You begin in a fight with four darkknights. This fight is ofcourse a loosing battle and soon after you loose Firion will wake up in a room with two white mages. They ofcourse state the obvious in their cliché phrases: “You are lucky to be alive” and what not. Soon after you begin to move around you will head to the throne room and meet up with your other two partners – Maria and Guy, Leon is no where to be found for another couple hours. In the throne room Hilda will tell you some history and give you the first password “Wild Rose” – see how that red text thing is working? Ohwell, you can search the castle, there is a potion somewhere, but you need to gear up in the town and then begin the grind. Your first stop is alittle north of here in the town of Phin. However in this game if you do not grind, you will die. Early in the game all your fights will be like boss fights. I suggest staying near the town and visiting the inn every couple fights until you are level 2 in your respective weapons. If you want to do the magic version of the game, give Maria Cure and as soon as you can get her Ice, for now let the other two have fun bashing things until they reach level five or so – ofcourse you could just not listen to me and try the game the magic way, but I like mindless bashing, it explains my Gauntlet collection/obsession, but be forewarned it is a harder game.
Once you have leveled enough, or just got board fighting Bees, head north to Phin. The single building in the woods is Gaeta, which you may want to buy some armor if you didn’t in the starting town Altea. I think of it as another Inn in slight stronger enemy territory. Phin is north of Gaeta, around the lake, so head west then north to get there. On your first visit to Phin, think of it like the Magic Cave from Arabian Nights, or the Cave of Wonders if you have only seen Disney’s rendition of Aladdin. Do not talk to anyone, touch anything, or even disturb the dust on the floor, or you will die. Why not talk to anyone? Well they are all Dark Knights and they will kill you in a handful of hits. Just wait, you will get to kill them all soon enough. Head around the town and down to the Pub – which requires walking outside of the fence and hugging the far east wall. The bar is just like the town, except the bartender. Once you get around the bar talk to the bartender and tell him the password – again that red text thing is cool – and you are in the basement. In the basement there are some nice chest and a dying man. There is more story here, but I wont ruin it for you. Once you tell him the password he will give you the ring and you get to head back to Altea (the first town).
Once in Altea, show the ring to Hilda – in the throne room, and she will enhance the story, your quest, and then give you aide and canoe. That’s right, now you finally have a party of four, good ole Minh is going to assist you until you reach the town of Salamando and Josef. Once Minh is in the party, talk to Hilda again to get the next password “Warship.” Say that to her and she will give you the password “Airship.” Say that to here and she will tell you about Cid in Poft (ok bad form on the red text, this scene is actually what made me give up on my first play through, couldn’t find out what I was supposed to do). I suggest that again, you do some leveling before you hop the canoe out of that neck of the woods for the next while.
Head north of Altea and to the east side of the lake to the pirate town of Palm. There is better equipment here, but if you already stole Minh’s and gave it to Firion, well you are set. There is a pirate that will offer a ride to Poft for 32 gold, but I cannot stress it enough to level as much as possible. Poft is north east of Palm and contains the same stuff that Palm does, with one major exception, Cid. Cid is a bit of a prick at the beginning, asking for money to transport you to a handful of locations. You can let him take your money, or just head Northwest to Salamando and find Josef. Here is the first place I would upgrade my weapons and start giving the guys spells. The monsters around the town are decent for both experience and gold so alittle grinding here is advised if you are low on funds. Josef wont do much of anything right now so head to the Semite cave west of town.
The Semite Cave is a lot like the Marsh Cave in FF1, it is usually the break point for gamers. It is decently long, has some dastardly puzzles, and an item you have to have to progress guarded by a square where the enemy will respawn if you step on it a second time. I am fuzzy on the details of the cave, but I do know when you get to the four doors, take the far left one. The boss is a Sargent and he will bombard you with physical attacks. His HP is relatively low, so just play the attrition game – if you went the magic route, Ice2 is pretty useful here. With the Mythril in hand head back to Altea.
