There are over 50 boss fights in Final Fantasy 5, one of the more challenging chapters in Square Enix's bestselling series. The majority are mandatory in order to see the story through to its end, but others – like Bahamut and Carbuncle – are purely optional. These skippable skirmishes are typically tougher than average and capable of tripping up reckless players with a volley of powerful assaults.
But there are two optional bosses in FF5 that tower over the rest. They're so difficult that back in the 1990s and even the early 2000s, kids used to whisper to each other that they were downright impossible and it was all one big joke at the expense of their fragile confidence. (Being a kid isn't easy, you know.) One of the bosses is Omega, a mechanical robot that means business. The other, and the obvious subject of this guide, is Shinryu.
Shinryu is an ancient dragon who dwells within the Interdimensional Rift, otherwise known as Final Fantasy 5's final dungeon. Common translations of this clearly Japanese name include "God Dragon" and "Divine Dragon," which makes a lot of sense once you've been subjected to his gauntlet of attacks.
But for all his flashy antics, Shinryu is far from invulnerable. With the right setup and a fundamental understanding of the task ahead of you, he's no greater a threat than any other. Here's proof.
How To Find Shinryu
No matter how prepared you may be, it stands to reason that you won't stand a chance of defeating Shinryu if you cannot find Shinryu. And while you won't have to search beyond the final dungeon to find him, his peculiar choice of hiding place makes him simultaneously perfectly cloaked and an absolute troll.
Shinryu, it turns out, is hiding inside a treasure chest in the Interdimensional Rift's Inner Sanctum area. Several older Final Fantasy titles place the occasional surprise monster attack inside treasure chests, just to keep players on their toes, but only Final Fantasy 5's designers would be so devious as to do so with the Divine Dragon.
You'll know you're in the right area of the Rift when the strange facades of forests, libraries, castles, and so forth have finally been replaced with something original — crystalline walkways with an abyss for a background, as pictured in the above screenshot.
The four floors in this zone are the deepest recesses of the Rift, home to the hardiest random encounter creatures in the game. There are boss battles on every floor, but the treasure chest containing Shinryu (and the legendary weapon Ragnarok) is on the third floor. Be sure to keep continual tabs on our screenshot so that you can match things up properly.
Preparing To Battle Shinryu
Don't go opening that chest without a game plan.
First, give two of your characters the Coral Ring accessory. The Coral Ring is technically available in Bartz's World at Istory, but with a 50,000 gil price tag, it's safe to say the item's off the menu unless you've been grinding to an incredible extent. More importantly, Coral Rings are sold in the Merged World (the third and final world) at Phantom Village. The price hasn't changed, but by this point in the game it's no longer nearly as steep an investment.
Ice Shields should be equipped by anyone who can wear them. Shinryu has one specific attack that can and in all likelihood shall be your demise without at least one character capable of nullifying Ice-elemental damage, and since he can often attack twice in one turn, it's best to have an Ice Shield on two or more characters just in case one kicks the bucket before anyone can react.
You're also going to need a way to cast Berserk when the battle begins. There are numerous methods, including the appropriately named White Magic spell "Berserk", and a Chemist can use the Mix command to blend a Holy Water with a Turtle Shell to inflict the devious status. Other routes, like breaking a Power Staff upon Shinryu, are totally valid but not necessarily as commonly available.
Weaponry and armor are easy to choose. It's simply a matter of the strongest stuff you've got. The better-protected you are, the fewer turns your healers will need to spend catching up with Shinryu's devastating physical strikes. The harder you smack the dragon, the faster he falls.
If you were expecting a one-size-fits-all here, there's not much to say – save for the fact that stealing a Dragon Lance before the fight is an excellent idea. The Dragon Lance has a 100 percent critical hit rate against dragons. It can be pilfered from Crystal Dragons, the most powerful non-Shinryu variety in FF5. They happen to make their lair here in the Inner Sanctum where you'll find Shinryu, so that pans out nicely. Besides, what's more iconic than skewering a saurian with a spear?
Sterling healing capabilities are vital to your party's survival. Consider giving every character at least one way to restore everyone's HP when necessary. The Chemist's Revive resurrects all allies for zero MP. Their Recover ability is a free multi-target Esuna. White Mages have Curaga and Arise. Don't discount the utility of a Blue Mage with spells like White Wind and Mighty Guard.
How To Defeat Shinryu
Now that you're prepped and ready to go, all that's left is to win. Shinryu always starts the fight by casting Tidal Wave for massive water damage. This is the same ability you likely experienced multiple times during your run-in with Leviathan earlier in the game, but the difference here is that Shinryu only ever uses Tidal Wave once.
This is why it's a good idea to only give two of your characters Coral Rings and save the other accessory slots for something else. The ringbearering survivors can resurrect their fallen allies and you'll never have to deal with Tidal Wave again.
Pull out all the stops on buffing the heroes. If someone's summoning, Golem and Carbuncle are musts. Otherwise, the same effects can be replicated with White Magic, Blue Magic, Mix, and more.
Shinryu's move pool includes Maelstrom, Roulette, Ice Storm, Lightning, Atomic Ray, Level 3 Flare, and Mighty Guard. The characters equipped with Coral Rings will cancel out Atomic Ray. Maelstrom and Lightning are only particularly threatening when Shinryu gets to take his turn twice, but when that happens, well, that's what emergency healing's for.
Level 3 Flare will kill anyone with a level that's divisible by three, so whatever you do, never go into battle against Shinryu with a party that will be susceptible to it.
Ice Storm's why you grabbed some Ice Shields. Mighty Guard is a nuisance, but given what you're about to do to turn this conflict into cake, it's hardly worth worrying over.
Do whatever it takes to inflict Berserk on Shinryu. Will Berserk status make Shinryu's physical attacks even stronger? Sure. Is it better to fight a monstrous superboss that can only attack physically than one that has a veritable arsenal of abilities designed to destroy you in seconds? Absolutely.
Once Shinryu is suffering under the effects of Berserk, winning is a matter of time. You'll chip away at his health bit by bit. Rapid Fire, Zeninage, high-level elemental spells, Bahamut, everything you can think of that will obliterate ordinary foes in a flash can dish some major pain to Shinryu as well.
With 55,000 HP, Shinryu is going to take several turns to go down, but down he will go. The Ragnarok sword will be yours to do with as you will, and you'll be one giant step closer to completing everything Final Fantasy 5 Pixel Remaster has to offer.
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