So I'm in New York this week to visit a client. Of course, this means more time at the airport playing Final Fantasy.
Actually, it was a JetBlue flight, so there was TV on the plane and I didn't play as much as I would have if I flew Southwest.
One thing that hasn't changed about this game is the sudden price increase for learning new magic upon leaving Pravoka. You'd think the citizens would pitch in since, I dunno, I just saved their lives from sadistic pirates. But no. Spells still cost a pretty penny. As a result, you spend a good hour or so sailing aimlessly and grinding.
It gets worse. The spell shops in Elfheim (formerly Elfland) are even more expensive (1000 gil each) and there are two sets of them for each magic school.
Anyway, the first hour or so consisted of me fighting SAHAGs and ODDEYEs (or whatever they're called now). Occasionally, I fought sharks that managed to jump on deck. In the NES version, you could occasionally fight pirate-like enemies called KYZOKU. They were easy to defeat and awarded a lot of loot. However, they kept not showing up.
Elfheim was interesting. Whereas every town looked roughly the same in the original, the palette was changed here to look more woodland-ish. Edrick's tombstone was also changed to Link's, to align it with the Famicom version.
The Elf Prince was asleep, cursed by the Dark Elf. An elf kindly informed me that a witch named Matoya could wake the prince with her herbs. So... the elves can't ask Matoya for the herb themselves?
I traveled to the Western Keep to speak with the king. The place was in ruins. He told me that Astos caused the downfall of his kingdom and that he needed a crown to restore his kingdom.
I guess the Warriors of Light are kind of like Forrest Gump. They're kind and want to help people, but also pretty stupid. Here we have a king sitting in the middle of a ruin. Nobody asks him why he doesn't join the rest of his folk in Elfheim?
Oh well. Marsh Cave it is!
Square-Enix is more consistent these days with monster names. It used to be that a monster would have seven different names. Here, the WIZARDs have been renamed Piscodemons, which is a subset of Mindflayer found in the later games. These are the squid-faced magi who steal your brain if you're not careful. They were much easier than I remember thanks to a lack of spellcasting. But it could have been due to the Phoenix Down (not in the original) conveniently placed in a nearby chest.
I did die once from the Ghasts outside the Marsh Cave. Back in the day, these enemies were called GEISTs. Every successful attack paralyzes one of the characters. So if you don't kill them fast, the entire party becomes paralyzed and it's impossible to win. They just whittle you down 5 HP at a time until it's game over. I guess the Dia spell had its uses after all. Oh well.
Back at the Western Keep, I healed the entire party, saved the game, and gave the king the crown. Of course, he turned out to be Astos in disguise all along. Ho ho! Classic Final Fantasy twist!
Back in the NES version, Astos used a spell called RUB to "erase" an enemy. Nintendo censorship dictated that no references to death could appear in their games. Here, the spell has been renamed Death and features the now-classic animation of the grim reaper slashing the character's soul.
It was the first spell Astos used, and on my fighter too. But it also missed, which is a Final Fantasy form of epic fail. Thus, the rest of the battle consisted of my fighter wailing on him, while buffed with the Temper spell. Astos crumbled away and left behind Matoya's crystal eye.
How did he ever manage to steal the eye? The world will never know. Next stop: Matoya's Cave.