Crystal Vision: Just Deserts

Crystal Vision is a short series about one inept player’s annual humiliation in a fun but difficult fundraiser: Four Job Fiesta. This installment includes spoilers for Final Fantasy V.

I’ve been really excited to get back to the nitty gritty of my playthrough of FFV for Four Job Fiesta, but last night I spilled an entire glass of milk into my laptop and, at least for now, I can’t get any of those screenshots. Hey, were you hoping my reflections on my stunt run of a 25-year-old game could get even more low tech?

When we last left our heroes, they were all black mages, and they’re still all black mages. It’s a little bit cheaty, but with Berserker and Bard to look forward to, I’m concerned I won’t survive with a full party of either job. So we flew around to visit Butz’s hometown and do some other exploring, and finally ended up at the spooky desert. There are two important passes through the desert and I mixed them up by accident, so I spent a lot of time doing random encounters as I wended my way toward the pyramid where I can’t do the plot thing yet. Then, and this was strangely satisfying, I realized my mistake and just let some desert creep wipe out my whole party.

But I did have to fight a big worm. Mid and Cid came with and warned me not to use magic on the worm. That’s cool, I just have an entire party of black mages! Got it.

Ultimately it was fine and I don’t think anybody even died.

On the other side of the desert is an isolated, ruined town where you catch glimpses of . . . is that Lenna’s father King Tycoon?

Chasing him around town is one of the parts of the game that is less charming after playing it several times, but it’s fast. And seeing him turns out to be a trick, because we fall through the floor and end up in an ancient chamber that has a transporter. We take a one-way ride and the transporter breaks, but not until after it’s delivered us safely to Crescent Island.

I’ve been to Crescent Island in this run, because it’s one of the places you can get to after the world map opens up a bit. But that was just for fun, and now there’s plot to do, like a fussy but fun puzzle where you chase a frog and run around until you end up back where you started. Sorry, I already used my Family Circus material about King Tycoon.

There’s a boss here called Cray Claw who’s almost Gilgamesh-level in the gulf between its horrifying appearance and extremely beatable reality.

Mid and Cid have altered a regular-looking boat, like for water, and just added a bunch of propellers and stuff to make it into an airship. The coolest part of Crescent Island is that the airship dock is at the crux of the crescent, meaning the ocean opens up and you fly out.

I fly around the world gratuitously and realize there’s nowhere new for me to access, but when I get near the ancient ruins where we just were, they’re subsumed from below by a giant floating steampunk city? monster? that obliterates the ruins and leaves scattered crumbs in its wake as it continues to climb into the sky. So I fly back to the Crescent to talk with Cid and Mid. In order to fly, we need a special element called adamantite, which is beautiful and purple just like iridium in Stardew Valley. Why is fantasy strength always purple?

There’s also a funny exchange after Galuf finds a hidden switch that opens the meteor near Tycoon. He says he has a great memory, and one of the others says, “That’s not something you usually hear from people with amnesia.”

Cid and Mid fix us up with the power of flight, and I fly us up to meet the grimdark and greebled Ronka Ruins. After a few mid-level boss battles outside, the interior of the ruins is another long dungeon that matches the look of the other buried ruins we’ve found. So that’s a great stopping point for now.

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About Caroline Delbert

Caroline Delbert is a writer, book editor, grad student, researcher, and avid reader who lives in Chicago. She's also an enthusiast of just about everything.
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