Augments Are Stupid

…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:

  1. Give Auto-Potion to Porom. (No need to equip it.)
  2. 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.)
  3. Give Curse to Palom. (I’d have liked to keep this, but it was this or Counter.)
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.)
  6. Get Bardsong from Edward. (Might be nice to have gotten Hide, too, but I had nothing to spare when he was in the party.)
  7. When Tellah dies you’ll get Recall, Last Stand and Fast Talker. (And you’ll want Fast Talker.)
  8. 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.
  9. Etc. etc. etc.
  10. When Fusoya is in the team, give him two crap augments so you come ahead with Phoenix and Omnicast.
  11. 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.

6 comments to Augments Are Stupid

  • Nicola Nomali

    I’ve only played FFIVDS once, and I beat it without ever using any Augments (or Decant Items, as they were called in the Japanese version I was playing). I also never did any grinding until the end of the final dungeon, where an extra ten levels or so were pretty much necessary to get through Zeromus. For the rest of the game, though, it was a fun challenge to puzzle out each new boss; I really had to exploit the ATB system to an extent no other game had ever required.

    I didn’t even try the post-game super-bosses, though. Limiting the number of times you can play through on New Game + is such an abhorrent idea that I’ll have nothing to do with it.

  • FSS

    This augment system sounds so much more complicated then necessary. What kills me is that it looks like if you don’t follow a pretty complicated plan you just have to start the game over, which is… well it’s not good.

  • DragonShadow

    Gah. I’m saved at the point right after FuSoYa joins the party, and reading this makes me want to start over, seeing how many augments I missed. Blast!

    The added difficulty of this game is cool but VERY FRUSTRATING sometimes. For instance, the Ice Beasts or whatever they’re called in the tower of Zot are fucking overpowered as hell. They do a blizzard attack that can kill most my party in a single blow? And then do it again? All before I can even make a single move? Fuck. That.

    • Brickroad

      Hmm… I guess I should have added that I turned the battle speed down to 4. Any higher than that and some monsters just get unfair butthole attacks. (Dark Dragon was particularly bad on my first playthrough.)

  • Behemoth

    Yeah, the augments suck, but I really liked FFIV DS otherwise. I’m glad to see it getting some love.

  • Destil

    Man, I’m in the final dungeon with no awesome augments and even with the battle speed on 1 some fights kick my ass. Maybe I should just try and finish the game, given that I’m usually dieing when I try to get crystal gloves or masamune or whatever. How hard can Zeromus be?

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