Part 5: The Blighted Despot05. The Blighted Despot
[Music: Mystic Mysidia]
So, Mysidia. The NPCs here actively hate you because Cecil was a bit of a jerk at the start, what with invading them and all. As a result, talking to them is probably a bad idea, so let's talk to the shopkeepers instead. They won't do violent things to us because they have no dialogue.
There's quite a lot here that's got some nice new upgrades for us! In fact, I pick up a Flame Rod, a Healing Staff (casts Heal when used; 12 magic power, restores some HP to everyone in the party - worse than a potion but free and infinite) and a lot of Holy Arrows. For armour, I pick up the Wizard's Hat and the Silver Armlet but not the Gaia Gear. We can get one of those for free very shortly.
All in all, this is how Rydia's gonna be decked out going into the next dungeon.
So, with that done, let's go talk to the one man here with a unique sprite. He gives us our task - go to the mountain crawling with undead and have a class change. Unfortunately, what he neglects to mention is that the entrance is blocked by fire and Cecil isn't a mage so plotwise we can't get in.
He doesn't really need to mention it though since he gives us new party members in Palom and Polom. Pretty good mages, one focuses exclusively on black and the other on white. Do great stuff with Twincast etc. etc. What the elder neglects to mention, though, is that they are 5 years old.
Really paints that Nintendo Power depiction in a whole new light, doesn't it?
Equipment wise they're pretty outdated, but I steal their stuff anyway. I can sell it if nothing else, so it's not that big of a deal.
Getting to Mount Ordeals is a pretty straightforward trip; it's just to the right of Mysidia. But, we're not really interested in the dungeon just yet. We do want to go to it, though, since it's right next to our real objective.
Along the way we run into Zus. They're buckets of health and are hilariously susceptible to almost every ailment. Most notable is the death effect of Cecil's new sword from Fabul.
Most relevant is petrification. I like when enemies that are meant to be tricky can be killed instantly. Doubly so when that's the intended way of dealing with them.
So, directly south of Mount Ordeals is this conspicuous forest. We could've gone to a few of these by now but this is the first one with something special.
These are chocobo forests, and we want that one on the far left.
It's a White Chocobo, and these guys make abusing Zus for fun and profit even easier. They restore 500 MP to the entire party when you talk to them. It's free and immediate so there's not much of a reason not to use them whenever you can really.
Much more importantly, though, directly north of Mount Ordeals theres these mountains. We want to be on the other side of them, but there's no way of getting there until we can fly normally.
So, we're just gonna walk around.
Following that path around to about here is where we want to go. It's easy to not know this is here, honestly, because of how out of the way it is.
But, hey, we can fight enemies who hang around just outside Troia here so why not? Well, it's kind of a bad idea with just Rydia so there's one reason.
We can almost one-shot these things with our spells that aren't Cockatrice, but they can deal bigger numbers than the next few bosses if they try. So, yeah, there's a Peninsula of Power here. I'm not gonna abuse it, because that would be boring.
So, yeah, it exists. A shame that it's kinda useless in a regular game though. Palom and Polom get overpowered enough just by progressing normally and are only around for two dungeons, Dark Knight Cecil stops existing about 10 minutes from now and Paladin Cecil can grind easier on Mt. Ordeals if you want to.
[Music: Mt. Ordeals ~ Mountain Theme]
So, how about that Mt. Ordeals? Let's go beat up some zombies!
With Palom around, he can deal with the fire and we can actually get past the first few steps.
In doing so, we get a minor preview of the upcoming boss and that's see that Rosa's fine enough for now. She's tied up and has a guillotine above her head but it'd be weirder if she was allowed to just wander around on her own anyway.
Oh, and everything in this dungeon is undead. Everything. There is only one exception, really. Two depending on how generous you feel like being.
So, I'm gonna kill almost everything with Holy Arrows. This comes with the obvious issue of "bows are terrible." That 40% is the chance for each of the 2 attacks to hit. That's a 16% chance for them both to hit. Rydia ain't hitting a damn thing like this, but when she does it's gonna count.
The treasure here is pretty meh. It's just Potions and the occasional Ether. How disappointing.