The Weapons merchant in Altea will make mythril weapons, which cost a pretty penny, but are well worth it. Time to go talk to Hilda again and tell her “Warship.” She will go off about a group in Bosfk trying to sabotage the military and you have your next mission. Head to Salamando and then head east, past the mountains and forest, once you see the big airship start heading toward it. In town head to the southern part of town and find the guy who talks about Borgan. Give him the password and it is time to get dirty.
The sewers are a lot easier than the cave, but still has a bit of exploring to them. Eventually you will run into a dark knight who will run off to the airship with Borgan. They fly off and you are left in the sewers. Head out of the sewers, to your left should be a teleporter near the airship, make sure to grab the pass from the chest, and head back to Cid. Tell him “Airship” and he will tell you “Sun Flame,” now it is time to head back to Hilda in Altea. Once you arrive at the town, unequip Minh of everything, its time to say goodbye. Hilda will tell you many are hurt and Minh will decide to stay. Talk to the king and say “Sun Flame” and he will tell you “Goddess Bell” – ok so the red text thing is just another way to confuse the hell out of the player, it is neat though. Tell Hilda about the Bell and she will send you back to Josef – finally he will do something. Though the loose of Minh is apparent right off the bat, it wont be that big of a deal.
Josef will send you back to the cave to get the Ice Sled, because the bell is in a snow cave up north. So yeah, thus far it has been a bunch of fetch quest, but that is really the beginning of most Final Fantasys. The only redeeming part of Josef is that he now joins the party. Josef is pretty much a monk/blackbelt so don’t give him any weapons, this kinda makes up for his previous exploits, kinda. In the Semite Cave head to that ominous blue block and talk to the corner of the wall, Josef will show the hidden path. The sled is in the chest, grab it and head back to town. From Salamando head northwest until you find an opening in the mountain where snow replaces the ground. With the Ice Sled handy you can travel in this snow toward the Snow Cave. The cave is meandering and full of nice treasure that will fetch a pretty penny in town. There are parts where you are walking in water, yet somehow don’t freeze… Eventually you will meet a Beaver, who will lead you on if you give the bell password. Around the corner there is a monster standing infront of a plaque. This is the only time in the game where magic is better than physical attacks – mainly since he has such a high damage absorption rate (the NES version is 99%). Ohwell, the monster is Adamanti and will go down fairly quickly to even unleveled fire spells. Once Adamanti is defeated, grab the Goddess Bell (the plaque) and head up to the door. Healup because at the top of the stairs is Borgan, who will fight the party himself. Physical attacks will slay him quickly, then you need to unequip Josef. After the fight a boulder will try to crush the party, Josef will hold it off so you can escape the cave. Do note that this is the first NPC to sacrifice himself in the series, and this does make up for his fetch quests earlier.
Now it is time to travel to Kashoun castle. You can do it the easy way and pay Cid, or you can walk. If you walk it is southeast of Bofsk in the circle of mountains. Once you arrive at the castle, do yourself a favor and save before entering – like in most JRPGs and entering big scary looking castles. Once you run into a locked door, use the bell to open it. Soon after you will run into Gordon, who is weak. You can catch a chocobo back to level him and get him better equipment, or you can just trudge head. Either way, the landturtles in the upcoming areas are tough. Make sure you have a decent HP – shieldbash back around Altea if you have to. All of the chests are worth getting – Gold Armor for Firion which will be very handy against the boss. When you reach the final room there is a flame infront of the chest, this is ofcourse the boss – the Red Soul, and he packs a bit of a punch. All of his spells are high level and they can kill you. However if you can survive four or five turns, he will run out of MP and you will have a cakewalk. The chest contains the Egil Torch, which you will light with sun flame on the first floor. Outside you will see that Cid is in a bit of a pickle, so hop a chocobo back to Altea. Talk to Minh and he will tell you that Hilda has been kidnapped but the Warship that captured her is docked north of Phin. Meaning head back to the Chocobo store and head south over the desert, you could walk but trust me ride the bird.
