I honestly don't remember this part of the game being quite so hard...
Granted, it's been awhile since I've played through, but still, ya know? It took me 7 tries, which is more than it should have. And really, the boss fight at about halfway through this one was the hardest part, if only because it took me awhile to remember the easy way to do it.
When our heroes take off for the Floating Continent, they're immediately attacked by the Imperial Air Force (IAF). Making this a little more challenging is that we can only have three characters in the party. The easy way of taking out the boss of the IAF is to have Terra in the party, so we can use her Morph ability, which increases her magic power and attack stats, but is limited by the number of Magic Points she's gotten after battles, far as I can tell. The little airplanes we fight along the way are mostly to take down the party's HP and MP for another round with our friend Ultros. It's worth it to save Terra's Morph until after all that, for the Air Force boss, because with that, all we'll need is a single Bolt 2 spell.
But before all that, though, are the little airplanes, and Ultros. The little planes are mostly an endurance test until the last part. They have special attacks called Absolute Zero and Defuzer that can do some real damage, but they're also weak to Bolt magic.
After a few rounds of that, Ultros shows up again, this time flying in on the back of his new friend Chupon. It's possible to kill Ultros this time, but not necessary. The one to focus on is Chupon. When he runs out of health, he'll sneeze and knock the party off the airship. This will lead to the boss fight with the Air Force.
Air Force is a compound monster with a center part that needs to be destroyed and two side pods that shoot lasers and missiles, though usually the side pods do the same attacks as the center. If the pods are destroyed, the center will throw out something called a Speck, which absorbs attacks. The easier way of taking this thing out is to just bring Terra along and have her turn into her Esper form so that her Bolt 2 spell is strong enough to take out the main part of this boss in one round with help from whoever else is in the party, if not one hit.
When the party lands on the Floating Continent, they find Shadow, who says the band of Imperial troops he was with tried to kill him once he'd served their needs. The reason we could only have three party members before is because Shadow will rejoin the party. He'll be a big help along the way, against all the undead monsters and other really tough monsters in this part of the game. There are a lot of monsters here that classify as dragons, too. There's one that has like three different attacks that Strago can learn, and I kind of feel bad about not having him along here, but I still think Terra, Celes and Locke were just as good character choices.
What makes getting through this tough is that in addition to the monsters, this is a maze with moving sections of floor that need to be triggered with switches, some of which can only be accessed through secret passages. If you're not really careful about this, this last dungeon before the end of the world can be way more difficult than it needs to be.
There are a few boxes with monsters in them that I hardly ever get. Those monsters are really hard, but the items they have are really good. There's one called the Gigantos that has a dagger called the Hardened, which is for Shadow. There's another one, but I can't remember what the monster or the prize are, since I don't usually get it, as I almost always get killed when I try to.
There's also a save point at the halfway or three-quarters-way point of this that I've taken advantage of. It's good to start the part I'll be doing next with full health and magic, and also to not have to do the first part of this dungeon again. That's where I'll be starting off in the next part, End Of The World, Part Two.
Until then, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!