Our adventures in the world of Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster continue as, fresh-faced from our class changes, we take aim for the next Crystal we need to “restore to grace”, whatever that means. No, wait, we know what that means by this point: stand in front of it and beat the snot out of a huge monster that doesn’t have anywhere near as many hit points as a self-respecting RPG boss should.
Getting to the next “Crystal dungeon” isn’t a straightforward process, though — so we have a few errands to run first. Better get started, then — adventure calls!
This part of the original Final Fantasy highlights a few interesting elements of the game, so let’s ponder each of them in turn.
Firstly, up until this point, getting to the various dungeons hasn’t been too much of an ordeal; the most complicated thing we’ve had to do so far is unlocking the second half of the Earth dungeon. But from hereon, even getting into the main dungeons is a bit more complex. In order to reach the dungeon in which the Water crystal resides, we need to figure out a way to breathe underwater.
We learn that the easiest way to do this is to acquire some Oxyale, but only the fairies know how to retrieve this from the bottom of a wellspring. And oh no! The only fairy people have ever seen was caught by a nefarious rapscallion and sold to a travelling merchant. Thankfully, we learn from a family member of said merchant that he has a tendency to set up camp near a forest in a desert — evidently he doesn’t like selling things — and thus we have a good idea of where to track him down.
Upon tracking him down, we find that he indeed has a fairy in a bottle for sale — but what do we do with it? A bit of exploration reveals another village we haven’t yet visited, and that this village is the location of the Oxyale spring. Thrilled with finally being released from captivity (or, it seems, just escaping from the bottle while it’s in your possession), the fairy gratefully provides you with Oxyale, which allows you to get in a distinctly rickety-looking barrel submarine and descend beneath the waves to the dungeon. Whew!
Secondly, and unrelatedly, we get our first indication that Final Fantasy is not just pure conventional fantasy — it’s happy to incorporate elements of sci-fi, too. This is a characteristic of the series that is mostly associated with later installments of the series — notably Final Fantasy VI onwards — but it’s been present from the outset, as the damaged robot you encounter in a cave behind a waterfall will attest. This also becomes more obvious when you reach the dungeon that houses the Wind crystal — and if you happen to encounter the game’s most notorious, most powerful, most optional enemy, Warmech!
Thirdly, the dungeon in which we locate the Water crystal is probably the most elaborate and confusing one we’ve seen yet, featuring some tricky mazes and multiple routes. It also highlights the fact that despite being presented from a top-down perspective, the original Final Fantasy still conforms to the conventions of classic dungeon crawlers, with combat being used to disorient you as much as it is to whittle down your resources.
In fact, it’s arguably more effective at that than first-person dungeon crawlers, since the transition from field screen to battle screen in Final Fantasy makes it all too easy to forget which way you’re going and which way you’ve been — particularly in dungeons as complex as this one. That said, the minimap added in Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster certainly makes things quite a bit more straightforward, so if you get frustrated, be sure to make good use of it.
After clearing out the dungeon from both ends, so to speak — bashing the Kraken’s head in at the bottom, recovering the Rosetta Stone key item from the mermaid colony at the top — we’re ready for the final Crystal dungeon before the game’s finale. I reckon two more episodes and we’ve got this in the bag… unless they suddenly decide to patch in all the bonus dungeons from the PSP version, of course, but I feel like if they were going to do that it would have happened by now.
Until next time, Warriors of Light!
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