Once at the warship, talk to the first guy and give him your pass – If you don’t have one it is kinda like in Last Crusade “No Ticket.” Ok I lied, but it made for a good story. Again do not talk to people, they will still beat you pretty badly. Hunt around for new equipment, there are some nice pieces, and a couple floors later you will be in the prison. Cid will tell you he will get Hilda out of there and to throw the Sun Flame into the engine. So head back to the first floor and take the other set of stairs down. On this floor there will be a row of four chest – the fourth is guarded by a Gigas, and it is not worth the fight at this time for an Ice Shield. More meandering and you will be face to face with the engine. Toss the sun flame into it and it goes boom. The Darkknight, who sounds familiar to Maria, will talk to the party, and you escape to the waiting airship driven by Cid. And head back to your favorite city of Altea.
The king will make Gordon a commander and send Minh to go on some quest. Then the king will die, telling you to head to Dist and watch over Hilda. If you go to the throne room, Gordon will be in the throne and give you the next password “Dragoon” and if you tell him that he will give you the next one aswell “Hiryuu.” Now you just have to find your way to Dist. Luckily there is a female pirate in Palm that will ferry you there. However, surprise surprise, she is crooked and will have eight of her mates jump you at night. Sadly at 45hp the Pirates are less of a fight than Bikkes crew. Instead of taking out this rapscallious female brigand, Guy asks if she would join you. Which she does, and she is one of the better fourth wheels. East of Bosfk there is an island with a castle on it. Inside of the castle there is a ghost child and a women who will direct you toward Hiryuu, which happens to be in a place you cannot reach right now. Loot the place, and head back to Bofsk. Behind Dist Castle is the Dist Cave, which is our next location. Head downstairs and grab the pendant from the dead soldier. Back in the Dist Castle you will find Hiryuu and once you say both words to him, he will tell you to submerge and egg in the cave (which he will give you) and that there is a Dragoon who is looking for Ultima. Back in the cave follow the path up and down floors until you reach the water. The boss is a set of Chimera – which varies depending on your game, after you drop off the egg head back to Altea. Heal and save then enter the rebel base and find Hilda. When you talk to her the others will leave giving Firion and Hilda alittle one on one time. Only for Hilda to transform into the Queen Lamia and cause the other three to jump in and help you with one of the hardest fights in the game. She has 1300ish hit points, your magic doesn’t really do any damage, and she likes to put your characters to sleep, she is really good at that. After you she is defeated a guard tells you the real Hilda is the prize at a tournament on the otherside of the world – you know if they could tell us these kind of things before we go fight the fake Hilda it would make everything a lot easier, stupid storytelling. Gordon and Layla will switch places, why we trust this pirate lady so much I do not know, and it is time to travel to Kashoun.
Kashoun is on the east side of the large desert, so grab a bird and huff it to the arena. The Emperor will tell you that if you can beat his champion then Hilda will be yours. So you fight a Behemoth, which is far easier than the Queen Lamia you just fought. Turns out it was a trap and a dark knight captures Firion and drags him to jail. Things look grim but a friendly ninja will show up and let you out – turns out you helped him out back in the cave at the beginning of the game. Once you find Hilda, Gordon will leave the party and it is time to storm the castle. Head back to Gatea and then to Phin. Don’t worry about the three party members thing, a few screens into the castle Layla will join the party again. Now you could loot the castle now, but after a few random encounters you will be hurting pretty badly, so just go straight through the place and find a man on the throne. Gotus is a pushover with a high hp, but once he is down, the castle is yours, time to loot the place. Talk to Gordon and Hilda trading the red text they each give you and you will end up with your next task. Go to the basement, but there is a mask or two in your near future. There are a lot of false walls in the castle, so really explore it and get all the treasure. Go talk to Paul in Phim and tell him the password Ekume (you get it from Hilda/Gordon), and he will tell you of a secret passage in the throne room. Go talk to the wall and the passageway opens, leading you all over the castle. Head although out the castle and basement, not a terribly difficult layout or enemy set, and you will reach the White mask and warp back up to Phim.
