When you emerge in this section of The After Years you’ll be on the Moon - but not the same Moon as in The Lunarians’ Tale. This Moon is fair simpler, and despite having room to wander around there’s only one destination: the Subterrane, a few easy steps west of the Lunar Whale. This is the final dungeon of The After Years, though don’t let that fool you - it will take a looooong time to beat this enormous structure. You can return to the Lunar Whale to rest up, purchase items, and change your party if you like.
The Subterrane consists for forty-plus levels. That’s ludicrous. Fortunately, you will find Interdimensional Elevators every three or four levels which will allow you to move freely throughout the Subterrane, as well as jump back to the Lunar Whale and / or change your party on the fly. The entirety of the Subterrane will not be in this one document, because I’m not crazy.
Whether or not you recruited every possible character in The After Years, you’ll still have a robust team, with multiple characters who can cover different roles. Unless you really like to grind characters, it’s wise to pick a single team and work with that team alone for the remainder of your trip. Changing your members constantly will cause you to fall behind in levels and struggle with the later portions of the Subterrane. This place is a game unto itself in many ways. When choosing your party you’ll want a combination of the following:
- A tank / hard-hitting fighter, someone who can dish out and take a lot of damage. Cecil is a good choice here, as he can smash enemies and protect allies. Yang, to an extent, also falls into this category, though he can take less damage overall.
- A swift damage-dealer, someone who can hopefully act before your opponent on most turns. Kain and Edge both fall into this category, as does Ursula. Golbez kinda fits in here, but he falls behind once the rest of your party catches up with his advanced levels.
- A black mage, someone who can unleash holy hell on your opponents. (Not literally, since Holy is a white mage spell, but… anyway.) Rydia and Palom both fit the bill, Golbez can cover this base, and with a lot of training Leonora can too, though she’ll never learn the best black magic spells.
- A white mage, someone who heals. Simple. Rosa and Porom can both do this, Ceodore can in a pinch, and Edward, with Salve (and a lot of money to buy X-Potions), can cure the crap out of your party. I prefer Edward since he can also Phoenix Down your entire party with Salve, but it’s your call. Leonora also fits in here, but, again, it’ll take a long time before she’s really good at it. Ursula, Edge, and two of Edge’s ninjas can also heal, but… they all suck at it, so, don’t rely on them.
- A hybrid, someone who can cover multiple bases in a pinch. Ceodore, Leonora, Golbez, Edge, and most of Edge’s ninjas fall into this category. I prefer someone speedy who can provide quick healing in case your healer falls, but this is up to your preferences.
Realistically you can get through the Subterrane with just about any characters you like, so long as you’re willing to level the crap out of them. If you’re looking for a strong party from the get-go, however, you’ll want to avoid Harley, Calca, Brina, and the Eblan Four. They’re all kinda terrible, especially Harley, Calca, and Brina. (So, yes, basically all of the optional characters. Makes you warm and fuzzy thinking about how tricksy it was to keep them on your team in the first place.)
One thing to note! Though Cecil is listed as a good choice above, he is a poor choice when you first enter the Subterrane. His stats are ridiculously low until you hit a story event, and he’ll be utterly useless for a while. Don’t use him until you’ve brought him back to normal.
The first section of the Subterrane consists of replicates of the Lunar Subterrane from The Lunarians’ Tale, as well as the final dungeon of Final Fantasy IV. Should be familiar ground either way. The invisible path on your left leads to B2, a Cottage, and, eventually on B3, a Genji Shield. To the right is another invisible path that’ll take you to a Decoy. The exit is to the south of the entrance.
South and east of the entrance there’s an invisible path leading north. Check the wall on your left as you head north and you’ll find a tricksy, but short, path to Genji Armor. All the way north in this path is an X-Potion, sitting beside the exit.
As soon as you enter this floor you’ll find one of the crystals floating over a save point. Approaching it - hell, approaching any crystal in the Subterrane - will trigger a boss battle. Don’t worry, it’s nice and easy.
Your first test in the Subterrane is a blast from the past, which, to be honest, is going to be true of most of the bosses down here. Baigan consists of three parts - body, arm, arm - and is based on constant regeneration. Kill the two arms and the body will bring them back. This made him a tricky opponent in Final Fantasy IV, but here he’s pretty lame. Use Quake over and over and his arms will die constantly. They’ll come back, true, but they’ll almost never get a chance to attack… not that his attacks ever do much damage as it is. Baigan will throw up Reflect when hit by magic, but Quake ignores Reflect, making it the ideal spell for this situation. He shouldn’t last long, regardless of your chosen party.
Beating Baigan will open up a save point, as well as an Interdimensional Elevator. From here you can head south to find the exit, though a teensy bit further south is a hidden path. Through it you’ll find a Dry Ether. Left of the chest is another path leading to a Remedy and an Ether.
