The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy

by ddegenha

Part 12: Earthgift

Final Fantasy I bonus: Special remake bonus dungeons, Part 1: Earthgift. Alternate title: I fucking hate Echidna.

So, it's 2004 and you're at Square Enix. You decide you're going to do GBA adaptations for the original six Final Fantasy games...or, rather, I, II, IV, V, and VI, because, really, who's going to buy a remake of Final Fantasy III? (Half a decade later, FF III DS sold like hotcakes precisely because this attitude had prevented anyone in the West from legitimately playing it) Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls contains I and II updated to the 16 bit standards of IV-VI and fixes some of the bugs in both games, as well as installing an MP system instead of a spell slot system in FF I and tweaking FF II to make it slightly less unbearably torturous an experience to play. However, the developers at our Squeenix decided that they needed bonus content to pad out the games and justify selling them to people that already had previous versions of the game(s) (not that many people in the West had played FF II outside of the emulation scene).

Final Fantasy II's bonus content, Soul of Rebirth, is perfect for the sort of person who loved FF II but thought it wasn't masochistic enough. It features all those dead party members you never bothered to level up or give real equipment (they keep the equipment they died with). If you want to replay FF II over again with an underleveled, underequipped party, be my guest...I was satisfied with the end of the game and will be perfectly happy never to touch it again.

Final Fantasy itself, however, got something a little more interesting. Four new elemental dungeons were designed. You get access to each one after killing the corresponding Fiend, although the bonus dungeons are much harder than the corresponding areas of the game. The numbers of floors on each dungeon goes up correspondingly, from 5 to 10 to 20 to 40. Each of these bonus dungeons are surprisingly well-designed, and the last two, in particular, have some startlingly creative puzzles and gimmicks, as we'll see. But enough talk, let's get started.

If the party seems overleveled, it's because I got lost several times. As the OP suggested, I raided the Castle of Ordeals, but as of Earthgift Cave, I have not yet class-changed. This is something I will regret later on in this dungeon.

As you can see, the Earthgift Cave is halfway in between Corneria Castle and Garland's place.

This is what you see in Earthgift before beating Lich. The dwarf will helpfully tell you in a deep Scottish accent that the statue stinks. You get a cutscene showing the statue disappearing after you beat Lich, which I would imagine leads plenty of newbies to rush to this cave and promptly get slaughtered.

Earthgift only has five floors, and two of them are stolen from the Earth Cave. They're the ones that look like this:

There are a couple of treasure chests in each with rare and mostly useless items borrowed from other Final Fantasies (Fangs of the Red, Blue, and Vampire varieties, Curtains, etc.), and it's simply a matter of running from the spawn point to the staircase while enduring a million random encounters with these guys:

According to their Bestiary data, they're the hardest variety of goblin/imp. They're still wimps, though. Most of the enemies in the cave are more powerful palette swaps of earlier enemies. Some can be annoying, but few are dangerous.

The cave rooms are boring, so let's move on. (Rooms 1-4 spawn in random order, so you could hit the caves at any time.)

Now we're talking. The wasteland is completely trackless. You wander around (the exit is usually, but by no means definitely, to the southeast of the spawn point), fight monsters, find items both useless:

and useful.

The Elven Cloak is a shield for your lighter members that does a decent job defending and sends your evasion sky-high. I had to go through the cave five times, but only found one of them, when Play, Bonus, and Stuff could've all desperately used one. I did find a Black Cowl that's a pretty good helmet for thieves. In the end, Bonus got the Elven Cloak as, pathetic as they are, Play and Stuff could at least use Bucklers while Bonus had no other shield.

The Wasteland has a 1/64 chance of a random encounter with this guy:

Party wipe. I'm embarrassed to even type that, but, believe me, this thing is a prowling superboss, not a random encounter. It's comparable to running into Warmech late in the game.

Next, we have what I like to call the Purple Forest floor:

See those "NPCs?" They're actually random encounters. Add that to the actual random encounters and the vast size of this room, and you have a long, long room.

We're through the dungeon rooms for now. (Or at least you are. I had to do it three more times.) Earthgift has a boss room with four doors, each of them one-way doors. After the boss fights, you need to restart from the beginning.

Let's take the one on the lower left, shall we?

?????: "So you've managed to reach these depths. I commend you. But your journey ends here, I'm afraid."

Who is this polite chap?

Cerberus, one of the Four Guardians from Final Fantasy III! This game takes four bosses from each of III, IV, V, and VI and guests them in each of the four dungeons, respectively. I will admit I was disappointed at the lack of bringing each boss' musical theme, but that's neither here nor there.

Imagine, for a second, how someone who never played FF III due to the lack of a US release would react to this development. Presumably, you've never heard of the Four Guardians, and don't know their backgrounds, and only know they're visiting from FF III because the game's manual says so. To a lesser extent, the same is true for the FF V bosses, though that game did have somewhat more exposure in the West and Gilgamesh has a major following.

Back to our three-headed friend. Cerberus took me two attempts because he has a trick I forgot about. He lulls you into a false sense of security using his fairly weak physical attack again and again, and just when you think that's all he can do, he uses Thunderbolt:

Aside from Let's, all my party members were at full health before Thunderbolt. It really packs a punch.

Anyway, second time through, I beat him:

Barely. Kotetsu is a pretty good weapon for Thief, by the way.

Next time through the dungeon, I take on a new boss:

????? "In me are all things great and small extinguished. Die now, Warriors of Light!"

In both this game and in FF III, this guy's the easiest, and for the same reason. He has a nasty physical attack, but that's all he uses. In a real display of stupidity, he insists on attacking Let's over and over again. A steady diet of Invisira and Protera from Bonus cuts his balls off, and he gets to the point where he can't hit anything. Meanwhile, Stuff Tempers and Hastes Let's and Play to the point where they make some nice dragon filets.

Bard Tunic is great armor for your lighter party members. It drastically bumps Evasion while increasing defense quite a bit. It goes on the curiously fragile Stuff.

Who could be next?

????? "You've done well to come this far...but you will go no further!"

This turns into an accidental challenge run because Play got stoned and I didn't want to walk through the cave again, so it took about 10 tries. Echidna spams instant death, which at this early point in the game is a serious threat. Just when you think you're doing well, she has a backup: Flare, which is as powerful as it is in all the Final Fantasies. Echidna is a real horrible pain.

For all your trouble, Echidna drops an X-Potion. Complete health recovery for one person. That's it? Are you kidding me? Hopefully the last boss is a bit more fun.

????? "There are none who can stop me in all of creation! You, too, shall fall before me!"

Question time: Most walkthroughs/discussions I've seen say that Ahmiran is the hardest of the Four Guardians in both FF III and here in Dawn of Souls, but in both games (keeping in mind that I've only played FF III DS), I've found him to be second-easiest, beaten only by Two-Headed Dragon for the wimpy boss award. Here, he makes the same mistake he makes in FF III by spamming healing magic when I'm doing more damage to him than he's healing. He uses his fair share of instant death moves, but they succeed far less often than Echidna's did. He finally pulls out the heavy guns with Blaze, which nearly kills my whole party, but then went back to healing rather than pressing his advantage.

The reward for taking down Ahmiran is a Dry Ether (which could actually come in handy at some point) and a Megalixir, which will come in handy down the road.

With that, Earthgift is done. Tune in next time, as we see lots and lots of lava and the return of several familiar faces from Final Fantasy IV it's the Elemental Fiends.