Emo Flash Gordon, Master of Toads, has taken over the Wild Rose Army in an unexpected plot twist, dispatching our heroic trio on a journey to recruit the Dragoons as allies — and, hopefully, rope in yet another "first time ever in Final Fantasy" mainstay!
We head to the Port of Paloom for a ship. There, a winsome pirate who is emphatically NOT cross-dressing accosts us.
How does she know? Security at rebel HQ suuuuucks, that's how.
Maria can't believe we're going to be this stupid.
Neither can the pirate.
Unfortunately for the pirate, we are stronger than we are smart.
It does not take long for us to swab the deck with her swabs. Defeated, Leila agrees to join us, under the classic "I beat you up, so now you have to do what I say" hero principle.
At which point she demonstrates that fictional pirates, once again, get all the best lines:
We wander all over bloody creation before finally stumbling across the island we's supposed to be headed for next.
We barge our way in, to find a tot at the front gate. This child knows that we beat up anyone in our way, and runs off. Smart lad.
Hang on, kiddo, we gotta ransack every treasure in your house before we help you.
Eventually we find the kid and his awfully trusting mom, who helpfully gives us the lowdown:
Asleep, eh? We'll just butt in and kill it for its treas— er, hang on, pirate in the party, donno what came over me.
Backstory time. Oh, them dastardly empire peoples, killing nearly all the Dragoons and poisoning the water to knock off the Wyverns. Good thing we're on the side of good and our friends would NEVER stoop to associating with people like that, right?
The Backstory Dump is surprisingly gruesome for a kids' game:
That's...vivid. Thus enlightened, we proceed inside to bug the last surviving wyvern. Hi, Mr. Wyvern!
So, Guy, you speak Wyvern? Nope. Guess we gotta go on another fetch quest to acquire a Guy Speak Wyvern pendant.
Into the conveniently nigh dungeon we go...
...and find our object, a Dragoon's pendant, in about five seconds. Rather gruesome. Basch will approve, however, of our looting corpses, so we do so.
But wait! We have to loot the dungeon from top to bottom, first! I'm sure the poisoned-and-dying Wyvern waiting for us will be fine.
(Bash, bash, slash, boom. I love giants who actually look BIG.)
Maria: You realize all these levels are here for a reason? We're gonna have to traipse through this whole damned dungeon again.
Leila: Tsk, the treasure, lass! Onward!
Maria: *Lulu facepalm*
*three days later, battered and bloodied*
WHEW, well, that was a refreshing workout. What took us so long? Yes, ahem, ah..
...you don't say?
Maria: *pointed look*
We try out our new shiny Dragoon Pendant, which lets us speak Wyvern (but not Beaver)
Firion demonstrates a surprising knack for diplomacy, considering his idiot ball juggling with Hilda early in the game.
Pity this wyvern is about ready to expire. It can't help us, but provides a plot coupon:
Richard? Oh good grief. The Aerith and Bob factor in this game is x10.
Maria's eyes are lighting up. Uh, oh, she's set her sights on Ultima, hasn't she?
Leila: *whispering* Can't we just sell it?
Firion: That would be dishonorable.
Leila: Of course, if it's the last surviving Wyvern in the world, we're condemning it to a life of misery and loneliness... let's just—
ALL: SHUT UUUUUUP.
Back we go to the dungeon of Far Too Many Levels, thrashing our way through the areas we looted a short time ago.
I'm really beginning to hate these things. Multicast Fire x5? SUCKS.
Finally, many levels down...
Oh, neat, a Chimera! Tsk. We're on it, Guy.
Um. Four? And that bizarre boss music again.
Good thing we're badass. *bammity bammity bamf*
*bloop* Say hello to Aeris while you're in there!
Okay, Wyvern egg dumped. Hope they grow up fast!
Returning to Deist Castle, we find that the wyvern's lair has collapsed and covered the dead Wyvern, saving Kid Dragoon and Mom a messy cleanup job.
Well, that's kinda depressing. Guess it's time to report back to Hilda, I mean, Gordon Grows a Pair.
Back in Altair, apparently, things still aren't great.
I'm really wondering if
Oh, good, it's not just me. Er, bad, actually. Gordon asks us to go check on her.
Uh, oh. Scary eyes. Not good. Is this really the princess, I'm beginning to wonder? And where's Cid, anyway?
This is going to be bad. I just knoooow it. Maria, don't go, I need your fists! (And brains.)
Hooollleeee shit, it's Edea/Ultimecia. KNEW those horns looked familiar. I shouldn't be laughing at dead bird hat boy as he nervously lets himself be lured onto the bed.
Well, THAT was predictable. MARIA! HELP!
Can snakes get scurvy?
Snerk. I guess even LeBlanc has a few precedents...
Maria's ferocious fists to the rescue again. (She always seems to strike the killing blow in my party.)
Afterward, dead bird hat boy's a bit embarrassed. He wonders what the others heard...
Leila, fetching young lady, assists Maria in providing the brains of the party.
A messenger arrives to move the plot along.
Maria: You do realize that this has to be a trap? Princesses are not captured simply to be handed out as prizes at the Sheep to Shawl tournament.
Firion: Well, yes, but... what choice do we have?
Leila: Seems like ye fell fer my trap not two days ago with that same reasonin', bird brain.
Unfortunately, Master of Toads agrees with Firion:
Leila, of course, is happy to stay behind from this harebrained plan:
HA. SUUUURE. Just turn over rebel HQ to the pirates. Fynn's a hot potato — before we're done, the beavers'll be running it!
