The Rift was made up of a random variety of interiors, to allow the level designers to essentially… do whatever. While there’s a lot of variety and can be healthy (as seen in, say, KH1), FFV’s mostly re-uses old elements, and I can’t say it makes for very enticing level design. Especially since they just threw the rest of FFV into a blender, leaving only a few spotlight moments to help the dungeon stand out on its own.
Most of the interesting stuff in this dungeon had to do with bosses rather than level design. At the entrance, the Demons of the Rift Exdeath had freed showed up to taunt us, but no, please, don’t attack us all at once, that would be rude. (more…)
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. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Chicken Knife has a countermeasure as a penalty for being so easy to manipulate, in that it forces you to run away at random. Wenever made much use of it.
Unfortunately, with Exdeath dead (“dead”), the remaining three Crystals shattered. After a lot of shaking and a blinding red light, the cast awoke in front of… Castle Tycoon? The party doesn’t seem nearly as surprised by this as they should.
Inside, and with no archvillain to distract us, the Chancellor rushed at the chance to make a public announcement that Lenna and “Sarisa” were back and Tycoon’s line was secure (let’s not raise questions about who would become queen with Faris technically the older child!). The Chancellor got Faris all gussied up in a dress and threw a royal ball to celebrate. Sir, I don’t want to be rude, but the last time we held a ball in this franchise, a former party member tried to take over the world, and both Satan and God were overthrown in their own domains. I think it’s probably for the best if our player characters never dance again, for the rest of the franchise.
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 main-numbered game in the entire franchise that I’m aware of with more female playable characters than male (excusing games with character/party customization), and even if you included sequels and spinoffs, I think it’s only one of two (with FFX-2)!
Early on in this session, we located Castle Surgate to give them the bad news about their king, and how he had willed all his portable possessions to us. This included no less than 5000 gil in a single chest! We also had to do a book puzzle to get everything, but no big deal.
Our next mission at this point in the game was to use “our” submarine (our tomb robbing continues) to locate a sage named Ghido, who had been mentioned several times up to this point, though I hadn’t mentioned him in these Journals. Ghido is another of FFV’s characters who gave their name to the name randomizer in FFI, Ghido ending up on the Red Mage job. It’s clever, because the Red Mage is the predecessor to the Sage job from FFIII, get it?
The trouble was: Ghido’s island sank into the waves ages ago, so the submarine would be critical. Krile assured us that Ghido was still alive (she was just magic that way), so off we went. On our way to Ghido, we discovered an underground cave we could use to visit another location being haunted by the Catoblepas summon. After gathering that, we also found a chocobo forest, where there were no ridable chocobos, only a female chocobo, and Bartz said that riding female chocobos was a no-no. I’m sure he knows more about chocobos than me, but… why, specifically?
Krile took us back to Bal, the city where she had grown up and where our friend Galuf was no less than king! Galuf’s army was slowly losing the war against Exdeath, but that wasn’t our party’s immediate priority. After exploring the castle, we learned that Krile’s Wind Drake was now dying of exhaustion after being injured at the Big Bridge and then flying across the planet to find us. Which made us feel pretty rotten, let me tell you, considering we could have probably waited at Moogle Village for a week or so without killing any allies in the process. Lenna pointed out that the same herb that saved her Wind Drake could save this one, supposing it existed on this planet. Galuf and Krile couldn’t promise us anything, but directed us to a nearby valley to see if we could find some where the Drakes used to roost.
Given that Exdeath was besieging the castle, we’d have to leave Bal’s gates sealed behind us after we left, and fight our way through the siege lines, but it was no particular problem after a single battle. On the way to the valley, we entered a village that was allied with Bal, and could easily supply most of the same services, so beyond the fracas at the gates, there was little to miss in Bal from a gameplay perspective. This village was home of the werewolves, presumably the home of that one werewolf who saved us in Karnak. We honoured his memory by not mentioning him in any way.
Galuf follows up his backstory and speech by leading the party back to his original meteor, now with a door in its front. He explains that there is only enough power left in the meteor to power one transportation back. He and Krile would go, and he made it clear that Bartz, Faris and Lenna were to under absolutely no circumstances to follow. Like a pack of four year olds, the moment his back was turned by several astral units, the remaining party reneged. All they needed was a teleporter!
After a lot of panicking and confusion, it occurred to me to go to Cid in hopes that he might have a hint on where to go next. This wasn’t exactly ingenuity so much as comedy: going to talk to Cid had become something of an inside joke that just kept being correct, and yet again, he was exactly who we were supposed to talk to if we wanted to advance the plot. Cid might as well be the only thing driving the plot at this point. By the way, Cid’s reaction to news that his ship sank was “So? We can just build a new one!” With what materials? In what time frame? Anyway, he and Mid announced that despite the fact that they had been spending all their time buried in old books, they somehow managed to pick up a piece of contemporary news: the location of King Tycoon. He had apparently been seen headed to the Desert of Shifting Sands, a place so inhospitable that of course there were witnesses standing around to see him go by! Unfortunately, the desert could not be passed under normal circumstances, but Cid had a plan.
When our second session started, we decided to grind out a little job training, even temporarily changing Faris to Ninja out of a misguided sense of our intended direction for her. We ultimately trained Bartz only part of the way to Control in a spat of impatience, and instead pressed on with the plot with him still in the job.
We talked to Cid, only to find that the loss of the Fire Crystal had hit him hard, feeling guilty about potentially destroying the planet. He left us to go off and begin binge drinking. We had no choice but to follow rumours in town of Cid’s grandson, Mid (you might remember a second Mid appearing in TAY). Mid was off studying at the Library of the Ancients, the place where Cid had learned how to enhance the Crystals in the first place, and now that Karnak’s walls had fallen, our way to the Library was clear. A dark and arbitrary means of progression, but it’s what we had!
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 took Faris out of the Blue Mage job. 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!