Thursday, August 29, 2013

Game 18: The Final Fantasy Legend (GB) - To the Heights of the Sky

Balancing fun and challenge for a game is difficulty when considering all the variables in an RPG. How do you properly balance instant death spells, stone/paralysis effects, and enough pure damage potential to kill off one party member per round? The late game for many RPGs seems to come down to dumb luck, or some foreknowledge to prepare an impenetrable defense.
They must be hiding really well
We'll get to all that in the fourth world, but first let's wrap up the third. I returned to town after being whisked away to a floating castle. The remaining people in town informed me that the Resistance was led by someone named Charles (never found him), and his two daughters were the key to the Sphere. I found one of them, Jeanne, hiding out in a small shelter surrounded by a forest.
Wait! A role-playing choice?
No, not really
Jeanne was assaulted by guards when we arrived. Our 'fellow' guards asked for assistance as they charged. Of course we came to the damsel's defense. After the battle, Jeanne told us her sister had been captured and was held at the floating castle. Still under the guise of a guard, I met no resistance getting to Mileille. She was very eager to get back to her sister.
A little too eager
Divulging Jeanne's location caused Byak-Ko to appear. Apparently Mileille had been working with him, and he knew all about my party besting Gen-Bu and Sei-Ryu. Instead of a battle, I was thrown in prison without a second thought. It wasn't much of a cell. The bars were like jelly, and bent easily.
A talking mutated Garlic is surprised by talking sword seeking revenge?
While breaking out, I collected a key to a stash of items. Unfortunately I was overloaded. As I pondered about what I could discard, I realized the mutants had a higher defense compared to the human and didn't really need all their armor to have equivalent defense. They're now only wearing body armor, and I've gained two more slots apiece. Once outside, I lucked upon a working glider.
I also found a town hidden here, but it was gone by the time I got the Sphere
The floating castle had moved to Jeanne's hiding place. The shelter was empty, but so was the castle. I didn't know where else to look so I stepped outside only to find the floating castle had move while I was inside. We were now sitting near a clearing I searched previously; there was nothing there before.
Byak-Ko betrayed Mileille, but Jeanne saved her sister

Finally! A battle
Again the fight wasn't difficult. Even without Tara's Power ability (which I'm still sore about), I beat this boss within just a few turns. His magic was ineffective against Jaso who seemed to be immune to ice and fire. The power of the sphere that he spoke of was also a let down.
Yeah, and...
After the battle, even though I won, Byak-Ko disappeared with the Sphere. It turned out not to be the true Sphere. That was created from a tear drop shed by Mileille over the body of her sister. Well, Sphere get; time to move on.
My party didn't even give the game time enough to tell me what I got
What next? Back into the tower! Time to climb another set of floors with even more powerful... oh my, did Tara just die from full health? It seems getting rid of that armor may not have been the best idea. I'm glad I found a revive item earlier, which restores life without the cost of a heart. Enemies are easily doing 100 - 200 damage per hit, and I have a max now of 600. Facing off against more than four monsters at a time is just a roll of the dice.
Either this experience has scarred Tara, or she's trying to tell me something
This tower climb I found what could be considered a side quest. On one floor the inhabitants complained it wasn't raining, and on the floor above they said the lake was flooding. Someone had thrown garbage into it, which clogged a hole. Clearing the garbage caused the water recede, drain down the hole, and rain down on the level below. Everyone was happy, and my reward was uncovering a treasure alcove.
I also learned some valuable intel.
This time the next world was on the 16th floor, a small departure from the every 5th level theory I was developing. The same top hatted man was there to give me a hint. Something I remembered from my previous play through.
Ah yes, run until we find a way to destroy his shield
Upon exiting the tower, there was what appeared to be a cave just a few steps away. In those few steps Su-Zaku appeared. I ran, as instructed. Inside the cave a woman was directing me to follow her. She ran into some trouble, which I helped her through, and she pointed me in the direction of town.
Or the time of day?
I was happy to refill my stocks, but noticed all the cheap weapons were gone. I currently have no idea expectations of running a problem with gold reserves. I still have HP to buy for Jare, and it's starting to annoy me that I could purchase 50 HP200 (only increases by 1 HP after 200) for the price of 1 HP600 (which only increases HP by 5 - 20). HP200 is no longer available in the shops.
I can buy two for my three guys
The townspeople spoke of a town to the northeast, a library to the north of the tower, and a power plant in the center accessible via the sewers. In the bar I ran into a scripted event where I attempted to order a drink, was challenged to a fight by a local gang member, and ran into the girl I helped who just happened to be the man's sister.
I've seen them fight, you're no match for them
Coincidence? Almost like it was planned...
Now that we were all friends, I was brought into their plan to dispel the force field protecting Su-Zaku. To do so, they needed 2 or 3 more parts to some machine. A board was mentioned, and I'm sure I'll learn about the others one by one.
I'm still trying to figure out who Zoku is
So, I now have multiple locations to look into. Akiba is the place where at least one part is, but its location is only detailed in a book at the library. The town nearby sounds like it might be deserted, but it could prove useful. Then the power plant sounds like a good place to find a power source for the device.
If you knew where this stuff was, why haven't you gotten it?
So, the combat: Andy_Panthro mentioned it was at about this point where necessary grinding reared its ugly head. I can definitely see a need for it as my resources are quickly drained after each battle. In fact, I don't even have the option of purchasing cure spells anymore. I'll see if I can't muscle my way through without resorting to a few hours of build up. Fortunately enough, my monster turned into a fairly powerful Tengu I believe. We'll see how it goes.