There’s a White Fang to the west of the entrance, and down the stairs and to the east is a small cave containing a Lustrous Sword. There’s an X-Potion and a Red Fang in the southwest cave, and a Blue Fang near the crystal / save point in the far southeast. Among other things, this area introduces Ebony Dragons. Don’t use magic on these brutes. They’ll react with insta-kill attacks.
Yet more faces pulled from Final Fantasy IV. The Magus Sisters work as a team: Sandy (the tall one) casts Reflect on Cindy (the larger one), then Mindy (the small one) casts -ga level spells on Mindy, which Reflect back and hit your party. Sounds over-complex, but it prevents you from using spells on Cindy and it prevents you from using Reflect on yourself. Sandy will spend the rest of the battle boosting Mindy through Haste, and Cindy will physically attack if struck. Cindy will also resurrect each of her sisters, with full health, if they’re every killed.
Cindy, therefore, should be your first, primary target, because without her the enemy side falls apart. Target her with either physical attacks or something that doesn’t set off Reflect, like good ‘ol Quake. Heal as necessary in the process. Once Cindy’s gone, target Mindy and Sandy, in that order. More dangerous than Baigan, but still no big deal.
The Subterrane becomes a mirror of its normal self down here, though that’s no big deal overall. There’s a Silver Hourglass to the right of the first cave, Genji Gloves in the cave (also an X-Potion if you take the southern exit), an Ether to the left of the proper exit, another Ether in the second cave, and a Unicorn to the northeast of the save point / crystal boss in the south. West of the exit you can find a Hi-Potion in a small cave. Pretty useless.
Dr. Lugae and Barnabas
The baddies of Babil are back, though they’re a bit different than their FFIV incarnations. Barnabas, as before, is a big-time hitter, though he doesn’t get confused about who he needs to attack. He’ll hit hard but he won’t do it often. Nevertheless, target him first, as he can wipe out your mages in a single attack if you have some back luck. Lugae is much more reserved this time around, and though he still specializes in status attacks he won’t pull out any insta-kills again. You can safely leave him for second. Use your strongest attacks in general on both baddies. Beating the pair will unlock the Twincast Band for Palom and Porom.
Chests flanking the entrance contain a Gaia Drum and a Fuma Shuriken. Stick to the right side to find a Final Outfit, as well as an invisible path that ultimately leads to a Flame Whip through a hidden wall in the northeast. West of the Whip chest is a series of teleporters leading to a Genji Helm, a save point, and a Blood Lance. The left stairs lead, fairly immediately, to a save room - and another crystal boss, though this fight is scripted and harmless. (Have Edge in your party for the best results.) The chest in here contains a White Robe.
This area contains Shadow Dragons. These are very similar to Ebony Dragons, though they have more HP and like to use Doom in addition to insta-death responses to spells. Stick to physical attacks.
South of the entrance are three rooms. The first contains a save point and an Interdimensional Elevator; use the former to trigger a cut scene and learn the Ice Crush Band for Leonora, Palom, and Luca. The next two rooms contain a Murasame, a Dragon Shield, and a Protect Ring. This area contains Behemoths, among other creatures, and they can maul your party with counterattacks pretty quickly if you don’t throw up Blink status.
There’s a crystal near the exit; approach it to trigger a battle with four Skulnants. Killing them will trigger a boss battle. (Put Golbez in your team for some extra text.) You must defeat this boss in order to advance to B8, despite how it initially looks.
This battle consists of two phases. In the first Scarmiglione will immediately call in six weak Revenants which you can eliminate with any high-level, all-hitting spell. After that he’ll counter any attacks with Thundaga, which is painful, but controllable. Smack him around with your strongest spells and attacks to cut down on the number of hits you need to do.
Do enough damage and you’ll jump to a second battle, where Scarmiglione back attacks you. This version deals exclusively in physical attacks if great strength. These attacks may or may not poison your characters. Swap rows to get your mages out of the line of fire, then use fire to mangle Scarmiglione while remaining healed. Firaga will carry you throughout this fight. Make sure you avoid any absorption attacks in the process, as they’ll do the reverse of what you want. Defeating Scarmiglione will leave behind a chest containing a Stardust Rod.
Now the map becomes more interesting. Enemies here are aquatic in nature, and susceptible to electricity, but Quake is still your best bet for quick kills. The big exception is the White Dragon, which absorbs electricity. West of the exit you’ll find a White Fang; east you’ll find an X-Potion. Walk through the wall beside the X-Potion to find a Dragon Mail in a secluded chest. Follow the eastern path south and west until you find southbound stairs to a cave; head west of the stairs for a Unicorn Horn before descending. A save / cut scene in here will net you the Final Calcabrina Band for Luca, Cid, Calca, and Brina. Beyond here is the exit - guarded by a crystal boss.
