The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy III, part 3
Let’s recap, shall we? When I left off, I was in a cave full of friendly vikings. My options at this point seemed fairly simple:
- Remain forever in this happy place full of vikings, which presumably would mean plenty of mead, lots of singing, fun times in general, and maybe the occasional raiding party against coastal villagers unable to put up an adequate defense. Eventually we might even reach North America!
- Go back to the whole “saving the world” bit based on some vague thread of fulminating darkness overtaking the world.
The correct option seems clear, and yet for some reason I still wound up heading back to that Light Warrior thing. What can I say? I love hanging out with vikings, sure, but I am a sucker for fulminating darkness.
There’s not a whole lot to do in the cave other than pilfer every available bit of treasure, possibly taking a slight detour back to the gnomish village to get another copy of Aero. While there’s not much else of interest here, though, the vikings do agree to give you a ship if you can quell the super-angry dragon off in the sea right now. Seems like a lark; we’ll do it.
A foolish man – or one more inclined to do the job he was actually hired to do – would be inclined to head right out on the ship and fight the Nepto Dragon. This is a great plan if you want to end the game right here and now, but if you were going to do that, why wouldn’t you just stay with the vikings? No, I think the smart way to go is to head up to the temple dedicated to the dragon, which astonishingly is not the water temple. It’s a temple and it relates to water, but it’s not the water temple exactly. That’s a nice break from tradition.
I should note that all of this is still being done whilst minimized and in mage clothes, because the next portion mandates a tiny team. The Nepto Dragon statue inside of the temple is missing a ruby eye, see, but there’s a hole in the statue’s mouth that the team can fit inside if minimized. In we go to a dungeon that’s quite a bit more nerve-wracking than you might expect.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s fairly linear and not too long, so that’s not the issue. The problem is that physical attacks are still right out, so the party’s entire offense lies in magical attacks… which, again, are limited. Having Desch helps, as he’ll occasionally toss out a Thundara that can easily wipe out enemy groups when the battle starts, but you still get the sense that if you get caught and don’t have enough spells you’re going to be in deep trouble. If the dungeon was longer, it’d be a real problem; as it stands, it just gives the whole thing a slightly claustrophobic feeling.
At the end of the tunnel is a giant rat (which might well just be a normal-sized rat, since you’re tiny at this point) who pilfered the ruby, prompting the team to try and magic a rodent to death. This is not terribly difficult if you’ve saved your hardest-hitting spells through the prior battles, and the real kicker is just that the boss gets to act twice in a row. This was not the case in the original but was added to make things a bit more “balanced,” which in this case means “you can be hypermurdered.” I’m surprised the rat knows Thunder, but he’s still not a tremendous threat. You have to crawl back out of the hole after the boss is dispatched, but at least in the remake you get a full health and magic recharge first.
Replacing the eye finally frees you from the need to be minimized and explains that the eyes served as a focusing device so that the dragon could be controlled or whatever. The important point is that you get the Fang of Water and are informed that the light has gone out of the oceans, which was already told by the crystal in the start, so thanks for the update, I suppose. The vikings make good on their end of the bargain, which means a shiny new boat for the Warriors of Light and the chance to dip about doing sidequests!
Well, all right; sidequests isn’t quite the right term. You’re not doing quests, you’re just futzing about and grabbing whatever stuff you can now that you have a new boat. “Can,” in this case, means “everything not nailed down elsewhere in the world.” So what are we looking at?
Obviously, there’s no specific order in which you have to explore the world; you can go wherever you want here that’s accessible via boat, so it’s really a matter of exploring everything until you hit the next plot point. Quite tellingly, however, you can hit the edge of the world and stare out at a sea of clouds just beyond, suggesting that the world as a whole may not be quite as… stable as you previously believed. Something that the town right by the edge of the world tells you outright. You are on a floating continent in the sky, separate from the world below, and the whole thing is held up by an ancient tower that keeps you floating. That’s pretty spiffy, if unexpected.
Mind you – playing through this in the original form, I had no idea that this was a thing until later, which shaped one of my big impressions of the game. But we’ll get to that later.
There’s a town full of people who have been abducted by a nearby castle, the castle itself, a couple villages here and there… lots of stuff you can go explore and, more importantly, loot. If you’re not heartless, you can also check back in with Desch’s girlfriend – you know, the one who sent you after him in the first place? Strangely, she’s fairly nonchalant about the idea that he’s not coming back to her right now, instead wandering around with three dudes and a lady without further explanation. Well, as long as their relationship is happy, I guess.
Once you’ve done all of that, and possibly bought a few items just to keep everyone guessing, it’s on with the plot! Chattering with a bunch of blind sages reveals more of the prophecies that surround this sort of stuff, along with dread omens for poor Desch. Apparently, we’re needed at the Tower of Owen, something that most of the party believes will bode ill for our fifth party member. I’m a bit worried too, to be honest. Not because I know what’s going to happen next, but because having Desch around is useful. He sometimes opens fights with spells, it makes my life easier.
Ah, well, there’s nothing else for it. Time to head for the Tower of Owen, the pillar of the world.