Session Time: 1h41m (Total Time: 6h06m)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Game 18: The Final Fantasy Legend (GB) - From the Depths of the Ocean

Well, it's not yellow, but at least it floats
Whence last we left, I had just arrived in a new town in a new world to explore. I left the town I'd just grown accustomed to and headed into the cave network connecting the islands. I expected a long period of exploration, but that was cut short when I found a floating island. Using this island as a ship, I skipped mapping out the remaining caves, which were so far bare. I do wonder if I missed anything, as I never found the two brothers mentioned in my last post.
Instead I found this cryptic old man
I took the island for a spin, and discovered an old man living on an island who pointed me towards a source for Airseeds. They allowed me to breathe underwater (this is becoming a familiar trope). In a second town (the game has stopped giving names to towns it seems), I learned I should stay away from the old man (too late) and a whirlpool can suck me down to an underwater castle.
My floating island only works on surface water, not underwater water
Sei-Ryu lives underwater, and banished Ryu-O to the surface. Ryu-O is the king of dragons, and Sei-Ryu is an upstart blue dragon. In a third town, this time under the water, the townsfolk were raving about these orbs. Sei-Ryu had a red one, and Ryu-O had a blue.
Which two lines?
The game continues to err on the side of easy. While weapons decrease with each use, and stocking up on extras is cumbersome due to the limited inventory, I have yet to run out at any crucial point (only once due to my mistake). Still the most annoying mechanic is the sudden loss of a mutant ability. And, the award for most useless party member is still held by my monster, Help.
I mean... Veri; seriously thinking of getting a mutant or human next time
Aside from the unfortunate accident Help had (he turned into an Albatross with only 20 HP and died), the castle of Sei-Ryu went smoothly. I found a blue key early on that granted me access to some high level items. I only remember the grenade at this point though. It's the first weapon that attacks a group of monsters. In the lair of Sei-Ryu are a number of orbs lined up on the floor. Grab the wrong one and a battle with a high level monster ensues.
Let's see...
Which one...
Is it stealing if I kill you first? For then whom am I stealing from?
The battle with Sei-Ryu raged on for two whole turns. Once again Tara's Power ability did massive damage, but Jare is coming into his own very quickly. After this battle, I had enough gold to purchase a whole arsenal of equipment. Instead, I invested in getting Jare some strength... well, max strength. Many potions later and he's doing as much as Tara after her Power spell. Good thing too because shortly after this Tara decides she's had enough of the easy life and forgets the ability.
Oh, and Veri turned into a garlic
After recovering the red orb, I wasn't sure what to do with it. It wasn't the sphere I was seeking. I figured I needed to find Ryu-O, but the townspeople were unhelpfully repeating their old spiels. All except the old man on his island. This time he had a riddle for me.
What can I get for the above? Do you mean if I bought and then sold them, or instead of purchasing them?
The answer was obvious after adding up the cost of those items from the shop. Luckily I had one already as I already blew all my cash on juicing up my human. I was surprised to receive the blue orb for my trouble (really no trouble at all). Still no sphere, but I felt I was getting close and confirmed when the old man suggested I could now climb the tower. The missing piece was using one of the orbs, which caused the two to fuse into the sphere.
Enemies were starting to have some nasty status ailments that lingered after battle
Hooray! I stocked up on some healing and climbed the tower once more. Again the monster levels increased, but none were a match for my buffed up boy. Even with a longsword (a world one weapon) he cut each enemy down with a single swipe. The scenery on the way up was a bit less interesting. No people praising paradise, nor seeking solace in their punishment.
This one statue in particular seems out of place
Upon reaching the 10th floor I began to notice a coincidence, soon to be a pattern; every 5th floor has a new world. Here again I met a man in a hat; he was also on the 5th floor, although I think I failed to mention him last time. He offers some insight on each world before I enter: here it was to join the ruler's guards as the quickest way to get close to him.
Strange that he'd be so eager to welcome a stranger when there's a resistance about
Looks like Byak-Ko is the next fiend I have to face off. Someone in the tower mentioned each world was controlled by one of four fiends. I guess this really was made with Final Fantasy lore in mind. This next world appears to be set among the clouds; however, there are still trees growing everywhere.
Your apathy is just what we need!
Well, it was pretty easy to join up with his guards. In fact, I stumbled into one building in the first town I found, fought some of the guards, and joined up without a second thought (or consultation from the man behind the screen). I suppose it's not all bad, I mean I'll get close to the guy and take him out right?
Maybe after this small kidnapping job; I mean I can't mess up my first job
I still need to explore the rest of this world to get my bearings, but Jeanne is definitely a person of interest. Becoming part of the forward guard imparts a flying vehicle, which allows me to quickly skip between the clouds. It's hard to see exactly what it is, but for whatever reason it's blocked by the floating trees.
I guess the vehicle has already reached its flight ceiling
The main pain point so far is the restrictive inventory limit. This is made even stricter with a monster in my party since they can't carry any items, and the two mutants are limited to just equipment. Since item space is at such a premium I've taken to skipping an arsenal of healing and curative items; something that nearly led to my first game over (discounting the blunder of my first Bandit fight).
Acupuncture cures stone
In addition to equipment, and cures for status ailments, item shops also offer utility items and spells. They're currently out of my price range for impulse purchases, but I'm hoping to try out the wand, rod, and others at some point. I've found that spells are only useful to characters with mana, which is not my human. Still, the Cure spell has 10 times the uses of a potion or x-potion, so next time I'll need to consolidate my items.
But which items to choose
Both Veri and Tara were turned to stone by a couple of quick medusas. Luckily it wasn't Jare, or I'd have a tougher time getting to this point. Now on to find Jeanne.
Can I at least get a description or will any ol' Jeanne do?
Session Time: 2h23m (Total Time: 4h25m)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Game 18: The Final Fantasy Legend (GB) - So a Human, a Mutant, and a Lizard Walk Into a Bar