The second elemental fiend, Cagnazzo is as water-based as everything else on this floor. He spends roughly half of the battle using normal attacks on your party, as well as occasionally using Silence on your casters. No big deal. He only gets tricksy halfway through, when he starts to use Tsunami constantly. This will hurt everyone rather badly. The trick here is to use a lightning attack whenever Cagnazzo builds a water wall around himself. Not only will it stop Tsunami, you’ll do double damage with the lightning spell. (So, y’know, bring out Thundaga.) It won’t take many blasts to murder him good. You’ll find a Sage’s Staff and a Sage’s Robe as prizes for beating Cagnazzo, as well as the exit.
Among other things, this area’s patrolled by Thunderbirds. If attacked these bastards will stone your guys. Use a Jumping attack (Kain or Zangetsu) to quickly kill ‘em from above. Jump will also murder most enemies in this area. There’s a split in the path near the entrance; go north and walk through the wall to find an Ether. A secret wall on the east side of this next cave leads north to Dragon Gloves. The southeast exit in the cave leads to a Blue Fang; the southwest exit leads out. Another cave west of here contains an X-Potion, as well as a secret path to the left leading to a Dragon Helm. A save point south of here will send you east, straight into a crystal boss. Bring Kain. (Or Zangetsu, I guess.)
Another relatively easy boss. Barbariccia prefers wind attacks, and doesn’t do a hell of a lot to you until she twists herself into an alternate tornado form. This can be quite painful, as she’ll counter physical attacks with Tornado from that point on. She’ll also petrify your characters. You can instantly pull her out of this form by using Jump, after which she’ll return to her normal attack pattern for a while. Commit Kain to jumping while everyone else smashes her health away with normal attacks and -ga level spells. (I found Firaga most potent.) Beating Barbariccia will earn you a Gungnir, as well as open the way to the next floor.
It should be immediately obvious that this place is littered with fiery monsters, so make sure to bust out your ice weapons and Blizzaga. Head south down the first set of stairs and you’ll find a Remedy on your left and, through the cave on the right, a Godhand. Head back to the stairs and continue south; there’s a cave at the bottom containing a save point.
There are numerous other caves in this area, as well, and you need to pick the right one. We’ll go through them from north to south. The first on the right contains an X-Potion; the second connects uselessly to the fourth; the third leads to a Red Fang; the fifth contains an Apollo’s Harp which will make Edward, y’know, useful. The first on the left contains an Ether; the second leads to the third, so meh; the fourth leads to a Fuma Shuriken. The middle cave in the south leads nowhere. The final cave on the right side leads to a central corridor containing a Red Cap, a save point, and an Extradimensional Elevator. Step onto the save point to trigger a cut scene that will grant Yang and Edge the Oboro Strike Band. Then, to the north…
There are two ways to conduct this fight. The first is to have everyone battle Rubicante together. This makes it really easy. Rubicante has two phases: cape open and cape closed. When his cape his closed he’ll only attack if attacked, using Fira or Firaga. Using ice spells during this phase will heal him, and he’ll do this himself on occasion. He opens his cape during the second phase and will attack with fire spells. Attack him normally with the cape closed or simply wait, then barrage him with Blizzaga once his cape is open. Easy peasy.
The second way to fight is to have Edge fight Rubicante alone. He has to be in the party, obviously, and will hopefully be in the late thirties to early forties. It’s not that difficult to beat Rubicante with normal attacks; just use a Spider Silk on Rubicante and Hermes Sandals on Edge to give yourself two to three attacks per turn. Wail on him and use X-Potions to heal. Keep above 1,000 HP and it should be an easy fight. Beating Rubicante with Edge alone will earn you a Fire Scarf after the battle is complete. It’s good enough that I highly recommend beating Rubicante with Edge alone.
Say hello to robotsville. Armor Constructs and Thunder Dragons aside, use electricity on just about everything here. The only enemies you really need to fear are the Clockwork Dragons, which, despite not being too dangerous most of the time, can hit everyone for over 2,000 HP if you’re unlucky. Use Thundaga to wipe these bastards out quickly.
Head north from the entrance, ignoring the first two lefts for the third. This leads to another string of platforms. Directly south of this split you’ll find a Poison Axe, to the north you’ll find a Cottage, and to the west are two left turns. There’s another room in the northwest (use either pathway), and beyond it more pathways. Check to the northwest for an Ether, then head as far south as you can to find a Moonring Blade. Head northeast across the thin platforms here to find a save point, then follow the path southeast to find a crystal boss.
