Part 7: Chapter 7
Talk around a bit and some of the random people in the rebel base will point you towards the Warship's location.
The Warship is way out in the middle of nowhere, so Gatea is the closest Inn. Remember to stock up on items if you haven't already--extra Ethers are definitely a good investment here, and since potions are dirt cheap you might as well stock up on them (but save some inventory room, there's some prime loot available on this trip.)
If you have the cash it might be a good idea to buy a Cottage (5000 G) to use once you reach the Warship because it's so far away, but I've been pissing money away on Ethers since I've been relying on Guido to carry the party magically (this is actually a pretty bad idea, there's really no reason not to give everyone at least Ice, Fire, and Cure.)
Alternately, you can go to Bofsk's Inn, then walk from Bofsk to Kashuon and get a chocobo. That way you can ride right up to the Warship's door--you still have to take a long walk from Bofsk to the chocobo forest, but you're fighting much weaker enemies and won't use up as much HP/MP getting there. However, the tougher enemies you fight between Phin and the Warship are also highly lucrative enemies, so it's definitely worth the trip.
You'll see a lot of the same enemies you fought in Kashuon. Remember, this is just northwest of Phin, so you can get here easily and run into these guys about 1 screen away from your very first story destination.
Mages are new. For the most part they're like WzOgres, but squishier.
Both WzOgres and Mages can cast Sleep on your party. It's extremely annoying because it's one of the highest accuracy status spells. It's not a big deal with these guys since there's no big damage output among these enemies, but in Kashuon it can be pretty dangerous when there's a screen full of ogres pummeling you.
One big difference: instead of Blink, mages have Berserk. You can't find or buy this spell anywhere until very late in the game and it's worth a lot of money, but it's a fairly common drop from the Mages you find about 1/3 of the way in (and you can fight them before that whenever you want.) They're not especially tough, so the best way to raise huge sums of money early on (to fund Mysidia shopping trips, for example) is to go hunting NW of Phin.
It's also one of the best spells in the game, so Guido is all over it.
The Dual Heads are a retread from the snow cave, but the "Big Birds" are new. They're pretty close to land turtles statwise, without the easily exploitable ice weakness. Guido's up to Bolt 5 now, which sadly still isn't quite enough to one-shot typical enemies nowadays.
After a long-ass trip, the party arrives at the Warship.
Getting into the Warship requires the Pass from Bofsk. The Bofsk sewers never close, so you can go back and get it any time, but it's still embarrassing to get this far and then realize you missed a key item from the second dungeon.
(Also, amusingly this guy is one of the few Imperial characters that actually reacts to you saying the rebel password to him. Like every other Imperial Soldier that yells "Rebels!", it dumps you into a Captain fight. Even at this point it's still not a fair fight, and turban guy's not around to bail us around with his ludicrous pile of spells, so I don't actually do this. The rest of the guys running around just launch straight into Captain fights if you talk to them.)
Right off the bat there's some stairs down into a small jail/hold area. I can only assume this treasure chest was booked on a possession charge.
It's not empty, there's clearly a treasure chest sitting in the cell!
What would a prison be without secret passages? (A: an effective prison)
Inside is the Sleep Sword, guarded by the customary monster-in-a-box. This one is actually marginally harder than the typical random fights in here due to the Sergeants, although they're nothing particularly special by this point. The Sleep Sword itself is similar to the Ancient Sword; high attack (slightly higher, for the Sleep Sword), terrible accuracy, inflicts status. It's worth holding on to.
Mages are pretty common random encounters in here and sometimes drop basic attack spells, so Emo Guy accumulates a few extra spells. It's vastly more reliable damage than the crappy longbow he has.
A lot of the enemies on the Warship are old ones--including enemies from several dungeons back like the Soldiers and miscellaneous undead, which are a nice break because they're so easy--but a few new ones do show up. The Ghasts are a slightly tougher version of Ghouls, with one annoying quirk that will show up later. The Panthers are actually Were-Panthers, which are like wererats on steroids. They show up quite frequently and have noticeably more HP than other enemies around here. The Were Mace helps, but one-shotting them is still a tall order if you haven't spent a good chunk of time abusing the game.
Heading back up from the little mini-jail. The main floor of the Warship has kind of a split-level thing going on; the doors lining the north catwalk are useless, as might be expected, but there is a little bit of gold in a chest in the corner.
The Warship is the first non-linear dungeon so far, which can be irritating if you don't have prior knowledge of its layout since there's no indication of which way you need to go first at this fork. Actually it can be irritating even if you do, because it forces you to backtrack.
This takes us back down to the prison deck, but this part of it is much larger than the little side area the first staircase took us to.
