Part 13: Bartz vs. Adolescence
The bad news is that we won't be getting any new abilities this update. While I do have a couple key battles, I don't really fight many random encounters. Ah well, hopefully I'll get some good stuff next update.
So we lost one mode of transportation only to get a better one a few minutes later. Black Chocobos can fly over mountains (but not the tall peaks like the ones in the above screenshot) and can only land in forests. Honestly, the only real difference is that we can't access the forestless Jachol now, but it does open up one new area and now we can go back to the Tycoon area, not that we have any reason to.
So let's go to this town in the middle of nowhere.
This town gets its own special music and everything. The name's a bit off, but then it's better known as Lix, which isn't much better a name. Close enough, at least.
Anyway, this is special in being Bartz's home town. There's quite a bit to this place, actually.
Bartz hasn't been here since he was a child, pretty much, so this is his first time returning in ten or fifteen years, I guess.
I used to be so unassuming... Now I'm going to be a scholar.
So this cutscene is pretty much a lengthier-than-necessary explanation for why Bartz is scared of heights. I mean, it's cool the game gave us a reason and all, but it's tough to say whether it's really something that needed answering. It's a very minor quibble, though, and it's neat they went to the effort of coding a separate cutscene just for a tiny sliver of character development.
Also, this guy literally uses a Simpsons joke in the GBA version ("I'm S-M-R-T smart!"), one of the several instances where the translator dives right into meme territory.
When you're done with your travels would you come see me?
...As I said, Bartz hasn't been here since he was a kid, so this is kind of weird and creepy. Then again, I guess being in a remote town surrounded by mountains, your dating prospects are rather slim.
I'd think they'd make sure not to put inappropriate commas on a tombstone, though maybe weather or some freak occurance knicked a bit off the stone so that it looks like a comma. That or a grammatical vandalist.
I haven't had a seizure for some time now...
I know. But get some sleep... you need the rest.
I will...but I have one more job to do before that...
Going to get more bad guys?
That's what I do.
Please, take me too!
No, you stay with your mother. Don't tell her where I went.
That's the only instance where the sweet and simple Music Box melody plays. At any rate, it's another small, optional instance of backstory for Bartz, explaining what happened to his mother and why he left the town as a kid.
Here, this is for you...and your memories.
Anyway, the point of reminiscing about Bartz's mom's death was to learn a song that lets us seduce monsters.
There's also a magic shop, though it only has one spell. We already grabbed it from Karnak, but it's here if you skipped the chest before.
This guy will sell items for half-off, which would be nice if he had Potions. Nice for status effect stuff, I guess, and a good place to stockpile Ethers if you have cash to burn (and actually use Ethers instead of hoard them).
Armor shop's similar to Jachol's, while weapon has Ninja stuff. Skills are mainly useful in challenge runs where you won't have more powerful stuff to handle multiple enemies or elemental weaknesses.
Anyway, this free inn gives us just one more cutscene.
Bartz...what're ye doin'?
"I was hoping it was someone who spoke English."
It's my mother.
My mother died here not long after I was born. After that, my father took me on a long trip...
That should do it...
He always wanted to be buried next to mom...
As you may have guessed, this scene works much better in the other versions where Faris doesn't speak like an idiot all the time. Instead, she contemplates how nice it would be to have a father, showing a side of sensitivity to Faris and establishing more of a bond between Bartz and Faris. Of course, all this is sorta lost in the weird translation.
Anyway, this scene also fills the last few holes in Bartz's backstory. He left with his father soon after his mother died, and his father died from illness three years ago. He's been a nomad his entire life, pretty much living with just his Chocobo for the time being.
Also, Bartz completely altered what the tombstone says. Only the GBA version makes any real sense, where after "Here Lies Stella" Bartz adds "and Dorgann, Devoted Husband" rather than completely rewrite a fucking engraving. A minor quibble, sure, but that's what I do best.
Anyway, we're finally done with this place, so let's go to another new area.
Our target is in the northwest corner of the map. So what is this place, located in the northwest most location on the map, you may ask?
Easterly Village, of course! In other versions, it's Istory Village, so it's easy to see where the translation slipped up, and really west and east are nothing more than relative terms, though it's still located on the western-most area of the continent. Still, in terms of the naming schemes involving cardinal directions in every video game ever made, it's pretty fucking out there.
Anyway, this town's in the middle of nowhere and doesn't have a lot to offer, though it still has a couple secrets.
an old man. He'll hit you like a thunderclap!
