Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Final Fantasy Flight, Part 10

Back to action. It's time for the final dungeon, a rematch against the four fiends, and the ultimate showdown against Chaos. But before we wrap up, it's time to take care of some last minute items.

First, remember that Adamantite? The first stop is to return to the cave where the dwarves were hanging out, and create the Excalibur sword. This weapon is the second strongest in the game and quite crucial to killing the final boss. I equipped it on my knight and swapped out the Defender sword.

Sadly, my ninja was unable to equip the Defender sword.

The next step: stock up on 99 of every item, including Ethers, Phoenix Downs, and Hi-Potions. Not that the party needs them, but it's always good to be prepared. On a side note, the original game did not have any of these items. If you ran out of magic charges, the only solution was to go to sleep. If you wanted to heal, you could buy 99 potions. Except, you had to buy them one by one. The whole thing would take about 8 minutes. Smart people would tape down their A button and go grab a Coke.

Thirdly, buy new spells for the knight and ninja. Once upgraded, knights are allowed to use white magic and ninjas can learn black magic. It's not essential to learn the dinky healing spells. However, the ninja can learn the Temper spell, which is extremely useful against the rematch against the fiends. The spell increases the attack power of one target in combat, allowing the ninja to buff the party faster and let the black wizard focus solely on casting Haste.

Okay, now it's time to go to get Chaos.

That strange black orb where you fought Garland at the beginning of the game? Turns out it's a passageway to the basement of the Temple of Chaos. Those random bats? Those are the transformed heroes who last confronted the fiends. The game is all about circles and rebirth. In that same spirit, the game ends where the heroes started.

On the lower level of the Temple, our heroes encountered a strange seal. True to RPG conventions, the most useless item in the game suddenly becomes the most important item. By playing the lute, the heroes break the seal and create a time warp into the past. Back then, the Temple was more pristine, and apparently 4x the current size.

Wandering the halls, our heroes fought Lich, Marilith, Kraken, and Tiamat again. Unlike the first encounter, there's no warning. Each of the bosses occupy a specific tile that the heroes can't help but step on. When they do, the battle begins. This phenomena was later referenced in Final Fantasy IX's Memoria.

Our heroes also found the legendary Masamune in a little corner. The cool thing about this sword (besides later becoming associated with Sephiroth) is that anyone in the party can equip it. I gave it to the white wizard since he's the only one with low attack power at this point.

Past the four fiends, the heroes ran into Garland again. He explained that before he was killed, the fiends sent him into the past (now). Then, he sent the fiends into the future so they could send him back again. Hmm... I don't recall the four fiends sending Garland back in time at the beginning of the game. Oh well.

The final battle with Chaos was a lot longer than in the NES classic. He doesn't hit hard, but has more hit points and constantly recovers 9999 HP. Here's where the Masamune and Excalibur swords pay off. The way to defeat him is to deal so much damage to him that he can't heal enough to make up the damage.

The knight spammed Excalibur attacks, the ninja cast Temper, the white wizard cast NulAll and spammed Masamune, and the black wizard cast Haste and Flare.

After about 5 minutes, Chaos crumbled away.

Ending text scrolls. The credits scroll, including names of both the original team and the new team. Strangely, Hironobu Sakaguchi's name is absent. The warriors of light return home as heroes and promptly discover they have no domestic skills and cannot integrate into civil society. Just kidding. Seriously though, what are heroes supposed to do after their adventures?


Friday, September 19, 2008

Final Fantasy Flight, Part 9

The trip to Leifin was short and sweet. But something felt off. Here was a technological advanced race living in a town that looked like paradise on earth. They wander to and fro in flashy white robes, the kind that only advanced 4D entities would dare wear (See: Star Ocean 3). But the live in a little town.

Now I understand that two of the fiends teamed up to destroy civilization prior to the start of the game. But you'd think these Leifin people would try to expand their town and tame the land rather than carve elaborate fountains.

The chime that they gave me helped me access the Mirage Tower. And since I had previously acquired the cube from the robot underneath the waterfall near Onrac, access to the Sky Fortress was a cinch.

There's a really tough super-boss called WarMech that resides on the upper level of the Sky Fortress. In all my years of playing this game on the NES, Wonderswan Color, and PlayStation, I have never once encountered him. But if the message board ramblings are to be believed, he hits for insane damage and is more frustrating than legendary. Plus, you don't really get any special items for defeating the WarMech, which means all of the subsequent boasting to friends requires their extreme faith in your honesty.

Either that or you'd have to invite them over and convince them to stay 6 hours in front of the TV as your party wanders aimlessly on the sky bridge.

In any case, I didn't expect to encounter WarMech this time. So when he failed to rear his ugly command console, it wasn't much of a surprise.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the adamantite (which used to be called adamant) is pretty much in the same location but bigger. I'll have to return to the dwarves later and have them make the second-best sword in the game: Excalibur.

One of the random things about the Sky Fortress in the original NES version was the sky window. It was a 3x3 sky tile segment that looked like a spriting error. Upon closer inspection, a message would pop up saying that the fiends were gathering at the Temple of Chaos. A little subtle hint about what to do after defeating Tiamat, perhaps.

Not so in the subsequent remakes. The window is now a giant orb a la Zordon's viewing globe that shows a short scene of four colored ribbons of light converging on a center point.

In any case, the path to Tiamat was pretty simple. The GBA version's decision to remove magic charges in favor of MP means I can let my party die hundreds of times and never worry about resurrection. That's not to say my party ever died. Since the GBA version decreased the amount of EXP required to level up, the heroes were already ridiculously overpowered.

Tiamat went down in three rounds without ever posing a challenge. There was no need to buff any characters. I had the white wizard heal the entire part with Healara. Weasly the black wizard would either heal with a staff or attack with the cat claws I bought from Gaia. And both the knight and ninja just focused on fighting.

With the final crystal restored, we've reached the final dungeon in the game: the Temple of Chaos.