Part 4: Stalin is Assassinated by a Dirty Rat
Here's a menu shot of Cid. I'm showing this now because he's about to leave the party. He probably has the shortest stay of any partner.
And there he goes. We're free to explore the town.
The people here make no attempts at being politically correct.
He hid it in the basement of Cid's house. Don't get excited, it's only a stupid Blind spell.
Gold Pins heal petrification. Considering we get a game over if Stalin is petrified, they're essentially gil.
Mushrooms heal Mini, and they're actually more useful than you'd expect.
There's an Elixir here.
Cid: Thanks! That's twice now you've been so helpful... Ah, yes! There's a switch hidden in the candle on the wall over there. It opens a path that leads to an old airship storehouse. There might be something useful in there.
Cid then jumps backwards. He will continue to do this if you keep talking to him.
So of course, I do.
The loot is normally nice for a four-person party, but it's useless here. Don't know how useful Blind is, but you can buy it right in this town. You get a couple FenixDowns, which revive characters, but for obvious reasons we have no use for those, though they sell for a nice chunk of money for this stage of the game. The only thing I can really only get here is the Great Bow, and to be honest I don't see any reason to use it as a Fighter or Black Mage, the only two classes I have right now that can use them.
So yeah, I kind of regret wasting an Elixir on this crap, as Elixirs are the only item in the game that recover MP.
The equipment is the same Mithril stuff as before, but there's L2 spells to buy here. I pick up the Lit spell just to have another attack spell. I don't think it's any stronger than Fire/Ice, but it uses L2 charges which generally don't have much use anyway, plus it hits water enemies for good damage.
I also pick up more Potions because they're my life blood.
Time to go to the nearby mountain, where a massive dragon suddenly decides to visit.
This dungeon's pretty short, which is great, because this stage has some dangerous enemies for Stalin.
Eagles. They're pathetically weak, but they do have one nasty side effect.
They can inflict petrification on Stalin, which is instant death. That's one.
There's also Crows, which simply hit hard. Nothing Stalin can't handle, though.
Aero's a nice offensive White Mage spell that wrecks flying types. It's nice for this area, though not worth switching out from Fighter for.
This dungeon is incredibly short, just this screen.
Then Bahamut kidnaps us and takes us to his nest.
Man: Me? Uh, hahaha... got me there! My name's Deshu.
Stalin: I'm Stalin.
Deshu: Truth is, I'm looking for my memories. I can't remember anything besides my name. I know there's something I have to do, but I haven't the foggiest clue what it is.
So now we have a boss fight.
Meet Bahamut. He's got a shitload of HP that he automatically replenishes at the end of every round. The trick to this fight is to take Deshu's advice and Run.
Except Stalin doesn't want to run away.
Meanwhile, Bahamut's wailing on a defenseless Stalin.
Eventually, I put on a shield and move to the backrow, which reduces the damage Bahamut can do to me.
Four minutes and 35 failed attempts later, I finally manage to run away. I'm not kidding, it took me that fucking long to run away from a fight where the entire point is to run away.
Deshu: Let's go! Jump!
We're back in the overworld with a new spell and a new partner. The forest on the right is a location we can visit.
Luckily, there's recovery water here, which we'll need to restore MP.
Let's talk to Deshu.
Deshu: Traveling with you guys, I have nothing to worry about!
Deshu: I heard in Kanaan that there's a town of midgets in the forest somewhere around here, but we won't be able to get in without using the Size spell!
Here's a fun fact: This game really, really likes using the Size spell as a gimmick. Size reduces your physical attack and defense to zero, which requires you to use spells in a game where Black Magic kind of sucks.
We're going to need magic, so to save capacity I switch to a Red Mage. You have to cast Mini on everyone in order to enter the next area. At least when I turn big again I can carry my tiny dead comrades in my pocket. Also, there's Deshu's menu sprite.
Welcome to the Midget Village. You've got to love early translations.
Dashing with partners is weird. Normally, pressing B will cause you to talk to the partner, but there are ways around it. Holding down B while pressing A will let you dash. You can also exit the menu holding B to dash, and it'll hold if you go between screens without menu introductions (like the Midget Village heading above). I think for those you can hold B and press A as well to dash.
The fun thing about dashing with partners is they can't keep up, which leads to some fun visual glitches.
Like so. You can have Deshu walk through walls and pop up over dialogue boxes. Fun!
Also, Deshu has new dialogue.
Deshu: Wow... this small... This is pretty miserable. And we can't use swords like this... we can only fight with magic!
Deshu: The defense power of midgets is just 1... everyone should go to the back row! And you'll want to have at least three black mages, or things could get pretty nasty...
He isn't kidding, but unfortunately that's simply not something we can do.
You can catch up on Black Magic and pick up more Aero spells if you wish.
There's some good loot here, most notably Cure2, our first L3 spell.
This guy needs an Antidote. You know the drill.
