FGC Makes An Appearance
MB: I actually was lost for a minute in South Figaro. I kept reading about this warrior who went to train his people in the mountains to the East. It has been a while since I played a game that just gave hints like that as opposed to showing you where to go. So I walked around in circles for a good 10 minutes before I just left and went East and then continued the story.
Which brings us to the mountains, where we are looking for the master and his disciples. Come to find out we are running all the way up a mountain pass. This is maybe the first instance of the game that slows down more as you get interrupted in travel a bit more often it seems. Does it feel like the game pits you against more enemies more often here to you? It seems like it does so out of necessity to prepare you for the battle at the top.
DG: There’s a certain sense of that. For me, though, I’ve always been grind-happy around both Mt. Koltz and the area outside of South Figaro. Not only does Edgar’s tools make it easy to wipe out multiple enemies quickly (Terra can aim Fire at multiple opponents, but that takes up MP), but knowing what I know about the future, it’s best to get your characters a bit higher level before they make it onto the next challenge.
Speaking of challenges, I hear that the introduction of Sabin had you a bit confused as to how to defeat Vargas. I remember being confused the first time, myself, as to just how his Blitz technique works, so you’re not in poor company!
MB: Yeah, the whole Blitz Technique kind of threw me for a loop. I was supposed to be good at reading comprehension in English class, but apparently I really do not have a clue. The whole explanation for it makes sense even as I think about what I was doing wrong multiple times. So the whole new fighting mechanic there took me off balance.
The actual battle system itself seems pretty straightforward though unless some curveballs get thrown in here. You know, you have your mage knight. Your thief. Your tank in the king. Then out of nowhere you have a character who plays like he is Ryu from Street Fighter. Which is an interesting move to throw in, no doubt. You can even see some of that blended into Final Fantasy X years later as they added button inputs before your most powerful attacks there as well.
DG: I do want to touch more on the game’s battle system, as it will no doubt evolve later in the game. However, at this point, everyone has their own unique ability, as you mentioned. Part of why I put this game’s cast of characters beyond others in the Final Fantasy series is because of how unique each character plays and is portrayed. In Final Fantasy X, the advent of the Sphere system means that Kihmari can be any type of character he wants from the beginning.
In this game, for the most part, everyone is placed in these subset archetypes. By doing this, the game’s means of improving characters is set very distinctly. Sabin and Locke get to wear Bandanas, Terra and others will get to wear Robes. They bring balance of play styles while presenting very contrasted means of offensive and defensive combat.
What character of the first 4 do you like to play as the most, would you say?
MB: Probably the King. If only because he gets rid of the most enemies at once that I can tell thus far. Above you mentioned being able to set multiple enemies on Fire with Terra, but I do not know how to do that. So my favorite to play with is definitely the King. I only played in the one battle using the Blitz Technique, but I may end up liking using the King’s brother best.
(I would use the real names here but even as you say them I have custom names on my characters. The King is Leo and his brother is Abe.)
Choose A Scenario, Kupo!
DG: Finally, as we reach the other side of Mt. Koltz and reach the Returners’ Hideout, we get some semblance of a plan. It’s also another great time to see Terra establish herself more as a character, understanding her place in a society she barely remembers. It’s not long before any prepared plans go out the window, as the party is split and high-tails it out before the Empire can come after them. What did you think about introducing so many different characters so early in the game, only to split them up before jumping on a raft on a river?
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MB: Honestly, it was welcome. I like the hero’s’ journey as much as the next guy or gal, but all of the best of those stories feature branching storylines of some kind. If it is not about multiple protagonists then there are multiple bosses to consider or a smaller and then larger visible plot. This game seems pretty straightforward in terms of villain and actions of the enemies. So you switch up the plot with a character split of multiple varieties. I liked it a lot as it kept my interest going in the story since I figure we will see what each of these characters encounters in their individual travels. That kind of thing keeps me moving through a game.
DG: Speaking of villains, we end our play this week with one of my favorite bosses throughout all Final Fantasy games; Ultros. Something about the cavalier attitude towards the party, his incessant attempts to kill Banon (forcing a party wipe) and the fact that he is the catalyst for the game’s major change of pace makes him an instant classic.
The very first time I played FFVI was when I was very young, so I would rush through the game without reproach. However, it was in this boss fight that taught me to grind up in turn-based RPG’s. Him hitting Banon with a single tentacle, due to me making his level low, meant frustration, and it taught me the value of patience. It’s a key virtue to have when charting the rest of this playthrough.
DG: I have a few questions for you, Martin. As this is your first playthrough of this game, how do you expect each scenario to play out? Which one are you looking forward to experiencing the most? And, finally, which one will you go for first?
MB: I really do not know what to expect, in a good way. So much of the game has moved faster than what my most recent Final Fantasy experiences have been. That is also meant in a good way. It took 30 hours for Final Fantasy XIII to actually begin solving the narrative puzzle of the game. Anyway, I really wanted to go down the treasure hunter’s path the most. So I will definitely be looking forward to that when I get to it.
To begin, I started with the protagonist storyline headed back to Narshe. I figure the side characters stories could be fun, but I am all about getting into the story of who the protagonist is. The rest of the characters being interesting is icing on the cake, so I’m gonna tackle this main helping first and then save my sweets for last.
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