There's some great loot to be found down here. If you didn't know about Mysidia, the Thief Gauntlet is an awesome find. The Blind Bow follows the pattern of the Ancient Sword and Sleep Sword for status-inflicting weapons. It's nowhere near as good as the Flame Bow, so I stick it on Emo Guy. His accuracy is terrible, but the Longbow he was still using isn't nearly strong enough to damage any of the tougher enemies around here at all.
Guido earns some spell ups. Fire was inevitable, given how many flammable undead there are around here. Toad is just random practice, though--there's no tactical reason for him to be using it at this point, so I just have him cast it whenever there's no need for him to actually attack. The extra practice will be hugely valuable a little bit down the road.
Here's the annoying bit about Ghasts: they cast Blind on your party, and like Sleep it's another super-high-accuracy spell. Ironically, while in a lot of Final Fantasy games blindness is either completely bugged or largely ineffective, here in buggy and imbalanced FFII it works just fine and has a hugely noticeable effect. I don't think the mechanical effect is anything too extreme, but due to the way physical attacks are calculated it seems to have a disproportionate impact; the defender's successful dodges get subtracted from your successful hits, so if your accuracy goes down from blindness you can easily go from reliably landing several hits to rarely being able to beat the defender's evasion at all.
Well, we found Hilda and Cid. Now we just have to figure out what kind of bullshit switch puzzle/key fetch we need to do to get them out.
Screw that! I was pleasantly surprised the first time I got to this part and found that you can just bust the jail wide open like it ain't no thang.
Hilda has terrible taste in guys.
Cid, on the other hand, is a much better judge of character. He knows exactly who to assign to toss our self-sustaining fusion reactor into the engine from within arm's reach.
Fry gets his first Agility increase ever! Emo Guy is also starting to get somewhere with the bow.
There are a few more chests on the prison level, but annoyingly they're both Potions. I guess they're not completely useless, since it is a long dungeon.
Some more skill ups. With level 4 mace Marty can feasibly one-shot most enemies around here, although it's awfully iffy. Fry meanwhile is using Change as his designated "practice when there's nothing better to do" spell.
Mines have a ton of HP, so the only truly safe way to dispose of them without risking their exploding is to use single-targetted Fire or Bolt spells (unless you have a really overleveled spell for multi-targetting.) This is really MP intensive, though, so to conserve resources using Berserk-enhanced physicals is another option. Berserk isn't a status condition in this, so there's no attacking uncontrollably or anything--it's just a straight attack buff.
The jail floor is a dead-end, so back to the fork. I'm getting kind of worn down, though, so I think I'll head back to town to recover. My Exit spell is on the fritz. Guess I'll just have to walk.
Or... not. The Dark Knight shows up here once you rescue Hilda, and while he doesn't do anything to you he's blocking the exit. So make sure you have the resources to make it through the rest of the dungeon before you spring the jail! Thankfully I've still got two ethers in reserve. Again, make sure you use the ethers in battle instead of at the menu screen as you will get a lot more MP from them this way. What happens is that ethers technically cast an MP-restoring "spell", and when you use spells in combat the user's magic stats get factored into the spell's effectiveness--but casting spells from the menu screen doesn't, leaving you with less effect.
Only thing left to do is to take the south branch of the fork, leading down into a different part of the Warship.
This floor is just a long, wide catwalk around a huge recessed pit. Pretty straightforward.
It took me a couple times through this to realize that what you were seeing on the previous floor was a view of all the guys scurrying around on this level. Kind of a neat effect.
There's a big raised structure in the middle of the room that you need to enter to progress, making this another very short and simple floor. But first...
There is a great big pile of awesome loot off to the east. The trident is the spear equivalent to the Were Mace: roughly equivalent power, roughly equivalent effect (effective vs. sea creatures.) It comes about as close as spears get to justifying their existence, but nope, spears are still silly.
The Main Gauche is one of the best weapons in the entire game, though. It's a very strong weapon for this point (at least until you compare it to flame bows and weapons from Mysidia that you're not technically supposed to have yet), but the real beauty of it is that it has an evasion bonus as good as some of the weaker shields--and unlike shields, it barely has any penalty to spellcasting. Double Main Gauches are the best and easiest way to let a dedicated mage have a high speed/evasion (especially if you train up their dagger skill) without killing their spells' success rate.
The next chest is an Ice Shield, but it has another monster-in-a-box. At least this gigas has a good reason to look so forlorn; if I had to sit in a treasure chest waiting for adventurers to let me out, I'd be pretty depressed about it too!
The gigas's HP/defense is right up there with the captains, so normally throwing damage spells is a lot more practical than trying to take them down physically. But with the Berserk spell there is another, more MP-efficient alternative.
