Part 3: Wintry Cave
Foresta's back to normal and everyone's happy and stuff.
Kaeli's better now, but still kinda weak so Benjamin's off to the next area. The original had a battlefield here, but it's not there in the remake.
Mac's not relevant until the penultimate dungeon so who cares.
I never did use these, oh well.
There's another battlefield, but it'll kick Benjamin's ass solo, so to the Libra Temple!
Benjamin's a sucker for a sad sack, apparently.
Gotta say, this design's a bit bizarre to me. Especially since her official artwork has her wearing some badass armor.
Then again, it's stolen fan art anyway, so really who cares.
In the remake Phoebe flat-out starts with the Bow of Grace rather than the Cat Claw, and like Tristam she has unlimited ammo. Benjamin can use her armor, but since Phoebe can't equip Benjamin's Steel Helmet she gets to keep her Circlet.
She also has a bunch of spells. The status spells target everyone, though Blind sucks since many attacks bypass it, and Silence isn't very useful for many regular encounters. Sleep is still great, though. Meanwhile, Phoebe also has the tier 2 elemental spells, including Aero (which has no L1 equivalent), though they're also all single-target and thus aren't that helpful due to their cost (not that MP will really be an issue).
The first battlefield is nothing but these guys. They have a weak physical attack and a strong physical attack. That's pretty much it.
They also pay off very well.
Only one or two of the five battlefields we'll do have an actual reward. None for this one, which is kinda lame.
Best to heal before doing the rest, so let's check out Aquaria!
Plot exposition can wait.
Very cheap inn.
And here is where the game's economy breaks. 138000/2000 = 69 Seeds. There's no equipment shops here, so there's really little else to spend money on. You can just magic your way through all problems at this point.
The worst part is you don't even really need to do this, as the next dungeon has enough Seeds scattered around to more than make up for your MP needs. Still, I buy a good chunk of seeds because as I said, I'm doing this blind so who knows what'll pop up.
Full-Potions heal 100% of HP. We could max out on these if we really wanted.
Phoebe comes with one, and it didn't seem that great to me, but what the hell.
And that's +300 Max HP right there!
The new twist for the Wintry Cave is a new boss. Sure, more challenge ain't bad.
We have four more battlefields to go through, first!
This field has Mint Mints and Giant Toads. The latter have a weak physical and a poison attack like the other toads, but these guys can also inflict Confusion.
It's around this time I start using Bombs. As expected, they're weaker than physicals but spread that damage to all enemies. In the original, they did more damage the fewer enemies there were, but the damage is static in this game. Still useful to soften enemies up, and they're crazy-cheap too.
Phoebe picks up the always-helpful Cura. We're around the point where it's useful now.
So I think this gave me a weak accessory as a reward? I remember seeing the reward when I played initially, but can't find it in the footage. It wasn't that great anyway so whatever.
The next battlefield has the same two enemies plus Scorpions, which only attack but have a chance of inflicting poison when doing so. They're also weirdly vulnerable to physical attacks, taking more damage than normal.
Confuse is another cheap status spell that affects all enemies, and as you may expect it's one of the better ones. It really depends on whether you want to shut down enemies completely to pick off stragglers, or you want a round or two of breathing room while getting some free damage. Both are fine options.
This is the only battlefield of the five with a "boss". It mainly does more damage and has a ton more HP.
This thing will probably be useful later, but silence and sleep have not come up yet and still won't when we enter the Wintry Cave. Poison and Confusion will still be the bane of the party, though the Gaia Ring blocks the latter.
Edgehogs are pretty nasty. They do decent damage and can inflict Blind and Paralysis.
Now Benjamin can rezz people without Phoenix Downs. It restores more HP, so it'll usually be the better option.
Otherwise nothing of note for that one.
In the original, you can't access this battlefield until after you complete the Wintry Cave. Not so here!
Desert Hags are nasty. Their physicals do large damage, and they can cast Blizzard or Blizzara, the latter doing huge damage. I spent so much MP healing between battles I made multiple inn trips (gotta save my 30ish Seeds and all).
After all that I have over 168k gil.
I end up spending 50k of it on seeds and miscellenous items. Anyway, we're done with battlefields so now for today's dungeon!
So, first difference. We can flat-out climb these immediately. No Cat Claw needed.
Also the layout for the first floor is significantly different in general.
Quite a few new enemies. Centaurs are nasty, being able to blind and confuse while dealing large damage with Bull's Eye. They also have a ton of HP to burn through.
Land Worms are pretty much stronger Sand Worms. I think they have a single-target Quake spell that's new? Otherwise same stuff as before.
These guys can cast Aero (though it's not nearly as painful at this stage of the game) and also buff their defense. They're weak to Phoebe's bow. I guess some weapon weaknesses do work, then?
There's several gil rewards. This is the highest I found, while the lowest was a pathetic 250 gil. We currently have 120k.
Economy could've used a bit of tweaking.
The big change is this guy. We'll come back to him later.
A much-needed upgrade for Benjamin. It's honestly not that much more powerful than the Axe, even with the fire element. The main draw is the "fast" modifier, which lets Benjamin go early in battle, sometimes before enemies.
In one level, Phoebe learns Firaga, Blizzaga, Thundaga, and Tornado. These are very expensive (around 36ish MP I think?) but do huge damage to all enemies. These will be valuable for bosses.
Now you get the Cat Claw by climbing this one path. Sure, why not.
It also blocks the path from that direction. No clue what would've happened if I came in from the top-left direction.
The Cat Claw is slightly weaker than the Flame Sword, but it can also inflict Poison and Paralysis. That's free damage and the possibility of stunning an enemy to prevent damage. The Cat Claw is much more valuable to me as a result.
I only see three Land Turtles total in this dungeon. Decent physical, Quake attack, and I think they can poison? No biggie.
Sure, why not.
The rest goes as expected.
Though you do get six Seeds in this one room. Who needs money anyway?
Also Phoebe learns Slow. Why not?
That's a lot of enemies. That leaves just two foes left here.
This guy was the original boss of this dungeon and can be threatening here.
Damage is pretty solid!
So is the damage Squidite deals.
With the Wizard buff, that damage doubles. Yeah, buffs are great.
Firaga and White spam take it down easily enough.
This unlocks the door to that guy we saw earlier.
Cagnazzo can be challenging, even at the highest level we could be right now. I wiped my first attempt.
There's six Power Condiuts (his spelling, not mine) that each cast Blizzard. Then Cagnazzo casts a spell, whether something like Pyro or even Blizzara on his own party. That damage adds up very quickly.
These things are also pretty durable. It takes two buffed Firagas to kill them off.
Cagnazzo healed them with Blizzara, so I had two stragglers after this, but that's more than enough breathing room at this point to rezz Benjamin and buff and attack.
This battle was also where I learned that the Wizard stat applies to both magic attack and magic defense. Think the Special stat from Pokemon RBY, before they wisely split it in later games.
Without the Condiuts, Cagnazzo's not that threatening and goes down rather quickly.
As much as I've criticized about this hack, the one thing that's been consistently good so far are the boss battles. Each one has been challenging enough that I had to employ some sort of strategy, and a couple like this one even challenge you enough that you can't just brute force things with damage attacks. Not necessarily perfect, but it feels like the most care for this game went into designing them to be as engaging as possible.
Anyway, goal accomplished. Next time, more stuff, probably.