Part 2: Digging for treasure...in other people's pocketsPardon the length of this update, but I really want to get through this part of the game. We'll be shortening out to a more reasonable length from now on.
Chapter 2: Digging for treasure...in other people's pockets
So it turns out that being electrocuted and blown up isn't fatal after all. Who knew, right? Vicks and Wedge are, however, still banished from existence. I miss those guys already.
Old Man: Whoa! And I only just removed your crown!
Get used to these ellipses. This girl is the veritable queen of them.
Girl: I can't remember a thing...
Old Man: Don't worry. It'll all come back to you... in time, that is.
Okay thread, now it's up to you to...
...watch as I keep her name just the way it is.
: My name...is...Terra...
Old Man: Impressive! I've never heard of anyone recovering this fast...!
In the original Japanese, Terra Branford's name was Tina, a name which, while exotic in Japan, is (or was, at the very least) a fairly common name in the United States. I do prefer the name we Westerners got, as it provides a nice contrast to a character we'll see down the road.
Soldier: Open this door! We want that girl! She's an officer of the Empire!
Really firing on all cylinders today, aren't we, Terra?
Old Man: Look, I have to get you out of here! I don't have time to explain! Over here!
Now, we're supposed to follow him towards the door in the back, but we've got something to do while we're here.
Believe it or not, this won't be the last time that we find an Elixir in a clock. I don't whether this is a reference to a Japanese custom of some kind, but the common pastime of the folks in this planet seems to be jamming extremely powerful medicine into timepieces.
So goes the theory anyway, but we don't take even a dozen steps before being spotted again.
Guess it's back into the mines for us.
Music: The Mines of Narshe
Without her Magitek Armor and two wingmen, you'd think that Terra would be in trouble here, but she's got other tricks up her sleeve (so to speak).
Being the sorceress that she is, Terra has access to magic right from the start of the game. While generally more powerful than just hitting the enemies with her puny little knife, her spells are limited by her finite amount of MP.
Fire's animation. The Vaporite goes down easily due to its fire weakness, but the Repo Man manages to get off an attack before going down himself. Enemy types like the Repo Man will almost always do a final attack when they die, just to add a little extra annoyance to every encounter with them.
On our way through the mines, we encounter an RPG staple: the inexplicable treasure box. But Terra has no time for checking random boxes for treasure, what with being chased by folks out for her blood, and even if she did, there's nothing worth taking.
Not yet, anyway.
Eventually, Terra walks into an ambush and gets backed into a corner. It's worth noting that the guards who come up behind us aren't that far behind the ones ahead, so that old man apparently couldn't hold them off for even a second. Vicks and Wedge would have never been so sloppy.
Fortunately, fate intervenes, and Terra drops down to the floor below. She's saved!
Well, minus the concussion, of course.
Since she's unconscious and has nothing better to do, Terra obligingly fills us in a little on her backstory. It's...erm...
Music: The Empire
So many unfortunate implications.
Wouldn't you love to be the foot soldier whose last duty on this planet was helping the psychotic new recruit set a speed record?
Don't be intimidated by the new faces in this crowd. We'll be meeting them all steadily throughout the story. The man speaking is Emperor Gestahl, ruler and inspiration for the Gestahl Empire. His big speech could be summarized as "Magitek sure is awesome," and I couldn't agree more.
Anyway, back in reality...
Music: Locke's Theme
Meet Locke Cole, dashing hero and professional thief.
: I PREFER the term "Treasure Hunter!"
Old Man: Ha! Semantic nonsense.
: There's a HUGE difference. Anyway, were you the one who sent for me?
Old Man: Yes, there's this girl I'd like you to meet.
Ouch! Our girl isn't winning any popularity contests here.
Old Man: Imperial forces are pursuing her even as we speak. This town is no match for the Empire. Our independence can only be assured if we join forces with the Returners, an underground resistance movement.
Think of the Returners as the Rebel Alliance to the Empire's...well, Empire. We'll be learning a whole lot more about them very shortly.
Old Man: That girl wasn't responsible for her actions. We must get her to understand our dilemma!
: All right...I think we'd better help her...
While I would normally complain about how quickly Locke changes his mind, as we'll see, this sort of behavior is perfectly in-character for him.
I'd love to know how it is that Locke discovered that Terra fell down a hole, and, for that matter, why he thought leaping down a hole was the best way to get to her, seeing as the stairs leading to this room were right nearby.
Ah, who cares. It's awesome.
Unfortunately, the Empire arrives at the same time, AND they've brought mammoths.
: Wonderful...there's a whole bunch of 'em.
I was wondering when the series' mascot would make an appearance.
: Moogles...! Are you saying you want to help me?
And just like that, Locke's rocking a full party. But that's not all!
This sequence is designed to demonstrate a new feature of FFVI: multiple party battles. With the push of a button, we can switch perspectives from Locke's party to two different parties of moogles. This is helpful, because the mammoths are approaching Terra's body from multiple paths, and if one of them touches her, the game's over.
You may or not recognize the mammoths (known as Vomammoths) from our initial assault on Narshe. They've picked up a new trick since then, or rather, they've always had this trick, but their programming forces them to not use it when nobody in our party is higher than level 5. This trick is called Blizzard, and it's actually quite nasty, as it hits the entire party for damage in the 20's. That may not sound dangerous, but when the group in general is averaging just a little above 100 health each, it can creep up on you.
Mog, the leader of the 1st Moogle Auxiliary, has a special quirk about him which may or may not hint at him being a character in the future. Specifically, whenever he fights in an environment with a new background, he gains a "Dance" that matches it.
Look at that little guy go! Once Mog starts on a Dance, he won't stop until the battle ends or he dies, and every turn will be spent doing one of a few random attacks. The Dance for the caves is called Dusk Requiem.
Now, dropping rocks on an opponent's head makes sense in the context of the Dance...
But what's the deal with the frog?
While the moogles are busy mopping up the mammoths, Locke makes a try for the Marshal himself. This can be a pretty stupid idea if the RNG is feeling testy.
Music: The Decisive Battle
The Marshal's gimmick relates entirely to whether or not his minions are still alive. If they are, he'll restrict himself to only doing a 50 damage regular attack, but if they bite it, he'll switch things up and start hitting for over 100 damage, enough to flatten our treasure hunter in one blow. If you skipped over those chests earlier, you probably don't have a way to bring your partners back to life yet, so this fight becomes essentially a test of endurance.
Not to say that you should leave the Lobos alone though, because while they're still alive, he has a chance of using Net, an ability that prevents one of your party members from moving for way too long.
On a sidenote, as demonstrated in this shot, Locke has the ability to deprive his opponents of their possessions. While he normally can only get fairly ordinary things, if you're lucky, he can find a rare item on certain enemies. In the case of the Marshal, he finds a MythrilKnife, which is better than the thing he's using right now.
Unfortunately, once the Marshal's group is gone, the moogles leave the party. Not to worry though, we'll be seeing them again in a short while, some sooner than others.
Next Time: We meet the best character in the game.