|Ancient ruins near Northtown|
A suprising variety of monsters appear here. The Ghoul is basically a stronger moonwalking psychedelic Zombie, and can cast Quick on itself for a burst of unzombielike speed. The Wizard Eye, a stronger cousin of the Eye Spy, spawns Viledars and casts fairly powerful healing spells on them. The Mini Devil (Imp) can breathe fire and use a variety of fire-based spells. The Dark Bat (Grave Bat), a tougher but otherwise unremarkable Batler, doesn't seem to do much of anything except an occasional swooping attack. The Specter, Blue Bavarois, Gas Cloud, Dark Priest, Red Marshmallow, Green Slime, Porobin Foot, and Dark Smog all make repeat appearances as well.
First of all, we can reach the two balconies visible from the courtyard by heading up the stairs in the foyer and through the doors on either side, to find...
|弓矢のパワーが アップ！||Bow's power up!||Got Bow's Orb!|
|ヤリのパワーが アップ！||Pike's power up!||Got Spear's Orb!|
The side rooms on the ground floor are empty even of monsters, so we continue through the central door and on into a first basement with another large empty room midway through the hallway but nothing of any importance, then further down into a second basement. Here, spike barriers block off everything of interest except a door to the southeast. Continuing in that direction brings us to a dead end with a button on the floor, which we step on.
|とおくの方で音がした‥||There was a noise in the distance...||You hear a distant noise.|
This lowers the spikes in the earlier room. The door in the northwest goes to a small room with a pair of Ghouls, and more importantly...
|剣のパワーが アップ！||Sword's power up!||Got Sword's Orb!|
Back in the main room on this story, the button on the floor on the lower level opens another path.
|後ろのかべにドアが現われた！||A door appeared in the wall to the rear!||A door appears behind you!|
The door leads through a corridor to the other half of the lower level, then down another floor to a room with a small spike maze that lowers after stepping on a button. Then through the door, down another staircase, and past one more hallway, it's boss time!
Satan's Wall (Doom's Wall), with a pair of Satan's Eyes (Doom's Eyes), strongly resembles the boss of the Pandora ruins, other than having stronger magic and never trying to crush us. It's also dark element, so has no weaknesses or resistances that are relevant with the magic we have available, meaning Freeze is a good choice. As before, the central eye is the main target, though killing the side ones will stop them from attacking until the main body revives them.
|『やったー！||『All right!||Way to go!|
|ムチのパワーが アップ！||Whip's power up!||Got Whip's Orb!|
Destroying the wall reveals another set of doors that open into a large room like the one at the heart of the Pandora ruins. Unresponsive masked figures mill around, and on top of the central raised platform...
I've missed you! I've been waiting.
"Soul of the Night" plays.
Me too! I'm glad you're all right... *sob*...
I'm so glad you're safe!
There's suddenly a loud "draining" sort of noice, the screen flashes, "Crisis" starts playing, and The Girl goes into an awkward arched floating position before turning ghostly with a cartoonish reaper overhead, like a character who has run out of hit points.
|『Hey! Wh-what are you doing!?
: ......hu, hu, hu, stupid girl.
|[BOY]:What are you doing?
Then she disappears entirely.
|[SPRITE]『Give back the chick!
Where'd you put her!?
Dirac: Hu hu hu, I've made an offering
of her to Lord Thanatos.
He needs a female's lifeblood.
[BOY]『Cut it out! And you call yourself
human! Look, [GIRL]'s been worried
about you all this time......
『Even if you're being controlled, can't
you recognize the person you love!?
......I can't let this go!
|[SPRITE]:Bring her back,
DYLUCK:Sorry, but Thanatos
needs her help...
[BOY]:You can't be
serious! She LOVES you!
I can't handle this!
He steps up and uses his weapon on Dirac, who falls back.
! ...[GIRL]!! Aaaagh!
: *pant* *pant*! Th-thank...
you, I think I'm, getting my
consciousness back... ugh...
『You can't move so soon! Hold still!
: P-please, [GIRL] is in
: Hurry to the room behind
this altar! Ugh...!
『You stay here!
...Thanks, I needed that!
I can't move, so please
DYLUCK:Go through the
door back there.
Sure enough, there's another set of doors behind the altar that wouldn't open before. We head inside to find The Girl lying on the ground, Thanatos looming over her! The Boy and The Sprite rush forward, only to be knocked back by an invisible force.
Thanatos: Hu ha ha ha, I believe
I'll have you hold still for a while!
: This girl's life energy is beyond
what I'd imagined. Such truly
wonderful... ugh! Wh-what!
THANATOS:Guwu, ha, ha!
Her life force is strong!
She'll...hey! What the..?
