The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 7

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

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

The downside of taking breaks between installments of this game is that when you have a game so thoroughly built upon making an extended project out of your characters, you occasionally… forget what you were doing with your characters.  Luckily, it usually just takes a few minutes of glancing at abilities to figure out what I was doing again with character abilities.

With the plot?  Not so much, since we have unfortunately slipped into a mire wherein we are going in a seemingly random direction for no reason beyond the fact that there’s stuff in that direction or something and I guess we can go that way or something?  We seem to have nicely stepped away from our ostensible goal of finding the Earth Crystal, that’s not great.  So it’s off to the Desert of Shifting Sands, because that’s close on the map and we haven’t been there yet, so why not?

All right, I know, it’s because we theoretically might find the King of Tycoon out there.  It’s still pretty random.

The desert of shifting sands lives up to its name immediately, with a group of sand streams acting as conveyer belts hither and yon and preventing you from making any forward motion.  Cid and Mid show up to ring a bell and summon the sandworm, on the basis that if it’s summoned and killed you can use its tunnel to successfully move through some of the sands.  It’s not much of a boss fight; you can easily take the creature out with a few thrown Water scrolls, so long as you took the time to buy them and have a Ninja in the group beforehand.

Killing the boss isn’t the end of the dungeon, though; that just starts off the sequence of you jumping on the sands and riding to the exit with a bit of luck.  Not too horrible, but not great, either – like far too many of these situations, it’s impossible to get an idea of where every stepping-off point will ultimately bring you, so you have to guess at it.  Still, it’s not very long.

Those wily sand bears.

It also features the objective best enemy in the entire series.

Once you’re back on the world map, a short jaunt to the south reveals a town of ruined buildings, complete with King Tycoon darting away from the group every time you get close to him.  The group gives chase, and when they finally catch up, both Lenna and Faris call out for their father.

Then the floor collapses beneath you.

A few more scenes happen in close succession.  Cid and Mid hop on the black chocobo and bring it right back to the forest where Bartz and company found it, which seems like a pretty staggeringly dumb move when you consider that Bartz and company have no way of signaling the pair and that as far as those two know they’re still not far away.  Also, Cid and Mid are now stuck on the island.  I guess for engineering geniuses they’re not very good planners?

Below the surface, Lenna and Faris share a quick reunion, a bit of levity is added to the scene with Galuf, and the group presses onward into a teleporter that is jumped on post-haste.  That teleports them to… right near Crescent and the black chocobo, albeit underground.  So… maybe Cid and Mid were planning?  Who knows any more.

A bit more exploration reveals that the group is apparently in some sort of hangar or research facility, with the Fire-Powered Ship having been deposited here as well.  This is also one of the first places that I feel the designers really started nailing the look for ancient technology in Final Fantasy, a fusion of old technology and features like stone ruins with a great deal of machinery.  It’s still technology and fantasy coexisting, but it feels less like we’re just being told it’s technology from the first Final Fantasy and not as wholly incongruous as the latter parts of Final Fantasy IV.  I quite like it.

It looks oddly Ul'dahn.

It looks oddly comfortable.

Past the Fire-Powered Ship are Cid and Mid falling in through another hole in the world (someone should do something about all of these holes, honestly), closely followed by the realization that the group has located an airship!  After a quick test flight a monster latches on to the ship and tries to attack the group, which is easily repulsed by exploiting a comical weakness to electricity.  Again, not much of a boss.

Now we have an airship!  Normally this would be when we find the Wind Crystal, but nope, it’s Earth Crystal time still.  And we have the whole world to search, even!

There are still a few places that we can’t go, though.  A bit of searching reveals that there’s a temple in the middle of the ocean entirely surrounded by mountains; there’s nowhere to land there.  I was also amused that you literally can’t get to Bartz’s hometown in the airship; too much forest surrounding it.  It’s not a plot-vital place to visit, but it’s useful for a bit more character insight.

Flying back toward the ruined town, though, sees it suddenly take off into the air before your eyes, as if the machinery beneath the city woke up as soon as the party used the teleporter.  Flying back for a quick palaver with Cid and Mid, the group finds out that the ancient Ronkan civilization used the Earth Crystal to make their city float, through some kind of… negative amplification?  Kind of doesn’t make much sense, I admit.  But that’s not important; what is important is that the people realized that the crystal would shatter and turned off the machine.

I am not complaining about that.

This happened, and then someone scurried off to write Secret of Mana based entirely on this one scene.

Except that someone went and turned it back on, apparently, because the damn thing is floating again now.  The clock is ticking.

Faris and Lenna don’t believe that it could have been King Tycoon, but that takes a backseat to the fact that the airship simply can’t climb high enough to reach the floating city.  Cid and Mid have a plan to augment the ship with Adamantite, which Galuf is confident was stored within the meteor he used to land on the planet.

The group treks back to that first meteor, and sure enough, there’s the Adamantite just sitting there waiting to be taken.  Which of course mean that there’s a boss fight with an Adamantoise first, but he’s a pushover with nothing more than a few Blizzard spells.  Much easier!  Now it’s time to go turn off the device making the city fly and then everything will… be one-quarter all right again, since the other crystals are still pretty done.

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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