Two things before we start.
1) I would just like to point out that when a character is KOed at battle’s end…
…their friends pick their pockets and run away!
2) The iPad world map only shows us one eensie bit at a time and doesn’t label the glowy dots. This bugged me. After a gazillion screenshots and an hour piecing them together in Photoshop, I give you… a Final Fantasy II world map which I have labeled! Use in good health.
Now, on with the playthrough…
Having completed our first Fetch Quest to bring back unKopyrighted Mythril, our next heroic task is to destroy the Dreadnought, the Empire’s new ultimate weapon whose final construction is being overseen by
Darth Vader the Dark Knight.
Or so we’ve heard. Actually, when we return to the town of KEYBOARD SMASH, we discover that the Dark Knight has gone missing, leaving work in the hands of the incompetent goob Count Borghen. This is convenient, since the soldiers are too busy kvetching about their boss to arrest us. Also, the townsfolk have snapped out of their mind controlled stupor and have things to say:
Alas, the game interface never lets us ask anything useful like, “Where was this?” Sorry, Distressed Damsel, you’ll have to wait.
In Final Fantasy, top secret bigass weapons can be accessed by an unguarded back way, and Dreadnought is no exception. Hilda’s secret agent shows us to the sewers, yet another Final Fantasy mainstay making its debut. (Final Fantasy, your characters stink.)
One dungeon slog later, the Dark Knight puts in a surprise (not) appearance:
“End your resistance. Kneel before your emperor,” he declaims, some high-caliber gloatage that even Rei might respect.
Finally! Our first challenging boss battle! We’re ready to kick some serious—
Hey, wait. He’s just…talking?
And now he’s leaving. Nooo! Don’t run away! We overleveled on Andamantoises and everything! Bring it on!
Aw, man. In his wake, his under-git shows up to taunt us.
Poo. No boss battle with him, either. We’d totally wipe his fannie.
At least we get to watch an AIRSHIP IS LAUNCHING YAAAY FMV for our troubles:
Oh, wait, this is supposed to be bad, isn’t it?
And I still can’t spell your town’s name. Sucks to be you, KEYBOARD SMASH townsperson.
Heading back, we discover that Poft has gone Poof.
The ferry is gone, so we have to hoof it back on foot.
Paloom has gone ploof as well, and everybody we meet makes us feel more guilty about it.
Galtea’s gotten gemished, too.
But even if all the townsfolk are dead, the shops and inns are still operating, and they’re not even price gouging. Yep, we’re definitely in the realm of fantasy.
Un. So we failed our second mission
because we wasted several days level grinding and gil farming while the Dark Knight was putting the finishing touches on his ultimate weapon. Hundreds of townsfolk have been slain, and it’s all our fault. At this rate, we are going to need a therapist.
So how’s our home-in-exile, Altair, holding up?
Bloody hell. That’s where Emo Flash Gordon used to skulk, isn’t it? I sure hope
I didn’t miss some sort of recruitment window he’s okay.
Thankfully, most of the townsfolk have taken shelter inside the TARDIS rebel base, so there are relatively few casualties in Altair.
In Hilda’s War Room, our least favorite Exposition Dude takes the opportunity to twist the Angst Dagger:
“Many were wounded in the Dreadnought’s attack,” Hilda says sorrowfully, giving the dagger another twirl.
Okay, okay, Hilda, we get it. WE SUCK. Just like you said (or rather, were too tactful to say) back at the start.
Hilda also reveals that her father the king is dying. Maria asks Minwu if there’s anything he can do, since he’s basically White Mage Auron.
“The fate of the world rests on you, Firion,” Minwu says. [What, the other two are chopped liver? What about Maria’s fists?] “Waste no time in destroying the Dreadnought.”
Hey, whoa, hang on, Minwu! Remember that world map? We were gonna explore the world together! You can’t leave us! We need your healing spells!
Subdued, we follow Minwu back to the king’s chamber for another dose of guilt trippage…
Yep, somebody could make a mint as a therapist on this planet.
You know what? Screw this. I saved my game right before entering Altair, and I’m not ready to lose Minwu yet. I’m reverting to the previous save, and we’re going to take Minwu and CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE WORLD!
Because nothing says “sidequests and wasting time exploring” like a Final Fantasy “It’s URGENT and you need to save the world RIGHT NOW!” plot stick.
So we march across empty savannahs, antlion-infested deserts, and snowy wastes to find…
The very first chocobo ever seen in a Final Fantasy game! Awesome!
Behold, the noble chocobo.
IN YOUR FACE, BEEF GATES! We have a bird, and we’re not afraid to use it!