[Music: Battle 1 ~ Battle Theme]
In terms of new enemies, we start with these guys. Souls are just Spirits but yellow and with more HP. They still absorb Fire, and they're still thoroughly uninteresting otherwise. Well, that and they're absurdly dodgy.
Ghouls are upgraded versions of Zombies (exactly what you would expect). You hit them, they die. We could've fought Zombies at the Waterway leading to Octomammoth but somehow got lucky enough to avoid them entirely. They turn up again here, with another upgraded version so there's that I guess.
The other new enemy we find pretty quickly is a Lilith. Despite what you would expect, they're both undead and an insect. They're pretty annoying to fight if they feel like using their spells ever, but they also die to one Cockatrice or two Fires. Fire is slower but saves MP so it's a trade-off really.
Oh, they can inflict all sortsa nasty ailments if they want to, but they seem to like hitting Rydia with physicals more. It's big numbers but I'm not complaining. At least it's not using Entice.
On the plus side, they give a lot of EXP. They also have two nice drops, but we'll worry about those later. For now, let's keep climbing this mountain.
Partway up the mountain, we find Tellah again. He's looking for some ultimate magic spell that's not very good. He's also the reason I didn't bother buying Gaia Gear since he brings some with him now.
Once we get Tellah back, it's just a quick trip to the top of the mountain where a disembodied voice makes funny noises at us. That sounds awful familiar, doesn't it?
It should, because it's the boss. Silly Scarmiglione, you're not the Mist Dragon. Good thing he stops pretending to be it now.
[Music: Battle 2 ~ Boss Battle]
Scarmiglione's not that tough a fight, to be honest. He tries so hard to be, but he's pretty simple here.
He has a fair chunk of HP but we can manage. His offensive stats aren't that great, and he's not much on defense either. Also he's not actually Undead here, which is pretty weird!
Scarmiglione's gimmick is pretty simple. He comes with four Skullnants, who only appear here and are basically super zombies but still die to a single casting of Fire. So long as these guys are alive, he will never attack you of his own volition.
Y'see, he operates awful similar to one of Baron's captains. He yells at the Skullnants, and they attack. The difference is Skullnants still attack on their own in the interim.
Of course, their attacks are pretty lackluster too. They exclusively cast Drain... which they shouldn't be able to. They only have 16 MP and Drain casts 18 MP to use. The game's cheating gets worse later, but whatever. They're worthless and this one is kind of a non-issue anyway.
We want to keep a single Skullnant alive, but unable to get in the way. So, Stop works perfectly fine for that. Scarmiglione is susceptible to Stop too, yes, but good luck getting it to stick. Slow's more efficient for him if you're gonna do anything but slowing Scarmiglione is kind of irrelevant.
Since he's not undead and has no weakness, Fire doesn't hurt him that much. That's not the big deal here, though. Scarmiglione's offensive comes exclusively from counters.
Unlike the Antlion who countered only physicals, everytime Scarmiglione gets damaged he counters with a Thunder. That's why Slow doesn't help that much in practice, since he doesn't really deal any less damage.
But, hey, he's a single target and has no magic defensive so...
Chocobo Kick is still absurdly effectively against him.
He counters with Thunder still, yeah, but at that kinda damage it doesn't take long for him to be whittled down to nothing.
But, y'know, that's the easy way to go about things. What if you wanted to try something a bit more daring and not exploit his inability to attack normally?
Well, first, we're gonna use an Hourglass to inflict Stop on every Skullnant at once. Then we just pick them all of with Fire spells, leaving only Scarmiglione alive. Since he's unable to attack and can't counter yet, this leaves us completely unharmed.
At this point, he does start attacking of his own volition but in a simple and easy pattern. Regular Attack → Thunder → Regular Attack → Thunder → Regular Attack... ad infinitum. His regular attack misses about two thirds of the time, give or take, and even when it does connect deals a whopping 1 damage.
So, since Scarmiglione only has one real method of attack you might be thinking you can just wait for all his MP to be worn out. He has 218 and Thunder costs 5 MP a use, so 43 uses and he's done right? Well, no.
