…but the rest of Final Fantasy IV DS is really, really good.
(“Really Brickroad? Another FF post?” Hey, I blog about what I play.)
The first time I played FF4DS I didn’t finish it. I thought it was way too hard. In fact, I thought it ventured into blatantly unfair at some points. There are monsters as early as the Tower of Zot that can one-shot Tellah in the back row with Protect on. There’s nothing you can do about that except hand someone a dustpan to collect all the little shattered sage-bits.
But wait — this is Tellah’s last dungeon. Once he’s gone you never again recruit another character nearly as weak as him. Well, maybe Rydia, when she comes back. But Cecil can use his first turn to Cover them, if you really don’t want them to get one-shotted. And Phoenix Downs cost 100 gil in this version, instead of 500, or whatever they originally cost. Why wasn’t I just running around with a full sack of Phoenix Downs?
Well, because I was so used to the old version of FF4 that I thought that option would be prohibitively expensive.
The whole game is like that. I’m so used to casting Tornado on the Dark Dragon that he completely demolished me when I realized he’s immune to it now. The Dark Dragon can wreck your weaksauce shit in two rounds (Tellah in one!) and there’s nothing you can do about it. Except this: give Tellah the Bluff augment, have Yang triple-Focus, let Cecil and Cid hammer away on the Dark Elf until he transforms… then let Yang and Tellah obliterate the boss’s dragon form in a single round with 3000+ damage attacks.
Some games become more enjoyable after you learn some things about them. FF4 is one such game. It’s hostile to new players because it’s so bloody difficult, and its hostile to veteran players because it changes all the rules on you. But if you sit down and work with it, and have a list of augments at your side, there’s a lot to recommend in it.
The rub with augments is: each person who leaves your party will give you at least one. If you’ve given that character augments, though, you’ll get more. You have to spend them to make them! Some characters (like Edward) have lame augments, so there’s no need to give them any. But some (like Tellah or the twins) have incredible augments, so you have to budget what you have and identify the ones your final party isn’t going to need. Here’s the augment cheat sheet I’m using, in case you threw FF4DS back on the shelf after Barbariccia kicked your ass or whatever, and you want to try again:
- Give Auto-Potion to Porom. (No need to equip it.)
- Give Item Lore to Palom, and equip it. (This makes using his spellcasting weapons in battle much stronger; Thunder Rod vs. Cagnazzo is a great way to instantly destroy his water barrier.)
- Give Curse to Palom. (I’d have liked to keep this, but it was this or Counter.)
- After Palom and Porom leave, you’ll get two Twincast augments as well as Bluff, Cry and Dualcast. (If you hadn’t given the twins three augments, you’d have missed out on Dualcast — and you want Dualcast.)
- Give Bluff and Tsunami to Tellah. (I’d have liked to keep this too, but I had nothing else to give him, and besides, Bluff is really good against certain mid-game bosses where Tellah is your only caster.)
- Get Bardsong from Edward. (Might be nice to have gotten Hide, too, but I had nothing to spare when he was in the party.)
- When Tellah dies you’ll get Recall, Last Stand and Fast Talker. (And you’ll want Fast Talker.)
- Give Recall and Last Stand to Yang. (These are throwaway augments.) This nets you Kick and Brace later… which may or may not be useful, but come on. Were you really going to use Recall or Last Stand anyway? No? I thought not.
- Etc. etc. etc.
- When Fusoya is in the team, give him two crap augments so you come ahead with Phoenix and Omnicast.
- Don’t forget to steal Darkness from Odin!
So when all is said and done I’ll finish up the game with Counter, two Twincasts, Cry, Dualcast, Bardsong, Fast Talker, Focus, Kick, Brace, Bless, Phoenix, Darkness, Omnicast, and all the other augments just layin’ around for the picking.
As for how these will be distributed amongst my final party… well… I know about half of that. I’m pretty sure I want Cecil to have Counter, since he’s one of the more survivable characters and Counter + Draw Attacks is really powerful. If Rosa gets Dualcast I won’t have any use for Cecil’s white magic anyway. Omnicast will probably go to Rosa as well, if only to get a full-party Haste. I need to test if Focus and Darkness stack with Jump; if so, they’re a no-brainer for Kain. (Probably Cry, too, since Kain has more open slots than anyone else in the final team.) Bardsong is a good fit for Rydia since they’re nice, breezy throwaway buffs to give to a character whose regular attack sucks and whose MP you might want to save. Edge might get Reach and Phoenix, though he has to lose Ninjutsu and Steal to get them… but those are situational abilities anyway.
The point of all this is: I have a plan, and I have a positive, eager mindset. I’m saved in Zot right now just before the Barbariccia fight, which gave me lots of problems last time I played. This time I think I’m ready for her.