From Phim you need to head to Mysidia, one of the few towns places on the map you have not visited yet. In Mysidia you will learn that you need two mask and a crystal rod to enter the tower. Take the stairs in town to the Goddess statue and drop off your white mask, then head toward the island with a cave on it that you passed on your way here. That cave is ofcourse the Black Mask Cage and your next stop. Once in the cave take head west for the stair case to the second floor. There are two staircases on the second floor – The Mask Village and the Third floor. The Mask Village is pretty worthless, so just keep heading on the stairs, another four or five floors. Once again as soon as you see the mask, you will have a boss fight. This time however the Bighorn is just a basic badguy. Very little strategy here, just attack and he will die in a few rounds. Black Mask in hand it is time to find that crystal rod. Mysidia Cave is east of town.
One of the first things you will run into in the cave is a doppleganger of Firion. If you listened to NPC’s earlier, you have to put the Black Mask on it. The cave is not a difficult puzzle, and the last few floors are straight shots, and you grab the crystal rod from a chest. Head back toward Altea, do not go to the tower yet. Unequip Layla, because once you reach the Crescent Island she leaves you again. Well leaves is a nice word, your ship kinda gets stormed and you end up inside a Leviathan. Inside the Leviathan try to not touch the water looking stomach acid and be careful with the random encounters, they put up a bit of a fight. Soon you arrive in a town inside the creature. The town inhabitants tell you that up one floor there is a boat protected by a monster that no one has ever defeated. To get past the man blocking your path show him the crystal rod. He is none other than that notorious dragoon Richard, and ofcourse he will join your party. The monster is a landworm and it will die fairly quickly to basic physical attacks. Once you have the boat you can finally reach crescent bay.
Bit of forewarning here the tower is long, annoying, and fairly complex – ofcourse this means I really dont remember much about it. However I do remember there are several Gigas’s and a very awesome looking Dragon and a crystal room that is just pretty. You will end up with Ultima, a lot of new weapons, and some other crap that will be sold off for potions soon enough.
Once you have the magic from the tower, you will discover that the emperor had summoned a whirlwind that is killing off the world. Most of your favorite places have been hit: Poft, Plam, Galtea, part of Phin, and Altea – and I quite like Galtea. Head to Castle Phin, if you try to enter the whirlwind it will throw you for well a whirl… In the throne room you get to play the red text game with Hilda and Gordon again. After that is done, ask Hilda about Hiryuu and she will tell you something about mirrors. Well you should know where there are some mirrors, so head to the staircase to the basement. Use the pendant on the mirror and that egg you left in the cave will hatch and Hiryuu will head to you. Once the Dragoon and Dragon are reunited, you will receive the Hiryuu flute and you are almost ready to go after the Whirlwind. Now is your time to get rid of your excess stuff. You can go talk to Paul and tell him “Whirlwind” he will direct you to a false wall by a bed, which leads to treasure. Ofcourse we all like treasure, if you play RPGS like I do you are a fellow kleptomaniac, or Kinder fan for you D&D fans.
Head into the whirlwind for a crazy fortress and some really neat battles. Once you arrive you can explore around, but eventually you will want to head to the northwest corner staircase. The second floor is a straight shot, while on the third you will need to head southwest for the fourth floor. Head southeast for the fifth floor, another easy walk to the next floor. Sixth floor contains some nice things, but mainly we want the Wind Flute in the northeast corner and it happens to be guarded by a Green Dragon. Packing a hefty right, a decent bit of health, and some dirty tricks, he is a pain. However the flute will be handy soon. Behind the dragon there is a doorway to the courtyard. In said courtyard the emperor will send minions at you. Then he will fight you himself, with backup ofcourse. The emperor himself is a pushover, his golem and corpses however will ream you sideways. Watch out for the nasty team up that they like to pull on one character – they have a tendency to all attack the same character one round, as we use to say “putting the hurt on ’em.” With the emperor finally dethroned, thats a nice way of saying dead, it is time to head back to Phin.
