Let's Play FF1!

Originally posted by: Torgo
Is this... is this true? How does someone even figure that out?

Even if people hadn't hacked the ROM and poked around in the source code, I'm sure at some point they actually sat down and just kept track of how often each character was hit. It breaks down like this, though: front rank is targeted 50% of the time, second rank is targeted 25% of the time, and the back two ranks are targeted 12.5% each. Making the heroes take shifts in the top rank is a more effective method of mitigating damage than healing or spending thousands of GOLD on armor.

Originally posted by: dosboot
Do you guys go through each dungeon in one pass? Do you level up a bit, restock, and then charge straight to the boss? How often do you run?

Depends on the dungeon. Typically the only dungeon I make multiple trips into is the Marsh Cave, as we'll soon see.

I RUN a lot, but only from fights I know are either unwinnable or are not worth the effort. Early in the game anything that Poisons is not worth trying to kill, for example.

Originally posted by: Stiv
PS: This is awesome. Are you going to grind for Silver Swords, or is there a faster way to get the best weapons until the end of the game?

Grinding for Silver Swords is silly. They are awesome weapons, but they're 4000 GOLD a pop.

The only time I buy a Silver Sword is if I don't have any LIT2 casters in my party, and even then I'll only buy one. Once you get past ASTOS you find enough free swords to go around, and you don't need multiple Silver Swords to beat him. I'm not going to buy any at all this game.

On with the adventure!

The next town is Pravoka, and just like Mr. Mohawk here says, there are PIRATEs afoot.

Say, we're in need of a SHIP. PIRATEs have SHIPs, right?

A+ for "scurvy dogs" and "landlubbers", but points off for the disappointing lack of "ye" and the very un-pirate-y name. I can't tell if he's wearing an appropriate amount of eyeliner or not from the tiny 16x16 pixel sprite, either.

Even weaponless, SKUB can take out a PIRATE by himself in two hits. Their HP total is ridiculously low, and their attacks glance off EDIT's Chain Armor harmlessly. This fight is only tough in solo runs, and even then only for classes that can't use RUSE or Chain Armor. THIEFs, Bl.BELTs and Bl.MAGEs have to do a lot of grinding outside Pravoka before they get enough HP to survive the fight.

A quick aside about RUSE: it's damn near required in solo games (either as the spell or as the effect of the Defense sword), but completely worthless in regular teams. It only affects the caster, and since the only guy in my party who can cast it is going to spend the whole game in the back rank, I won't be getting any use out of it in this game. Like I said, my plan for survival is to spread the damage around the three people on my team who can handle it by giving them all shifts in the top rank.

PIRATE EXP pushes my guys up to L3, giving me more HP to work with. The next important level is L6, when my RedMAGEs are able to cast L3 magic.

I've wondered a lot about the actual nature of Bikke's "invasion" of Pravoka. Like, it seems to me that he and his boys sailed into port (or not, because his SHIP doesn't actually materialize until after it belongs to me) and the Pravokians just over-reacted. My pack of ruffians stroll into town, still high from their princess-saving adventure, and take the townsfolk at their word that well okay the PIRATEs are kinda just standing there at the moment but we're totally sure they're going to start raping and pillaging at any moment. Bikke talks big (he's got his image to consider you see) but he knows what the score is. Afterwards the Pravokians don't even run him out of town. I guess he becomes a model citizen after seeing his mates get butchered.

The SHIP storyline is also a really good indication of how RPGs used to be versus how they are now. Playing the game blindly, there's nothing to indicate that the player needs a SHIP, and nothing that points to getting one in this town. If this scenario popped up nowadays the heroes would have a long unskippable discussion about how they desperately need a ship, run a few fetch quests in town before overhearing someone talking about the PIRATEs, then come up with an elaborate scheme (probably involving a stealth minigame) to sneak aboard and take control of it somehow. Personally I prefered the old way: roll into town, beat up some chumps, sail away laughing. Also note: now that I have the SHIP I'm still not told what to do with it. It's "You have a SHIP now! Yay! Explore!" and not "You have your SHIP, now you can sail to the place you knew you needed to go!" Just feels like more of an adventure, you know?

Scimtars are pretty good early game weapons. This is ADAM's first big break; he lacks the black magic BOSS and EDIT take for granted, and he needs all the help he can get. I have enough for two, so I'll pick one up for BOSS too. I'll run a few errands and come back for EDIT's which will give me a respectable front line offense. There are better weapons available to buy, such as the Short Sword here in Pravoka and the brokenly good Silver Sword in Elfland, but the Scimtar has the best damage-to-price ratio. By the time I have enough cash flow to pick up nice things like that I will have already gotten equally good weapons out of treasure boxes, and pretty much all my upgrades from there on out will come from boxes as well. That's right! Once I get EDIT's Scimtar I am pretty much done buying weapons for the rest of the game!

Also in Pravoka is L2 magic, which is noteworthy for being almost completely pointless. ICE is good only in the sense that it's attack magic that doesn't use L1 spell charges (saves CUREs), but there's nothing particularly weak to ICE in my future and by the time I might consider using it I'll have access to ICE2. Actually, out of the 64 spells in the game, there are only a small handful that are ever worth casting.

The other thing that's always creeped me out about Pravoka are these bizarre doorless buildings. They don't look like houses, exactly... maybe the whole town is actually some kind of internment camp? I get the unsettling feeling that maybe PIRATEs weren't this burg's biggest problem.