Game 18

Title: The Final Fantasy Legend
Released: September 30, 1990 (Dec. 15, 1989 JP)
Platform: Game Boy
Developer: Square Soft
Publisher: Square Soft
Genre: RPG
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Turn-based
Series - SaGa

In case you haven't heard, this isn't really a Final Fantasy game. It was a cruel joke played on the unsuspecting citizens of America in order to capitalize on the success of Final Fantasy. The game actually does borrow a little from Final Fantasy II's leveling system where stat increases came from use rather than straight experience points, but we wouldn't know anything about that just yet. This, however, is the first in the SaGa series; the most famous entry was probably SaGa Frontier on the PS1 (and the most infamous is Unlimited SaGa on PS2).
Random tower where people are never seen again, must be paradise
This was the one and only Game Boy game I owned (shared with siblings) as a kid. The cart lived inside the classic gray rectangle. I remember playing through at least twice. I never had the instruction booklet, and found my way through despite not following the story very well. With the booklet in hand (figuratively), I hope to make more sense of what's going on.
What's a Clipper?
The game begins by describing a tower where paradise is rumored to reside on the other side. The manual on the other hand describes the same tower that suddenly appeared, followed by an outpouring of monsters. How does a rumor start of paradise on top of a tower that exudes monsters? After the story, the game presents a list of characters. One is selected, named, and dropped in the starting town.
There are three types of characters: humans, mutants, and monsters. Humans are well rounded to begin with, and build up slowly through the purchase of potions that raise HP, strength, or agility. Mutants gain those stats automatically through repeated combats, but there's no actual experience, just hidden values that might as likely be random. They also randomly learn abilities (i.e. spells), and lose them just as quickly. Monsters only change when consuming the meat of other monsters, and are otherwise static entities. Only humans and mutants can hold items (8 for humans and 4 for mutants). The game allows four party members; the last three have to be recruited from the guild house.
A character dies if all HP is lost, but can be revived for the cost of a heart; the character is permanently lost if it has no hearts left, and you start with three
After assembling the party, I learned of a town nearby and heard a rumor that someone named Gen-Bu hid the key to the tower door in a statue there. I chose one human, two mutants (a male and a female), and a monster. I've actually gone through about five monsters. They're just so weak, and I didn't see the point in reviving one when I can replace them with little difference. I started using joke names for them, and my current monster is Help.
I also replaced my first female mutant; RIP Sara
The next town provided much needed background for the world. Apparently there are three castles (Sword, Shield, Armor) with three kings vying for control. Each has a special piece of equipment that matches equipment missing from the Statue of Hero. Shield castle was very dismissing, but Armor was welcoming. The king there had his eye set on a girl to the south, but she wouldn't accept his proposals. Turns out Bandit, a local bandit, had threatened her village if she didn't marry him instead. It's clear what the king must do... sit around all day until someone wanders up to assist him.
That's a girl?
One of the most annoying mechanics in the game is definitely the random mutant abilities gained and lost without warning between combat. In one instance I was prepared to face off with Bandit with an ice spell. I had it in the fight right before Bandit.
I'll take Bandit out with this new Ice spell!
The next minute it's gone. It didn't help that I also forgot to equip the new longsword on Jare, my human. Tara had a rapier, which I learned later couldn't properly take advantage of her Power spell.
Where's my super suit?
