Part 5: Hyper Combo Finish!Chapter 5: Hyper Combo Finish!
Music: Techno de Chocobo
Technically, Awakening continues through the entirety of our first Chocobo ride, but since I don't like missing out on random encounters (yeah, I'm weird that way), I don't foresee that I'll be riding a Chocobo ever again. So enjoy your bouncy Chocobo riding theme while it lasts.
To get to South Figaro, we're going to need to pass through Figaro Cave, located at the southern end of the desert.
If we had tried to pass through here before this point, the guard stationed at the front of the cave would have told us to bugger off, but since Edgar's with us, he allows us to pass.
Music: The Mystic Forest (Generic Dungeon Theme)
Right in the front door, we find a spring that heals the party's HP and MP to full. This is handy, since the closest thing to an inn on this side of the cave is now buried underneath a pile of sand.
Not that we really need healing though. The monsters in the cave are all bugs of some description, and the AutoCrossbow just tears them up.
I should note that this is yet another occasion where, if we leave the treasure chests alone, the items in them will change into much more useful things later. How the game expected you to figure this out on your own is anyone's guess.
Other than that, the cave is quite unremarkable. We'll have much more to do here later, but for the moment, it's just a bridge between more interesting places.
While we were passing through, Terra hit level 6 and learned Antdot, a spell that cures Poison status. Unlike previous games in the series that required you to buy spells from special stores, Terra and one other character will learn spells naturally as they gain levels. There's another way of learning spells to come, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Music: Terra's Theme (World Map Theme #1)
From this point onwards, this is the theme that will play whenever we're on the world map. I should mention that if, for some reason, you haven't triggered Edgar and Locke's freakout scene before exiting Figaro Cave, you've just locked yourself out of ever seeing it. Not that it's necessary for anything, but it's still a shame to miss it.
Southeast of the cave, we come across the first official town of the game, South Figaro. We could technically ignore it, but if we did that, then we'd miss out on a number of important and/or useful things.
Music: Kids Run Through the City Corner
Immediately upon entering the town, we see a mysterious man in black walk briskly down the street. We could theoretically follow him, but we've got other, more important things to do.
As any veteran of RPG's can tell you, barrels and crates are just a more mundane form of treasure chest. Technically, everything in the Figaro area belongs to Edgar anyway, so they should consider themselves lucky that we only take what we do.
By searching around town, we find a Green Cherry, Antidote, Eyedrop, and Soft, all of which are used to cure various ailments. We also find a Warp Stone, an item that allows us to leave a dungeon from the way we entered.
Music: Shadow's Theme
Had we chosen to follow the ninja, we would have seen him duck into the bar. If we want to, we can try to have a chat with him, but that doesn't get us much of anywhere.
: Stay back! He seems vaguely familiar...Wait a minute!
: That's Shadow! He'd slit his mama's throat for a nickel!
Much as I like Woolsey's translation, this line just doesn't do it for me. Whether or not Gil has multiple denominations isn't the issue, it's just that the sudden informality seems so out-of-character for Edgar.
Anyway, there's nothing to be gained here, so let's poke around a little more.
There's a surly merchant in the bar's basement who storms out after you talk to him. If you follow him, you'll notice that he delivers cider to an old man who lives on the east side of town. This is probably unimportant.
There's a Relic store accessible through the back of the bar. Relics are this game's form of accessories, and each character can equip two at a time. From the top, these particular ones...
Sprint Shoes: Double your movement speed in towns and dungeons. Perfect for avoiding going insane. Only one character has to have it for it to work, so I buy one.
Star Pendant: Prevent a character from being poisoned. We're going to encounter enemies who use poison, so I take two.
Jewel Ring: Claims to protect against blind and petrify, but it actually only protects against the latter. I skip it for now.
True Knight: Causes a character to take a hit for a party member who's low on health. I'm putting Terra in the back row and she has that shield, so she's not likely to need protection, so I skip it.
Goggles: You might notice that I put this one out of order, and that's because it needs its own section with a helpful visual aid.
Evasion, Blindness, and You
The particular numbers I want you to look at are Edgar's Evade% and MBlock%. Intuitively, you might be thinking that the first stat determines Edgar's chance of blocking physical attacks while the second determines his chance of blocking magic, but in fact, MBlock% is used for both, thanks to an error in programming. Therefore, at the time that screenshot was taken, Edgar had a 1% chance of evading any kind of attack, which is downright terrible.
So what does this mean for our Goggles? Well, blindness as a status ailment is supposed to decrease a character's chance to hit with physical attacks, but since Evade% doesn't actually do anything, blindness, therefore, does absolutely nothing. Preventing blindness, therefore, is a useless waste of time. The Goggles, therefore, can stay right on the shelf where they belong.
At the north end of town is the home of South Figaro's richest family. This house has a boatload of cool stuff in it, so let's have a look-see.
The man of the house is writing a letter, and gets really testy whenever we try to have a peek. I forgot to screencap the line immediately preceding this one, but it goes something like,
Man: You should begin your attack from the east. That way...
Somewhat odd, but maybe he's talking about a different town.
Yeah, I'm sure South Figaro's perfectly fine.
But enough foreshadowing, let's get ourselves some loot.
The rich man's wife is probably thinking of this secret passage behind the bookcase which leads down...Well, maybe I'll just let it be a surprise for later.
However, there's a secret passage in that secret passage that leads down to what appears to be a prison area. Kind of a curious thing to have in the basement of a mansion. The treasure boxes in the cells contain a Hyper Wrist and RunningShoes, both of which are nice accessories.
Hyper Wrist: Increases your Vigor (that is to say, your strength stat) by 50%. Vigor adds damage to your physical attacks, and stacks along with the Battle Power stat. This relic, therefore, goes directly on Locke, because for the moment, all he can do is physical attacks.
