Part 37: A team-building exerciseChapter 37: A team-building exercise
Before we go heading off to investigate the mysterious treasure, there are a few things to take care of first.
As it turns out, saving Cid's life has accomplished absolutely jack, as he'll just walk back and forth in his little house and say generic phrases.
However, there is a new Esper to be found if we go onto the beach. Don't know why anyone would feel the need to go back to Cid's house, especially if they ended up killing him, but there you go.
Starlet, the Esper that we got from Owzer's mansion, is basically a souped-up Sraphim, healing the party for considerably more.
Cure 2: x16
Cure 3: x1
Level Up Bonus: Stamina +2
Growth-wise, Starlet is superior to Sraphim in almost every way, and we'll be finding a better teacher of Life spells in the upcoming dungeon too. For that reason, getting Sraphim in the first half of the game is a much better idea, because it gives us a chance to train with her before she becomes obsolete.
Palidor's a little different from your standard Esper, launching everyone into the air and having them do a Jump attack one by one. This is mostly useful if there's something nasty headed your way and you need a quick escape, but if you've got some spear users in the party, you can do some decent damage.
Haste 2: x2
Slow 2: x2
No Level Up Bonus
Haste 2 and Slow 2 are multiple target versions of their respective level 1 counterparts. Given how often I use Haste and Slow (which is to say, not at all), I don't fancy that I'll get much use out of these spells.
Our next stop is a cabin hidden in that curious formation of trees.
Inside, we find
Anyway, we won't get much from him if we don't have Sabin, so let's do a quick party shuffle and head on back.
Duncan: Wa, ha, ha... Why the surprised face? Did you think I'd... gone?
: Duncan... I'm so glad you're safe!!
Duncan: Wa, ha, ha... Nothing happened to me! The earth yawned right open to take me but I scrambled to safety!
Yes, well, there was also the thing where Vargas killed you, remember? Just gonna gloss over that, are we?
Duncan: Sabin!! It is now time to complete your training. Use these new skills to smash Kefka! Put 'em up!
If there's any one scene that I want to see in modern graphics, it's this one. Sabin and Duncan jump onto the roof and just start beating the tar out of one another.
Then they both leap ridiculously high off-camera and...something happens.
Duncan: I call this the "Bum Rush!"
And everyone does an action pose, because why not?
Seeing this scene has actually given Sabin a new move, by the way. A very good one, in fact.
From Cid to Duncan to...this guy. It occurs to me that this game is full of old people.
"Uh, no. I was wondering if you knew anything about Emperor Gestahl's map..."
Aged Man: Map...?! Everyone's askin' 'bout that map!
Aged Man: Little while ago, some guy wearin' a bandana asked for the map. So I told him!
"W...where is it?"
Aged Man: It's where the mountains form a star-shape! You should have just come out and asked me. No need to be shy!
Incidentally, you can only see this scene after finding Gestahl's letter but before finishing this dungeon we're headed to now. Why the game thought we'd consult the crazy old guy for advice is beyond me.
Anyway, enough chatting with our elders...
It's time for a two-party dungeon! We've had battle scenes with multiple parties, but this is only one of two times in the game where we'll be taking down an entire dungeon with multiple groups.
Some thoughts on party selection:
Sabin and Edgar go on different teams, because their respective gimmicks are far too helpful. Both teams are going to need the extra weight that their abilities provide.
Relm and Celes likewise. The two of them are both excellent casters, so they'll be filling the same role on each team, seeing as their respective gimmicks are either useless or hazardous to the group.
Gau and Shadow are both fantastic for taking down individual units and Gau's Rages and Shadow's various Shurikens and Skeans are helpful against a variety of enemies. They're good all-around characters, so they're definitely worthy picks for this dungeon.
Strago's Lores are mostly not that great for this dungeon, so he's just going to be a generic spellcaster, while Setzer's Slots are decent but not great, so he's going to be in basically the same boat. They're definitely the weaker links, but they're better spellcasters than Cyan.
We start out on this ledge here, with a crane hanging down from the airship that a group can grab if we need to abort the mission for whatever reason. Warp's a no-go for this dungeon, so the crane's our only way out.
Music: Another World of Beasts
Right from the start, the gimmick of this dungeon is made clear. Most of the dungeon will be spent having groups alternate standing on buttons to open up a path for the other group so they can open a path for the first group.
