The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy III, part 7
I shudder to think at what would happen if the Light Warriors were to put in an application for an airship loan at this point in the game. They’d be laughed out of the office. Our first airship got blown up, we used our second one for about three minutes before getting it chained up by some jerk who may have broken one of the foundations of the planet, and then once we get that back we get it shot down in minutes. The skies here are just evil.
Leaving aside the fact that we can’t keep a flying ship in the air, of course, there is the minor fact that the Light Warriors are trapped somewhere strange after having their ship shot out from underneath them. As we were in a vehicle at the time, everyone is perfectly fine but the ship is destroyed, leaving us kind of up the creek. Boy, I sure hope this doesn’t mean we’re about to all be forced into changing classes for a big gimmick section!
(That is exactly what we’re going to have to do.)
Two things become clear very quickly in town. First of all, it’s obvious that something bad has gone down, due to the fact that nearly every single shop is closed and there are soldiers facing off against one another. Second, this place is enormous. There are four separate satellite towns to visit aside from the central castle, all of which are filled with their own array of shops and people. Admittedly those shops are almost all closed, but it’s the principle of the thing.
One of our trips around the town sees us meeting up with the crown prince, who helpfully informs us that the king has gone completely nuts and he needs our help. Since the gates in and out of the kingdom are completely sealed, our options are pretty limited anyway, so naturally we agree to go along with the plan. What else can we do? I mean, other than walk around town a little bit and be given a couple of pieces of Dragon armor, which serves as a good indication that it’s time to start working on those Dragoons! Or, if you’d prefer, it serves as a good indication that you’re about to be introduced to the most irritating part of the entire game up until now.
Why do I say that? Well, in the original version of the game, you can just change classes and be done with it. Here you need to change class for several characters who are then stuck in the adjustment phase, meaning that in addition to being underequipped you’re also stuck with diminished stats. And you need to work up those Dragoons. So you have four Dragoons involved in a hellish crawl of leveling, or you have your normal party take on the next boss and your life gets a lot harder for that reason. A problem that, again, the original did not have because it didn’t share this particular adjustment mechanic.
As much as I do love this game, there are several places in which the remake changes things for the worse, and this is one of them.
So what’s to be done? I engaged in a war of attrition between my party of limping dragoons and the monsters in the tower, fencing at them a couple fights at a time before running off to an inn, selling a lot of junk to ensure that I could kit everyone out with at least one Wind Spear and one Thunder Spear. Unpleasant, certainly, but this is the first time in this game that I’ve had to grind; given the amount of grinding involved in the first and second games, I should be thankful.
Returning to the castle with Prince Alus allows you to get past the guards, starting a chain of events that you don’t really get much control over. I should note that in the middle of the night Alus and Arc (you remember the names of these characters, right? Because I don’t) wake up and have a late-night chat; according to the Grand List of Console RPG Cliches, this means they are going to wind up in a romantic relationship. Just thought I’d leave that out there.
This tranquility is shattered when King Gorn shows up, still enraged at having been defeated by James T. Kirk in an episode of Star Trek and intent upon stabbing Alus in his sleep. Then he stabs himself despite the urgings of his advisor, Gigameth, a man possessed of the most awesome facial hair I’ve seen yet in this game. Gigameth reveals himself to be Garuda, which is endlessly amusing if you’re accustomed to the version of Garuda from later titles. (Garuda here is distinctly male.) There’s not much to this fight, when you get down to it; either you’ve done the grinding necessary to field a party of dragoons in the range of job level 10-15 or you haven’t, either Garuda opens off with his murder-everyone Lightning ability or he doesn’t, et cetera.
Fair? Not at all, and intensely irritating. Still, it is kind of cheaply satisfying when your entire squad is airborne whilst Garuda wishes he had acted before you. On my successful run he got two physical attacks off, total, and then faced two solid turns of staring at nothing until death fell upon swift wings.
As the king dies, he explains that Gigameth cast a spell upon him, which made… something happen, I guess? It’s pretty unclear. The important thing is that now we can loot the castle and go back to doing things the way we like doing them, starting by shedding all these Dragoons post-haste. We also gain access to the Nautilus, which you will note is our third airship in a series where you rarely manage to go through two. I wisely took the ship back to the Floating Continent to ease out the job transition period via fighting Level Pointless enemies. Then it’s time for a quick trip through the shops, and then…
Well, this airship is supposedly fast enough to cut through the winds to the Dalg continent, right? We should go find out where that is. Arriving there introduces us to a glorious new wrinkle, by which I mean that my airship is totally being attacked by monsters. Not terribly difficult monsters, but still, we had a deal, game! This was the point when I was supposed to be safe!
Because you’re surrounded on all sides by mountains, your options of where to go in this continent are vanishingly small, so the game quietly herds you to Doga’s Manor. Inside, I meet (shockingly) Doga, who helpfully informs the party that Xande is the name of our ultimate foe. essentially, Xande’s former master gave him a real shit parting gift, so Xande seeks to unmake the world as compensation. Dude’s throwing an epic tantrum, in other words. Doga then insists that the party must escort him to the Cave of the Circle, and you know how the Light Warriors love doing what they’re told by various people.
Also, in an optional side conversation, Doga reveals that Goldor’s crystal was a fake and nothing to worry about. So… um… great? Glad that’s over with?
The Cave of the Circle is another dungeon wherein we’re all forced to be shrunk down, because I hadn’t had enough of those yet over the course of this game. Fortunately, it’s short and linear enough that clearing it isn’t as onerous as it could theoretically be. The enemies vomit up ridiculous amounts of experience in the process, which helps.
Once we reach the end, Doga casts a spell on the Nautilus to allow underwater travel, making it a combination airship and submarine. He tasks us with finding Unei and unlocking the airship Invincible, thereby setting up our next ride after we ruin this one. Not that I’m planning on it, but you know, this group has a history. Doga himself warps off to the forbidden land Eureka and teleports the party outside. So it’s time to go underwater and get some stuff so we’ll be ready for this big old super-airship.