Part 14: What IS That!?
"Bucca.. Bucca.. where have I heard that name before?"
"Weren't they talking about it in one of the port towns?"
"YES! Probably because the volcano here is about to erupt, you twits. Why am I the only one paying attention to these things?"
"On the bright side, at least we're not on the ghost ship anymore."
"Wait, was that a giant turtle wearing some goggles swimming just offshore?"
"Yes. Yes it was. One more reason we should leave this place as soon as possible."
As you'd expect, the interior of Bucca island is comprised of tropical greenery, some of which is animate. The tomato-faced enemies are called Dark Priests, and our old friend the Molebear is back as well.
Dark Priests have some REALLY weird attacks. Another one summons a machine golem for a single attack as well.
It's actually a pretty decent spot for leveling up, as there's at least one nice loop with a small corridor between two screens of enemies who connect to each other as well. Since enemies reset when you go through two screen transitions you can just exit from one enemy screen to the safe screen, clear the two enemy screens in sequence again, and repeat as necessary. At any rate, after a little while we end up stumbling across a village in the middle of the jungle.
"Wait a second, you're not going to attack us?"
"Not inside the village! What kind of barbarians do you take us for?"
"So that means that all the Dark Priests we murdered out in the forests "
"Probably had homes and families and such back here, yes."
"Still can't bring myself to feel too bad for them."
We'll just ignore any complicated questions about why a village full of sentient-tomato men has weapons and armor made for humans. It's a nice set of upgrades, and I don't have that much else to spend money on.
"We're staying here. It is not our place to defy nature. When we die, we die."
"That makes me feel better about killing so many of you."
"He could help you escape the island.. but.. the entrance to his cave is blocked off."
"A large boulder fell on it during an earthquake. You'll have to find another way in."
"Please tell me the Sea Dweller isn't that mutant.. turtle.. thing."
"I wish I could."
Proceeding up the mountain we start running into a few stronger monsters. Cockatrices can petrify you, and the higher level Goblin Lords love to use de-buffing spells.
Given a few seconds the cockatrices will grow into full blown cockabirds, shown here. They do more damage but don't seem to use petrification much or at all, although they have a defense lowering ability. This is about the point where I decided to take the advice about grinding, as you can see from the next image.
The mountain is peppered with little side rooms with various arrangements of three enemies. For fast moving frenetic enemies like the cock birds, this can result in a lot of damage very quickly.
The path can be a bit confusing, but luckily you can usually see where you're supposed to go and work it out from there. Also.. waterfalls.
What we're looking for is a dead end with a suspicious looking boulder. Considering that an earthquake and a boulder caused a problem, the solution is pretty obvious.
"Shine on, you little psychopath."
"That's definitely a cave.. although I didn't really see the boulder they were talking about.."
"I wouldn't worry too much about what a bunch of tomato-headed guys said."
You'd think, considering the trouble it takes to get here, that Seashore Cave would be fairly small and you'd be dead wrong. We've got some new enemies, though. The Poto first really appeared in the snow country of FFA, and these versions are prime targets since they can use a healing spell on all nearby monsters. Pakkun babies are similar to cockatrice in a way, but not because they can petrify you or anything.
Instead, they grow into full grown Pakkun Lizards given a few seconds. These are most familiar from Secret of Mana, where we fought one to get the power of Undine. Just like their template, these can swallow your team members although they tend to only do so right before they're about to die.
Despite the placement of the text, the jellyfish like enemy below us is the actual Grell. They're unremarkable except for a tendency to spit acid at you.
This dungeon has a tendency to throw rooms that look like they could be the last room before a boss at you. It's a bit disconcerting.
By the time we reach this golden goddess statue I've already gained a level for all three characters, and I started going up the mountain just after getting to level 15. It's really one a long dungeon. This is another one of those red herrings, by the way in this case a golden statue is just a small act of mercy rather than a sign of an imminent boss fight.
To my right is a Mama Poto. I don't know what makes this different from a regular Poto, but there it is.
This dungeon also loves its branching pathways, usually with lots of small corridors so that you'll reset the enemies. To the right is nothing but pain. The sinister path leads to
Okay, screw you too dungeon designers. That's two characters at level 17 and the other one about to. Due to the adventures on the ghost ship Lise is about 1000 experience behind the other two characters at this point.
I might be wrong, but I'm fairly sure that this is the first dungeon we've been to with two golden statues. Unfortunately, at this point they're still kind of screwing with us.
No boss fight here. Also, these corridors can really screw with your companion's AI. At least they don't put you on an invisible leash in this game.
"I am Jagan. I have come to follow through with the Dark Prince's prophecy... to end your lives."
"Sweet! I've always wanted to be in a prophecy!"
"You were listening to the part about ending your lives, weren't you?"
"Eh, whatever. You're not the first person to make that claim."
"So you must be his sister. I can't give Eliott back. The Dark Prince requires him!"
"That's just sick."
"What? NO! Not like that! It's for his evil plans for world domination."
"Sure. Keep on believing that.. if I had a copper for every time I heard that world domination thing.."
"Who's this 'Dark Prince'? And what have you done to Eliott!?"
"You know, the Source of All Evil? He Who Shall Not Be Named? The Dark One?"
"Anyway, my brother?"
"I'd hate to be the one to point this out, but you're in here with us too."
"Would you care to bet on that?"
"Oh, son of a "
Rocks fall. Everyone dies. Game over?
"Either that or he's very deeply confused."
And so, a daring escape on turtle back. An incredibly goofy escape, since his feet work like a paddle wheel.
"Thank you for saving us!"
"Let's hurry back to the King of Forcena, to ask about the other Mana Stones "
"No biggie. It got me a step closer to Isabella."
"And the Dark Prince might know something about Heath.. but you're right, we've spent enough time getting back to Forcena."
This screen looks like it belongs in some obscure area, but it's actually just south of the Golden Road. We're right next to Maia.
"As long as it's not a boat, you've got a customer for life. And we're saving the world, so that's kind of important."
"And he's getting pretty good at hitting the castle, too."
"You still have four more to retrieve. I'm counting on you."
"Any hints on where they are?"
"You'll find Undine there. But be careful, the Stone's energy has already been released "
"There, you'll find the Mana Stone of Fire and its guardian spirit, Salamando."
"The beastmen inhabiting that area are quite strong, so be prepared."
"South of that is the Lampflower Forest, and the elf village of Diorre."
"The Faerie King lives in Diorre. He knows more about the Mana Stone."
"He normally doesn't interact with people but perhaps he knew you were chosen by the faerie."
"I have a flute that was once used to summon Booskaboo, but it hasn't been used for ages."
"Booskaboo? Booskaboo!? Called that by who? He doesn't even talk!"
"Hell, I don't know. Maybe someone called him Booskaboo and he responded to it."
"That isn't exactly a word that comes up in normal conversation. Are you sure you didn't come up with that name yourself?"
"Sure, sure. And we might just rename that turtle while we're at it."
"I think we've got bigger problems than Altena now.
One thing I will say that I unabashedly love is that there's a nation on our side that is attempting to help us save the world. After dealing with the commonplace apathy in RPGs it's a refreshing change. That said, the spiel by King Richard makes it seem like we can go anywhere at this point, but it's not quite as simple as that. Realistically, it seems we only have two choices:
Valley of Flames or Snowfields?