fucking Harvey all of a sudden. His excuse was that he and Reuben could move through Focus Tower faster, because they have experience, but what does that even mean? There are no monsters in Focus Tower, the Tower takes about two minutes to cross and the most complicated thing about it is a jumping puzzle that’s already been solved. And as for the regions we’re skipping over, like Alive Forest, Kaeli has already been to those, and unlike Reuben, can speak to the living trees if there’s any trouble. So if we look at Ben’s plan objectively a moment, it’s clear he’d rather go cross-country with a man whose foot is on backwards than go anywhere with Kaeli, entirely because Kaeli hasn’t been to the half-mile, one-way path from Focus Tower to Fireburg. Why? I can only conclude Ben has a massive, massive crush on Reuben, and while that’s cute and all? It’s not doing Reuben’s sepsis any favours, much less Kaeli. Would someone else please take command of this slipshod operation?
Speaking of limping, Reuben, why are you a high level again? Did you level up from climbing on a leg held together by purely out of spite? And Kaeli! You were in a sickbed before you got back into the party, did you level up from bed rest? C’mon people!