And it doesn’t cost 700 gil to ride, either. So there.
Galloping past monsters that could pulverize us in nanoseconds — chocobos really are the most powerful being in the Final Fantasy franchise; it’s a good thing no one’s ever tried to turn them to evil ends — we reach the distant town of Mages So Cool They Wear Red:
This town has every spell and some really kickass armor and weaponry.
Can we say Totally Overleveled Party by the time we leave here?
(I love Final Fantasy bombs. Even though they’ve killed more of my parties than any other monster species combined.)
At last, well-stocked with Mysidian goodies (who needs Mythril?!) we return bravely to the Path of Plot Fulfillment. On FOOT. Malboros, bow before us!
I feel so much better better now. See, the map has been taunting me since the beginning of the game:
See that upper lefthand corner? I kept trying and trying to go that way, even at the very start of the game, because it was there. Total party KO x 10. And when I realized that it wrapped around and hooked up with the other side of the map, I fell victim to my “EXPLORE ALL THE THINGS!” gamer compulsion. I could not rest until we circumnagivated the globe. (We threw spitballs over the gates of Palamecea in passing.)
Okay. Now we’re ready to go deal with the Dreadnought. But…how?
We replay really depressing events in Altair, where various npcs remind us that Cid’s an airship expert. Duh. So we pay the ferryman again and pop over to Poft to bug Cid. Hey Cid! Any ideas?
Uh, we kinda figured. So! Um. Airships?
Aha. Well, that’s good to know. (Magicite, Sunfire, float stones, sunstones…yeah, we get the picture.) But apparently if we toss Sunfire into the Dreadnought engine it’ll break. This makes sense?
We blunder all over creation and finally go back to Hilda to report on our…er…progress. Can we have Minwu back, please?
A clue! Woo ha. Only it turns out we need a member of the Kashuan royal family to open the gates of Kashuahn Keep. GORDON, GET YOUR CHICKEN WUSS ASS OUT OF THE CLOSET WHERE YOU’RE HIDING AND HELP!
No luck. So apparently, in lieu of a Kashuan (gesundheit) to open the gates of the keep, we need to go on another fetch quest to find the Goddess’ Bell in the far north, which will do the same job in a less emo fashion. Back to Salamand it is…
Josef makes up for earlier schmuckdom by offering us his snow machine and joining the party. Maybe he’ll be of more use than Emo Flash Gordon. (Although actually, I’m rather worried about the boy. Did he get killed by the Dreadnought? Nah, impossible; he has a special sprite and everything.)
So, turn right past the blue crystal (DOES NOTHING!) and…
apparently snowmobiles fit in treasure chests.
Oh, hey! It’s an ice boat! Now there’s something we don’t see at least once a game….
Over the glacier and through the woods and into the snow cavern we go. Where apparently our party has learned Lulu’s patented trick of jamming fire marbles down her corset to keep warm in ice caverns, since they spend a fair amount of time wading through ice water.
After an epic journey through icy caverns thick with the foul undead, we find…
Er, did I just get thrown back into Suikoden V? Hello, Beavers!
Time for the amazing backstory character reveal!
…um. Okay, well, now I know the origin of THAT FF meme.
We also get a good look at Guy’s bikini bottoms, just in case we hadn’t noticed earlier. Someone really needs to write a Guy/Mukki (of FFVII) slashfic.
And the Goddess’ Bell is guarded by an Adamantoise.
Ohohoho. Have we got a surprise for you, my friend. You see…
…Maria, Smiter of Turtles. (I could really have used her in FFXII/FFXIII.)
Poor thing. We had a preemptive strike, and it never even got a hit in. So, we pick up the Goddess’ bell and bumble around looking for the exit until we run into Count Borghen, the under-git, betrayer of the Kingdom of Fynn. Gee, King of Fynn, while I try not to judge by appearances, this guy dresses like the sleaziest pirate ever. You never, ever suspected him of betrayal?
Dastardly dying villain! About time an antagonist gave us a little trouble… uh oh.
*heroic sacrificial smoosh*
So now I’m feeling rotten for dissing Josef. Er… we’ll give you a good sending? Nevermind. Onward, to Kashew!
But first, we’d better break the news to Josef’s daughter Nelly, who’s waiting for us back in Salamand.
Right. Repeat after me: WE SUCK.
Chastened, we actually pay out the gil for an airship ride to Kashuan Keep instead of wasting time collecting loot and XP all the way.
Oo, nice music in here.
HA! Emo Flash Gordon! I thought you might turn up here.
