The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 4

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

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

So the protagonists of the game are currently not doing well at their stated goals.  Two crystals encountered, two crystals destroyed.  In their defense, the job wasn’t theirs until the wind crystal was already in bad shape and the water crystal sort of happened without their consent.  Nevertheless, based on series history I’m sure that the other two crystals will wind up being just fine.

Well, they might.

All right, so it’s a foregone conclusion what’s going to happen from here.  The important thing is to keep moving on despite that fact, after stopping to have a brief chat with the King to indulge in a round of the “We Told You So” dance.  To his credit, he’s already realized that he probably should have listened to the group in the first place, not that it helps him a whole lot now.  But Walse wasn’t the only kingdom amplifying its crystal with machinery, and the kingdom of Karnak seems poised to be the next victim of… whatever is going on now.

While there’s no way to fly on the wind drake to Karnak, it looks like the meteor that landed near Walse coincided with a meteor landing near Karnak, and a soldier from Karnak has stumbled out of the Walse meteor.  Rats with retardation issues could figure out the next step here, although Galuf notes that it all seems strangely familiar to him for whatever reason.  Then it’s just a hop and a skip away to Karnak.  Seems like a nice town, what with the open flames in the street and the giant wall built to block out the people who were criticizing the augmentation of the fire crystal.

We all know where China will stand with the Skeleton War.

Like, imagine this, only built by the modern Chinese government to make sure that no one found out about what skeletons looked like.

Indulging in a bit of shopping results in accusations of the group crawling out of the meteor (which, yes, did happen) and a quick trip to the local prison.  Inside, we meet up with Cid, who designed the machines to augment the crystals after finding out that the crystals once held a lot more power than they do in the present.  It’s only now that he realizes that augmenting the crystals just cased them to shatter. Bringing that up with the head of Karnak is what got him thrown in prison.  In short, not only are the crystals shattering, but the people in charge are so dedicated to the way things are that they would rather jail people for bringing it up than listen to what they have to say.

People are alike all over.

Within moments, the royal chancellor shows up to announce that there’s a crack in the crystal just like Cid predicted, but even though the machine was shut down the power is still being drawn from the crystal at an ever-greater rate.  Cid springs the group and points to a fire-powered ship in the harbor as the culprit.  The soldiers are also on guard for a werewolf that came out of the meteor, although he hasn’t actually attacked the crystal at all.

A brief shopping trip through Karnak follows, as you would expect.  At that point, we could follow the main plot… or we could head back to Walse and use our shiny new Fira spells and such to fight Shiva, who is supposedly down in the castle.  That seems like an obvious course of action, doesn’t it?

Shiva’s a bit tucked away, but not too hard to find inside Walse Castle.  She’s also a very easy boss fight with Fira on tap; it was a fight that consisted of her doing some group damage, Faris casting Fira on her weapon, Galuf spamming a pair of group-wide Fira spells, and then Faris using a two-handed Spellblade attack to hack her down in one round.  Underwhelming, but still, it’s a new summon!

Back through the meteor warp, back to Karnak, and now we’re going for a jaunt on that fire-powered ship.  This is a mechanically themed dungeon, naturally, since the name Cid came up in conjunction with it.  It’s something less than overwhelming, although there are enemies that like to summon more enemies and one thing that likes to cast Flash to blind everyone.  Annoying, although not terribly common.

No, they're not very... rock-looking robots, I admit.

We will robot rock you.

At the bottom of the ship, we finally find the queen, who appears to have been possessed by something, naturally.  The group fights off a boss monster that would go down in half a round if Faris didn’t keep whiffing each of her Blizzara attacks, and the queen reveals that it’s not just the machines that are killing the crystals, but something more sinister.  The group rushes to the crystal room and sees the werewolf, who clearly knows Galuf and would reveal important information if not for a possessed guard bursting into the room and turning the extraction machine back on.  Wolf dies, crystal shatters, party falls through a room and notices that the flames are suddenly dying down.

Does that seem vaguely ominous to you?  Because it should.  The castle itself can’t stand without the fire crystal, and now that it’s gone we’ve got a timed escape from the castle.  This is actually a cleverly handled sequence, because you had a chance to see many of the treasure rooms during your prior visit to the castle, but you couldn’t reach most of them.  Do you gamble a little and go for the treasures, or do you play it safe and rush straight out while missing good stuff?

I opted for the former, and I had enough time to get out safely, but it was a near thing.  Most of the treasure chests contain monsters, and while those monsters aren’t hopelessly difficult they can slow you up something fierce.  There’s also a little boss at the end that’s not too important, but can stop you cold if you aren’t paying close attention to what’s going on or you have too little time to get out.

His messed-up, scary priorities.

I’d ask if this guy really wants to burn to death and explode, but he was apparently cool with living inside of a tiny box up until now, so maybe I just have no understanding of how his priorities work.

Surveying the wreckage, the group picks up new crystal shards that contain three new jobs – Geomancer, Ninja, and Beastmaster.  So two good jobs and one that will be worth leveling up just to get control of some enemies that will otherwise never cast needed spells on my group, because otherwise Beastmaster is pointless.  Which is a problem that this game introduces to the series that isn’t ever quite solved, but that’s something to discuss in the next part of the column.

We are kind of running out of crystals to defend here, and we are not doing well so far.  And what’s this chattering about seals being broken?  That sounds something less than positive.

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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