Part 21: It's only manipulation when the bad guys do itChapter 21: It's only manipulation when the bad guys do it
Back to the story for us, such as it is. Looks like Narshe has been taking care of itself fine.
: How did things go at Vector?
Fortunately, the game spares us the recap.
Arvis: I see...Your plan would combine Narshe's money with Figaro's machinery to storm the Empire...not enough manpower, though...
Narshe is supposed to be rich? I think even Zozo had more class.
: We have to open the Sealed Gate.
: To the Esper World?!
Arvis: We'll never beat the Empire without them.
: When the gate has been opened, the Espers can attack from the east. We'll storm in at the same time, from the north. No way around it.
Uh huh...and how exactly are the Narshe soldiers supposed to get there? Did they forget the whole subplot we just embarked on where the only way to get to the Empire was via an airship? I do believe they did.
: We MUST get the Espers to understand. We have to establish a bond of trust between humans and Espers. Only one person can do this...
: I'll do it! I'm the only one who can!
: Get the Espers to understand, and we can bring this war to a screeching halt. Terra...I know you can do this...
Arvis: The sealed gate stands at the eastern edge of the Empire. There's a base there, but somehow we'll have to slip through...
So to summarize, we're going to be preventing the Empire from exploiting the Espers by talking the Espers into attacking a city. No double standard there, no sir.
Lone Wolf is actually a recurring character from Final Fantasy V who made his first appearance rotting away in a prison. If, out of the goodness of your heart, you decided to let him free, he'd repay you by looting a dungeon of its treasure. I seem to recall that if you neglected to pick up the treasure from this room before this character came by, he'd take it all away forever as well. Good thing we were greedy sorts, aye?
As it is, he took the stuff in the locked chest, so now we have to go after him.
For this short portion, we'll be chasing him up into the mountains where we protected the jerkish Esper that struck Terra with lightning.
There's really no way to catch Lone Wolf in this segment, as he's scripted to always run ahead. That's fine though, the monsters haven't improved any from the start of the game.
Lone Wolf: Wait! Don't move, or this one's dust...
Don't ask me where he had the time to find one of those. The Moogle Village is on a completely unrelated path.
Unfortunately, Lone Wolf has had the misfortune of grabbing one specific Moogle, one that, by default, is five levels above the average level of the party.
Needless to say, it ends poorly.
Lone Wolf: Grrrr...You'll never get this Gold Hairpin!
Gold Hairpin: Halves the MP cost of all spells on the wearer, including a certain special technique that also expends MP, as well as summons. It's tempting, but if we take it, we're going to lose us a potential party member until way later in the story.
Music: Mog's Theme
: You can talk?!
: That old psycho, Ramuh, came to me in a dream and told me to be expecting you.
That's a kind of weird way to get revenge. I don't think the group even knew his name until about fifteen minutes ago, so why would they care if he threw himself to his death? Heck, if they take the Gold Hairpin, he falls anyway.
: I'll wait for you in the airship, kupo!
And about five seconds later, we've already forgotten that Lone Wolf exists.
Gau needs to get a few more Rages, so we also take the time to fill in some of Mog's Dances. The Serpent Trench is one of only two places in FFVI to provide the Water Rondo, the second being the Lete River. I think we can all agree that it's worth going through the Trench if we can avoid riding that stupid raft one more time.
Since it's a long time since we last played with Mog, let's have us a bit of a refresher. When Mog performs a Dance, it's similar to a Rage, in that he becomes uncontrollable and does his own attacks. In his case, he chooses one of four abilities, and certain abilities have higher chances of occurring than others.
This particular ability, Wild Bear, is the rarest of the Water Rondo's possible abilities, and rightfully so, because it heals everyone and recovers a whole load of status ailments. Don't ask me why it's called Wild Bear, because that is most definitely not a Wild Bear. In the GBA version, it goes by the more sensible name of Raccoon.
I didn't mention it last update, but Terra's acquired herself a new power. In Morph form, her damage is doubled, and magic damage is cut in half. It's not permanent though. Morph is powered by Magic Points. The more you've gotten her, the longer it lasts.
While you normally don't seem to have a say when it comes to Slots, there's actually a trick to it. For some reason, throwing an Echo Screen gives you full control over where the Slots land, so long as you have the right timing. With a little preparation, you can do something like...
Joker Doom, which kills all enemies instantly. Yes, even bosses. Yes, even when they're visible. Yes, even the final boss. Of course, hitting three 7's without extensive use of pausing and unpausing would be quite a feat. If you time it incorrectly and get two 7's and a Bar, you might instead do Joker Doom on your own team, with predictable results.
You should probably get used to me bringing a variety of folks through dungeons. This game theoretically could be won by just building up an A-team and prioritizing them above all else, but that's hardly what I would consider to be fun.
The base that Arvis spoke of blocks the only way into the Sealed Gate. If we'd come here before, we'd have gotten kicked out after a short battle. But now...
: Let's get this over with!
Look who's suddenly developed a backbone. I'd say that this is a welcome development, but she sadly only goes backwards from here.
The only thing of note in the base is a room full of treasures that we can't get to because our group of magical supermen can't get past a door. Phooey!
On to the dungeon, then.
Music: Another World of Beasts
Right in the gate, the game hands Locke a shiny new dagger that has a chance of killing enemies instantly. But, to quote the proverbial Mon Calamari, "Don't use it, you moron."