It still took me forever, because I spent a long time trying and failing to land a curse with the Ancient Sword before giving up and just beating the gigas's head in with the were mace. On the plus side, that translates to a lot of experience.
(If you're switching around weapons mid-battle the game won't actually bother assigning them experience individually--instead it just waits until the end and then awards whatever skill points you've earned to the weapons you currently have equipped. This only works because after spamming Blink spells on Marty I switched to mace + sword instead of mace + shield.)
Oddly enough, the single mage accompanying the gigas happens to drop an item which is far more valuable than the actual treasure the gigas was guarding. The Magic Staff has three really awesome traits: one, it's a not-uncommon drop from Mages that you can get very early and sell for a lot of money; two, it's a very effective weapon right up there with the Flame Bow in terms of strength; and three...
Using it in battle gives you an at-will Bolt 5 spell for free. It auto-targets everything, though, which limits its usefulness. It's still damn handy. Again, you can find Mages just northwest of Phin and they're not terribly difficult, so as soon as you get turban guy it's pretty simple to go get all the Magic Staves you could possibly want. Being able to spam unlimited quantities of quadruple Bolt 5 makes early areas a lot easier, although to my knowledge using items in combat doesn't provide any experience, so if you abuse it too much your characters will be underleveled (unless you plan on spending time grinding using the various system exploits.)
The last chest coughs up a Giant Helmet. Like the Giant Gauntlet in Mysidia it gives +10 Power, although it's a very heavy piece of armor. It's still a pretty nice upgrade for Marty, since it can be equipped alongside the Thief Gauntlet to offset the evasion hit.
Looting's done, so time to head inside this raised structure. This takes us briefly back up to the floor above before descending deeper into the Warship.
Finally, after several very simple and straightforward floors we come to a bullshit maze. The gimmick here is that there are soldiers blocking most of the intersections, so you have to find a path around them. Mostly this translates to hugging the outside wall and taking the long route around everything.
Along the way we find a new monster. The Stunner is a slightly-beefed up wererat that paralyzes instead of poisoning. They're still pretty weak compared to Panthers. Also, somewhere along the line Emo Guy gets a spell level up.
I mentioned I've been having Guido randomly practicing Toad in situations where his attack spells aren't actually needed to finish fights, and through sheer random fluke it actually ends up working once. As you can see, the Toad spell completely removes enemies from battle, which is awesome. Guido's toadifying skills still aren't up to snuff, and relying on status spells when you've got a couple shields strapped to you is not a good idea period, but it'll be ridiculously useful later.
Eventually we work our way around to the center of the floor.
The moment of truth!
: "Great shot, kid, that was one in a million!"
: "FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOOOOOOU."
Uh oh. The Dark Knight does not seem too happy.
: "Don't think you've won..."
: "That voice... It's so familiar...!"
I showed the GBA portrait here because I find it amusing that in the remake they don't even bother pretending that you haven't already guessed the twist by this point. Or at least you would once you see Marty's gratuitously obvious clue. That's not foreshadowing, that's foreeclipsing.
Cutscene escape! Quite convenient, because after going through the Warship you're probably low on resources.
Cid even drops you off at Altea, so you don't have to trek all the way back from the middle of nowhere.
Oh yeah, don't thank us for saving the free world or anything.
(The GBA version does not bother giving the King his own portrait, so I had to improvise.)
: "Gordon, you have matured considerably. I would like you to be our Commander in Chief."
: "Yes Sir! I am honored!"
: "Minh... the world is in chaos. Should forbidden seal be broken?"
: "Yes. I will go and unseal the magic. It was created for a time such as this."
: "Fry, I feel the Dragoons may be our only hope. Their home, Dist, was destroyed by the Empire... There must have been a few survivors. Our future... depends on the Hir...yuu..."
Ok, I'm willing to cut the translator a lot of slack because they've put a considerable amount of effort into providing an entertaining gaming experience to me for free, but I can't just let this slide without comment. "Hiryuu?" What the hell? If you're going to translate, then translate already!
Oh, it's too hard to translate this complicated Japanese term into English? Fine, I'll help you. You wanna know how to translate Hiryuu? DRAGON. D-R-A-G-O-N. It's six fucking letters, you can't even claim that you were trying to save space!
: "...Your Majesty!"
: "Go on... we must finish what has begun."
Emo Guy leaves at this point, so if he had any items you wanted to keep, make sure you unequip him before starting the cutscene. While I'm at it, I'd like to point out one of the biggest hassles in this vesrion:
See the party inventory? Notice that we're still carrying the SunFlame, EgilTrch, Ice Sled, Pass, and G.Bell. None of these will ever have any use at all for the rest of the game, and there's no way to get rid of them. The Ring and Canoe are only marginally more useful, come to that, and junk like this will only accumulate as you go through the game.