I’m going to be honest with you guys: I haven’t played a whole lot of Final Fantasy II this week. This is mainly because I bought Ni No Kuni, which is glorious (and which I will likely ramble on about at length in the next DorkCast). And Final Fantasy II…. Well, remember how I said it’s not my favorite? Yeah, still true.
I have made some progress, however. At the time of last week’s update, I had put about four hours into Final Fantasy II after finishing the first one, but my story progress had been virtually nil, as most of my time had been spent in full-on running-around-in-tiny-circles-bashing-my-own-party-in-the-face mode. Now, although I haven’t gone very far time-wise, I have at least gone through my first dungeon, which was a relatively easy ride. I suppose I shouldn’t be terribly surprised at this, but my past history with II has made me a little paranoid.
I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’ve tried to do series-long replays of the Final Fantasy series before; the last time was when I was writing for GameHounds, and Final Fantasy II was what killed my attempt. If you’re interested, you can read about that here. I really don’t want that to happen this time around, but most of the things that annoyed, frustrated, or just plain stumped me are still right there; they’re not going anywhere, so if I’m going to get around them, I really need to adjust my own play style to accommodate them.
I think what this will ultimately mean will be that I’ll need to display a greater degree of patience, a greater willingness to level-grind (I’ve actually found that listening to podcasts if I know I’m going to be doing this is a good tactic, as it gives my mind something to do rather than focus on the fact that I’m effectively stalled in my story progression for as long as it takes to get myself up to snuff), and a lesser resistance to beating the crap out of my own party. I’m working on that last one (really, I am).
I don’t think I adequately described the leveling system of this game last week, so before I go any further, I should clarify a bit. Final Fantasy II is (unless I’m forgetting something) the only main series title that does not actually give the playable characters “levels” as such. You do not gain experience points, which is a major departure from most JRPGs, not even just this specific series. Instead, you increase specific attributes and skills by using them. I mentioned last week that party members’ hit points increase when they are hit; it’s basically the same for things like shield skill, magic resistance, and proficiency with weapons and spells. There’s no rigid class system, but you do need to decide roughly what you’d like each of your party members to specialize in, because trying to have them be good at everything would be virtually impossible, particularly since certain traits are inversely linked (as your intelligence goes up, for example, your endurance goes down… what are you trying to say, Square?).
I have not yet reached the difficulty spike that stumped me during my last attempt at this game, and I’m honestly not sure how far away it is. I feel like I’m better prepared so far, but I’m halfway expecting to have a rude awakening when I finally get there. To hopefully head this off, I’m taking as many precautions as I can. My newest strategy is, once I reach a new town where new gear and/or spells are available, to hang out immediately outside that town and grind until I can afford everything there. This has the dual benefit of making certain my party is fitted with the latest and best equipment and also gaining them significant attribute increases while we forage for the monsters with the deepest pockets. I don’t know if this approach will work all the way through the game (as with many JRPGs, money is maddeningly scarce in the introductory period but basically allows you to swim in it Scrooge McDuck-style by the end), but for now it seems to be doing the job. I can’t remember ever getting far enough to see whether the money situation follows this pattern in II, so I’ll just have to find out. I’ve just dragged a lump of mythril out of the last dungeon I ventured into, so now I’m back to running around in circles until I can afford full upgrades for all of my characters. This could take a while.
WEEK 4 PROGRESS: 5 hours 53 minutes into Final Fantasy II