The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 10

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

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

It occurs to me, perhaps for the first time now, that my group has actually been in the same jobs for a while now.  This is not an inherently bad thing, but it does mean that said group is moving into the territory of job levels that are a bit harder to get than they’re worth.

One of the things that the game does handle nicely by way of balance is the way that magic is balanced as a class ability.  Once you swap to a casting class, you immediately have access to every level of magic you’ve learned for that caster.  Leveling the job teaches you an increasingly large array of magic usable on every other job, so a Black Mage can always use the best black magic you have, but you have to level the class to get access to that black magic on, say, Time Mage.  And since later levels require ever more investment, it’s to your advantage to stick it out for a while.

In my group’s case, though, it was time to mix things up a little.  Especially since Faris needed another level on her Mystic Knight for Drain Sword.

To be fair, it’s not just Faris.  Several things come together in short order here.  Time Magic starts to really come into its own as something worth using, for example, and the level 4 spells make Red Mage just a bit less useful on a whole. Not useless, mind you, since you’re mostly missing out on Drain, Bio, and Esuna, but not as useful as they had been where the limitation to level 3 and below had mostly been cosmetic.

It also sets up a… I don’t want to call it a problem, exactly, but it’s a messy element of how the game is designed.  A lot of the more powerful abilities in the game require a very heavy investment and a lot of time spent leveling certain classes due to insane amounts of ABP required, which means either using them for half of forever or using them at the point in the game where the class limitations are painfully obvious.  So you either have characters stay on Red Mage for most of the game, or you swap to Red Mage at the point in the game where its inherent abilities are a huge liability.

No, tricks like Doublecast and Dual Wield should not be handed out like candy.  But I can’t help but think that there may have been some moderate compromise here.

Moving along, there are only two paths available to the group, south and west, and we came from the west.  So south it is, after a wee bit of grinding around the town.  There’s a castle on the way that’s sealed and largely useless, but continuing along brings the group to a forest with a moogle.

There's no punchline I can add here that's funnier than the statement.

Faris is very intent on that moogle butt.

Yep, it’s moogle time.

Technically, the moogles show up in Final Fantasy III and were slated to show up in Final Fantasy II, but this is the first time that moogles are relevant as something other than weird critters milling about.  I wrote a long piece back on Massively-that-was discussing the fact that moogles exist chiefly to handle purely mechanical aspects of the game that need to happen without any convincing other explanation, and that’s the purpose they serve here as well, starting with the moogle you meet here in the forest.

To wit: the moogle sees you.  He freaks out.  He runs into a hole and screams a “kupo” as he vanishes.  The group then decides to go after him and help him out for no reason more established than the fact that he’s cute and they have nothing better to do.  So we’re moving forward with our quest, yes!

Our destination is the Underground Waterway, which is annoying because the enemies seem to hit unusually hard and I’m left wondering if I forgot to upgrade my armor.  Or just unlucky, either one is possible.  Luckily, it barely matters because the last boss is essentially a non-starter; he’s undead, and thus he’s vulnerable to having a Phoenix Down thrown in his face to demolish him.  This becomes another common theme through the games.  Once he’s down, Lenna leads the group in trying to comfort the moogle, who beckons for the group to follow him to another forest to the north.

But this whole sequence, really.

Screw these things in particular.

In the moogle village, there’s a few bits of treasure, but the most important point is the fact that the moogle the group rescued communicates telepathically with Krile’s moogle.  Apparently all of the moogles are totally cool with a member of their intelligent race being owned like a pet, so… that’s okay, I guess?  Who knows.  Krile’s wind drake is still pretty hurt, but he’s capable enough to carry her to the moogle village, pick up the gang, and then fly back to Galuf’s castle with only minor protest.

See?  Moogles move the plot along.

Back at Castle Bal, things are pretty grim.  Galuf’s soldiers are being pushed to the breaking point by Exdeath’s monsters, meaning that the castle is stuck in a siege mentality – and with Exdeath’s barrier up, a counterattack is out of the question.  Worse yet, Krile’s wind drake is nearly dead, having pushed himself to the point of exhaustion by flying out and saving the group.  The only way to save his life is to go get some Dragon Grass, which no one here even knows about.

It's for the best I don't write these plots.

“Now, honey, hear me out – I know you love this drake, but he does have a lot of meat on him and we are in the middle of a siege.”

The only hope spot here is that Galuf knows about the old valley of the wind drakes to the north.  Down side: literally no one who’s gone there has come back alive.  But there aren’t a whole lot of other options than heading there and hoping that wind drakes behave the same on both worlds and nest near Dragon Grass.

So the soldiers open the gates for Galuf, then re-seal them on his orders, with the obvious aspect that the group won’t be able to re-enter the castle.  Even after their task is complete.  Theoretically, anyway; you can be sure that one’s getting fixed before the time rolls around.  We also have to fight an Abductor again, but he’s a pushover with a full party in tow.

Off to the Dragon Grass!  Let’s not think about how Bartz and company left a planet to die, while we’re on the subject.

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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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