This is an ongoing series about Crosstix’ journey through the main series Final Fantasy games. For the first article, please read here.
That’s right, everyone. I have completed the first Final Fantasy!
Accepting cheers and applause now
That’s the first hurdle in this long journey and, wow, was it a tough one. For this article, I figured, for all you folks playing along at home, I’d offer up some advice for this game. Although there are walkthroughs all over the place, I couldn’t find any really good general advice for this game that wasn’t just holding my hand. So, these are the things I would have liked to have known going into the game.
1. Choose your party carefully
This may be the only Final Fantasy game that lets you choose which classes you will have for your four party members with zero restrictions. If you want to go through the game with four white mages, go for it. Seriously though, it’s very important to think carefully about these choices as they can never be changed. Nothing sucks worse than getting 20 hours into the game and realizing that completion is a near impossibility. My advice here is read up on parties. Back in ’87, there wasn’t really a way to share information en masse with people so you had to go with your gut and past experience. That isn’t the case now and seriously, take advantage. I’d say with very little hesitation that the vast majority of you, with no prior knowledge, would pick a starting party of Fighter/Thief (or Black Belt)/White Mage/Black Mage. You will be able to get through the game with this party but it’s gonna be hellish. My party was considered the easy mode party and it was still a tough game. My party was Fighter/Fighter/Fighter/Red Mage. This basically allows for three heavy hitters to massacre everything in sight while still allowing for support magic and minor healing from the Red Mage. There are certainly other options out there, all I’m saying is make sure you know the pros and cons of your choices since that will potentially save you many hours of lost adventuring and game overs.
2. Be aware of the glitches!
If you play an unaltered ROM, there are going to be some problems with the game. Nothing game-breaking or crashes or anything like that but some things simply don’t work right. Check out a full list of these at most any walkthrough site but here are the really important ones you should be aware of.
The first thing is weapon abilities DO NOT WORK. None, nada, nothing. The Ice sword does not do additional damage to fire enemies, nor does the Rune sword hurt magic users more. Go purely off of stats for these or you may find yourself quite confused while fighting the fiends. Note that armor abilities do work as advertised, a helpful tip for the above mentioned fiends and anyone else busting out Fir3.
The next is several spells do not do what they’re supposed to do. Here’s a list *Thanks to Brian P. Sulpher from Gamefaqs for this list*:
Tmpr – Does not work at all.
Sabr – Does not work at all.
Xfer – Does not work at all.
Lock – Always misses.
Lok2 – Instead of decreasing Enemy Evade% by 20, increases Evade by 20.
Hel2 – Works outside of battle as designed, works like Hel3 in battle.
Most of these you want to avoid like the plague except for Hel2 which actually helps you more than it should. If you have a White Mage in your party, definitely pick up that one and try to save casts for during battle to maximize their potential.
The last one that is good to be aware of is that enemy spells that buff all enemies actually do not affect the caster. That means if a Wizard casts Wall on all allies, that Wizard remains vulnerable. Exploit this.
3. Spread the death. Don’t focus fire.
The NES version of Final Fantasy does not auto-redirect your attacks if the enemy dies. This means if you have four guys attack one imp, when that imp dies, the other party member’s attacks will miss. One of the most strategic aspects of battle in this game is planning who will attack what. Remember, your goal is to spread as much death as possible each turn. Damaging multiple enemies is not as effective as killing a few but wasting all of your attacks on one guy is even worse. Damaged enemies do just as much damage to you as full health enemies so if you are fighting a party of four monsters, killing two of them is better than hurting all four somewhat. You may still win the battle on the same round either way but you have the potential of negating an extra four attacks by killing two (two attacks on the first round and two attacks on the second).
In the beginning of the game, misses are commonplace. It’s actually not unheard of for your entire party to miss their attacks. This happened to me on more than a few occasions. Horribly annoying, I’ve gotta say. Anyway, doubling up your attacks during this period is not a bad idea. This means that even if you can kill an enemy in one hit, it may be worth attacking them with two party members to ensure that monster dies.
4. Kill status effect-inflicting enemies first
This actually isn’t always the case but should be taken as the general rule in Final Fantasy. One of the most annoying aspects of this game is that many status effect enemies can inflict their statuses on your entire party with 100% efficiency. Earlier enemies will attack one at a time but that’s still a huge handicap. One early game enemy formation in the Marsh Caves has 9 enemies attack you that can all paralyze about 75% of the time with their normal attack.
Because of this, it’s very important to kill these enemies before all others. Especially enemies that can stun you, if they can paralyze your whole party, it doesn’t matter how much damage they do per attack because they can keep your entire party stunned and whittle you down to nothing without you getting a chance to respond. It’s brutal and it sucks and sometimes, it can’t be avoided. Most of the time, you can get a few swipes to take these guys down. Don’t waste the attacks on the small fry.
Note that status effects such as Darkness or Slow are hardly worth being concerned about so don’t freak out and decide to kill the Darkness enemies when the guys behind them can hit your party members for 100 damage each.
5. Go to the Castle of Ordeals and the Ice Cave BEFORE Mt. Gurgu
When you get the canoe, everything everyone says seems to suggest that Gurgu Volcano is where you need to go next. They are dirty liars! Don’t listen to them. There are actually two other places that open up from getting the canoe that you should go to first. The Castle of Ordeals lies in the northern continent and can be accessed by going straight from your ship to a canoe. Beating this place is actually entirely optional and doesn’t have to be finished to beat the game. However, this will prevent you from ever getting your class promotions, not to mention it’s a wonderful place to level up before Gurgu owns your soul forever.
The Ice Caves are actually one of the hardest dungeons in the game. In my experience, it was significantly harder than Mt. Gurgu but this could be because I hit it first. The Ice Caves have several enemies that can kill your party in one hit. Mages and Sorcerers are the ones you need to watch out for, in particular. Running may be recommended if you can get away since these fights almost always result in dead party members. In fact, I’d say getting through the Ice Caves at all without any dead party members is a huge accomplishment. Still, getting through these caves will undoubtedly net you a few level ups and the Airship, with which you can fly over to the dragon islands and get your class promotions. After all this, Mt. Gurgu won’t be quite so horrible and it’ll help for the rest of the game as well.
6. Buy all the items you can
When you see that expensive set of armor and want one for all of your party members, it can be easy to ignore your healing items. Don’t be fooled! I literally went into the last dungeon with 99 health potions and it wasn’t enough. Not just the health potions though, you will also need a large quantity of Pure (cure’s poison) and Soft (cures Stone) potions as well. Especially in the beginning, going through the Marsh Caves, you will need a ton of Pures and if you try going through without them, poison will rip through your party without a hope of making it back to town. Stone also has a way of ending your level up sessions far too early. Do yourself a favor and always keep a store of these potions on hand, even if you’ve never seen a monster that can give you that status yet.
7. Have patience
This game is brutal. All the advice in the world won’t save you from insta-kills and horribly timed poisons on your whole party. If you try going through this game, you will die. A lot. There will probably be times you want to set it aside but if you have patience, you can power through. Despite how it may seem at times, all the enemies can be defeated with some patience and quite a bit of luck. Few things in gaming have been more satisfying to me than seeing that “Terminated” message on the last boss.
If you need any help with any parts in particular, feel free to leave a comment! I’d be happy to help however I can and I’m sure other people will be able to chime in as well. Next, I’ll start up Final Fantasy II.