RunningShoes: Starts the character off with the Haste status, which allows him or her to have more turns. I give this to Edgar.
Believe it or not, there's also a secret entrance behind the house if you take the alternate exit out. In this secret area, you find a-
Seriously, is there some joke I'm missing?
Anyway, that's all we have to do in South Figaro for now, so let's take a trip north to...
Seems like kind of a small place from the outside. By the perspective, it looks like you'd have trouble squeezing one bed in there, let alone three.
Once inside, we can look at a number of things to have Edgar comment on how familiar they are. The kinds of dishes, the type of tea, the flowers, etc.
Once we go outside, there's an old man we can talk to in order for Edgar to show him a picture of Sabin.
Old Man: I heard that Master Duncan's son Vargas is also missing. I have a bad feeling about this...
The plot thickens.
Guess that means we're going to Mt. Koltz. Granted, we were going to have to go through the mountains anyway to reach the Returners' Hideout, but this way, it feels like this dungeon has a purpose besides obstructing our path.
Music: Mt. Koltz
Mt. Koltz is actually one of my favorite dungeons, mostly because at that point, you've got a whole bunch of new toys to play around with.
Gimmick-wise, Mt. Koltz is fairly straightforward. The dungeon consists entirely of trekking between dark brown tunnels and bright green outdoor areas, with the occasional side path for looting.
In the second cave area, the game decides to throw in a couple hidden areas as well leading to a treasure chest each. From those, we get a Guardian Knife and an Atlas Armlet.
Atlas Armlet: Raises a character's physical damage by 25%. I decide to give this one to Locke as well, and thanks to his new knife and the Hyper Wrist from before, his damage finally breaks into the triple digits. I begin to consider that perhaps I'm doing something wrong with my min-maxing.
Mt. Koltz is mostly home to recolors of enemies that we've seen before, but there are also these weird things. Aside from a weak attack, they also have a chance of trying to poison someone, but my Star Pendants render their efforts mostly fruitless.
Every now and then, we'll catch sight of a silhouette of a man hopping across the mountains. Thanks to his or her ability to take routes that we can't, catching up is a bit of an impossibility.
Here's a better look at a save point. Generally, once you see one in a dungeon, it's a telltale sign that a boss is coming up.
Besides saving your progress, save points can also be used for resting in a Tent. This restores both HP and MP to full, brings dead members back to life, and cures all negative status effects. Its appearance is also customized to every member, so in the case of Edgar, it's green with a little crown on top.
So as it turns out, that mysterious shadow was...nobody we recognize. Maybe we'll figure out more when we talk to him.
So this is Vargas, that son of the great and recently croaked martial arts master Duncan that everyone was all abuzz about. Turns out that he's not so much "missing" as he's wasting his time hopping around Mt. Koltz.
Vargas: And how unlucky it is that you have run into me...!
Music: The Decisive Battle, Dissidia Final Fantasy (just for variety's sake)
Vargas begins the party with a couple of bears in the front row. During this stage, he'll just do slightly damaging physical attacks while the bears scratch at you.
In the first stage of this fight, you can't target Vargas himself until his bears are gone. They don't have a lot of health and they don't like fire much either, so they go down pretty quickly.
Once it's just him, he'll add a multi-target wind attack to his repertoire and he'll start occasionally striking twice in one turn, but so long as Terra keeps everyone healed and the two guys keep pounding away at him, this stage should end quickly enough.
Then something weird happens.
Music: The Unforgiven
: Give it up, Vargas!
: Vargas, why'd you do it? How could you do your own father in like that!?
Vargas: Fool! He made the mistake of choosing you as his successor! He snubbed me, his only son!
: No! You were the one he chose! Our Master wanted you to be his successor, not me. He appreciated your fine spirit...
Vargas: Enough of your lies! Now have a taste of my superior technique!
That's the greenest blizzard I've ever seen. Regardless, the force of his technique launches everyone except except for Sabin out of the battle.
Vargas: Ah, Sabin! I see that the master taught you well.
: I guess there's no avoiding this!
Vargas: Fate made us train together, and fate will send you to your doom!
The instant the battle begins, Vargas hits Sabin with the Doom status, which will kill him at the conclusion of that timer. This would be a good way to add tension to a 1v1 duel between martial arts masters, but this battle has sort of a special gimmick to it.
Sabin's special schtick is the Blitz command, which I'll go into more detail on in the next chapter. For now, let's just go over the technique.
1: Select the Blitz command.
2: While the cursor is still pointing at Sabin, input the directions left-right-left.
3: Now, WITHOUT PRESSING ANYTHING ELSE, hit the A button.
Insert your favorite Fist of the North Star joke here.
: In only you hadn't been in such a rush for power.
Farewell, Vargas. I barely acknowledged you as a character before you were gone.
: Big brother?!
: The brothers are reunited!
Thanks for contributing, Locke.
: Younger "brother?" At first glance, I thought you were some bodybuilder who'd strayed from his gym.
: Bodybuilder? I'll...take that as a compliment.
This is another line that I feel Ted Woolsey messed up on. In the original script, Terra says that she thought that Sabin was one of Vargas' bears, which makes his stunned reaction a lot more sensible. And then there's also this:
If you're going to change the line, at least take the time to change any references to the line to match it.
: You'd join us, Sabin?
: I think Duncan would rest easier if he knew his disciple played a part in bringing peace to the world.
Once again, I mostly like the translation, but there's no denying that this localization sometimes misses the mark entirely. Hopefully we shouldn't run into another case like that too soon.
Next Time: A man with more facial hair than Santa Claus