|Also notice how well the sheng chi flows|
around the fat yang of the Chocobo.
It flies much slower than the Nautilus but that just gives Shen all the more time to relax and take in the cool summer breeze whilst sipping on a Soft drink. He doesn't chill for too long though, as the Cave of Darkness awaits with the last MacGuffin that Shen needs to break through the barriers to Zande's castle. Yet again, this is another cave filled with splitter-type creatures and so the party goes through another job overhaul. Splitters don't split if they get offed in one hit and karatekas have the skillz to do this shit. They can spend a turn using their BuildUp ability, which increases the power of their next attack. Two karatekas take the front line while a white and a black mage take up the rear to inflict status ailments such as sleep and confuse on the splitters. The white mage also helps alleviate the consumption of HiPotions due to the inevitable ambushes and rear attacks. The strategy proves to be decently effective and soon the party is on their way to Zande's lair, Sylx Tower.
|Overcompensating for something, are we, Zande?|
Before reaching the tower, however, another dungeon, called the Ancient's Labyrinth, has to be navigated. Right near the entrance of this dungeon lies the Earth Crystal which gives up three new jobs: Warlock, Shaman, and Summoner. These are not distinctive classes but rather replacements for the white mage, black mage, and conjurer jobs. With this influx of magic power, the party continues on to Sylx Tower, blasting on fools who dare to stand in their way. The rampage is cut short when the tower is reached, as the party encounters two barriers requiring keys that they do not have. Well, I guess it's time to trudge all the way back through the Ancient's Labyrinth and revisit every location to see what I missed. This ended up being fortuitous as Shen completes several side quests that were now accessible due to the Invincible's mountain-hopping ability. First is the addition of the two most powerful summons, Leviathan and Bahamut, both located on the floating continent from way back at the beginning of the game.
|Revenge is a dish best served|
with hasted karate chops.
Back on the main world, Shen also discovers the hidden town of Fargabaad, which is full of mystic knights and stuff related to mystic knights. A NPC here informs the group that the dark swords that a mystic knight uses will not cause a splitter-type to split. Well, that information comes one Cave of Darkness too late, but at least someone can do the job now. Since the summoner and black mage are both heavy on the damaging magicks, the mage gets dropped in favour of the summoner, whose spells look a lot cooler.
|Does it get any better than a chocobo|
kicking the crap out of a ninja?
So that's all fine and dandy, but what about getting the keys to access Sylx Tower? The only place Shen hasn't revisited yet is Dorga's house and that's because he needs to use the Nautilus in order to get there. The rest of the party has to drag poor Shen off his beloved Invincible and into the fucking Cockilus so they can visit Buttmunch and Dicksmack to get the keys or whatever. Dorga and Unne spew some bull about how they need to fight the party in order to harness the energies necessary to create the keys. Whatever, jerks, let's just do this so Shen can get back to his ride.
|Jesus Christ you guys, your tile sprites|
are misleading to say the least.
The Eureka Key allows access to a sacred land filled with legendary weapons, all of which are attached to a mini-boss fight. Soon the party is up to their ankles in famous swords such as the Masamune and the Excaliber. Also acquired here are the final two jobs of the game, Ninja and Sage. These two make every other class obsolete; Ninja use all weapons and armour and Sages use all types of magic. I made two of each and split up all the sweet new gear between the two ninja while making one sage uses pure white magic and the other a combination of white and calling magic. All that's left is to ascend Sylx Tower and defeat Zande. Confidence is high as the new jobs are pretty overpowered and the ninja are chop-sueying through enemies with ease. When the party reaches Zande's antechamber, they are stopped by five demon dragons who paralyze the party into permanent paralysis. All hope seems lost until Dorga shows up and informs the party that he'll go get help. He rounds up five NPCs who are pure of heart, including Desh and Princess Sara from earlier in the game. They keep the dragons distracted while the band of heroes carries on to take on Zande. Zande gives a typical end boss speech about how great his plan is and then combat starts. It's funny to think that Zande thought he could even defeat one ninja, let alone two.
|The meglomania is strong with this one.|
Barely breaking a sweat, Shen and friends dismantle Zande and are just about to break out some celebratory brewskis, when the REAL source of all this evil, Dark Cloud, shows itself. Zande was just a pawn in this creature's vile plan to return all of existence to the Void. No more good. No more evil. Just Void. Dark Cloud can't be hit at all and soon the entire group is dead. Or they would have been if Dorga and Unne didn't show yet again to save their asses. The party chases Dark Cloud into the Dark World where another dungeon has to be navigated. This time Shen and the other Warriors of Light have to find and enlist the help of their counterparts, the Dark Warriors, in order to make Dark Cloud susceptible to attacks. Dark Cloud is pretty boring as far as an end boss goes; it just spams Flare Wave, dealing massive damage to everyone.
|You'll be fine, Yauch, just walk it off.|
The sages have their hands full keeping everyone's HP up, as they have to cure each member individually since spreading CUR4 to all members makes it much too weak (very glad I gave both sages high level white magicks). The battle was also made more difficult in that I completely forgot to use any of the 25+ shurikens I had, which would have sped up the fight a touch. Regardless, a dead Dark Cloud is a dead Dark Cloud, and after its demise, balance is restored and the eternal Void is avoided. Cue the sequence where all the NPCs are returned to their respective homes to celebrate not being obliterated.
|This pict... *sob*... this picture is|
all I've ever wanted out of life.
It's been quite the journey for our little onion knights. Even though most of them had problems holding down a single job for any length of time, their ambition and fortitude allowed them to achieve greatness when all seemed at its bleakest. When the Light was flickering at its weakest, these four young heroes knew in their heart of hearts that the one thing separate from light and dark was the one thing they could never lose — hope. My personal hope is that Final Fantasy continues to deliver these solid titles. We've seen a lot of innovation from the beginning trilogy and more than a few stumbles, but it'll be interesting to find out if the leap to the SNES will allow the franchise to improve on its predecessors and — oh, I don't know — create one of the greatest RPGs of all time. I guess time will tell.