So, what do we need to know? I'm gonna be using the Advance version; which means that for those Ted Woolsey diehards in the audience, everything will be slightly different; similar enough that you know it's the same game but different enough for you to be ever-so-slightly jarred. Simple, no?
Without further ado, let us begin!
After starting up a new game, we get an opening narration about the War of the Magi, which occurred a thousand years before the game, and which wiped out magic along with nearly destroying the world. But then, over time civilization became Steam Punk, but then an Evil Empire has arisen, and is using Magitek to conquer the world. Will the world go through the sundering caused by the War of the Magi again?
We then see three people on walkers. Two are run of the mill Imperial troops (named Biggs and Wedge); the third is a girl with green hair. It seems that the two are keeping her on mind control, and keep calling her a witch, giving us an insight into her abilities. The three head to the wintry town of Narshe, where they encounter the town guards... and promptly curbstomp them with their powerful Magitek Armor.
A note on combat in this game: As is typical of Final Fantasy from Final Fantasy IV to Final Fantasy IX, the combat system relies on the Active Time Battle, wherein turns are used but each character, friend and foe alike, wait for a gauge to fill before taking actions. The rate at which the gauge is filled depends on the character's speed, so it can make or break battles.
Aside from that, this section (along with two others later on) sees the party in Magitek Armor, replacing their regular attacks with a menu. Biggs and Wedge only get four moves; Fire/Ice/Lightning attacks and a healing move. Our green-haired witch gets four more: a poison attack, a confusing attack, a banishing attack (counts as a One-Hit KO), and a powerful magic attack. She also has the Magic menu, allowing her to cast Cure and Fire (but I reckon it's pointless as she has Magitek attacks that do the same thing anyway).
As we proceed it is clear the Narshe militia does not merely consist of humans; there's also a mammoth and a couple of wolves. However, they are still no match for our IMPERIAL MAGITEK ARMOR!
We then head out of Narshe proper and enter the mountains to the north. Militia still haunt this place; what manner of esper could they guard? Biggs and Wedge discuss that said esper was frozen; then again this is a cold place, Narshe. We continue on, into the caves of Narshe.
The cave is fairly straightforward, save for, well, a Save Point, where the party can use Sleeping Bags or Tents for recovery, and can, obviously, save the game.
At the end of the cave, however, a Narshe guardsman unleashes a powerful beast, one certainly more potent than any we've seen so far!
Boss: Ymir (that's Whelk for you SNES purists) HP: 1600
Ymir, like all FF first bosses from FFIV to FFVII, is a tutorial for the ATB system. It has two modes: Normal, where the squishy body is vulnerable, and Defense, where it hides in its shell and will counter with a powerful lightning attack if hit. So, our strategy is obvious; hit the soft body until it dies, and ignore it or heal whilst it is hiding. Mysterious Girl uses Magitek Missile, whilst the other two heal or help.
And Ymir goes down, complete with customized boss death animation.