PART VI: Call The Fire Brigade!
There are a number of moments in FFV where the game doesn't give you any prompts and there aren't any obvious things to do. When our heroes land in the Karnak prison, they encounter one of these instances. In every case, all you need to do is wait around for something to happen. If this were a game in 2015, you may think that the game broke or the scripting got messed up and you'd have to reload. Nope. It takes about a minute for the prisoner next door to hatch his masterful escape plan.
Fortunately, our jailers have bigger fish to fry. The Chancellor arrives to reveal our cellmate as this game's incarnation of Cid. Let's be honest here, not the greatest portrayal of Cid over the course of the series, but when immediately following the Sledgehammer-wielding, bearded-boulder of a man that was Cid in FFIV, it's difficult to top that. This one is...well, serviceable at best. Regardless, Cid is more or less imprisoned for claiming that the crystal is in danger or something, never was to clear on that. He was probably trying to prevent them from exploiting the crystal like EVERYONE ELSE in the world. The Queen has gone AWOL at this point and all hell has broken loose. Butts is recruited to go investigate the crystal.
The Fire Crystal is underneath Castle Karnak, but we need to travel to the steam-powered ship which I guess connects to the crystal? Sure, why not. But before we do that, Butts needs to finish his shopping trip that was rudely interrupted. As I explained in Part 2, Karnak sells Rods. Rods break the early game. Buy lots. Also available are level 2 attack spells that our Black Mages can use. The wolves in the nearby forest carry large sacks of gold so some grinding fills our pockets quickly.
The steamship is a relatively easy dungeon for four Black Mages. There are enemies called Crew Dust that use Flash which blinds the entire party, but guess what? Wizards don't need to see to conjure lightning bolts of killing. There is one enemy that is completely immune to magic so I'm forced to flee every time one comes up. I could attack with a dagger, but that does about 12 damage so no thanks.
At the end of the dungeon our party finds the missing Queen. She...seems to be glowing.
The Queen shows us her Human Torch cosplay outfit and another boss battle begins. This boss is a stumbling block for newbie players and probably the first challenge of the game. It transforms into 1 of 3 forms everytime it is hit and each one is a pain in the ass. One forms heals itself with a fira spell and another hits you with a high powered fire attack. Chances are it will outpace your healing and kill you fast. I cannot confirm any of this since I just snapped two frost rods and wiped my hands of this nonsense.
This method doesn't work for the whole game, trust me. In any case, Butts is once again too late to save the crystal because...uh who's that?
Alright wolf man, you can sacrifice yourself to buy us time to escape the currently exploding crystal room, that's so nice! Oh shoot, he forgot to explain why there are WEREWOLVES in this world. Oh well, maybe next time. A daring timed escape sequence follows as the castle just straight up explodes. Why was the...eh forget it.
Hey, we got some new crystal shards! That means new jobs! Unfortunately we only get three of the five shards right now, and Bard isn't one of them. Damn. Okay, well hopefully this next roll will give us something we can use. And it is....
I don't know much about Samurai. All I know is now we can start chucking pennies at monsters for massive damage and Samurai is not the one that gets Dual Wield. Shoot. Oh, and it's an Earth Crystal job. I GUESS WE'LL JUST BUY SOME MORE RODS THEN. NO BIG DEAL. Okay, where's this last crystal so I can leave the back row before Act 1 is over?
PART VII: "Book Burning" and "Sorry, Did You Want Your Boat Back?"
The Earth Crystal is located quite a ways away so Butts is gonna need that steamship working. The resident guy-who-built-it, Cid, is in a sad or drunken stupor for inadvertantly causing the destruction of the crystal. We're gonna need something to snap him out of it.
Now that the knee high fence was blown away by the castle exploding, our heroes can now travel to the Library of the Ancients. The Library is fittingly filled with books. The books are unfittingly filled with monsters. The monsters fittingly die when wizards cast Fira on them. The idea here is to find Cid's grandson, Mid, and get him to snap Cid out of it. Also found here is Ifrit, who is annihilated by a Frost Rod, and the boss Byblos, who is... annihilated by a Frost Rod.
I didn't need to get Ifrit because I don't have a Summoner and he's useless to me, but I still have one job left to roll so I got him just in case. Though I plan on rerolling if I get any job from my previous run. That's Blue Mage, Summoner, Dancer, or Dragoon.
Let's roll through the next few story beats here. Butts brings Mid back to Cid and Mid promptly bitch slaps him back to his senses. This triggers Galuf's memory to partially return due to him remembering his own grandchild slapping him to sense. He reveals that he is from another world and he traveled to this one via the meteorite. Stay with me here. Cid and Mid have completed repairs on the ship and the open ocean is ours!
Wow, a ship already? We're only a couple hours in and already we have access to 90% of the world map! Let's find that crystal so we can be a second too late to save it! When searching for an Earth Crystal, a moon shaped island is clearly the best place to start. Maybe some of the townsfolk can help...Hey, what's that rumbling?
We had insurance on that thing, right? Are you keeping score? That's FFV boats- 0, Whirlpools- 2. Our valiant party is once again without transport. FFV giveth, FFV taketh away about 30 seconds later.
Great, now we're stuck on this island. At least there's a piano. And a minstrel that teaches us a new song that we can't use yet. And some equipment we can't use. Say, what's going on in the forest down south?
It's a purp...black chocobo! Black Chocobo's have the unique ability among Chocobos to fly. Awesome, let's all cram on its back and find another ship to destroy! After chasing down the zippy bird, the party ascends to the sky...to land immediately. Something is preventing the Chocobo from carrying four adult-size people across the ocean. Faris applies CPR to it and it spits out the remaining shards of the Fire Crystal. That's right, the crystal exploded so hard, half of it flew across the ocean and down a Chocobo's gullet. Or the stupid bird saw shiny things and ate them like an idiot. In any case, the Bard job is finally available to us!
Our newly acquired Bard sits in the back row like everyone else, but now we have access to some cool new abilities. Throughout the game you will encounter "songs" that Bards can use. Right now, we only have access to one that casts Regen on the party and soon we'll be able to explore the rest of the world map and visit some other towns. The songs we get there will let us cast Confuse and Stop on enemy parties. The Stop song is especially useful as many mobs are vulnerable to it. Bards are pretty good. More on them later.
You are now required to listen to this song for the rest of your time reading this.
For whatever reason, the Black Chocobo is able to fly over mountains, something a winged dragon five times its size could not do. Clearly this chocobo has been working out. The party makes their way back to Cid and Mid and claims that the other guy totally ran the red light and totaled our vehicle and it was totally not our fault. Thankfully, our resident nerds are super chill about it and come up with an idea for a replacement. However, it involves a desert, flying cities, flamethrowers, and a boss that may or may not be immune to magic.