A bright yellowish glow fills the screen.
|「ぐぉっ！そんなバカな！なぜだ！||: Gwh! It can't be! How!?||THANATOS:Idiot! Stop it!|
The light fades to reveal The Girl back on her feet. She rejoins the others. Everyone has been restored to full health (but not magic).
|[GIRL]: Where am I!? Ah!
What's with you two?
『...! We can move!?
|[GIRL]:Where am I...
[BOY]:You can move!?
[SPRITE]:We can too!
|Thanatos: ......that's it! It's Dirac's
power! Energy is flowing in
: Hu hu hu, this just makes me all the
more unwilling to let go of him!
Farewell, ladies and gentlemen!
He sent her some power!
Who does he think he's
|I'm done with you!
I leave them to you!
| I grow tired of you!
Vampire, take 'em!
Thanatos vanishes, and a large bat-like Vampire appears. It likes to jump around, hover with its cape closed (which seems to block weapon attacks), cast spells like Freeze and Dropper (Energy Absorb), and knock people unconscious. Like the wall, it's dark element, so Freeze and The Girl's fire spells work as well as anything, and are the ideal way to finish the battle if the spellcasters haven't run out of magic points.
|『やったー！||『All right!||Way to go!|
|ブーメランのパワーが アップ！||Boomerang's power up!||Got Boomerang's Orb!|
Unfortunately, by the time we get back to the altar, there's no one there. "Soul of the Night" plays.
As long as he's alive, we'll meet
again eventually! ...we'll have to!
I'll find him...
The monsters are gone now, too. We should probably check in with the Resistance?
Kriss and some other Resistance members wait just inside the cafe.
|Kriss: What's wrong? ......
...I see, Dirac......
But don't let it get you down!
: We found intel saying Thanatos was
behind it, too, but you beat us there.
: Anyway, we got a sudden proposal from
the emperor to reach a settlement!
: He says he'll demilitarize and make the
country peaceful again! He wants to talk
it over at the castle, but can it be true?
...I see...Dyluck is...
Well, don't give up yet!
We know Thanatos is up to
something... But now the
Emperor wants a truce!
He's saying he wants peace!
|Woman: Kriss, I understand it's difficult
for you to cooperate with them after
Saag was killed by the emperor......
: But we've been working so hard toward
this all this time. What if we've finally
moved the emperor's heart?
|GIRL:Maybe we should give
the Emperor a chance.
We've made the Emperor
change his mind!
|Man: Going back to being a peaceful
country has always ben our wish......
Shall we try going?
|MAN:This is what we've
been waiting for!
|Kriss: ......all right. I'll go.
You guys come along too.
: If Dirac comes back and the Mana
Fortress is out of the picture, you won't
need to continue your journey, right?
|KRISSIE:Okay, we'll go.
Come with us!
After this meeting your
journey will be over!
|Man: We'll go on ahead, then!||MAN:We'll go on ahead!|
The Resistance members leave. We'd better go, too. Even if we hadn't been invited, this whole thing smells awfully fishy.
Track 30 鋼鉄と罠 (Steel and Traps) plays here, a foreboding tune heavy on bass and percussion, which isn't exactly reassuring. Although the monsters are gone, and so is the barrier blocking entry, soldiers wall off all but one path.
|: Welcome, welcome.
His Imperial Majesty awaits.
The Emperor awaits you.
After a little while, we come to what looks like a banquet hall, but...
|『‥‥あれ？クリスたちは？||『......huh? Where are Kriss and the others?||...Huh? Where is everybody?|
Only a pair of soldiers and an unfamiliar man await at the far end of the room.
|Emperor: Ku, ku, ku... welcome!
Today will be a day for us to
|EMPEROR:My! What a day to
The soldiers step forward.
|: ...for we get to deal with the troublesome
Resistance and the eyesore Hero
of the Holy Sword all at once!!
| We crush the resistance
AND the Mana Knight!
|Soldier: Come along quietly!
『Damn! It's a trap!!
Sinister laughter resounds as the scene fades out:
|「フハハハ！||: Hu ha ha ha!||EMPEROR:Uwa, ha, ha!|
We find ourselves locked in a cell with Kriss and the other Resistance members who came for the meeting.
|: If only I hadn't said what
I did...... I'm sorry...
|GIRL:I should've known
|「くっそー！ここからだしやがれ！||: Damn it! Let us out of here!||MAN:Let us out of here!|
|Kriss: Kh! Emperor Vandole,
how filthy can you get!
|KRISSIE:Oh! Emperor Vandole
is a DOG.
Luckily for us, the guards are more bored than sensible.
|: Behave yourselves!
......you want out that badly?