During all the celebration, a messenger interrupts and tells you that a dark knight has taken the throne. Turns out its Leon from the beginning of the game – HA you forgot about him and thought the game was over didnt you? He is in the town of Paramekia and your job is to get him to join you or to kill him. Paramekia is kinda like _________ in FF1 and you have to have the airship to get there. In Phin, Paul will tell you that Cid is all beatup, Cid is dying and gives you his airship to take care of. Great, we finally got our airship, took way to long for my taste. Paramekia is just north of that arena you got conned at not to long ago. You get to land on top of the castle in a really cool scene, falling through the building so you end up on the first floor. First things first, you can loot this place, but there is really no point. The basic enemies aruond here drop some mighty fine equipment. Worthwhile to grind a bit to get some of it – my second time through I spent a good couple hours at it trying to get eight rune axes, I gave up at seven after three and a half hours. Rune axes are the best axes in the game, and you are only supposed to get one. Head for the third floor. If you got a rune axe or two, grab the chest in the southwest. The Shade guarding it will be down in a couple hits with the rune axe and you will get a javelin that is pretty strong, but if you did not get a rune axe do not even worry about it. Stairs to the fourth floor are in the southwest corner, exit is north east for fifth floor. But looting the fourth floor leads to some nice toys. The fifth floor has several staircases, and I cannot remember which one to take and there are some old friends around. On the sixth floor there are three elixers. The northwest corner of the seventh floor you will get the the Windflute and some Hellfire. Once you have those de-equip Ricard and say goodbye. More story enters the game here where you run into Leon, he doesnt listen to his sister, the ghost of the emperor comes back and Richard sacrifices himself for the cause. As you escape on Hiryuu the castle becomes Pandemonium.
In Phim you find out why the emperor can come back from the dead, damn phoenix downs, and that Pandemonium can not be reached by air, only by the Jade road. Somehow everyone knew about this beforehand and they never told you about it. Leon will be in your party at this time. Tell Gordon the red text “Jade” and he will tell you about a portal south of Kashoun that will lead you to it. There is a lot you can and or may want to do, like level up that supremely underleveled Leon. Again I cannot emphasis the importance of leveling up in this game.
Whenever you are ready the Jade road and Pandemonium are really a tough run, makes newer Final Fantasy’s look like a cake walk tough. Jade road contains a lot of miniboss dragons. The actual treasures are not worth hunting out, except a handful on the first floor and fifth floors. Once you have made your way through that crazy maze, a warp pad on the terrace will transport you to Pandemonium.
Pandemonium is not difficult layoutwise, but the monsters can be painful. On the upside some of them drop ribbons. The chest are worth the fight, if you need weapons and armor. As an example, the room with the masamune has the red and blue dragons you recently fought as minibosses. The minibosses themselves are also old friends, a Zombie Borgan, our old friend Tiamat fiend of the Air, the fallen angel Luicifer’s alterego Satan, and the demon Asteroth. You can actually bypass a lot of them if you do not want the Genji armor. And at any time you can leave the castle and go save, stock up, or grind if need be. With only one room left you get to fight the Emperor again. This time he wont die in one hit, but he has about 10,000 hp, so if you got those eight Rune Axes, and have a level 16 axe skill you can actually kill him on the second round of physical attacks. I double criticaled on him for 999 with two characters on the first round, a nice 4500 of his hp all totaled up, your mileage will vary. After the fight, there is an ending not fitting for the game. However given the length of the game, it kinda makes up for it for an NES game.