We're in the home stretch here, gang!
Oh, for the record, these Frost Ds are the reason I stayed far away from the treasures of the Ice Cave.
No, seriously. One of each.
LICH v2.0 is really the breaking point of the Temple. The worst of the random encounters are behind you now, but the curveball NUKE throws at you is mean to the point of being outright cruel. It was years before I realized that the FIENDs in the final dungeon were different than the ones you fight earlier in the game, so for a long time we would powerlevel like crazy at the PNEOP before the Earth Cave to be certain that we could kill LICH before he NUKEd us. Rest assured, early-game Earth Cave LICH doesn't have access to this spell, and the other three FIENDs don't really get any new nasty tricks of this calibur.
Two more quick things: LICH (and the other FIENDs too, I assume) is worth exactly 666 EXP if you finish the fight with three people alive, like I do here. Fitting coincidence or tricksy hidden Satanic message? The world may never know. Number two, all the FIENDs appear on spiked squares now, so you can pop them as much as your little heart desires. My little heart desires a rematch with NUKE-happy LICH about as much as it desires a shit smoothie, so it's down to the Fire Level with me.
Here's the first of two treasures that are actually worth getting in the Temple: a second ProCape for one of my RedWizs. Also on this floor is a free ProRing and a second Katana, neither of which I have a use for. If for some reason you have two NINJAs in your group that Katana is worth the trek to get, but if you have two NINJAs in your group it means you beat ASTOS and LICH v1.0 with two THIEFs and therefore are clinically insane or a goddamn American hero and I salute you, soldier.
KRAKEN has more HP now and his hits are absolutely devastating. Unless you have KNIGHTs meatshielding for you, you'd better hope you have a way to RUSE up quick. This fight started out with Defense Sword/RUSE/RUSE/White Shirt, but as you can see it still didn't go well for me. By the time I'm RUSEd enough that KRAKEN is consistantly missing me I'm down to BOSS's Sun Sword and SKUB's Thor Hammer to deal damage. No matter how little damage I do, though, it's a losing battle for the FIEND. He can only damage me with LIT2 now, but I've already ALITed myself. I end up slowly poking him to death 20-40 damage at a time, and still have plenty of L5 charges for LIFE spells. It takes a lot of HEAL potions but everyone is back in top condition when I head down to the Air Level.
A NetHack epitaph comes to mind: "Brain sucked by a master mind flayer, while helpless." If genociding h wouldn't also take out my good pal Jim back in Melmond, I would have done it before coming out all this way. (Anyone who gets that joke has my respect and admiration.)
Well, on the plus side, I have much better fights with LICH and KRAKEN my second time through. LICH unwisely chose to attack me rather than NUKE, and KRAKEN decided to open with LIT2, so maybe it was for the best.
The Masmune, simply put, is the best weapon in Final Fantasy. And I don't mean "the best weapon in Final Fantasy, the NES game from the early 90s". I mean "the best weapon in Final Fantasy, a series of RPGs produced for various home consoles over the past 18-odd years". I don't want to hear Atma or Ragnarok or Ultima Weapon or Ridill or Zodiac Spear or any of that nonsense. The Masmune, misspelled though it may be, puts them all to shame. Simply put, any character weilding a Masmune (and any class, promoted or not, can indeed equip it) can do sick amounts of damage. It packs 50% HIT -- that's enough for nearly three hits right out of the box -- and a whopping 56 DAMAGE. For comparison Xcalber (the second-best weapon) has 45 DAMAGE and 35 HIT while the Katana (the third-best) packs only a measly 33 DAMAGE and 35 HIT.
Your first instinct may be to drop this directly on your best attacker, but with some thought that's a bad idea, especially if that character is a KNIGHT or a NINJA who is already weilding a very good class-specific weapon that nobody else can use as a hand-me-down. Your second instinct is probably to give it to your worst attacker, and that's certainly not a bad strategy. Personally I'm going to be giving it to BOSS instead, because I like to keep SKUB as a dedicated healer in battles, and he's unRibboned anyway meaning any use he gets out of the Masmune in boss fights is going to be momentary at best.
Speaking of SKUB, right here is UST #5. I'm running low on resources now, both spell charges and HEAL potions, so it's time to EXIT out to resupply. Oftentimes you can just plow right through and win the game right now, but I have plans for this Masmune back in the present and besides, gaining L20 gives my RedWizs their first L6 spell and SKUB his first L7. Saving those levels and this sword is worth replaying the dungeon.
Without any further ado I present to you: your endgame LIGHT WARRIORS:
(BOSS's spell list not pictured because it is identical to EDIT's.)
The strategy guides will tell you this party is not ready to win the game. The walkthroughs will tell you this party is not ready to win the game. Nintendo Power will tell you that. The GameFAQs monkeys will tell you that. Everything you thought you knew about FF1 will tell you that.
I'm telling you different. These guys are ready to win the game.
After one last night of drink and debauchery at the Coneria INN, and after one more extra-long HEAL-buying session, the LIGHT WARRIORs are ready. Past the talking bats and back into the Time Gate they go.
You'll note my Masmune weilder is on the back line. This is not an accident. Up until this point I've been swapping EDIT and BOSS back and forth to spread their damage around, but now I want BOSS planted where she is, in the back line where only 12.5% of the attacks are getting her. She's also carrying my Power Gauntlet, so as I make my way back through the KARY and KRAKEN fights she can murder them almost instantly with a devastating FAST+SABR+Masmune combination.
If you're not after the Masmune the Air Level is actually extremely short, and once you've killed TIAMAT you're essentially safe to use up every last HEAL potion in preparation for the last battle. One of the game's three super-rare monsters is found here, but I'm not really in any shape to run around looking for it, and I'm terrified of the SORCERERs running around anyway. One more staircase down leads me to...
Yes, it seems that the four FIENDs gathered up their power to send good ol' princess-snatchin' GARLAND back in time. He takes a few moments to explain his devious plan to you here (which involves sending the FIENDS to the future so they can send him back to the past so he can send them back to the future) before assuming his ultimate form and ruining your day.
CHAOS has 2000 HP and some of the nastiest spells in the book. In addition to the bog-standard ICE3, FIR3 and LIT3 he's got unique spells like SWIRL and TORNADO, not to mention good old NUKE. About halfway through his spell rotation is CUR4, which restores his HP back to maximum. This is less of a problem for some teams than others. It's essentially a lose for some of the solo games, but my team won't have any trouble...
Not for nothing, but I've seen a high-level MASTER kill CHAOS in a single shot after a couple layers of the Power Gauntlet plus FAST.
And that's the end of the adventure!
Next: So I beat CHAOS, big deal. Certainly there's something harder than CHAOS...?