I waited for over an hour and he never ran out of MP (it takes him about 10 minutes to cast Thunder 43 times, for reference). So, sadly, that's not an option. Instead, if you get him alone it's just a damage race. Kinda lame, but whatever.
He's not particularly threatening no matter how you go about it, so it doesn't take long to finally kill him.
That done, we run back to the save point to heal and save. The next fight is actually vaguely tricky, albeit that's due to me being stubborn more than anything else. Also we want Rydia in the front row here, because forced back attack etc. etc.
So now we have to refight Scarmiglione and he's a lot harder. Well, in a sense.
[Music: Battle with the Four Fiends]
Scarmiglione doesn't get a name-change here, but in the older translations he was called Milon-Z presumably to make it even more obvious that he's now undead and that's totally exploitable. You can't do the usual "use the down feathers of a Phoenix to revive him to death" thing, because of an immunity to Death and all, but that's fine.
He's gotten a lot stronger than his previous incarnation, but in return added three weaknesses. We can exploit them all, of course, but it's odd that he absorbs ice. Sadly, his not-awful magic defence means we can't spam Chocobo Kick and laugh for once so we gotta do something different. But that's fine, because he does too.
He gets to be a show-off in that he gets two gimmicks! I guess that's to make up for his previous one being copied from other things. Or even three depending on whether you count "only boss who back attacks you" as one or not.
His first gimmick is that every time he hits, it has a chance of poisoning you. This is all he does, mind you.
He hits you really, really hard and can also poison you occasionally. This poison is a bit of a bugger and curing it isn't really gonna help that much, since it can come back pretty frequently you're just gonna be wasting turns.
While Scarmiglione is now weak to fire, he has a magic defense stat so they counteract a fair bit. You're meant to have Fira by now, which would render this completely irrelevant since that would deal a lot of damage but no such luck with Rydia. She doesn't get that until the plot gives it to her... several bosses from now.
Of course, Scarmiglione doesn't take this just lying down either. His second gimmick is to counter all fire spells with this. Song of Curse is meant to inflict Slow on the entire party in spite of the name.
I say "meant to" because it doesn't. It doesn't do anything in fact. It's glitched and doesn't work. That's not exclusive at all to the Advance remake. In every single version of the game I can think of, this attack does nothing. I wanna say they fixed it for the DS remake but I don't remember honestly.
The alternative is to hit him with Holy Arrows. They hit his significantly lower physical defense and get the benefit of hitting both his Throw and Holy weaknesses at once.
Y'know, assuming they ever hit him. Because they will miss a lot. Because Scarmiglione is quite fast and so has good Evasion whereas bows have awful accuracy.
Eventually, though, enough will hit him and he will die. You have no idea how many arrows I had to fire to get this result. I have no idea how many arrows I had to fire for that matter. Somewhere between "a lot" and "far too many" is my guess, though.
Also he has a pretty nice death animation, on account of being a fiend and all.
But, thinking about it, beating him this way isn't very fun and it takes way too long. There's a way to speed things up massively, and all we need is one item. We got it quite a while ago and I kept it on-hand explicitly for this.
Once he gets to around half health, you can just throw the X-Potion from the Waterway at him and he will die. You can also throw it at the start to cut the fight's time in half that way but that's less exciting than killing him with it.
And with that, we've beaten the first fiend are a lot closer to taking out the next two than we really should be.
Scarmilon-Z did a number on me because I'm a stubborn git, so I think we should rest up before proceeding.
Next time: Why Final Fantasy IV's drop rates are worse than they sound. While we're at it, we'll kill at least one thing that we're not meant to. Just because we can.
Scarmiglione ~ Amano artwork.
...And I feel obligated to point out that, yes, Scarmiglione and four other bosses are named after demons after the Malebranche who resided in Malebolge in the Inferno part of the Divine Comedy. Cagnazzo, Barbariccia and Rubicante are obvious enough being the other three fiends but it's easy to overlook that Calcabrina follows this pattern as well. The DS/iOS superboss Geryon follows this pattern as well, to a point. He's not part of the Malebranche, though, but rather serves as transport to the eighth circle of Hell from the seventh.