That's because there's nothing but undead creatures in this dungeon, and instant death attacks don't work on the undead. Well, technically they do, but the undead creatures just come back to life with full health.
These particular creatures have an interesting attack called Lifeshaver, which heals back all damage that the Ing has taken, at the expense of one of your party members. Ing has a maximum health of 1100, which means that you could potentially have a party member lose all their health to one attack.
Fortunately, if you visited an area that we haven't seen yet because I wanted to make it a fun surprise (aka I forgot to go there), you probably stole some Gaia Gear from the local fauna. Lifeshaver is earth-based, so the draining effect will reverse itself, hurting the Ing and giving your character health instead. Alternatively, you could just kill the thing instantly with Sabin's Aurabolt, because it's weak to Holy damage.
Oh, and don't ask about Float. It doesn't work.
I'm really starting to have trouble believing that Madonna just accidentally stumbled upon the Esper World. Any sane person would have seen this room full of lava and decided that whatever was on the other end just wasn't worth burning alive.
(Disclaimer, lava does not actually burn your characters alive)
The gimmick of this area is that the bridge keeps on switching between two configurations, forcing you to quickly dash between sections of the bridge that stay constant between both forms. If you're not standing on a bridge when it flips, you get chucked back to the beginning and have to try again.
Oh, this was TOTALLY worth bringing Setzer along.
Coin Toss: A unique Relic for Setzer. Replaces Slots with GP Rain, which throws an amount of GP equal to Setzer's level times 30. The damage is then multiplied by two, and divided among the enemies in the battle. What this all means is that if Setzer's throwing away money at a single enemy when he's at level 20, he's doing a guaranteed 1200 damage every single time. That sounds good, but bear in mind that you can't force him to only target one enemy. In a lot of battles, he's only going to be doing something like 300 or 400 damage per foe, and that's rather terrible.
Still, it's guaranteed damage, so if there's an enemy with a lot of defense, it might be worth a pop.
After the bridge room, the rest of the dungeon is all levers and buttons.
Oh, now this is a nasty trick. The lever on the left opens a door in the rock wall, but the one on the right...
Like a ninja, this ninja will throw ninja Skeans. He also has a chance of casting vanish on himself when he gets hit, which would be a problem if the entire group wasn't loaded for bear at this point. For some odd reason, he's weak to Holy and Lightning damage, but since I've got plenty of both, I'm not complaining.
Who would put a switch inside a treasure box? You can't loot a switch!
Now this is a sword. The Atma Weapon's power is a combination of its wielder's level and current HP, and it cuts right through enemy defense.
At present, the sword looks more like a dagger, but as the characters grow in power, its appearance will change accordingly, to the point where it's almost ridiculously long.
Two of the other chests held shards of generic Magicite in them. As an item, Magicite summons a random Esper to do its thing with no MP cost, including ones that we haven't even seen yet. If we get very lucky and summon a certain Esper, it's possible to turn enemies into items that we shouldn't even be seeing yet. But you're not going to see me trying, unless it's very VERY good. Magicite is rare, after all, though you can steal it from Intangirs if you're in the mood.
That's it for this dungeon. There were quite a few other buttons and touchplates and levers and whatnot, but they weren't nearly so entertaining.
This is impressive, though I have to ponder the logistics of a mountain inside a mountain.
: This is the Sealed Gate...
: Beyond is the Esper World.
: Why'd you bring me to such an awful place?!
You know, there are a couple other things about this plan that bother me. First, the Espers have no idea that the Empire is the bad guys. For all they know, humans in general are huge jerks who want to exploit Espers for their power. Once they take out Vector, what's to stop them from torching the rest of the world?
Second, as of the moment, all the Espers presently in the world are gemstones in our greedy little mitts. Therefore, the Empire doesn't have any Esper power to draw from anymore. Inviting the rest of the Espers into the world just strikes me as a good way to renew the Empire's supply of magic.
And wouldn't you know it, but that's exactly what the Empire wants.
: K-Kefka! You followed us!!
*insert laugh here*
: U'hee, hee, hee!!!!! The Emperor was right! Let Terra fall into your hands, and you'd open the gate for us...!
When I was a kid, I didn't know how you could vocalize silence, but that's apparently a placeholder for melodramatic gasping. The more you know, aye?
: How does it feel to know you've been working for us!? Now I fear you've outlived your usefulness...
Oh boy, a fight against Kefka! Unfortunately, it's not Monster Sprite Kefka, just World Map Sprite Kefka, so the first time you hit him...
: Espers, heed my call!
: It's opening! I, I, I, I, I feel so anxious!
: Something's coming!
At this point, the game decides that it doesn't care one whit, and just throws a bunch of Esper sprites at us to simulate them flying out. At one point, Shiva's identical sister comes flying by, following closely behind a Phantom clone.
: What energy! Uwaaa!
Eventually, Kefka is thrown...back into the cave, where it'd take about five seconds to walk back. However, the next time we see him, he'll be back in Vector, so I don't know anymore.
As for the gate...
There has to be a better way to show a rockslide than having a bunch of rocks fall down one by one in front of the gate. Heck, it stops halfway, leaving a pile of rubble that even our wimpy clown antagonist could dig through.
: Look, let's just get back to the airship.
I mean, I know that you can't have every scene be the Opera, but at least put a little effort into this.
Next Time: We teach the Empire how to be pacifistic by slapping the shit out of them