We're finally out of Lindblum!
Our next destination is supposed to be Gizamaluke's Grotto, but doing so right now means we miss out on two major sidequests. So instead we'll do the first sidequest today.
This place is between Lindblum and the Grotto.
Welcome to a fucking marsh!
There's enemies around. These are Gigan Toads.
They cast Blizzara and Water.
They can also set party members to sleep with their eyes.
Here's Lancer in action. Not too shabby, though the MP damage is usually meaningless and the ability's pretty expensive right now. Still, it deals extra damage and works in the back row.
Freya's victory stance is to twirl her lance a bit and look badass.
The knowledgeable Mogster lives in a marsh for some unfathomable reason. We can get directions to Gizamaluke's Grotto if we don't know how to read a map.
Going north gets us to this high grassy area. Left and right are dead-ends, straight is the way to go.
Hey, didn't we see this fella in Alexandria?
It's too hungry to talk, so let's grab a frog.
Maaaaybe this is a callback to throwing meat at Gau in FF6? Probably a stretch, admittedly, though Gau and this particular character are a bit similar in certain ways.
FADE TO CRICKET SOUNDS
Who the heck are you?
Yes, this random creature lurking around in a marsh in a vain attempt to eat frogs is our next party member. Of course.
Quina here is actually optional for this part of the game. There is a point where Quina becomes mandatory, but for this next stretch of gameplay we can play with just Zidane/Vivi/Freya, though there's absolutely no reason not to have Quina along.
Suddenly we have a scene change to Quale's hut.
But, Master, frogs very good! Frogs here best! Better than Alexandria's.
Quina, you in darkness. Need some light. World big place. Many many foods. Alexandria just one kingdom. You need go out more, eat other food.
Go out into world...? Sound scary. Are there yummier frogs outside?
Of course! Many good frogs!
Qu marshes exist all over world. Go eat frogs in other marshes. I promise, you get much learning.
Anywhere with good food.
We're trying to stop a potential war and save a princess but sure let's help a guy eat some frogs.
There is plenty of stuff in the world that tastes better than frogs.
Okay, I go with you!
So, Qus. They're generally driven by their desires to experience new foods, which explains why they are generally known as gourmets and take jobs as chefs. In fact, Quina was the very Qu working in the kitchen in Alexandria, and also participates in the Festival of the Hunt under the name "The Strange Gourmand." Despite that, Quina's a bit pickier than the other Qus, probably due to its youth, being "only" 89 years old. So Quina's whole storyline is coming of age by experiencing exotic new foods while, you know, everyone else is trying to save the world. Quina's the token comic relief character that has little relevance to the actual plot.
What's up, Vivi?
Also, Vivi's grandfather was apparently a Qu himself.
Yeah... Maybe he knows my grandpa.
Um... Do you know a man named Quan?
Grandpa Quan was a bit strange, but... How do you know him?
I-I no can answer.
Grandpa Quan looks exactly like you, Mr. Quale...
Of course. We from same tribe.
You really don't know him?
Honestly...? That's too bad... Let's go, Vivi.
You may have been wondering just what kind of party member uses a freaking fork as a weapon. There you go.
Forks are the axes of this game, i.e. weapons with huge damage ranges. You could do a ton of damage, or pathetic damage.
Both the starting Fork and the Needle Fork we stole from Zaghnol teach the same ability. High Tide increases the rate a character reaches Trance. In technical terms, Trance triggers once the Trance gauge hits 255. Usually when a character gets hit, a random number up to their Spirit is added to that gauge. High Tide changes this to simply be the character's Spirit instead. Unfortunately Quina's Spirit is pretty low but it's fine because Quina's Trance is probably the worst in the game anyway.
Since Quina is technically a mage, it doesn't have many passives. Since a lot of gear is still being used, all I can teach it is Millionaire, which gives 1.5x gil from battle. Why not?
The game uses "s/he" a lot with regard to Quina, but as far as I know Qus are simply genderless. So I don't know why a fellow Qu would use such pronouns when talking about another Qu, or even how "s/he" is pronounced. It'd be a novelty to see voice acting for this dialogue just to see that pop up.
Quina's a Blue Mage, and though Blue Magic's not as busted here as it is in other games, it's still pretty solid.
Unlike other games, Quina doesn't learn magic by being hit with it.