Nice of you to finally snap out of your funk after we did the entire whole fetch quest to get the bell to let us in here. I think you owe Nelly a weregild.
We give Gordon the Toad spell just for fun.
Okay, this officially rocks as the best spell of FF2.
“Gordon’s Toad level increases.” Awww, he’s not that bad.
At last we reach Egil’s Torch, which is, logically enough, guarded by
Calcifer a flame monster…
that is totally healed by ice magic. WTF, Square?
Oh, well, that’s what Maria’s ferocious fists are for. (Note: in FFX, the Japanese script, Luzzu doesn’t say, “She hit me, too.” Instead, he says, “Lulu has ferocious fists.” Hence my use of the term.)
We tote the torch back to the front hallway to abscond with the magical flame:
So let’s review. We had to go to Paloom to take a ferry to Poft to ask Cid to learn about the Sunfire then take a ferry back to Altair to ask Hilda who sent us across the sea again to find Josef in Salamand to get a snowcraft to reach the snow cavern to fetch the Goddess’ Bell to let us into Kashaun Keep to grab Egil’s Torch to collect the Sunfire to drop in the Dreadnought’s engine which is powered by Sunfire but this will cause it to explode.
Just so we’re all on the same page.
Outside, we see a cutscene.
Yay! Gratuitous Star Wars reference! Just in case we didn’t get that whole “once this battlestation is fully operational, fear will keep the local systems in line” dealie.
So does this mean Cid is Princess Leia? Hmmm. Or…oh, dear. Hilda does wear funny things sticking out of the sides of her head, doesn’t she?
Rescue the princess time! Only instead of a wookie and two swashbucklers disguised as imperial soldiers, we’re four goobers riding bright yellow chocobos, with one goober wearing a fabulous dead bird turban and brandishing a magical torch. Nope, we are in no way conspicuous sneaking up on a Dreadnought over an open grassland. In we go!
Just to be smart alecs, we give the guard the “Wild Rose” password instead of the Pass Key we picked up back in the Dreadnought construction site. The Captain actually packs a significant punch! Hey, maybe we’re not overleveled anymore. Luckily, the other guards here are just as nearsighted as ever, and let us wander around collecting treasure and rescuing captives at our leisure.
Is it just me, or is it unsanitary to have wandering zombies prowling the halls of one’s imperial battlecruiser?
Oooo, another of my favorite FF monsters, before they got all bug-eyed in FFXII — Coeurls! (actually, werepanther, but I see from FFwikia that Coeurls will be a palette swap monster of the werepanther at future levels.)
Here we go, detention block AA-23.
Haha, Square, you’re so predictable sometimes. Princess Leia would totally rock Hilda’s Valkyrie hat.
Come to think of it, Cid is a little more bearable as a Han Solo rogue archetype. And I don’t know why I never picked up on Cid’s probable origin before. (Except that my first Cid was Robin Williams, er, Cid Kramer, the least Cidlike of the bunch.) Cid takes Hilda back to the airship to wait for us.
So the soldiers totally didn’t notice us carrying a magical torch the length and breadth of the Dreadnought until we tossed it into the engine. At which point, the most unsurprising Reveal in the universe commences (or maybe it’s just me… Leon has been a flapping plot thread for too long, and Square loves BWAHAHA twists like this, right up through XIII. I’m lookin’ at you, Vanille.)
Maria recognizes the Dark Knight’s voice and starts towards him. However…
Oops, no time for the Reveal, we have to bug it out of here before Dreadnought explodes! Luckily, Hilda’s formidable powers of mind control kick in, dragging our team through the maze with dizzying speed and depositing us on Cid’s airship without even tripping over a wererat or Gordon’s legion of toads on the way out. Sorry, Maria, but DK has more lives than an ultimate boss; he’ll be back.
So it’s back to Altair to get kisses and medals from the Princess. But first, let’s check on the King and give him the good news!
Oopsie. King dead.
Well, at least Gordon has taken up the Hero Ball. Go bishie! The Master of Toads shall go forth and lead Fynn’s army!
Gordon heads to the War Room and hops on the king’s throne. That was quick. Maybe he’s really pink dude. Where’s Hilda?
Er… Hilda’s…. checked out?
Well, that sucks. I liked having a ruling princess.
At least Snarky Exposition Dude is finally giving us props.
So we have our marching orders: head to the town of Deist and try to form an alliance with the Wyverns whom the King of Palamecea tried to stamp out.
I’m wondering where Minwu ran off to in such a hurry.
You know, this seems like a good place to pause. So tune in next time when yet another Final Fantasy mainstay, the Dragoons, make their debut!