Part 13: GhostsAll right, now we've got the masks, we've got to figure out what to do with them. Since Minwu headed off to Mysidia, this seems like a good place to check. Since we're a bit stronger now, it's no longer that big a deal getting there, as long as I don't run into Ghosts.
Rank 5, HP 540, MP 100, Attack Power 40, Attacks 5, Accuracy 80%, Defense 50, Evasion 1-60%, Magic Resistance 4-40%
I do run into a new enemy, though. Like all late-game undead, they have drain touch. They can also confuse you, although they use a multi-targetted, weaker form of it. Their attack is nasty, but not enough to overwhelm me, and their confuse hardly hits. Could be worse.
In order to find out what to do, you need to talk around in Mysidia.
There's also a bookcase, which will give you a bit of backstory for pretty much all of the key words in the game. Nothing mind-blowing, but at least the game's attempting to flesh out it's meager world.
Inputting "mask" gives you a strangely translated riddle.
So what does it all mean? There's a downward staircase in the middle of town. We go down and go to this statue.
Then throw the white mask on it. By the way, we don't actually lose the white mask. It will remain in the inventory, haunting me, making so I can't carry that one extra elixir...
And so, what do we do now?
We head to dungeon a little south of Mysidia. Again, in this version the game does not mark it on the map.
Rank 5, HP 370, MP 80, Attack Power 40, Attacks 4, Accuracy 80%, Defense 210, Evasion 0, Magic Resistance 3-50%
I'm kind of surprised they took so long to show up. Puddings are the toughest slime enemies, with a pretty hefty HP total. They're also only weak to fire, so using anything else just prolongs killing them. Not difficult in any way, but huuuuge MP sinks.
Rank 5, HP 750, Attack Power 50, Attacks 5, Accuracy 80%, Defense 50, Evasion 1-60%, Magic Resistance 4-40%
Yeah, I know it says "Molbor" but you know what this is. Actually, these Malboros aren't quite as bad; all they have is a paralyzing touch they didn't hit all that often. Beefy as hell, but nowhere near as nightmarish as you think. (Usually...)
And nothing else interesting happened along the way. Dungeon crawlin' time!
This dungeon is mostly a series of walkways, with rooms below. Also do I spy treasure?
I'm starting to kick myself for the "no agility boosting equipment" rule. The Black Grab is a fantastic, fantastic piece of armor. A defense of 40, agility +10, no weight, magic penalty of 1, and matter resistance. Well, with no weight I guess Solo can have it so it can minimally impact my chances of getting ambushed/ambushing enemies. Yay.
There's also a goldpin on the floor, just to rub it in. But where we want to go is all the way to the left, down, and to the right.
Solo, what are you doing here? I killed you.
No, it's an... evil doppelganger. Okay. Anyway, if you didn't put the white mask on the statue it would push you away. Since we did, it's immobile and we can put the black mask on it. And of course we don't lose the black mask either.
Rank 5, HP 370, Attack Power 35, Attacks 4, Accuracy 70%, Defense 40, Evasion 1-50%, Magic Resistance 3-50%
Oh fuck. Anyone who knows anything about Final Fantasy probably shares my sentiment. Cockatrices are known for petrifying you, and this game, their regular attack has petrifying capacity.
Of course, I say that, but... it never happened. Once. They did hit me, but the stone effect never went off. Viv's not wearing anything that protects against matter, I never cast barrier with these guys, nothing. It just... didn't hit. They again, with only four attacks they usually only landed a hit if they landed a hit at all.
Oh, and I told you Red Soul's would show up later on. Slime type enemies are really common in this dungeon too; I started to get really liberal with the spells at this point. I stopped keeping track of how many ethers and elixirs I used.
This dungeon has a couple of secret passages, like you see here on the second floor.
Eh. Spears are okay, their main distinguishing characteristic is that their int/soul penalty is slightly less than swords while maintaining comparable power. It's still a -40 penalty, though, so it's still pretty bad for spellcasters. Although, you can buy a flame spear in Mysidia.
The Power Staff, by contrast, has one less attack power and only a 20 int/soul penalty. (The 20 penalty is actually really high for a staff; usually it's only 5.)
I forgot where the exit to the floor was, and just decided it was probably easier to warp out, save, rest, and go back in. Probably a little paranoid on my part, I'll admit.
By the way, the way to the third floor is behind a door in the bottom left corner.
Another secret passage!
You know how I said the Malboro had a paralyzing attack that didn't connect all that often? Well, once in a while, it does.
And when it does, the results are... messy. Crap. Well, I'm glad my earlier decision was retroactively prudent.
Anyway, you want to go to the left, down, and then up around. Along the way you'll find this pretty good axe (but it's still an axe you can buy.)
It's just trapped with bombs. Whatever.
Moving onto the fourth floor, it's pretty straightforward.