The blasts keep coming from the past. The CPU is accompanied by two other Nodes, Attack and Defence, which handle all of the hard work. The Attack Node hits you with a Laser Barrage for roughly 500 to 600 points of damage to everybody; the Defence Node heals itself and the CPU. The CPU itself will only cast Reflect on itself, and will do so again when the first Reflect wears off. The only exception here is if you destroy both Nodes, in which case it will resort to an insta-kill attack which will eventually wipe out your party.
Ignore the Attack Node, kill the Defence Node, and focus all attacks on the CPU. It’ll take a while, since you’re forced to use physical attacks on a back-row character, but so long as you’re attacking consistently (and hopefully with long range attacks, such as that Moonring Blade you just found) it’s not a difficult fight. Slow on the Defence Node will make it even easier to keep up with healing.
Defeating the CPU will earn you a Yoichi Bow and Yoichi Arrows. You’ll also move to the next level.
We’re about to reach a critical moment, though there’s a bunch of stuff to do here first. If you want the last of the Eidolons in your summon list, including the strongest of the lot, make sure Rydia’s on your team before entering B12. She needs to participate in the next few boss battles. This is a good place to level, but you’ll want at least one solid magic user to make the battles quick.
Wander east to start by going south, then north along the eastern wall. There’s a building here, and to the right of it a Lunar Curtain. Enter the building and head north, along the eastern wall, ’til you hit another building. Pop inside and you’ll find a Cottage, a save point, and, at the top, the Eidolon Ashura.
This battle with Ashura is pretty much identical to the fight against the queen of the Eidolons in Final Fantasy IV. Ashura is a combination of hard-hitting physical attacks, many of them counterattacks to your own strikes, and potent white magic. The biggest problem is Curaga, which will lengthen the battle significantly. Slow Ashura, then cast Reflect on her so all of her spells rebound onto you, depriving her of the benefits. Once that’s done, pick away at her with your strongest attacks. You can sneak in a few powerful black spells when she’s not Reflected. (And if your black mages are potent enough, eh, maybe you don’t need to bother with Reflect anyway.) Beat Ashura and she’ll rejoin Rydia as a summon, assuming Rydia’s in the party. If not, the Eidolon will vanish forever. You’ll also gain a Minerva Bustier.
Besting Ashura will unlock one half of the last part of this dungeon. Leave the building and head west to find an adjoining passage. Ignore the cave in the north and go further west. There’s a near-identical passage in the west. Search its northwest end for a Fuma Shuriken (you can also look outside the building, back in the first area, to find another Light Curtain, as well as a White Tiger Mask in the southwest). The inner building contains a Dry Ether and a save point, and leads to Leviathan.
This battle’s as fast and as furious as they come, but it’s not that difficult if you bring along two magic users (presumably one of which is Rydia). Leviathan uses two attacks: Blizzara / Blizzaga, a cold magic hit which is decently powerful, and Tidal Wave, which hits everybody pretty hard. That’s about it. Throw up Shell, then blast the hell out of Leviathan with Thundagas from your black mages. Everybody else can heal and attack as appropriate. You don’t need to do much more than that, really, other than throw up Shell. If you beat her first Ashura will show up halfway through the fight to provide some help, as well, making the whole shebang even easier. Best Leviathan with Rydia present and he’ll become a summon again. You’ll also gain a Mystic Whip. (A whip and a bustier. What are they trying to do to Rydia, exactly?)
Return to the central doorway between the two houses after beating Ashura and Leviathan and head north. You’ll soon wind up on B13, where you’ll find an Interdimensional Elevator and a save point. This represents a critical juncture, as you need to formulate a very specific party going forward. If you want the best possible results, put Cecil, Ceodore, Rosa, and Golbez on your team. To proceed you need at least Cecil and Golbez in there, though, again, you should try to make do with all four.
This sequence is filled with cut scenes and one false fight right at the beginning, but there is a boss fight here. The Dark Knight isn’t a terribly terrible opponent, but his Darkness attack can wipe out your party pretty quickly if you fail to heal up after he uses Black Fang to reduce a character to a single hit point. Rosa heals; Ceodore attacks and heals, as necessary; Golbez attacks; your final character attacks, or heals, or… whatever. Cecil will get knocked out at one point, and you cannot wake him up, so don’t bother trying. You’ll get the Excalibur for beating the Dark Knight, and if you decide to keep Cecil in your party it’s a staple weapon for the good king. (His stats are returned to normal now, by the way. Joy!)
Now for the matter of choice. If you come here without at least Cecil and Golbez, your team will be immediately destroyed. If you come here with Cecil, Golbez, and anybody else but both Rosa and Ceodore, Golbez will bite the dust during the battle, and you’ll lose him for good. Don’t let this happen unless you’re crazy! Golbez is awesome. So long as all four characters are there you can win this battle the happy way, and Golbez will stick around for the rest of the game.
Regardless of your choice, the path to the Depths will open. Gettin’ closer, but you still have a looooong way to go.