LOCATION: Solitary Island
PARTY MEMBERS: Celes (Lv. 27 HP 1211/1211 MP 251/251)
ELAPSED TIME: 18:28
STEPS TAKEN: 41803
Oh, what a day! Despite my worries, and relative lack of progress to this point, I was able to complete the Floating Continent on Day 16 despite countless interruptions from outside of the game. How I did it is another matter entirely.
As I planned yesterday, I wandered on the Veldt. Aside from acquiring a couple of new rages, the effort proved fruitless, so after I earned enough GP, I took the party to Jidoor and went to the Auction House. I resisted the temptation to buy the Cherub Down (which came up twice) and purchased Zoneseek when it came up for bidding. also wasted a few minutes to go back to Narshe to buy some useless mementos of the World of Balance (a Tiara, a Power Sash, and some Bard's Hats), then went outside to save.
From here, I boarded the Blackjack and then remade my party to feature Edgar, Sabin, and Setzer. Of course, it was a complete waste of time since when I went to the helm and selected the option to find the Floating Continent, the game asked me again to select a party of three. After I re-selected my dedicated characters, I went through the gauntlet of Pincer attacks. In this series of battles, I began to get worried and both the Spit Fires and Sky Armors were able to do a decent amount of damage to my characters. I had mixed results with Slots as sometimes I would get three bars, resulting in Magicite that at times helped my party and other times hindering it. Also, unlike the Sealed Cave where Lagomorph healed enough to offset the damage I received, here it was annoying, as it did not eliminate the need to heal in between battles.
After a while, it was time to face Ultros and his new buddy Chupon. While the battle wasn't extraordinarily tough, it was full of stupid mistakes on my part, such as trying to remove the Blind status (a status which has no effect) and targeting the wrong character. Still, the triple Sneeze attack sent my characters falling into the battle with Air Force and its attachments, MissileBay and Laser Gun. I usually have only minor difficulties with this boss, and that's when I have Locke in my party as I get greedy and try to steal anything I can.
This time, the triple threat of this boss proved to be more than I could handle. I must have not been thinking when I played through this battle, as the enemy completely and throughly devastated my party with Tek Lasers, a barrage of Missiles and a Diffuser. My party had been annihilated.
I didn't reset, which allowed my characters to keep the experience they gained. While no one had gained a level, all three chracters were far closer to level 24 than they were before I began the IAF sequence. Since it would be a bit unethical to keep the party in tact and ignore those who were further away from the next level, I did what I had been dreading -- I put Celes in my party, and I also put Relm in there as well. I also selected Edgar since he was on the same level as the ladies and would be useful enough to drag along. Since the ladies were not well versed in curative spells (for Celes this was because I hadn't done anything with her in days, for Relm it was because I planned to wait until the second half of the game to develop her repertoire of spells), I slapped a Healing Rod on Relm and hoped I could move my thumbs fast enough to have her attack her teammates when necessary.
The ensuing battles became even more difficult and lengthy as my offensive power had been reduced dramatically. Nearly every turn I had to have Relm poke someone and recover their HP. Soon it was time to engage Ultros and Chupon, and I began to regret not taking Relm and Celes on a spell-building session on the Veldt. After this was the fight with Air Force, Laser Gun, and MissileBay. This time, the battle went slightly more smoothly thanks to the Healing Rod I put on Relm (as well as the Memento Ring). This weapon saved my bacon at times, as well as the fact Tek Laser can be absorbed with Runic. It was still a rough battle, but I was able to beat Air Force, to my relief.
With the boss' defeat, my characters landed on the Floating Continent and saved, then picked up Shadow. Much like in the Sealed Cave, my characters gained a lot of levels, despite the relatively straightforward nature of this map. For some reason, it seemed as though the encounter rate was higher than I recalled, which frightened me when I first got on the continent (Brainpan can kill me with one Blow Fish!), then simply became a pet peeve as I got toward the end (yawn...two Behemoths...can I get to Kefka yet?). After getting to the save point, I resisted the urge to jump on the Blackjack with my spoils of battle. Instead, it was time for the fierce battle against AtmaWeapon.
AtmaWeapon wasn't difficult, although he did manage to knock out Celes toward the end due to stupid actions on my part. Once the battle was over, I did remember to run back to the save point just in case I messed up in the next section. I also put a Wall Ring for Celes in preparation for the next section.
I watched the segments that followed (bye-bye Gestahl) and waited to get control over my characters again. Soon it was the six minute dash to nowhere. In the first battle, the Naughty at first lived up to her name and froze Celes solid, leaving me with no quick way of unfreezing her. Fortunately, this Naughty only stood for a couple of rounds. The rest of the Naughtys were nicer to me and allowed me to slaughter them swiftly.
Then it was time for Nerapa, and it seemed as though it took longer for him to cast Condemned than it did for the party to to finish him off. I bounced a few Ice2 spells off Celes and killed him, then walked over to the part where I could leap onto the Blackjack. Since I need Shadow for the next part of the game, I selected the wait option, took a step away from the point and stepped toward it again and chose to wait for Shadow. Having nothing else to do, I de-equipped everyone while I waited for the clock to tick out, even though I didn't need to take any action. Shadow arrived at his usual five-second mark, and the party escaped the Floating Continent, only to have both the airship and the world break apart at the same time.
The second half of the game opened up and minutes later, a comatose Celes crawled out of bed and put Cid in it. I equipped Celes using the Optimum and ran outside to save the game. I now have eight days to gather everyone, do all of the side quests, and storm Kefka's tower. I failed to do this in 2006 and am now a full day behind that playthrough's pace.
I guess it means I just have to get playing.