Although these fellows are now random encounters. Like with the cockatrice I was always afraid they'd petrify me, and like with cockatrices they never did. At least, as long as I manage to get one round in I can cast barrier for some peace of mind. It's nice that matter resistance is first on the list.
In addition to a single treasure chest with a potion (at least it wasn't trapped) there's some door roulette.
You wouldn't miss much by skipping it. Other than a (for me) useless gold needle and phoenix down, there's the silent bell. It inflicts silence... the temporary version. So, so useless.
Rank 5, HP 450, Attack Power 40, Attacks 4, Accuracy 75%, Defense 40, Evasion 1-50%, Magic Resistance 3-50%
But and I found an enemy I hadn't seen yet. How about that? Also, why is the background a forest?
Other than that, it's on to the fifth floor. Just rolling along, huh?
But there's the rub.
I don't know if I've fully establish what bastards ghosts are. First off, they have pretty high HP totals at 540. They get 5 attacks, and they're draining attacks.
Also, they get tons of nasty spells. This is one of the few times I've ever seen my characters get hit with mini. Mini is like toad; when you cast it on the enemy it's a one-hit kill, and when they cast it on you, it reduces your stats significantly. However, mini is actually temporary, so that's not so bad.
But no, this is the real dick move. First off, it's level 16 and it's single targeted. Unless you have resistance to the element, you're gonna get hit with it. But what about getting resistance to stun? Well, stun is body elemental. Barrier doesn't protect against body until level seven. There's no equipment (yet) that protects against it either.
It's not the most common attack they have, they have a 10 percent chance of using it, but with over 500 HP the battle is definitely going to last long enough that it'll happen a few times.
Oh and they have single target Aero 16 too. Lovely.
Time to do this all over again! Well, maybe if I try the ghosts again I can get lucky and win?
Ha ha. No. They killed me immediately.
All right. Again.
On my fifth attempt through this cave, the game starting getting... generous.
You know what, FF2? I don't trust you. Yes, I know this will force another run through this damn cave. But that's fine; I've almost got this place down to a science. If this stupid game killed me after two agility gains I was gonna burn this whole thing down and I'm taking you bastards with me.
This time, I'm skipping the drain tome. Yeah, it's cowardly, but I don't really need or want it.
As a matter of fact, I'm skipping all this shit. The treasure chest on the bottom right is a mini tome, and the four up top are all potions. You can only access that area via secret passage, and I'm just not in the mood to go looking for it. Fuck it. Let's just get through this shit already. I'm almost to the end anyway.
Everyone's been talking about how the only thing that'll kill Viv is insta-death attacks. Here's the thing: at this point in the game, most insta-death attacks that enemies use are level 6 multi-target spells. Vivian has level 7 or 8 magic evasion, which means she has a decent, if not 100% chance of dodging it. Moreover, since barrier gives matter resistance on its first level, I can pull that out. No, stun kept killing me. While Vivian's evasion can keep her alive for a decent number of turns, in the right circumstances (say, an encounter with four hard-hitting enemies) the enemy will beat her to death long before the ailment wears off.
On my seventh run through, the game got generous yet again. At this point, I just want to be done with the cave. If I were to lose 2 agility, so be it. Wow, mood swing.
But lo and behold, I made it. So what's at the end?
Treasure! The Crystal Rod is what we need to open Mysidia Tower and continue with the game. We also get the Aspil tome and Drain tome, and I didn't even need to fight ghosts! All right, now let's warp out, save, and never discuss this again.
I end up having Viv learn both aspil and drain, but aspil's the one I really want. Now, drain does what you think it does, and unlike drain touch it's not percentile based. Sad.
Aspil, or Osmose, absorbs MP from the enemy. Which is already a nice thing, but here's the kicker; it will steal MP from enemies that don't have any MP. You know how the only thing we really need to buy anymore is elixirs? We don't even need to buy those any more.
Even more than having an unlimited MP pool, this spell is useful in other ways. In other FF games (I'm thinking 4 in particular) enemies cheat when it comes to MP. They can cast spells for free, even if those spells need MP when you use them. FF2 enemies play by the same rules you do. No MP, no casting. And, in case you needed a reminder, anything that's not a regular attack costs MP. The spell doesn't drain much MP now, but with a bit of training it'll get more potent. The maximum amount of MP an enemy has in this game is 540, so using Aspil to seal off spell-casting is a very viable strategy. It just needs to be leveled high enough. The only enemy it won't work against is the undead, since the effects are reversed like with drain.
With this spell in my belt, I've pretty much got all the spells I want. There are more spells we haven't seen yet, but I really don't foresee needing them. Viv's only got one extra spell slot anyway.
In any case, after going back to town and hawking off all the trash, it's time to sign off. Next time... Ultima?
Power +2, Agility +4 (Sweeeeeet), Vitality +5, Intelligence +5, Soul +3, Magic Power +5, Magic Defense +1, Fire +1, Blink +1, Curse +1, Holy +1, Barrier +1, Blind +1, HP + 343, MP +51