If you mess around with this flowerbed, eventually you'll trigger this small cutscene and pick up the Toad spell, which is the missing L2 Black Magic spell. White Magic is also missing a L2 oddity spell we'll pick up later.
Instead of ordinary armor, this shop sells special rings which are incredibly expensive and way out of my price range. Why so pricey?
Coral rings absorb water, protect against fire, but are weak against lightning. Angel rings protect against Zombie and aging spells.
The Fire and Coral rings let you absorb fire/water respectively, which can really help with a couple of difficult encounters. The Angel Ring is one of the few (if not only) ways to prevent Old, which is a nasty status effect that reduces a character's levels that can only be cured by KO'ing the character, and even then they'll still have their lowered stats for the rest of the battle. There's also a couple nasty enemies that make good use of Zombie, so Angel Rings are nice in blocking that, too.
Anyway, the main point of this town, besides getting the Toad spell, is to get kicked by a sheep.
Then here's a song that should help you.
This song inflicts Stop on enemies. Neat if it works, I guess, though there's usually better songs to use.
I lead a quiet life here, writing my songs. Waiting for the day when I can deal with my lost love...
Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.
So let's show off some of the monsters around here.
Nothing too special here.
Well, other than this Earth spell, which would be more impressive against enemies that didn't have high magic defense or wind absorption.
Also, there's wild Ramuhs here.
These guys can hurt with their Bolt2's.
Luckily, we've got plenty of attacks to take them down with.
Though Bartz has to be on constant heal duty.
Ramuhs can also steal your MP, so be careful of that.
Ramuh: Just who are you?
Ifrit: Ramuh! Your skills have improved! If only there was a way...
Ramuh: Don't say it, Ifrit! We are friends, aren't we?
So yeah, all that kidding aside, one vague NPC is the only real hint you have that there's a summon just randomly wandering around an optional town you'll probably only ever really visit with air transport. Beat up Ramuh enough, and then Ifrit will pop up and be all, "Bro, come join us" and Ramuh will then be all "Right on, bro!" Because a muscular flame man and an lightning-rod old geezer would obviously be close friends. I'll roll with it.
Anyway, here's Ramuh in action. As you'd expect, he's similar to Shiva and Ifrit, being the third L2 summon and all.
That's pretty much it for optional content at this point, so let's progress the plot a bit before I close the update out.
Oh! You're back!
Professor Cid...the Fire Ship sunk off Crescent Island...
No problem! We'll build another!
Nah, I'm good. Rather have the black chocobo, thanks.
He was seen in Karnak. Then he went into the Desert of Sand Tides...
Quicksand Desert in RPGe, Desert of Shifting Sands in GBA. Don't know why they're all so different.
Beyond the desert is the Tower of Ruin...But no one can enter it...
Then how did he get in there?
Those who saw him said he was floating...
"Seriously, can you please stop with the pirate growls? You're not a pirate anymore, so stop speaking like one."
We'll FIND a way!
Let's check it out!
Anyway, there's no forests between here and our destination, so we need to walk west.
You may remember me grinding here a bit earlier on. Anyway, now we need to cross the place proper.
The sand won't let us progress any farther, but...
Don't give up yet!
We'll build a bridge!
...a bit risky, but it's an idea.
...which you boys will promptly thrash...
...and there's your bridge!!
Seems a bit...rough, doesn't it?
Heh! That's a laugh coming from you!
Gotta admit, "make a bridge by killing a giant sandworm and using its body" is one of the cooler plans I've heard.
This is confusing, but Yes proceeds with the battle, while No lets you prepare first. Don't know why they needed "Wait a sec!" to throw you off like that.
Note: This is complete bullshit.
The Sandworm can be a bit of a roadblock if you're not prepared and don't know the gimmick.
His main thing is that he can switch between holes at will, so any attacks queued up will miss him if he switches.
He also has Quicksand, which always does 60 damage and inflicts sap. I believe this is the counterattack that hits whenever a Hole is hit.
There's a lot to this, so let's prepare by-
Aqua Rake, while not technically a water spell (what), does huge damage to desert enemies like, say, the Sandworm. It'll one-shot the damn thing, but let's tackle this properly because why not.
Mid is still wrong, as using magic against the Sandworm itself will work just fine without risk of counters. The key to all this is that multi-target magic will bite you in the ass (besides Aqua Rake of course), as it'll hit the holes and trigger the counter. Single-target magic, like the Ice2 spells I spam, don't trigger the counters.
With this knowledge in mind, it's still an easy, if slightly lengthier battle if you don't exploit its weakness to bubbles.
Next time, we'll walk over a dead sandworm to chase a floating king to a ruined town because Final Fantasy.