Incidentally, there's a weird glitch you can pull off by having one of the groups stand on a save point. Apparently, this turns on the flag that states that the party can save and use tents, so...
If you've got enough tents, there is absolutely no risk of running out of MP in this dungeon.
If you've been slouching on the game thus far or decided to hit this dungeon early like I did, these enemies are going to be a pain in the neck. They all have a much higher HP than other enemies we've seen, hit a lot harder, and have fairly annoying attacks.
Bum Rush, the technique Sabin learned from Duncan, helps to alleviate that pain slightly. It's an incredibly powerful magic-based attack that cuts right through defense. Problem is, it requires a full 360 to activate, or in directional terms, left-left-up-up-right-right-down-down-left. Sabin could have learned this on his own, of course, but it would have required him to grind to level 70 to do it.
If we needed more proof that Locke is at the end of this dungeon, most of the treasure chests are empty. The ones that aren't usually are guarded or require some sort of puzzling to get to.
Like this weapon for Locke that we have to extend a bridge to, otherwise the floor collapses and drops us on the lower floor.
Onto that bed of spikes, to be exact. The lower level is covered with magma as well, creating barriers to progress that we can't pass.
Fortunately, there's a convenient switch that drops water from the top level onto the bottom level, showering everyone with a gout of hot steam and otherwise accomplishing absolutely nothing.
No, actually it just cools the magma.
I love these things.
In another chest, we find a very intriguing relic.
Dragon Horn: Causes the Jump attack to hit multiple times, instead of just once. Equip this on Mog or Edgar, and they could become veritable powerhouses.
And speaking of Dragons...
The Red Dragon is probably the least complicated of the bunch. He casts fire spells (and Flare), is weak to Ice and Water, and casts stronger fire spells when he runs low on health. He's very strong like all of the Dragons, of course, but that's to be expected. Nothing that the party can't heal back at this point.
When defeated, he drops a Strato, a sword for Cyan. Not bad, but not especially good either.
6 Dragons to go...
The ultimate goal of this dungeon is for both groups to reunite and push these two buttons, allowing the group to pass to the end of the dungeon.
Right before encountering Locke, I happen to notice this weird red glowy thing off to the side that I can't get to. None of the guides that I look up mention what this thing is, and so it naturally piques my curiosity. After I clear the dungeon the first time, I slog all the way through the dungeon again to figure out what it is, and the answer is just absolutely painful.
It's a teleporter that leads out of the dungeon.
Someone kill me now.
: You're all safe! Behold... A legendary relic that can restore life...
: Correct! Legend has it that ages ago the Phoenix was turned into stone... And many legends are based on facts... This has some major cracks in it though...I fear it may have lost it's power over time...
: Locke...that's for Rachel, isn't it...?
: I wasn't able to save Rachel... I've lost all sense of purpose...My life will have no meaning until I can right this terrible wrong...
"Will you come with us? Only as far as Kohlingen..."
Later in Kohlingen...
At first, the Magicite kinda looks like it's about to do something, but then it shatters. And then...
Music: Forever Rachel
Rachel: Locke... I've dreamed of seeing you. I wanted to hear your voice.
Rachel: The Phoenix has given me so little time... I have to leave again soon... But I have something I must tell you...
Rachel: Locke... ... With you I was so happy... In the instant that the accident occured, I thought only of you... And about the joy you brought me. Thank you, Locke... I'll never forget you...
Rachel: I have to go now... ...I'll always love you... You must now cast off the anguish you've been harbouring inside for so long... Today I set your heart free. You must learn to love yourself again, and regain your self respect.
Rachel: Phoenix! Be reborn again!! And give your power... to Locke!!
So a guy with an inability to stop shouting his fiancee's name is given an encouraging speech by said fiancee...
Right before she turns into a crystal. You know, I think I know where that tall idiot in FFXIII got his character traits from.
Just to accentuate the fact that Rachel has turned into an Esper...somehow...the glowing sparklies form the head and wingtips of the Phoenix, and presumably come back together into a Magicite form at some point, because we're now carting around Phoenix.
: Thanks, I'm okay... I feel lighter than air... From here on... I'll be all right. Let's go! We have work to do!!
In addition, we've acquired all the treasures that Locke hunted from the Phoenix Cave. These include such beauties as a Flame Shield and Locke's very special weapon, the Valiant Knife. Oh, we are going to have some fun with these...
Next Time: We acquire two fluffy friends and face the biggest decision in the entire game.