Ok, so I leveled for a little while in the aforementioned spot. One time when I headed back to town to reset up, I decided to try to buy those spells again. I was level 19 at this point, and I was able to buy them. Sweet.
I headed back to the cavern and decided to try to clear it. I enjoy leveling, but the whole point of this is to plow through games, and leveling slows it down and sometimes burns me out.
Every time I stood in front of a treasure chest, I got attacked by a nasty Earth Elemental. I still think my guys are on the high side of the levels they need to be, so it wasn’t too bad.
By the way, have you ever been in a cave? I have. Several. And you know what? No treasure chests. Of course, I’ve never seen dogs walk around with piles of money, either.
Anyway, I made my way to the third level. At the center of it was an obviously weird-looking bat. Would you believe it was a vampire? Because it was.
The fight lasted one round. Like I said, my guys may be higher-level than they need to be. To Lestat’s1 credit, he did get one nice hit in, smacking the shit out of Yurto. Yurto barely survived (the things he’s seen, man), though, and Kai cast Diaga on Count Chocula, who promptly exploded.
Behind Vampy was a chest which held a Star Ruby. I SHALL PASS. Later.
Oh, and it was around here that I noticed something. You can save in dungeons. No, I don’t mean save points. I mean anywhere. This is almost blasphemous. There’s no way the original allowed this, right? Don’t get me wrong — it’s super-convenient. Still, it just doesn’t seem right.
A couple rooms further in I found a stone slab in the floor. The game informed me that an evil force emanated from within. I don’t know what that means, but I assume it means if I pressed my ear up to it I’d hear Monster Mash or Time Warp.
Now I’m going to make my way out2 and head back to Giant’s Cave.
Or Edward, maybe? I don’t know — I never saw those mormon vampire movies. ↩
I seem to have overestimated my characters’ levels.
That is at least according to the magic shopkeepers in Melmond, the aforementioned town that was trashed by a vampire. They won’t sell me level 5 spells because my levels are too low. It’s possible that this game is going to get much harder as I go.
Also in Melmond was a guy who told me simply, “I’m just a farmer.” Holy shit. Good to know, dude.
My head spinning with the knowledge that this guy was a farmer, I headed west to find a cave called “Giant’s Cave.” There I found (you’ll never guess) a GIANT. This giant did its best Gandalf impression, informing me that I couldn’t pass. He didn’t give me a reason. He just bellowed that I shall not pass. Someone in Melmond mentioned that I need to feed it rocks or gems. So I guess I’ll come back later.
I headed south and was ambushed by some ghouls and ghasts. They paralyzed all my characters and beat up on them for a few minutes. Finally Yurto snapped out of it and blew the shit out of them with a Fira spell. It was at this point that I decided that it was Yurto who had the 100-yard stare, whose wife had been eaten by a goddamn unicorn. The things he’s seen… Dark shit, son. It changes a man.
Then I found the Cavern of Earth. I’ve played part of this game before (it’s in the stack of shame, right?), and I remember something from this cave. There’s a section on the first level, to the west, where you get into a fight with every step. You get a good amount of gold and xp for each fight. So I’m going to do that for a while.
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the dwarf I met in Melmond:
For my first game, I’ve decided to finally tackle Final Fantasy. As I mentioned, I won’t be playing the original version. I do have the original on my Wii, but I’ve also got the PSP version. That one is the 20th anniversary remake. It cleans up some awkward interface issues in the original. Plus, I can play it pretty much anywhere. I’m already that guy who eats his lunch at his desk at work, reading his kindle. It’s not a real drop in social status to swap the kindle for a PSP. It’s a sad, lateral social move.
Overall, this version feels a lot like Final Fantasy IV. Final Fantasy IV, by the way, was the first Final Fantasy game I played. It was called Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo and was less difficult than its Japanese alter-ego, but I loved it immediately. Before this I had primarily played computer roleplaying games like The Bard’s Tale and Wizard’s Crown. Those games were heavy on tactics, stats and level grinding, and very spare when it came to story. FF IV’s story, in comparison, was amazing. I’ll talk more about FF IV when I get to Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection.
Of course, it was the fourth game in the series. Earlier games were much lighter on story.
Final Fantasy has a very thin plot so far. You create 4 characters who show up at a castle holding crystals. There’s no explanation why, but there’s some prophecy or something about how they’ll save the world. Oh, and the world is dying. Or something like that.
When I first started playing this weekend, I decided to completely forego any walkthroughs or strategy guides. I wanted to have the pure Final Fantasy experience.1 That turned out to be a horrible mistake, as you’ll see.
I created my characters: Frotz, a warrior; Qasi, a monk; Kai, a White Mage; and Yurto, a Black Mage. That’s about all the customization that’s allowed, which is fine. Why those names? Frotz is the name of an text adventure interpreter program. So… sure. Qasi I just made up. Fantasy games throw q’s and apostrophes around. I could have really gone nuts, but I showed some restraint. Kai is short for Phenglei Kai. If you know what that refers to without having to google it (and good luck with even that), I’m impressed. As for Yurto, I have no idea. I threw some sounds together. Sounds kind of like Orko, which I guess he looks like?