So be it, Master of Toads! Let's go rescue the Princess (before Leila ransacks the place)! I'm sure your toad spell will come in handy.
After a dreary slog through the Arcane Labyrinth (randomized dungeon, KNEW IT) to level up Gordon, we head for Palamecea, astride our favorite bird.
Gordon, buddy, that ain't gonna work...
Unfortunately, everyone's weapons are useless, so it's a good thing Maria is doing a whopping 600 damage a pop with her fists.
We don't have much time to savor our victory...
Golly gee, I wonder what reward THAT would be.
No. Just no. Firion, do NOT listen to the voice of stupid in your head. Listen to Maria.
Maria is apparently too preoccupied by the stupidity of the situation to notice DK putting in another cameo. Captured!
But a convenient thief comes out of nowhere, KOs the guard and lets us out, explaining that he's paying us back for rescuing him earlier. So apparently the folly of our plan was so obvious that he trailed after us all the way from Altair to spring us when the time came.
Incidentally, this screencap perfectly illustrates the magical powers of telekinesis that all video game characters have up until about VII or so, when they finally start making physical contact with their targets.
This spell never gets old... even when it doesn't work, I still love it.
(Also, I just felt like screencapping the EVIL TIKI ROOM flower monsters.)
Aha, there she is. I always worry what's happening to distressed damsels while they're in the clutches of unethical villains and their low-paid prison guards, but thankfully, Hilda (and every FF princess before and after her) is shielded from that sort of nastiness by Fantasy Game Unreality:
This next bit is actually rather sweet. Firion pops the gate, but stands back to let the Master of Frogs be the first in to rescue fair damsel. Maybe he ships them.
"Aren't you a little short to be a stormtrooper?"
So, Princess Rescue, 2.0 commences. Sure hope we found the right one this time.
Firion's actually pretty cool here — he has the personality of a piece of cardboard, but I can't help approving of proper hero-behavior:
Good thing I realized it was time to take all the good equipment off Gordo earlier.
So we mosey on back to Altair with our trusty chocobo to find...voicemail from the Princess and Toadmaster! A messenger left behind in Altair informs us that the rebel army has moved out for the recapture of Fynn, and we should join up with Hilda and Gordo leading the charge.
The prince and princess have set up a pavillion at a romantic spot by the lake...
so of course we barge right in. Good ta see ya, Hilda!
She calls everybody over (not just Firion, FOR ONCE).
Meanwhile, Gordo's got a job for us.
Incidentally, I keep failing to screencap 'em, but the capes with the rose crest on the back are spiffy rebel army duds.
Off to Castle Fynn! Hey! Leila!
Yep, we definitely stand a better chance with a purple-haired swashbuckling pirate. (And I can't wait to replay FFV).
When this game's prologue mentioned that the emperor had summoned a pile of undead, it sure wasn't kidding. Zombie extermination time....
I love the animation for the Confuse spell even when it's being aimed at us.
We fight our way to the castle to Kottos, no, Gottos, Sir Boss Villain Not Otherwise Appearing In This Game (a rather common boss up through at least V).
I can't quite figure out what this comment means — unless all those zombies and undead ate his troops — but anyway, we're the good guys here to pop off a hapless under-boss, so we do so.
We quickly mop the floor with him. (And the carpet turns blue. Ooops!)
Afterwards, there's a bit of rejoicing in the throne room while Hilda and Gordon (he's grabbed power awfully fast!) install themselves in their thrones and thank us.
Holy cow, Gordon's smiling. There's a first.
Talk quickly turns to business and loose ends. And to good ol' Minwu, who's been missing, Gandalf-style, since the end of disc one (figuratively speaking).
Our next assignment: go go to Mysidia, land of the Mages So Cool They Wear Red. There we're to follow in Minwu's footsteps and break the seal of Mysidian Tower, the resting place of the Ultima Tome which could help us defeat
Maria: ULTIMA? WE WILL GO AT ONCE.
Buuuut this is gonna be another one of those fetch quests, requiring various ingredients to break the seal. We get a shopping list: find one White Mask, check, and one Black Mask...
First, we stop off in town. We hear Paul's home and that his house is full of loot. Of course, we need to go there at once.
Unfortunately the secret door shown on this handy map of Fynn isn't opening for us, so I guess I'm just going to have to leave Paul's basement un-looted and go loot the castle basement instead.
Man, that dungeon under Fynn Castle is a long-ass slog. At least we find an Orichalcum, yet another FF mainstay, to give to Leila. And finally...
We teleport out and head to Mysidia. It'll be good to find Minwu again, although obviously he's found trouble somewhere.
Hey, red mages with glowy eyes. Anybody seen Minwu in these parts?
Aw, shucks, THREE? We've got one, the White Mask. Which we give to a random goddess statue under Mysidia Village, and it WON'T GIVE IT BACK, eep.
Various red mages agree with Minwu's earlier sentiment that yes, it's really time to break the seal, and they won't stop us from doing it, even though it's obviously another of those two-edged ultimate weapons that could destroy the world (or at least a city or two) if it falls into the wrong hands. I swear, nearly every Japanese video game and anime has some residual scarring from Hiroshima/Nagasaki, and no, it's not the least bit funny, just sobering.
So on that grim note, our next fetch quest is to retrieve the Black Mask on a tropical island. And while this is a bit of an odd place to pause, I think I'm gonna, as this recap episode is getting pretty long.
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