No, it learns magic by eating its enemies. In order to successfully eat an enemy, the enemy has to be under 25% of its max HP.
Vivi helps with this. Also an excuse to see the wonderful animations in this game, as I haven't even noticed Quina's idle animation until now.
And with that, we've got our first blue magic spell, and it's a doozy.
Frog Drop's damage is # of Frogs Caught * Level. Wait, frogs caught?
Welcome to one of the bigger minigames, frog catching. Let's do this.
Frog catching is simple. Wait for the frog to jump out, run at it, and hope you get lucky enough to catch it.
Sounds simple enough, but of course there's more to this.
There are male and female frogs. If you catch all the frogs, it takes a long time for the marsh to populate with new frogs. Leaving a male and female frog lets the marsh build back up more quickly. If there's a golden frog (you may have noticed this marsh has one), then they breed even faster for whatever reason. So it's good to leave a male, female, and a golden frog unless you're going to be gone for awhile.
So frog catching does two things. First, it boosts the damage from Frog Drop, which is pretty key since it's one of the more notable ways to hit 9999 damage.
Second, hitting certain thresholds leads Quale to give Quina things. Starting out, these things are pretty lackluster.
Thank you, Master Quale! I train more!
Five frogs leads to an Ether.
And that's it for Frog Catching. The rest of the update will be dedicated to accumulating blue magic.
You see, right now Quina has nine blue magic spells available. And we're going to get all of them.
These are Axolotls. They cast Water but otherwise aren't too exciting.
They teach Aqua Breath, which is pretty underwhelming right now.
It only has 50% accuracy and simply does 1/4 the max HP of a monster in water damage. Maaaybe it gets better later, but right now my characters can deal more than that.
Also here's Vivi looking right at you.
Frog drop dropping a frog. 8 * 5 = 40 damage.
Zidane also learns Bandit so now I can give him the Butterfly Sword.
This guy is a Hedgehog Pie. It does things that are irrelevant.
Speaking of irrelevant, Pumpkin Head is an irrelevant blue magic spell. It's this game's Revenge spell, which does "Max HP - Current HP" damage. Nope.
Three of the enemies we can learn blue magic from are up on the plateau that we can access through the business district.
We saw Carve Spiders earlier. They teach LV3 Def-less, which affects both physical and magical defenses of creatures with levels at multiples of 3. The amount it reduces seems to be random from what I can find.
Axe Beaks teach the bizarre Limit Glove, which is useless unless Quina is at exactly 1HP. Then it deals 9999 damage. There are ways later on where we can set Quina's HP to 1. Yes, this can get nuts.
Regular ol' bombs also float around here, and yes, they can explode.
Mustard Bomb has a 30% chance of inflicting Heat on an enemy. If something has Heat status, they instantly die when they take an action. The enemy AI is too stupid not to act with Heat status, so when it lands it's pretty nice.
Now to finish off the enemies down below.
Serpions will go into a counter stance when physically attacked.
They then counter with a nasty attack that inflicts poison. Antibody is handy here.
So, uh, we've already learned one of the best Blue Magic spells.
Mighty Guard is usally a late-game spell in other FF's, but it's available as soon as you get Quina here. It still casts Protect and Shell on the entire party, though it's slightly less effective in this game since Protect and Shell can wear off. Quina doesn't have enough MP to cast it yet, but it's close.
Ladybugs also teach Pumpkin Head so they offer nothing to us except their relatively neat-looking design.
Ironites are a giant block of HP with some nasty damaging attacks.
Angel's Snack is an odd spell that has Quina use a Remedy on every party member. Not useful right now since we don't have a reliable way to stockpile them and status effects aren't yet a big deal but could be useful later on.
Also, these guys can hurt.
While trying to get the last spell, I start running away so I don't get too overleveled.
During one battle, Zidane triggers Trance. I figure, what the hell, I'll show off the Dyne version of What's That!?.
But immediately after the animation ends I run away. Good ol' Trance.
This guy took forever. You probably remember him from Dali. This is a Vice.
Vanish gives the target immunity to physical attacks and 100% hit rate with their own physical attacks. Magic will wear it off, though unlike FF6 I don't think magic attacks automatically hit Vanished targets.
And that's it for Blue Magic for now! Next time we do the other major side-quest, probably one of the most well-loved in the series.