I ran around outside the town for a while, getting into random fights with goblins and things. I gained a couple levels, then went and talked to the castle and talked to the king. I needed to save his daughter from knight of his named Garland who had turned bad. I stocked up in town and travelled north to a temple, found Garland and killed him, but not before he told me that he would knock me down. No sweat, though perhaps murder was an overreaction to the threat of a mere knock-down. I went back to the castle, the king agreed to fix a bridge to the north, and the princess gave me a lute. Rockin.
I crossed the bridge, got some neat story text, and continued on. This is where things started to go off the tracks.
Apparently I had either missed a conversation with someone who would have informed me of a witch living in a cave far to the north or I just spaced it. Either way, I just went to the east, where I came to a town called Pravoka. Some jerk pirates were terrorizing people. I beat them up and the head pirate begged for mercy. He gave me his boat. Cool.
After leveling some more, I got in the boat and followed the coast south until I found a dock. I walked south just a little bit and came across a town called Elfheim. You know what sort of humanoids live in Elfheim? I won’t spoil it, but it’s not the same kind of bipeds that live in Humanville. They told me that their prince had been cursed and was asleep. I needed to get some herb from a witch in a cave to cure him.
Of course, I hadn’t been to the cave of the witch (whose name is Matoya), so I headed off to the west to look for her cave. Along the way I came across a big castle. Someone had mentioned the castle, but I was looking for a cave. I decided to find the cave first, then I’d head back to the castle.
I found what looked like a sand whirlpool to the south. It was, in fact, the Marsh Cave. So I thought I was on the right track. Luckily I had leveled quite a bit, because the fights were a bit harder, at least cumulatively. I did one pass on all three levels in the cave and eventually found a crown and several locked doors.
The crown was a key item (like the lute), and there wasn’t any significant mention of one that I recalled. Weird.
After finding no big baddie in the cave, I made my way out. I decided to head to the castle, which turned out to be empty of bad guys. There was a king in the middle of the castle, though. When I talked to him, he laughed, called me foolish or something and turned into a dark elf. Then we fought.
I beat him, but I was confused. I won a crystal, which apparently was supposed to help the witch see, who I guess was blind.
This wasn’t making sense. At this point I headed down into my basement and scrounged up an old Final Fantasy strategy guide I had found at Coas Books in Las Cruces, NM about 15 years ago.
Some guys who auditioned poorly for Journey hanging out in a canoe with Saruman.
As you can clearly see, it is amazing. Look at that dude with the dead face and the Nazi helmet,2 crossing his axe with the sword of another guy with a dead face and a purple gown. Then there’s MacGyver or someone with one foot on the side of the ship, arms crossed, stoically looking off to the side with that 100-yard stare — probably at something super-awesome. He’s got a mean scar on his face. This guy has seen some shit. Some dark shit. He doesn’t let himself get attached to others. His wife was probably eaten by a goblin chieftan or a unicorn or something, and now he’s just trying to bring a modicum of justice to this sick world. Finally, there’s Saruman chilling in back, doing a lame floating ball trick (we know there’s a dowel superglued to the back, Dumbledore). Oh, and they’re all in what appears to be a very tiny helicopter boat. When I get my hands on that super-tiny helicopter boat, Hell will tremble. I’m not even going to get into that huge-ass castle that is floating back there.
Clearly, this is a book of wisdom.
It informed me of the location of Matoya’s cave. I went back there and (after talking to a broom — sure, why not? — who told me how to access the world map) gave her the crystal, which apparently is an eye. Now that she could see, she insulted my appearance and gave me an herb.
I actually knew what to do with that. I took it back to the prince, who woke up and gave me a key. I then opened various locked doors in previously visited caves, castles and towns. In one I found some nitro.
Looking at the world map, I determined the probable location of a dwarven town (surprisingly, it wasn’t named Dwarfopolis) mentioned by someone in Elfheim. I went there and met a dwarf who was very surprised to see that I had the nitro, took it, and blew the shit out of a narrow passage of land to make a canal. Don’t you need a permit to do stuff like that? And shouldn’t it take a bit longer than 15 seconds to make? It took 34 years to make the Panama Canal, but this dwarf just lobs some TNT at a wall and kablamo! Canal.
I took the boat through the canal and found a town that looks like crap, apparently due to some vampire who built an evil dam or something.
That’s where I am now. One obvious weakness in the game is that it’s linear, but you can do things in an order that leave you utterly confused. I go off and do things, then meet people who, though I’ve never met them before, feel free to take my stuff, sometimes giving me plants in return, and sometimes effecting major geological change in an insanely short amount of time. I’m going to keep the weird strategy guide handy, just to make sure I’m not doing things in completely the wrong order again.
I’ve got 5 hours clocked on the game and my guys are level 17. I’m pretty sure that’s much higher-level and longer play-time than is normal for the progress I’ve made. I guess I like to level-grind, which I think contributes to some of the burnout I experience with games like this.
But so far I’m loving it. As I said, it’s thin on story, but it’s classic Final Fantasy fun, without the annoyances of the NES version.
Well, the pure Final Fantasy PSP remake experience. ↩