The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy II, part 3

I don't expect it to last, but it'll be nice while it does.

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

As we last left our heroes or whatever, it was time for another trip across half of the map to talk with someone.  Or, as it turned out, to ask someone for the right to pay our way onto yet another airship ride.  (I will give the designers credit here and note that all of these locations can technically be reached on foot, but the march is kind of insane.  In fact, the map never really points you to these things; you’re just told to go take another ride.)  One brief ride later, the party was plopped down in front of Kashuan, the castle where the royal family kept something or other that does mean things to the engine of an airship and… yeah, I don’t know, exactly.

Look, let’s just assume that we’re getting the missiles to shoot at the Death Star vent, all right?  That’s familiar.

The bright side is that Kashuan doesn’t make you do a whole lot of searching to find the Sunfire, since it’s right there in the courtyard.  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean you actually have anywhere to keep it, because that’s the most difficult part of this equation.  And as you probably expected, doing this with a series of torches isn’t an option, which means a search through the entire castle to find a torch that can hold the flame.

A brief diversion: did nobody think to hold on to these things in the first place?  Hilda mentions that the royal family left the Sunfire in the courtyard so that the rebels could access it, but wouldn’t they also leave, like, the torch you need to actually use it for anything?  Time after time, your fetch quests involve going to grab something which should, by all accounts, have remained in the possession of the people who might need to use it.  I realize the game needed a reason for all of its dungeons, but this seems like hideously bad planning.

Once inside, you meet Gordon, whose primary role in the story is being a coward who learns to not constantly be afraid of dying while constantly getting killed by enemies in actual combat.  Exposure therapy works, it seems, especially since Barenaked Ladies named an album after him in 1992.  He fills out the rotating fourth slot, and then we’re off to the races.

There’s not much to say about Kashuan Castle that isn’t true about the game’s other dungeons, including the fact that monster rooms are pretty stupid.  You find some stuff, fight a boss which is so forgettable that I can’t actually remember what it was, and then finally grab the Sunfire once you have the torch.  Upon stepping out of the castle you see Hilda and Cid in the airship, as promised… being chased by the Dreadnought.

People thought this plan out real good.

One of the items in here is worthwhile.  About one in three sounds right.

This is not a monster room. This is a treasure room. We make those too.

Instead of throwing up your hands in disgust at the fact that your extraction plan has once again been shot to hell, you’re supposed to then search all over the place looking for where the Dreadnought set down for repairs and maintenance and so forth.  I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that it needs repairs and maintenance, or that it would get repairs and maintenance at a facility that wasn’t completely secured, but what do I know?  Turns out that it’s far south of your current location, across a trackless desert best traversed via… chocobo!

Finally, our favorite stupid yellow birds are here!  Chocobos aren’t really an advertised feature, exactly, but if you walk a little south of Kashuan you find a chocobo forest.  Catch one and you can take it for a ride.  As is tradition, the chocobo prevents any fights while you’re riding it and moves nice and quickly, so it’s a quick jaunt down to the Dreadnought, where I managed to completely screw things up.

See, you’ve got two objectives inside the Dreadnought.  The first is rescuing Hilda (because who else will give you insane missions) and Cid (because Cid just showed up, you can’t forget about him now).  The second is destroying the damn thing.  Based on years of playing games, I assumed that following one objective would lead to the other objective and fought my way to the engine… only to find that I needed to go back to the bottom and go another way to rescue Cid and Hilda, and then I could blow it up.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t always think through my extraction plans either.

This is also where the game does get a little harder.  Not hard, mind you, especially if you’re stuffed to the brim with power as I was, but harder.  A lot of enemies in here like to hit you with status effects, some of which don’t fade after battle, and you don’t necessarily have the raw power to kill things in one turn every time.  I decided to leave, heal up at an inn, and then come back in with a little more concentrated rage.

It’s a bit of a hike from the Dreadnought back to the nearest town, unfortunately, but I could deal with that.  Once we got back to the Dreadnought we found Hilda and Cid, let them out, and then went back down to the engine room.  Oddly, this dungeon is devoid of any real boss fight, possibly as a breather from the dungeon as a whole.  I imagine it’s quite a bit harder if you’ve been trying to take the game organically.

So the Dreadnought blows up, Cid brings everyone back to Altair, and the king dies.  The king who has been dying the whole game, the king who hasn’t really dictated anything since the start, the one I haven’t even mentioned before now because I sort of forgot he was there.  It doesn’t really have the pathos I think they intended, but the net result is that he gives Firion a fairly reasonable task to go request the aid of the dragoons.  Gordon takes over the army, Minwu heads off to find a spell or something, and Hilda is sitting in her room giggling instead of doing anything else.  Which isn’t suspicious at all, nope.

Anyway, the dragoons are down in Deist, which requires a ship.  As luck would have it, there’s a lady in one of the port towns offering you a ship to Deist for free!  And that isn’t suspicious at all, either.

Naturally, you wind up fighting a bunch of pirates.  Once you beat the crap out of them, the pirate captain decides that she’ll join your cause and let you use her ship, which means that we can now sail the seas in freedom.  So it’s time to head down and find us some dragoons, and given the game’s track record up until this point, I can’t see this going south in the slightest..

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About expostninja

I've been playing video games and MMOs for years, I read a great deal of design articles, and I work for a news site. This, of course, means that I want to spend more time talking about them. I am not a ninja.

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