Anyway, eat my wake, Pravoka! I've got a SHIP now and I'm not afraid to flaunt it! The sailing music is probably my favorite tune in the game, and as a kid I spent countless hours just sailing around the world checking out all the various nooks and crannies, fighting SHARKs and KYZOKUs, and pretty much just groovin'.

No time for groovin' now though, I've got errands to run. These ORBs just ain't gonna light themselves.

Here's why we buy LIT over FIRE: sea monsters are weak to it, making the disposal of SHARKs and SAHAGs a lot easier. There are things in the game with a weakness to FIRE, too, but by the time I'm up against them I'll be able to cast FIR2, so there's no point in buying the L1 version.

In a solo game I'd be at a much higher level at this point, and if I'm using a RedMAGE or Bl.MAGE my next stop would be to buy LIT2, which lets me farm the ocean for GOLD and upgrade all my gear within a span of maybe twenty minutes. EDIT and BOSS have to share their hard-earned EXP with two other cats though, so they won't be making use of that godly spell for a little while yet.

There are INNs in Pravoka and Elfland, but they are more expensive than good old Coneria. Every time I take the extra twelve seconds to sail to Coneria rather than staying at Elfland I save myself seventy GOLD. Cash is tight until I get the mystic KEY, so I'll pinch every penny I can get my mitts on. In fact, let's take a break and go treasure hunting!

Matoya's Cave belches up a HEAL and a PURE potion. PURE is an archaic form of Antidote; it cures Poison. Since there's a good chance of Poison in my future, getting the chests here saves me 75 GOLD later. As for all the skulls and brooms... dude, she's a witch. You just have to expect these things.

As you've probably guessed, my whole "grinding is for chumps" philosophy is actually bullshit. I just do my grinding while doing busywork exploration rather than run circles around the town. This little side-trip to the cave got me into enough fights to earn EDIT's Scimtar, for example, and the trip back to get the Scimtar gave me enough to afford BOSS's CURE spell.

I love this little piece of Final Fantasy lore. In case you can't crack the code here, the broom is speaking backwards and is telling me how to bring up the overworld map. What I love best about it is that this is lauded as some kind of trick or secret in hint books, magazines, and cheat websites. "Pro Tip: Push B and Select to bring up the map! Advanced Technique: if your HP goes to zero, you die! Super Secret of the Week: if the red light on your Nintendo is off, press POWER so you can play Final Fantasy! (But this only works if that's the game in your Nintendo!)"

Here's a shot of the map, helpfully reminding me what game I'm playing.

FF1 is the master of awesome abbreviations. We could never figure out whether GrIMP stood for "gray imp" or "great imp", but it didn't matter because we always just called them "grimps". It's more fun to just pronounce what's on the screen than to try and figure out what's going through the game's crazy head, and it only gets better when you get to monsters like the GrOGRE, ZomBULL and MudGOL. I admit I had a pretty major sad face moment when the PSX/GBA remakes came out and there were no space resctrictions forcing monsters into awesome compacted names, but dammit, there will always be room for GrIMPs in my heart.

A second trip to the Temple of the Fiends yeilds this virtually useless piece of armor. It has a measly ABSORB of 1 (at the expense of 1% EVADE), so it's not something I'd want to buy, but "free" is a good companion to "virtually useless" and, besides, ADAM looks damn sexy in it.

A hapless group of SAHAGs sucks down a big ol' can of LIT and bumps everyone up to L4.

Now that I can get to the western half of the continent, I'll have to start dealing with ASPs and ARACHNIDs, both of which can Poison. In all the years I've been playing FF1 I don't think I've ever gotten to the Dwarf Cave and back without someone needing a PURE, so I'm glad I stole the free one from Matoya earlier.

(Don't worry, bitch is blind without her CRYSTAL, she'll never know I took it.)

Either because dwarves are naturally cheery and generous, or just because this one happens to be in an alcohol-induced stupor, nobody seems to mind that I'll walk out of here with 1025 GOLD. We'll come back here later to look around some more, but for now I'm just interested in petty theft.

This little isthmus was actually the cause of a pretty nasty fight back in my noob days. See, later on I'll blow it up with TNT so I can sail my SHIP on through to lands unknown. When I was a lad I had a friend who maintained that the blotch of land was to narrow to walk across, while I held the opinion that there wasn't any reason why you couldn't. Of course we didn't even consider the possibility until we had already blown the canal open and were well on our way to fighting LICH. We bitched back and forth about it for days as we took turns leveling up until one day after school I sat down to play and someone had started a new game. My friend swore up and down the game just randomly erased itself, but his mom eventually gave him up: he started over to see whether or not the canal tile was walkable. No doubt that had he been right he would have lorded the fact over me, but as you can clearly see he was not right.

I handled the situation in the most mature way possible: I hit him with Volume C of our encylopedias (conveniently located near the NES, being the heavy object we used to hold down the button on controller 2 that grants immortality in Mega Man 3) and insisted that since we had to do all that work over again I get to pick out the names this time. I named our new Bl.BELT TINY.

Well, I've got all the treasure I'm going to get, so it's time to step on up into Elfland. Believe it or not, the next segment of the game is the most difficult hurdle for most parties. In particular, my difficulty is that I'm still two levels shy of having the attack magic I need.

Next: 837 - 866

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