The Ice Cave is a familiar location to those of us who are long-time fans of the series. Ice caves played major parts in the first two classic NES titles. I forget what, exactly, was in the one from the very first Final Fantasy game. I'm tempted to say it was the Float Stone that allowed the party to raise the airship from the desert area of the game, but it's been long enough since my Text Play of the game I can't quite remember. The connection to the Ice Cave in Final Fantasy II will become more clear as the game goes on, trust me. Although I have played the Origins version of the second game in the series, the only thing I remember for sure about that Ice Cave is that it's where either the first or second plot-related death of a party member happens. I think this is where Joseph winds up eating it to save the rest of the party from an agent of the main villain of the game. It's been awhile, so I don't remember for sure, or what the item was supposed to be in there. Unless there's one in the fifth title in the series, I don't think the Ice Cave shows up this directly again until this one here.
So, what happens in this one? Well, for one thing, the fact that it's actually cold in this one factors into the party's trip through here in a few ways, mostly in the form of the cold wind that blows through the place. For the most part, it causes drafts where a big, tusked, rather mammothlike creature shows up in random battles and gives a hint about how it'll only show up if the party tries to run through the wind. There are also a few places in the walls, mostly, where Vivi's fire magic can melt holes to allow access to a few chests. One has a new dagger for Zidane, others have armor that everybody but Steiner can use, but you'll want to give that to Zidane for now, too, because there's a boss fight coming up and he'll need the extra defense for it.
One thing I think I forgot to mention before is something about the limit breaks in this game. For as much as I like about how they work in this installation, there are a couple things I consider rather major flaws about it. I was reminded of the biggest one going through here. It's that once that Trance meter fills up, it can only be used for the remainder of the battle where it actually happens. That actually kind of sucks, because of a character hits their Trance just before the last monster in the fight dies, that opportunity is gone for good. There's no carrying it over to the next battle. For as overpowered as the actual abilities can be, I suppose that's not such a bad thing, but it is an annoying one, to be sure. In this case, it was Steiner's that I wound up losing, which is OK, because the little monsters in here are not really ones that need the whole “Crush, Kill, Destroy” treatment that he goes for anyway, but it's still annoying.
Not too much beyond where that happened, there's a fork in the road, where the left goes to a save point, and the right goes to the boss fight. It's always a good idea to take advantage of those things, because I've had just about every major fight in this game I've been in go bad on me at some point, even this one coming up. There's also a Mognet letter for the guy at the save point in the next town, which I'll be saving for next time.
The right fork, with all the wind coming out, doesn't have any of those mammoth things in it, but there is the first of the four battles against the three Black Waltzes in the game. The reason we wanted to give the equipment we found to Zidane is because the cold wind along that path gets the better of everyone else, and they all pass out, with only Zidane remaining alert enough to do something, so he has to fight this one alone.
Thing is, though, I usually have Zidane's Trance meter just about full by this point, and the boss fight is almost always enough to finish it up. It's good because his Dyne skills can kill off both Black Waltz Number One and the Sea Lion it summons in one or two hits, which makes staying alive that much easier. At the same time, it's just as bad because I know that both the Sea Lion and the Waltz have at least one good item to steal each, and it'll be awhile before we can get them again. I did manage to get the Mythril Knife from the Sea Lion, but I wound up whacking the Waltz before I could get his stuff, too. I'm OK with that, though, because you've kinda gotta be clever to pull off getting all of that without getting whooped yourself, and I always seem to have the worst luck ever with trying to be that kind of clever.
On a personal note, I can relate to the rest of the party in the cold here, as I've been almost that cold myself a crazy number of times. The one I remember the most was one of the last Christmases my family went to spend the holiday with my mom's side of the family, so I was maybe fifteen or sixteen years old at the time. We all lived in the same state, but they lived a fair ways north of us all the same, which means that it can get a fair bit colder than where I live. I know my dad and I, for sure, and maybe even my little brother had decided to go see if anything was biting through the ice on the local lakes up there. Just our luck, nothing was. I do remember getting back to the hotel and running as hot a bath as I could and just being in there until the water got cold and still not warming up.
Anyway, the town coming up is called Dali, I believe, and if memory serves, there's actually quite a bit to do there, plotwise as well. On the way out of the cave, for example, Garnet adopts the nickname Dagger, which she'll use the rest of the game. From here, though, we'll pick up next time. See you then, folks, and DFTBA!