Fine, I'll let you out right now.
So you want out, huh..?
They let us out, but not the Resistance members.
|『ほかのみんなも出してあげてよ！||『Let the others out, too!||[BOY]:Let everyone out!|
|: Ku, ku, ku, don't be in such a rush.
It's better to have more amusement
to look forward to. You're just first!
|Ha! Relax! Wait your turn!|
The guard herds us onto a narrow platform and down into a pit where the Metal Mantis attacks! It's basically the Mantis Ant's more dangerous cousin, and can set characters on fire or knock them unconscious. Since it has no element, use Freeze and The Girl's fire magic for best results, yet again.
|『やったー！||『All right!||Way to go!|
|グラブのパワーが アップ！||Glove's power up!||Got Glove's Orb!|
After the battle, a teleporter leads to a small connecting area with a money chest, then the new slime-like splitting enemy Tar Man (Emberman), before returning to the area outside the cell. The guards are gone, letting us free the Resistance members.
|「やるなあ！スゲエぜ！||: Wow! You're amazing!||MAN:That was incredible!|
The soldiers rushed off
to go make a report!
: Their defenses should be pulled
back into the castle soon. Let's
split up and make our escape!
|KRISSIE:Thanks! The soldiers
went for help. Let's get
out of here!
We make it back outside before long, coming out of the lefthand entrance, but the Armored Knights are back now, and so is the barrier blocking the entrance. We'll have to find another route. But first, in the righthand entrance and through a doorway is a small chamber with a pair of treasure chests.
|オノのパワーが アップ！||Axe's power up!||Got Axe's Orb!|
|ムチのパワーが アップ！||Whip's power up!||Got Whip's Orb!|
There are also three Armored Knights in the room, but due to sprite limits, only one will appear at first. The others awkwardly pop into existence as you free up sprite slots by opening chests or killing the knights that have already spawned.
Inside the main section of the castle, a new enemy, the Ninja (Dark Ninja), joins the Armored Knights. These can (sort of) hide, cast Burst to self-destruct, and use Flame Saber to enchant their weapons. They may also occasionally switch between swinging swords and throwing shuriken, which removes their weapon enchantment, as it does for player characters. There's also a stray Magic Book at one point, but mostly it's just the other two enemy types.
There's not much in the way of puzzles along the way. One room has a door that only appears after stepping on a rather conspicuous button right in front of it. Another corridor has odd-looking tiles in the way where an invisible force throws us back if we try to cross. Circling around to the right reveals that the tile on that side is a teleporter to the left side of the room, where we can hit a switch in the wall to disable the barriers. The switch does kind of blend in with the wall, though, and some weapons may have difficulty hitting it. Melee weapons seem to work best.
Upon finally reaching the throne room, we find Emperor Vandole with Gestahl and two others who haven't appeared before, presumably Shiek and Faunach. One has purple hair and a broad purple cape, while the other has red hair and an asymmetrical red cape with a large green shoulder guard on its opposite side.
|Vandole: Ku, ku, ku, here you are.
Perhaps it goes to show the Hero of the
Holy Sword will not be dealt with so easily.
: It seems there's a reason Gestahl and
Thanatos had such trouble with you...
|EMPEROR:Hm. Guess you're the
|Gestahl: Your Majesty! Please
give me another chance!!
: ......very well. We'll go on ahead
to each of the temples.
Finish up quickly......
Gestahl: Yes, sir!
|GESHTAR:Sir! One more
Why not? Finish them up
and come to the palaces.
The other three vanish.
|Gestahl: Damn you all!
You've humiliated me!
...grrr, unforgivable! Here I come!
|GESHTAR:Now I reclaim
We inexplicably move to what appears to be the castle roof, with Gestahl on his military-grade hover bike again. Other than his improved stats and the more cramped arena, this isn't much different from the previous Machine Rider (Mech Rider) battle in the desert. As before, he has no element, which makes him the fourth boss in a row where Freeze and The Girl's offensive fire spells are the fastest and most efficient way to get the win. Also as before, when his health runs out, his bike starts exploding, and he takes that as a signal to flee.
|『やったー！||『All right!||Way to go!|
|スピアのパワーが アップ！||Javelin's power up!||Got Javelin's Orb!|
After the battle, there's a reddish glow and the castle shudders. A voice sounds out of nowhere.
|Gestahl: ......damn you......
I'll take you down with me!
Burn away to nothing!!
|GESHTAR:I'm gonna burn up
this whole place!
|『くそ、やばいぞ！！||『Damn, we're in trouble!!||[BOY]:We're finished!|
There's a faint drumming noise...
|！？なんだこの音は‥‥||!? What's that sound......?||What's that sound..?|
...followed by the sound of something sizable flying by.
|: Hey there!!