I decided not to rely too heavily on abilities after that setback. So, I built up some gold reserves and saved up for some good weapons. Without thinking too much about it, I equipped Tara with a long sword, and happened to use Power right before. The result was surprising to say the least. I haven't lost the ability yet, and it's made quick work of all the bosses I've faced off so far. In fact, while I haven't exactly depended on the abilities, they've been the most useful.
Jare does 6, Jaso does 4, Tara does... how much!
So yeah, I've gotten lucky and Tara is my powerhouse. With only three uses of the ability before it needs to be recharged at an inn though I can't use it all the time. Abilities, as well as weapons and shields, have a set number of uses. Weapons and shields are destroyed after their last use with no way to repair them (other than buying new ones). I'm not sure if abilities disappear or only sit at 0 since they've always been replaced before I've exhausted them. With three types of armor, mutants fully equipped can only have one weapon.
The closest battle so far against 4 Karateka; this is why my mutants are at two hearts
With Bandit destroyed and the girl free to go to the king, I was rewarded with the King Armor. It's the only reason Jare survived the battle above. I visited the next King, Sword (Sword King?), and immediately initiated battle. I barely made it out of his castle alive, although the king himself wasn't too difficult. I then continued to lose monsters left and right until I found some meat in the tower.
I only lost one team member to him
With the sword and armor, I visited Shield and hoped he was in a better mood. Well he wasn't in any sort of mood as I arrived just as his steward assassinated him. I chased after the murderer and easily dispatched him. He clutched the shield which I sought. Taking all three items to the hero statue, and placing them on it by using them from the item menu, I gained a sphere. This must be the key.
And that must be Gen-Bu
Gen-Bu easily fell to Tara's powerful hit. I hope I get to keep this ability for a long time. The sphere used on the door unlocks it, allowing me access to the tower. Onward to paradise!
Flashback time! I remember being stuck for a long time because I couldn't find the Sphere in my inventory... good times
Inside the tower the monster level jumped considerably. Especially difficult were the slimes that melt off 30 - 40 HP per hit. The only way I managed to get past them was the Burning ability Jaso gained. It acts as a counterattack if he's damaged (for those D&D players, think Fire Shield). He also gained the Heal ability. I think he's jealous of how useful Tara has been. On the third floor of the tower I found paradise.
Sounds good to me!
For whatever reason though, the game didn't end there. I mean, I'd searched for paradise and found it, right? Well, there was still more to the tower to see. On the next floor up I found a different sort of room. Purgatory if you will.
Actually, it's out the door, downstairs, take a right, and the door's on your right... can't miss it
There was more to this tower, and I was determined to find out what! Well, the game was determined since it didn't end, and I lukewarmly followed the path. One more floor up I found a door locked with a different kind of magic than the first. Outside this floor was a world filled with water and islands.
I tried to replace my still living monster and got this funny message
Here I was warned about pirates, learned of brothers living in a nearby town (not sure what their purpose is yet), and discovered caves connect the islands. This seemed like a good place to stop, though I'm eager to get back to it. The game appears rather easy, even with my rocky start. I can see myself getting through it pretty easily before the end of the month.
Oh, you... so random with your names of things I've never heard of
I've been able to purchase enough HP and strength for Jare to keep up with the ever progressing mutants. The monster on the other hand really needs to step up. I don't think I've lucked upon a good build for him. Maybe I should stop feeding him every single piece of meat I run across.

Session Time: 2h02m (Total Time: 2h02m)