Who's ready for a gimmick dungeon!?
Oh, did I mention magic sucks? Even single-target spells won't reliably kill enemies. These dungeons wouldn't be so bad if Black Magic didn't suck so much.
Yes, I said dungeons.
Yeah, we don't. I fight a couple of battles and run away from the rest. It's not worth the effort, it costs a lot of magic points, and I don't really want to gain levels as a Red Mage anyway.
The dungeon's only two rooms long, so it's pretty short, and soon we're back outside. Luckily, that next location isn't another dungeon.
I actually switch to a Black Mage for the first time, as we'll want to remain small for the next dungeon, which has a proper boss. Ugh.
Our next location is a viking hideout. Except they can't sail the sea because of a sea monster blocking the way.
In addition to an inn and item shop, there's a Red Mage selling more black magic. That'll come in handy eventually.
3000 gil for two Fenix Downs. Nice way to fund my Potion addiction.
Sleeping doesn't heal Mini, which is actually great. I don't want to waste capacity inflicting Mini on myself before switching around. Especially since I'd have to go White Mage -> Black Mage, since Red Mages have lower magic points per level and when you switch jobs you only have the MP of the previous class. White and Black Mages have the same growths, so generally you want to go between the two if necessary. Don't know if it'll come up in the future, so why not put that tidbit next to a screenshot of Stalin staring longingly at Deshu?
These three chests hidden here have Fire2, Ice2, and Lit2. Having three spells is normally very important for the next boss, though it doesn't really matter here since we have one character and not three to spread them out with. Still, more magic doesn't hurt. Well, it sort of does since we have limited inventory space and now I have a Cure2 spell taking up room, but whatever.
If we stop this monster, we get a ship. Spiffy.
Also, I shoot a cannonball into Deshu's tiny balls.
We can actually ride the ship out, though if we go past that chokepoint we'll fight an "unbeatable" boss. I actually forgot to demonstrate that, but it's no big deal. You'll have plenty of opportunities to see me die in the next dungeon anyway.
The shrine up here is our next destination.
That's right, it's another mini dungeon, and this one is longer, has much tougher random encounters, and has a boss. This dungeon's actually rather infamous for being a pain in the ass and having to deal with a boss armed only with black magic. Trust me, it's not much better with only one character.
While I could fight, sometimes you just want to run, as many formations can kill you faster than you'll kill it.
There's several new equipment here. The Shell Armor and Helmet, for instance.
There's Poison Bats and Blood Worms, both of which are pretty weak and won't do much to you.
Also, there's the Serpent sword, a pretty nice upgrade that wrecks water enemies.
Were Rats simply attack. Lilliputs like to use magic on you, which hurts.
The boss is a Huge Rat. This guy's no ordinary rat.
Stalin has four L3 charges as a Black Mage. The Huge Rat has 450HP. The idea is to use all four charges and then use a S Wind item to cast Ice2. Five L2 spells will take this guy down. Normally, you'd have three Black Mages tossing these L2 spells at once with a White Mage healing or throwing Aero, but here it's Stalin tossing these one per turn.
The problem here is surviving long enough to cast those spells. The Huge Rat has regular attacks, which are weak, and L2 spells, which hurt hard. The strategy is to attack after the Huge Rat uses a physical attack, and to use Potions after each spell the Huge Rat casts.
Potions won't outpace the rat's magic, but it'll make up enough.
Of course, it takes a few tries to figure out this strategy.
I end up deciding to grind for levels as a Monk.
Fun Fact: While you can't leave the little area with the ship, you can still move around there and fight some of the water enemies there.
Monks and Fighters are at the point now where they get two hits per weapon.
That said, a Monk can't really protect himself from these stronger enemies.
I decide to go back to Nept's Shrine, take the equipment, and leave without fighting the boss. Along the way, I encounter Tiny Mages, who cast magic. Magic hurts.
Now this is a set-up built for ocean grinding.
Beautiful, beautiful damage.
After grinding for capacity...
There. Another level under my belt, and I'm at over fifty Potions. I think I'm ready this time.
OK, this time I'm ready.
Even the regular enemies can kill you.
It took seven attempts, but I finally beat this dungeon.
And then a random encounter kills me on the way back. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK
And now we're done. Fuck this dungeon.
One of the items lets you check out the overworld, if you want an idea of what's going on. Our destination is that peninsula directly to our northwest.
Deshu has new dialogue.
Deshu: We've got ourselves a ship! Now we can go and search out all the pretty women in-- A joke, it's a JOKE!
Deshu: I think the king of Argus knows about airships... I heard someone talking about that in Kanaan.
Deshu: There's supposed to be a valley where a bunch of bald and blind people called the Gurugan clan live. They're supposed to see the future too... do you think they really can?!
Next time, we see if they can. Also, I probably die a lot.
Update Death Counter: 8
Total Death Counter: 22