『This voice is... Truffaut!?
Despite everything, "Orphan of the Storm" plays. King Truffaut stands on the roof toward the righthand side.
|Truffaut: We've made it in time!
How did I get here?
: Flammie! He got huge all of a sudden,
and on top of that started flying
through the sky!
: When I frantically tried to hold him back,
he came here to you, with me still there
on top of him...... there you have it!
: Though huge, he's still a child. He
must miss his parents, and he
seems to think of you as them.
: I'll give you this! The Wind Drum!
I've used it to amuse him all this
time you've been away.
: Sound the drum, and Flammie will
fly to you in no time! Just watch!!
Now, we escape!
: Ah, sorry to trouble you, but do bring
me back to Matango Kingdom!
It's to the southwest, mind you!
|TRUFFLE:Am I too late?
Do you want to know HOW I
By Flammie! He grew like a
weed, and started to fly!
I didn't know what to do,
so I just hopped on!
Strange, but he thinks
you're his parents! I guess
he wants to help you.
Take this Flammie Drum.
It's his favorite toy.
Use it anywhere and he'll
come to you!
Now, take me to Matango.
It's to the south-west.
The drumming noise sounds again, and Flammie, much larger than when we last saw him, swoops down from the sky to pick everyone up. We're flying!
Track 22 未知への飛行 (Flight into the Unknown) plays when flying with Flammie, under normal circumstances. It's appropriately upbeat and energetic.
This is technically an optional trip, but it couldn't hurt to come here for some direction if nothing else.
（ Ｌ／Ｒ ：モードきりかえ）
How does Flammie ride?
: If you get lost in the sky, Flammie's
clairvoyance comes in handy!
(START: view map)
( L / R : change modes)
|TRUFFLE:How do you like
When you get lost up there,
use his special powers.
Press START to see the map.
L/R buttons change modes.
|: There's a large mountain southwest of this
country. That's the Manten Mountain you've
been looking for! Now you can go there!
: As his foster parent, I'll miss him,
but just stop by for a visit every
now and then! Make sure you do!
| You'll find the Lofty
Mountains to the southwest.
What you seek is there.
Visit me again, okay!?
Hmm. Luka did tell us to go meet Sage Jach on Manten Mountain after we recovered the stolen Water Seed, but only in passing, and that happened long enough ago with no further mention of it that most players have probably forgotten about it by now. And, much like when he directed us to the Fire Temple unprompted, how does King Truffaut even know we were supposed to be looking for something that we never said anything to him about it in the first place?
Regardless, we now have the Wind Drum and can summon Flammie from just about any outdoor area to fly all over the world. Time to explore!
Finding not just one or even two, but three weapon powerups in chests in the ruins, then another two in the castle, seems rather excessive. I'd be willing to hypothesize that several planned bosses were scrapped and their rewards dumped into these chests as a way to salvage them. Actually, let's take that a step further. What if every weapon powerup obtained from a chest or NPC was originally meant to come from a boss battle that didn't make it into the final game? If you always got the energy directly from powerful enemies, that would explain why the Japanese text didn't feel the need to invent the concept of "orbs".
Early screenshots and promotional material also suggest not only a large wilderness region in the northern Empire, but also what looks like a city in the northeast in addition to the castle and surrounding buildings in the northwest, and nothing that looks much like the ruins found in the final game. Were the ruins a later addition, and a way to reuse assets? Or perhaps the castle itself was built on top of and connected to the ruins, facilitating the leadership's corruption?
For comparison, here are what Northtown and the surrounding region look like in the preliminary and final maps:
This also feels weirdly early to be getting flight capabilities. We've only been to half of the world's Mana temples, so that should mean about half the game is still to come, and quite likely more than that due to late-game plot twists that are sure to arise. Although there are certainly exceptions, games like this tend to withhold convenient high-speed air travel until after the player has already been to almost every significant location in the world, and has only a handful of places left that are entirely inaccessible except by air. The midgame seems a more appropriate time to gain access to something like a seafaring vessel.
The latest known pre-final version of the world map includes a prominent beach on the east side of the northern shore. Escape by sea, resulting in some form of ocean transport, would have made sense, especially given the beaches that appear elsewhere on the world map even in the final game. Yes, we're told the seas are too stormy to sail, but that honestly comes across as an after-the-fact handwave. Certainly no one else, from Watts to Gemma to Team Scorpion to the Imperial army itself, ever has any trouble traveling from continent to continent. Cannon travel doesn't go everywhere, and there's no indication that any other meaningful form of air travel is available to anyone else, so how are they getting around if not by sea?
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